Smart Women Don’t Understand Human Nature

female-natureIn Psychology Today, author Jenna Birch tackles the question Why Are so Many Smart Women Still Single? I’m going to comment on her answers.

After looking into the mating preferences of more than 5,000 men and women by way of survey, researcher and biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, Ph.D., writes that we are seeing a “Clooney Effect” in this country — a nod to the recent marriage of America’s favorite bachelor, actor George Clooney, to human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin. According to Fisher’s numbers, men desire smart, strong, successful women; 87 percent of men said they would date a woman who was more intellectual than they were, who was better educated, and who made considerably more money than they did, while 86 percent said they were in search of a woman who was confident and self-assured.

And yet the divorce rate among couples where the woman earns more money than the man is around 75%. While men may be saying they want a woman who makes more than they do, I wonder how many will walk their talk. Clooney is a very bad example, as he is far more wealthy than Alamuddin.

Plenty of articles around the web followed, saying this was a win for women (and men, too), but there I was in early 2015, reading those headlines with an eyebrow raised and an air of skepticism.

I too am skeptical of female hypogamy.

I am lucky to be surrounded by some brilliant women — verifiable “catches.” Gorgeous women my guy friends always ask me about. I have also watched these same smart, independent women struggle in bad relationships or fly solo for extended periods of time, despite their best efforts to land a good guy. So, what did this mean? If 87 percent of men were actively looking to couple with them, why were they still single?

Clearly because they didn’t find those men attractive, at least as long term partners.

I finally did what any skeptical journalist would do: I kept my eyes open for more research. In late 2015, an intriguing new study emerged in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. In the study of 105 men, researchers laid out several scenarios. In the first, they told men that “a woman down the hall,” whom they never saw, either outperformed or underperformed them on an intelligence test. Then they were told to imagine this woman as a romantic partner. Unsurprisingly, the guys more frequently desired the woman who outperformed them (#feminists).

Equating women who outperform men with #feminists seems a stretch. Most highly successful women I know are smart, independent thinkers, not feminist ideologues.

However, in the second round, men were given an intelligence test and then told that they were about to meet a woman who had bested them on the same exam. Ah, yes. The mythic smart, successful, beautiful woman every guy supposedly wanted. In the study, the men didn’t go after this awesome woman, according to lead researcher Lora Park, a professor in psychology at University at Buffalo. “When the woman was psychologically near — a real-life face-to-face interaction — men moved their chair further away from the woman, as an indicator of less interest in her, and reported less romantic attraction toward the woman when she outperformed versus underperformed him on a test,” she tells me.

In other words, they didn’t walk their talk.

The way Park explains it, men only think they know what they want — or they know what they want in theory, not what they’d choose when put to the test IRL.

Like most instinctual behaviors, choice of mate is largely subconscious. What we say we’ll do has little to do with what we actually do, and the inconsistency will be rationalized.

“Men seem to be influenced less by their ideal partner preferences and more by their emotions or feelings at the moment,” she says. “Specifically, when men were outperformed by a woman in a domain that they cared about — intelligence — they felt threatened, assessed by diminished self-ratings of masculinity, which then led them to act in a way counter to what their expressed ideal preferences were.” In other words, these guys felt way inferior in the smarter woman’s presence, and so they went rogue; they ditched their self-described dream gal for someone who didn’t best their intelligence.

They didn’t go rogue. They acted out of an instinctual understanding of the female instinct for hypergamy. Men naturally seek out the woman who is best genetically qualified to bear their children, but they instinctively understand that if a high status woman has a higher status man available to her, her instinct will be to leave them for the higher status male.

I began researching a story with this question at the center: Are men intimidated by a woman who is the full package?

Intimidated is the wrong word. Instinctively aware that the match would be unstable is closer to the truth.

I talked to many men. And when all was said and done, I was forced to acknowledge that I was onto something bigger — a paradigm shift that I couldn’t explain in one simple article. My research complicated the wisdom we were being fed about what men are looking for in a partner, who they date, and why they date them. Saying that men like smart women encompassed about 1 percent of the nuanced reality.

It’s hard to call it wisdom.

I talked to my good friend Jack, a witty and self-aware 27-year-old consultant. When I asked him what he was looking for in a lifelong partner, he said that, of course, he wanted a smart, independent, successful, beautiful woman (yada yada). However, later in our conversation, he also said that if he didn’t feel like he could win over a girl who fit the bill, he’d “start looking for reasons to discount her.” And he told me, “You can pretty easily convince yourself that you never really wanted her to begin with.”

Sounds like instincts talking, doesn’t it.

I went on a date with a handsome real estate broker a few years my senior, someone with the fearless facade of a man hardened to rejection and immune to the effects of deflected attention. He acted entirely secure in himself — but off the cuff, when I casually brought up the question of whether he would be intimidated to date the quintessential accomplished woman, he was quite candid. “I want her to be smart and successful,” he said, “but not as smart and successful as I am.”

Smart man.

One of my girlfriends (a lovely, brilliant-yet-soft-spoken entrepreneur) once went on a first date with a guy who runs in our social sphere. He made her a sushi dinner, in fact, and they had five hours of great conversation before calling it a night. Interestingly, though, he seemed to push her away very quickly afterward — right into “friend” territory. He wasn’t going to date her, yet he’d drop everything to meet her for a last-minute happy hour after work, or hand over his football tickets to her friends as a show of respect. When I asked him to explain his reluctance to pursue her (one night over 1:00 a.m. beers, where I clearly do fine research), he gave me some of his reasons. “She’s as close to perfect as I’ve ever found,” he said. “But I think I’d drive her crazy. I think she’d tire of my energy.”

Look at that rationalization. Amazing.

Relationship expert Susan Walsh, founder of the popular dating site Hooking Up Smart, once told me, “When a man tries to convince you not to date him, listen.”

Seems reasonable.

Still, if men know a great thing when they find it, why don’t they pull the trigger?

Maybe because they realize it’s too good to last. If I suddenly have the opportunity to buy a Ferrari for the same price as a Ford, I may still turn it down because I know that I won’t be able to afford to maintain it.

You’ve probably been discussing this dating gray area with your friends for eons, but allow me to finally define and label it for you: The Love Gap — the reason men don’t always pursue the women they claim to want; frequently, women like you.

I have a better name for it: male hypogamy.

The Love Gap is a thoroughly modern phenomenon that now exists between the sexes — which is why we’re focusing on heterosexual pairings here. The dynamics are unique to 21st-century men and women with evolved desires for a relationship, who also have to get around generations and generations of the ingrained male provider/female nurturer framework.

Spinsters and incels have been around for a long time. I agree that in modern times, there are more of both. I disagree that desires for a relationship have changed much, at least for men.

What lies in the Love Gap? Oh, I don’t know … Let’s start with a few things. Psychological distance. Timelines. Past heartbreaks. Ancient gender roles. Socialized differences in the sexes’ view of love, emotions, and vulnerability. A lack of genuine “relationship-nurturing” qualities today. Games, because everybody wants “the upper hand.” How the sexes respond to their partner’s “reflected glory.”

Biological gender roles, maintained by powerful instinctual behaviors and the positive and negative emotions they generate, are at the heart of it. Most men want a woman who will be happy with them, and a women with lower social status is likelier to remain so. Most women want a man who is of higher status that they are.

I could extrapolate for days — and I will, because we need to identify the Love Gap in our daily lives, so that we can understand and navigate it. If we want to finally build fulfilling relationships with compatible partners, we need to grasp why we believe what we believe — and parse out why those beliefs are not always accurate. This entire modern landscape starts with you in all your awesomeness.

Belief isn’t always enough. Happiness is an emotion. Going against your instincts can make you unhappy, no matter what you consciously believe.

The End goal — a smart, successful, “full-package” woman whom men admire, date, and deem aspirational; she contains the sort of substance and carries the type of connection they want to lock down — someday.

“Someday” is a problem. Men who are looking for a partner want a woman who is also ready to settle down.

A modern woman who knows what she wants in love and in life; she has an ultimate objective in mind for her future, and she is unwilling to settle in getting there.

If she prioritizes work over family and fails to settle down while she is young and fertile, she will likely find she has to settle, or she will fail to get there.

[My friends] had their lives together — had substance, charm, and goals that they were actively reaching for, yet, I was still fielding sob-filled phone calls about men who were breaking their hearts. I listened to a lot of their stories — and then, to help me understand, I started talking to a lot of guys. Eventually, I mapped out an explanation, a conclusion I’d felt for the entirety of my adult life, but never identified before in black and white: Men don’t always date the women they claim to want at any given time in their lives. And it’s not because they’re “just not that into you.”

But that’s exactly what it is, if they are looking for a wife. They may be willing to date you, but if you are either too far beneath them or too far above them, they probably won’t be proposing marriage.

This is not a big mystery. Men want women who are fertile, ideally in their mid twenties, who are attractive, but who are unlikely to leave them for a man with higher status. If you are a smart woman, men won’t hold it against you. If you have a high powered career, they probably will, unless they have an even higher powered career. If you’ve spent your fertile years working, men with even higher powered careers than you will be looking for younger women.

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Psalm 2: A Prophecy of the Messiah

psalm2The second psalm is a warning to unbelievers of the coming kingdom of heaven on earth, to be ruled over by Yahweh’s chosen king, who he has exalted as his own son. Christians (notably Luke in the book of Acts) claim, of course, that this psalm is referring to Jesus. Here it is:

Why do the heathens rage, and the people imagine futile things? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against Yahweh, and against his messiah.

“Let us break their bonds apart, and cast their chains from us,” they say.

He that sits in Heaven shall laugh. The Lord shall deride them. Then shall he speak his wrath to them, and anger them in his sore displeasure.

“I have set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I make this decree” Yahweh will say. “You are my Son; today have I begotten you. Ask it of me, and I shall give you the heathen as your inheritance, and the farthest parts of the earth as your possessions. You shall break them with a rod of iron. You shall dash them to pieces like clay vessels.”

Be wise now therefore, oh you kings: be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve Yahweh with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled just a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

This is a warning to the secular powers who eschew the law of the Torah as bondage that Yahweh is going to create his kingdom of heaven on earth, place his messiah upon the throne on mount Zion, declare him to be the Son of God, and give him dominion over all men and the entire earth. The kings and judges of the earth, the temporal powers, are then adjured to kiss the Son and put their trust in him.

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Guardian Shill Attacks Susan Sarandon

sarandonOK, the US Democrats were salty when Sarandon endorsed the Green party in the 2016 election. Why is a columnist for the UK’s leftist newspaper The Guardian still upset, and delusionally crying Protest all you like, Susan Sarandon; in effect you work for Trump?

Sensational news for people who thought Susan Sarandon couldn’t get arrested in Hollywood after her imbecilic suggestion during the 2016 US presidential election that there was no real difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

I agree that her claim was wrong, but her point was that neo-liberal Hillary was basically neo-conservative Jeb Bush in a dress.

She’s been arrested! Not metaphorically, admittedly, and not in Hollywood – the Thelma and Louise star got picked up by police at a sit-in in Washington, protesting against Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy. It was, she later remarked, “worth it”.

Makes sense. She is a far leftist. She probably thinks open borders are a good idea. Why wouldn’t she protest zero-tolerance on illegal aliens?

Hang on, you may be thinking – I’m puzzled as to what Susan was doing there in the first place. Didn’t she, in effect, vote for Trump, with her showy endorsement of third party Green candidate Jill Stein? Yes. Yes she did. And if she disagrees with that paraphrasing, she’s welcome to come and have a sit-in at the Guardian’s offices about it.

What the fuck are you talking about? Sarandon endorsed a candidate to the left of Clinton. How the hell is that a vote for Trump? You are an idiot!

Mmm. Obviously, Susan is far from the only person to get that little bit of electoral prediction wrong. In fact, she doesn’t even make the cut of the top 100,000 people to be wrong about it, vast numbers of whom were journalists.

Yep. So why harp about it?

She may, however, be one of the last remaining persons to still deny they got anything wrong AT ALL.

Her and Hillary Clinton.

Only a few months ago, Susan was explaining to this newspaper that had Hillary been elected: “We would still be fracking, we would be at war. It wouldn’t be much smoother. Look what happened under Obama that we didn’t notice.” As she concluded of Hillary: “I did think she was very, very dangerous.”

And she is not wrong.

If your retort to that is “at least she’d have let us be in charge of our own fannies tho”, then hold tight. We’ll get to that. For now, you need to understand that Susan’s got a big old theory about how you jump-start history – one that is hugely similar to Steve Bannon’s, coincidentally. As she told an interviewer during the 2016 run-in: “Some people feel that Donald Trump will bring the revolution immediately if he gets in. Then things will really explode.”

She’s not wrong about that either. If a more moderate Republican candidate had been nominated and won–which is actually a big if–they would likely not have seen the ‘resistance’ Trump has from the hack mainstream media, corporate democrats, and the progressive left.

In some ways, it’s the only thing Susan’s been right about. And yet, it is faintly difficult to conclude that her brand of vaguely-gestured-towards creative destruction is the sort of thing you get to say when you can afford to hang around waiting for the revolution in between starring in Ryan Murphy shows.

Its the sort of thing you say when you’re an honest person.

If you’re being separated from your children right now, or losing your healthcare, or wondering about the imminent danger to your abortion rights, it may feel like Susan’s whole “let’s see where the cards fall” approach borders on the self-indulgent. And you know, it’s a highly porous border. It’s basically the Schengen Area of only-slightly-delineated types of twattery.

What a load of clap-trap.

As indicated, Susan appears to have had zero moments of self-doubt since the election. She seems to yield to self-reflection about as much as Tony Blair, another individual unshakeably convinced of his own moral rectitude (see also Jeremy Corbyn), who will doubtless go to his grave thinking history will judge him right to have invaded Iraq with an aftercare plan slightly less comprehensive than that you’d get if you purchased a houseplant. “If you think it’s pragmatic to shore up the status quo right now,” Susan explained loftily before the 2016 election, “then you’re not in touch with the status quo.” Strong words – and yet, spoken not entirely like someone who’d been wandering the Appalachians in search of a clue for the past two years.

Maybe you should do some self reflecting. Your lousy candidate failed to win people like Sarandon and Jimmy Dore’s votes. That was her job.

As far as perspectives go, hers appears not even to have been altered by the prospect of Donald Trump preparing to appoint his SECOND justice to the supreme court, in a decision likely to place various settled rights for immigrants and minorities, and Roe v Wade, right back on the table.

Perhaps the Democrats should have thought of those prospects too, instead of putting forward such a weak, unlikable candidate.

Donald Trump! Possibly a Russian asset, definitely a massive and monstrous arsehole, to say nothing of being the obvious purchaser of around 987 abortions down his years of what he described as “my personal Vietnam” – trying not to catch STDs as he screwed his way round Manhattan. He couldn’t make actual Vietnam, you’ll recall, owing to something called heel spurs. Incredible, really, that he’s yet to tweet about how fewer US servicemen would have died at Khe Sanh if he’d been there, and not detained by his urgent need to hump a model. As always, it is our place to simply thank him for his service.

Muh Russia! Muh sexism! Pathetic.

As for Susan’s service, if only it weren’t so tireless. If only there had been some kind of learning curve for her, other than stuff like the fact she served as co-chair of the national steering committee for third party candidate Ralph Nader in 2000. Another tight election that worked out well, there. If only this doctoral student of absolutely everything was familiar with the famous observation Clement Attlee once made of Labour party chairman Harold Laski: “A period of silence on your part would be welcome.”

Keep telling people they have to vote corporate Democrat, and maybe Trump will win a second term.

Still, if onlys aren’t going to butter many parsnips. Sometimes direct action is called for. So here goes. Susan! If you can’t face up to the fact you dropped a bollock, please don’t expect to be lionised for protesting things not-unrelated to decisions you still believe were unimpeachable. In fact, please expect to be used for it – by the enemy. Until you come to some sort of personal and public reckoning with the sillier shit you’ve said, in effect you work for HIM. You are a MAGA asset. Every piece of showbiz posturing offers his base another chance to internalise the idea of ludicrous liberal arrogance, embodied in someone who – for all her theoretical pretensions – is really operating at the same analytical level as “but her emails”.

If you can’t face up to the fact that Clinton lost because she was an unlikable war monger who insulted a good number of the people who might otherwise have voted for her, and to this day blames everyone but herself for her loss, expect to be used by the Republicans. They would love to run against Clinton again.

Or, to put it more fawningly: we – as beautiful, strong, powerful, is-that-enough-trite-adjectives women – hereby endorse you to cough to the fact that the right to control who we buy our weed off is simply less important than the right to control our own bodies and keep hold of our own children. Thanks for your time!

What a lunatic.

Susan Sarandon had the guts to stand up for what she believed. Clinton lost fewer votes to the Greens than Trump did to the Libertarians. Keep pushing the left away, and maybe the Democrats and the Greens will split the vote in the midterms. Keep promoting corporate Democrats, rig the primaries for one as your 2020 presidential candidate, and maybe Trump will get another 4 years.

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The War on Free Speech Rolls On

The New York Time’s makes the hysterical claim that Conservatives Have Weaponized the First Amendment. How can a fundamental human right enshrined by the UN become a weapon?

The [US supreme] court’s five conservative members, citing the First Amendment, had just dealt public unions a devastating blow.

The decision referred to here is one in which non-union members were being forced to pay unions for negotiating contracts, on the basis that the non-members were benefiting from the negotiations. The plaintiffs argued that they were being forced to support union activism. This is a pretty clear case of a law that violates freedom of association. If I want to work in my chosen industry, I must financially support a group that I don’t want to associate with.

Many professions (e.g. doctors, lawyers, engineers) have similar requirements of membership to practice. The court has to weigh the public good (e.g. safety) against the rights of the individual to associate with (or without) who they want. If a union was doing more than collective bargaining, and was insuring the competence of their membership where a lack of it could lead to danger to the public, they would have a case.

The day before, the same majority had used the First Amendment to reject a California law requiring religiously oriented “crisis pregnancy centers” to provide women with information about abortion.

In this case, the California law was compelling speech. If, rather than compelling these centers to provide information about abortion, California had merely compelled them to honestly advertise the fact that they were against abortion, perhaps the law would have held up.

Conservatives, said Justice Kagan, who is part of the court’s four-member liberal wing, were “weaponizing the First Amendment.”

Seems like mere rhetoric to me. How were their decisions unjust? I suppose to know, one must read the decision and the dissent.

The two decisions were the latest in a stunning run of victories for a conservative agenda that has increasingly been built on the foundation of free speech. Conservative groups, borrowing and building on arguments developed by liberals, have used the First Amendment to justify discrimination against gay couples.

In this case, the court decided to uphold the right of a baker to decide who they would create a product for. This seems reasonable, since the baker has a right to freedom of association. If a baker doesn’t want to work with you, find one who does. If a corporation is discriminating, this may be a real problem, since they may have the ability to prevent others from entering into competition to offer the same services. Such anti-competitive tactics should be dealt with by the courts.

The Citizens United campaign finance case was decided on free-speech grounds, with the five-justice conservative majority ruling that the First Amendment protects unlimited campaign spending by corporations. The government, the majority said, has no business regulating political speech.

I agree this is a problem. Corporations should not be allowed to donate to political campaigns. All donations should be from individuals and publicly disclosed. It is incumbent on the US congress to enact such a law.

“The libertarian position has become dominant on the right on First Amendment issues,” said Ilya Shapiro, a lawyer with the Cato Institute. “It simply means that we should be skeptical of government attempts to regulate speech. That used to be an uncontroversial and nonideological point. What’s now being called the libertarian position on speech was in the 1960s the liberal position on speech.”

It is the liberal position. The establishment Democrats and the so called progressives are no longer liberals. The Overton window has shifted so far to the authoritarian left that centrist liberals are now called ‘alt-right’ by the mainstream media.

And an increasingly conservative judiciary has been more than a little receptive to this argument. A new analysis prepared for The New York Times found that the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has been far more likely to embrace free-speech arguments concerning conservative speech than liberal speech. That is a sharp break from earlier eras.

Could this be because conservatives are now the ones who are having their free speech rights infringed?

As a result, liberals who once championed expansive First Amendment rights are now uneasy about them.

Supporting universal human rights should not be a fair weather activity. Liberals used to know this. See my post Will the ACLU Part Ways with Free Speech?

“The left was once not just on board but leading in supporting the broadest First Amendment protections,” said Floyd Abrams, a prominent First Amendment lawyer and a supporter of broad free-speech rights. “Now the progressive community is at least skeptical and sometimes distraught at the level of First Amendment protection which is being afforded in cases brought by litigants on the right.”

Just as the right were distraught by the protections it afforded the left.

Many on the left have traded an absolutist commitment to free speech for one sensitive to the harms it can inflict.

You can’t put control of what is and isn’t free speech in the hands of the government without destroying the right to free speech.

Take pornography and street protests. Liberals were once largely united in fighting to protect sexually explicit materials from government censorship. Now many on the left see pornography as an assault on women’s rights.

Communist Antifa continues to shut down peaceful street protests with violent tactics. Preventing women from voluntarily participating in the porn industry seems like an assault on women’s rights.

In 1977, many liberals supported the right of the American Nazi Party to march among Holocaust survivors in Skokie, Ill. Far fewer supported the free-speech rights of the white nationalists who marched last year in Charlottesville, Va.

Suppressing opinions you disagree with makes them stronger.

“Because so many free-speech claims of the 1950s and 1960s involved anti-obscenity claims, or civil rights and anti-Vietnam War protests, it was easy for the left to sympathize with the speakers or believe that speech in general was harmless,” said Frederick Schauer. “But the claim that speech was harmless or causally inert was never true, even if it has taken recent events to convince the left of that. The question, then, is why the left ever believed otherwise.”

It’s easy to rationalize your own views as harmless.

Some liberals now say that free speech disproportionately protects the powerful and the status quo.

What? This sounds insane.

mistake-free-speech“When I was younger, I had more of the standard liberal view of civil liberties,” said Louis Michael Seidman, a law professor at Georgetown. “And I’ve gradually changed my mind about it. What I have come to see is that it’s a mistake to think of free speech as an effective means to accomplish a more just society.”

It’s more a means of preventing a less just society.

To the contrary, free speech reinforces and amplifies injustice, Catharine A. MacKinnon, a law professor at the University of Michigan, wrote in “The Free Speech Century,” a collection of essays to be published this year.

Seems like bullshit to me. One person’s justice is another’s injustice. Shutting down free speech is an attempt to make what the establishment considers to be just the only rule.

“Once a defense of the powerless, the First Amendment over the last hundred years has mainly become a weapon of the powerful,” she wrote. “Legally, what was, toward the beginning of the 20th century, a shield for radicals, artists and activists, socialists and pacifists, the excluded and the dispossessed, has become a sword for authoritarians, racists and misogynists, Nazis and Klansmen, pornographers and corporations buying elections.”

But if you give the government the right to take away the free speech of Klansmen, you are saying it’s no longer a fundamental right. And once the government has the power to decide who has the right to free speech, eventually they will come for the radicals, artists, and activists. Do you really want to give Donald Trump executive power to suppress speech?

In the great First Amendment cases in the middle of the 20th century, few conservatives spoke up for the protection of political dissenters, including communists and civil rights leaders, comedians using vulgar language on the airwaves or artists exploring sexuality in novels and on film.

This is not a good justification for discarding free speech.

In 1971, Robert H. Bork, then a prominent conservative law professor and later a federal judge and Supreme Court nominee, wrote that the First Amendment should be interpreted narrowly in a law-review article that remains one of the most-cited of all time. “Constitutional protection should be accorded only to speech that is explicitly political,” he wrote. “There is no basis for judicial intervention to protect any other form of expression, be it scientific, literary or that variety of expression we call obscene or pornographic.”

The problem with this argument is that science and literature are political. If the government has the power to ban arbitrary speech as obscene, they will use this power as a weapon to suppress points of view they disagree with. Because Conservatives once held the majority and were the establishment, it was Liberals who used the right to free speech to defend themselves. Throwing that right away when it looks more and more as if the Democrat/Republican neo-liberal/neo-conservative establishment is failing seems crazy.

But a transformative ruling by the Supreme Court five years later began to change that thinking. The case, a challenge to a state law that banned advertising the prices of prescription drugs, was filed by Public Citizen, a consumer rights group founded by Ralph Nader. The group argued that the law hurt consumers, and helped persuade the court, in Virginia State Board of Pharmacy v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, to protect advertising and other commercial speech.

This is what the ‘progressives’ seem bent on giving up. Does free speech give rights to conservatives? Yes. Can it be used to justify bad things, like the ‘right’ of corporations to pour endless funds into the political system, bending it to their will? Yes. But it also allows us–we, the people–to defend ourselves from authoritarians and corporations.

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Review of “Death Wish”

* * * B

Death Wish is a remake of the 1974 film starring Charles Bronson. This time, Dr. Paul Kersey is played by Bruce “McClane” Willis. The movie does a good job of updating this tale of revenge where a man whose wife is killed and whose daughter is put in a coma by vicious thieves turns vigilante of the streets of Chicago. There are some interesting twists. Kersey is no longer given his gun by a friend. He has to deal with people with cell phones filming him. Yet the core of the story remains.

If you like films like Taken, you’ll probably enjoy Deathwish. One of the most fascinating things about the film is that, despite a fresh 75% audience rating on Rotten Tom, critics gave it a staggering 18% rotten. This shows how out of touch the critics are with the average person. If you look at their criticisms, few have anything to do with the film.

“Death Wish” is a catechism for an audience terrified that their firepower and their influence are dwindling — Ty Burr

Only people who like guns could possibly want to see a film about a vigilante. Must be why Taken was so successful.

The film cranks up the audience with little jokes and references, and gets the audience cheering for the Grim Reaper before they even realize what they’re cheering for — and therein lies the problem — Katie Walsh

What is the problem with cheering for a man who takes revenge on criminals for killing his wife and almost killing his daughter?

Despite all the worries that this would be nothing more than an alt-right wet dream in which Bruce Willis guns down scores of blacks and Muslims, the film is actually restrained in such matters — Matt Brunson

This is a Hollywood movie. Who worried that it would do this?

Aimed squarely at drunk uncles and alt-right fanboys across America, Death Wish is a film with truly toxic understandings of masculinity, justice and gun rights in America — Tom Augustine

This film is a revenge fantasy. Get a grip.

An immature, sophomoric male fantasy about solving all of life’s problems with a gun — Felix Vasquez Jr.

Because all of life’s problems can be solved with girl power.

This is the state of main stream media criticism. Pathetic.

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Suzanna Walters Doubles Down on Hating All Men

man-haterThere have been many articles and videos commenting on Suzanna Walters sexist article advocating hating men. I’m going to comment on her follow up interview, A Scholar Asked, ‘Why Can’t We Hate Men?’ Now She Responds to the Deluge of Criticism. As a professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, I’d hardly call Walters a Scholar.

This month in The Washington Post, Suzanna Danuta Walters published an op-ed called “Why Can’t We Hate Men?” Walters is a professor of sociology and director of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Northeastern University, and also editor of the gender-studies journal Signs. Her op-ed has generated thousands of comments; drawn dismay, outrage, or ridicule in other publications and blogs; and spurred homophobic death and rape threats.

Is it surprising that her blatant misandry drew such reactions?

In her op-ed, Walters writes that even before Schneiderman, Trump, Weinstein, mansplaining, INCELs, “red pill” men’s groups, live-streamed sex assaults, and wartime rape camps, she’d been pushed “over the edge.” She understands and sympathizes with the idea that critiques should focus on male power in patriarchal structures, “not narrowly personal or individual or biologically based in male bodies.” But she also insists on remembering “some universal facts” about sexual violence, inequality, access to education, property ownership, and so on.

Does she also comment on the current inequality in access to post secondary education, where women are now the majority?

“So men,” she writes, “if you really are #WithUs and would like us to not hate you for all the millennia of woe you have produced and benefited from, start with this: Lean out so we can actually just stand up without being beaten down. Pledge to vote for feminist women only. Don’t run for office. Don’t be in charge of anything. Step away from the power. We got this. And please know that your crocodile tears won’t be wiped away by us anymore. We have every right to hate you.”

I am not with you (you being feminists), I don’t care if you hate me, I have not produced millennia of woe, and you have benefited from western civilization as much as I have. I hope the you get a rousing round of “go fuck yourself” from men whose jobs you’re trying to take without earning them. I will never vote for a sexist feminist woman, and I encourage all men who want to to run for office and defend freedom against authoritarian Marxists like Walters. I wouldn’t want anyone this evil anywhere near me, far less close enough to wipe a tear.

Aside from the web reaction, you’ve had death threats and rape threats. How are you holding up?

This kind of vitriol, really ugly misogyny and homophobia, has been so legitimized during these Trump times. For better or worse, I think we’re all becoming a little inured. And it’s very familiar to women writers who are in the public sphere.

If you go on a misandrist attack against all men, you should expect a backlash.

To ask the obvious question that you’ve probably heard a thousand times this week, I’m a man — do you hate me?

No, my dear. I certainly do not hate you. But it’s so funny that that’s the question.

Do I hate men? Of course I don’t hate men in some generic way. My point here was to say it makes obvious sense for women to have rage, legitimate rage, against a group of people that has systematically abused them. In the same way as if someone wrote a piece that said, Why can’t we hate white people? I would say right on. You’re absolutely right. #BecauseSlavery, #BecauseInstitutionalRacism, and the same thing here — the hashtag, as I said, #BecausePatriarchy.

I don’t believe you. If you wrote an article saying “Why can’t we hate white people?” that would make you a racist, and since you say “right on” to that, clearly you are a racist too.

Do you hate your male colleagues and your male students?

No I do not. If they are sexist schmucks, I do not like them. If they are supportive feminist folks who lean out a little bit, as I argue they should do, and have knowledge of and take responsibility for their male privilege, that’s what I’m talking about.

To men who are not just taking responsibility but actively working to undermine and challenge toxic masculinity, go for it. I love ya. To men who are part and parcel of the problem, I am not your fan.

So you hate all men who are not feminists. What about women who aren’t feminists?

Yet you have tweeted #YesAllMen.

That was in context of the whole #NotAllMen movement.

Bullshit. Don’t say you hate all men, then deny it. If any of my readers are feminist men, I hope this opens your eyes.

Right, but that’s what I’m asking you. Are there exceptions? And you’re saying to me, Yes, there are.

Of course there are exceptions, but again, it’s interesting to me, even with you, Alex, that that’s where we’re going here. If there were so many exceptions, wouldn’t the world look different? If the majority of men were exceptions to this rule, wouldn’t we have gender equality?

Feminists don’t want equality of opportunity. They aren’t even satisfied with equity of outcome. One need only look at the fact that there are more women than men enrolled in university, but feminists aren’t arguing that special programs for women can be rolled back to see that feminists do not care about equality.

Would my daughter — I don’t know if you have a daughter —— would we fear for their vulnerability all the time? If the majority of men were exceptions to this rule, would we have live-streaming of sexual assaults? Would we have men in fraternities getting women drunk so that they could rape inanimate women as objects? Of course there are exceptions, but it is interesting to me that we’re clinging to that, “Oh, there have got to be good men out there.”

So again, you believe that there are no good men out there.

So, I’m going to flip that question on you. Why aren’t more men stepping in and stepping up and stepping away from power and beginning to actually address this? Why do we have this “Oh no. Men? We’re not all bad.” That’s not the point.

Because your suggestion is unfair. If women want equality of outcome, they have to earn it. We don’t believe in your patriarchy conspiracy theories. We see how badly you treat men who cooperate with you.

The Chronicle covers hate speech on a weekly if not a daily basis, and your op-ed’s main argument is, Hey, we have a right to hate you. You’ve just explained the context, but might someone still argue that your op-ed is itself, by definition, hate speech?

I’m making an argument with material and data. It is not hate speech. I am not calling, obviously, for people to be hurt, to be demeaned, to be killed. Women, in general, do not do that. As you know, almost all acts of gun violence against children in our schools are done by young white men. That, to me, is weaponized hate speech. So to talk about a feminist author who writes an op-ed with data that is indisputable and says, We have a right to anger — to say that that is hate speech is absolutely ludicrous.

If calling for women to hate all men isn’t hate speech, its hard to see what is. That said, hate speech should be covered by our right to free speech, and the more you spout your misandrist hatred of men, the more eyes will be opened to the true nature of intersectional feminism.

Why can’t we allow those who have been historically and continuously victimized and marginalized and abused to actually name that and own their righteous and legitimate anger? Without saying, “Oh, poor me, it’s so divisive and mean.” What’s divisive and mean, actually, is men with guns shooting up kids, rape camps, INCELs, wage inequality, women’s underrepresentation in government. Me writing this is not divisive and mean. Let’s have some perspective here.

It is divisive, clearly. Incels are victims, wage inequality is largely due to the different choices men and women make, and since more that half of voters are women, if 50% of the time, a women was the best candidate, I expect you’d have 50% representation.

Do I think that these kinds of arguments about feminist anger, about men really recognizing male prerogative, and leaning out, are important parts of feminist scholarship? I absolutely do. It is increasingly important in a world in which so much of the rise of the global right wing has been about male power. It’s anti-abortion, it’s anti-woman, and we’ve seen it in this administration. We have a groper in chief as a president. In this world, it is ever more important for feminists, and for all people of progressive good will, to not mince words. To be able to express deep critiques of structures and parameters of domination. And that’s precisely what I was trying to do here.

Yet in doing so, you drive moderates to the right wing.

I’m guessing that you disliked Trump’s generalization about Mexico sending “their rapists.” Yet aren’t you generalizing about all men? Is it wrong to criticize Mexican men but OK to criticize all men?

I have to say, I don’t think that’s a fair comparison. In fact, Trump was completely wrong — I mean, just empirically inaccurate. That’s not who’s coming over the border. There’s no overrepresentation among Mexican-Americans in rape statistics. What I am saying about male violence and male prerogative is empirically accurate. When you’re generalizing with accuracy, that’s what we call sociology. So I have to say that is a completely false comparison.

Saying that all men are evil is empirically accurate? Bullshit. At least Trump’s misinformation was based on the fact that 80% of women who enter the US illegally are raped along the way. But you continue to spout disproved nonsense about a patriarchal conspiracy being the sole cause of the difference in average pay between the genders.

Do you believe it’s possible to be sexist against men?

No, I really don’t. Sexism is about the institutionalized and interpersonal treatment of women and people perceived to be women. Again, look at the world. Where is discrimination? Where are men being excluded? Where are men being abused? Oh, come on.

Bullshit. You are a sexist. Treating an individual based on the collective they belong to is the definition of prejudice. Doing so to a man is sexism. Men are being excluded from colleges. Men are being abused by the family courts, having their children taken from them, being jailed for inability to pay child support.

Do you think some men who are near the center of the political spectrum might see op-eds like yours and move further to the right as a result? It does seem like, in your ideal world, the left might not be a place for men. Whether that’s an understanding or a misunderstanding, do you worry at all about that reaction?

It’s an interesting question. If that happens, I wonder what kind of leftists they are. If you’re a progressive man and you can’t take some hard truths about the history and persistence of male dominance and violence, if you can’t hear that, then you’ve got some learning to do. If you are a progressive white person and you can’t take on some hard truths about the persistent history of white supremacy, you’ve got some work to do.
Or you could see the so called progressive movement for what it is: illiberal, authoritarian, racist, sexist, and anti individual.
Is gender, to your mind, a completely social construct?
In a word, yes. Look, I wouldn’t be worth my salt as a gender-studies professor if I didn’t say that, and I believe it. It’s actually interesting that you ask that, because some of that nasty stuff I’ve been getting has been biologically determinist things: You stupid bitch, don’t you know that men and women are just different? If we rape you, we just can’t help ourselves, because we’re just hard-wired that way.
Men and women are just different. I don’t believe any man told you we just can’t help ourselves.

I am a social constructionist through and through, I believe gender is a social construction, but it is a social construction in which one group is benefiting and another group, not so much. I think the world would be a better place for men and for women if we did away with gender altogether — gender norms, gender binaries, and so on. And God knows men would be happier and better people if we did away with that. But they clearly also benefit from it. If you get more money in the world simply by virtue of having a penis rather than a vagina, you’re benefiting.

The ignorance of behavioral psychology that this shows is astonishing.

Do you think it’s a good idea to vote on the basis of gender?

That’s a great question. I think it’s a good idea to vote on the basis of feminism. Which is why I say very clearly, vote for feminist women. Look, we don’t need any more Maggie Thatchers or, you know, Trumpettes. I do believe we need more women in government — that just seems a no-brainer to me, just like we need more people of color in government. We need more people who have been excluded to be included. But we need to fight for Team Feminism.

You should vote for whoever best represents you. I’d rather have Maggie Thatcher and Trump than feminists. We need the best candidates in government, regardless of the gender or skin color. If you want my vote, show me you’re worthy of inclusion.

I’m a feminist through and through, and I believe a feminist perspective and a feminist critique is precisely what can heal this world. I think an intersectional, anti-racist, and feminist analysis is exactly what is needed. It is telling to me that the most massive resistance to Trumpism has come from this multicultural coalition of women who ran the women’s march. To me, that speaks volumes.

Intersectional feminism is a neo-Marxist ideology. See my post How #MeToo Revealed the Marxist Roots of Feminism. Neo-Marxism is exactly what we don’t need.

What about progressive feminist men? Bernie Sanders would be an obvious example. You probably support a lot of things he supports, but he is a man. So what do you do? Do you try to find and fund a woman who thinks the same way?

I think it would be better if we could. I believe in 90 percent of what Bernie says. But do I think we need another old white man in office? I do not. I think we need more women, more people of color, and, speaking as a middle-aged woman, we need some younger people. If Bernie runs against Kamala Harris, she’s what we need. It is not about animus toward him. It is just about, step back. When we talk about creating a different world, power is not just something that you grab for, it’s also something that you step away from.

Kamala Harris is not progressive. Better yet, fragmenting the left because Bernie is a man is exactly what gave you Trump. Identity politics don’t work.

If we divide everyone by gender, class, religion, race, sexuality, etc., when do we stop? After all, isn’t the individual the ultimate minority?

It’s not me doing the dividing. Look, as a feminist activist and scholar, to the extent that we can break apart these binary oppositions — of gender, of race — obviously it’s all to the good. We need more fluidity. But as long as that is operative, you can’t pretend it doesn’t have effects. Right? You obviously can have a vision of a world in which gender is not even a meaningful category. Listen, I would love to live in that world. I spend 90 percent of my time as a feminist professor trying to imagine that world. But at the same time that you imagine that, you also have to live with the reality of how gender demeans, constructs, produces power, constrains. You can’t pretend it doesn’t.

Bullshit. You are doing the dividing by calling for hatred toward men. You can’t ‘break’ the binary of biological sex, and you can change its impact on male and female psychology. You can’t have a vision of a world in which gender is not a meaningful without having a view of the world that does not match reality.

Rush Limbaugh is among rightists who find your column laughable and proof of the insanity of academe, and that’s pretty predictable. But in The Atlantic, too,Conor Friedersdorf called you a “wrongheaded eccentric.” The economist Mark J. Perry at AEI nominated your column as “the most hateful, venomous, vitriolic, and reprehensible op-ed in history of WaPo. ” Do you worry that Americans on the center or the right take hatred of an entire gender as typical of an academic argument and vote for populist candidates and against higher-ed funding as a result? Might they say, Hey, I don’t want my tax dollars going to a lady who hates all men.

She should. That is exactly what centrists like Jordan Peterson and Carl Benjamin are advocating. The left have called them right wing extremists. All this does is push them, and others like them who were once considered centrists, into the arms of the right. Case in point, Benjamin recently joined UKIP because it is the only party in the UK that stands for free speech.

Well, Alex, if they do, I repeat what I said before, it really shows that they’re not progressives to begin with. I’m sorry. The piece in The Atlantic is such a perfect example. Some guy at The Atlantic is going to mansplain me the principles of feminism? A feminist professor of 30-plus years, who has written four books? I mean, seriously? It’s the ultimate in hubris. I read that and I cracked up. It is Exhibit A of mansplaining drivel.

Keep ignoring what moderates on the left are saying, and you will continue to fracture the left. If those who are moderate can’t vote for centrist Democrats (or Liberals, in Canada), they will vote for Republicans (or Conservatives).

If men take this as an opportunity to legitimate their dismissal of feminism, they’re looking for those opportunities. They are not allies. They are not people who can be trusted and counted on. So I think we have to be honest about that. If there’s an op-ed that they might have some disagreements with, that they can’t really look at carefully and read carefully and see the data in it, if that sends them over the edge, then they are vacuous snowflakes that are no friends to progressive social movements.

I hope you continue to drive away your allies.

You suggest that if men “lean out,” cede positions of power to women, all will be well — or if not well, at least better. Yet there are cases of women in academe and corporate power harassing workplace subordinates. The recently ousted female CEO of Theranos, a biotech entrepreneur, is accused of committing fraud. And the female leader of Myanmar seems to turn a blind eye toward ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya. What persuades you that women have a tendency toward, if not a monopoly on, good behavior?

I do not believe that women have a monopoly on good behavior by any stretch of the imagination. I do believe, though, that the point of saying lean out is to reckon with your power. It’s not just sharing it, it’s stepping back.

Any man who steps back to allow a feminist to take his earned position does a disservice to the enterprise he’s involved in.

Are there examples all over of terrible, anti-feminist women in office, in business, or in academia? Of course there are. Believe me, I know a lot of them. But God knows that when we look at cases of sexual harassment, for example, the vast majority are men doing that to women. Samantha Bee had a great riff. She said, women really do generally know that when we come to the office we shouldn’t show our coworkers our genitals. I gotta tell you, I don’t know a single woman who would think that’s OK.

So anti-feminist women are terrible? Women are more likely than men to look for romance at work. With attitudes like yours, they are going to have a harder time finding it, as men ‘lean out’ of relationships due to your toxic feminism.

There are always exceptions. It’s not about women being inherently good. I don’t believe anyone is inherently anything. I’m a social constructionist. It is to say that if you want to talk about really changing power, men have to think about their own investment in maintaining the structures as they are.

We don’t have to do any such thing. Most men are done listening to you. As long as you maintain your hold on power in academia and government, they will passively resist you. This means you can expect many more Donald Trumps in your future, as people say ‘fuck you’ to the establishment and identity politics.

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Is Ocean’s 8 a Flop?

oceans8Ocean’s 8 has continued the recent trend of gender flipping an existing franchise, exemplified by Ghostbusters 2016, and, to a lesser extent, The Force Awakens. While Ghostbusters is generally seen as a flop, The Force Awakens was a clear success. It’s less successful sequel, The Last Jedi, was not an outright flop. So, is Ocean’s 8, the all female sequel to Ocean’s 11-13, a success, a flop, or something in between?

First, lets look at domestic box office. Ocean’s 8 is still in theaters, but its now made the bulk of what it will make for Warner Bros, as the distributor’s cut of the box office declines the longer the film is in the theater. Here are the domestic grosses (updated on July 17, 2018), unadjusted for historical value of the dollar:

Film Domestic Gross
Ocean’s 11 $183,417,150
Ocean’s 12 $125,544,280
Ocean’s 13 $117,154,724
Ocean’s 8 $132,685,183

So far, the latest release has made the least money, even without adjusting for inflation. But the rule of thumb for judging whether a film is a flop or a success is that for a film to break even, it must earn roughly twice its budget in the domestic box office, and to be considered a success, it must earn three times its budget. Here are the domestic box office to budget ratios (so far) of all of the films:

Film Box Office/Budget
Ocean’s 11 2.16
Ocean’s 12 1.14
Ocean’s 13 1.38
Ocean’s 8 1.89

From this we can see that, while the first film made money, it wasn’t a huge success for the studio. The second film, which had a much bigger budget, did the worst of all the films in the franchise. The third and fourth films did successively better, largely on the back of decreasing the budget from the previous film in both cases (Ocean’s 8 was the cheapest to make of all the films).

So though Ocean’s 8 can’t be considered a success, and probably won’t even earn the studio back its budget after the cost of advertising, it appears to have done better than any other sequel, and it hasn’t finished its run in theaters. Since the previous sequels did worse, and sequels continued to be made, does this mean we can expect more Ocean’s stories?

Answer: there’s more to the story. Why did Warner Bros continue to make sequels if they weren’t making money? The Ocean’s films did very well in the worldwide market. If, despite their poor performance domestically, the sequels were profitable once their overseas revenues were included, this could lead the studio to keep trying to reproduce the relative success of the original film. How have the films done globally?

Film Global Gross
Ocean’s 11 $450.7
Ocean’s 12 $362.7
Ocean’s 13 $311.3
Ocean’s 8 $254.9

Even with Ocean’s 8’s much lower budget, its global gross is far lower than the previous sequels. This means that, though all the sequels can be considered flops, Ocean’s 8, though it did the best domestically, may kill any incentive to make further sequels, given its dismal global performance. Hence, one must conclude that Ocean’s 8 is indeed a flop, though as it continues to earn at the box-office, it is landing closer to mark.

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