Friday, September 24, 2010

Newsweek: men should man up for feminism

Newsweek is one of the dirtiest of liberal rags.

Take a recent article Who needs men? We do. The heading sounds sympathetic to men and the subheading, Let’s call a ceasefire on the “battle of the sexes” — the New Macho is good for women, too, even sounds accepting of masculinity and sex differences.

Too good to be true? You betcha.

When you read the article you get something else, a blatant and arrogant assertion of the supremacy of female autonomy.

The unnamed author of the piece begins by noting how well women are doing in education and careers:

we’re tipping the scale at 51 percent of workers; we make up the majority of college graduates, M.A.s (and now even PHDs), and we are the primary or co-breadwinners in most American households.

But it's still not good enough:

we still have trouble penetrating the highest echelons of the corporate world, and no matter how many hours we spend trying to close that gap, we remain burdened by domestic life.

Burdened by domestic life. It's that pesky thing called the family getting in the way of women again. But how did the family get to be considered a negative feature of life for women, a burden, an impediment?

It's orthodox feminism. Feminism, following liberalism, declared that individual autonomy was the key good in life. Feminists then decided that the money, status and power derived from careers was the gold standard of autonomy, in comparison to motherhood which was an unchosen, biological role (and therefore not self-determined, and therefore not autonomous).

So equality meant liberating women from the family in order to compete with men for career status and pay.

Much of modern society is geared toward this pursuit of female autonomy. Men are mostly expected to fall in with it.

But the project hasn't gone exactly to plan. Women do eventually marry and have children. And then they tend to spend at least some years focusing on their own babies rather than the autonomy project. So men still end up earning a bit more over a lifetime and doing a bit better in the corporate world.

The feminist response? The orthodox position of late is to agitate for men to take over half of the motherhood "burden" so that there is no disadvantage to women pursuing the "important" part of life, namely careers. Men, too, it is thought should occupy more of the lower paid, non-corporate jobs, so that women can better compete in private industry.

But how do you sell this to men? If you really believe that the good in life is a corporate job and that motherhood is a negative role, a burden, then how do you get men to accept a "downgrade"?

The Newsweek author recognises that she somehow needs to get men onside to take the female autonomy project a step further:

women still need men to prosper. We’re not talking about Mr. Cleaver bringing home the bacon—we need men so that we can excel at work, to level the playing field at home. We need them as dads, partners, and cheerleaders—from the classroom to the boardroom.

Men prospering is defined in terms of women doing better at school and at work.

And how does she pitch her ideas to men? Here's a sample of her rhetoric:

In today’s economy, the industries that have long been female-dominated—teaching, nursing, and so on—are the ones that, in the coming years, will grow the most. Encouraging men to “man up,” as our colleagues put it—and enter these fields should be something we all push for. 

I'm a school teacher myself, and am obviously not at all opposed to the idea of men teaching. But notice how ridiculous the appeal is. She wants men to "man up" to get on board a project which is aimed at creating genderless roles in society. She supports an ideology which holds that sex distinctions are oppressive social constructs and yet she still makes an appeal to men's innate sense of masculinity.

She goes on to talk about the importance of "welcoming men to underpaid professions". And this gives the game away. She's not interested in what is in men's interests. Nor is she interested in what's best for the teaching or nursing professions. What matters for her is what serves the female autonomy project (as defined by feminists). Getting men out of the corporate world and into underpaid professions is the real aim here.

Exactly why men should be keen to jump on board, if pay and status are what really matter in life, still remains a mystery.

Here's a final quote from the Newsweek article, this time on men taking paternity leave:

The same goes for parental leave. It’s no coincidence that Iceland has the most generous paternity-leave program in the modern world—three months!—and also, the smallest wage gap. These things go hand in hand. And no, it wasn’t a raging man-hating feminist who pushed the legislation through—it was a male prime minister, who recognized that Icelanders of both genders would benefit, and not just in the short term. The reasoning? As more men take time off to care for their children, the burden of parenthood no longer falls on women alone. Ultimately, employers will stop looking at young, fertile women and thinking, why bother investing? We’ll all be equally worthy of investment.

Again, if pay is the great good in life, and taking paternity leave reduces men's pay, then why would men accept the deal? It's simply wrong in that case for the Icelandic Prime Minister to claim a benefit for both genders. The paternity leave is not intended to benefit men, but to further the female autonomy project.

The only consistent argument that the feminists can make is that men should accept less pay out of a principled commitment to equality. But this then depends on men and women accepting the dubious first assumptions of feminism: that autonomy is what matters in life and that careerism is the gold standard of autonomy.

Why don't careers give us autonomy? Most jobs are not high in status or power. Most people, too, are not self-employed and so are under the direction of others when at work. Paid work also takes up most of our time and energy, leaving us less free to do the things we would otherwise choose to do.

So it's not necessarily a case of women suffering unequal autonomy if men spend more time in paid work than women over the course of a lifetime. It could in fact be argued that the husbands are sacrificing a degree of their own autonomy by working long hours in an office or factory in order to support their wives.

Nor is autonomy the one good that matters in life. Most people want to marry well, experience fatherhood and motherhood and enjoy a happy personal life.

So equality can't be measured by autonomy alone. A woman who finds it fulfilling to be at home looking after her young children is in a perfectly equal position to a man who finds it fulfilling to support a family financially through his labours. They are equal in what matters most, which is not autonomy. And, anyway, it is arguable whether the husband or the wife is more autonomous in such an arrangement (is the man who trudges off to an ordinary office job really more autonomous than the woman who is busy looking after children at home?) 

And that, Newsweek, is why I won't be manning up for feminism.


  1. They're so destructive and they don't care a fig for society. The great project of Manhood is now reduced to acting like a woman. Our history has been made by men not women. What makes them think they deserve an equal place?

  2. "Welcoming men to traditionally underpaid professions could also serve to boost average salaries in those fields,"

    Huh? How does that work? Does she think the men will get paid more than the women because men always automatically are? What happens when more people start competing for the same number of jobs is that average salaries fall (duh!).

    Hey, how about women should "woman up" and do some of those traditionally male-dominated dirty and dangerous jobs?

  3. Basic rule of male-female relations: women always trade up. Ergo, pushing men into lower-paid jobs makes them unattractive and invisible to women. One wonders if the point of this exercise is to regress us back to polygamy, with only alpha men having a woman.

  4. That's the thing, randian.

    I mean, ostensibly the article is saying: if men take lower paying female-oriented jobs that give them more time to play Mr. Mom, it will free up time/space for women to take higher-paying corporate jobs (presumably being able to compete better with men for the higher paying jobs), which means that the family income should go up, benefiting men and women in those families.

    The main trouble with this logic is that (1) very few high-powered corporate women want to marry men who are not also high-powered corporate men, leading to (2) the men taking these lesser-paying jobs being passed over by women for marriages and so on, and having to settle for women who aren't blowing the doors off at a corporate job, leading to probably a *lower* overall family income than would have been the case had he chosen a higher-paying job to begin with. Hypergamy is real, and it impacts high-powered corporate women as much as any others -- most of them do not want "male wives" as husbands, and if/when they are fully in domination of the relationship, they become bored/antsy/dissatisfied/unattracted and so on. This is just the way it is. I have worked around high-powered corporate women for 20 years now and, a few notable exceptions aside, I have not seen any evidence of high-powered corporate women choosing their husbands in ways that contravene the basic rule of hypergamy (i.e., either he is as corporate advanced as he is, or he has some other hypergamously attractive "rock star" aspect that the average guy also doesn't have).

    Related to this main problem are the following issues.

    The first is that women themselves tend disproportionately to want to spend time with their children when they are young, and there isn't much evidence that, at the higher corporate levels, this is being forced by husbands who are "enslaving" them to motherhood under a patriarchal jack-boot. In fact, women are most likely to feel able to make this choice when their husband earns significant cash flow, and it's no surprise that this group tends to have the highest SAHM rates --> it's because they are the class that can best "afford" to do it. The "war", if there is one, is between the professionally-educated women who want to stay home with their young kids and the ones who don't -- and it's the latter that are pushing for all of this change, whereas the former are ensconced in the financially hypergamous relationships they chose, in part, because it would enable them to stay at home with the kids as young mothers.

  5. The second is that the article, and similar ones like it, basically view men, as Mark points out well, in terms of their usefulness to women's objectives -- as Dads, partners (not husbands, of course, because that's patriarchal ... more like de facto "male wives") and "cheerleaders" for the female betters in their lives. It envisions a situation where the men are subordinated to the women, because the women will be in control financially (again, if feminism claimed that this was slavery for women when men had financial control in families, why is it not slavery for men when the situation is reversed?) and, by extension, in the family as well. This is basically a call for sexual role reversal -- dominant, professional breadwinner woman with her supportive, cheerleading male wife/partner who is a Mr. Mom for her kids.

    Again, very few women will sign up for that kind of role-reversal relationship, and even the ones who do often see it blowing up in their faces (to their surprise) over time as they see themselves losing interest in their male wives in favor of the more alpha/dominant/ambitious/achieving men who are her professional peers.

    In my own personal life, I know of at least two such role reversal relationships that ended in divorce, precisely because the wife just really couldn't stand being with a man who was not at least her peer professionally and financially, and resented having to "de facto" support her male wife in addition to the kids.

    So, in summary, what we are seeing here is advocacy of some kind of pie-in-the-sky role reversal family structure en masse -- something which is very unlikely to happen. What is instead more likely to happen is that more men will continue to be unattractive as mates as women out-achieve them, and more children will be raised by single mothers -- trend lines we already can clearly (at least in the US). Some of these lower-earning men will find lower-earning women as mates, and their families will work out, more or less, with a lot of struggle, but many will not. The marriage rates in the US outside the professional class have dropped off the cliff in the past few decades, but all we see reflected in rags like Newsweek, of course, are the interests of the most go-getter aspects of professional women -- which leads to an inevitable skewing away from what is reality for most women, professional or not.

  6. "Basic rule of male-female relations: women always trade up. Ergo, pushing men into lower-paid jobs makes them unattractive and invisible to women."

    True, how many woman's novels and magazines talk about the attractions of male retail assistants or seasonal labourers.

    Women may occassionally fantasise about good-looking guys in 'average joe' jobs like skilled trades or being in the fire service, but these are still steady, relatively well-paying jobs.

    The vast majority of women prefer a guy who makes an average or above wage.

  7. Firstly if its anonymous why pay it any attention?
    Most upwardly mobile women I meet (and I meet plenty) are more manly than most men I know. they are more ruthless, more uncaring and just plain nastier than most men. If they have to act like men to succeed as women - have they succeeded? I suggest urine testing for everyone so we can truly know , who is who, in the human growth hormone stakes! :-))

  8. As a man, I was never going to take nearly-unpaid paternity leave. When our son was born I used my paid vacation leave allowance instead.

  9. Not only do high-power-career women not want house-husbands, a lot of men (whether high-power-career or not) are not interested in marrying/long-term-partnering those same high-career women.

    Too much ruthlessness, drive, ambition makes those women *less* attractive to most men, and they have the lowest fertility rates of any women, whereas high-power-career men have higher fertility rates than most men (mind you, so do male criminals). Some of these women don't like children anyway, but many are left disappointed and frustrated.

  10. Randian wrote,

    "One wonders if the point of this exercise is to regress us back to polygamy, with only alpha men having a woman."

    That's a very interesting point, Randian. Perhaps you are right: it is alpha men like that Icelandic PM who are pushing this as a way of eliminating competitors.

    But I'm not sure even they think in such crudely self-interested terms.

    There is another explanation, at least in multi-racial societies like the US and much of Europe. Suppose Newsweek wants general equality in the corporate world, sexual, racial, religious, anything you can imagine. If most of the corporate world is white and male, then they have to convince white men to leave. If lots of black men or Muslim men, etc. leave, then the corporate world might be more sexually diverse, but less racially diverse, and that would defeat the overall point, which is general equality.

    The left needs something to target white men, specifically. Affirmative Action is a legal "solution" we've had for a while now. And I think moralizing
    articles like this are a social-pressure or conscience-targeting "solution" that are intended to do the same.

    It was telling, for instance, that a number of feminists supported Obama against Hilary.

  11. It's good to know there is at least one other conservative teacher in Australia.
    Those of us who work in female deominated fields know that there is a certain type of woman who is just never happy. 'Manning up' means it's time to say to these women, 'you are impossible to please; no matter how much we give you always want more. You are not interested in equality; you are interested in female supremacy'. It's time.

  12. "The vast majority of women prefer a guy who makes an average or above wage."

    This may be but a substantial portion of these men's money will be garnished to subsidize benefits to women....the same women who will then turn around and represent that money as their own to some schmuck?

    Doesn't the need to be THE BIG PROVIDER necessitate division among men and thus prevent a cohesive response to feminism?

  13. These liberal "End the Culture War" articles are always more a demand for surrender or a declaration of victory than an offer of truce.

  14. Hilarious. Manning up is doing female stuff. The subtext is that the male gender will never hold a candle to the female one, and any step in the direction of personal sacrifice for the good of the "superior sex" is manning up.

    Men's only purpose is to advance the status of women.


  15. Don't have time to write now, but I just discovered your blog and I find your analysis of feminism liberalism flawless and refreshing. I will be back. Thanks.

  16. In general, modern women work for their own interests. Men work for their families interests.