Friday, March 16, 2012


The American Shengnu

James Taranto has been on a tear on the subjects of feminism and hypergamy. He has correctly surmised that the debate about birth control is more about our cultures attitude about sexual freedom. On this there is nothing but contradictions with feminists turning into traditionalists and back when it is convenient.

Advances in reproductive technology eroded the custom of shotgun marriage in another way. Before the sexual revolution, women had less freedom, but men were expected to assume responsibility for their welfare. Today women are more free to choose, but men have afforded themselves the comparable option. "If she is not willing to have an abortion or use contraception," the man can reason, "why should I sacrifice myself to get married?" By making the birth of the child the physical choice of the mother, the sexual revolution has made marriage and child support a social choice of the father.

Both conservatives and feminists condemn men who do not agree to support a child they have helped create in the name of what's in the best interest of the child. It is amusing to hear feminists argue that a woman has the right to chose but if she choose to keep the child the man must revert to a traditional role. The best interest of the child ends with what is suits the mother. Taranto is surely right that, "...contemporary feminism is a totalitarian philosophy." It is not about gender equality, it is about gender supremacy. When it suits feminists to attack a man for misogyny it will do so and when it doesn't, they will remain silent.

Which leads us to hypergamy and how it rears its ugly head when there are few restrictions on female sexuality. Taranto points out that feminism has meant women have more choices but those choices have influenced how men behave and one behavior is refusing to play by the rules. IOW, to drop out of the game. This puts women, especially highly educated women in a bind because they are hypergamous and they want to marry up.

Lake explains the root of this phenomenon as follows:

In China, there's a deep-seated tradition of marriage hypergamy which mandates that a woman must marry up. This generally works out, as it allows the Chinese man to feel superior, and the woman to jump a social class or two, but it gets messy for highly accomplished females. Their educations and salaries make them hard to compete with, and so their Chinese male counterparts shy away in favor of younger, more "manageable" beauties.

If the first sentence of this passage sounds familiar (in addition to being doubly redundant), it is probably because you remember our Valentine's Day column, in which we quoted feminist Stephanie Coontz's reflections on "the cultural ideal of hypergamy--that women must marry up."

Uncanny, isn't it? Coontz was referring to Western, not Chinese, culture. What are the odds that two so different cultures would somehow develop a "tradition" or "ideal" that is so similar? About 100% when you consider that hypergamy--more broadly defined as the female tendency to mate with dominant or high-status males or to be selective about one's choice of mate--is also widely observed in other species.

This is very simple to understand. The hypergamous trait holds a tumultuous future for American society for if women are not marrying then families are not being formed. And societies with weak families have trouble holding together. For whom do men work? They work for their wives and children but if they don't have them then they don't and societies with large numbers of unattached men will die with a bang or with a whimper.

I think feminists realize this and that is why they are not willing to use their gender egalitarian values to argue that men deserve a choice.

When you think about it that way, 21st-century feminism starts to look uncannily like the old Victorian double standard. And even more so when you consider the behavior of feminist men, who sound like caricatures of white knights dashing in to defend damsels in distress. "The Mitt and Rick rebukes to Rush were timidly tepid," the lefty film criticRoger Ebert blustered in a tweet the other day. "Now that Rush has apologized, maybe they can man up."ABC News notes that yesterday President Obama "said that thinking about his own two daughters compelled him" to call Fluke last week "to offer his personal support." Some are cynical about Obama's motives, including NBC's Savannah Guthrie, who, notes, describes Obama's call to Fluke as "an overreach" that "seemed a little nakedly political." If you take it at face value, though, the gesture was chivalrous--or, to put it another way, it was patronizing.

Some men chose to drop out and some have adapted to new social customs.

"Men get the advantage of free, easy access sex with young women of child-bearing age." It's a false analogy: Whereas the ObamaCare mandate creates an entitlement to birth control, no man is entitled to "easy access sex." That requires consent.It is true, however, that contemporary feminism is a sweet deal for hedonistic men who have the social skills to persuade "young women of child-bearing age" to consent to "easy access sex." When you look at it that way, you can understand why feminism's grandes dames are so keen to turn back the clock. [Emphasis added.]

Feminists are caught in their own catch-22. They argue equality but they are just as appalled by the products of equality. Conservatives need to realize they have lost this battle. The promiscuity genie is not going back in the bottle. If they want to strengthen marriage, if they want fewer children born out of wedlock, then they must use the dissatisfaction of the American Shengu to argue that marriage needs to be changed so that it gives both men and women a reason to enter it and a reason to stay in it. Otherwise, men will keep dropping out and no amount of browbeating will get them to return.

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