Reply to P L’s Rant on Women’s Breasts

I received a ranting comment from someone known only as P L on my postBare Breasts are a Right in Ontario. I’ve deleted the comment–it was offensive–but I’m going to respond to most of it here. P L begins by quoting me:

“While there are primitive cultures where open display of women’s breasts is the norm, they are operating on a tribal scale. I agree that small children are not going to be affected by the sight, but adolescent boys will be.”

I stand by this statement. Once a culture exists in groups over the size of a tribe where everyone knows each-other, cultural norms change. There are very few non-tribal cultures where women baring their breasts is the norm.

Yes Jim, only in primitive cultures are there open displays of women’s breasts, in places like Greece, Australia, and France, you sheltered throwback.

I’ll ignore the immature insult and address the content. You’ll note I said tribal, not primitive, which shows your bias, not mine. That said, I do happen to agree that most tribal societies are primitive. “Primitive” is not a slur, as far as I’m concerned.

I’m not sure what’s more offensive, your colonial 1980’s National Geographic point of view of “primitive cultures”, or your moral high ground of looking out for adolescent boys.

Offense can only be taken. I was pointing out that the reaction of boys (and the reactions of their mothers to those reactions) is likely the reason why the water park, whose target market is families, might want to ban bare women’s breasts. Families tend to include adolescent boys, and tend not to include women who want to bare their breasts.

Did you know that the distracting and physiological effects on adolescent boys were the reasons given for why women were barred from attending universities in Ontario?

This is hardly relevant today.

When you say that “[T]he baring of female breasts is a sexual display”, you expose yourself as someone who sees women as mere sex objects.

Women have a sexual nature, which their breasts are part of. If you want to deny that fact and the science of human sexual behavior, that is your business. If you think that understanding sexual attraction is the same as seeing women as mere sex objects, you are deluded.

[Here I’m removing P L’s bizarre fantasies regarding what I think]

i-make-milkA woman’s bare breasts may be “displayed” to feed her baby, or to expose them to the sun, or for any of the other possible reasons why men like you might expose your breasts; or is sexual display the only reason why you expose yours?

There are certainly times when men display their bodies for reasons of sex, but sexual attraction is one of the areas where sexual dimorphism in humans exists. A woman’s breasts are always attractive to most men. I’m not sure that it works the other way around.

[I now remove some disturbing animal fetishism theories discussed by P L]

By preventing real breasts, in all of their shapes and sizes, from being free and uncovered…

What? As I said at the beginning of my article, I don’t care whether women want to bare their breasts. My point is, there are consequences to doing so. These may be mild, or, for people like the water park owner, they may be (at least perceived to be) very serious indeed. But don’t think that I’ll be offended or upset in the least.

You’re inadvertently continuing the promotion of the idealised silicon valleys that come from cosmetic surgery. Real breasts are rarely viewed by boys and men, but also by other girls and women, despite the prominence of the saline and silicone variety throughout modern viewing means. Breast surgery continues to grow in popularity with an increase of 39% between the years 2000 – 2010 alone. By looking out for the virtue of young lads, you’ve forced my 10 year old daughter to feel a little less equal and a lot more self conscious about herself. It’s that exact cultural reasoning of protecting the distractible boys that forces adolescent girls in areas around the world to be covered completely.

No idea how this follows. Regardless, as a libertarian, I believe that if someone wants to have cosmetic surgery, it’s their business, not yours or mine. There are very good reasons for some people to do so. I agree that it’s not generally a helpful or healthy thing to do, but we have no right to prevent those who want to. BTW, did you force your 10 year old daughter to read my post?

If you really believe in equality, you can’t support a law that only applies to women.

I believe in equality of opportunity. I agree that women should have a legal right to wear what they want. Like men, they will have to live with the consequences of their choices. Fortunately for us, the consequences in our society are rather mild, like having to deal with water park owners who don’t want your business.

Either the tops are on for everyone – and that was prevailing law until only recently btw, or tops are off for everyone. Every woman will choose for herself if she wants to exercise her rights.

I agree 100%. As I said in my article, there is little chance men will be willing to swim in shirts. I predict that if female (human) topless bathing becomes popular, it will be other women who object, not men.

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Review of “Paradise”

* D

paradiseIn this dramatic comedy, a young Christian conservative, Lamb (Julianne Hough), who is badly injured in an accident, renounces her faith and goes to Las Vegas to become a sinner. There, she meets a waiter (Russel Brand) and his friend and coworker (Octavia Spencer). After finding the sinful life empty, Lamb realizes her purpose.

This film explores Las Vegas from the point of view of an innocent and those of two insiders. Dramatically, it had little to say to me. There were many laugh out loud moments in the writing, which finds humour in the juxtaposition of conservatism and hedonism. For example, when one of the Vegas natives realizes she has never been exposed to pop culture, he comments that she is so lucky.

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Why Are Girls Losing the Relationship Game?

leftover-womenI’m going to summarize the article Young, attractive, educated, female — and single, which was referenced in the article I reviewed in Whistling Past the Demographic Graveyard. After the main article, a man’s opinion is given, and he quickly gets to the heart of the matter.

These young women … are the most attractive, accomplished people I know. If I were a man, I would be falling over myself to date them. But they are all single and are starting to lose hope of ever finding boyfriends.

But you are a woman. Do you value the same things that men do?

“Most men at work are in relationships, as are the best ones from university,” sighs Harriet, 27, “It feels like you’re left with the offcuts — guys who want to sleep around or are heartbroken from their last relationship. Whereas my single girlfriends are intelligent, rational people, always doing interesting things. According to romcoms, we should be bumping into interesting men left, right and centre, but it doesn’t happen.”

Romcoms aren’t accurate? Call the press!

On paper, today’s young women are more empowered than ever. Last year, British women between the ages of 22 and 29 reversed the gender pay gap, outearning their male counterparts.

The gender pay gap isn’t real? Call the press!

Much has rightly been made of the knock-on effect of this shift on men and their concept of masculinity. But we shouldn’t mistake impressive jobs and outward confidence as a sign that young women have everything sorted. We don’t — particularly when it comes to relationships.

More women entering the workplace has had a negligible effect on men’s concept of masculinity; rather, you are witnessing changes in its expression. Women’s “impressive jobs” have little to do with their success in relationships. Arguably, success at work may actually hurt their chances because they will spend less time looking for a mate.

It is not that my friends and I (single for seven years) feel incomplete without a boyfriend. We travel alone (Chloe, 28, has spent the past two New Year’s Eves on her own in Israel and Nicaragua); we’ve moved to foreign cities alone; we happily go to the cinema alone.

Sounds like fun.

 

In Britain, the figure is 29% more women than men in higher education. In 2014, 237,690 women graduated from UK universities compared with 184,130 men. This year, 94,140 more women than men applied to universities. If action isn’t taken to address the growing gender gap then girls born this year will be 75% more likely to study for a degree than their male classmates.

Why would action be taken? Isn’t this what women have been demanding for decades?

The heart of the problem is an increase in what Birger calls “assortative mating” — people choosing partners from the same social and educational background as themselves.

And by people, he means women. Men don’t choose partners based on these criteria. Maybe women shouldn’t either.

“We’ve all become more rigid about who we want to be with, but the men don’t get penalised because the supply of university-educated women is getting bigger every year. Say you start out with a dating pool that has 140 women for every 100 men. Once 70 of those men get married, the remaining singles become 70 women to 30 men. It’s totally unfair.”

Women have become rigid. First, they demanded that equal numbers of women be admitted to universities. Then, as the value of a university degree eroded, fewer men decided to enter university. This trend could be improved by improving universities, but I see little evidence that is happening.

“[Educated] guys know they’re in high demand. They’re more likely to play the field and act like jerks because they have the leverage. They don’t perceive it as a numbers game, they just think they’re special.”

And, since they are now a minority, they are; they have become a scarce commodity.

Dr Sue Johnson is a clinical psychologist and the bestselling author of Love Sense: The Revolutionary New Science of Romantic Relationships. She blames the media and the ready availability of internet pornography for promoting ideals of masculinity that portray monogamy as restrictive and archaic.

Wrong. The media no longer promotes masculinity in any real way. And porn has always been available to those who want it.

“If you think of commitment as being in prison, then, yes, it’s a horrible word. But if I say it’s the chance to build a relationship that will make you happier, it becomes an opportunity.”

Why would men think of commitment as a prison? Is there some way that being married can lead to a man going to prison?

Women take issue with being led on. Everyone had a story of finally discovering a wonderful man who seemed to buck the trend. He planned exciting dates and initiated conversations about the future, only to back-pedal furiously when she suggested transitioning from “seeing each other” to an exclusive relationship.

A man planning exciting dates and talking about the future is not necessarily leading you on. Maybe he’s honestly hoping, like you are, that he’s found his mate.

“People are just addicted to the endorphin kick of having someone find you attractive.”

I think someone is projecting here.

The Sex and the City creator, Candace Bushnell, agrees. At 57 she is divorced and dating, and she notes a significant difference between today’s dating culture and that of the 1980s and 1990s, when she was a relationship columnist for the New York Observer. Back then, women encountered the odd emotionally unavailable philanderer, but generally, if a man was going on dates, he was open to the idea of a relationship. No longer.

When she was in her twenties and thirties, men were open to the idea of a relationship, but now that she is nearing sixty, they aren’t. How does this not compute?

“Guys aren’t bad people, but they’re attuned to the responsibilities that come with making a commitment and they don’t want that.”

OK, now she is seeing more clearly.

Of course, women hoping to have a family are under a biological time pressure that men generally don’t feel.

Why would we? Women’s fertility lasts into their thirties, whereas men can remain fertile into old age.

Alex, 26, isn’t thinking about children for at least five years. “I’d like to meet the person I’m going to spend the rest of my life with, because I know we’re going to have a great time together, but I’m not looking at my watch, getting stressed about it.”

If she wants children in 5 years, and isn’t having luck dating, shouldn’t she be worried?

“Not having children would upset me more than not having a partner. But I could adopt or I’d just be really self-indulgent and travel loads. I’d make the best of it.”

Become a single mother or remain a hedonist. Great choices.

“Some people are used to having high standards and control over many aspects of their lives, but you can’t control another person, so they sometimes resort to early dismissal: ‘He said this, he did this, he’s out.’ Often it’s about not being too rigid in what you’re looking for.”

Sound advice.

Might we be expecting too much? Harriet’s dream man would “definitely read The Economist”, while for Alex, a keen appreciation of Tracey Emin is a prerequisite. “He needs to be passionate in a physical sense, but also in terms of his interests. If I mention a kooky art show I’ve been to and he doesn’t even try to get his head around it, that’s a real turn-off.”

So if I don’t appreciate the right magazine, author, or art show, I’m out? I think I see the problem.

 

In my naive feminist mind, I knew the woman I wanted to be. She was ambitious, fiercely independent and would never prioritise a man over her career or female friends. I didn’t realise that no one was asking me to do so.

You wouldn’t prioritize your mate over friends? No wonder you are single. And believe me, a man will absolutely require that you prioritize him over your friends, if you expect him to do the same.

The journalist Laurie Penny argued recently in a Valentine’s Day article for the New Statesman, entitled “Maybe you should just be single”, that women in their twenties should value their “financial and emotional independence” over finding a boyfriend.

Laurie Penny, a radical feminist, is part of the problem. If you remain single while you’re young, you will likely remain single when you’re old. Men who want children want to marry young women.

“Young women are totally confused,” says Sue Johnson. “They’re fed all this stuff in the media about finding a soulmate, then they’re told they don’t need a man — which is true on some level as they’re no longer dependent on them financially. But feminism isn’t about being so strong that you don’t need anybody. We’re social, bonding animals and strength is recognising that and allowing yourself to be vulnerable to another person.”

I would add that most women desire children on a deep instinctual level, and that denying this (as Penny would have you do) will likely lead to unhappiness. A man’s survival instincts manifest in the need to spread his seed. A women’s will only be satisfied with children.

 

A boy’s eye view of the girls’ plight

Why are these girls single? Because they’re too picky. The numbers are against them in terms of male-to-female ratios, and that’s tough, but they can mitigate it by being more realistic. Ellie and her friends are expecting to meet someone and be swept off their feet, but falling in love as an adult is different. I wasn’t immediately blown away by my last girlfriend, but we were together for four years. It took time, patience and an acceptance that neither person was perfect. If these girls expect to meet a Tom Hiddleston lookalike who is a doctor and an expert in contemporary art on the side, then I’m sorry, they’re going to be disappointed.

Truthbomb!

I don’t think men are generally scared of commitment. Ultimately, if a guy likes you — really likes you — he will want to be in a relationship with you. It sounds harsh, but if a guy goes cold after a few dates, it’s not because he’s a monster; he’s just not crazy about you.

And another!

These women are all very accomplished in their own right, but, deep down, I think they still want a man who’s a provider. I don’t think they’d be attracted to someone who wasn’t at least as successful as them. Our traditional gender stereotypes are becoming outdated, but you can’t manipulate raw attraction.

Boom!

My advice to Ellie and her friends would be to stop obsessing over Mr Right, because he only exists in their heads. Instead, date some people who you have fun with and see what happens. You might end up having a surprisingly good time with Mr Wrong.

Good advice. Dating is a numbers game, like job searching. You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find the prince.

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Carbon Taxes are Effective Because Reasons

The CBC is back with another opinion piece on global warming: An inconvenient truth: We could be fighting about climate change for a while yet. The author’s political bias is on full display. Let’s take a look:

goreble-warmingAt a glance, last weekend’s box office charts might not suggest there is much hope for humanity. Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Sequel, the follow to An Inconvenient Truth, was shown on 180 screens in America, making less than $1 million in ticket sales. The Emoji Movie, on more than 4,000 screens, took in $12 million.

As if people watching Al Gore’s documentary equates to “hope for humanity”.

It might also be noted that much has made been of a climate report authored by scientists with the American government, not so much because of what the report said, but because of fears that Donald Trump’s administration might try to bury it.

By idiots who didn’t take the trouble to find out that drafts of the report had been published months earlier, and that it was going through the usual process. I.e., this was a fake news story. See New York Times guilty of large screw-up on climate-change story. For the author of this piece use fake news to push his agenda is telling.

In truth, significant progress has been made in the decade since Gore’s first film: on public policy, clean energy and international co-operation. In Canada, there is finally something like a plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

I agree that progress has been made, but it has little to do with public policy (aside from construction of public transit) or international cooperation. Elon Musk has done far more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by forcing the auto industry to take electrification seriously than any government program has. While governments hand out our money in incentives to purchase electric vehicles, they are still subsidizing the fossil fuel industry with the other hand.

An Ekos survey in 2008 found 70 per cent of respondents identified the environment as a high priority, the highest percentage recorded over years of asking. When Ekos asked again in 2015, only 58 per cent considered the environment a high priority. The recession that hit in 2008 might have made climate change a secondary concern.

How is that surprising?

According to the Angus Reid Institute, support for a national carbon tax slipped to 44 per cent in June from 56 per cent in April 2015.

Perhaps better evidence for how such a tax will actually help reduce global warming would help. BC has had a carbon tax for years now. Are there figures to show it’s had a positive impact? If not, why should we support higher taxes?

In Canada, support for taxing carbon — a policy that economists generally recommend as the most efficient method of reducing emissions — is also divided along regional lines, with rural and Western Canadians opposing.

Economists are generally hopeless at predicting the future. Why should we believe them? Unless they can provide evidence that taxing carbon is efficient, and not just another government money grab, I’m not buying it. I guess I’m just too “Western Canadian”.

A few days before he announced he was leaving politics, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, who has loudly opposed federal plans to price carbon, was invoking Pierre Trudeau’s infamous National Energy Program to describe Justin Trudeau’s environmental policies.

As well he should. The federal government has provided no evidence that their plans are more than a tax grab from the energy producing west to prop up the failing east. Like the NEP, the federal carbon tax is a “made in Ottawa” policy. If you don’t want it to be opposed, explain its benefits more clearly.

While the next federal NDP leader and climate activists might push Trudeau to cut emissions deeper and faster, his strategy of slowly increasing the price of carbon might at least limit outrage at the imposition. Research suggests that support for British Columbia’s carbon tax increased after it was implemented, perhaps after it failed to result in economic ruin.

Like boiling a frog by slowly increasing the temperature. “Failed to result in economic ruin” is hardly a criteria for success.

Against an abstract threat, Trudeau must manage tangible changes. And governments do not always manage change smoothly.

Exactly. If global warming is merely an abstract threat, people will be rightly skeptical of a government that can’t control its spending and wants to introduce a new tax.

If Alberta’s United Conservative Party, Wall’s successor in Saskatchewan and the federal Conservatives somehow land on a credible approach to reducing greenhouse gases, the debate might be less pitched.

And what would make it credible? Hard evidence. Al Gore is not a credible source. Over time, many of the predictions made in his first film have failed to come about.

But it’s also possible to foresee a day after the 2019 federal election when Prime Minister Trudeau imposes a carbon tax on Premier Kenney. That might not go pleasantly.

And it’s also possible that after the 2019 federal election, Prime Minister Scheer undoes even more of Trudeau’s poorly thought out policies. Don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched.

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CBC is Schizophrenic Over Google Memo

diversity-googleThe CBC published two opinion pieces yesterday on the leaked Google “echo chamber” memo: Google axing someone for mouthing off in a memo was not a smart move; and Google delivered an important message by firing its employee for his diversity screed. I’m going to summarize both, starting with “not a smart move”:

The first thing that needs to be said about Google’s decision to fire an employee who wrote an internal memo criticizing the company’s diversity initiatives is: fair enough. Management choosing to let go a worker whose attitude conflicts with the workplace it is trying to establish is a reasonable enough move. And a legal one. As it should be.

I agree. California (unlike BC) does not require just cause to fire, otherwise, Google would likely be in for a law suit. They may still be, as Damore has stated he may, presumably claiming they fired him for blowing the whistle on illegal hiring practices, which is itself illegal in California.

But that doesn’t mean axing someone for mouthing off in a memo is a smart move.

Having read the memo, I find “mouthing off” to be a grossly inaccurate characterization. I do think it is fair to say that he challenged cultural norms.

In a note about the incident, Google CEO Sundar Pichai reassured employees that “[p]eople must feel free to express dissent,” which is a wise position, particularly for a company that thrives on creative innovation. Yet, how can that be the case if voicing an honest, respectfully worded opinion is a fireable offense at Google?

In the words of another famous leader, “Idi Amin will cherish your right to free speech but cannot guarantee your rights after free speech”.

Critics of the memo — who are said to include a whole lot of insulted female Google employees — would insist that stereotypes are exactly what Damore put to paper when he suggested that biology, rather than just bias, is a significant reason why women are underrepresented in tech jobs.

And yet he backed up his claims with detailed references (which were–possibly maliciously–removed by Gizmodo), and they do not.

And don’t get the hater-haters started on Damore’s supposedly unscientific summaries of the differences between male and female personalities.

Clearly they haven’t read The Google Memo: Four Scientists Respond.

If the question is whether a lot of people would disagree with Damore, the answer is certainly “yes.” But saying things many people disagree would with is not necessarily a bad quality in an employee.

Especially if they happen to be right. Jim Collins defines a leader as someone who climbs a tree and shouts “wrong way”.

As [Damore] explained somewhat defensively in the memo: “Despite what the public response seems to have been, I’ve gotten many personal messages from fellow Googlers expressing their gratitude for bringing up these very important issues which they agree with but would never have the courage to say or defend because of our shaming culture and the possibility of being fired.”

In an authoritarian culture, one dissident may represent the opinions of the majority.

Anyhow, sincere open debate can be a boon for a business (or a family, or a society, or a country) if it’s embarked upon civilly and with constructive intent.

And Damore’s memo was civil and constructive.

You can’t decide what’s right if you’re not willing to consider – at least for a moment – what you’re sure is wrong.

You will never realize when you’re wrong if you suppress any opinion that is not your own. How many companies have gone down because CEOs surrounded themselves with “yes men”?

It’s not a viable business strategy to be constantly engaged in petty arguments with combative employees, but substantively re-examining a policy believed to beyond reproach – such as diversity initiatives – at an employee’s earnest urging can be a good thing, even if only to force management to freshly articulate why the policy is so important, rather than letting it become stale dogma.

I’m going to part ways with the author here. I believe that Google has decided that diversity is a core value. That means that anyone who doesn’t hold diversity as a core value will be ejected from the company like a virus. The question is, is diversity a good core value to hold? Personally, I have nothing against diversity, but, like Damore, I hold meritocracy as a core value. I want to work with the best, man or woman, regardless of race.

How many good management books are there out there that advise hubris over humility?

Doing so would make a management book bad; so none.

“On average, men and women biologically differ in many ways,” Damore wrote (and it’s hard to argue with him on that). “These differences aren’t just socially constructed…. Many of these differences are small and there’s significant overlap between men and women, so you can’t say anything about an individual given these population level distributions.”

In other words, collectives do not define their members.

A lot of women who thought Damore was wrong expressed themselves forcefully and convincingly on Twitter; giving some of these women a platform – perhaps a Google town hall debate with Damore – could have done more good for workplace culture than giving Damore a pink-slip has done.

I didn’t see any convincing comments; most seemed to be entirely fact free. But that doesn’t matter if, as I believe, diversity is truly a core value at Google. While mere practices are subject to debate and change, core values are not, nor should they be.

This isn’t unlawful censorship, it’s business. But it does make you wonder how well business – and the rest of society – will do in the future given how poor we have all become at speaking civilly about controversial issues.

There is nothing wrong with holding core values that aren’t up for debate. The question is, do your core values work for you? For example, excellence has always served me well. I’m not open to the idea that excellence is not something that I should value.

Now I’ll move on to the second piece, “Google delivered an important message…”:

It’s hard to believe that this is up for discussion, but yes: the firing of James Damore, the Google engineer who penned an internal memo attacking the company’s diversity initiatives, is 100 per cent justified.

If you hold diversity as a core value, and someone criticizes it, they will never fit in at your company.

On the surface, his firing seems to confirm the exact situation he criticized in this so-called manifesto, namely that Google had become intolerant of perspectives outside of the oppressive boundaries of political correctness.

It does confirm it. Not allowing criticism of diversity is the very definition of political correctness. Calling his memo a “manifesto” or a “screed” will not change this.

First off, Damore displayed a complete lack of judgement by writing and circulating the memo. He was surely fully aware of the type of uproar it could cause — it indeed stirred up such a storm that Google’s CEO had to come back from vacation to deal with the backlash — but decided to publish it anyway, with seemingly little regard for how it would reflect on the company, which has struggled to get more women in technical and leadership jobs.

I agree. He was aware of what could happen, and said as much in his memo.

Google affords its employees more freedom than do most companies, trusting that its hiring process will weed out all those who would use that freedom in destructive ways. So when an employee shows himself capable of such an egregious lapse in judgement — posting something sure to cause massive internal and external uproar — he’s gotta go.

There are companies (Intel, for instance) that thrive on conflict and debate, where a memo like this probably wouldn’t have caused anyone to bat an eyelid. Google is not one of them.

Moreover, Damore’s memo appeared to violate Google’s own code of conduct, which states that, “Googlers are expected to do their utmost to create a workplace culture that is free of harassment, intimidation, bias, and unlawful discrimination.” A document that outlines how women are biologically less able compared to men to handle technical and leadership roles is clearly in violation of that expectation.

Yet, as Damore pointed out, he felt people who did not believe in the core values were being harassed and intimidated, and that there were programs that unlawfully discriminated on the basis of race and gender.

Even if the post itself didn’t constitute unlawful discrimination, it was certainly a masterclass in encouraging biased thinking.

I would say Damore was trying to encourage unbiased thinking. But, like all of us, he had his own biases (as clearly the author of this piece does).

Beyond just breaking the rules, Damore’s document has the potential to erode the psychological safety of the women at Google. Yonatan Zunger, a former Google exec, said it best in his mic-drop response to the document: “Do you understand that at this point, I could not in good conscience assign anyone to work with you? …You have just created a textbook hostile workplace environment.”

Anyone whose “psychological safety” is threatened by an opinion that differs from theirs is unlikely to succeed in this world. Zunger is slightly more cogent than the author, if you consider attacking a company’s core values hostile. I would have phrased it “your values are antithetical to ours”.

Most women understand how extremely stressful it is having to work with people who don’t think you’re capable of doing your job. And for the number of times Damore references the concept of psychological safety in his writing, it sort of seems like he doesn’t really know what it even means.

Damore never said women weren’t capable of doing their jobs. He merely stated that on average, they have different strengths and weaknesses than men. I think he understands the concept of psychological safety, but the things that threaten him are entirely different from those that seem to threaten (some of the) people at Google.

A prerequisite of psychological safety on a team is knowing that your coworkers have your back. It is immediately undermined by learning that your colleague believes you got your job due to diversity initiatives that lower the bar for technical work, rather due to your abilities. Yet that’s the message that Damore’s screed delivered.

I agree. Damore’s proposed solutions attempt eliminate these concerns by eliminating the need to lower standards. If bars are not being lowered, Google should make this clear. If they are being compromised, then the values of diversity and meritocracy are in conflict, and problems are to be expected until one or the other is abandoned or removed from the picture.

And if none of the above seem like fireable offences, consider this: the tech industry is riding a big old wave of negative publicity due to its lack of diversity and a handful of scandals that have made people question its treatment of the women.

Scandals are anecdotal. I’d like to see some statistical evidence that there is a systematic problem. If there is none, the best thing is to keep doing what works for your company. People who aren’t happy will leave.

Cynically viewed, firing Damore is a shrewd publicity move on Google’s part that ensures it escapes the heat that Uber experienced from the garbage-fire-bungling of its own PR crisis. And after all, in our era of conscious consumerism, Google probably doesn’t want to find out how deep a “delete Google” campaign could cut.

I don’t believe this for a minute. If Google weren’t sincere in their belief in diversity, they would not have fired Damore for challenging it.

But I like to be a little more hopeful: I think that the zero tolerance approach to the manifesto was meant to send a clear message to the men who genuinely believe that diversity is harming them.

I think it will. And that message is “if you don’t value diversity, don’t work for Google”.

Letting the anti-diversity crusaders know in no uncertain terms that their antics will not be tolerated, not even in the name of free speech, was the right thing to do. Google — and the tech industry as a whole — still has a lot of work to do to ensure fair representation in its ranks, but its decisive action in this case shows it’s willing to rise to the challenge.

Hopefully the rest of the tech industry will focus on what we do best: creating great products that make the world a better place. If Google values diversity, that’s their business, unless their board decides otherwise. Personally, I want to work in a company that hires the best people, no matter who they are.

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Whistling Past the Demographic Graveyard

man-droughtI keep seeing articles like We shouldn’t be worried about the ‘millennial man drought’.  As a libertarian minded man, I say to each his (or her) own, but if you’re a young woman who wants to marry and have a family, is this really good advice? Let’s see:

[Woman are] bombarded by media encouraging us to be strong, single and sassy independent women. Yet, the very same media also tells us that although being single for a bit is great, we also need to find a man eventually and that it’s going to be pretty hard to do that.

The first message is coming from feminists. The second one is coming from older women who see how hard it is, after devoting their youth to their careers, to find someone to settle down with.

A couple of weeks ago, Ellie Austin wrote an article for The Times, lamenting the what she calls the ‘Millennial Man Drought’. She describes how her circle of intelligent, cultured and successful female friends are desperately struggling to find boyfriends and husbands in a way that previous generations haven’t.

Previous generations of women didn’t wait until they were in their late twenties or early thirties to settle down.

Austin attributes this struggle largely to the disparity between the number of men and women who graduate from university.  In 2014, 29 per cent more women than men graduated from university than men.  If the gap continues to grow at the same rate, girls born this year will be 75 per cent more likely to go to university than their male peers.

Why don’t women who have graduated from university want to marry men who have not? Why are more women going to university that men?

This increasing disparity, combined with the fact that more people than ever before are favouring ‘assortative mating’ (which means choosing partners from the same social and educational background), means that, in theory, university educated women seeking boyfriends and husbands are struggling to find them, because there simply aren’t enough that meet our exceedingly high standards and expectations.

Women are notorious for wanting to marry up, whilst men are more than willing to marry down. This is nothing new.

Austin is describing a situation that we’re all pretty familiar with.  Women are constantly depicted in contemporary media as hopelessly seeking a man. Being permanently single has become a bit of a running joke for girls of our generation.  Phrases like ‘I think I’m going to be single forever’, ‘I might just become a crazy cat lady’ and ‘I’ve literally given up on boys’ are used on a pretty much daily basis in my friendship group.

And yet close to half of the population continue to be men.

But should we be worried? Are we really going to be alone forever?  To be honest, we’re probably not unless we choose to be.

This is true as long as the number of men wanting to marry is greater than or equal to the number of women.

Okay yes, there are less men of the same socio-economic and educational background to go round than ever before.  But there aren’t actually less men.  In fact, in the UK there are on average 1.3 men to every woman.  So no, numerically speaking there isn’t a man drought.

Exactly.

According to Austin, the ‘drought’ is also partially caused by men becoming increasingly commitment-phobic as a result of the rise of dating apps and media portrayals of masculinity as dependent upon promiscuity.

This is a load of bullshit. Bad divorce laws are the only cause of commitment-phobia I’m aware of. Lack of desire to commit is not generally a phobia. Rather, men commit to something that they want. The media hardly portrays promiscuous men positively. Look at how James Bond has been emasculated in recent years. The days of the “mans man” in Hollywood are dead and buried.

Pretty much every girl can attest that these things don’t make trying to date in the 21st century very easy.

Dating apps make dating harder. I buy that. Must be why they’re so unpopular.

So, there aren’t actually less men and they aren’t actually more commitment-phobic than ever before.  So what’s changed?

Yes, that’s the right question.

My Grandma said she thinks it is much harder for girls to find the right person to settle down with now, but she attributes that not to a lack of men, but to women expecting more and not wanting to rush into things.

Chalk one up for Granny.

The conclusion she reached was that … ‘girls aren’t so keen to give up their own freedom’ and that this is definitely a good thing.

So women choosing to wait to find a mate and then being unable to is a good thing? Sorry Granny, your logic is failing to convince me.

Essentially, the entire landscape of human relationships has changed since my grandparents met nearly 70 years ago.  People meet in different ways, have different expectations of relationships and different priorities.  Despite being married at 19 herself, my Grandma says she definitely wouldn’t want that for me and neither would I.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. If you find the right person at 19, go for it. Strike two for Granny.

The most important thing I learned from the conversation was that they think it’s foolish for girls to think they won’t ever meet someone.  My grandma reminded me that I ‘could go out tonight and meet somebody and that could be happiness for a lifetime’ and as much as that sounds hopelessly romantic, she’s right.  It’s true for me, it’s true for you and it’s true for every human being in the world.

Well, it’s also true that you may not meet someone tonight, and your fertility (not to mention neoteny) is a time limited resource. Don’t let Granny’s rose tinted glasses give you a false sense of security.

Dating and mating has always been a pretty tricky business and not just for girls.

Wrong. It’s only very recently that dating (as opposed to courtship) was a thing, and marriages have been arranged until a few generations ago.

The only difference now is that we have more freedom, as women, to decide what we want and how to live our lives.  Let’s stop joking about no one ever wanting to marry us and appreciate the opportunities we have to lead a fulfilling life without a man whilst knowing that realistically, there’s someone for everyone in the world.

As I said, that’s only true if equal numbers of men and women want to marry.

As my Grandpa said when I asked him if he thought I would ever meet someone: ‘It will happen without expecting it, it might be the chap next door’.

Wishful thinking is always the best plan. Thanks, Grandad.

My advice to women? You can work at most occupations while you’re old, but you can only have children when you’re young. Men know this instinctively, meaning that, when they want to have children, they will look for a young woman. If you ever want to have children, prioritize doing so over career. Once you’ve raised your young children, you will have plenty of time for work.

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Review of “Atomic Blonde”

atomic-blonde* * C

Atomic Blonde is a spy thriller set in the tail end of the cold war, just before the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is a fast paced film full of action. It is what I would imagine a James Bond film would be like if you recast Charlize “Furiosa” Theron as Bond. I don’t mean reimagining James Bond as a woman. I literally mean having Theron play Bond. Her character, Lorraine, is almost repulsively masculine.

I liked this film slightly better than John Wick 2. The plot is good, with a couple of twists, the last of which I didn’t see coming. The 80’s sound track is fun and fits the period. James “The Professor” McAvoy is fantastic as the Berlin chief of MI6, David Percival. John Goodman has a solid supporting role. Sofia Boutella (Gazelle in Kingsman) plays the uninteresting love interest.

So why isn’t this the next “Kingsman”, or “Skyfall”, or even “MI: Rogue Nation”? Partly, the story uses the old “tell the ending, then go back to the beginning” trope. Since you know how it will end, a lot of the tension is removed. Imagine if Game of Thrones told you in the first episode who would be around at the end of the series. The unlikability of Theron’s character (as opposed to the rakish heroes of Kingsman and the Bond films) didn’t help either.

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