Let's read this morning's Instapundit post about feminism and happiness.
PYRRHIC VICTORY: Joel Kotkin: Women have won the ‘war between the sexes,’ but at what cost?
Even Vox is wondering why women have gotten everything they said they wanted, but are still unhappy. Their explanation, of course, is that men still aren’t doing enough to make women happy. But it’s interesting that they’ve noticed the problem.
My hypothesis: What we’ve been told that “women” want is in fact what a relatively small percentage of women — 20% at most — who tend to be neurotic and anxious, and largely incapable of sustained happiness anyway, say they want. But even to the extent that’s true, their needs aren’t really those of most women whose interests fall closer to the norms.
Related: “Actually, it’s very much an open question as to whether feminist interpretations of life make women happier. . . . Certainly, polls such as the General Social Survey suggest that women have become steadily less happy every year since 1972.”
Lots of parts there, so let's take this one piece at a time.
First, Joel Kotkin's "Women have won the ‘war between the sexes,’ but at what cost?" (National Post)(the original link was dead, but this one might work). Subtitle: "Current trends portend not a feminist paradise, but a dysfunctional society where men and women are increasingly indifferent or at odds with each other." Kotkin says the rise of women has been at the expense of men. So who are women going to marry? Glenn is adding "Pyrrhic victory." Women's climb out of subordination is presented as a war, and the failure of men to respond well to their loss of control over half the population is cast as the women's problem. The "war" wasn't worth winning. Remember the good old days when you had no choice and you looked up to that husband of yours, who was doing reasonably well because half of the population wasn't competing with him in the workplace? Ha ha ha. You should have stayed put and counted your blessings.
Moving on to Vox — even Vox — we see a comic from 2019 by Aubrey Hirsh, about "The gender gap we’re not talking about." What I'm seeing here is the opposite of Kotkin's point. Hirsh is saying that men are not the losers as women have risen. They've gained sexual freedom and escaped from family responsibilities. But still, from the woman's point of view, things are bad, not so much because women can't find men worth marrying, but because women entangle themselves with men who don't do an equal share of household work. There's also still inequality in the workplace. This comic is designed to fire up women to demand true equality. So, yeah, women are "unhappy" about that, but men can read that comic too and feel motivated to live up to a vision of equality. Why wouldn't they? Don't marry a man who wouldn't! And don't have children unless you've got a man you can trust to uphold equality (or you've got a trustworthy man-free arrangement).Glenn hypothesizes:
What we’ve been told that “women” want is in fact what a relatively small percentage of women — 20% at most — who tend to be neurotic and anxious, and largely incapable of sustained happiness anyway, say they want. But even to the extent that’s true, their needs aren’t really those of most women whose interests fall closer to the norms.
It's a hypothesis, so someone else will have to delve into the psyche of women and find out what percentage of them are the troublemakers making life less pleasant for the other ladies, the ones who easily find fulfillment living a life close to "the norms." I haven't read the comments over there yet, but I suspect they will be full of men eager to disparage "neurotic and anxious" women and to tell us of the real women, the feminine women who are happy with a simple family life and a dominant husband. Writing that last sentence caused me to google the term "manosphere."
So I was stunned to find the word "manosphere" in the second sentence of the 2018 article at the next link — Mona Charen's "Can Feminists Cure What Ails Men?" (RCP)." Charen is reacting to a NYT op-ed by Jessica Valenti that worries about "a generation of mostly white men are being radicalized into believing that their problems stem from women's progress."
Valenti cites the "manosphere," the network of websites that peddle misogyny, and she's right that it is disturbing. But Valenti undermines her case by citing the popularity of Jordan Peterson as more evidence of woman hatred. On the contrary, Valenti and other feminists would do well to remove their women-centric blinders and examine the situation of young men more sympathetically.
Valenti imagines that girls are doing great because when the mainstream culture gets them down, they can always repair to "feminist blogs and magazines" while "female college students who have critical questions about how gender shapes their lives can take women's studies courses." Actually, it's very much an open question as to whether feminist interpretations of life make women happier....
It's interesting to read this 5-year-old article. Valenti took the position that feminism, rather than "manosphere" material, could help men, and Charen used the occasion to opine that feminism wasn't even helping women. But Charen was also talking about men. That cartoon by Aubrey Hirsh said men got the advantage of sexual freedom, but Charen points out something that got pointed out a lot 5 years ago, only some men — a "small percentage of 'players'” — got that advantage....
... but many men are not so suave and find that forming relationships is out of reach. A fringe few describe themselves as "incels" (involuntarily celibate) and fulminate against women. As for the average guy, well, they are more likely to be out of the workforce, unmarried, and alienated from their children than any previous generation in American history.
This returns us to Kotkin's point. In the old-fashioned arrangement, those un-suave men got marriages and families and decent jobs and docile women.
Valenti imagines that feminist ideas can help men through "the rejection of expectations that men be strong and stoic or ending the silence around male victims of sexual violence."...
Obviously, it's hard to see how that helps the un-suave incels reconnect. Charen has an idea (and it's Jordan Peterson's idea):
Could it be, perhaps, that men actually don't want to be freed from the expectation of being strong? That perhaps they are attracted to Jordan Peterson because he is a refreshing voice of masculinity as traditionally understood?....
Boys will always seek to be manly. It's in their natures....
Their natures. You know where this attitude has led, 5 years later: If you don't "seek to be manly," you must not be a boy. Get treatment. Change your body so it fits your mind. I liked it better when feminism was about being exactly whoever your really are and valuing that, not bullying yourself into fitting "nature" (or "the norms").Finally, there's "The Female Happiness Paradox." This is a working paper by David G. Blanchflower and Alex Bryson:
Using data across countries and over time we show that women are unhappier than men in unhappiness and negative affect equations, irrespective of the measure used – anxiety, depression, fearfulness, sadness, loneliness, anger – and they have more days with bad mental health and more restless sleep. Women are also less satisfied with many aspects of their lives....
I took a break to listen to this song (which I've had in mind for half a century)(original version here):