Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Feminism versus Failing Men

 A dearth of "good men" who hold jobs that pay enough to support a wife and her brood has become fodder for politicians (and for people who bring in a good salary by commenting on politicians' comments;  and for bloggers, who comment on both classes of people, just for fun).   Here is Paul Campos' column on Paul Ryan's indictment of poorly paid American men:
Paul Ryan is Victim-Blaming Men Now
Last week Paul Ryan provoked an outcry when he claimed that poverty in America was in large part a product of a "tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working, just generations of men not even thinking of working, or learning the value and the culture of work.".... 

...But another aspect of this much-remarked-on incident has drawn no notice: his focus on inner city men. Ryan's comments seem to be based on an unstated assumption that what he calls the "culture of work" is especially relevant to men. 

That assumption in turn is a product of an increasingly anachronistic and indeed reactionary world view, in which working for money is the epitome of what it means to be a man. More precisely, to be a man, on this view, is to work a "real job" — that is, a job that at least pays enough to allow him to be the provider, the breadwinner, for his family. 

Ryan's inner city men, who have never "learned the value and the culture of work," are therefore not merely failing, but failing specifically as men, by failing to provide for their families. 

The problem with this neat little morality tale is captured by what ought to be some startling statistics. Note that another unstated assumption behind comments such as Ryan's is that the American economy actually produces enough decent-paying jobs to allow a reasonable number of Americans to have such jobs, as long as they embrace "the culture of work." 

To say this isn't the case is an understatement. What is a "good" job, financially speaking? One which pays $50,000 per year? $40,000? $30,000? The latter figure, which represents take-home pay of less than $2000 per month, and which is only twice the minimum wage (which itself has declined sharply in real terms since the 1960s), is an extremely generous definition of what constitutes a decent-paying job. 

But let's use it anyway, to determine how many Americans of working age have such jobs. If we make a couple more unrealistically optimistic assumptions — that nobody under 18 or over 69 is working, and that no one has more than one job — the answer is: three out of 10. 

Nearly 70 percent of American working-age adults do not have jobs that pay at least $30,000 per year, because there are only three such jobs for every 10 American adults between the ages of 18 and 69. In other words, the vast majority of working age Americans cannot possibly acquire decent-paying jobs, even if one defines a decent-paying job extremely broadly, because there aren't nearly enough such jobs, not because people fail to embrace "the culture of work." 

Here's another statistic that those who embrace the culture of math will find relevant to Ryan's claims that inner city men in particular are poor because they have a bad attitude toward gainful employment: the labor force participation rate. This is the percentage of non-institutionalized adults who are either employed or actively seeking work. 

The year Paul Ryan's father reached working age (1948), 86 percent of American men, but only 32 percent of American women, were participating in the labor force. (A large portion of women who worked outside the home were poor, usually non-white, domestic workers. It was fairly unusual for a white middle class woman over 30 to work for income). 

Since then, the labor force participation rate among men has declined by 18 percent, while the rate among women has nearly doubled. Another consequence of this social shift is that most men make less money than they did 40 years ago, even though the country as a whole is vastly wealthier: for 60 percent of men, real wages are actually lower now than they were in 1973. 

Republicans love to talk about the wisdom of the free market in general and the irresistible laws of supply and demand in particular, but Ryan (who is currently touted as his party's economic whiz kid) seems to be failing Econ 101. Poverty in America has nothing to do with the shiftless "inner city" men haunting Paul Ryan's all-too vivid imagination, and everything to do with the fact that seven out of 10 American adults of working age can't get a decent-paying job, because those jobs don't exist. 

In a culture in which it's now assumed that every non-elderly adult who isn't a full-time student or the primary caretaker of small children should be working for wages, this fact has especially devastating consequences for precisely those men whose plight Ryan addressed in such an "inarticulate" way.
It isn't just that more women have entered the workforce, and are competing against men for the same jobs.  Women are now overtaking men, both academically and professionally.  As Elizabeth Church points out:
In a red-brick building at the University of Guelph, where veterinarians have been schooled for the better part of a century, a demographic shift is taking place that offers a window into the future of human behaviour. 

In the past decade, Ontario Veterinary College has seen its student numbers turned on their head: Women account for more than 80 per cent of its students during that time, and now make up more than half of the province's practising vets. 
It's an extreme example of a story that is playing out on campuses in Canada and around the world - and a trend that could have profound social implications. There are now three female undergraduates for every two male students on Canadian campuses, and more women than men graduated with higher education degrees in 75 of 98 countries examined in a recent UNESCO study. 
Women are expected to gain more power in public and corporate life and more financial independence. 
Faced with a dwindling number of potential mates who are their education equals, however, researchers speculate more women may take a pass on the traditional family, or be more willing to leave it when things don't work. And more men may find themselves tending to hearth and home. 
"We are an example of things to come," says Serge Desmarais, Guelph's associate vice-president, academic, and a psychologist who specializes in gender studies. "Imagine 30 years from now when 60, 70 per cent of the people who are educated are women. It has to change the ratio of who does what. And that has huge social ramifications."
Economist Ross Finnie agrees. "It's a whole new world," says Prof. Finnie, who teaches public policy at the University of Ottawa. "This is a complete flip-around from not so long ago. I think the direction of change is almost certain. I don't think it's ridiculous to say women will have the upper hand in a way they haven't in the past.".... 
..."There is a feeling men can take care of themselves - clearly that is not true. If that were true, we wouldn't be seeing this growing gap." Men's failure to go on to higher education in the same numbers as women is a "demographic bomb," she warns, that will hurt Canada's ability to compete and limit men's potential.... 
...In the United States, favouritism toward male applicants is suspected at some liberal arts colleges....The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights last month began an inquiry into accusations that private schools are discriminating against women to prevent campuses from becoming "too female," fearing this will discourage others from applying....

 Harold Meyerson discusses another factor that has contributed to reduced incomes for American men:
....By now, even the most ossified right-wing economists concede that globalization has played a major role in the loss of American manufacturing jobs and, more broadly, the stagnation of U.S. wages and incomes. Former Federal Reserve vice chairman Alan Blinder has calculated that 22 percent to 29 percent of all U.S. jobs could potentially be offshored. That’s a lot of jobs: 25 percent would translate to 36 million workers whose wages are in competition with those in largely lower-income nations. Of the 11 nations with which the United States is negotiating the TPP, nine have wage levels significantly lower than ours. 

Trade agreements that promote the relocation of U.S. corporations’ factories to nations like China and Mexico have played a central role in the evisceration of American manufacturing and the decline in U.S. workers’ incomes. Two out of three displaced manufacturing workers who got new jobs between 2009 and 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, experienced wage reductions — most of them greater than 20 percent....

 Another circumstance that is cutting perhaps more dramatically into the jobs available for men is fierce advances in technology, which have made a large number of previously-high paying jobs unnecessary.

With increased trade, escalating female participation, and proliferating technology, there is definitely reduced need for people to work. Left to itself, reduced demand would translate into diminishing wages.  And, decreasing leisure for workers, who are striving to cling desperately to any job that they might have.  Indeed, the USA is increasingly falling behind many other nations in terms of quality of life and median incomes.

Probably the best thing that we could do, to turn around low wages and to reduce despair, would be to curtail the number of workers.  Thanks to female participation, we now have twice as many people competing for jobs in the workforce.  Wages have plummeted, and union membership has dwindled dramatically.  If all women were to leave the workforce, then competition for the remaining workers would force wages up.  A man would, once again, earn enough to support a wife and her brood.  This solution, of course, would be highly impractical at this point.  Other ideas for decreasing the supply of workers include reducing the retirement age, and implementing a negative income tax, similar to that proposed by Milton Friedman.

People who want more crap than what their negative income tax affords them can go out and work.

There are those who say that massive military spending during World War II precipitated the end of the Great Depression, and that a similar military campaign would be the solution to our present woes.  Two wars going on at the same time during the last decade didn't really help anything.  Sure, politically-connected military contractors (especially Haliburton) raked in a lot of money.

But, soldiering and working for contractors don't generally pay well.  Moreover, reducing the working age population through war deaths doesn't seem especially practical any more, as modern war technologies have reduced casualties, at least on our side, and at least compared to, say, the Civil War, when opposing sides would simply line up and murder each other with muskets and bayonets.  The Battle of Gettysburg disposed of about 50,000 men and boys over a 3-day period.  The Vietnam War succeeded in eliminating just over 50,000 American lives, but over a 10-year period.  Public works projects, like the Works Progress Administration, would provide jobs that at least furnished things that the American public could enjoy, and without causing too many people to die.  However, public works projects tend to be less favored by unscrupulous politicians of Dick Cheney's ilk, who can make themselves extremely wealthy off of wars.

While public works projects do seem like a win-win scenario, we should also bear in mind that there is world-wide over-population and ongoing rape of the planet's resources.  Men failing may be a purely natural phenomenon, as discussed and described in John B. Calhoun's "behavioral sink" experiments with rats during the 1960s. The experiments demonstrated what naturally happens when a loss of social roles occur in any species of social animal, where subsistence is still 'freely' offered:  the males start to groom themselves incessantly, and lose interest in copulating with females, as is precisely what we see in the technologically advanced nations of South Korea and Japan.

The males also fail to defend against aggressors--with females becoming increasingly the aggressors; videlicet the "mean girl" phenomenon, where women fight amongst themselves, for status, or merely for sport.

Humans may inherently be peaceful, loving beings, that get along well in small social groups, sharing sex, possessions, food, etc., with the village raising the children, with all the aunties and uncles and all of that.  Solid social roles are the way of life of the small village.  But, the present global civilization is affecting the Earth as a growing virus.  "Failing men" may just be the cure for this virus.

From the Wikipedia:
 ...The universe was a 9-foot (2.7 m) square metal pen with 54-inch-high (1.4 m) sides. Each side had four groups of four vertical, wire mesh “tunnels”. The “tunnels” gave access to nesting boxes, food hoppers, and water dispensers. There was no shortage of food or water or nesting material. There were no predators. The only adversity was the limit on space....

...Initially the population grew rapidly, doubling every 55 days. The population reached 620 by day 315, after which the population growth dropped markedly. The last surviving birth was on day 600. This period between day 315 and day 600 saw a breakdown in social structure and in normal social behavior. Among the aberrations in behavior were the following: expulsion of young before weaning was complete, wounding of young, inability of dominant males to maintain the defense of their territory and females, aggressive behavior of females, passivity of non-dominant males with increased attacks on each other which were not defended against. After day 600, the social breakdown continued and the population declined toward extinction. During this period females ceased to reproduce. Their male counterparts withdrew completely, never engaging in courtship or fighting. They ate, drank, slept, and groomed themselves – all solitary pursuits. Sleek, healthy coats and an absence of scars characterized these males. They were dubbed “the beautiful ones”.
 The conclusions drawn from this experiment were that when all available space is taken and all social roles filled, competition and the stresses experienced by the individuals will result in a total breakdown in complex social behaviors, ultimately resulting in the demise of the population.
 Calhoun saw the fate of the population of mice as a metaphor for the potential fate of man. He characterized the social breakdown as a “second death”, with reference to the “second death” mentioned in the Biblical book of Revelation 2:11. His study has been cited by writers such as Bill Perkins as a warning of the dangers of the living in an "increasingly crowded and impersonal world"....
If one looks at many internet conversations, it is clear that there is a great deal of male resentment against the changing gender roles:  particularly the increasing domination of women.  And, many women seem bitter about the modern man.  For example, Kay Hymowitz:

Where Have The Good Men Gone?

Not so long ago, the average American man in his 20s had achieved most of the milestones of adulthood: a high-school diploma, financial independence, marriage and children. Today, most men in their 20s hang out in a novel sort of limbo, a hybrid state of semi-hormonal adolescence and responsible self-reliance. This "pre-adulthood" has much to recommend it, especially for the college-educated. But it's time to state what has become obvious to legions of frustrated young women: It doesn't bring out the best in men.

"We are sick of hooking up with guys," ... "Guys talk about 'Star Wars' like it's not a movie made for people half their age; a guy's idea of a perfect night is a hang around the PlayStation with his bandmates, or a trip to Vegas with his college friends.... They are more like the kids we babysat than the dads who drove us home."...

....pre-adulthood represents a momentous sociological development. It's no exaggeration to say that having large numbers of single young men and women living independently, while also having enough disposable income to avoid ever messing up their kitchens, is something entirely new in human experience. Yes, at other points in Western history young people have waited well into their 20s to marry, and yes, office girls and bachelor lawyers have been working and finding amusement in cities for more than a century. But their numbers and their money supply were always relatively small. Today's pre-adults are a different matter. They are a major demographic event.

What also makes pre-adulthood something new is its radical reversal of the sexual hierarchy. Among pre-adults, women are the first sex. They graduate from college in greater numbers (among Americans ages 25 to 34, 34% of women now have a bachelor's degree but just 27% of men), and they have higher GPAs. As most professors tell it, they also have more confidence and drive. These strengths carry women through their 20s, when they are more likely than men to be in grad school and making strides in the workplace. In a number of cities, they are even out-earning their brothers and boyfriends.

Still, for these women, one key question won't go away: Where have the good men gone? Their male peers often come across as aging frat boys, maladroit geeks or grubby slackers—a gender gap neatly crystallized by the director Judd Apatow in his hit 2007 movie "Knocked Up." ...

...So where did these pre-adults come from? You might assume that their appearance is a result of spoiled 24-year-olds trying to prolong the campus drinking and hook-up scene while exploiting the largesse of mom and dad. But the causes run deeper than that. Beginning in the 1980s, the economic advantage of higher education—the "college premium"—began to increase dramatically. Between 1960 and 2000, the percentage of younger adults enrolled in college or graduate school more than doubled. In the "knowledge economy," good jobs go to those with degrees. And degrees take years....

...Pre-adulthood can be compared to adolescence, an idea invented in the mid-20th century as American teenagers were herded away from the fields and the workplace and into that new institution, the high school. For a long time, the poor and recent immigrants were not part of adolescent life; they went straight to work, since their families couldn't afford the lost labor and income. But the country had grown rich enough to carve out space and time to create a more highly educated citizenry and work force. Teenagers quickly became a marketing and cultural phenomenon. They also earned their own psychological profile. One of the most influential of the psychologists of adolescence was Erik Erikson, who described the stage as a "moratorium," a limbo between childhood and adulthood characterized by role confusion, emotional turmoil and identity conflict....

...What explains this puerile shallowness? I see it as an expression of our cultural uncertainty about the social role of men. It's been an almost universal rule of civilization that girls became women simply by reaching physical maturity, but boys had to pass a test. They needed to demonstrate courage, physical prowess or mastery of the necessary skills. The goal was to prove their competence as protectors and providers. Today, however, with women moving ahead in our advanced economy, husbands and fathers are now optional, and the qualities of character men once needed to play their roles—fortitude, stoicism, courage, fidelity—are obsolete, even a little embarrassing....

...Single men have never been civilization's most responsible actors; they continue to be more troubled and less successful than men who deliberately choose to become husbands and fathers. So we can be disgusted if some of them continue to live in rooms decorated with "Star Wars" posters and crushed beer cans and to treat women like disposable estrogen toys, but we shouldn't be surprised.

Relatively affluent, free of family responsibilities, and entertained by an array of media devoted to his every pleasure, the single young man can live in pig heaven—and often does. Women put up with him for a while, but then in fear and disgust either give up on any idea of a husband and kids or just go to a sperm bank and get the DNA without the troublesome man. But these rational choices on the part of women only serve to legitimize men's attachment to the sand box. Why should they grow up? No one needs them anyway. There's nothing they have to do....
And, "where have all the good men gone?" seems to have become a popular refrain among America's females.

According to Phil Zimbardo:

we are playing too many video games and watching too much pornography.  And, in Gary Wilson's opinion,

we're watching far too much pornography for our own good.

With regard to Mr. Ryan's comments posted above, it seems odd for Mr. Ryan to be bringing up the topic of "failed men", when not only does he not have anything to offer the "failed men", but the majority of us are now "failed men."  Perhaps he is trying to shame us into voting Republican, or into signing up for the Tea Party?  Maybe it works: the Tea Party seems to be largely made up of failed White men who have plenty of time on their hands, as David Duke points out:

Obviously, by "tailspin of culture in the inner city", Mr. Ryan is referring strictly to Black American men, and is playing to the prejudices of a White American audience.  If one examines college enrollment by ethnicity:

White men are also trailing White women (also, Hispanic, Black and Asian women).  It isn't strictly a "Black" or "Inner City" problem.  White boys in posh suburbs are also "failing."  Still, it should be acknowledged that the problems associated with being a Black male in America are compounded by our criminal justice system, which locks away a lot of people, but especially Black men.  To the point where quite a lot of Black American women are complaining that they can't find an acceptable man to marry.

The woman in the video above says that she has a 5-year-old child (presumably fathered by a sexy alpha male with an apparently desirable genetic makeup), and she is looking for a man (most likely a beta who is at least somewhat sexually desireable, but who has a good income) who will help to raise her child. But, such men are in short supply, particularly within the Black community. And, the supply is only going to get shorter, across all communities. Economically-successful Black men do seem to have a lot of options and a relatively-high value in the mating market,

which can only make things tougher for the "sisters" with children.

Regarding the men who have never "learned the value and the culture of work", and who are failing specifically as men, by failing to provide for their families: expanding the military, and doing public works projects, would provide some employment for men.  But, these would be primarily low-wage jobs: not really the archaic "bring home the bacon" kind of jobs. The higher-payer jobs are going to go to the better-educated women. Moreover, a lot of the boys who do well in school are the unaggressive, nerdy betas, who will be ill-equipped to deal with and compete against the domineering, aggressive alpha females in the workplace. The women are going to bully them and push them out of the workforce all together.
Chris Rock raises an excellent point:

Women want everything. Men just want food, sex and silence. Going out and courting a woman can be a major hassle and a lot of trouble.  Especially in America these days.  Most of us will experience a heck of a lot more failures than successes. And, the Feminists like to emphasize that "sex is not an entitlement!" Even if we somehow succeed in finding a woman who is willing to participate in coitus, then we won't be getting any silence (unless she becomes angry for some reason, and gives us the "silent treatment").  With our internet porn, we can at least get our dopamine rush, and then we can relax and enjoy the silence.  Why would anyone choose to become a soldier and risk death, even with the promise of 72 virgins in Paradise, when he can just turn on his computer, and have 72,000 "virgins" at his fingertips? 

A man can experience sublime happiness, as long as he has a cheap place to stay, some decent food, and a high-speed internet connection. Striving for anything more is just a waste of effort, and drags us away from the computer. The women can go ahead and knock themselves out to buy a big house in the suburbs, the latest fashions, the luxury car, the classy furniture, etc. etc. The men, it would seem, finally have life figured out.

We are in the midst of a rather dramatic demographic shift. The Patriachy no longer exists. Every man for himself. Every woman for herself. No-one can count on anyone or anything.  A lot of women who somehow think that they need (or deserve) a man are just going to have to get over it, and take care of themselves.  Or, horror of horrors, take Lori Gottlieb's advice, and "Settle! That’s right. Don’t worry about passion or intense connection. Don’t nix a guy based on his annoying habit of yelling 'Bravo!' in movie theaters. Overlook his halitosis or abysmal sense of aesthetics...settling will probably make you happier in the long run, since many of those who marry with great expectations become more disillusioned with each passing year."  Collaring and seducing some lonely guy rejected by all of femaledom, and persuading him to marry you, is generally easy to achieve, if you are desperate enough to lower your status against the rest of womankind.

Perhaps many women would prefer to follow Miss Gottlieb's example, and get artificially inseminated just before their residual reproductive value hits zero.  Then, they could think about joining a colony of Feminist belly dancers. 



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