Friday, February 02, 2007

The single girl stretched too far

Anna Pasternak writes that,

our mothers and grandmothers were courting and acquiring the security of a husband when they were 20 to 25.

More recently, women decided their early 20s are strictly for fun, and now the Relationship Window opens at 28 and closes at 35.

This corresponds to my own observations. Back in the 1990s, there seemed to be an understanding amongst women that marriage was something to be postponed to some unspecified time in their 30s.

This trend can be at least partly explained, I think, by the influence of feminism on modern culture. If the aim is, as feminism claims, for women to seek autonomy, then it makes sense for women to stretch out a single girl lifestyle to the last possible moment.

This is not, though, a wise life strategy for women. It has the following problems:

1) As Anna Pasternak’s article suggests, putting things off for too long can lead women to marry in haste. A single woman of 33 who wants to start a family can be influenced by "screaming ovaries" in accepting a man. A woman of 23 isn’t under such duress when she chooses. Nor does a 23-year-old woman have to worry that she will scare partners away with her desperation for a baby.

2) Women are more likely to experience fertility problems in their 30s. There are countless women now gambling that they will have the children they want in their last few fertile years. As in the nature of any gamble, a lot will miss out.

3) If a whole cohort of women leave marriage and motherhood to their 30s, there will inevitably be an effect on men. There will be men who will spend longer “drifting” in their 20s (staying home, studying rather than working). There will be men who will habituate themselves to a bachelor lifestyle. There will be men who will resent their treatment by women within a culture of casual relationships.

By the time women in their 30s finally decide to seek out a life partner, they are more likely to be left wondering where all the good men have gone.

4) If women leave partnering to a narrow “relationships window” they are more likely to misjudge and leave things too late.

Anna Pasternak quotes the director of a dating agency, Mairead Molloy, who describes the women who typically miss out on the “relationships window” as being:

those who wanted the flat, the job and their own money, and suddenly, they lift up their heads at 37 and think: “Right, where’s the man?”

The women Mairead Molloy is describing have things around the wrong way. Love, marriage and family are what really matter and deserve our first attention. It’s denatured to place them low down on a lifestyle checklist.

The “leave it till last” women sometimes end up in difficult circumstances. According to Mairead Molloy, a woman in her mid-40s is left with few choices. She is no longer fertile, and no longer attractive to men in her own age group. In Molloy’s words:

A 45-year-old woman wants a maximum 47-year-old man, or a good-looking 50-year-old, but a 47-year-old man wants to find a 40-year-old woman.

The problem is that the 45-year-old woman doesn’t want to date the 60-something man who wants to go out with her, and yet she’s terrified of facing 50 alone – and projects that.

How different it would be for that same woman to be seeking a husband when in her mid-20s. She would be at the height of her appeal to men, with nature having arranged things very much in her favour.

On marrying, she would be well-placed to fulfil her “reproductive choice”, in being able to have children and create a family without the anxieties and difficulties of trying to do so late in life.

She would give the gift of her youthful beauty and romantic passion to the man she ultimately commits to, rather than to other men she will have no enduring connection to.

She will share her primary memories of love and affection with the man she has married, rather than with other men.

It might seem more modern for a woman to leave marriage and motherhood to her 30s, but I can’t help but think that this is a mistake and that it’s more sensible for women (and men) to aim to marry in their 20s.


  1. Of course, it's not so easy as that either. One of the side-effects of feminist behaviour is its effects on men.

    Men are understandably growing increasingly wary of marrying when all the legal cards are stacked against them.

    And the whole thrust of modern society is for people to avoid responsibilities and that has affected men just as much.

  2. Scott, you make some good points.

    Not only is there a lack of legal security for men in marriage, it's made worse by an excessively high rate of divorce.

    And yes, liberalism has encouraged a more general individualism which has encouraged everyone, men included, to avoid responsibility.

    Nonetheless, there was a more intense effect on young women in the 1980s and 90s. Feminism really did influence a lot of women to see independence and autonomy as the higher goals of life. So, as I've mentioned before, the single girl lifestyle was extended as far as it would go.

  3. I agree with you that both men and women are leaving searching for a mate and procreating a little later in life, with all the externalities that arise from it, such ever-increasing reliance on fertility clinics. It's not a good thing for successful family life. Both partners can be a little more set in their ways and struggle reconciling material wants and needs, individuality, and kids into a well-adjusted, sustainable relationship. Doesn't help the divorce rate and all the externalities that entails.

    Feminism encourages women to be what they want to be and the best they can be, without disadvantage from discriminatory law or regulation. Pretty hard to disagree with unless you are an unreconstructed mysogenist or resolutely patriarchal.

    You don't think our mass-media advertising driven 'have to have brand new special everything NOW!' economic culture we live in might have something to do with it?

    And because family life is increasingly expensive (you can't do it the man's wage like you could in the good old 50s)and difficult under our present economic oriented ethos, both men and women are putting off family life until they feel they can afford it and have satisfied other desires such as career, travel and nice toys.

    I don't think it's all down to feminism. It's a bit more complicated than that.

    Personally, I'd recommend getting into family life sooner rather than later. It's much more fun and you just might have a better chance at being successful. It would be nice to think that young couples who wanted to could afford to live on one decent wage and buy a house. AWAs aren't really going to bring that any closer. So I'd expect more of the same to came.

  4. Slim, thanks for the comment. There was only one part I'd take issue with, namely,

    "Feminism encourages women to be what they want to be and the best they can be, without disadvantage from discriminatory law or regulation. Pretty hard to disagree with unless you are an unreconstructed mysogenist or resolutely patriarchal.

    Feminism does encourage women "to be what they want to be", but within the larger liberal context in which we are supposed to be unimpeded in determining our own self.

    This has a number of negative consequences. If the highest aim is to remain unrestricted in determining my own self, then marriage will seem oppressive - since once entered into, it takes away the choice of who I live with and who I have sexual relations with, and since it requires a considerable degree of interdependence, rather than independence.

    That's why feminism has historically preached 'free love" in opposition to marriage. It also helps to explain marriage deferral within a feminist culture.

    Similarly, if it is important that I self-determine who I am, then I won't want to accept the idea of masculinity and femininity. I will see these as something negative "imposed" on individuals, rather than positive aspects of my identity.

    This helps to explain why feminism has trouble accepting differences between men and women, and why it so often encourages an androgyny which disappoints our heterosexual instincts.

    Finally, if determining our own self is the highest aim, then the power to enact our will is the critical thing, so that having a "power of will" is what matters.

    Feminists are therefore amongst those who see society as a contest for a "power of will". If men have more economic power it's not because they work hard to support their families, but, in the feminist view, because they are part of a patriarchal system designed to take power from women.

    This view of society creates an assumption of an eternal gender war between men and women; men and women are seen to have fundamentally opposed interests instead of natural forms of loyalty and service to each other.

    Feminism, I think, has much to answer for.

  5. I agree with Scott on his point of legal security.

    What is happening with women in terms of marriage is parraleled with what is happening with men. However, I think that it's not all down to issues like legal security and feminism. Mainly, I think it's down to just having fun, enjoying your youth while you still can. We're all living longer now, and the drive to rush to get married and have kids ASAP just doesn't exist anymore.

    My grandmother, for instance, believes my mother got married too young (she married my father at the age of 23). In a way, I think my grandmother envies how modern women are enjoying their 'roaring twenties' in a way she never could. Though I think she also observed, at the time, that one of the reasons my mother started 'going out' so often after the divorce was because she never had the opportunity to do so in her twenties.

    Therefore, I wouldn't go as far to say that all women (and obviously men) should try and get married in their 20s. Early-mid thirties seems the better option.

  6. Sam, there's plenty of time in your teens and early twenties for having fun.

    Leaving marriage and children to your early to mid-30s doesn't work (something your grandmother may not realise, as people would generally have married younger in her day).

    It creates much human misery. First, as I've pointed out, it leads to people either not getting to have children, or having fewer children than they want. It also leads the child-rearing years to be more insecure and depressed than they ought to be.

    I can't tell you how many women of my social circle I've had sobbing on my shoulder. Imagine you're a 38-year-old woman, who's struggled for several years for a baby, and having finally conceived you miscarry eight or nine weeks later.

    Remember too that it's a lengthy process getting to baby two or three. Let's say someone at age 32 finally says to themselves that it's time to get serious and stop playing about.

    Let's give them a year to meet someone they think would make a good spouse/parent. So they're 33. Then give them a year to go out. So they're 34. Then a six month engagement. They're now 34 and a half. Then six months to conceive their first child. They're now 35. Now nine months to have the child. They're now 35 and nine months. Now nine months to breastfreed and recover from the first pregnancy. They're now 36 and a half - and the woman is already well into the period of rapidly declining fertility.

    And this is assuming everything goes perfectly. In reality, most women experience difficulties at some stage of the process. They might, for instance, meet a guy they think is OK, but who never quite commits. They waste a couple of years. Or it's more difficult to conceive. Or there's a miscarriage.

    Sam, one other important thing. Our romantic drives and our instincts to marry, whilst strong, aren't invincible. It is possible for people over a period of time to lose these instincts.

    You can't assume that someone at 35 is still going to want to partner and marry as they might have wanted to at 25. In part this is from being forced to go through too much in relationships. In part, it's a result of habituation to being single. In part, it's simply a consequence of ageing.

    Sam, your grandmother's regrets are trivial in comparison to the regrets of modern women. Missing a few single girl parties doesn't count for much in the larger scheme of things. Not being able to give your husband much of your youthful beauty, passion and fertility does.

    Remember too that the woman who waits to 35, even if she manages to have a child, will pay for it later in missing out on grandmotherhood. If her daughter follows her example she will already be 70 before she gets the first grandchild. She won't be the active, involved grandmother she would have been at 50.

  7. Great article Mark. You’re responses above are well put too.

    I often hear comments like Slim’s:

    “I don't think it's all down to feminism. It's a bit more complicated than that.”

    To me this is a convenient ‘side-step’ of the root cause of women’s (and consequently, men’s) problems. It’s easier for feminists to blame ‘society’, ‘men’, etc – for much of the choices they’ve made. Anyone but themselves.

    Saying things like:

    “And because family life is increasingly expensive (you can't do it the man's wage like you could in the good old 50s)and difficult under our present economic oriented ethos, both men and women are putting off family life until they feel they can afford it and have satisfied other desires such as career, travel and nice toys.”

    Is again avoiding the fact that feminism made a large push for women to go to work in the 60s & 70s (under their mantra of ‘rights’) – so now it takes 2 people’s salaries to raise a child instead of one. Women helped to create this situation by flooding the workforce to pursue careers. Now women reach their 30s and 40s with little to offer men.

    Why would a 30s/40s man choose a 30s/40s woman?

    She’s losing her looks, her fertility is going, and she hasn’t any (or more likely ‘refuses’ to do) housework/home-maker skills. I ask you… why would a man in his 30s/40s (who’s now calmer &looking for stability in his life) chose an older woman? If he can get women in their 20s, whats the point?

    Feminist want us to believe that women approaching their used-by date for relationships in their 30s/40s are now more willing to be ‘nice’ because they’ve matured. I don’t buy it, because women have always been a ‘step’ ahead of men in knowing what they want to do in relationships. After all, women control relationships (in the yes/no department) – so Im more inclined to believe that women have ‘knowingly’ wasted their most fertile years (their 20s) on ‘fun’ & ‘indulgence’. Men have (historically) been inclined to marry women in their most fertile years, that is, until women stopped wanting us to.

    I am an example that Mark has described. I spent my 20s trying to find a woman to marry, but most women just wanted a career, fun & independance in their 20s. Now in my mid 30s, when womens appeal has gone - I’ve ‘outgrown’ them.

    Most men my age resent being ‘strung-along’ & ‘toyed-with’ during our 20s, and then be the consolation prize to some used-up party favour once we’ve reached an age of maturity. It’s almost as though women are saying, “Ok, you can have us now that you don’t want us anymore.”

    Women my age want me to desire them for their ‘careers’ & ‘accomplishments’ (and want to ‘wear the pants’ in the relationship) rather than be judged on their character & femininity.

    Women are portraying themselves more like men to me these days.
    And considering I am heterosexual – they aren’t appealing at all.

    I suspect it’s the same with many men.

    The increase of Viagra, Nasal delivery, etc – should tell us something. It seems to me that it’s not so much that men have ‘all of a sudden’ developed a physical sexual disfunction in the recent years– but rather, it’s that women aren’t as appealing to men anymore, and we require these ’artificial’ methods to ‘get excited’ over them.

    Feminist can try and avoid nature, and try and convince men that they ‘should’ desire masculine women – but I suspect that the rapidly declining marriage rate (or even the mortality rate of a basic relationship) seems to show that both men’s & women’s respective natural equilibrium (and co-operation) with one-another has been broken. It didn’t ‘just happen’. Modern feminist ideals (read: women’s rights, affirmative action, etc) played a big part. Men haven’t changed anything between the relationship ideals between the sexes. They’ve never asked women to change, but instead are constantly asking “What do women want?’, and getting nowhere. Women seldom ask ‘what men want’. And even if they ‘know’ – it’s seen as “oppressive” to grant it to men. As if by somehow ‘giving’ something back to a relationship will destroy her.

    And feminism has convinced her that something ‘will’ be destroyed.

    Namely; her independence.
    Her autonomy to earn money, shop & date.


  8. You don't think our mass-media advertising driven 'have to have brand new special everything NOW!' economic culture we live in might have something to do with it?

    That kind of consumer culture exists because of liberalism and its individualist, 'i can be what i want to be', 'lets throw off the shackles of duty and nature' offshoots.

  9. I agree.

    Liberals are 'chosing' to take heroin - then complaining about its side-effects.

    Bad choices have bad consequences.


  10. A lot of solo mothers who go onto remarry, aren't seen as great catches, hence they often end up with men who are less capable and intelligent than themselves, which is a recipe for an unsuccessful relationship.

    Although woman may feel they are expressing their individual choice by raising children alone they are often denying themselves freedom in the long run.

  11. i'm disgusted by the fixation you and your commenters clearly have on a woman's appearance and age. a woman's worth, to you, resides exclusively in her possession of ovaries and superficial attractiveness. i'm shocked at the way you devalue women as they age. older women are perfectly capable of being loved, just not by shallow neanderthals.
    several times in your comments you complain about women becoming less attractive as they age; about them becoming 'masculine' as they age. one commenter describes older women as "some used-up party favour".
    it all smacks of the residual bitterness against women that is often harbored by unpleasant males who've suffered years of rejection from evolved females.
    you can talk about it in theoretical terms if you like, and say some of your best friends are women and everything, but the logical conclusion of your argument is that women shouldn't work and should only marry and reproduce. i ask you, what kind of support for that idea are you ever going to get from anyone other than disgruntled, resentful loser men?
    you guys view women as sexual and domestic slaves. sorry but i can't take you seriously at all.

  12. Gianna, that's not one of your better comments.

    The point of the discussion is serious. Women are being harmed by an aspect of feminism, namely the idea that autonomy is an overriding value, as this leads to a culture in which a single girl lifestyle of careers, travel, partying etc is extended for too long.

    The end result is sadness and regret for too many women.

    Feminists like yourself should be, at this stage, quietly supporting those of us trying to publicise the problem. If you think I've got the feminist aspect of the problem wrong, by all means say so, but within a framework which shows that you care about the fate of individual women.

    As for the connection between love and a woman's age, you ought to be realistic and worldly-wise about this.

    A woman in her 20s is still at her peak in terms of physical attractiveness and fertility. The men she meets will likely still be at the peak of their own sexual, romantic and paternal drives. This is the great opportunity for men and women to partner.

    Gianna, I get the feeling that you are raging against reality. You don't want to accept that there might be limitations on what we can choose to do as individuals. Perhaps you even want people to act against these limitations, out of a determination to show they don't exist.

    I don't think it's fair that ordinary men and women be dragged in as sacrificial lambs to such ill-fated political demonstrations.

    Let feminist women do this alone if they really must.

  13. mark, your fundamental argument is that women belong in the home and not in the workplace. you refuse to accept that further feminist-driven societal change is what is required to enable women to combine fertility and productivity (for the good of the species). this means changes in the political context, for example on childcare, and cognitive behavioral therapy for men who still refuse to pull their weight around the home (cleaning the toilet is a woman's job, after all), or who cannot accept the possibility that a woman might be the more productive worker while a man might take on childrearing and domestic duties instead.
    you are banging your head against a brick wall, because the majority of women will never agree to go back to your rigid patriarchal utopia where autonomy and independence are the property of men.

  14. Here, here Gianna.

    Comments like this one:
    "She’s losing her looks, her fertility is going, and she hasn’t any (or more likely ‘refuses’ to do) housework/home-maker skills. I ask you… why would a man in his 30s/40s (who’s now calmer &looking for stability in his life) chose an older woman? If he can get women in their 20s, whats the point?"

    The point for more enlightened men might be that you want someone who's your intellectual equal, but as you just seem to want a submissive domestic slave, I guess that's not for you.

    Did it ever occur to you that the reason women wouldn't marry you in their twenties was not because they were raging feminists dead set on having a good time at the expense of all, but because they actually wanted something approaching an equal relationship, in which they would be respected as an intellectual equal, and in which they weren't expected to be a domestic drudge?

    I would have married in my 20s in an instant if I'd found the right man - but when I was in my 20s, none of the men my age seemed ready to settle down and all ran a million miles at the mention of marriage.

    And I'm a feminist, and proud to call myself one.

  15. Gianna, your last comment screams ideology. You talk, for instance, about "further feminist-driven societal change" and "changes in the political context" and "cognitive-behavioral therapy for men".

    It's all force, force, force in order to fit individuals into a political scheme of someone else's devising.

    We've had 35 years of this now, and it's clear that feminism isn't making either men or women any happier or more fulfilled.

    Your response, that what's needed is an even more intense dose of feminism, isn't persuasive. If getting punched hard hurts, then getting punched even harder is likely to hurt even more.

    It's time for feminists to step back and reconsider. There are countless thousands of Western women who have been deeply hurt by feminism. Feminists ought to acknowledge this and think through what went wrong.

  16. Mark, Gianna will not "step back and reconsider" her position.

    To do that will negate everything she stands for, and that is too difficult for many people these days.

    As someone happy to label herself as an ex-feminist, I agree with everything you and your commenters (bar Gianna and Rebekka) have said.

    I've played the single game, I've been there and done that, and you know what? There is no way on this planet that I would recommend it for my daughter or anyone else's child.

    Feminism with its emphasis on the patriarchal oppression has outlived any sort of usefulness it once may have had.

    When I look at the opportunities around me for women, I can't believe that there are still those out there who complain about the glass ceiling, or the unequal takehome pay for the same sort of work.

    I had my child at 34, and that is something else I don't recommend. While there were many considerations for becoming a mother - even a single one - my age was a factor.

    Gianna you can't fight biology.

    You are at your most fertile in your 20s. If you want to settle down and have kids, surely you want a nice-looking man, one who looks after himself, thinks along the same lines as you do, and wants to work in a partnership with you.

    Why is it okay for women to demand goodlooking partners (and they do, there is no getting around it), where for a man to express the same is bad?

    Why is a woman allowed to have a checklist on what she wants to do and have in life, but when a man has the same ideas, it's wrong?

    Feminism may have started out in the dim dark ages as a movement for suffrage, but from the 60s onwards, it is more about satisfying the self and very little else.

    It is about overcoming the evil oppressors - well, with the liberal divorce laws, punitive child support measures and anti-discrimination policies that abound, you've succeeded.

    Well done.

    So why aren't you happy? What is it you feminists actually want?

    The education system is feminised to the extent that boys being boys are diagnosed with ADD, for example.

    Statistically, and anecdotally, the majority of divorces are initiated by women.

    Why on earth would a man want to get married in this day and age, especially to a woman who is passing her fertility useby, and is set in her ways?

    Apologies for the rant, Mark.

  17. Nilk, thanks for your comment. It's a good example of the kind of calm, realistic, non-ideological reconsideration of things we need to have.

    I especially appreciate your effort to understand how men experience things. It's a refreshing change from the assumption that men will or ought to simply fall in line with whatever a feminist movement demands.

    A sympathetic attempt to understand the other sex is a good starting point in restoring a sense of mutuality between men and women.

  18. Mark, it's got nothing to do with being calm and reasonable - it's just stating the bleeding obvious.

    Looking at the current situation, why on earth should a man consider marriage? Why would he want to? What is in it for him?

    Not money - no more dowries, and while his wife works also, she often makes less than he does, so he still carries the lion's share of the financial burden of the partnership.

    Not commitment - with no fault divorce, and prenups often disregarded, there can be seen to be a financial incentive for a woman to leave the marriage when it all gets too hard.

    The children? It's excruciatingly easy for a woman to prevent a man from seeing his children. All the court orders in the world won't help unless he's got bucketloads of cash to fight it in the court and perhaps go for custody himself.

    Fidelity/monogamy - another subject to be wary of. If I consider my own friends, cheating on their partners or husbands is not uncommon. I used to have one girlfriend who had a habit of going to bed with her friends' partners. This included her best friend, another girlfriend, and in my case, she tried to stick her tongue down the throat of my partner at the time.

    Alcohol was the excuse, and while she apologised to me, I was expected to just let the matter drop, because that was just the way she was, and we were all used to her. (No, no more friendship there, unsurprisingly).

    With the breakdown of the traditional family structure - or the ongoing attempts to break it down - it is harder for men or women to trust.

    I consider that the burden rests squarely at the feet of the Feminists.

    In case you couldn't tell, this is a subject that gets my goat like you wouldn't believe.


  19. "It is about overcoming the evil oppressors - well, with the liberal divorce laws, punitive child support measures and anti-discrimination policies that abound, you've succeeded.

    Well done.

    So why aren't you happy? What is it you feminists actually want?"

    Feminists want different things. We're not one homogenous mass, we don't all think alike, we don't all want the same things.

    And the focus of feminism seems to me to be about getting equal, not about overcoming the evil oppressor, and I don't think of men as "the oppressor", either.

    But a couple of things we mostly do want?

    Equal pay. Women still only earn 80.5%, on average, of what men doing an equivalent job earn.

    Equal housework. ABS stats say women spend one and three-quarter hours more on unpaid domestic work than men do. Hardly fair if both parties are working full time.

  20. What about work in the garden? In my circle of acquaintaces, it's still the women doing the work inside and the men outside.

    REbekka, the focus of feminism used to be about equality. Now, it's more about man-bashing.

    Have you ever read Feministing? I'm too lazy to link tonight, sorry, but I find it.

    I read the vitriol on that site, and I am ashamed that I ever considered myself a feminist.

    I'm a person who happens to be a woman, and that's it as far as I'm concerned, with all the attendant baggage that comes with the role.

    When people (mainly feminists) complain about the lack of women in top positions, nobody seems to consider that maybe women don't want to be top dog.

    I had a very comfy middle-management job for years with Telstra (like everyone else lol), but after a while, it palled.

    There is more to life than being a wage-slave, and in a lot of cases, for a lot of women, that comes with motherhood and the traditional roles of women.

    We aren't supposed to say that out loud, though, nor are we expected to actively pursue that course.

    Hence we have the push for more paid maternity leave, more hours for children and babies in longday care - I've seen babies in care from 6 weeks. Sorry, that is just not on as far as I'm concerned.

    That is not about choice for women - it's about ensuring that women have no choice to remain in the home.

    Look at our taxation system. The person who is the most highly taxed is the married man with dependent wife and child. He gets very little in the way of a break on that score, so it's easier financially for his wife to put the kids in care and head back to work, whether it's her preference or not.

    There is no choice.

  21. Nilk, I think you are mistaking the views of a few feminists for the views of all feminists.

    Work in the garden is clearly included in "unpaid domestic work" - it doesn't specify work inside or outside.

    Surely if you think women shouldn't put their children in care at six weeks, more paid maternity leave is a good thing? At least it should mean women don't put babies in care at six weeks. I wouldn't put my baby in care from six weeks - but then again, I'm in a fairly financially priviledge position, I'll get more paid leave than that, and I have a partner who wants to stay home and look after our children. So I'm lucky. I wouldn't judge another woman for her choices - whether those choices are to stay home permanently or to go back to work. I simply can't know what's best for someone else, or what she needs to do to provide the best life for her family - that, to me and to many others, is what feminism is about - choices.

    Family tax benefits A&B are well and truly skewed towards the single-income family. It's simply not true to say working men whose partners stay home don't get a tax break - I just ran the calculations through the ATO's family tax benefit calculator for a family with an income of $70,000 and two kids under five. If both parents are working and it's their combined income, they get a FTB of $3,555.10. If only one person is working that benefit rises to $6,927.70. You don't get family tax benefit B if both parents work.

    There are always choices - it's just sometimes people don't want to make choices like "Okay, we don't need a six bedroom home with three living areas and a parents' retreat, so instead of paying off a giant mortgage we'll rent a modest two bedroom house and one of us can stay home with the kids".

    But that's about consumerism, not about feminism.

  22. Rebekka, feminism is simply liberalism applied to women.

    As such, it does have as one of its components the idea of freedom of choice.

    However, because of the way the logic of the liberal argument works, some choices become thought of as more legitimate than others.

    So feminism ends up with a contradiction. On the one hand there is the idea of freedom of choice. On the other hand there is the idea that women should pursue careers rather than stay-at-home motherhood.

    I've explained why one choice becomes more equal than the other here.

  23. Rebekka, have you considered the effect of paid maternity leave schemes on men?

    One of the key commitments of a man in marriage is to support his wife financially.

    You are, in effect, suggesting that this role should be transferred to employers or the state.

    Why undermine the sense of masculine reponsibility to provide for family?

    I think Nilk is right that paid maternity schemes are really premised on the idea of woman as autonomous careerist.

    I don't quite know how men are supposed to complement such a female role. As support acts? As an alternative occupant of the motherhood role?

    Could you really blame large numbers of men for finding such options unattractive?

  24. Mark, if you start from a position of assuming traditional gender roles are the right way to do things, then of course you're going to come to the conclusion that paid maternity leave isn't a good thing.

    If you actually recognise that most women *do* work - at least before they have kids - and that putting tiny babies in full-time care isn't good for them, then paid maternity leave is a good thing for families.

    If it's a universal scheme, it also sends a strong message that having children and caring for them yourself while they're small is a social good, and something that's appreciated by society as a whole - something I think you'd agree with.

    The sense of "masculine responsibility" to provide, as you put it, is a socialised thing. If you look at hunter/gatherer societies, which are the earliest form of human society, women actually provide around 80% of the food. It's about how things work in our culture, not about the natural state of the human race.

    "I don't quite know how men are supposed to complement such a female role. As support acts? As an alternative occupant of the motherhood role?"

    How about as an equal partner? There is just no need to divide roles up the way you seem set on doing. Both parents can parent - although biologically it makes sense for the mother to do the bulk of the early parenting because she can breastfeed and dad can't. Both partners can earn money. Both partners can do unpaid domestic work. Just because dad isn't acting in the "traditional" role of provider doesn't mean he's a "support act" or an "alternative mother".

  25. Rebekka, you're operating with an extraordinarily abstracted view of men and women.

    The only real difference you seem willing to accept between men and women is the functional one of women breastfeeding and therefore being more likely to take on the care of young infants.

    It's very difficult to believe that after countless thousands of years of radically differentiated roles, and with all the biological differences in hormones and brain structure that are known to exist, that there are no meaningful differences in the psychology of men and women when it comes to family and parenthood.

  26. Mark, I was arguing *for* paid maternity leave - so that women can stay home and look after new babies. How on earth do you get from that that I don't believe there are biological differences (other than the ability to breastfeed) between men and women??

    I said the role of *provider* is socially constructed. I never suggested there were no biological differences between men and women, what I was saying was that if you look at other cultures you can see that the *provider* role is not universal.

  27. It doesn't help that modern media and culture take it for granted that once you have kids your life is over. If a modern woman in her twenties talks about wanting kids, one of the first responses is invariably "hell no, sister, you won't be able to have FUN anymore" (or something along those lines.)

    It's not just that they aren't expected to have kids--it's that they're actively scared away from having kids.

  28. Men never asked to be breadwinners, it just naturally evolved when your partner is pregnant and cannot physically work. On the other hand women didn't ask for the pain of childbirth and the intense stress and strain it puts on a woman's body. Why can't we just acknowledge these facts and try and support each other through our lives. The fact that we are having such intense arguments about it is proof of the decline of western civilisation. We are and will be outbred by cultures that acknowledge and support the biological realities of the human species.

  29. Monchi, good comment, thanks.

    I notice from your blog that you spent ten years in Japan. I spent a very interesting year there myself.

  30. "And the focus of feminism seems to me to be about getting equal"

    Results...or Opportunities/Freedom. Women around the world are free to become prime ministers or become housewifes...Manipulating things until men and women are FORCED to earn the same and do the same amount of housework is ridiculous.

    ...As for attraction. Women are attracted to high social status in men...including wealth,power...should men deny their desire to fulfill that role. ?...

    ...should we then FORCE women to makeup 50% of the army and firefighters even tho they wont do as good a job. And yet they will be payed the same as men...

  31. "In Molloy’s words:
    A 45-year-old woman wants a maximum 47-year-old man, or a good-looking 50-year-old, but a 47-year-old man wants to find a 40-year-old woman."

    Oh but its so much worse than that (for the women) at least if I am anything to judge by. What the frig makes Molloy think a 47 YO man wants to marry a woman as old as 40. Poor old Molloy is very deluded. Why the frig would I want to date anyone who is 40? I'm 44 and my policy is not to date anyone over 27 (yeah you bet that's a double standard, one I get away with because I can).
    I've dated 22 year olds in my 40s (exceptionally attractive ones even for a 22 YO). My current girlfriend is 24.

    Now if I found myself living in a world where no woman under 40 was interested in me then I'll admit I'd settle for a 40 YO and just have to grin and bear it. But I don't live in such a world. I find myself living in a world in which I still attract pretty women in their 20's. Its funny, in my 30's I thought my luck would run out when I got to my 40's but no they keep coming (despite me starting to go bald and packing on the pounds). It probably helps that I've inherited my fathers slow aging genes (looks wise anyway), have always lived a healthy life, and have always been and always will be a fanatical bodybuilder/powerlifter. Its interesting, I was far, far more successful with the pretty 20s women in my 30s and still am now in my 40s than I ever was in my 20s (a self confidence thing no doubt). No desperation in the least to settle down here either by the way (I would like to though). But I digress..

    The point is while there are attractive 40 YO women, they are rare, very rare but more importantly if I did settle down with someone my own age even if they look good now, I know that in ten years time they won't, no matter who they are. The pretty 40 YO's looks are on their last legs (assuming she's one of the rare ones who even still has them) but if I marry a 25 year old she's got 10 or 15 maybe even 20 years of good looks left in her (sorry to be so cold and calculating but this is the internet I can be honest).

    The women my own age has 1% chance of giving me kids and that will drop to 0% chance in a couple years when she's goes through menopause (and loses even more femininity and her interest in sex takes a dive). The young 20's women on the other hand has none of these problems, well not for another 20 years. No prizes for guessing who I want to settle down with.

    Don't get me wrong by the way, if I had married a pretty 20s girl while in my 20s and she was now in her 40s I would still be faithful to her now, I would not dump her for the younger model (I am loyal like that). But I didn't marry in my 20s so no problem there for me now. By the way the true reason for the male midlife crisis is coming to terms with your soon to be menopausal wife's loss of looks rather than your own aging - a problem I don't have :).

  32. continued..

    I'm not that out of the ordinary in dating a woman 20 years my junior either. About 12 years ago my father divorced my mum, a good woman (that really pisses me off - even if she was a shrew at the time) and married a Russian girl (his translator) who's about 25 years younger than him (a divorce I blame on feminism). His father before him also divorced and remarried 20+ years younger. My mother's father didn't divorce but after being widowed married someone 25+ years younger. Two years ago my uncle (at the time 70) married his (at the time) 18 YO Chinese nurse (he's a medical doctor as were/are all the other men I mention, for that matter so am I but not in medicine). In other words all the men in my family who have been widowed (what's the male equivalent of widowed - you know what I mean) or divorced, have remarried at least 20 years younger.

    Moral of the story - men who have the status/power/money/whatever women want (even if 70) go for women in their 20s if they can (and if they have status/power/money they can and do mate with women that young). The 47 YO men who settle for the 40 YO women (and they do exist) are the men who can't land the 30's or 20's women. Meaning if you are a 40's women wanting to marry for the nth time or even the 1st time, you need to lower your standards and accept the men the women in the 20's and 30's have rejected which more often then not means settling for someone you yourself are not really going to be that keen on.

    The ultimate moral of the story - if you are female get married in your 20s not your 30s and certainly not your 40s, that's what the short lived flowering of your beauty is attract a mate (save uni/starting your own business, if you must, till your 40s). If on the other hand you're male, you'll tend to do better if you wait before committing to marriage. Unlike for women men taking a decade out to get your PhD, start your own business, climb the corporate ladder, otherwise achieve riches and glory, does pay off.

  33. Correction to my previous post - my mothers father wasn't a doctor just a compant CEO.

    While we're on the topic my Aunt did get married to a 40s guy in her 40s. He's short, very, very obese (not muscle just fat) and very bald. Not a bad guy but there is this story of a burglar breaking in to their home while he was home and him hiding terrified in their bedrood in case he had a knife. Just sayin.

    The 1st time she met him in her 30s she was not the least bit interested now she thinks he's wonderfull.

    Moral of the story..Get married in your 40s and you will see the gold in men that women in their 20s and 30s and who you yourself in your 20s and 30s thought suxed as a catch.

  34. For anyone saying that it is wrong for a man to value a woman solely on looks and fertile is an idiot to be honest. If a woman can value a man for his looks, cars, houses and careers than why can't a man do what he is genetically supposed to do? Men are supposed to find the hottest most submissive woman he can possibly find. NO man wants a husband he wants a wife. That entails cooking,cleaning and her taking the majority of suffering during raising a child. The world went to hell during the 60's when women were let out to act as a man and WORK outside the house.

  35. "Relationship Window opens at 28 and closes at 35"

    This is why I only accept women in the 18-25 age bracket - the older ones are too danged old, and wrinkly... Not to mention have been on the cock carousel too long to be worth more than a slam-bam-thank-you-slut...

    I'll stick with the young ones - there are more all the time and you can get a lot more miles out of an 18 year old. Trust me...

  36. English is not my first language but let me just say I agree with the female comments on here. I read the guy's comments and all I can think of is where is the love or compassion in them? All I hear "women are to become this and not that" "All women are useless after a certain age" or women going after careers will pay later on when no one wants them? is this some kind of threat? First of all women had to step up because of men out there became unreliable,if a guy can as easily leave as when he started the relationship, why would women not ensure their own futures to avoid being left on the streets with two kids? What kind of trash are you guys going on and on about about a woman's place when you can't respect absolutely nothing about them? They had to make their own money or endure abuse while pretending that everything was fine. If I could, I would have been married by 21 but guess what? it's men who don't want to, it's men who are having sex with everything that moves and put down women who wait for marriage like me (I'm 25 and a virgin btw)They are the ones drinking until 3:00am , not giving a damn about anything getting older at faster rates and not inspiring women to seek out anything serious either. I double dare you to come to a city like Miami where I live and see the sad reality of male promiscuity and women who don't have any other choice. I'm sick of your hypocritical bashing like we have a choice to be your little homebaker or a career.It's funny that while I design ships for a living some group of men still thinks my place it's in the kitchen, I am beyond stoned to find these cavemen still living! It's though enough out there to also have a bunch of crazy men disliking everything I do, no matter what I do, move to the third world or something there are plenty of slaves there for you to take.

  37. sarah sounds like the men in miami are cads. But remember with the divorce laws , alimony etc there is no incentive for men to marry. Unless its to someone with very overt christian like values -- you may find someone in middle america - the coast is hedonistic to the max.

    it's not about having a woman who is at home all the time, its' about respect for men . also reality bites - Amelia Earhart was bold and childless, and said it was an illusion that a woman could have it all.

    re feminism - like the rest of the left, it has a death wish for ... society and even itself... no use trying to reason with suicidal people... breakup of family, sad kids, economic doom... its all good for these twisted people. freaky.
    it is about "will to power' also - in postmodern theory, there is no such thing as healthy or good, only power.