Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Julia attitude

Barack Obama ran a "Life of Julia" campaign recently which attracted a lot of criticism. Julia is a (fictional) white American woman who goes through life being supported by government welfare policies rather than through a family. She does have one child at age 31, but apart from that Julia lives her life as an individual supported by the state.

It's not surprising that left-liberals would feel comfortable promoting such a life, given that their ideal is an autonomous individual whose life conditions are to be made equal by a state bureaucracy. But there was less support for such a vision of life on the right. Andrew Bolt wrote:
Beyond parody. Barack Obama’s latest ad boasts how a single woman can be married to the government for life.

And from James Taranto:
The most shocking bit of the Obama story is that Julia apparently never marries. She simply “decides” to have a baby, and Obama uses other people’s money to help her take care of it.

...In 1999 Lionel Tiger coined the word “bureaugamy" to refer to the relationship between officially impoverished mothers of illegitimate children and the government. “The Life of Julia” is an insidious attack on the institution of the family, an endorsement of bureaugamy even for middle-class women.

It's interesting that the American left should be ramping up the idea of replacing family support with state welfare at exactly the moment such a model is failing in Europe. There are European countries now facing a serious debt crisis because of excessive government spending (even in Australia the average worker is now paying $5000 a year in taxes to support welfare spending).

It's interesting too that left-liberalism has continued moving left to the point that Barack Obama's advert is now more radical than the views expressed by feminist Germaine Greer back in 1991. Greer wrote back then that "Most societies have arranged matters so that a family surrounds and protects mother and child" and she complained of "our families having withered away" with relationships becoming "less durable every year".

There is no such sense of lament about a woman being supported by the state rather than by a family in the Obama adverts.

I should point out that you can find the "Julia" attitude in various places. For instance, yesterday I was reading an article in the Melbourne Herald Sun about superannuation. The gist of the article was that women are facing a bleak financial future because when they opt out of the workforce to have children they lose a few years of superannuation contributions.

The assumption is that women are not part of a family and have to support themselves. The thought never even occurs to the writer of the article that the husband's super fund will help support the family - instead, the assumption is that men's super is used for men and women's for women, therefore if women have less they are missing out:
"Countless Australian mothers are paying the ultimate sacrifice for their commitment to family, with many neglecting their financial futures in favour of other responsibilities around the home," Suncorp Life head of superannuation Vicki Doyle says...."

What do those with the Julia attitude then propose? They believe that women should get free superannuation payments:
We have argued for some time that paid parental leave should include a superannuation component and that a super 'baby bonus' or a return to work super bonus after a career break could go some way to addressing the issue.

And here we come to a serious flaw in this whole attitudinal shift. On the one hand, a society needs to keep its men motivated to work. But the Julia approach undermines this motivation, by seeking to make women financially independent of their husbands.

Let me put this another way to try to clarify it. A society needs its men to believe firmly that they are necessary to a family as providers. If that belief breaks down then that society will inevitably decline. But Western society is taking the attitude that women should be autonomous of men and rely instead on government welfare for support.

So the West is relying on individuals to hold two contradictory beliefs or values. We are supposed to believe of women that they exist as individuals without family support, but of men that they should continue to work to support women.

There are already some in the men's movement who believe that the situation should be equalised by no longer expecting men to be providers, i.e. by matching a "Julia" attitude with a corresponding "Julian" attitude.

Traditionalists would remove the contradiction the other way - by not thinking of women as autonomous Julias reliant on state welfare, but rather as wives and mothers supported within a family.


  1. "There are already some in the men's movement who believe that the situation should be equalised by no longer expecting men to be providers, i.e. by matching a "Julia" attitude with a corresponding "Julian" attitude."

    I think the motivation behind the MRA view is that by allowing men to be Julians women wouldn't be able to support their Julia lifestyles and instead would have to become traditional wives and mothers again.

    Or put simply, the best way to get rid of a parasite is to stop being its host.

  2. Chris,

    I don't think that's a winning strategy.

    Modern Western societies have open borders. So if an American man decides to opt out, his place will be filled by someone from elsewhere for whom a Western wife would be considered a high status catch.

    And that American man will then miss out on becoming a husband and a father.

    What is more, if any women do miss out it may not be those who support the Julia attitude - it could just as easily be women who would have made good wives and mothers.

    Nor is it necessary for men to opt out in order to bring the system down. That's going to happen anyway, in the sense that the limit to welfare spending is going to finally be reached - as it appears to have been in some European countries.

    There are European countries which are resorting already to raising the retirement age to try to keep welfare spending at current levels.

    In other words, they are already at the out limit of what they can afford.

  3. Sorry if this is crude but when it crashes and women and their children die of starvation because they voted in these programs, do not be critical of the men who simply look the other way. Any society that makes me and other men only relevant in the form of taxation yet turns women against me by in other areas can die.

    As far as open borders are concerned, here in the USA those coming here are working low wage jobs and many times being paid under the table. So whatever taxes are collected from them are not enough especially if women are not only subsidized by the government, but also employed by them. Our non-profit scams have been growing at a rate of 30% each decade. And for those that don't know, non-profits are nothing more than glorified welfare for mainly liberal progressive causes that are subsidized by the government and are tax free. That cannot go on much longer and all you have to do is read up on California to see where the USA is heading.

    I see much pain for those that believe in government security and I also believe that a reset of genetics is on the horizon mainly due to those who could least afford to procreate. Their own beliefs and brainwashing will simply lead them to their demise. Their quality of life and how they have to survive will gaurantee that alone. I don't look at this outcome with a sense of satisfaction but I do realize that the consequences and lies of Marxist Socialism will be felt by many. In Greece I hear of stories of kids being left out in their street with letters written by the parents claiming to not be able to take care of them and for someone to claim them. That is the outcome of a society where men are irrelevant and the government is the replacement.

  4. The Julia ad simply reflects American political dynamics, whereby there is a gaping gender gap in voting (single women vote overwhelmingly democratic, whereas men are split, but lean substantially towards the republicans). So the Democrats have basically decided to stop trying to get the men's vote and focus like a laser beam on the women's vote -- that's what this is about.

    As a result, I don't think that the traditionalists have much to worry about in the "men's movement" -- most men in the US vote republican precisely because they do not like the state, do not want a big government handout and the like.

    That's quite a separate issue from the "opting out" scenario, however. One can simultaneously be in favor of a limited, small state which does not provide handouts *and* in favor of opting out of traditional roles -- in fact, I think this convolution of perspectives is the most common one in the men's area, far more common than the left-wing men's issues guys are.

    The problem, again, is that the current setup enforces traditional roles on men when they get involved with women, while not doing the same for women -- socially and legally, it's a very one-way street. The bitter disagreement between trads and MRAs is the tactical one of what to do about that. Trads would have men assume those roles in the hopes of encouraging women to assume their own traditional roles despite the lack of social and legal buttressing for them (as compared with the social and legal enforcement of such roles for men). MRAs would have men refuse to assume these roles until either (a) the reciprocal roles are socially and legally enforced on women (right-wing MRAs) or (b) the social and legal pressure on the male role is eliminated (left-wing MRAs). In looking at these three positions, I'm personally more of a right-wing MRA in that while I agree with trads about the utility of the roles, due to my own experiences in life I cannot in good conscience advise other men to assume them other than in very narrow and specific "outlier" circumstances due to the ridiculous legal and social imbalances that currently exist (in the USA at least) in enforcing these roles -- something which is ruining, quite literally, the lives of millions of men currently, many of whom played the traditional roles.

  5. Brendan,

    Maybe things are worse culturally in the U.S. than in Australia. We have the same legal imbalances here, but despite these most women do eventually settle into something like a traditional role.

    If you were to look at the lives of 40-something Australians most men are working full-time to support a family, most women are either at home full-time or have part-time work but are largely family oriented.

    There are exceptions, of course. There's an arts graduate, inner city type of culture which is more feminist influenced. Some women who go into professions like the law or business are a bit more "mercenary" in their career and social ambitions. And at the lowest socio-economic level there's a much higher rate of family breakdown.

  6. Although I'd advocate the traditionalist position in the end, I don't think there can realistically be any obligation on men in general to take up productive jobs in preparation for some provider role to a merely hypothetical wife and children -- that is, before having secured a traditional wife or a justified expectation of one, without any clear idea of when or whether the fruits of his labor will serve the good (i.e., their proper end, the family) instead of some evil (e.g., the state, hyper-bureaugamy).

    Then again, most men would be hard-pressed to attract a woman willing to marry and submit to them if they haven't built up any status or promise. Theoretically, this is where familiarity with Game principles would benefit a lot of guys. Young men who are not in some process of courting a feminine young woman might do well to find a simple, modestly-paying but masculine job, one that advertises potential as a provider/protector in at least another practical, non-financial dimension (e.g., a personal trainer, a handy-man of some sort).

    But again, I see the main problem with a generalized traditional standard for men as being simply the fundamental injustice in feeding abusive parasites out of arguably unwarranted hope or pathetic standards. There would likely be too many cases of clueless men -- perhaps more often traditional men with noble intentions for family life, not selfish individualists chasing hedonistic bachelor fantasies -- who busted their asses while effectively having no shot at landing one of the increasingly scarce traditional wives. I think a lot of beta-type guys should maybe only pursue jobs they find truly meaningful and somewhat enjoy, as long as they afford basic living. The only men still obligated to pursue traditional roles without justified anticipation of traditional reward would be the alpha-types.

    I'm not endorsing useless laziness, however. There are plenty of ways to be genuinely productive and successful without being figured as such by modern standards and contributing to our economic maintenance.

  7. Maybe things are worse culturally in the U.S. than in Australia.

    It is rather different at this point I think. Social Pathologist remarked on this when he recently visited the US. I think he was quite taken aback at how far things have gone here in the US as compared to how things are in Oz (and how Australians also perceive themselves as being very similar to the US, which is likely no longer the case in a variety of ways). Feminism has cut much deeper here.

  8. Does anyone else think it's weird that the Suncorp Life executive describes missing out on a few years of pension contributions as "the ultimate sacrifuce"? I thought that was giving your life.

  9. Brendan said...

    ""Trads would have men assume those roles in the hopes of encouraging women to assume their own traditional roles despite the lack of social and legal buttressing for them""

    I wouldn't.

    The solution is not to somehow force women back to traditional standards by men being so damn awesome that the culture changes, that is a forlorn hope.

    What traditionalists need to do is call for the rollback of the welfare state. That causes men and women to fit more traditional gender roles and changes the culture to one more centered on the family and less centered on the state without any compulsion simply through the inter-working mechanisms of market forces and human nature.

    Of course it is not THAT simple, and is not a Golden fix, but only Utopian wet behind the ears lefties are stupid enough to believe in those.