Monday, May 30, 2011

How do we explain the slutwalks?

Slutwalk happened in Melbourne on the weekend. Supposedly 3000 took part, though from the video clips it looked more like a few hundred. The Melbourne rally was much like those overseas, though it was distinct in featuring a transgender person who spoke about having been raped both as a man and as a woman.

Why the slutwalks? I've read a few different theories. Laura Wood believes that many of the women protesting are genuinely fearful of rape but are seeking protection from it in a counterproductive way:

what are these women protesting? As I said, they are frightened. There is such a thing as rape, and they cannot process that reality. They have no way of understanding or making sense of it – and so they protest against it, hoping that outrage alone will make it go away. They want a world in which rape does not occur. Such a thing is not possible. However, there is a way to gain some measure of safety. A woman can protect herself against rape not by participating in protests, especially protests defending sluttiness, but by earning the protection of good men. Men protect women against men. The sensible path for a woman in a dangerous world – and the sensible path for women collectively – is to earn the protection of good men. Protection is not a right, but a privilege.

Women earn the protection of good men by dressing modestly, by recognizing the nature of masculinity, and by remaining faithful. Then their safety increases.

Grerp at The Lost Art of Self-Preservation (for Women) looks on it as an assertion of female sexual empowerment. She argues that it's unreasonable for women to dress to get the maximum sexual attention from men and then object when the predictable reaction can't be controlled as tightly as they want it to be:

Women apparently feel that the new frontier of empowerment hinges on their ability to dress like brothel workers and demand others respect them for their bad taste and attention whoring. For this women are marching: to look like the best lay a gold-mining saloon could offer; as in, not obviously diseased.

Uh huh.

Look, let's be honest with ourselves as women. Can we all agree that we don't go out in a pink halter tops and satin hot pants because of the comfort factor? We don't dress that way to impress our girlfriends with our sense of style either. Women dress in miniscule, tight, sexy clothing to get the attention of men. And it is effective. Unfortunately, women can't always control how that attention channels itself. And instead of acknowledging that limitation - that this is a built-in trade-off for guaranteed male attention - they throw a group tantrum, wag a bunch of fingers, and attempt to control the reaction they provoke through chanting, and shaming, and what have you.

Wouldn't it just be easier to wear figure flattering clothing that manages to cover up the essentials? Women looked gorgeous in Edwardian clothing. The success of Mad Men has to hinge in no small part on wardrobe envy - women and men staring at how fantastic people used to look in tailored, buttoned up clothes. Most of the time, with clothes, more is more. Dress decently, and you spare yourself the possibility of trouble.

Bonald at Throne and Altar is sceptical that the issue is really about rape. He thinks the slutwalks are about legitimising female sexual promiscuity:

The rape issue is a red herring. It has nothing to do with the real issue, which is the social legitimation of female promiscuity. These marches are not meant to intimidate potential rapists; they’re meant to intimidate social conservatives. The sluts are only tying together the issues of social disapproval and sexual violence as a rhetorical trick to cast themselves as victims even as they go on the attack...

The sluts are not victims; they are aggressors. Their victim is society itself. Their goal is social approval for female sexual promiscuity. The MRM and “game” advocates (who I have elsewhere criticized) have painted a disturbing but very plausible picture of where widespread female promiscuity will ultimately lead. A few of the most desirable men monopolize women during their young, attractive years. Then after getting old and being discarded by these “alphas” from their harems, women “settle down” and allow themselves to be supported by a “beta provider” husband.

I don't think Bonald's point should be discounted. At the Melbourne rally, a lot of the emphasis was on the idea that there was nothing wrong with being a slut. There were placards reading "Stop slut shaming" and speakers made comments such as "reclaiming the word slut is going to disempower it" and "enough of the judgements about our sexualities".

At Camera Lucida, Kidist Paulos Asrat developed my own arguments in an interesting way. I had noted in a post about Ita Buttrose that in the early 1970s in Australia a group of feminist women accepted the idea of autonomy (of being self-defined rather than defined as women), but that they rejected the radical idea of giving up on heterosexual relationships with men. This was the birth of a "sex positive" feminism in Australia.

Kidist Paulos Asrat believes that this leads to a kind of schizophrenia, in which women don't want to reject feminism by appearing too feminine but in which they still feel a natural need to express their female selves:

I think what is going on is that women secretly yearn for femininity (although I think this is an actual biological reaction and need, rather than an "autonomous desire"). But they cannot succumb to this need for fear of appearing to reject feminism, as Richardson shows above. Imagine the schizophrenic back and forth that must be going on in their minds!

As I wrote above, one way young women can avoid this schizophrenia is by sporadically, and in a limited way, adding feminine touches - such as having children, but avoiding caring for their children, or wearing lipstick, but pursuing high profile, and highly demanding, careers...

One thing I've noticed here is that young women are wearing extremely short skirts, and now in spring, they're donning very short cut-out shorts, often (as though this will help) with dark tights. These skirts are dark, dreary, and ugly. At least the sixties brought color and pizazz with mini-skirt fashion.

My assessment of this depressingly ugly trend (many of the girls are over-weight, so we are forced to look at bulging body parts as well) is that it's that schizophrenic attempt at reconciling femininity with autonomy: I will dress how I want, but I will also look like a girl. It is the "sex positive" (to use Ricahrdson's coinage) compensation of reconciling femininity with autonomy. But all they end up looking is like prostitutes, which is the last thing - consciously, at least - they're after.

One major point of evidence for this argument is the tendency for female fashions over the past 40 years to swing back and forth between grunge and the overtly sexual. There hasn't been a consistent fashion trend for women to relax into a feminine dress style which emphasises elegance or beauty.

I'll finish by going back to Bonald's argument that the slutwalks are really about legitimising female promiscuity. Why would feminist women want to do this?

I can think of a number of reasons, but I'd like to focus on two. The first is that women are at a peak of their sexual power in their 20s. Some women might, therefore, resent moral restraints on their sexuality at this time. In particular, they might conceive that they are using their sexuality to "trade up" amongst men as much as they are able.

What these women need to understand is that a sexual free-for-all will ultimately be harmful to them. Their window of sexual power is relatively short-lived. If there are to be no moral restraints, then men, on finding that they have the advantage of sexual power in their 30s and 40s, will be in a position to "trade in" or "double up" when it comes to women.

There is, in other words, a purpose to the traditional restraints on sexuality. They are not there simply as a patriarchal imposition on women.

A second reason "progressive" women might have to advocate promiscuity is that the new, trendy life script is for women to defer marriage and family until their 30s. If family formation is delayed for this long, then people are not likely to be chaste in the meantime. The 20s will be thought of as a time for more casual sexual relationships.

The odd thing about this is that many of the women deferring marriage and family, effectively leaving it last and to the last minute, still see it as an important fulfilment in life, something they don't want to miss out on. And yet they are risking never getting there by leaving it for so long.

It's not just that they are leaving motherhood till the dying moments of their fertility. They are also undermining a culture of family life amongst men. Men face a choice early in life. They can enjoy the company of their mates whilst pursuing erotic sexual encounters with women - and this is not an unappealing lifestyle for many men. Or they can set aside the urge toward promiscuity in favour of the higher goods of a loving and secure relationship with a wife, experiencing love and respect as a husband and father, making an adult contribution to society and their own tradition by raising a family and so on.

But what happens if the higher goods are withdrawn as an option because women want to leave family formation until something close to middle-age? What if women seem to mostly be offering casual relationships, with sex being the main thing on offer? It shouldn't then be surprising if fewer men in society develop into reliable family men. The family man culture will gradually decline.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Oslo police reveal rape statistics

The following video from Norwegian TV doesn't fit into the standard liberal narrative and so will probably receive no publicity here in Australia. The video shows a policewoman revealing the rape statistics for the city of Oslo from 2006 to 2010. 86 women reported being raped; of the 83 attackers who could be identified all were of non-Western appearance.

This means that there is no rape epidemic amongst the Norwegian population, as feminists would claim. In five years, not a single Norwegian or even Western man was reported by a woman as having committed a rape - in a city of 1,500,000. All the talk about having to change men and mainstream masculinity to stop rape is misdirected.

It means too that the standard liberal assumption that it is white Christian men who are violent oppressors of other people does not fit what is happening here. What we have here are non-Western Muslim men who are committing acts of violence against mostly white Norwegian women. Not surprisingly, the wikipedia article on Oslo has a section talking about white flight from Oslo (see 'demographics').

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Countering moral liberalism

In a recent post I distinguished loosely between a political liberalism and a moral liberalism. I wrote of moral liberalism that it,

appeals to middle-class whites with only a passing interest in politics or intellectual matters. It has an emotional or even quasi-religious appeal for these people. Its strongest devotees seem to be middle-aged, middle-class white women.

The basic message of moral liberalism is that good liberal whites are bringing about justice and equality for oppressed groups by taking on and defeating the privilege and ignorance of bad, right-wing whites.

One commenter, Jesse, made what I thought was a good effort to develop further the idea of the "moral charge" that such middle-class whites get from this kind of liberalism. He began:

Moral liberalism works because people by nature are desperate for morality. When Christianity was delegitimised and utilitarian and scientific thinking began to dominate, the majority of people began to look desperately for a new form of morality, to escape from the idea of the world as a barren, cold and uncaring place, populated by people only motivated by their own self interest.

That seems plausible. An ideal of goodness that was once supplied by Christianity was no longer accepted by the philosophers. But the moral systems they erected in its place, such as utilitarianism, did not satisfy the moral idealism of many Westerners.

The essence of moral liberalism is white or pseudo white, middle class and above, people, acting in self-effacing, as well as morally superior ways. It's also associated with utopian aims and involves acting in manners that are obviously contrary to our instincts and natures. By being self effacing we recognise the existence of sin, the combating of which is the essence of morality, and we also dedicate ourselves to something better. By embracing utopianism we show ourselves worthy in striving for a better world. By acting in ways that are contrary to our instincts and natures we show that we're led by our ideas and reason rather than by passions. These ideas appeal to both our vanities and senses of superiority. It also appeals to our desire for moral urgency and submission to higher ideals.

Moral liberals believe they are rising above themselves to combat sin in the pursuit of high-minded moral ideals and personal distinction. This is the "moral charge" that appeals to a certain kind of middle-class white.

Moral liberalism as a manifestation of morality can be combated through morality. If you can demonstrate your moral value, or at least be confident with it, then you can go a long way towards fighting the left. These days I go to Church frequently and in doing so, by being constantly surrounded by the discussion and concern of moral issues and concerns, it allows me to deal better with the moral promotion of the left without submitting to anger or a subtle sense of guilt.

If we seriously discuss and feel comfortable with morality on the right side of politics then we can break the left's monopoly over it, and if we can engage with and discuss the moral underpinnings of conservatism and traditionalism, and not just criticise the left, then we will go a long way towards combating the left

If, on the other hand, we’re simply critical of all manifestations of morality, as many right liberals have done, and embrace the promotion of individual freedoms as the highest good, then we will lose the public.

Jesse has had a go here at answering the question of how we counter a liberalism which has a quasi-religious appeal for some white people. I think it's a good insight that right-liberals will never effectively challenge a left-wing moral liberalism if they only talk about the pursuit of individual freedom. Even though left-liberalism is also ultimately based on a concept of equal freedom, moral liberals need to feel as if something more than their own individual freedom is at stake - they need to feel as if there is a struggle between good and evil in which they are unselfishly subsuming themselves.

He's right too, I believe, that we need to give our own politics a moral charge, rather than just criticising the errors of left and right liberals. The question is how best to do this. Some possibilities are:
  • "recharging" the concept of the family man and the family woman.
  • reasserting/praising traditional ideals of moral virtue
  • linking personal distinction to character or real world achievements rather than to holding politically correct beliefs
  • reasserting the virtue of loyalty/fidelity
  • reasserting the virtue of prudence
  • discussing ideals of masculinity and femininity or praising these qualities in particular men and women
  • reasserting family and nation as worthy ends of our moral endeavours/duties
  • encouraging the sense that we owe a duty to past generations and the traditions they created - that we have an important duty to discharge in upholding a legacy left to us by our own forebears, one that gives a deeper meaning to our efforts to raise families, to protect and improve the environment, to defend or to raise the level of culture and so on.
Those are some hastily listed ideas. It's something I'd like to think through more and I'm certainly open to other suggestions.

When the left discriminates what is it called?

Weedie Sisson and Anne Halpern want to discriminate against men to boost the position of women in business. But being liberals they are against discrimination. Their solution to this dilemma is as follows:
We agree that quotas, women-only shortlists and any other positive action (not to be confused with positive discrimination) will work in helping to counteract past discrimination and break unhelpful stereotyping. What are government and the business community afraid of?

They rename quotas and women-only shortlists as "positive action" as a way of avoiding the term positive discrimination. They don't want to think of themselves as discriminating, when that is exactly what they are doing by imposing quotas and shortlists.

The article itself is fairly stock standard. But I was interested that so many of the Guardian's readers argued against the idea of forcing equal numbers in business (the first eleven comments were unsupportive of the quotas idea). Maybe feminism really is faltering at ground level.

The first of the pro-feminist comments was also interesting:

Blaming emancipation for women to family break ups is so absurd that you can compare it with those who believe that the end of apartheid has brought more crime in South Africa. If family does break up because women want to be treated like equal human beings, then I say to hell with familiy harmony, where women are just like kettle. Human dignity is more important than anything else in this world.

This is evidence of how seriously a political world view is taken by some people. The commenter, "Shalone," is willing to sacrifice the family if it's thought to represent an advance in equality and human dignity.

That's why it's so important for a society to think through such morally charged concepts like equality and human dignity carefully. If they are wrongly defined, then they will be applied in destructive ways, as they are by Shalone.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Canadian baby must choose its own sex

Remember Pop? Pop is the Swedish child whose parents refused to reveal his/her sex. Well, he/she now has a Canadian friend, Storm. Storm's parents are also keeping his/her sex a secret.

Why would parents not want to tell the world if their baby is a boy or a girl? Regular readers of this site won't be surprised by the parents' answer:

When Storm was born, the couple sent an email to friends and family: “We've decided not to share Storm's sex for now — a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation, a stand up to what the world could become in Storm's lifetime (a more progressive place? ...).”

Witterick and Stocker believe they are giving their children the freedom to choose who they want to be, unconstrained by social norms about males and females.

“In fact, in not telling the gender of my precious baby, I am saying to the world, ‘Please can you just let Storm discover for him/herself what s(he) wants to be?!.” Witterick writes in an email.

“Everyone keeps asking us, ‘When will this end?’” says Witterick. “And we always turn the question back. Yeah, when will this end? When will we live in a world where people can make choices to be whoever they are?”

That is surely and unmistakably liberal autonomy theory. The theory runs: we are made human by the fact that we self-determine our existence; our sex is not something that is self-determined but is predetermined; therefore our sex is a limitation or restriction that we need to be liberated from; therefore our sex should be made not to matter in society.

Storm's parents use just the terminology you would expect from liberals: they describe sex as a limitation and a constraint and they believe that by making it not matter there will be an increase in freedom with individuals being able to determine their own self, to "choose who they want to be".

This is how the parents' background is described:

Both come from liberal families. Stocker grew up listening to Free to Be ... You and Me, a 1972 record with a central message of gender neutrality.

The message of Free to Be ... You and Me has been described by Judith Stadtman Tucker as follows:

its principal strategy is portraying traditional gender roles as limiting, hurtful and old-fashioned...

the creators of F2BY&M seem intent on discouraging the formation of romantic illusions in little girls and imparting the value of female autonomy.

As an example of the lyrics of the songs on the record, here are the words to "Girl Land":

They're closing down 'Girl Land'
Some say it's a shame
It used to be busy
Then nobody came

... And soon in the park
That was 'Girl Land' before
You'll do as you like
And be who you are.

The parents of Storm have two older children, both boys. They are being raised with the belief that boys should be more like girls and vice versa. The older boy, 5-year-old Jazz, is described as grabbing:

a handmade portfolio filled with his drawings and poems. In its pages is a booklet written under his pseudonym, the “Gender Explorer.” In purple and pink lettering, adorned with butterflies, it reads: “Help girls do boy things. Help boys do girl things. Let your kid be whoever they are!”

And the boys have taken the message to heart, choosing to act in an effeminate way and being commonly mistaken for girls:

On a recent trip to High Park, Jazz, wearing pink shorts, patterned pink socks and brightly coloured elastics on his braids, runs and skips across the street.

“That’s a princess!” says a smiling crossing guard, ushering the little boy along. “And that’s a princess, too,” she says again, pointing at Kio with her big red sign.

Jazz doesn’t mind. One of his favourite books is 10,000 Dresses, the story of a boy who loves to dress up. But he doesn’t like being called a girl. Recently, he asked his mom to write a note on his application to the High Park Nature Centre because he likes the group leaders and wants them to know he’s a boy.

Jazz was old enough for school last September, but chose to stay home. “When we would go and visit programs, people — children and adults — would immediately react with Jazz over his gender,” says Witterick, adding the conversation would gravitate to his choice of pink or his hairstyle.

That’s mostly why he doesn’t want to go to school. When asked if it upsets him, he nods, but doesn’t say more.

The parents haven't done such a gender reversal themselves (apart from Mum's punky hair style). Dad works as a teacher, mum is a housewife. Both are recognisably male and female. You have to wonder how things would work out for them if either decided to drop their own orthodox sex identity. Would mum like it if dad was so effeminate that he was commonly mistaken for a woman? And would dad enjoy the relationship if mum were mistaken for a man? How well would a heterosexual marriage go in such a circumstance?

Here's dad playing with son no.2:

And here's mum with her punky hair but otherwise feminine outfit:

And here's young Storm pondering his/her future with two liberal parents:

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Moral liberalism

I've focused a lot on the differences between right and left liberals. But it appears to me that there is another distinction, one which I will very loosely call, just for the sake of this post, a distinction between political and moral liberals.

I'll take as a starting point liberalism as a political philosophy. Who are the people who typically accept liberalism as a political philosophy and promote it in society? It's generally young, single intellectual men of a libertarian bent. I'll call these the "political" liberals, because they are focused on liberalism in an intellectual way as a political principle.

There are not a lot of political liberals, partly because there are not a lot of politically oriented intellectuals in society, partly because asocial intellectuals are not good at promoting their ideas and partly because it's a dry and highly individualistic philosophy. On the last point, I'm reminded of one of the most famous of liberal intellectuals, J.S. Mill, who had a nervous breakdown and turned to a conservative poet, William Wordsworth, to get back his feeling for life.

If conservatives were up against political liberals, I think we would have a good chance of winning or at least holding our ground. We could appeal to communal feeling and communal identity in a way that political liberals can't, for instance, by celebrating national achievements, or a sense of family and ancestry.

But political liberalism gave birth to another expression of liberalism, one with far wider appeal. I will call this, for the moment, "moral liberalism".

Moral liberalism has its strengths. It appeals to middle-class whites with only a passing interest in politics or intellectual matters. It has an emotional or even quasi-religious appeal for these people. Its strongest devotees seem to be middle-aged, middle-class white women.

The basic message of moral liberalism is that good liberal whites are bringing about justice and equality for oppressed groups by taking on and defeating the privilege and ignorance of bad, right-wing whites.

Moral liberals are very, very good at promoting their world view. Your average high school English or history teacher is likely to be a moral liberal, and they mercilessly pummel their students with this outlook on life.

Unlike political liberalism, moral liberalism is not a dry theory for intellectual loners. Most people do need to have a sense of meaning and worth in their lives, and moral liberalism provides this in an easy way to middle-class whites: it gives them the belief that they are acting in a superior way to less enlightened and lower class whites to bring highly morally charged goods into the world, such as justice and equality. They can do this at no cost to themselves or their job prospects simply by adopting the "correct" set of beliefs.

At the moment we are losing to moral liberalism. But we shouldn't get too defeatist, because moral liberalism also has its weaknesses.

First, moral liberalism only works effectively when its promoters have a monopoly on debate. That's one reason why it is still so strong in schools and universities - because these environments can be controlled to suppress dissident voices. Moral liberals need a monopoly because the "moral charge" depends on people accepting certain dubious propositions, for instance, that the oppressor group (men or whites or straights or whoever) have organised themselves to be privileged at the expense of the oppressed group. In reality, this picture of things only seems reasonable if reality is filtered to make it seem so.

This is the positive aspect of the men's movement. It's true that most members of the men's movement continue to accept political liberalism. But nearly all reject the standard politics of moral liberalism, in which men are held to be an oppressor group victimising women. And there are enough voices now in the men's movement to start to break up the narrative of moral liberalism. It's having a positive effect.

Second, moral liberalism is suicidal for whites. It's based on whites committing themselves to an essentially negative view of traditional white society. A white moral liberal will devote his or her life to attacking white society in favour of other groups.

That has two consequences. First, there will be some whites who will be far sighted enough to realise the danger and question what is happening. This ought to be a major opportunity for traditionalists. But we tend not to benefit as much as we should. I think the reason is this: moral liberals don't explain why they believe what they do. They are not political liberals with an intellectual theory. Instead, it gets presented simply as a moral assertion.

So those people who instinctively feel that something is wrong, and that they are being asked to accept a suicidal world view, are often confused about how to respond. They might conclude that the world has gone mad, or that someone must be pulling the strings behind the scenes. They want to strike back but aren't sure what to aim for.

That's why we need to present to these people the intellectual assumptions of liberalism, on which moral liberalism is ultimately based, and what it would mean to reject liberalism in principle.

A second consequence of moral liberalism being suicidal is that it brings about, over time, a growing dysfunction in society. It becomes more difficult to hold together the traditional goods of living in a Western society. That's significant, because moral liberals, for all their posturing, do generally want to continue to enjoy the traditional, non-liberal goods of Western society.

I notice this with the teachers I work with. They are exceptionally radical when it comes to moral liberalism; they are obsessed with an anti-white politics, subjecting the students to a constant barrage of anti-white and to a lesser degree anti-male messages. But they themselves tend to be conservative in their lifestyle: they live in safe white suburbs, amongst their own kind, in traditional family arrangements. They are in their own lifestyles and personalities highly respectable.

I wonder what will happen when things reach the point that the traditional goods of society are no longer so readily available for our moral liberals. What will happen, for instance, when teachers have no option but to work in dangerous schools in dangerous suburbs? What will happen when their own children miss out on university courses? Or are subjected to street violence?

Another weakness of moral liberalism is that those placed in the negative category, i.e. your average white, do tend to pick up on the insult. It's not unusual for the students I teach to complain to me about the situation; they feel that it's unjust and they tend to become cynical about the politics being foisted on them.

Again, this ought to be a major opportunity for traditionalists, but the problem is that most ordinary whites don't break decisively enough with moral liberalism. For instance, they might pick up on double standards (e.g. students might complain about the liberal teachers "You say that everyone should be treated equally but then you give all these special privileges to group X so you're the ones being racist") but they tend not to go further than this. Also, they tend not to be the type of people who would become politically active - they are the kind of white voters who are deserting the left-wing parties in droves, but they aren't likely to put their hand up to organise a new kind of party or political movement. They could, though, provide a lot of passive support for any movement which is able to get off the ground.

A third problem for moral liberalism is that it is powered by middle-class whites and this is the group that will decline most rapidly in society. What will happen, for instance, when middle-class white teachers are no longer 90% of the staff at the average school, but only 30%? Of course, other ethnic groups might carry on with it all for a while because it suits them to feel like they are oppressed and hard done by. But in my experience, the newer Indian and Chinese teachers don't get off as much on moral liberalism as white teachers do. If they want to chase social distinction and emotional/religious fulfilment they'll probably need to find some other way (I admit I could be wrong here - we'll have to see).

Finally, there's the issue of what we can do to prevent younger middle-class whites from slipping into moral liberalism. Moral liberalism fills a need for some of these whites. Could traditionalism fill this need instead? Could we present ourselves a bit differently, so that middle-class whites felt they were distinguishing themselves and showing important moral qualities by defending their own tradition - rather than by attacking it?

When we have the resources, we should think about returning to an older tradition of writing about the lives of distinguished members of our own nations. We need to present our own ideal of what distinguishes a person socially and morally.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Husbandless and empty

Here's a letter to Salon magazine from a woman who is grieving over her lost opportunity to be a wife and mother with a family of her own. I'm not posting it to panic my female readers but as evidence of just how important men are to women, no matter what feminist women might claim or aim for:

Dear Cary,

With this letter, I think I'm addressing an issue me and a number of my female friends are facing ... and there are probably more of us out there.

I'm a 42-year-old woman and have never been married, which often surprises the people I meet. I have the usual list of attributes ... attractive, kind, quite intelligent and with a warm and loving heart. I'm educated, cosmopolitan, responsible and self-sufficient ... a very normal, grounded woman who grew up in a loving home.

Why didn't it ever happen for me? I don't know ... I have been looking for a good man since my 20s and have always wanted to marry -- I didn't put career first or any of the usual excuses. I guess it is a combination of choosing the wrong men (or having them choose me), having high expectations, or maybe just plain bad luck. I was never willing to settle. I wanted a husband who was my equal, whom I was compatible with, and whom I could love and respect with all of my heart, as he would me. I didn't think this would be impossible -- many women find Mr. Right -- I just didn't and it never worked out with the men I was with. My friends have a similar profile, and are in the same predicament.

Now the problem. I do not want to be, or like, being single and sometimes I look at a future that seems empty and desolate and it frightens me. There are days when I don't know how to go on -- the sadness runs so deep. I have started to withdraw from friends and acquaintances who have a husband and children -- I feel like the odd one out, and the one who is to be pitied. I won't go to my high-school/college reunions for the same reason. It seems more acceptable to be divorced with kids than having never been married. Dating? After my last disappointment, I assume no one wants to settle down with a 40-something-year-old woman -- an eligible man will invariably choose a younger, more attractive option to date and marry. And the fact that I am too old for children causes me a quiet but intense feeling of grief.

All of this basically makes me feel like the train of life left the station and I'm still on the platform.

I guess my question is, what meaning is there to life without a husband and family? Please don't tell me to travel, do volunteer work, have a rewarding career, etc., etc. I have done all that. I have been all over the world and visited my "dream destinations," I have lived overseas for several years, I have seen wonders both natural and man-made. I currently live in probably the most exciting city in the U.S., if not the world, I have a career, I've gotten my master's degree, I've done volunteer work, I attend church, I have friends and family. Yes, all of this is nice, but my life feels empty, hollow and meaningless. I would have traded it all to have had a normal life with a wonderful husband and kids, and a home. I feel adrift, purposeless and like my life is finished ... though it never even really got started.

How do I find some meaning and purpose in my life? And how do I reconcile the life I have now with with the one I expected, when they are so very different? And how do I face a future that seems like an empty void ... no husband, no children, no grandchildren. Nothing.

Husbandless and Empty

She's not alone in her predicament. A report in the Daily Mail today shows that 20% of women in the UK have missed out on having children. The percentage amongst the university educated will be much higher.

In Australia, for instance, a 2003 research paper showed that the rate of childlessness amongst women with a bachelor's degree was double the average. One third of Australian women with an income over $50,000 ended up childless.

In Canada, a 2009 research paper found that childlessness rose with the level of a woman's education: 11% for women with a high school education and 25% for the university educated.

Most of these women did not want to end up childless:

The intention to be childfree is low among the young. Using the 2001 Canadian General Social Survey on Family History, Stobert and Kemeny (2003) estimate that the proportion intending to remain childfree stays constant at 6 to 9 percent for men and women aged 20-34.

So what goes wrong? Clearly, one factor is a failure to marry. It's still the case that married women are much, much more likely to have children than women who are either single or in de facto relationships. In Canada, 12% of married women ended up childless compared to 26% of women in de facto relationships and 60% of single women.

So you might think that something as important as marriage and family formation would be given a high priority and that women (and men) would be raised to cultivate the kinds of qualities needed for family life. But that doesn't happen as much now. Family formation has almost become an afterthought - something to be delayed for as long as possible. It's left to take care of itself, whilst people dedicate themselves to other life pursuits.

And here's one final thought. Miss Husbandless and Empty wanted a man who was her equal, by which she presumably means a man who had at least her level of education and professional attainment. She wasn't willing to settle for anything less.

But this means that she should have been worried by the social trends which have seen more women than men in higher education and in the workforce. It stands to reason that if women refuse to "settle" by marrying men with lower educational or professional qualifications, at a time when women are earning an ever higher percentage of college degrees, that there will be many more disappointed women wondering why they never met Mr Right.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Maria Shriver on marriage and choice

The marriage of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver has broken up after Schwarzenegger told his wife of a child he had fathered with another woman. My own wife is very sympathetic to the plight of Maria Shriver; I would be more so if Maria Shriver believed in a stable family life. Instead, she has taken delight in her feminist writings in the decline in marriage, believing that it opens up choices for women:

In 2009, women have more choices than they did 40 years ago. They can choose to have kids with a partner, in a traditional marriage or not. They can choose to stay childless, live as single parents, or choose a same-sex partner. They can be like the single mothers who raised a president of the United States and a brand-new Supreme Court justice. They can be like Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin. They can be like Diane Sawyer, Michelle Obama, Sandra Day O’Connor, or like Nancy Pelosi, who spent the first half of her life staying home to raise five children and then went on to become the first female Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Or anything else they can imagine.

If being able to choose anything you want is progress, then did Arnie have the right to choose whatever he wanted? Is that progress for men? Or are men supposed to do the right thing, whilst their feminist wives promote family breakdown?

Seriously, Maria Shriver was married with children. She should not have been celebrating the decline of marriage as a step toward choice and progress. Her feminism was not at all in her own interests or that of her children.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Caught in a trap

Why can't Western intellectuals act to defend the interests of their own larger tradition?

I read three articles this week which give some idea of the problem. The first was by someone in the men's movement proposing the creation of what he calls the "Zeta Male". The author of the Zeta Male genuinely believes he is breaking the mould in what he is suggesting. But when you get to the details it turns out there is nothing new at all.

The Zeta Male is the product of an orthodox liberalism. Liberalism tells us that the highest good is to be autonomous; freedom, therefore, means being self-determining. Our sex is not something we self-determine; it is predetermined. So liberals become hostile to traditional sex roles, believing they are impediments to a freedom to do as we will.

And the Zeta Male follows along obediently with the logic of liberal autonomy theory. The Zeta Male is a man who rejects the role of being a provider or protector (a "white knight") in order to be free to do as he pleases. The Zeta Male, in fact, rejects the role of husband and father altogether in order to be free to do as he pleases.

What if there are men who enjoy being a provider and protector within a family? The Zeta Male author has never met one and thinks that his readers will think such an existence to be crazy, but on reflection he is willing to let such men have this option as long as it doesn't encourage any societal expectations:

The key to overcoming this risk ... is to make it clear to everyone at all times that they have options. From a young age we should teach boys that they do not have to be the defenders of honor and society.

You can see the individualism at play here. In order to be radically autonomous I have to be taught from an early age that I have no role in defending society.

Obviously, someone who accepts this mindset is not going to be motivated to defend his tradition. They will be motivated by little more than hedonism:

We are free to live, act, and feel as we please. It may seem hedonistic...
Here's more from the Zeta Male:

We are doing what we want, taking our lives into our own hands. The traditional institutional notions of masculinity will be at our mercy.

The traditional ideals of masculinity are going to be clay in our hands. Zeta male theory lets us mold the social institutions to our will. But first we have a different goal: to take it down.

Gender roles are highly institutionalized in society, and with all institutions, that are created. They can also be taken apart, and in the long run, that is what the goal is...

Zeta males have every intention of breaking apart society, and building it right back up how we see fit. How do we see the new masculinity in its most ideal form? Freedom.

...In fact you might not even want to be seen as a man, and that is fine too. As long as you are who you want to be and can keep your head up high with pride you fit into the new design. For better or for worse, there is no shame in who you have decided to be as long as you are happy with it.

This is very predictable: the argument is that sex roles are just social constructs that we can recreate according to our own will as a proof of our freedom, with the ultimate proof of freedom being not identifying as a man at all.

Has any civilisation ever endured on such a basis? If men no longer have pride in masculinity and in their role as the defenders of society, then a civilisation will inevitably decline. We should not be surprised that the West is in trouble when such a philosophy dominates.

The second article I read was by a sex negative feminist. Although she is heterosexual, she believes that it is politically wrong for women to have vaginal (PIV) intercourse. Why? She sees it as an act of colonisation of women by men:

people throughout history have had something in common: they dont like being colonized.  that is, people coming into your neighborhood and setting up shop in YOUR SPACE.  when this happens, and it has happened to many peoples, around the world, the people who have been colonized understand what has happened to them.  they have lost their autonomy 

PIV, complains this feminist woman, keeps women dependent on men:

PIV ... *is* a fundamental part of the narrative that keeps us in servitude, to men ... because PIV causes pregnancy.  PIV causes illness.  pregnancy, illness, and babies (upon babies, upon babies) cause women to become dependant on others, on men

PIV, by causing pregnancy, interferes with women's careers:

PIV is known to destroy womens careers, and their livelihoods, as well. not even considering the “mommy track” that so many women allegedly “choose,” even if you have an early abortion, you are risking getting in trouble at work if you are too sick to come in, in the first weeks and months of pregnancy due to morning sickness.

Finally, PIV is also thought wrong because it causes women to bond emotionally with men:

PIV hurts and is harmful to women, but not to men. how can you tell? we form emotional bonds with men we have f... look at the most common “female response” to PIV (emotional attachment)

And here:

i have written here before, mostly for the benefit of the young uns, that its extremely important that you never, ever, become dependant on a man, for any reason. mostly i meant financially, because thats a big one, HUGE in fact, and its so easily fallen into. but this one is new, and it surprised me. PIV makes you emotionally dependant on your partner, and emotionally invested in the relationship to a large degree, because you might need him in a pinch

These ideas are obviously at the more radical end of the feminist spectrum, written by a gloomy, unhappy 30-year-old woman who has majored in women's studies. But there's a logic to her position: sex does involve a woman committing her trust to a man and bonding emotionally with a man. And motherhood does leave a woman more dependent on a husband and less available for careers. So sex might seem emblematic of a loss of female autonomy - a problem, perhaps, if you've been "educated" to think of men as your oppressors and autonomy as the prize to be fought for in competition with men.

Anyway, women brought up within this kind of intellectual framework are hardly going to commit themselves to motherhood and a stable family life. They are not going to provide the next generation of Westerners.

Both the feminist and the Zeta male have rejected the traditional family roles that are necessary for communal traditions to endure.

But Western intellectuals need not remain caught in the liberal trap. The third article I read was the most positive one. It was written by a woman who is conflicted about this whole issue. She has clearly been influenced by feminism, but she nonetheless can't accept the goal of total independence from men:

I’ll never forget a scrap of conversation I heard on the radio. A young couple with a new baby found themselves in a terrible fix, jobless, homeless, rejected by family. The young woman, overwhelmed, cried out, “I just wish you could fix everything!” and her boyfriend responded not with anger, but with a postmodern whine: “That’s totally unfair—what a sexist construct!” And the woman wept, “I know, I know.”

But she didn’t want to be pampered—she just wanted, as a mother and wife, to be sheltered for a moment, even if only by words of comfort. She wanted to know that he would at least try to take care of her and the baby—and surely he wanted to believe that he was capable and strong, a real man. But the world had taught them both that what they wanted was something foolish, artificial, and archaic. And so they did not know what to do—neither one of them.

My husband and I depend on each other equally, but in different ways—why is that so terrible to admit? Women and men alike have been robbed of a very basic human understanding of couplehood—but the longing doesn’t go away. Women long to be cared for. This is not wrong.

When I am pregnant, I know my husband will care for me. When I’m tired, he will help. When someone insults me, he will defend me. When I spend time caring for babies and the house, I’ll be met with gratitude, not mocked and belittled. I’m no shrinking violet, but sometimes I just plain need him—and he needs to be needed.

She has begun to assert other goods, those connected to marriage and family, rather than just an individualistic autonomy. She justifies these goods not in terms of an ideology, but as a lived experience of what connects men and women in relationships and of what is natural for men and women to gift each other within a marriage.

She is no longer caught in the trap which is proving so harmful to the West. She can marry and raise children and create a family of her own. She is not stuck within a limiting ideology; her mind is more free in this sense than either the Zeta male or the radical feminist.

She has found a way forward, we need others to follow.

Man stops city

An Australian man, Michael Fox, forced the closure of Sydney Harbour Bridge on Friday, after abseiling down the bridge and unfurling banners. He was protesting about being denied access to his three children.

He has successfully brought the issue of father's rights to public attention. He told a Sydney radio station:

I've asked for help so many times - no one wants to help the blokes. The chicks get in first and start throwing stones, the blokes don't stand a chance.

Michael Fox believes that his children are at risk of harm living with their mother, though there are no details about what he believes the threat to be. It's also not clear yet why the courts have prevented him having access to his children. He was involved in a bikie shootout some years ago and a house he owns burnt down around the time he was denied access. He himself has hinted that the issue is one of parental alienation syndrome, meaning that his children have been turned against him by their mother. It's difficult right now to have a definite opinion on the rights and wrongs of his particular custody battle.

But his daring act has won attention not only to his own case, but to the issue of court bias in general. We'll see have to see how this develops.

Men without muscle

I couldn't help but notice something striking in the photos of the first few slutwalks. Many of the women were overweight and many of the men remarkably underweight. What is it, in particular, about the new generation of left-wing men? They look like weaklings:

Why do the left-wing men look so enervated? Are they vegans? Are they trying to suppress the masculinity they've rejected?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The sluts are revolting

The left has adopted as its latest cause slut pride:

What is it that matters for the woman in the photo below? It's not beauty or love or family. It's not a concern for her own society. It's doing what she wants without impediment (autonomy).

Laura Wood has a post on the issue. I think she's right when she argues:

Good men don’t want to protect sluts. Why risk one’s life for a slut? Why care about a woman who is willing to give up nothing for you or for other decent men like you?

That's true for me. When women announce to the world that they are proud to be sluts, then I no longer feel connected to them as part of the society I inhabit.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Jewel Woods - a black male feminist with a checklist

You might have seen the privilege checklists that do the rounds on the internet. They're long and usually incoherent lists of how men or whites are privileged compared to others. But some progressives take them very seriously.

What is the latest checklist? It's a 93 point list on black male privilege, written by a black male feminist called Jewel Woods (hat tip Elusive Wapiti).

It's refreshing, as a white male, not to be the target of the latest list. And the list does us all a service by damaging the credibility of such privilege checklists, as well as the political mindset behind them. Just look at some of the evidence Jewel Woods gives for being privileged as a black man relative to black women:

12. I do not have to worry about the daily hassles of having my hair conforming to any standard image of beauty the way black women do.

13. I do not have to worry about the daily hassles of being terrorized by the fear of gaining weight.
What exactly are black men supposed to do about this? It comes across as a whinge about the nature of reality.

21. I can live in a world where polygamy is still an option for men in the United States as well as around the world.

22. In general, I prefer being involved with younger women socially and sexually

Again, the average black man has little control over any of this. It's part of a social or natural reality. And yet it's being thrown at them as a privilege checklist.

36. Many of my favorite movies include images of strength that do not include members of the opposite sex and often are based on violence.

37. Many of my favorite genres of films, such as martial arts, are based on violence.

OK, so many men like action films with male protagonists. And?

41. I can believe that the success of the black family is dependent on returning men to their historical place within the family, rather than in promoting policies that strengthen black women's independence, or that provide social benefits to black children.

42. I have the privilege of believing that a woman cannot raise a son to be a man.

What can I say? He doesn't want men to return to the family as husbands and fathers. He wants black women to be even more autonomous through larger amounts of state funding. And if black men themselves believe otherwise then that's supposed to be more evidence that they are guilty of "privilege".

It just goes to show how these checklists are designed to badger/guilt trip people into following a left-wing politics. Think about it, he believes that black men will prove themselves committed to equality only if they endorse fatherless families, i.e. only if they believe that they are unnecessary in the lives of their own children.

50. In school, girls are cheerleaders for male athletes, but there is no such role for males to cheerlead for women athletes.

59. I am able to play sports outside without my shirt on and it not be considered a problem.

60. I am essentially able to do anything inside or outside without my shirt on, whereas women are always required to cover up.

So the sexes aren't interchangeable. The male chest doesn't have the same sexual connotations as the female one. Again, this is a complaint about the nature of reality.

66. In college, I will have the opportunity to date outside of the race at a much higher rate than black women will.

68. I know that the further I go in education the more success I will have with women.

70. By the time I enter college, and even through college, I have the privilege of not having to worry whether I will be able to marry a black woman.

71. In college, I will experience a level of status and prestige that is not offered to black women even though black women may outnumber me and out perform me academically.

So black women enter college in much larger numbers than black men, giving black men in college a dating advantage, and this is considered to be evidence of black male privilege? Why isn't it evidence that black men are less privileged than women when it comes to college admissions?

74. I can choose to be emotionally withdrawn and not communicate in a relationship and it be considered unfortunate but normal.

76. I have the privilege of not knowing what words and concepts like patriarchy, phallocentric, complicity, colluding, and obfuscation mean.
Right, so it's now considered a political offense to be emotionally withdrawn or to be unfamiliar with technical terms within feminist discourse. These checklists become longer and more demanding with each passing year.
77. I have the privilege of marrying outside of the race at a much higher rate than black women marry.

Truly incoherent. According to point 41 black men are privileged because they believe they are necessary to the black family. But in point 77 they are considered privileged for marrying out. So they are damned either way.

I won't go on further. I'll just draw the obvious conclusion. Why would anyone want to be male feminist? Would you really want to inhabit the mental space of Jewel Woods, who believes he is privileged because he doesn't have to care as much about hair care as his female peers?

Was progressive politics ever more stultifying, or as intrusive, as this?

If it's now the state's job to support mothers to be at home...

The Labor Government has a new policy on teenage single mothers. Teen mothers will receive a welfare payment for 12 months, but will then be expected to finish high school if they want to continue to receive money from the government.

The Government is concerned to avoid a situation like the one in England, in which a growing number of single mothers live off welfare and raise daughters who do likewise (53% of the daughters of single mothers become single mothers themselves).

I don't often write about the issue of welfare, but this one is relevant because if large numbers of young women choose to be supported by state welfare, then what happens to the men who would once have married them? As one English researcher wrote of teen girls choosing to become mothers:

Traditionally they would not have been able to do this without finding male partners and motivating them to help as family providers.

But the welfare state has changed all that, by stepping in as a direct provider itself, rendering many potentially helpful men redundant in the process.

So it seems to me that the Gillard Government policy is a reasonable compromise. It gives the teen mothers a year to look after their newborn children, but then imposes some work/education expectations.

Susie O'Brien, a Herald Sun columnist, doesn't see it this way at all. She wrote:

Let's stop picking on teenage single parents. Most of them are doing it hard enough already, without the threat of losing their livelihood.

Their livelihood? That's an interesting way of describing a welfare payment. It's as if Susie O'Brien wants to treat the single mother payment as something so normal and run of the mill that it fits into the same category as earning a living through a trade or profession.

Why would she do this? There's a clue, I think, in her follow up comment:

Why have a paid maternity leave scheme encouraging mothers to take time off to be with their kids, but force teen mums back to school or work once their kid is just one year old?

At first I didn't understand this argument. The paid maternity leave scheme doesn't allow women to spend all that long with their children. It allows women 18 weeks at the minimum wage, paid for by the government, before they are expected back at work. So if working mums are expected back at work after just four and half months, why not expect teen mothers to go to work after 12 months?

But then I got the connection. In traditional societies it was expected that a husband would support his wife when she was at home with their children. Men were therefore paid a living wage and given tax breaks if they had kids. But with the advent of the paid maternity leave scheme it is now official that the government has taken over this role. Therefore, it makes sense for Susie O'Brien to look on the government as being the legitimate provider enabling women to be at home raising their children. It makes sense for her to see the government payment as a legitimate "livelihood" for women who choose to raise children, with the absence or presence of a husband no longer being as relevant. And if you think it's a good thing for women to be at home with their kids, then you'll start to believe that the government should pay for them to do so - since that is now the government's role.

It confirms my belief that paid parental schemes should be opposed. I know that the money will be very welcome to some people, including to some of my readers. But there are other ways for the state to support families financially, such as through tax breaks.

To repeat, one of the major problems with a paid maternity leave scheme is that it legitimates the idea that it is the government which is to play the provider role and allow women to mother their children at home. Once this principle is accepted, then it will quickly become a "right" for women, whether married or not, to have the government pay for them to raise their children. Those women who want to be at home raising their children will increasingly look to the government to fund this desire.

I'm not sure how far the government will go in meeting such expectations. A lot of feminists prefer women to work rather than to be at home and it would be expensive for governments to write a blank cheque to fund the tremendous costs involved. But we can see from the attitude of Susie O'Brien that there are going to be women who will think it reasonable for the government to fulfil such expectations.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

A devouring ideology

More important than which political party is in power is the state ideology. Governments come and go, but the state ideology remains as an ongoing basis for policy decisions which determine the direction of society.

So what is our state ideology? In Australia, as elsewhere in the West, the state ideology is liberalism. Liberalism is one of the most radical of ideologies as it is based on a single, overriding good which society is expected to conform to.

Liberals would describe that good as “freedom” or perhaps as “equal freedom” but they mean something very specific by this. They mean that the individual should be unimpeded in self-defining, or self-creating, or self-determining their existence, in other words, that the individual should be autonomous.

That sounds appealing, but when it is made the sole organising good of society, it has exceptionally radical outcomes.

It means that anything that we cannot self-determine is looked on negatively as an impediment to our freedom.

What can’t we self-determine? We do not get to choose which sex we are. Therefore, liberals are forced to conclude that our sex should be made not to matter. The liberal future is a unisex one, in which men and women are expected to live undifferentiated lives.

That’s why gender equality in a liberal state is not thought of as ‘equal but different’ or as ‘equal with complementary roles’ but as ‘equal with the same roles’. Where roles continue to differ it is assumed to be the product of sexism or discrimination and the state intervenes with policies or laws to overcome the situation.

There are liberals who even question the reality of sex distinctions. They believe that the distinction between male and female is a social construct rather than a natural reality. For instance, Professor Judith Butler has written that,

... gender is a performance ... Because there is neither an “essence” that gender expresses or externalizes nor an objective ideal to which gender aspires; because gender is not a fact, the various acts of gender create the idea of gender, and without those acts, there would be no gender at all. Gender is, thus, a construction...

Similarly, an influential Australian academic, Dr Michael Flood believes that we should not,

take as given the categories of "men" and "women". The binaries of male and female are socially produced ...

The Swedish government has made it official state policy that sex distinctions are nothing more than social constructs. Jens Orback, a government minister, declared that,

The government considers female and male as social constructions, that means gender patterns are created by upbringing, culture, economic conditions, power structures and political ideologies.

Another Swedish state official, Monica Silvell, followed up by noting that as a result of the new thinking in her country,

The old view of men and women complementing one another was replaced by the notion that the sexes were basically similar.

Nor is our sex the only thing we don’t get to self-determine. We also don’t get to choose our own ethnicity. That means that the older national traditions which were largely based on shared ethnicity are considered morally wrong by liberals. They are to be replaced by nations in which people are bound together by a shared commitment to a political ideology which, conveniently for liberals, is liberalism.

That’s why David Cameron, the British PM, responded earlier this year to concerns about a lack of a unifying identity in the UK by talking about the need to push the liberal ideology harder on society:

we must build stronger societies and stronger identities at home. Frankly, we need a lot less of the passive tolerance of recent years and a much more active muscular liberalism.

Cameron went so far as to claim that anyone who didn’t believe in liberalism didn’t belong in the UK:

A passively tolerant society says to its citizens, as long as you obey the law we will just leave you alone. It stands neutral between different values. But I believe a genuinely liberal country does much more; it believes in certain values and actively promotes them … It says to its citizens, this is what defines us as a society: to belong here is to believe in these things.

But is liberalism much of a basis for unifying a society? The Oxford Companion to Philosophy in its entry on liberalism doubts that it is:

A similar question has been raised about the long-term political stability of a liberal society. Non-liberal societies are typically held together by shared conceptions of the good, such as a common religion, or by common ethnicity. Members of these societies are willing to make sacrifices for each other because of their commonalities. But what holds a [liberal] society together?

Some liberals suggest that the tie that binds the citizens of a liberal society is simply a shared commitment to liberal principles of freedom and equality. It is debatable whether this is a 'thick' enough bond to keep a society together.

Conservative critics have argued that the stability of liberal societies is based on a pre-liberal sense of shared identity. Citizens of England, for example, do not see each other primarily as individual rights-holders, but as fellow members of the English nation, with a shared history and culture. This gives rise to a sense of solidarity which is prior to, and deeper than, a shared commitment to liberalism. It is this national solidarity which explains why the English work together, and make sacrifices for each other. Conservatives worry that this sense of being members of the same 'people' or culture or community is gradually being eroded by the individualism of liberal rights, which treats people in abstraction from their communal ties and responsibilities.

...few liberals are willing to acknowledge that these liberal nation states depend for their viability not only on adherence to liberal values, but also on the inculcation of deeper feelings of national identity.

Because we don’t get to self-determine our sex or our ethnicity, liberals treat these negatively as impediments to individual freedom. So we are to be freed from being men or women, Australians or Canadians, rather than as these things. The liberal mistake is to make autonomy the sole, overriding good, rather than one good to be balanced with many others. Liberalism is a devouring ideology, and unfortunately it is our state ideology.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Libertarians: communities have no rights

Libertarians can be very hostile to communal traditions. Take a recent discussion on immigration at the libertarian Reason magazine (hat tip VFR). One commenter bravely took a stand against open borders:

What about the rights of a community of individuals to decide that they don't want their culture to be overwhelmed and subsumed by an alien culture, with widely divergent norms, language, etc?

The response? Well, there was this:

In a Libertarian World that community should have no trouble purchasing an apartment building and requiring that any tenants are only WASPy WASPs. I'll enjoy mocking them while eating a burrito.

An apartment building? Tenants? Is that how libertarians conceive of a national tradition holding together?

It reflects the libertarian idea that a society of millions of atomised individual wills can be regulated through the market, specifically through property rights (a form of radical right liberalism). So the libertarian quoted above assumes that if you're going to have any kind of communal existence it will be through an assertion of individual property rights (a group of individuals buying a building and deciding who can be tenants).

Another libertarian posted an equally extreme reply:

What about the rights of a community?

No such thing, dumbass. Every individual has the right to not be Mexican. That's it.

Americans have no right to assert their existence as Americans, states this libertarian. There is only an individual right to not have a particular ethnicity or group identity.

This view was then challenged by a commenter who wrote:

So Israel *should* allow a right of return to any Palestinian? (Hell, I guess it should allow any Arab, even one whose ancestors didn't come from Palestine, to come to Israel.) Since the members of the community have no more than the right of its individuals not to be Arab.

The libertarian answer?

Yup. The fake "right of a community to exclude others from entering its vicinity" is not a property right.

The focus is so much on individual property rights, that there is no other collective right to assert national sovereignty - not even when there are important issues of security at stake.

Another libertarian put the issue like this:

"What about the rights of a community of individuals to decide that they don't want their culture to be overwhelmed and subsumed by an alien culture, with widely divergent norms, language, etc?"

Then each of those individuals, respectively, can refuse such people use of their property. What they can't do is tell willing neighbors what to do with theirs. That's the issue.

Again, individual property rights trump everything else. There is no national sovereignty or collective decision making. There's just me as an individual property holder deciding what I'll use my property for. Libertarians value being an individual property holder more than they value being an American.

Here's another libertarian:

Rights are individual and inherent...communities have no rights.

What if I'm an individual who wants to live in a community? How am I supposed to protect this communal existence? Libertarian answer:

Strong property rights so you can buy some land, build an underground bunker and seal yourself away from the scary people who look and talk different than you.

Individual property rights again, plus hostility to the idea that people might want to preserve a distinct tradition of their own.

Another libertarian explained it slightly differently. He saw an advertising sign in his American town which was entirely in Spanish - no English. That was great in his view, because it showed that the market was responding to what people wanted:

The other day I was sitting at a light and above me was a large, prominent billboard advertising a food product (don't remember) entirely in Spanish. The whole billboard: Spanish. No english whatsoever.

As a libertarian my immediate thought was how cool that is. This is capitalism at work. No one forced them to write the sign in English and Spanish. No one is forcing them to take it down (yet). No legislative process took place to force advertising that was previously ignoring a minority community.

Sorry dude, capitalism (when it's allowed to work) figures out what the needs and desires of a community are, and that's that. If that means my "culture" is "overwhelmed and subsumed", too bad for me. I'll get over it and brush up on my Spanish.

This guy so much believes in the regulation of society by the market, that if it means the extinguishing of his own national tradition, then that must be a good thing that he should just adapt to.

Another libertarian commenter:

Restrictions on immigration violate the property and contract rights of Americans. If I want to hire or rent to some guy from Guatemala, it should be between him and me, period.

And another:

if the population of Saudi Arabia could all find and legally acquire places to live, then yes, they could all immigrate to the US. It is the right of property owners to rent or sell their property to whomever they want.

One commenter objected that open borders might lead to overcrowding and he asked how many people the libertarians thought America could hold. The answer?

Hong Kong -- which is not too crowded at all, has virtually no natural resources but quite a bit of parkland, and was the most laissez faire place on earth for decades -- has more than 3000 persons per square mile. That density would allow the US's 3.8 million square miles to hold over 10 billion people.

10 billion? That really is open borders to the max.

Somehow we in the West have to get over this kind of politics. It's a politics which claims to deliver freedom, but it ends up being a very limited kind of freedom, in which about the only thing I'm free to do is to dispose of my property as I wish.

You cannot regulate a society through individual property rights alone, any more than you can regulate it effectively by a class of state bureaucrats.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

A dismal view of relationships

Here's something good and something bad about The Spearhead, one of the men's rights sites. On the positive side, the administrators of the site do allow a wide range of views to be published, including from more conservative men. But, despite this, there is increasingly a single view being expressed in the comments, one that is not just against modern marriage, but marriage in general and in favour of either casual relationships or none at all.

That seems to me to be too pessimistic a view, one which doesn't even allow the possibility that some men might marry happily and have children and raise another generation of Westerners.

And, what's worse, some of the feminist women who visit the site have an even more pessimistic view of relationships than the men. One comment from "Amanda" is one of the most dismal I have ever come across:

It’s a shame, at first I thought this site would be about men also wanting equality, about the sexism shown men. Now I can see it’s a bunch of sexist angry men abusing women.

As a woman, yes I am ashamed to be one most of the time, but equally I also admit, men, if women are being honest, are not what women want……but have been socially conditioned to drop their standards to get with them anyway. If women were being honest, there would be a majority of celibate single women out there and very few in relationships. Probably equally so, men would say the same if the truth were actually being told. We make each other miserable right now as we are in a time of change.

[Men are not what women want? Women are not what men want? That's way too pessimistic a view. It's certainly not true for men. It's natural for young men to be crazy about girls - and to think of the desirability and the beauty of women as one of the great experiences in life.]

I can put it simply what will make it easier...take away your preconceptions about men and women. Stop trying to control women with labels, a feminist is not angry, or bitter and nor is she necessarily a man hater. My best friends are all but 2 men. Do I like them from a relationship perspective? No and I am honest about that, no what men offer, I don’t want (other than I find them physically attractive and great friends to have). Do I like how men try and control, not at all. DO I like how men sexualise women? No I really don’t. Do I like how men almost treat women like children who don’t know anything, no I don’t as I am smarter than most men and earn more than most thank you. Do I like how as a woman I am expected to be a certain way and perform certain duties? No I don’t. You get the have to admit, you guys do love to make a woman feel like a freak for speaking out and being honest about how she feels, what she thinks or what she really wants. You do love to silence by using labels like angry, bitter, issues and psycho.

[Amanda doesn't want what men offer. Again, a dismal view. Already, we get the idea that Amanda doesn't like traditional gender roles and because of this has been alienated from normal human relationships. Her ideology is getting in the way of a loving relationship with a man.]

I get you guys, yes I would love even as a woman to come home to a gorgeous man, who looked after my kids, was kind and loving and made me nice food and made sure my home was all cozy and lovely. Wouldn’t anyone? It just isn’t fair that you guys are the only ones who get that, so cut us so called feminist some slack, we want that too….it isn’t just you who has a right to the beautiful stay home parent and home maker dream……we just have our dream with a gorgeous manly man (no we dont want weak feeble men and I hate that you make out stay home dads and guys who also want equality are in some way pansys or weak guys dominated by bossy women).

[Amanda misunderstands the male commenters at The Spearhead. They have rejected the traditional ideal of having a loving wife at home. They consider that entrapment or oppression of the male. Again, note that Amanda's rejection of traditional gender roles means that she has been pushed a long, long way away from a normal relationship. She is asking men to transform themselves into feminine homemakers, but without losing their masculinity. That's her asking price for a relationship, one which is obviously likely to keep her single.]

I agree though on this topic, women are dropping their standards and they shouldn’t. I have been celibate for three and a half years now as I want what I offer, I want an equal and I will not get with a guy who thinks it’s in any way womens work to stay home and raise the kids and he would have to believe it’s equally a males role. I would not accept gender roles in that respect………hence I accept I will likely be single forever and I am fine with that, as I have an awesome life and lack nothing. Not saying it wouldn’t be nice to have a gorgeous guy who I adored, but I fear, just as the guy who wrote this article does, that wanting it too much will make you settle as a woman. Don’t forget the rubbish we have been sold since we were born, dependence on men, their approval, we are nothing without a man in our life. I don’t believe that obviously, I like being single and its only going to be my best mate who makes my heart melt and my knees go weak am I ever going to change that for, a guy I genuinely like and respect who doesn’t have any sexist ideas about his or my gender.

[She knows that she is likely to be single forever because she rejects the idea of feminine or masculine roles in relationships despite retaining a heterosexual preference for masculine men. She has boxed herself into a corner. She wants a man who makes her go weak at the knees but he is not to assert masculine preferences as that would be "sexism". Good luck with that Amanda.]

I am a feminist I guess, but I prefer to have a new term, one that just wants to get rid of labels based on gender and is open for men and women to have equality, as equality is not just a womans to this article points out , there is much sexism toward men (see the court system tacking kids away from men as the woman gets awarded based on her gender, men expected to provide still by many sexist womens attitudes where the guy may want to stay home) . I am as aggressive, competitive and strong as any guy, I dress very feminine, not even a hint of butch before anyone suggests it, I wear make up, have long hair and all that typical stuff of the very feminine woman. However, thats where it stops for me and I won’t fit into a ‘womans role’ and I find it the most unattractive thing to see guys fitting into typical ‘mens roles’ just to conform with their fellow males.

[The unprincipled exception. She thinks that our sex shouldn't matter and yet she still presents herself in a feminine way. Perhaps gender identity matters to her more than she's willing to admit. Or perhaps she knows that heterosexuality really does require an expression of the feminine in women. But her compromise is not a consistent one. She's going to dress feminine but act masculine. Maybe she's internalised an idea that feminine behaviour is inferior to masculine behaviour. If so, that's a great pity. Nor do I think that too many self-confident men are going to accept a deal in which a woman dresses like a woman but acts like a man.]

Instead of fighting against each other and fighting against feminists, we should ditch the terminology and join together, for absolute equality….to ditch all of the social conditioned rubbish forced on both genders and accept (and reject) each other based on there not being a good fit if thats not the case.

Isn’t it better both genders be just who they are and admit they don’t fit from a relationship perspctive?

[They don't fit, Amanda, because you believe that the masculine role is the privileged one and so you want both sexes to follow a masculine path. So there can no longer be complementary relationships between men and women.]

To the calls of look at nature arguers. I tell you the following, females sleep with males only when they want to get pregnant, they sleep with many males at that time, all of the best genetic males only, then they leave. Most males die virgins as only the best genetic make ups ever get laid. Many males get killed by females for trying to mate. You get the point, the nature argument of animals cannot be used to control women back into the kitchen.

[This girl needs a good lie down on a sunny Queensland beach. What a dark and dismal view. As it happens, there is a lot of variation in the animal kingdom when it comes to sex selection. But pair bonding is not that uncommon. And it's even more common for mothers to be the primary caregivers of the young.]

I am a firm believer, when you look at all the couples you know, that in half the cases, the man has more nurturing, kind, warm traits which are better suited to the parental role in a family. However, stupid ideas about it being a womans role mean there are many miserable depressed males going out there slogging his guts out hating his job when really he is the nurturer had he not been socially conditioned otherwise. Then you have many competitive, protective, assertive, strong women who are miserable doing her gender role as stay home parent and home maker when really she would have been an excellent CEO/Engineer etc.

[She gives the game away when she claims that half of men are better suited to the "parental" role in a family. Note that she only recognises one "parental" role rather than distinct maternal and paternal ones. And note that she specifies exactly half of men being better suited to the "parental" role - this is not an accident, it's necessary if she wants to decouple gender from family roles. It's ideology run riot.]

I fight for both sides, I want nothing but to get rid of gender roles and assumptions about both genders. We are PEOPLE, nothing but people, not gender roles and the sooner we all realise this the better and happier we will all become.

[As I've said many times, the aim of a liberal society is to make gender not matter. But look at what it means for relationships. You end up with women like Amanda who have been made wholly unfit for marriage and who preach an extraordinarily dismal theory of how men and women should interact.]

More on green Anglicans

In my last post I reported that the Anglican Church in Australia, for green reasons, is calling for fewer babies and for less business related immigration.

I've only just remembered writing a similar post back in 2006 about the Episcopalian Church in the US (the American equivalent to the Anglicans). The Episcopalians commissioned a report to find out why they had lost 829,000 members between 1967 and 2002. The main finding was that the educated whites who made up the core of the Episcopalian Church had a low fertility rate of only 1.5.

So did the Episcopalians conclude that they should encourage family formation amongst their congregation? No, not at all:

Q. How many members of the Episcopal Church are there in this country?

About 2.2 million. It used to be larger percentagewise, but Episcopalians tend to be better educated and tend to reproduce at lower rates than some other denominations. Roman Catholics and Mormons both have theological reasons for producing lots of children.

Q. Episcopalians aren't interested in replenishing their ranks by having children?

No. It's probably the opposite. We encourage people to pay attention to the stewardship of the earth and not use more than their portion.

So environmentalism is being used here too to justify declining numbers and significance. It's as if the church leaders are saying, well we're not going to be a very significant church in the future, but that just shows how superior we are in our morals since we're demonstrating green credentials.

That seems hopeless to me. There are literally millions of illegal immigrants arriving in the US, fueling massive population growth. The environment is not being protected. So Episcopalians not having children is not serving any purpose at all. It's just hastening the process by which one population (of educated whites) is being replaced by other populations.