Tuesday, September 04, 2018

A Woman in Every Pot

In response to recent mass murders by self-described “Incels,” there were a couple of high-profile articles sincerely recommending forced redistribution of women. In case you missed them, please follow these links.

This suggestion was dismissed as absurd for the obvious reasons: that the Incels’ misogyny is 99% of what makes them undatable, and that women — being autonomous humans — cannot be forcibly “redistributed.” But I think the obvious responses are incomplete because a lot of people, when confronted with the idea that women aren’t slaves, respond by thinking “But maybe they should be; maybe things would be better if they were…”

So today I would like to explain why trying to control women more is not merely unethical — it is also a totally counterproductive approach to the exact problem that the above-linked dudes are trying to solve.

Let’s lay out the problem: Some portion of the young, straight men in society are unable to find women who want to be with them. This can make a guy frustrated, angry, often violent, maybe suicidal — while the same guy might be happy and feel motivated to be a productive member of society if only he had a wife or girlfriend and possibly also children.

What happens if we try to solve this problem by decreasing women’s freedom and economic power?

Look at it from the woman’s perspective. If you don’t have the opportunity to earn a living wage yourself — and your mate’s economic contribution makes a big difference when it comes to getting food, health care, etc., for yourself and your kids — then Geezer McMoneybags starts looking really attractive compared to the charming young guy who is barely able to make a living wage himself. That’s not being shallow or superficial, that’s rational self-interest.

But let’s change the scenario a bit. Suppose the woman is able to earn a living wage, and her spouse’s financial contribution isn’t a deciding factor in her kids getting to grow up in a safe and healthy environment. Now she’s freer to prioritize other qualities in a mate. The man himself — his time, his efforts, and his character — becomes more valuable than what’s in his wallet.

Just look at it from an anthropological perspective. Societies with a more patriarchal culture (and with more economic inequality in general) tend to be more polygynous. In other words, the top tier of powerful men monopolize multiple women, either through officially recognized polygamy or through a series of marriages. And on the other end of the spectrum, there are a whole lot of frustrated and hostile men that the ones at the top can use as cannon fodder.

If you want a male-dominated society full of manly men vying with one another for dominance, then you’re talking about a society that — by design — has quite a lot of losers. It’s not a bug, it’s the whole point. Some Incels and others in the Manosphere have suggested that teenage girls should be assigned to men and forced into marriage. But where do these teenage girls come from? If you are one of society’s losers, do you really think that a patriarch in a country where he legally owns his daughter is just going to give her to you, as a participation trophy for being born male?

Maybe a solution that is more equitable for the women is actually also more equitable for the men. Obviously women don’t want to be the third string wife to some gross, old, rich, powerful asshole (like Donald Trump, to name one high-profile example). Sure, some will choose that path regardless. But given more attractive options, women are more likely to “redistribute” themselves — rather than sharing each others’ (old rich dude) sloppy seconds. A society where the women have more opportunity to choose men based on their personal merits is a society with fewer male losers.

The catch is that in this scenario the man has to be better than nothing. Literally. Because when women can get by economically without a man, then having no man at all is on the list of possible options. So if you’re a guy and you want to be with a woman, your presence has to be more attractive than your absence.

This should not be a high bar to cross. The overwhelming majority of women are either straight or bi, which means that by definition they are attracted to at least some men. Sadly, too many young guys who go looking for dating advice online end up getting sucked into misogynist communities. If your problem is that you are having difficulty attracting a woman, I can hardly think of a more counterproductive solution than finding a bunch of fellow losers and working yourselves into a collective lather over how horrible women are.

A more effective solution is to work for a more egalitarian society. And keep in mind that women are people — with their own interests and motivations — not prizes.