Saturday, January 04, 2014

2014: Marking The Rise of Women

Cathy Young, a libertarian contributor to Reason and “RealClearPolitics,” reminds us that it’s been fifty years since 1963‘s publication of Betty Friedan’s best-seller The Feminine Mystique, which Young says “offered a bracingly positive vision of embracing female achievement and strength without demonizing men or sacrificing family.”  Young says it's time to reflect the remarkable progress women have made in the decades since, including in the past year when:
Women claimed leadership at General Motors and Lloyd’s of London, the world’s top insurance market; Angela Merkel was reelected to a third term as German chancellor while widely recognized as Europe’s leader.  The Pew Research Center reported that women made up 40% of America’s breadwinners in families with children—and nearly 40% of those were married mothers with median household incomes of about $80,000 a year.
Hanna Rosin is author of The End of Men. She in a similar vein writes in TIME about the comparative fall men have taken over the same decades, noting that:

1. men are failing in the workplace.
men’s incomes have been slowly declining and women’s have been rising. Last year one in five men were not working, something economists call the biggest social crisis we will face. Party this is because the economy is changing quickly, but men aren’t. As the manufacturing economy gets replaced by a service and information economy, men are failing to adjust or get the skill they need to succeed.
Meanwhile, women are moving in the opposite direction: In 2009 they became the majority of the American workforce for the first time ever. Now in every part of America young single women under 30 have a higher median income than young men. . . men are failing in schools and women are succeeding. In nearly every country, on all but one continent, women are getting 60% of college degrees. . . boys start falling behind as early as first grade, and they fail to catch up.
2. the traditional household, propped up by the male breadwinner, is vanishing.
For the first time in history women all over the world are marrying down, meaning marrying men with worse prospects than they have. . . The working class feels the end of men the most, as men lose their jobs and lose their will to be fathers, and women do everything alone, creating a virtual matriarchy in the parts of the country that used to be bastions of good old macho country music style values. Why don’t these women marry or live with the fathers of their children? As many a woman told me, “He’d be just another mouth to feed.”
Camille Paglia is a self-described "notorious Amazon feminist" and author of five books including Art and Decadence From Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, which proclaims, "If civilization had been left in female hands, we would still be living in grass huts."

Paglia strides the opposite side from Rosin of the “rise of women” debate. But in a recent Wall Street Journal interview with associate editorial features editor Bari Weiss, Paglia argued from a perspective much in line with Rosin’s, while providing some welcome depth.

Paglia first pointed to the diminished status of military service:
The entire elite class now, in finance, in politics and so on, none of them have military service—hardly anyone, there are a few. But there is no prestige attached to it anymore. That is a recipe for disaster. These people don't think in military ways, so there's this illusion out there that people are basically nice, people are basically kind, if we're just nice and benevolent to everyone they'll be nice too. They literally don't have any sense of evil or criminality.
As does Rosin, Paglia highlights socialization as early as kindergarten where the “softening of modern American society” begins:
“Primary-school education is a crock, basically. It's oppressive to anyone with physical energy, especially guys," she says, pointing to the most obvious example: the way many schools have cut recess. "They're making a toxic environment for boys. Primary education does everything in its power to turn boys into neuters." She is not the first to make this argument, as Paglia readily notes. Fellow feminist Christina Hoff Sommers has written about the "war against boys" for more than a decade.
The notion was once met with derision, but now data back it up: Almost one in five high-school-age boys has been diagnosed with ADHD, boys get worse grades than girls and are less likely to go to college.  [Boys suffer] the tacit elevation of "female values"—such as sensitivity, socialization and cooperation—as the main aim of teachers, rather than fostering creative energy and teaching hard geographical and historical facts.
Paglia says things only get worse in higher education:
"This PC gender politics thing—the way gender is being taught in the universities—in a very anti-male way, it's all about neutralization of maleness." The result: Upper-middle-class men who are "intimidated" and "can't say anything. . . . They understand the agenda [all too well.]"
Paglia believes “The only place you can hear what men really feel these days. . . is on sports radio,” saying the energy and enthusiasm she hears "inspires me as a writer. If we had to go to war, [these] are the men that would save the nation."

Paglia’s immediate remedy for men is a "revalorization" of traditional male trades:
the ones that allow women's studies professors to drive to work (roads), take the elevator to their office (construction), read in the library (electricity), and go to gender-neutral restrooms (plumbing).

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