Jordan Peterson is Wrong on Forced Monogamy

According to the New York Times, Dr. Jordan Peterson is the Custodian of the Patriarchy. Please prepare to examine some first class propaganda with me. BTW, the original article is behind NYT’s 5 free articles paywall. If you want to read the article and have run out of free articles, try visiting it in a private browsing session.

He says there’s a crisis in masculinity. Why won’t women — all these wives and witches — just behave?

The first sentence is true, the second a made up smear. This immediately gives this article away as a hit piece.

Jordan Peterson fills huge lecture halls and tells his audiences there’s no shame in looking backward to a model of how the world should be arranged. Look back to the 1950s, he says — and back even further.

Peterson never cites the 50’s as a golden age. Rather, he points out that since the 1900’s, we have been moving away from patterns of behavior based on psychological archetypes evolved over hundreds of thousands of years.

Most of his ideas stem from a gnawing anxiety around gender. “The masculine spirit is under assault,” he told me. “It’s obvious.”

Most of his ideas stem from Jungian psychology, and the post modernists’s denial of it. It is obvious that the masculine spirit is under assault.

In Mr. Peterson’s world, order is masculine. Chaos is feminine. And if an overdose of femininity is our new poison, Mr. Peterson knows the cure. Hence his new book’s subtitle: “An Antidote to Chaos.” “We have to rediscover the eternal values and then live them out,” he says.

Identification of order with the masculine (yang) and chaos with the feminine (yin) goes back to Taoism. Peterson’s book subtitle stems from his belief that the world has fallen out of balance, and that there is currently too much chaos.

Mr. Peterson, 55, a University of Toronto psychology professor turned YouTube philosopher turned mystical father figure, has emerged as an influential thought leader. The messages he delivers range from hoary self-help empowerment talk (clean your room, stand up straight) to the more retrograde and political (a society run as a patriarchy makes sense and stems mostly from men’s competence; the notion of white privilege is a farce). He is the stately looking, pedigreed voice for a group of culture warriors who are working diligently to undermine mainstream and liberal efforts to promote equality.

He is part of a reaction to illiberal (so called progressive) post modernist efforts to promote equality of outcome. He is 100% for the liberal principle of equality of opportunity.

He is also very successful. His book, “12 Rules for Life,” which was published in January, has sold more than 1.1 million copies. Thanks to his YouTube channel, he makes more than $80,000 a month just on donations. Hundreds of thousands of people have taken his online personality tests and self-improvement writing exercises. The media covers him relentlessly.

Though his media coverage has doubtless helped him to reach such a massive audience, who see enough value in his content to make him a best selling author and popular Youtuber, the mainstream media’s coverage has been nearly universally negative. “Relentless” is an apt word choice.

Wherever he goes, he speaks in sermons about the inevitability of who we must be. “You know you can say, ‘Well isn’t it unfortunate that chaos is represented by the feminine’ — well, it might be unfortunate, but it doesn’t matter because that is how it’s represented. It’s been represented like that forever. And there are reasons for it. You can’t change it. It’s not possible. This is underneath everything. If you change those basic categories, people wouldn’t be human anymore. They’d be something else. They’d be transhuman or something. We wouldn’t be able to talk to these new creatures.”

There is truth in what he says. The mind is not a social construct. As Jung discovered, non-religious people have dreams that contain the same archetypes that appear in the world’s mythologies and the bible. Ignoring the truth because you don’t like it won’t make it go away.

“Marxism is resurgent,” Mr. Peterson says, looking ashen and stricken.

And he’s not wrong. Look at Venezuela.

He dragged the school into controversy in 2016 by opposing a Canadian bill that he believed would compel him to use a student’s preferred pronouns. “I am not going to be a mouthpiece for language that I detest, and that’s that,” he said during a debate at the University of Toronto.

And his stand is a principled one, based on the belief that the state does not have the right to compel the speech of its citizens. This is an anti-authoritarian stance.

Mr. Peterson, who grew up in Fairview, Canada, a small town in northern Alberta, spent his career teaching psychology at Harvard and then at the University of Toronto, all while running a clinical practice. The lesson most patients need to hear, he says, is “grow the hell up, accept some responsibility, live an honorable life. We just haven’t talked about that in any compelling way in three generations. Probably since the beginning of the ’60s.”

And the nanny state is a big part of the reason why we haven’t.

Why did he decide to engage in politics at all? He says a couple years ago he had three clients in his private practice “pushed out of a state of mental health by left-wing bullies in their workplace.” I ask for an example, and he sighs. He says one patient had to be part of a long email chain over whether the term “flip chart” could be used in the workplace, since the word “flip” is a pejorative for Filipino.

Sounds as cringe worthy as Trudeau telling us we should say “peoplekind” instead of “mankind”.

He was radicalized, he says, because the “radical left” wants to eliminate hierarchies, which he says are the natural order of the world. In his book he illustrates this idea with the social behavior of lobsters. He chose lobsters because they have hierarchies and are a very ancient species, and are also invertebrates with serotonin. This lobster hierarchy has become a rallying cry for his fans; they put images of the crustacean on T-shirts and mugs.

It’s a great example of how dominance hierarchies are wired in to animals.

The left, he believes, refuses to admit that men might be in charge because they are better at it. “The people who hold that our culture is an oppressive patriarchy, they don’t want to admit that the current hierarchy might be predicated on competence,” he said.

And he’s 100% right. He doesn’t claim that all hierarchies are created by competence, only that it is a major factor.

Witches don’t exist, and they don’t live in swamps, I say. “Yeah, they do. They do exist. They just don’t exist the way you think they exist. They certainly exist. You may say well dragons don’t exist. It’s, like, yes they do — the category predator and the category dragon are the same category. It absolutely exists. It’s a superordinate category. It exists absolutely more than anything else. In fact, it really exists. What exists is not obvious. You say, ‘Well, there’s no such thing as witches.’ Yeah, I know what you mean, but that isn’t what you think when you go see a movie about them. You can’t help but fall into these categories. There’s no escape from them.”

He’s talking about archetypes here. These mythological patterns exist in the subconscious mind.

Recently, a young man named Alek Minassian drove through Toronto trying to kill people with his van. Ten were killed, and he has been charged with first-degree murder for their deaths, and with attempted murder for 16 people who were injured. Mr. Minassian declared himself to be part of a misogynist group whose members call themselves incels. The term is short for “involuntary celibates,” though the group has evolved into a male supremacist movement made up of people — some celibate, some not — who believe that women should be treated as sexual objects with few rights. Some believe in forced “sexual redistribution,” in which a governing body would intervene in women’s lives to force them into sexual relationships.

They are hardly a movement, unless having a chat board on Reddit makes people a movement.

Violent attacks are what happens when men do not have partners, Mr. Peterson says, and society needs to work to make sure those men are married. “He was angry at God because women were rejecting him,” Mr. Peterson says of the Toronto killer. “The cure for that is enforced monogamy. That’s actually why monogamy emerges.”

If society doesn’t help the incels, they will doubtless continue to be unhappy and probably commit atrocities to make their unhappiness known. I happen to think that society should not work to make sure men are married because I’m a libertarian (whereas Peterson is a traditionalist). I also disagree with his assessment that monogamy emerged to equally distribute men and women. Personally, I think that the higher cost of rearing human children promoted the evolution of pair bonding as a mating strategy to maximize survival.

Mr. Peterson does not pause when he says this. Enforced monogamy is, to him, simply a rational solution. Otherwise women will all only go for the most high-status men, he explains, and that couldn’t make either gender happy in the end. “Half the men fail,” he says, meaning that they don’t procreate. “And no one cares about the men who fail.”

While I don’t agree that his solution is a good one, I do agree that there are a growing number of men at the lower end of the social hierarchy who can’t find mates, and no one cares about them. There are also women at the top of the social ladder who can’t find men. Unsurprisingly, they are offered sympathy by the media.

I laugh, because it is absurd. “You’re laughing about them,” he says, giving me a disappointed look. “That’s because you’re female.”

And he is right. Women don’t care about incels.

But aside from interventions that would redistribute sex, Mr. Peterson is staunchly against what he calls “equality of outcomes,” or efforts to equalize society. He usually calls them pathological or evil.

He is right. Forced equality is just that: forced. The use of force to equalize society led to millions of deaths in Russia, China, and the killing fields of Cambodia. That is pathological and evil.

He agrees that this is inconsistent. But preventing hordes of single men from violence, he believes, is necessary for the stability of society. Enforced monogamy helps neutralize that.

I believe his “solution” is as repulsive as communism. In the past, this problem would have been solved by starting a war. I don’t know how we will solve it this time. Hopefully, sex robots will get better and cheaper. Legalizing prostitution would also be a good step, in my opinion.

In situations where there is too much mate choice, “a small percentage of the guys have hyper-access to women, and so they don’t form relationships with women,” he said. “And the women hate that.”

I think this is good. It may take a while, but women will eventually learn that chasing the top 20% of men is a losing game. Resisting the hypergamous instinct won’t be easy, but once it’s clearly seen as a winning strategy, I hope it will become common.

Mr. Peterson is a celebrity in the men’s rights community, a loose collection of activists who feel men have been subjugated or betrayed by social progress. Some of these supporters pay $200 a month for a 45-minute Skype conversation with Mr. Peterson to discuss their problems. (Mr. Peterson says this service has since been discontinued.) Before he leads me to his office to sit in on one of these appointments, Mr. Peterson shows me around the third floor of his home, which is filled with carvings made by Charles Joseph, a Kwakwaka’wakw artist.

Dr. Peterson has a doctorate, dumbass.

“I’ve talked to a few young women, and they have told me they do wish that they could be housewives,” a caller says. “But what they’ve said to me is that they feel as though if they were to pursue that, other people would look down on them.” “I’ve had lots of women tell me that,” Mr. Peterson says. “Women will never admit that publicly.” Women are likely to prioritize their children over their work, he says, especially “conscientious and agreeable women.”

And I’m sure this is true. The maternal instinct is wired in.

When [Dr.] Peterson talks about good women — the sort a man would want to marry — he often uses these words: conscientious and agreeable.

These are desirable traits.

Andrew McVicar, 45, a waiter, says it was good to hear someone finally talk about how hierarchies were okay. He says current politics are pushing for everyone to be the same, promoting women and minorities into unearned positions. “It’s forced diversity, it’s saying you must have X percent of A-B-C,” he says. “How about, look at yourself?”

Quotas are unmeritocratic.

Jeffrey Rouillard, 21, from Montreal and also studying theater, says he was drawn to [Dr.] Peterson after watching a prominent female journalist grill him. “How many times have I been in a situation where I had been set up to be the bad guy?” Mr. Rouillard asks. “Listening to Dr. Peterson, I got a grasp of myself. It’s things I already knew, but now I know how to process the thought.”

Cathy Newman did Peterson a great service.

To Naureen Shameem, who works at the Association for Women’s Rights in Development, which is based in Canada, [Dr.] Peterson’s philosophies are part of a bigger global backlash to gender equality progress. “It’s an old story, really,” she said. “In a lot of nationalistic projects, women’s bodies and sexualities become important sites of focus and control.”

What? This makes no sense.

Justin Trottier, 35, the co-founder of the men’s rights organizations Canadian Association for Equality and Canadian Centre for Men and Families made headlines when his group called the anti-manspreading subway initiatives sexist. Their musty space hosts events in which men discuss the prejudices they perceive against them. One of their group’s main goals is “waking the police up” to female-perpetrated domestic violence, Mr. Trottier says.

Well, anti-manspreading initiatives are sexist. Notice the smear of their space as “musty”.

While I disagree with Peterson on some things, and in particular on this latest idea of forced monogamy, I also think he says a lot of things of value, and challenges the status quo, which has been headed in the wrong direction on many issues for a long time.

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Review of “Avengers: Infinity War” (mild spoilers)

* * * * A

Infinity-WarAfter the slightly disappointing Avengers: Age of Ultron, I went into Infinity War with somewhat low expectations. One of the things that hurt Captain America: Civil War was the massive number of characters, each requiring screen time, which made the movie seem thin in places. I feared that, with Infinity War including Thor, Dr. Strange, Black Panther, and the Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as uber villain Thanos, it wouldn’t be able to do justice to any of them. The film did surprisingly well at balancing the plot threads and giving all of the avengers strong roles.

Another problem I’ve had with some Marvel films, particularly with Black Panther, is that the third act tends to be a big action set piece, and at the end, all the loose ends are neatly tied up, the good guys win, and the bad guys are put in their place. Without spoiling the ending, this is not the case in Infinity War. Though some may find the ending disconcerting, I thought it was a breath of fresh air, and left me wanting to see more.

The main plot threads each combine an Avenger with a different team of heroes. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) teams up with Dr. Strange, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) with Rocket Raccoon and Groot, and Cap (Chris Evans) with the Black Panther. Thanos (Josh Brolin) also has a major plot line, making him a well realized character with compelling motivation to do the terrible things he does.

The next Avengers movie will be released next year. I sure hope it will be able to complete this story arc in as satisfying a way as this film began it. Hopefully, the people responsible for the DC cinematic universe will take a look at how this film was done before attempting another Justice League film.

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Review of “Thor” (rewatch/spoilers)

* * * B

On second viewing, the original Thor movie holds up well. The fish out of water story gives the film some comedic lightness, forming the roots that later flower in Ragnarok. Unlike the original comic book story, Thor is clearly shown to be the son of Odin from the beginning, including a long fantastic flash back that shows how he came to be banished to earth by Odin (Anthony “Hannibal” Hopkins).

In the second act, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) meets up with scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who is studying the energies of the Bifrost, the cosmic bridge by which Odin sends Mjolnir (Thor’s hammer) and Thor to Earth. The relationship is handled very well. At first, Thor appears insane to Jane and especially to her skeptical mentor Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård), but as he searches for Mjolnir, they come to see that he’s more than a lunatic.

In the final act, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) sends the destroyer, a lethal robot created by Odin to protect the tesseract, a powerful Jotun artifact (an, it turns out, one of the infinity stones), to Earth to destroy Thor. The spell that Odin put on Mjollnir that prevented Thor from wielding it is broken when he learns humility, and he is able to summon his hammer in time to save the day, and is revealed to Jane in his full glory.

The film has a few weaknesses, but overall is very enjoyable. Front-loading the back story removes any mystery regarding whether Thor, a powerless mortal who thinks he’s a Norse god, is actually insane or not. The first act establishes Asgard firmly in reality. As Jane Foster says, quoting Arthur C. Clarke, “magic is just science we don’t understand yet”. I think a more gradual reveal of the truth of Thor’s claims could have made the film even better. This one is well worth rewatching if you haven’t seen it since 2011.

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The Institute for Family Studies has a fascinating article titled Baby Bust: Fertility is Declining the Most Among Minority Women. In it, they make a claim I’ve never heard before: the declining birth rates actually favor the white demographic.

The United States just hit a 40-year low in its fertility rate, according to numbers just released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The 2017 provisional estimate of total fertility rate for the entire U.S. is about 1.76 births per women. These are low numbers: the total fertility rate was 2.08 in 2007. The United States has experienced a remarkable slump in fertility over the last several years, as I’ve explained elsewhere.

Recall that the TFR is the average number of children per woman. In a modern country like the US, the TFR must be 2.1 to keep the population stable without immigration.

 

total-fertility

Since 2007, fertility has fallen the most for the youngest women, but in the last year, declines have set in for women in their 30s as well. Fertility declines increasingly seem to be about much more than just postponed fertility, or else these women must be planning to have some very fertile 40s.

And judging from the next graph, it seems highly unlikely that women in their early forties are getting significantly more fertile.

At least through 2016, this trend appeared to be mostly driven by changes in marital status. Births to never-married women are down more than births to ever-married women: age-adjusted marital fertility is down 14% since 2007, while age-adjusted never-married fertility is down 21%, as of 2016. Preliminary data from several states suggest these trends are likely to continue in 2017.

I suppose that’s some compensation for the high divorce rate.

When it comes to discussions about declining fertility, conservatives tend to “get it” right away: not having a next generation, or having a far smaller one, will cause problems down the line. In my experience, progressives tend to be more hesitant: is this a back-door argument to keep women out of the workplace? No; in fact, there’s robust empirical evidence most women want more kids. Is this some science-denying attempt to ignore climate change? Again, no; in fact, no plausible trajectory of U.S. fertility has any appreciable impact on carbon emissions. And, one question I find the most perplexing, is this some underhanded racist argument that white people need to pick up the pace of baby-making to out-compete minorities?

Red pilled.

It’s true that some people in the right wing have flirted dangerously close to, and sometimes engaged in, the kind of racialized thinking that has tarred pro-fertility initiatives throughout the 20th century, complaining about “other peoples’ babies,” or quietly suggesting that if African Americans have fewer kids, maybe that’s a good thing. At the end of the day, though, racists on the right are wrong (and comparatively few in number), but so are the progressives who assume that calls for more babies are racially driven.

And there are a lot more progressives than alt-righters, who are the one’s making the appeals to have white babies.

That’s because the decline in fertility has been far greater among minorities than among non-Hispanic whites. If we take age-specific birth rates from the peak-fertility year of 2007 and adjust them for age in 2008-2016, we can estimate how many babies would have been born if fertility rates had not fallen after 2007. From 2008 to 2016, the deficit turns out to be between 4.1 and 4.6 million missing babies: basically, an entire year’s worth or more of childbearing vanished.

The percentage decline in fertility rate for various groups over the 9 year period is shown below:

The deficit varies across racial and ethnic groups. African Americans, who are missing 9.6% of expected births, or about 700,000 births, which is only slightly more severe than whites, who are missing 9.3%, or about 3.2 million births. Black fertility declined from 2.15 births per woman to 1.89, while white fertility fell from 2.14 to 1.82. Asians experienced a less severe decline, but their fertility was somewhat lower to start with.

Interesting.

In racial or ethnic terms, America’s “Baby Bust” is kinda, sorta, a little bit racist: it’s hammered Native Americans and Hispanics particularly hard, and hit even African Americans harder than whites generally, and certainly harder than non-Hispanic whites.

What is the author claiming here? That racism is the cause for the differences? Weird.

But the “white” fertility figure is a bit misleading, as it includes most Hispanics, who have historically had much higher birth rates than non-Hispanic whites. Looking at all Hispanics together, these women are missing nearly 19% of the babies that would have been born from 2008-2016, or about 2.2 million births, as their age-adjusted fertility rates have fallen from 2.85 births per woman to just 2.1, and continue to decline. Meanwhile, non-Hispanic fertility has only declined from 1.95 births per woman to 1.72, yielding about 2.3 million missing births. Solidly half of the missing kids over the last decade would have been born to Hispanic mothers, despite the fact that Hispanics only make up about a quarter of fertility-age women.

I have a hypothesis, which is that Hispanic women adapted to the culture and had fewer children. Just as Asian fertility was lower to start with, so Hispanic fertility was higher, so the drop is bigger.

Thus, in racial or ethnic terms, America’s “Baby Bust” is kinda, sorta, a little bit racist: it’s hammered Native Americans and Hispanics particularly hard, and hit even African Americans harder than whites generally, and certainly harder than non-Hispanic whites. The call to boost fertility is far from being a call for whites to keep up with minority fertility; rather, it’s an exhortation that we need to be listening to the fertility desires of women of racial and ethnic minorities, who are experiencing precipitous declines in fertility, largely unnoticed by the white-dominated world of mommy-blogs and late-in-life fertility treatments. Any serious pro-natal policy in America worth its salt would primarily result in birth gains among minority mothers, not white ones. Accelerating the national birth rate would also accelerate the pace at which the non-Hispanic white population share declines.

It’s the author who is being racist. Why would the government have a policy to promote birth gains for any specific race? That is eugenics.

The effect is electorally significant, as well. Some states have lost far more births than others, while lucky North Dakota has seen an increase in births. But even as declining fertility makes the country’s population whiter, it is making the country’s politics redder. [Note to non-Americans: this means more conservative.] On average, states won by Clinton in 2016 are missing 9% of their expected births since 2008, whereas states Trump won are missing just 7.8%. Within states, Hispanic-, Native American-, and African American-dominated places are seeing the steepest population growth underperformance as a result of missing births. During the 2020 Census apportionment and redistricting process, this will all combine to weaken the political power of minority-heavy areas. The map of declines in 2017 suggests that the observed decline in minority fertility through 2016 almost certainly continued in 2017.

Very interesting. This goes against the narrative of right wing commentators like Ann Coulter, though birthrates don’t take immigration into account.

Other factors are at work, too. Fertility has fallen somewhat more for less educated than for more educated women. Age-adjusted fertility has fallen 15% for women with a bachelor’s degree or less, versus just 7% for women with graduate degrees. On the whole, births to women with no bachelor’s have totaled 12% below what would be expected if 2007 fertility rates had continued, yielding 3.1 million missing births, while births to women with a bachelor’s degree are down 10% for 1.1 million missing births, and births to women with a graduate degree are down just 7%, or 300,000.

More counter intuitive findings. Are less educated women merely “catching up” to the already low rates of the more educated?

Race, ethnicity, marital status, and geography are the best predictors of changes in fertility over the last decade. Fertility declines are most strongly associated with factors that are race- or region-specific, not broadly class-specific, as different economic classes appear to have quite similar trends. This doesn’t rule out all economic causes: there are important interactions between race and socioeconomic class. But this association does suggest two key takeaways to be kept in mind when discussing declining fertility: it is disproportionately landing on minority moms, births have fallen most for unmarried women, and economically-oriented solutions may only have modest direct effects.

As I’ve discussed in several other posts, there are no effective economic “solutions”. The state has been shown to have minimal power to prop up birthrates through financial incentives in Japan, Russia, and other countries. As long as the differences between groups are due to voluntary choices by the members of those groups, there is no reason to claim “racism”.

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The Cut Smears all MRAs as Alt-Right

Mens-RightsThe Cut is claiming that Men’s-Rights Activism Is the Gateway Drug for the Alt-Right. When I think of men’s rights activists, Karen Straughn comes to mind. She doesn’t strike me as a fan of the white ethnostate. What am I missing? Is this anything other that yet another mainstream media hit piece on MRAs?

Christopher Cantwell has a knack for getting himself noticed. The 36-year-old white supremacist with an internet radio show and a long history of violent rhetoric was one of the most visible figures at this past weekend’s #UniteTheRight rallies in Charlottesville.

I don’t trust the biased Southern Poverty Law Center (linked), but if you check out Cantwell’s gab feed, you see a number of anti-Semitic reposts, so I think he can legitimately be called a member of the alt-right.

Perhaps the most revealing of his political past selves? Christopher Cantwell, men’s-rights activist.

OK. So a person who is a white nationalist also believes in men’s rights advocacy. If he likes Star Wars, does that mean it’s a gateway to the alt-right too?

During 2014 and 2015, Cantwell posted regular men’s-rights screeds to his blog on subjects ranging from Elliot Rodger’s murder spree to the reasons why men and women “are not, cannot, and should not be equals.” In one particularly overwrought post on “rape accusation culture” that was later republished on the then-popular men’s-rights site A Voice for Men, he warned fellow men of the alleged dangers of false accusations from vengeful women.

Well, I happen to agree that in the rare case that a vengeful woman falsely accuses a man, it is dangerous. In a recent news story, a judge ruled than an Ohio State Title IX official could be personally liable for helping rape accuser lie, which makes me feel that the dangers are more than ‘alleged’. It’s possible for someone to be right in some areas even when they’re wrong in others.

Cantwell is hardly the only alt-rightist with a past as a men’s-rights activist. Media gadfly, “sick Hillary” conspiracy theorist, and self-help guru Mike Cernovich was known for his men’s-rights talk before he turned to Trump and the alt-right — though he now claims to have broken with the movement.

Having watched some of his content, I’ve seen nothing to indicate Cernovich is alt-right. In his own words: “What should also interest you, as a reader, is what every media outlet omits. I’ve written an international best-selling on mindset, broken some major stories (one led to a Congressman resigning), and am in post-production on my most recent film. I’m also a performance artist, fiction writer, and character actor. Oh and I’m also involved in First Amendment and free press lawsuit, and the Associated Press filed an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief supporting my arguments.”

Canadian YouTube “philosopher” Stefan Molyneux declared himself an MRA long before he became a darling of the alt-right (and he recently conducted an interview with the author of that notorious Google memo, James Damore).

Calling someone a darling of the alt-right is blatant guilt by association. Molyneux is an anarcho-capitalist, anti-immigration, and a ‘race realist’, which is probably why people on the alt-right like his content, but I’ve never heard him say anything that promotes a white ethnostate. James Damore is a pretty liberal guy; why is he even mentioned?

There are good reasons why men’s-rights activism has served for so many as a gateway drug to the alt-right: Both movements appeal to men with fantasies of violent, sometimes apocalyptic redemption — and, like Cantwell, a tendency to express these fantasies in bombastic prose. And both movements are based on a bizarro-world ideology in which those with the most power in contemporary society are the true victims of oppression.

Most MRAs are non-violent. Who are likely to become MRAs? Often, men who have been victimized by the family courts. Calling their experiences fantasies shows your ignorance. Claiming that they are the same as the alt-right is libelous.

In other words, if you can convince yourself that men are the primary victims of sexism, it’s not hard to convince yourself that whites are the primary victims of racism. And it’s similarly easy for members of both movements to see white men as the most oppressed snowflakes of all.

Very few MRAs would claim that men are the only victims of sexism, but they are constantly told that all men are part of an evil patriarchy. Similarly, whites who grew up dirt poor are told they have white privilege. As Steven Pinker said, if facts are kept in the dark, when someone learns the truth, they will search for an explanation. Then you had better hope that they talk to someone like Jordan Peterson (or even Stefan Molyneux) and not Christopher Cantwell.

Several years back, A Voice for Men founder Paul Elam infamously suggested that “Domestic Violence Awareness Month” should be replaced with “Bash a Violent Bitch Month” in which “men who are being attacked and physically abused by women [can] beat the living shit out of them.”

Sometimes, one has to be provocative to get one’s message heard. Elam was making a point that men are victims of physical abuse by their partners too, a fact which is largely ignored. His tactics were arguably misguided.

Men’s-rights activists love to imagine apocalyptic scenarios in which this sort of retributive violence plays out on a global scale. In a comment on his own website, Elam warned feminists and other uppity women that “treating half the population, the stronger half at that, with too much continuing disregard is [not] a very good idea. Thinking they will never come out swinging is a stupid, stupid way to go.”

Elam’s point is that if you keep telling men they are the terrible misogynistic patriarchy and enacting laws that allow their wages to be garnered, their children to be taken from them, and even their freedom to be taken, eventually, they will push back. He’s pleading with you to listen to him before that happens.

MRAs throw a fit whenever they discover women trying to set aside a place of their own — raging against such alleged oppression as women-only gyms — but they insist that their own “male spaces” should remain forever free of lady taint.

Bullshit. They merely point out the hypocrisy: women are allowed to have women only gyms, and I have never heard any MRA complain about them. But as soon as men want the same, the feminists cry misogyny and the government dutifully makes it illegal.

The danger of both of these ideologies isn’t just that they’re both based on bizarro-world fantasies that bear little resemblance to reality. It’s also that, with Trump in the White House, they may have a chance to impose some of their bizarro-world logic on the rest of us. Let’s hope that reality prevails.

That fact that you are painting the men’s rights movement as alt-right makes the alt-right stronger. It also makes the fringes of the men’s rights movement more radical. For example, it’s an often heard saying in the MGTOW movement that “you’re going to be called a misogynist no matter what, so do what is easiest for you”. By saying that all men’s rights activist’s grievances are fantasies, you delegitimize yourself. I’m an individualist and an egalitarian, but I have more sympathy for the MRAs by far than I have for the author of this article.

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Feminist Demonization of Incels is Just What We Need

One of my readers posted a link to the New Yorker article The Rage of the Incels. Here’s my opinion of it.

rincel

How Incels see Themselves

It is a horrible thing to feel unwanted—invisible, inadequate, ineligible for the things that any person might hope for. It is also entirely possible to process a difficult social position with generosity and grace. None of the people I interviewed believed that they were owed the sex that they wished to have. In America, to be poor, or black, or fat, or trans, or Native, or old, or disabled, or undocumented, among other things, is usually to have become acquainted with unwantedness. Structural power is the best protection against it: a rich straight white man, no matter how unpleasant, will always receive enthusiastic handshakes and good treatment at banking institutions; he will find ways to get laid.

I’d agree there are few rich straight men who are incels. I don’t believe race comes into it.

These days, in this country, sex has become a hyper-efficient and deregulated marketplace, and, like any hyper-efficient and deregulated marketplace, it often makes people feel very bad. Our newest sex technologies, such as Tinder and Grindr, are built to carefully match people by looks above all else. Sexual value continues to accrue to abled over disabled, cis over trans, thin over fat, tall over short, white over nonwhite, rich over poor.

I agree with this assessment. This is a good reason to avoid using these platforms, IMO.

There is an absurd mismatch in the way that straight men and women are taught to respond to these circumstances. Women are socialized from childhood to blame themselves if they feel undesirable, to believe that they will be unacceptable unless they spend time and money and mental effort being pretty and amenable and appealing to men.

Makes sense. If you want to be desired, you do what you need to become so.

Conventional femininity teaches women to be good partners to men as a basic moral requirement: a woman should provide her man a support system, and be an ideal accessory for him, and it is her job to convince him, and the world, that she is good.

This is a good summary of traditional conservative view, if you replace the author’s condescending term “accessory” with “partner”. Traditional conservatives value virtue, so if you want to appeal to a traditionally conservative man, you will have to convince him that you are good.

Men, like women, blame women if they feel undesirable.

What? This is the grossest generalization. While this may be true for the majority of incels, plenty of men understand that, due to the hypergamous instinct, women seek men who are of higher social standing (i.e. marry up). Rather than blaming women, this leads some men to improve themselves, others to go their own way, and others to marry down.

And, as women gain the economic and cultural power that allows them to be choosy about their partners, men have generated ideas about self-improvement that are sometimes inextricable from violent rage.

Self improvement is inextricable from violent rage. What a load of twaddle.

Several distinct cultural changes have created a situation in which many men who hate women do not have the access to women’s bodies that they would have had in an earlier era. The sexual revolution urged women to seek liberation. The self-esteem movement taught women that they were valuable beyond what convention might dictate. The rise of mainstream feminism gave women certainty and company in these convictions. And the Internet-enabled efficiency of today’s sexual marketplace allowed people to find potential sexual partners with a minimum of barriers and restraints. Most American women now grow up understanding that they can and should choose who they want to have sex with.

In other words, undesirable men have fewer options for mating than they did when arranged marriage was common.

In the past few years, a subset of straight men calling themselves “incels” have constructed a violent political ideology around the injustice of young, beautiful women refusing to have sex with them. These men often subscribe to notions of white supremacy. They are, by their own judgment, mostly unattractive and socially inept. (They frequently call themselves “subhuman.”) They’re also diabolically misogynistic. “Society has become a place for worship of females and it’s so fucking wrong, they’re not Gods they are just a fucking cum-dumpster,” a typical rant on an incel message board reads. The idea that this misogyny is the real root of their failures with women does not appear to have occurred to them.

I’m not going to take these claims too seriously, since the linked article claims that the men’s rights movement is a gateway to the alt-right. This is typical feminist slander and scaremongery. Most MRAs are not incels. Rather, they are advocates for problems that men have that are ignored by mainstream society. I may review the linked article in a future post.

The incel ideology has already inspired the murders of at least sixteen people. Elliot Rodger, in 2014, in Isla Vista, California, killed six and injured fourteen in an attempt to instigate a “War on Women” for “depriving me of sex.” (He then killed himself.) Alek Minassian killed ten people and injured sixteen, in Toronto, last month; prior to doing so, he wrote, on Facebook, “The Incel Rebellion has already begun!” You might also include Christopher Harper-Mercer, who killed nine people, in 2015, and left behind a manifesto that praised Rodger and lamented his own virginity.

Is it ideology, or just sexual frustration, egged on by the publicity others have achieved?

The label that Minassian and others have adopted has entered the mainstream, and it is now being widely misinterpreted. Incel stands for “involuntarily celibate,” but there are many people who would like to have sex and do not. Incels aren’t really looking for sex; they’re looking for absolute male supremacy. Sex, defined to them as dominion over female bodies, is just their preferred sort of proof.

I don’t believe that this is true for a majority of those who are involuntarily celibate.

If what incels wanted was sex, they might, for instance, value sex workers and wish to legalize sex work.

And I’m sure many do. But hiring a sex worker is very different from being accepted by a partner for who you are.

But incels, being violent misogynists, often express extreme disgust at the idea of “whores.” Incels tend to direct hatred at things they think they desire; they are obsessed with female beauty but despise makeup as a form of fraud.

I don’t believe that this is true for the majority.

Incel culture advises men to “looksmaxx” or “statusmaxx”—to improve their appearance, to make more money—in a way that presumes that women are not potential partners or worthy objects of possible affection but inconveniently sentient bodies that must be claimed through cold strategy.

Improving one’s sexual market value is a sound mating strategy. This is understanding human nature, not objectifying women.

They assume that men who treat women more respectfully are “white-knighting,” putting on a mockable façade of chivalry.

And in many cases, this is true. White knighting is another mating strategy.

When these tactics fail, as they are bound to do, the rage intensifies.

How is improving one’s status a failing tactic? Women are drawn to men with high status.

Incels dream of beheading the sluts who wear short shorts but don’t want to be groped by strangers; they draw up elaborate scenarios in which women are auctioned off at age eighteen to the highest bidder; they call Elliot Rodger their Lord and Savior and feminists the female K.K.K. “Women are the ultimate cause of our suffering,” one poster on incels.me wrote recently. “They are the ones who have UNJUSTLY made our lives a living hell… We need to focus more on our hatred of women. Hatred is power.”

I imagine this to be a tiny fringe minority, much as the white supremacy movement is.

On a recent ninety-degree day in New York City, I went for a walk and thought about how my life would look through incel eyes. I’m twenty-nine, so I’m a little old and used up: incels fetishize teen-agers and virgins (they use the abbreviation “JBs,” for jailbait), and they describe women who have sought pleasure in their sex lives as “whores” riding a “cock carousel.”

The ‘cock carousel’ is a euphemism for women who spend their fertile years engaging in casual sex rather than seeking a mate.

Earlier this month, Ross Douthat, in a column for the Times, wrote that society would soon enough “address the unhappiness of incels, be they angry and dangerous or simply depressed or despairing.” The column was ostensibly about the idea of sexual redistribution: if power is distributed unequally in society, and sex tends to follow those lines of power, how and what could we change to create a more equal world?

Douthat’s answer: prostitutes and sex robots. I tend to agree with him.

Douthat noted a recent blog post by the economist Robin Hanson, who suggested, after Minassian’s mass murder, that the incel plight was legitimate, and that redistributing sex could be as worthy a cause as redistributing wealth. (The quality of Hanson’s thought here may be suggested by his need to clarify, in an addendum, “Rape and slavery are far from the only possible levers!”)

The idea of forcibly redistributing sex is even more repugnant than the idea of forcibly redistributing wealth. Trying to do this through the power of the state would hopefully lead to a revolution.

Douthat drew a straight line between Hanson’s piece and one by Amia Srinivasan, in the London Review of Books. Srinivasan began with Elliot Rodger, then explored the tension between a sexual ideology built on free choice and personal preference and the forms of oppression that manifest in these preferences. The question, she wrote, “is how to dwell in the ambivalent place where we acknowledge that no one is obligated to desire anyone else, that no one has a right to be desired, but also that who is desired and who isn’t is a political question.”

I fail to see how this is a political question. Not desiring someone does not oppress them, though it may depress them.

Srinivasan’s rigorous essay and Hanson’s flippantly dehumanizing thought experiment had little in common. And incels, in any case, are not actually interested in sexual redistribution; they don’t want sex to be distributed to anyone other than themselves.

So they don’t want sex to be redistributed but they want sex to be redistributed to themselves; this makes little sense. Does the author mean they don’t want sex to be equitably distributed to all? Who does want that?

They don’t care about the sexual marginalization of trans people, or women who fall outside the boundaries of conventional attractiveness.

And why would they?

(“Nothing with a pussy can be incel, ever. Someone will be desperate enough to fuck it . . . Men are lining up to fuck pigs, hippos, and ogres.”)

Despite the offensive phrasing, there is some truth here. A woman who is fertile need not be involuntarily celibate if she compensates for a lack of “conventional attractiveness” with other desirable qualities (i.e. virtue).

What incels want is extremely limited and specific: they want unattractive, uncouth, and unpleasant misogynists to be able to have sex on demand with young, beautiful women. They believe that this is a natural right.

Everyone has wants. I want a million dollars. Whether or not I get it does not depend of whether I believe its my natural right.

It is men, not women, who have shaped the contours of the incel predicament. It is male power, not female power, that has chained all of human society to the idea that women are decorative sexual objects, and that male worth is measured by how good-looking a woman they acquire.

This is a bunch of bullshit feminist identity politics. The root cause of both incels and the “where are all the good men” phenomenon is birth control, which enabled women to enter the work force and academia, increasing their social standing.

Women—and, specifically, feminists—are the architects of the body-positivity movement, the ones who have pushed for an expansive redefinition of what we consider attractive.

What we consider attractive is largely hard wired. Having a positive view of your own body is healthy, assuming that you aren’t unhealthy, but it will not change whether someone else finds you attractive.

“Feminism, far from being Rodger’s enemy,” Srinivasan wrote, “may well be the primary force resisting the very system that made him feel—as a short, clumsy, effeminate, interracial boy—inadequate.” Women, and L.G.B.T.Q. people, are the activists trying to make sex work legal and safe, to establish alternative arrangements of power and exchange in the sexual market.

I’m 100% with them on making sex work legal and safe.

We can’t redistribute women’s bodies as if they were a natural resource; they are the bodies we live in.

Agreed.

We can redistribute the value we apportion to one another—something that the incels demand from others but refuse to do themselves.

To some extent perhaps, but the attraction is largely physical, and so not very subject to redistribution or conscious control.

I still think about Bette telling me, in 2013, how being lonely can make your brain feel like it’s under attack. Over the past week, I have read the incel boards looking for, and occasionally finding, proof of humanity, amid detailed fantasies of rape and murder and musings about what it would be like to assault one’s sister out of desperation. In spite of everything, women are still more willing to look for humanity in the incels than they are in us.

You may look for humanity, but until you value them, I wouldn’t expect them to value you. The tone of this article is only likely to add fuel to the rage of incels.

These problems are only going to get worse. As fewer men attend universities that have been corrupted by identity politics, there will be even fewer “good men” for women at the top. And as automation and globalization continue to reduce the prospects of men at the bottom of the social ladder, there will be more incels. The state cannot solve these problems, though helping to get more men into universities might be a good step.

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Another Flaccid Robopocalypse Prediction

robots-replace-humansMarketwatch claims that one-third of American working-age men could be displaced by robots. This would be a problem if it happened in a year, but if it takes a century, there’s probably no cause for alarm. Stupid click bait headlines.

One third of able-bodied American men between 25 and 54 could be out of job by 2050, contends the author of “The Future of Work: Robots, AI and Automation.”

So over the next 32 years. That should give us time to adapt.

“We’re already at 12% of prime-aged men without jobs,” said Darrell West, vice president of the Brookings Institution think tank, at a forum in Washington, D.C. on Monday. That number has grown steadily over the past 60 years, but it could triple in the next 30 years because of new technology such as artificial intelligence and automation.

As of December 2017, the US unemployment rate was only 4.1%. Even if all women were employed, that would mean only 8.2% of men were without jobs. How did West arrive at the 12% figure? Presumably at least a third of the men he’s talking about aren’t included in the unemployment figures.

It could be even worse for some parts of the population, West argued. The rate for unemployment of young male African Americans, for instance, is likely to reach 50% by 2050.

On what basis is this claim made?

A lot of things can be done to avert such a problem and rethinking education is one of them, West said. “Schools need to change their curriculum so that students have the skills needed in the 21st century economy.”

What? Government indoctrination isn’t good enough?

Molly Kinder, senior adviser at progressive think tank New America, said the current state of manufacturing tells a story that will be seen see across many occupations. Jobs that don’t require advanced education will be replaced by automation, displacing low-wage, low-skilled workers.

No shit.

Public policymakers need to make education, especially in technology, for low-skill workers a priority to combat the potential for soaring unemployment rates, she said.

Public policymakers can’t even figure out how to educate children. How will they manage to train low-skilled workers in technology?

Many are already hurt by the technology shift. Some 6% of all adults say they lost a job or had their pay or hours reduced because of automation, according to a Pew Research study published in October. And 65% of adults believe most stores will be fully automated in 20 years and require little human interaction.

Somehow, public opinion doesn’t seem very convincing.

West’s new book focused a lot of his attention on use of robotics in the service industry. In the book he quotes Andrew Puzder, former CEO of Hardee’s parent company CKE, as saying that digital devices are “always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex or race discrimination case.”

True, but they can’t delight either.

About 37% of millennials are at high risk of having their job replaced by artificial intelligence or automation, says a study published by Gallup in June. Among those, one-third are struggling with workplace anxiety, worry about being laid off or their jobs being outsourced.

Here’s the link to the study: 3 Trends That Will Disrupt Your Workplace Forever. It simply refers to the same old Oxford study, The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerisation? that guesses at how susceptible different jobs are to automation. I’ve previously discussed it in my post More Automation Scaremongering. Gallup have then presumably correlated jobs that millennials are doing to the study’s guesses. News flash: younger people tend to start in jobs that are easier to automate.

According to Gallup, many companies successfully manage employees’ fears through future readiness audits. One manufacturing company teaches its employees statistics and coding skills as well as how to incorporate data and analytics into their everyday life. This helps to prepare employees for an artificial intelligence driven future, Gallup said.

Managing their fears? How about actually preparing them? Teaching statistics and coding is a good idea.

And that future may arrive much quicker than most members of the workforce think. According to that same Gallup poll, 59% of executives believe that data science and analytical skills will be essential communication skills within their companies in five years.

In what industries? The Gallup study references another Gallup study that I haven’t been able to find. To me, it seems highly unlikely that there will be huge numbers of positions in data and analytics to replace manufacturing and service jobs. That said, if you’ve got the brains for it, there are a lot of open jobs in big data right now. I recommend at a minimum getting a diploma in technology. If you can afford it and are able, a degree in computer science or mathematics is probably even better.

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