Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Gender Role Politics

I was struck by this Davis Brooks paragraph:
If you look at the research, you find that millennials are not so divided on gender roles. Both sexes increasingly favor a feminist attitude in the workplace and a neotraditionalist attitude at home. They want both sexes to have equal opportunities at work, but year by year more young people believe that the best home is the one where the man is the outside “achiever” and the working woman is the primary caregiver. In 1994, for example, 42 percent of high school seniors believed this; by 2014, 58 percent did.
Because I think our whole society is confused about this. We don't really know what a truly equal society would mean; equal numbers of male and female CEOs and legislators? Or should we aim for something like what Norway and Denmark have, a strong welfare state that ends up encouraging many women to spend years raising their children? Norway and Denmark have fewer female executives than in the US or Britain, but women are happier there.

I suppose if I had to put in one sentence my dream for the future of our society, it would be to ease up on the rat race. The reason I want a flatter economic pyramid and a more robust welfare state is that I want to make our economic choices less stark. Right now millions of women (and thousands of men) who would rather raise their children work full time because they think they need the money. And if you want a middle class life by our current standards, including a house in a good school district, you do. My goal is a world in which people can choose to be poorer without suffering a dramatic fall in class; in which nobody feels that making less money would be a complete catastrophe. It seems to me that so long as we all feel that we have to work hard all the time to get an upper middle class income because anything else is a painful failure, we are far from free. Right now, as I point out from time to time, people can do this, but it entails painful sacrifices: living in dangerous neighborhoods or enduring 2-hour commutes or living in small towns with a dire shortage of what our society considers "good jobs." In a world as rich as ours this should be easier than it used to be, not harder.


G. Verloren said...

"Norway and Denmark have fewer female executives than in the US or Britain, but women are happier there."

...unless the women in question aren't Norwegian or Danish. Immigrant women (and men) in those countries are decidedly unhappy, which is why both nations dropped in rankings once studies started including migrants in their measures of overall happiness.

After all, they don't believe in integration - the demand assimilation. They're particularly hostile to Muslims, and try to culturally whitewash foreigners who come to their shores. For all their liberal leanings in other areas, the Nordic countries are still pretty awful about racism, in large part because they have such small proportions of the population that are not monocultural.

You could similarly point to Japan and Korea, with much the same circumstances.

G. Verloren said...

"In a world as rich as ours this should be easier than it used to be, not harder."

Thoughts like this always bring me back to Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator


I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone - if possible - Jew, Gentile - black man - white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness - not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost….

The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men - cries out for universal brotherhood - for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world - millions of despairing men, women, and little children - victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.

To those who can hear me, I say - do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed - the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.

Soldiers! Don’t give yourselves to brutes! Nen who despise you! Enslave you! Who regiment your lives - tell you what to do - what to think and what to feel! Who drill you - diet you - treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder!

Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men! Machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate - the unloved and the unnatural! Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty!

In the 17th Chapter of St Luke it is written: “the Kingdom of God is within Man” - not one man, nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people have the power - the power to create machines! The power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure!

Then - in the name of democracy - let us use that power! Let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world! A decent world that will give men a chance to work! That will give youth a future and old age a security! By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfil that promise. They never will!

Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfil that promise! Let us fight to free the world! To do away with national barriers! To do away with greed, with hate and intolerance! Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness! Soldiers! In the name of democracy, let us all unite!