Archive | January 2015

The Contradiction That Rules Feminism by Harvey C. Mansfield

For anyone looking for a perspective on feminism that’s more academic than polemic, I recommendThe Contradiction That Rules Feminism by Harvey C. Mansfield“. Compared to the entertaining polemics found elsewhere in the manosphere, this article manages to be as academically dry as a dusty university professor – while at the same time sarcastically pointing out the contradiction of feminism and feminist policies. It also has some insights I haven’t encountered elsewhere in my digital travels. 

Some quotes from the article:

Feminism was able to change American society from the top down, but that did not prevent feminism from expressing, teaching, and even thriving on a contradiction. Put simply, feminism did not, and still does not, know whether to say that women are capable or vulnerable. If women are capable, they deserve to be independent, particularly of men; if they are vulnerable, they need to be protected, particularly from men (and yet, of course, by men).


One could even say that feminism is all about theory. It wants to reject all previous experience of relations between the sexes and substitute a new status for women in our society unknown in any previous society. Feminists can be diverse but they are all living, practicing theorists leading a revolution of theory applied.


For the fundamental assertion of feminism is that women are equal to men, and equal not as counterparts to men but in every respect.


Nature in the classical tradition refers to the whole of things composed of natures, with distinct definitions, delimiting parts of nature that are also wholes in themselves. Thus men and women each have natures defining them, distinguishing them, and in this case, joining them. As against this sort of thinking, feminism declared its opposition to all such definitions or essences, and crowned “essentialism” as the devil inspiring all oppression of women by men.


In fact, feminism makes a new feminist identity for women, replacing the old feminine mystique .. [with a] new one [which] is to have the same freedom as men. This is what is meant by “having it all”: not to live like a god with no limitations but merely like a male without the hesitations and inhibitions previously imposed on women—and like a woman as well. A woman can become independent of men by learning how to imitate them, thus making actual men dispensable while retaining the use of all their qualities.

To prove that women can do everything men do, the most logical feminists find it necessary to practice their excesses, or at least boast of them—announcing with satisfaction that the murder rate by women is rising or discovering that rape is a gender-neutral crime that women too have the force and malice to commit. A strange independence of men that requires slavish imitation of their faults!


Since a woman can no longer count on the support of her husband—having dispensed with it—she needs to be able to call the police in case of trouble or a social agency in case of penury or a lawyer in case of discrimination. She needs to ensure that her independence is protected and nurtured by an environment that is not “hostile.” The riskier her life, the more protection she needs; so we have the paradox of an enormous increase in women’s liberty combined with a comparable increase in governmental protection to ensure it in case of trouble.


The government, their new husband, takes over the task of providing for their security. Women are no longer the weaker sex, but they remain the more vulnerable sex. The new-old essence of women is vulnerability. Their exciting new sense of risk must be made riskless, their sexual adventures free of misadventure, their newly-acquired manliness given the support of a wife. The trouble with feminist imitation-manliness is that, unlike men, feminist women have no wives.


To compensate for the vulnerability of women, government must not assume that women are equal, as seemed to be its duty at first if women are to be independent, but rather assume they are unequal and make them equal.

Equality is transformed from the presumption or precondition of feminism to its goal, to be reached by equalization of the unequal. The trouble is that equalizing women defines them as unequal because of their vulnerability, which is precisely the presumption of feminism’s enemies—patriarchy and its root cause, essentialism. Hence feminism’s contradiction: presuming women as both equal and unequal to men, and as both lacking a definition and having one.


In so doing [the Federal Office of Civil Rights, or OCR] follows and repeats the contradiction in feminist theory we have seen, for protection against sex discrimination presumes that women are equal to men, whereas protection against sexual harassment and violence presumes that women are more vulnerable than men and thus unequal.


Working with this contradictory transformation of its authority, the OCR has fashioned a campaign of equalization to make women equal without admitting that doing so implies they are unequal.


The notion of an “environment” comfortable to more mature women who want to be let alone becomes much more demanding as it is transformed into one in which sex with an immature woman must be satisfactory rather than botched. Being equal to men, the young woman has like them the right to free sex in a friendly environment … and being unequal to men, she needs protection unlike them so that she can say no at any stage.


The fervent ambition behind it can be seen in the OCR’s warning that one single occurrence of sexual misconduct in a university can be the trigger for declaring it to be harboring that environment.


Universities are now responsible for maintaining the happy situation in which a woman never receives a proposal that offends her because it is unwanted and thus makes her feel vulnerable. Then at last women will truly be equal to men, and the equality that had been merely posited for them by the feminist movement is at last realized and justified.


The OCR regulations are stunning in their presumptuousness. They are asserted with the force of law but were not passed by Congress or considered by the courts, nor were they formulated after a legally required process of hearings and comment. Equally stunning is the docility with which they have been received by the universities. Though there are signs of discomfort, not one has opposed an intrusion upon their self-government in a matter of educational discipline that previously has been left to them.


Then, as to free speech, the new policy requires what amounts to a speech code of impermissible things to say. Innuendo, gestures, remarks, hints that give offense, whether objectively or subjectively, will be punished, particularly if they endorse or imply “sexual stereotypes” of masculinity or femininity. These specifications will be taught to people who may resist them, or indeed to all, in courses of OCR-approved “training.”

Obviously these matters are directed against offenses of men. But women need to be instructed too. Women are inclined to be hesitant about reporting sexual misconduct. They are woefully disposed to take refuge in the shadow of the right of privacy, so insisted upon by many women in other matters. They might doubt that if the unwelcome conduct of a man falls short of a crime, a sensible woman should be required, regardless of her privacy and at the cost of her time and equanimity, to report it. She might think that vindictive justice in this sort of circumstance ranks low on the list of rational motives, though not as low as the duty to provide statistics to the government. At the top of that list one might find the desire to return to one’s studies regardless of an unwelcome experience. But no, she must overcome these doubts.


The OCR’s use of indirect government—getting the universities to punish themselves rather than be punished by the government with loss of funding—is a mode of shaming them into proper behavior. It is almost unnecessary to remind readers that under patriarchy shame was regarded as a woman’s weapon. It is by the woman’s weapon that the woman’s essence is to be destroyed.


Just now many American universities have too few males, sometimes as few as 40% of the students. This is an imbalance particularly harmful to the social life of women students, and universities have to be careful not to alienate the males they need to attract.

The Insanity of Student Loans

Much has been written about students getting huge loans and then graduating with heavy loan payments and scarce job prospects, and one wonders how people can make such bad choices, and who would lend them this kind of money in the first place. And then I heard of the story of Amira Nader. Amira graduated from Columbia University in 2010 with a master’s degree in acting and nearly $190,000 in debt.

Let me point out the most glaring points:

First – Amira got a master’s degree in a career that’s known for the brutal treatment of people that pursue it, and for those who do “make it”, their income prospects generally aren’t that good.

Second – she’s been loaned an amount equivalent to the price of a decent neighborhood house.

Third – even though student debt can’t be discharged in bankruptcy in the US, the likelihood of the lender getting their money back with interest is somewhere between “slim” and “none.”

Which leads me to the the obvious question – why on earth would anyone loan this women this much money when they had virtually no hope of getting it back? The insanity doesn’t stop there – thanks to a Federal program which “encourages” students with loans to work at non-profit companies like Amira’s work at WNYC:

If Amira works at a nonprofit like WNYC for eight or nine more years, most of her student debt will be forgiven under an Education Department program.

According to an opinion piece by Jeffrey Dorfman at Forbes:

Under the latest version of President Obama’s giveaway to former college students[1] , people with student loans that meet certain income eligibility standards will only need to pay 10 percent of their discretionary income for a maximum of 20 years. Discretionary income is the amount you earn above the poverty line for your family size. If a borrower works for a government or in a job defined as public service, they only have to pay for 10 years. After that, the remaining balance is forgiven.

Using numbers in Jeffrey’s article as an example, If Amira makes $40K a year, she’d only have to pay $144 / month towards her loan. Because the loan payment doesn’t even cover the interest costs, part of the interest would be placed back on the loan, resulting in the loan amount increasing over the years instead of decreasing.

If she works in the nonprofit for the full ten years to get her loan forgiven, she would’ve paid ~$22K towards her $190K loan, which by then would’ve costed north of $200K for the federal government to “forgive.” If you amortize $200K across 10 years, that’s ~$20K / year Amira’ll have been “gifted” for getting her masters in acting.

If you follow the money – from students being given huge sums of cash to spend on their “education” and then those loans are forgiven over a relatively short period of time, who benefits? The colleges! And with this epic windfall of money flowing into the coffers of these institutes of “higher learning”, is it any wonder that the price of education is sky-rocketing? And with the government presumably knowing that this is the effect of their program, one has to ask – what’s the agenda?

[1] I would note that this is an existing Federal program, and that Obama’s directive “only” expands the pool of eligible people by five million individuals.

Almost Half of College Grads in Jobs That Don’t Require A Degree – May 2013 Study

A May 2013 Forbes article reports some chilling employment numbers for recent college grads. I took the article and condensed it down to a set of easy-to-read bullet points. The article author’s son is looking to go into either the visual arts or social sciences, which is why they’re emphasized in this report.

How many grads are working in jobs that do NOT require a 4-year degree?

  • Nearly half of four-year college grads
  • Public universities grads are 11% more likely to feel overqualified than those who went to private schools.
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics: 48% of employed U.S. college grads are in jobs that require less than a four-year degree.
  • In 2011, 1.5 million, or 53.6% of college grads under age 25 were out of work or underemployed

Grads who got jobs in their field that required a 4-year diploma:

  • STEM grads: 75%
  • Visual and performing arts: 43%
  • Social science: 54%

What percent of college grads feel school failed to prepare them for the working world?

  • 33% of all grads
  • visual and performing arts students: 42%
  • Social science grads: 36%

What about college grads who got real-world experience?

  • 77% of graduates of the top 100 four-year programs who worked part-time, did internships or employee mentorships felt prepared for work, compared with 59% who lacked such experience.

Given the chance, how many would’ve picked a different career:

  • 50% of all grads
  • visual and performing arts majors: 47%
  • Social science majors:  39%.

Colleges Grads that couldn’t find jobs in their chosen field:

  • 40% of “top 100 school” grads
  • Social science grads: 36%
  • Visual and performing arts grads: 42%.

Pay:

  • a “top 100” school grad will earn 17%-19% more than students from other schools.

College grads working in retail that didn’t plan to:

  • Six times as many graduates are working in retail or hospitality as had originally planned.
  • 1.7 million grads getting a bachelor’s degrees this year translates into 120,000 young people are working as waiters, Gap salespeople, and baristas because it was the only work they could find.

See the original article for the definition of “top 100” school, and the rest of the article.

——

Want to see if a college degree is worth it? Consult this 2014-2015 listing of entry-level and mid-career salaries for various careers here.

Japan’s Demographic Time Bomb – Part II

Why is a population decline a serious issue? Because if the population is declining, then a number of events will eventually follow as night follows day.

In Japan’s case their elderly people tend to be long-lived, they require a lot of expensive care to maintain their accustomed standard of health care. In the past, when there was a lot of people in the workforce and a small number of elderly people, this was easily handled – taxes from ~60% of the worker-class population more than easily covered the costs for the ~5% of the population that was in old-age care.

When that ratio is reversed, and ~40% of the population is “retired” compared to only ~52% of the population in the work-force, and there’s a massive debt that needs to be serviced, in addition to all the other services provided by the government, something has to give.

Japan as a country has a debt / GDP ratio of over 200% – in other words it owes more than double what the entire country produces in economic output each year. To draw an analogy – assume John Public owes $10,000 on a credit card balance. If he makes $5,000 a month, that loan will be a lot harder to pay back than if he makes $10,000 per month. The same holds true for the sovereign debt of countries – a larger GDP means the country can borrow more money and make payments on any existing loans.

So how does a country get out from under a crushing debt load like this? The typical wisdom is for it to increase the country’s overall economic activity, this will reduce the country’s debt to GDP ratio, thus making the overall debt load easier to carry. When the population base is increasing through natural births or immigration, this will happen as a natural effect of people working to improve themselves and care for their families. When the demographic realities are such that a good portion of the population is retired or too young to work, and jobs go wanting for lack of people to do them, then the end result is a lower year-over-year GDP along with an increase in the the debt to GDP ratio. This also means a larger proportion of the national budget will go to debt payments, which, in combination with other factors, can trigger a government default.

What is sad about this story is that it could’ve been avoided. Japan as a country has allowed abortion since the implementation of the 1966 “Maternal Health Protection Law.” Forty-eight years later, the people who passed this act are now reaping the wind as the generation of the children they destroyed, the children who would now be adults and could’ve continued the economic activity required to care for their parents – were killed in their mother’s womb. So profound is the problem that Asahi Shimbun has proposed to solving the low birth-rate problem by banning abortion completely:

With 200,000 pregnancies being terminated per year, if we are to counteract the falling birthrate, then we must begin there. I intend to have this reviewed in the party’s Special Committee on Population Decline in Society following the Upper House elections. We will not only prohibit abortion, but instead of prohibition we must also create laws (to mediate) child adoption, and prepare an environment in which children who are born can be brought up in society.

In conclusion, while Japan’s got some some serious social / policy problems in it’s future – what are the implications for people in the United States – or other countries? I posit that a Japanese debt default has some serious implications:

  1. Currency crisis – a Japanese default would crush the value of the yen, making it more costly for Japanese buyer to import goods, and resulting in inflation as people demanded more for their labor in order to keep up with rising prices,
  2. If Japan as a major buyer for US debt were to stop buying US debt, then the market supply of US Treasuries would see a substantial increase. The US government would then need to pay a higher yield on it’s bonds in order to attract other buyers, which would result, in turn, in a rise in US interest rates. Higher US interest rates would have a negative impact on the US housing market, which even now is struggling to find buyers.
  3. As of Jan 4, 2015 Japan currently holds more than $1.22T of US Debt. In order to import the goods Japan needs, it’d be very tempting to sell US dollar treasuries for needed goods, putting further supply-side pressure on the US Treasury market,
  4. Japan’s ability to influence international politics would be negatively affected, and with it the balance of power between Japan and China,
  5. Should Japan and China get into a shooting war, the US would invariably be pulled into the conflict,
  6. Because a large portion of the bonds are held domestically by banks and the elderly who need a safe place for their money, a collapse in bond values could trigger bankruptcies in a number of Japanese banks and with it the evaporation of their depositor accounts. This is similar to what happened during the US financial crisis caused by the US sub-prime mortgage meltdown / financial crisis which triggered a wave of domestic and international bankruptcies across the globe.

As dire as these prospects look, it’s only a guess on my part what’ll actually happen. That Japan’s going to implode is a given, and in some quarters, there’s already talk that various Japanese organizations are quietly moving their funds into foreign-currency denominated assets before the government defaults and all that that entails.

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