Circles In Thinking

Something has been working at me since my post against using stupid slogans instead of thinking (when reality is almost if not actually the opposite – and no, I’m not going to reprise that.  I made all the arguments I wanted to make in that post.  And everyone got a chance to yell at me.  Enough.)  Weirdly, what bothered me most was not the name calling, but a seemingly innocuous comment, which was echoed and repeated by any number of commenters.

To begin with, it was the way it was repeated – not, like a lot of it, as though the person were working from a cheat-sheet, but more – as though a lot of people at the same time had come up with the same clinching argument…  Or what they thought was a clinching argument.

Except it wasn’t, not when you step back and analyze it.  Worse, when you step back and analyze it, you grow quite alarmed at its underpinnings and the fact that ANYONE would think this served as an argument to defend anything.

If, like me, you are – for your sins – a graduate of an excellent college, and hold a degree in the humanities, you don’t wonder why so many people echoed it probably without coordination.  The reason is that they all heard this in school and that in school, if this had been a college paper, it would have won a good grade.  And like most such arguments, it echoes the bias of thought of college professors and current academia.

I don’t remember off the top of my head whether we let any of those comments through.  I wasn’t the only one weeding through them – I have helpers who do that also, so I have time to write.  So, I’ll have to reprise it.

The comment omitted what they were against so I’ll put it in square brackets [It doesn’t surprise me that you think that men get a worse deal in current society than women because] This reminds me of all the Victorian women who were against female suffrage. [presumably meaning: and you don’t realize that just like them you are brainwashed.]

If you are nodding along, you probably ALSO had an excellent college education in the humanities and learned what would get you an A in sociology or feminist literature or whatever the heck it was you took.  (In my case it was theory of Literature, American Literature and Comparative Literature.  Also American Culture, British Culture and German Culture.  Possibly also linguistics, though those tended to be more factual.)

If you are nodding along you ALSO never took the time to unpack this argument.  Don’t feel bad about it, though.  It bothered me – and not in the sense that it felt right – because though it felt like while it was a “valid” – i.e. “logical” – argument, I had a feeling it was wrong.  Not just in my case, but in general.

Still even now, several decades after leaving college, it took me hours and the fact I had a lot of time in a waiting room yesterday to unpack it and figure out the LEVELS of wrong in it: in general, in particular, and when applied to my blog.  We are ALL the product of our education, and if you think that unlike your grandmother you had an education that prepared you to think without bias, it just means you haven’t seen through the bias.

This is a staggeringly bad argument in general because it can be used to dismiss anyone’s ideas based on what a group in the past did.  Say you don’t believe – I plead the fifth.  Most of the time I have a better image of humans in general and yes, women in particular.  Periodically I get annoyed and have to point out certain issues – that women tend to repeat slogans without examining them and fall for quasi-messianic movements without examining their underpinnings.  I could sneeringly dismiss your argument with “Well, you know, the first thing women did, given the vote, was pass prohibition.”

And then you’ll say – rightly – “but Sarah, that was a different set of women, educated under different circumstances, informed by a different set of beliefs, which make your argument irrelevant.”

Which brings us to the second part of why this argument is wrong in the specific and why it’s appalling that people with a college education can’t unpack it.  Repeat after me: The past is another country.  Not only do you not know how you’d have reacted to the suffragette movement if you lived in that time (rather irrelevant, really, since if you lived in that time, you wouldn’t be you) BUT you have no idea if they were right for their time and by their lights.

Now before you go screaming around the echo chamber that Sarah Hoyt believes women shouldn’t have right to vote, let’s register it for posterity that Sarah Hoyt has her doubts on universal suffrage regardless of gender.  It’s a horrible system.  It’s just the best one we’ve come up with so far.  The average woman is no dumber or less equipped to make a voting decision than the average man, and at the high end, women are as equipped to do it as high-end men.

What I’d like say, though – and what I’d like you to listen to, if you can remove the wads of indoctrination blocking your ears – is that just because women’s suffrage won and the results (except prohibition) have been pretty good, they had no intellectual way of knowing that at the time.

First of all you’re assuming that suffrage is always an universal good.  I will grant you our history – which they didn’t have – seems to show it.  Societies where more people vote tend to, if nothing else, decay into tyranny slower.  And it’s possible we might avert it altogether (maybe.  History hasn’t weighed in.)  However, at the time this was not clear.  I like to joke that in the Portuguese civil war my ancestors fought and died never to have a say in their governance again.  That is to say, they fought and died for the guy who wanted to be an absolute monarch.  (Yes, there are other things there, including local and hereditary loyalty, but–) It’s a funny line, and it works for us, but it is just a joke.  I don’t presume to judge their choice, and neither should you.  Why?  They remembered the French revolution and, btw, the British one.  They had grandfather-handed-down memories of mob rule.  Their choice of the king and stability might have seemed the best at the time.  NOT mine.  I disapprove of any dictatorship.  But theirs.  Their best choice, at the time, not knowing the future, and armed with what they did know of their people and place which are stranger to me than any culture on Earth today.

Quite possibly it was the same with female suffrage.  The women you were talking about are not the women of today, with contraceptives and education that make them close enough to men.

Look, you go to war with the weapons you have, not the ones you hope for.  The suffragettes fought for the rights of women as they were, not as they are.  The women they had at the time were not us.  Education in the upper classes schooled women towards subservience (at least if what we know is true, and I’m not saying it is, we weren’t there.)  The lower classes are a lot more opaque.  We study them through excavations of middens and sometimes surviving oral history.  However, we can assume in the first throes of the industrial revolution men and women in the lower classes, both, were NOT equipped to be informed voters.  Add to that the fact most women spent most of their lives pregnant.  I’ve been pregnant.  I’ve researched pregnancy (to figure out what the heck happened to my mind then.)  There is an hormone whose sole purpose is to make you fat, contented and stupid.  And yes, it says that in the literature.  More importantly, when you’re pregnant and you feel your body is coping with all it can handle, you’ll take the path of least resistence in everything else.

This means that women who thought – at the time – about other women getting the vote and shuddered might have had a point.  They foresaw disaster if women got the vote, and – THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT – though we know they weren’t right (the minor thing with prohibition excepted) THEY HAD NO WAY OF KNOWING THAT.  Anyone who’s been through college should be self-aware enough to realize that.  The past is determined, the future isn’t.  We are their future.  They had no way of being sure how things would go.  They were entitled to their doubts and their second thoughts and by having them they showed NOT that they were puppets of the establishment, but that they were thinking human beings.  Even if they were wrong.  Hindsight is twenty twenty.

Now of course you’re saying “But Sarah, they were voting against their interests.”  Stop it.  Stop making me roll my eyes so hard they’ll fall on the floor.

What you’ve just slipped into, whether you realize it or not is “Argument by Marx.”  You probably don’t realize it, because even though lately the establishment has got a lot more bold and started making self-satisfied noises about neo-Marxism (it’s like stupidity.  Calling it neo-stupidity makes it sound so much better) it’s permeated all thought and all teaching for decades – unexamined, unthought-about.  It’s in the bin marked “unexamined foundational beliefs” which in your ancestors’ time held the idea of G-d creating the universe, something that permeated all thought, even that of self-conscious atheists.

And it is the other thing that is wrong, wrong, wrong about that comment.

The comment presupposes what some of their comrades (da, tovarish) said more boldly.  That by saying it is men who are getting the short end of the stick in our society and by standing in front of the feminist mob yelling “stop” I’m a “gender traitor.”  It does this by equaling me with Victorian women who were against their “gender”’s rights.

This is pure Marxism.  It strips me of me and my circumstances in life and what I want, and reduces me to one salient characteristic: the fact I was born with a vagina.  It is one of the most dehumanizing and demeaning theories of history ANYONE could come up with.  And Marx did.

Take your Victorian anti-suffrage woman.  She lived a pretty contented life, and in her experience she didn’t need the vote.  And if you’re going to say “but what about her sisters?”  Her sisters probably had similar lives.  If you mean other women in general, a woman of that time and class remembered the French revolution and was likely to have a sneering disdain for all lower classes.  These were not her sisters.  And the lower class men were not her brothers either. The whole idea would seem absurd to her.  Before you condemn her ask yourself “Why shouldn’t it?  What reason did she have to think of herself as belonging to any group? Why should she fight for more than what guaranteed the best life for her and her immediate loved ones?” (Bringing up nonsense about “false consciousness” and “group betrayal” is not thinking, it’s tourettes.  You’re assuming again that Marx was right. This is some leap of faith since his ideas have yet to work on real people.)

Now, take me.  Yes, I have a vagina.  I checked this morning.  It was still there.  BUT I have a lot of other circumstances in my life.  I have two sons, for instance – sons I’ve seen systematically discriminated against in school starting with the type of work required (group work is deadly for boys.  It’s also dominant now) to the style of teaching (most male brains learn more visually and kinetically.  Most teaching is verbal)  WHY would you presume I’m more interested in bullying males and getting more and more benes for my as yet non-existent female descendants, rather than in fighting for my sons to have at least the same basic treatment as their female peers?  Or, presuming I’ll have female descendants some day (I could have all granddaughters) and I can’t know, WHY would you presume, since I have kids and I don’t know what the future will be, I would want anything beyond “equality under the law?”

Leaving all that aside why would you presume I have more in common with a single woman working in a factory somewhere in the Midwest than with a married man with sons who writes articles for a living a hundred miles away?  What earthly sense does that make?

And before you lecture me about how Marxism envisions people as belonging to several interest groups – thank you muchly.  I was raised in a country that was going head over heels for Marxism.  I studied Marx in several classes.  I also had the dubious pleasure, a few months ago, of reading what earnest Utopian American Marxists in the seventies viewed as the ideal system of government.  It was bewildering and vomit-inducing.  They wanted the country organized into “soviets” (in real soviet, country organizes you) each of them representing an interest group to which you “belonged” in some way.  For instance, take me (please) I’d be in the women’s soviet, the Colorado soviet, the mother’s soviet, the Latino soviet and – presumably – the intellectuals soviet (Okay, for minus three seconds, after which I’d be in the Gulag soviet.)  Each of these would elect representatives.

And none of these would represent anyone.  For these to work, it presupposes that you have more than a marginal interest in common with other people in the same group.  Heck, even if you put me in the “Portuguese immigrants soviet” I’d have barely nothing in common with most of them because for one most don’t come from my part of the country and very few write or read SF (Okay Larry Correia, but he’s third generation.  Also, I’d be more likely to be with him in the Gulag soviet.)

The essential failure of making individuals go through groups with which they share a characteristic, is that ultimately groups are too amorphous for the representative to represent anything but himself. The last irreducible group is one.  Which is why our system establishes rights of the individual and equality under the law.  ANYTHING else, no matter how “progressive” it sounds is a shambling step back into the mists of tribalism and irrational group think.

(And yes, I realize group people by region as we do has its issues too.  OTOH if your city is razed, it kind of matters to you.  But I’m not saying that representation in other ways can’t or shouldn’t be considered.  I’m just saying multiplying the number of “representatives” and subtracting from the individual is not a step in the right direction.  And that groups aren’t as obvious as you think.)

The only place where it is appropriate for me to “think as a woman” or fight for an issue “as a woman” is the type of situation as in Arab countries where women AS A WHOLE are subjected to prohibitions in driving, working, learning or dressing the way they please (and no, it couldn’t happen here.  NEVER to that extent.  It’s the result of complex forces of culture and history.  Correction: It couldn’t happen here that fast and without some serious foundational changes.)  That fight has been fought for me already, and I’m guaranteed life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Oh, yeah, and equality under the law.  And I will fight for those for EVERYONE, man, woman or yet undiscovered sentient being.  Yes, even against a group to which I nominally belong because you think I do.

And now that we’ve gone through why that comment was stupid and irrelevant in general and in particular, let’s talk about why it was wrong as a comment to put in my blog…

Having unpacked the levels of unthinking and unreasoning repetition of college-learning in that comment, we can now stand back and be amazed at the staggering arrogance of it.  To wit, the person making it assumes that a) I’d never heard it.  b) I’d never studied history.  c) I didn’t have the ability to reflect upon my situation in the light of history.

Given that this is the blog of – forget formal education – someone who is addicted to books, interested in history, and who has written historical fiction, the hubris in that comment is staggering.  And it shows something else.  It shows the desperate need to count intellectual superiority over anyone who disagrees with you, without even giving it a moment’s thought.  (None of these people said something like “I’m surprised someone like you didn’t realize” – no, the presumption is always that I never thought in historical or self-reflective terms.)

Make a note of it: if this is the only type of argument you can marshal – one size fits all and regurgitated from college classes – and if you think it will win the discussion, you’ve already lost.

UPDATE:  Welcome instapundit readers!  I normally don’t talk about vaginas in my posts.  Oh, wait, yes I do if the post demands it.  Sigh.  I yam what I yam.  Thank you to Glenn Reynolds for the link.

201 thoughts on “Circles In Thinking

  1. Agree completely.

    On another site, we had somebody arguing that the US *should* have done more about protecting the American Indian and freeing the Slaves. This person ignored why the mindset of the time would have worked against “his” idea.

    As for “groups”, which “group” is my group.

    I’m male, but I don’t/can’t agree with all other males.

    I’m white, but I don’t/can’t agree with all other whites.

    I’m Christian, but I don’t/can’t agree with all other Christians.

    I’m fifty years old, but I don’t/can’t agree with all other fifty year old people.

    And so on.

    1. It’s simple. “Your group” is whatever group to which we both belong that can be used to conscript you to fight for me. It can be class, race, religion, gender, whatever works.

  2. Sarah (as a recent liberal art graduate) I think you’ve hit on my biggest problem with ALL of the feminist studies classes I took (I minored in it because at my school it went hand-in-hand with English lit). Modern feminist studies has a distinctly UNmodern view on a lot of issues regarding “women’s issues.” While their intentions in a lot of places are good (imho), the way that everyone goes about it is very much from First and Second Wave feminism and discounts the context in which they are making their arguments.

    Whenever I would point this out in my classes, I was almost universally shut down by my peers (even the few males), then inundated with arguments spouting the outdated rhetoric about repressive white males. To this day it still makes me sick to my stomach because, as a quiet, moderate feminist, I know that the more vocal feminists aren’t going to get far in their agendas if they don’t stop and look at just how ridiculous they’re making themselves sound, all because they refuse to acknowledge the realities of modern society, rather than their perceptions of it.

    1. Weirdly, even though my college resolutely prepared us for the nineteenth century and there were no women’s studies courses, I got it in EVERY course. Marxism too, by the ladle-full. The professors never thought about it.

      What I’m afraid of is real — not imaginary — backlash. I’m also worried about all this making life impossible for my kids who are, by and large, honorable males.

      BTW, this is one of my pet peeves in reading. I’ve thrown more regency romances across the room because EVERY WOMAN IS A SUFFRAGETTE even when it makes no sense for the character. Every person is also for racial equality, etc etc. Not saying you can’t do that, but the character has to have REASONS for this. (In Lisa Kleypas’ defense, she at least provides that, though at the expense of making her characters a collection of oddities. And even though some of her opinions — mostly the pacifism. It’s a beautiful dream. It just doesn’t work — rankle me, at least she makes them organic to the character.) Most writers just tend to assume that of course, this is the right idea, so, of course, the characters would see this too. As though every character came equipped with a little crystal ball or there WEREN’T legitimate, sane reasons on the other side. In fact, they seem to view history as a weird battle between the good and smart guys and cartoon villains — even though EVERYONE knows which side is right all along. I guess this explains why they can’t argue and just seek to shut the other side down. They think the other side is all cartoon villains. Heaven help us. Colleges have a lot to answer for.

      1. There AREN’T legitimate, sane reasons on the other side. The purpose of a modern education is to teach you that. Used to be an education was to broaden your thinking and expand your perspectives but that caused problems …

        It is a family adage that you don’t pass exams by giving the right answer, you pass by giving the expected answer.

        Similarly, it is worth keeping in mind that an expert is merely a person who has mastered the conventional wisdom, and is thus invested therein.

        1. It is a family adage that you don’t pass exams by giving the right answer, you pass by giving the expected answer.

          And if asked to show your work, it should be the expected work.

          1. I remember from grade school, oh so long ago, reading of the young math prodigy (forget the name) whose teacher thought to buy some quiet time by assigning pointless busy work to the little bra … tykes: add all the numbers from 1 to 100.

            Our prodigy spoiled this plan by producing the solution in a matter of moments. He had recognized that 1 + 100 = 101, 2 + 99 = 101, and so on. Decidedly NOT the expected work.

      2. What you’re hitting on here about ‘every character is a suffragette’ hit me while reading Ayaan Hirsi Ali”s autobiography Infidel and Nomad where she describes actual life in an actual country with actual arranged marriages. I’ve read enough fantasy / sci fi books that had the poor oppressed woman character as victim of patriarchy. In the real world, the people who most tried to coerce Ayaan into an arranged marriage, to the point of violence, was her mother and grandmother. Her father was fairly ambivalent about the whole thing. Ayaan was one of the few who did not want to go along with the arranged marriage and the attitude by almost all the women around her was that she was being silly, childish, petulant and selfish. Talk about your culture shock. I did not want to accept that but it makes sense. If you come from a culture with arranged marriages, its the norm and you wanting to marry for love instead of practical reasons are the weirdo. I’ve never read a single fictional story that even came close to approximating Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s real life experience with arranged marriage. I’ve noticed the same thing in regards to atheist characters in fiction, even fantasy where the gods are provably demonstrably real and show up in the story to do stuff. How does that make any sense? “How do you know the Gods are real?” “Because they’re standing right over there hurling lightning bolts at the unbelievers.” “Oh… so they are. Carry on then!”

        1. I’ve had lots and lots of friends from India. Arranged marriages are still common. It’s not just men who like them. It’s not just Mom and Grandma who likes them. A common theme of Bollywood movies is the arranged marriage in which both parties struggle against it, then fall in lovely and live blissfully ever after even if they can’t actually kiss on screen.

          One of the things the “multiculturists” get almost right is that sometimes a culture isn’t wrong, just different. Where they go wrong is that sometimes a culture has points that are both different and wrong.

          1. Mom & Grandma had arranged marriages and therefore have vested interest in not rejecting that cultural meme.

      3. I share your pet peeve about characters in historic novels who have late 20th-early 21st century sensibilities. Currently the “won’t read again” list is longer than the “must read” list for that reason.

        The mindset you write of occasionally infiltrated my world of law and business. In my experience it was close to axiomatic the more a co-worker or subordinate gave themselves intellectual kudos for class consciousness the more substandard their job performance. True self awareness seemed rare among this type as their self assessments tended towards above averages across the board. Getting fired couldn’t even dent one subordinate’s general state of incognizance, Since she’d been taught the system was against her from the start it wasn’t her fault my year of special mentoring had yielded no meaningful improvements in her technical proficiency.

    2. Would someone please explain to me what feminist studies has to do with english lit?

      1. Believe it or not there were actually women writers prior to 1900 (shocker, I know). So our English Department (since fem studies was a teeny, tiny department and shared most of the female professors in the English department) would cross list classes dealing with primarily women writers (such as Victorian Realism, Contemporary Jewish Literature, and various others) as feminists studies. As a result, a huge chunk of English majors minored or double majored in Feminist studies.

          1. It wasn’t patronizing. It made sense. The curriculum focused on women writers and how they fit within the larger literary movements of the time as well as the ways that society viewed them. Because they did this, I have a way better understanding of women’s role in literature and society. It’s helped shape me as a female writer, especially one who likes to stray into the historical romance genre.

            1. It wasn’t patronizing. It made sense.

              Thus we see demonstrated the instilled false consciousness of the indoctrinated. /MARXSPEAK

              In which I demonstrate one of the tools of oppression and argument slaughter.

      2. Well, they’re certainly not going to put it in the *Math* Department, are they? /runs, giggling madly

        1. Oh believe you me, they’re putting it in the Math departments, too. Statistics show whatever we damn well want them to show.

  3. Hi Hoyt,
    I really enjoyed this blog post. I have been against Marxism for my entire life, but you made the most cogent argument that I have heard in a really long time.

    I did get an English Literature degree when I was 38 years old. At the time I had to keep my head down when I heard ridiculous arguments about “oppressive” males. However, the younger students ate up the arguments and didn’t realize they were being fed Marxism. Many of these same students didn’t know or hadn’t read any Marxist literature.

    So thank you again.


  4. We are ALL the product of our education, and if you think that unlike your grandmother you had an education that prepared you to think without bias, it just means you haven’t seen through the bias.

    Yes. This is also my rule on news sources: if you think news source A is unbiased and news source B is biased, you aren’t very good at spotting your own biases.

  5. Yes. And, referring back to the human wave…

    It has become ever clearer to me here recently that appalling numbers of my countrymen have no notion that the particular exceptional fact about the American Experiment is that it, for the first time, elevated to a sine qua non of politics and society the sovereignty of the individual.

    It occurs to me that a lot of the Marxist group-grievance politics — to the extent it’s not just bad-faith rabblerousing — for all its manifold fallacy is still a reaction to and an attempt to appropriate that fact: that what we in modern times have yet to learn is to throw off our old tribal ways and learn to deal with one another AS INDIVIDUALS.

    It promises to be a hard slog. And we’ve gotten so much of it wrong thus far. But it is capital “T” TRVTH on a pedestal that we must. Collectivism just isn’t on.

    I suspect any writer learns things about his writing after it’s conceived and while it’s in development. Things that perhaps weren’t intended from the start. I started out with so many female characters because i wanted to bend or break traditional sex-defined roles, and because I wanted to explore why a fearless four-year-old, ready to challenge the world, turns into such a mouse by the time she hits puberty. But now, I’m also learning that I should be looking at how we learn to treat each other better and more sensibly as individuals, and not as collections of stereotypes.


    1. I often think through my writing. Weirdly the fiction writing. Like… A Few Good Men, I had NO idea where it would be going… OR why the characters were who they were. Turned out it’s what makes the book work.

      Speaking of which, I’ll need blogs willing to host a blog tour sometime late summer and again around a year from now, to launch the books. No blog too large, no blog too small. I’ll post this again, later, but if anyone wants to start ruminating about it…

      1. Oh dear. Does this mean that potential wannabes (not that I know *anyone* who would fit that description, mind) should probably think about starting some sort of blog?

    2. I have long ruminated on the idea that Communism is not, actually, anything new. It derives from the premise that there are some people, previously known as Nobility but now known as Experts, who by nature are better situated and better trained to understand the complexities of our modern society and organize affairs to the general benefit of all (with, typically, a little raked off the top to compensate for their sacrifice.)

      At essence, it is the old enticement: if you just put on this collar and leash (or bridle and bit) I will provide for you, I will feed you and care for you and cosset you. Oh, by the way, just for everybody’s comfort (you want to fit in, don’t you? Can’t be making the others uncomfortable, can we?) we need to cut off these but really, you’ll never miss ’em and have no need for ’em now that you’re one of us.

      1. Yes. Back to Heinlein: the two real parties of government are the people who want to be Ruled and the people who Want To Be Left Alone. Most of these movements can be understood as “but *my* gang should rule.” Communists think the Proletariat (meaning the intellectuals who inform the Proletariat) should rule. Syndicalists think unions should rule, and coincidentally are usually trade-unionists. Often, pols will proclaim their membership in the Leave Us Alone party, but (like Santorum IMAO) want to leave you alone as long as you stay in narrow boundaries.

  6. Excellent post. And I note that we owe its existence to many hours in a waiting room. From this I deduce that society would be much improved by increasing hours spent in waiting rooms. Fortunately, we have a government which will move us in that direction.

      1. It is an essential tool for keeping the populace in line. And it is a given that some people’s time is “too important” to waste in queue, a petty privilege for tyrants to bestow upon the favoured.

  7. It’s just the best one we’ve come up with so far.

    This cued my Winston Churchill meter:

    The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter,’ and, ‘It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.’

    and as I continued Alexis De Tocqueville sadly whispered in my ear:

    A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.

    I believe that there is a problem with voters who are not invested in the country, but are looking for the country to care for them. There are also lessons to be learned from The Terror about the wisdom, or lack thereof, of the masses.

  8. Agree completely. If I were suddenly transported back to the time of the French Revolution, I’d push for a constitutional monarchy, even though I am devoutly anti-monarchy. And that’s me, today. You do what’s right for the time, and what will work, and progress, real progress, moves pretty slowly. Very few successful revolutions happen out of nowhere – mostly, people were ready for the changes long before.

    (And yes, I’m uncomfortable with universal suffrage as well – though we do have some bare minimums. If you’re too dumb or irresponsible to register to vote, and can’t be bothered to get to a physical polling place (assuming you are physically able to do so), you shouldn’t be voting. I’d like to see, in addition, if you’re too dumb/lazy/irresponsible/illegal to obtain free id, then you shouldn’t be voting, either. Very minor barriers, but I’m glad they’re there.)

    And I’ll stand with you – these days, I think guys do have it harder than women, if only because women have so many more choices and are allowed a much wider range of acceptable behavior. I’m for the kinetic aural style of teaching for everyone, myself, since I learn better that way and so does my dyslexic sister.
    I have a horrible knee-jerk reaction against being classified as part of any group, because I don’t fit in any of them. I am reminded of an African American buddy of mine who was going through therapy, shaking her head because the therapist couldn’t understand why my friend wasn’t interested in the “Black Woman’s Experience.” My friend just rolled her eyes and said, “I’m not interested in being Black and in the world, I’m interested in being ME and in the world.”

    1. “If you […] can’t be bothered to get to a physical polling place (assuming you are physically able to do so), you shouldn’t be voting. ”

      I live in Oregon — all voting is handled by Mail.

    2. The second quote isn’t from De Tocqueville. It’s more commonly claimed to be from Alexander Tytler, but it’s apocryphal in both cases.
      The quote itself does not seem to predate 1950, and we don’t know who actually first said it.

      OK, turning pedant mode off now.

      1. And, of course, I click on the wrong “reply” button when obsessing over minutia.

      2. Thank you.

        On the way to checking this out I found the following at Wikki: the earliest known occurrence is as an unsourced attribution to Tytler in “This is the Hard Core of Freedom” by Elmer T. Peterson in The Daily Oklahoman (9 December 1951) I did find one which sourced it to Alexander Tyler’s writing on the fall of Athenian Republic – but gave no further reference.

        And my there are quite a number of those ‘we know’s that are not so out there… ( I had long since learned that anything attributed to Franklin, Jefferson, Lincoln, Twain or Churchill had to be checked and cross checked.) How human. Again, thank you.

  9. Have you been talking to my Beloved Spouse? You’ve tapped so many sore points of things I’ve been fulminating about for longer than I care to tote up that you must have an inside source. Thus I am likely to be even more than normally verbose. My apologies.

    First, it is necessary to recognise that the Left (and, frankly, many on the Right) have no interest in winning an argument or even persuading you of their viewpoint. Too much work and, given the incoherence of many of their positions and the deeply packed nature of their stupidity, often personally unsettling and doomed. As you observed, slogans are an effort to short-circuit argument and thought. As are cries of racist sexist homophobe.

    These are trump cards: the purpose of their deployment is to silence opposition and discourage bystanders from even thinking others might have a point (pause for a moment of praise for Godwin whose Law on internet debate forever foreclosed argumentum ad hitlerum.) In earlier times these trump arguments were words like commie, pinko (often as a sort of mantra: “dirty-long-hair-commie-hippie-pinko-faggot”), heretic, infidel (well, okay – that one is still in play) and unclean. In personal relationships these appear as “Mom always liked you best” and “If you really loved me you would …” The purpose is to bring heat, not enlightenment.

    I could expound but it is more entertaining for others (not for me; I am capable of entertaining myself — Ambrose Bierce would define that as boring others — by expounding for hours on end) to simply provide this link to the wonderful Andrew Klavan video, Shut Up [ ]

    1. Oops – I left out some of the earliest and cruelest of the trump cards, taught virtually in cradle: Fair and Nice. Play Fair! Be Nice! And of course, the ever present: Be Reasonable.

      Make up your mind to have
      No regrets
      Recline yourself, resign yourself, you’re through

      You’re no exception to the rule
      I’m irresistible you fool .. give in
      Give in

      1. OK… Sung by the devil’s best temptress, Lola, assigned, by, ummmMr. Applegate, to take down Joe, who has reaped a major benefit, but not yet fallen a the trap and therefore has yet to loose his soul. (Mr. Applegate will never again agree to an escape clause again.)

  10. On further thought:

    As previously mentioned my father, the Constitutional lawyer and litigator gave me my first lessons in the art of verbal engagement. (The Spouse says I should mention he is a born and breed Philadelphian where he trained and flourished in the practice, a true Philadelphia lawyer. The Spouse keeps insisting on that last phrase. Could he mean something by it?) He also taught me how to think for myself, much to his own chagrin.

    It was no small surprise to have this man who I generally admire, on discovering that we disagreed on a ‘woman’s’ issue, tell me that my opinion on the subject did not count as I was neither a Constitutional lawyer or a doctor He also tried to dismiss the position as following the line of a particular authority. (Which is silly, as he knows full well that I never believed anyone of authority, including him, just because they had told me something. That was one of the very first things he had taught me.) Apparently he had assumed that because I had been raised in an ‘enlightened household’ I would hold ‘enlightened opinions.’ Even the skilled and talented can be resort to non-arguments at times.

  11. I believe it was John Lott who did the analysis demonstrating that as woman’s suffrage spread so too spread government spending. Naturally this was quickly suppressed as radical sexist chauvinist lies.

    Rebutting an propositon is sooo much harder than denouncing it. Riskier, too.

  12. “This reminds me of all the Victorian women who were against female suffrage.”

    The Victorian men and women against female suffrage were primarily Democrats. I do not know why they try to compare you to a close-minded Democrat.

    1. To take the most excellent essay above, one step further, let us posit that the women opposed to suffrage COULD see into the future and see us.

      Would that make them want the outcome?

      These were largely Christian, God-fearing women who did not look kindly on infidelity, contraception or abortion. If they had seen the future, there’s every reason to think they would have condemned the last forty years as the worst kind of sexual anarchy.

      In short, some people oppose an idea not because they don’t see all the outcomes, but precisely because they DO see the same outcomes we do, and they DON’T want those outcomes.

      They had different values.
      Someone who believes the Marxist “greatest good for the greatest number” is simply not going to agree with someone who believes the Christian “we are meant to imitate the divine nature” or even the pagan Greek “each person must individually build up the virtues.”

      All three see the same outcome, but each values that outcome differently according to what they see as critical to the nature of the good and the man .

      1. … there’s every reason to think they would have condemned the last forty years as the worst kind of sexual anarchy.

        Where some of us think it’s only been the moderately acceptable form of sexual anarchy.

        More seriously, to a first approximation, sexually the major difference between the Victorians and us now was publicity, not practices.

  13. Thank you so much. I hate hate hate the patronizing sneer: “They’ve been brainwashed to vote against their interests.” I feel it acutely because I’m a racial minority whose politics do not align with social expectations. It’s astounding to me just how racist are the self-proclaimed non-racists when their foreheads wrinkle, “But, but, how can you believe that when you’re ____.” Thanks, thanks for reducing me to a skin color.

    1. Yes. I feel for you, given olive skin and an accent, oh, also being female and in the arts and yet fitting no stereotypical strain of thought. When I first hit the net I started reading every other outlier and I now have a large circle of friends as heretical as I am. Makes it easier.

    2. This reflects the idea that you can only be AUTHENTIC if you conform to their stereotype, and that you are illegitimate if you insist on being recognized as an Individual. It is completely dehumanizing and it’s no wonder you hate it. Denying the legitimacy of your opinions is denial of the essence of who you are.

  14. At some point in history we all will become the barbarian. Those who follow us will wonder how we could do or think the way we did and will condemn us just the same way as we try to condemn those who came before us.

    1. …the same way as we try to condemn those who came before us…


      That would be treating those people who came before us as a class group. At any given point in time there are people who have represented the best, the worst or the mundane. Example: the only thing that ALL Victorians have in common is that they were living during a period named for a particular British monarch. Best practice is, if we must judge them, to judge each person within the context of their time, their expressed ideas and their actions.

  15. Sarah, sadly the more people vote the quicker it turns into tyranny. Read Polybius on the cycle of republics and tyranny. Read Thucydides on the democratic tyranny after Sicily. In fact, universal suffrage was a key component of communist doctrine. Read Montesqieue in the Spirit of the Laws, that the people had no role other than electing representatives. The greatest check of all for him was on democratic tendencies, which always destroy liberty.

    More recently, Hoppe’s The God that Failed. Not that monarchies are good, I wouldn’t desire that necessarily, but if liberty is to be preserved, “the people” or better still “the will of the people” ought never govern. Or we end up with Jacobins. Rousseau was the father of “democracy”, the group think, the general will, Marx refined it so to speak, to differentiate between the groups: his polylogism.

    But you are correct, groupthink is tyranny. I teach public school where multiculturalism runs rampant. One needn’t reflect on college courses, the indoctrination begins in kindergarten.

    1. It’s a joy to “meet” someone else who has read The God That Failed.
      I happen to think our system is pretty good, IF it does its job. But it needs a thinking citizenship.

      1. Just caught this. Watch out; that’s another Marxoid trap.

        The Perfectibility of Mankind was settled long ago: ain’t gonna happen, be it Transubstantiation or New Soviet Man. The system has to work with the available material, not depend on some state not reachable by known methods.

        The basis of our system is not perfectibility, nor is it “democracy” or “republicanism” — it’s limitation, the recognition that all systems fail eventually, and the less they do the smaller the damage when they crash. Wishful thinking reinforced by Utopianism has distorted that out of all recognition, but when it worked at all that’s how it went.


  16. Good ol’ Instapundit directed me here, and I’ve now bookmarked your site. Very nice and thought-provoking piece.

    Currently I’m writing a book on the first 24 presidents, and you nailed one of my biggest peeves: judging what happened decades or centuries ago by today’s beliefs. This haughty, arrogant stupidity fostered by liberal academia makes today’s skulls full of mush believe that that all the world’s ills from the ancient past to the present would be solved if only everyone who lived before today’s geniuses were as smart as said geniuses.

    This unthinking stupid mentality eliminates the possibility that people who came before them had any brains at all — and also eliminates the possibility that their ideological opponents are anything other than evil creatures who deserve to be destroyed. I ran up against this in college many, many moons ago — and on fact it’s a major reason why my unthinking liberalism was overwhelmed and cast aside by using that increasingly rare tool, critical thinking.

    1. Heh. That attitude has kind of come up with the movie ‘John Carter’, because it has once again also brought up the writer of the novel it’s based on (sort of), Edgar Rice Burroughs.

      So, it looks like every time any wider discussions of Burroughs and his stories happen, discussions including other people than just his fans, sooner or later there will probably be a post about how racist his stories are. And that might also come from people who claim to have read his novels.

      This is a guy who wrote a story about a white hero who happily married a woman with ‘light copper skin’ at a time when marrying outside one’s race was still an actual felony in several states. Not to mention that his ‘Red People’ of Mars were also presented as having a highly advanced civilization compared to whom white Earthlings were still quite barbaric, and described as the most noble and deserving race on Mars while they were the end result of whole scale racial mixing – something which also was kind of frowned upon, wasn’t it, at the time he started writing those stories (first one was first published as a serial 1912)?

      A man who wrote two novels about a mostly white man raised by the Apache, stories which were pretty firmly on the side of the Apaches (in spite of Burroughs himself having served in cavalry during the last years of active Apache resistance).

      And sure he had degenerate black cannibals in his Tarzan stories, but he also had plenty of Africans, individuals and groups, he described as noble, and in his Mars stories the hero once observed that “It is the character that makes the man, not the clay which is its abode”.

      But since he had those black cannibals, and his heroes (apart from a couple of Red Martian ones, but since the Red Martians are an imaginary race they obviously don’t count) were white, and would get menaced by non-white villains (as did the heroines, oh horror), and those are things which would be frowned upon if some modern writer used them, then he must be a racist. Or at least I suppose that is how the thinking goes.

  17. It’s hard to keep a straight face when a womynist accuses a monogamous mother of “vote against her interests” simply because she doesn’t support government subsidy of unlimited non-procreative sex while simultaneously failing to recognize that she has essentially equated the sexualization of women as being their paramount political concern.

    “Women shouldn’t be viewed as just sexual vehicles by men, even if we’re advocating for the government to specifically treat us in that manner.”

  18. Make a note of it: if this is the only type of argument you can marshal – one size fits all and regurgitated from college classes – and if you think it will win the discussion, you’ve already lost.


  19. Today, we don’t often hear the term “false consciousness,” but Rousseau’s poison is lurking in the hindbrains of millions even so. An excellent example of the syndrome can be found in the core argument of Thomas Frank’s What’s The Matter With Kansas?

    The collectivist tactical gambit of today relies on another term: stakeholders. It’s just another divide-to-conquer attempt, of course, but it ties more easily to the sort of special interestthat afflicts us today. And you’ll find it in the language of an appalling number of laws and bills.

    1. Wow, what a deep, well-thought out comment. No, I have it. It’s a perfect example one of the variations of what Sarah closed her post with: if this is the only type of argument you can marshal – one size fits all and regurgitated from college classes – and if you think it will win the discussion, you’ve already lost.

      And, of course, let’s not overlook the humor of the commenter using their own initials to make their point. Maybe Porter Manfred Sisquiliquat believes he distorts every rational thought. Who knows.

      1. No, no, Amanda, you have it all wrong.

        Porter Manfred Sisquiliquat is obviously an example of Internet flatulence. We should pity whoever’s keyboard encountered this obnoxious gassy emission.

        1. I always love when women respond with hysterical overreaction to… sarcasm that women are hysterical overreacters.

          1. Oh, tut. What makes you think I’m hysterical? I just happened to read a hysterical post about the psychology of flatulence, and the analogy between trolling and flatulence was too obvious to miss.

                1. Pam, I guess I don’t find any permutation of “What’s your problem? You on the rag?” directed at a female in *public* funny. If it were very close, female friends, making a jab in private, *maybe*. This? Not hardly.

          2. everlastingphelps, if you followed this blog, you’d know there is one thing Sarah — and Kate — is not and that’s hysterical. As for reacting that way to sarcasm, sorry, but PMS’s comment was the same basic insulting, sexist comment I’ve seen all my adult life–and not just from men. Heck, I can take it from men. It’s part of the “game”. It’s hearing it used as an excuse by women that bothers me. Throw in the fact that there was NO context for PMS’s comment–nor yours below–and you can’t come back and complain because no one “got the joke”.

          3. Thou knowest not the Winch Wench. Your “hysterical over reaction” is her tempered, modulated response 😉

      2. Oh, come now, Amanda. It’s self-referential at least three deep on casual inspection. Don’t get as hair-trigger as the pseudo-Marxists.

        Spend a moment on the etymology of that “handle”. Then contemplate Amity Shlaes, who normally gives books long titles and even longer subtitles; current effort: Coolidge

          1. Actually, Coolidge is one of my favorite presidents 🙂 Really. The guy was fantastic, but didn’t spend a lot of time blowing his own horn.

      3. I thought the quasi-Latin referring to ‘this liquid here’ was …. odd. Looking at a self-induced ejaculate from an incontinent member and mistaking it for wit?

    2. Sputter, sputter, cough. Ah, yeah. Now where is that towel? Warn me. Coffee is better in tummy than on computer.

  20. You either get that 2 + 1 = 4, or you are deficient, morally or mentally. Clearly you see that right?

    1. In other words, Simple Liberal, you have no argument to make so you resort to barely-disguised name-calling.

      Clearly you see that, right?

          1. One should not presume, sir. I happen to find a clear implication that one should accept an Orwellian regime of thought control where 2+1 is what those in authority say it is or one is “deficient, mentally or morally” to be a poor response to the topic at hand.

            Do come back when you have something substantive to say.

              1. Oh twaddle. The Star Trek sequence is an oblique reference to Orwell anyway.

                Now, I did ask for “substantive”. Where is your evidence that Simple Liberal is not claiming that absence of mind-control (whether by Borg or other means) equates to mental and moral deficiency?

                1. Non sequitur. I come here to be entertained. You are not entertaining, therefore I am done with you.

                  I miss the days when I could plonk people.

                  1. Well, you are behaving like a right plonker, so I guess that’s appropriate.

                    As for coming here to be entertained, if making yourself look like Mrs Palm is your best friend is your idea of entertainment, you succeeded admirably. If not, well, maybe this isn’t the place for you.

                    I read here all the time and comment semi-regularly, and I’m sure you wouldn’t want your entertainment spoiled.

                    If you do have something relevant to say, I’m willing to discuss.

      1. Kate, the trolls, er, “more enlightened members of society” have spoken. Who are we to ask they do something like actually discuss the topic.

        Oh, and in case any of these folks need a clue, THAT was sarcasm.

  21. Gosh, I wish I had read what prompted this post!! First time I’ve read your blog and found it interesting regarding your background – did I misunderstand you came from a country with Marxist leanings? Ahhh, young people who’ve not lived under those circumstances, or who have never known someone who has lived under those circumstances will typically swallow the progressive b.s. My only other comment, and sorry — I’m going to find “the rules” myself, but the phrase “an universal good….” stood out to me … I had to go over the rule of using “an” in front of a word starting with a vowel. Somehow saying “an universal ….” just doesn’t sound right…. I think it should be “a universal…..” and might have something to do with the “n” following the “u” in universal. I know … silly dumb thing, but I like to write too and I get really focused in on stuff like that. Off I go to google! Loved your “rant”!!

    1. Dede – Sarah grew up in Portugal. She is tremendously fluent in English (obviously) but her “accent” tends to come out when she’s writing on the fly, as in a blog. It’s the conservation of ‘n’s. A and An can be interchangeable on first draft, but are cleaned up on second pass 🙂 However, since this blog is not earning her money, a second pass would cut into her fiction writing, which *none* of us wants to happen!

  22. There is a conservative equivalent to Marxist thinking: the dismissal of anyone who doesn’t agree with you as “sheeple.” In the wake of 9/11 I adopted the useful rule that when I run across that word used seriously in an article or posting, I stop and go on to something else. Liberals of the Occupy Wall Street persuasion sometimes use “sheeple,” too. Conspiracy thinking and Marxist thinking are basically the same thing: the idea that other people don’t know what’s best for them.

    I reluctantly point out that there’s a deep-rooted strain of that same mentality in science fiction, running from H.G. Wells to A.E. Van Vogt to Cyril Kornbluth to (sadly) Robert Heinlein himself. It’s the recognition that people are idiots (which is true) coupled with the delusion that there exists some subset of people who aren’t idiots and therefore deserve power over the idiots.

    All of us are idiots. Some are not-idiots about one or two particular subjects, but even that is usually just temporary. The difficult thing is to recognize that humans are idiots but love them for it anyway.

    1. Sorry, it goes deeper than that.

      For most of human history, most human beings have agreed with Aristotle: Some men are born to rule, others born to be ruled.
      Some men are naturally born slaves.

      Only Christianity ever taught that all men are created equal.
      Only Christianity teaches that all men are born idiots (original sin).
      As long as Christianity rules, we can simultaneously recognize that all people are equal and all are idiots.

      But, when you toss out Christianity, then you must conclude (or at least, no one has ever concluded other than) some men are born to rule, others born to be ruled.

      That’s where all the SF writers, and all the eugenicists got the idea for eugenics… some men are born to rule, others to be ruled. Observation of nature, refusal to accept anything but nature, ineluctably leads to the survival of the fittest conclusion.

      Only the supposition that we are made in the image and likeness of God, only an acceptance of something beyond nature, supernatural, can lead to the completely contrary idea that all men are created equal.

      1. Only Christianity ever taught that all men are created equal.

        Steve, I’m sorry, that’s nonsense. That idea shows up in most every culture, just as the idea that there are natural rulers (“the Divine Right of Kings” anyone?) shows up in Christianity.

        1. “Divine Right of Kings” was James I & VI (I of England, VI of Scotland). It was not inherently *of* Christianity. The idea that all are equal in Christ is at the heart of the Good News: Galatians 3:28 (using the translation commissioned by the aforementioned King) “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

          You can say all you want that this was all through history. I submit it was *not* – this was a new thing let loose upon the face of the planet.

          1. And not to just concentrate on Buddhism, it’s also stated clearly in Taoism, also ca 500 years BCE, and is supported in the Koran.

            Not that any of those kept people from finding a reason to have Rulers in any of the cultures influenced by those religions.

        2. That just shows your weakness in Christian theology.

          Romans 13 says unequivocally that Christians should obey rulers, and that rulers naturally oppress; and it at least implies (states, in some translations) that God wants it that way.

          It does NOT say the rulers go to Heaven for oppressing! That reading is the province of people who wanted to rule, and were looking for excuses in Scripture. The rest of it clearly states that the rules are the same for everybody, King to slave, and that while we aren’t empowered to judge, reasonable inferences can be drawn from behavior. Someone who doesn’t act like a Christian probably isn’t, and needs to be taught.

          There is no Divine Right of Kings, unless your picture of God is that of an über-mob boss: “That Vinnie, he’d kill his mother if I told him to, he’ll go far in this organization.” What there is, is a Divine Sneer at Kings, who tend to be assholes; Christians are warned of that, but should ignore it and concentrate on getting to Heaven themselves, and teaching others how to do so.


          1. Well, you have to consider that, at the time, the chances of a *ruler* being a Follower of The Way / Christian were pretty remote. There are things that are said to make sure folks keep a low profile and not court persecution needlessly, and things said about how they should treat one another. Please, don’t tell me I’m “deficient in Christian theology” – I assure you, I am not.

          2. Also, please note, I was *not* saying “Divine Right of Kings” was Christian. I was saying it was put forth by James I & VI (and was a direct reason that a certain congregation left England for Leyden, and then, nine years later, half of them made it across the Atlantic in a leaky little boat designed only for coastal waters.)

            1. My reply was to chasrmartin, not to you — the interleaving of the posts was an accident of timing. Sneering “WWJD” posts by people who are utterly ignorant of what they’re talking about is one of my hot buttons, and chas’s post hit the edge of it closely enough to actuate the mechanism.

              1. Then you’re being a fool, Ric. First of all, there’s 2000 years of Christianity, not just the Bible, to consider, and there’s no lack of “Divine Right of Kings” there — and you may want to claim that’s not “real” Christianity, but they sure as hell thought it was. And frankly, the Pope sure thought it was during the French Revolution. You might similarly claim that Transubstantiation vs Consubstantiation, or Trinitarianism vs Unitarianism, aren’t part of Christianity — but if so, what you’d be showing is that you consider only those things to be part of Christianity that fits what you want to be part of Christianity.

                Second, you’d be simply factually incorrect, since the original claim was that Christianity alone had the idea of everyone being equal. We Buddhists wouldn’t have said it “created equal” since there’s no notion of a Creator, but in a world where caste and sex were destiny, the Sangha accepted anyone from any background.

                1. Well, of course I’m not the one who made that claim, and I wouldn’t have.

                  The deeper point remains: People are manifestly not equal, but egalitarian social policies return significant benefits; it is therefore useful to find some basis for the theory of equality. One reasonably efficient way to do that is to cast the matter into the realm of the supernatural: all amoebas are equal in the sight of a human being; all men are equal in the sight of God. That doesn’t say it’s the only way to do it, but it’s a way that has worked in the past.


                  1. One aspect of this is to keep in mind that He is primarily interested in the immaterial part of our being, so the trappings of this world may not much matter. Just because you think Teacher is calling on you because you’re clever doesn’t mean Teacher isn’t calling on you because you’re squirming.

                2. Oh, and as Supreme Prelate and Pontifex Maximus of the sect consisting of Me, Myself, and I, I do in fact have the ability to declare Anathema against whomever I please, and I do so regularly. It’s a dirty job…


            1. True, but that’s not enough for some people.

              After all, God made tigers, and is presumably pleased by His innovation. Tigers eat people. Does that mean God wants people to be eaten by tigers? (Such questions are, in the long run, best left unaddressed. They tend to cause cleavages in the Faith, sometimes with heavy, sharp instruments.)


                1. Well, one could argue that “God wants people to be smart enough not to be eaten by tigers and the ability of tigers is an incentive to that end.”

                  But that just brings up the question of why not make people smart enough in the first place.

                  1. Alternatively, He likes his people to keep in shape and views the casual risk of a few of them serving as Tiger Suppers merely acceptable collateral damage (he still harvest the souls, right?) to an effective incentive plan?

          3. Or better, Romans 13 tells us to obey the law and wait for God to replace human government rather than rebelling and reaping unforeseen consequences similar to what happened after French and Bolshevik revolutions. Paul was just expanding on Jesus’ telling us to go the extra mile.

        3. (“the Divine Right of Kings” anyone?)

          I have a problem conflating Christianity with those who have used it. Christianity has been used to justify slavery, and it has served as the impetus behind fighting slavery. (Likewise, democracy.) I have every reason to believe that Buddhism has also been used as an excuse to tolerate in society what we now find intolerable. It has long been the human habit to take advantage of what we can and use it for our own purposes.

          1. Here’s the problem. Why does _your_ view of Christianity take precedence over _their_ view of Christianity. A pretty strong argument can be made that Kings are, or at least can be, chosen by God. Saul was anointed as King. So was David. So was Solomon. There was at least one “drive by” anointing where the then prophet basically ran in, poured the oil, and ran out again designating who would be the next king. “But that’s Old Testament” one might say. But then Jesus also said “I come not to overthrow the law but to fulfill the law” (possible slight paraphrase since I’m going on memory on that one).

            Also, there’s the parable of the talents. Very explicitly there some people are “given” more than others.

            Arguments can be made both ways and certainty that ones own views are the “one true way” are unjustified, IMO. It may be your way and you are more than welcome to it, but do try to recognize that other people quite legitimately might come to different conclusions for their way.

            If some form of deity actually exists it will be up to He, She, It, or They to resolve the issue in the end. All we can do is make our best guesses, recognize that other people are doing the same even when their “best guesses” aren’t the same as ours, and hope (‘have faith’) that it will all work out in the end.

            1. Here’s the problem. Why does _your_ view of Christianity take precedence over _their_ view of Christianity.

              If you will reread my post, I gave an example where people have used Christianity for opposite purposes. I noted that democracy has been equally used. I observed that people who wish to use power will gravitate to whatever they think will work to excuse their behavior. I do not believe that I advocated for a particular view.

              In I Samuel 7, Samuel warned the people that they shouldn’t turn their back on God and give up their freedom to have a king like those who lived around them. Samuel told the people that a king would demand the choicest things for themselves, conscript their sons into the military, press the people into his service, levy increasing taxes and other onerous things. The people insisted they wanted one anyway. And so they were given Saul, who didn’t do them much good in the end.

              (With a twinkle in eye) What does it matter if you paraphrased Jesus’ statement in English? Any English is a translation.

              1. “Samuel warned the people that they shouldn’t turn their back on God and give up their freedom to have a king…” But when they did choose to have a King, God, through his prophets _chose_ that King for them. So once you _have_ the King, the King rules by divine right.

                “they were given Saul, who didn’t do them much good in the end.” And then they were given David, who, although being an adulterer and murderer was praised repeatedly throughout Kings and Chronicles (usually by being presented as a counterexample to some other king’s evil).

                As I said, arguments can be made both ways and different people can legitimately come to different conclusions about those arguments.

                1. The failings you cite all occurred AFTER their becoming Kings, so perhaps the lesson is that power corrupts, even those chosen according to His criteria as presumably best able to resist that corruption. His choice, perhaps, was not a matter of granting Divine Right but of saying, well, if you’re insisting on a king this guy is the least bad option. Sorta the same criteria many of us use in deciding whom to vote for?

                  Indeed, the later kings of Israel were even more spectacular failures and often chastized by the prophets who presumably represent the true state of the Deity’s opinions on the matter?

            2. Also, there’s the parable of the talents. Very explicitly there some people are “given” more than others.

              People are not born with equal talents (although Marxism requires that people deny this). Michael Jordan, it is said, would tell people that he knew many other young men who were much more gifted then he in basketball. But they never made it into the pros. The difference? They made the choice not to develop their talents, while Jordan worked at it.

              1. Oh, and Witchfinder IS coming. I’m slowly lurching to life. I made the mistake of having a cup of my son’s coffee yesterday (I don’t now. Dementia?) at two pm. It kept me awake the best part of the night. Mind you, I can have after-dinner espresso and sleep. BUT not my son’s coffee… So I’m slowly lurching towards consciousness.

                1. I want to meet your son’s coffee, but not after eight in the evening. (I suspect the daughter would like to know how to prepare it for herself.)

                  Thanks for the heads up on Witchfinder, how did you know I was waiting?

                  1. He’s in pre-med school! In which you need strong coffee so you don’t fall asleep while drinking it and drown in the cup! When the brother-in-law was in his residency, we found a cup with a bar across it to hold his face out of the liquid when he fell asleep 🙂

                    1. The daughter is headed in the same direction, having determined at twelve that she wanted to be a forensic pathologist. She is presently (hopefully) wrapping up pre-med, with a triple major, is hoping to finish with an honors research project and then go to med school. Coffee, therefore, is a major food group…

                    2. I’m a journalist. Coffee is required for proper functioning of any newsroom. It is much like the oil in your car. Without oil your car’s engine will lock up and freeze. Without Coffee the journalist will lock up and freeze — and drooling reporters are just disgusting.

                      IV drips are sometimes required for restart.

                    3. THIS explains my bad three-pot-of-tea-a-day habit. (Coffee is a rare treat because it messes up my stomach.) I interned as a journalist back in pre-history

                    4. Robert is doing double-major and heading into his last year. MCAT’s this summer. He wants to be a neurosurgeon. Decided on this at ten. I envy him the certainty, though of course I decided I’d be a professional writer when I was six. And it only took me mumble mumble mumble years.

                    5. There have been a couple of hiccups on the road. At the end of high school her lead teacher insisted she provide concrete proof of her ability to write at an acceptable level. Then the university failed to offer sufficient sections or seats in required courses to proceed in a timely manner. (Many times she had to choose between two required courses offered concurrently and wait a year to get the other…) But she is getting there. We joke she is getting yet another degree in negotiating bureaucracy.

                    6. YES. This is why Robert has one more year. He couldn’t get physics any other way. I swear the system is nuts. I also here it’s now very difficult to make it in, though he has a perfect 4.0 and his practice MCATS were… well… when they show you the chart and say “Above this you have a 99% chance of being accepted” his results were higher than that. BUT he’s terrified he won’t make it in, because — like me with writing — it’s the only thing he ever wanted to do. At least #2 son has it somewhat easier, having been accepted into a program of his choice and graduate being an “option” not a must have for what he wants to do. I plan to torture him this summer by making him study Greek and Latin with me. We’re both rusty.

            3. It seems to me, taking the religion’s precepts as valid (internal consistency) that only one entity’s view of Christianity takes precedence, and he has gone ahead to prepare the way for [us] in His Father’s house. Did he not say something about many who claim to have acted in his name will be denied?

              As for that, I doubt the interpretations of the faith by ANYbody in this plane of existence will be proven compleate and comprehensive, so those among us who profess Christianity are probably happy that He is reportedly forgiving.

            4. I think you may be misreading the parable of the talents. Each servant was given the same thing: the opportunity to increase what they received. It is not the AMOUNT received that is the point; it is what they DID with their bequest.

      2. Oh, Steve! Well done! *Very* well done, indeed! ::applauds and cheers::

        That was marvelously well said! Thank you!

    2. Cambias,

      You have a good point about the tendency to dismiss those who disagree with you as “sheeple”. As I recall the post about sheep and goats didn’t use that term but discussed the sheep-like tendency of most people to follow the herd – which is part of everyone, everywhere.

      Some are more inclined to go off and find their own path – more goat-like. Others choose to protect, rather like sheepdogs (yes, the metaphor is breaking down), and still others choose to use the herd instinct against people (wolf-like, also known as “self-anointed elites” when they’re not known as “scammers”).

      Fact is, everyone has at least a bit of each of those four modes. Usually the herd instinct dominates – I’ve met very few people who would choose to go solo, even when the alternative is being the designated whipping boy of the group. Discussing this tendency doesn’t automatically assume everyone else is stupid.

    3. Imagine you are at a political rally. On your right is a person holding up a sign reading “Yf U Ken Reed Thyz, Think A Teechur!” On your left is a person screaming “Kill the Pigs” and hurling bags of feces. You are all three idiots: You, for being there; the person on your right for obvious incoherence, the person on your left, for provoking people he clearly believes prone to overreacting. The person on your left, is a dangerous idiot. Sidle to your right, the idiocy of that protestor does not expose you needlessly to harm.

    4. What’s interesting abut Heinlein is not so much that he believed in a Ruling Elite — the “encyclopedic synthesists” or whatever — but that he stopped.

      I think you could make a real good case for SF having had a strain of outright socialism from Wells, through a lot of the Futurians, and on to today. Someone with a more historical inclination and a thesis needing to be written could make a lot of that.

    5. I associate “sheeple” with the Coalition of the Obsessively Obnoxious, ie, Alex Jones “chemtrails” fans, Ron Paul’s more ridiculous followers, Jesse Ventura, et al. This may indicate nothing more than a different definition of “conservative” but I would argue it’s not a very useful definition of “conservative” if so.

  23. Applying logic instead of rote there are several more ways that this silly person had it wrong and was if she was thinking with anything, thinking with her vagina (which as we know shares the genius potential of the penis.) The suffragettes were 1)opposed to the status quo / the establishment because it made little sense, when viewed rationally. You oppose the status quo because it makes little sense, viewed rationally. She is supporting the status quo/establishment, therefore she, rather than you, is in the role of ‘Anti-suffragette Victorian woman’ 2) Logic says that as men and women have, provably, no difference in median intelligence, and intellect is a limiting factor in the progress of just about everything that has improved life of everyone, making sure you get the best from both sexes is obviously in everyone’s interest. 3)Even if you want your self-identified group of vagina owners to ‘get ahead’ other than in the very short term, biasing the system to let them in at a lower level in say publishing or education or employment of any sort… will soon result in the INVERSE of what you set out to do: Let’s say for example, that you’re accepting women to your university to do engineering who tested on gender blind IQ test score 120+, but, because the entry requirement and support systems for males are biased against them the gender blind IQ minimum score needed to get in as a male is 130+, even if you skew the marking and teaching at the end of the day the average male engineer will be more able and brighter than your average female engineer, do better work, achieve more, and make women look less able. Apply this to publishing or employment of any sort, and you end up with the same thing.
    4)What rational women wants their daughter to live in a world where the sex that is — due to the hormone testosterone — bigger, stronger, faster, more prone to physical aggression, is also LESS well-educated, read, earning (as all of these have established relationships with the occurrence of physical aggression?). It’s as if it was necessary for our species survival to keep pit-bull terriers. We know that you make them family pets, with lots of affection and socialisation with other dogs from an early age, they’re mostly harmless, and can be lovely animals. If you lock them up, beat them and abuse them, many of them may be cowed and miserable, but the chances of them snapping – and mauling or killing you are pretty high. Given that you have to keep them, which do you choose to do?

    1. “Let’s say for example, that you’re accepting women to your university to do engineering who tested on gender blind IQ test score 120+, but, because the entry requirement and support systems for males are biased against them the gender blind IQ minimum score needed to get in as a male is 130+, even if you skew the marking and teaching at the end of the day the average male engineer will be more able and brighter than your average female engineer, do better work, achieve more, and make women look less able.”

      Thank you for putting what I have often thought very well indeed.

    2. 2) Logic says that as men and women have, provably, no difference in median intelligence, and intellect is a limiting factor in the progress of just about everything that has improved life of everyone, making sure you get the best from both sexes is obviously in everyone’s interest.

      Yes, yes and yes. Whatever else, unless the intellect is trained and challenged it will be all soft and flabby. The brain may not be a muscle, but in this case it is like one.

      I recall reading one of Georgette Heyer’s books and seeing a lovely illustration of re-enforcing circles of low expectations. Proper young ladies were not educated in certain mental disciplines. (Finance was the case in the particular novel.) Because the young ladies in society demonstrably did not have these skills, many concluded that girls obviously could not learn them. Having thus determined it was not in the nature of girls, they didn’t waste everyone’s time trying to teach them what was unnatural to them. And so they did not learn …

      1. 🙂 An absence of evidence does not prove something is true or false, but to many people that means ‘false’. And you aren’t going to know if you can do something unless you try it. As we know the genetics are damn near identical, the science has been done thoroughly: median intelligence is the same, there is no reason (except possibly hormonal – and by this I mean the levels of testosterone too) except social conditioning why there shouldn’t be as many programmers, physicists, mathematicians of both sexes. Speaking as the father of two boys in those fields – there is no barrier on the inside. They’d love ANYONE who can do this stuff to come and join them. It only becomes exclusive when the ‘space’ is limited. And at the upper end of these fields anyway, it is NOT. Maybe in your typical clerical job men might have a reason to fear women, rather like white laborers in the old South Africa feared black laborers – because they’d do the same job for less money, and there was a small pie of jobs.

        1. I believe far the majority of programers in the early days were women.

          It is impossible for me, surrounded by the individuals that make up my family, to think that higher level thinking is limited to one gender. As I have said in response to a prior blog, I had a falling out with the feminists of my youth when they informed me that we were the first generation that was free to go to medical school. I kept wondering how great aunt Catherine managed it…

        2. Dave Freer: the science has been done thoroughly: median intelligence is the same, there is no reason (except possibly hormonal – and by this I mean the levels of testosterone too) except social conditioning why there shouldn’t be as many programmers, physicists, mathematicians of both sexes.

          Ori: Not exactly. To be a good programmer, physicist, or mathematician you don’t just need an above median intelligence. You need intelligence that is considerably higher than the median. So the standard deviation also matters. If any of it is encoded in the X chromosome we’d expect the standard deviation to be higher with men ( If the male standard deviation is higher, we’ll see more male geniuses (as well as more really stupid</b males, but they're irrelevant).

          From my perspective, the statistics don't really matter. Just let whoever wants it get the education and whoever can do it do the job. That way, you'll get use out of the exceptional people.

          1. AND demand the same standards from them. Even if women are equally capable, a lot of them are getting a “soft pass” right now (What is it? The bigotry of lowered expectations?) And that will make them worse professionals than males who have to answer to a higher standard. I never had an issue competing with males on their ground and by the same or harder standard. (shrug.)

            1. I believe the phrase was: The soft bigotry of lowered expectations.

              But I really shouldn’t be distracting you.

                1. It is on screen, and was preparing to read it, am going back. THANK YOU. (Happy, happy, joy, joy.)

            2. I’d say “Duh! This is obvious”, but unfortunately it is not obvious to a lot of people. We need all the qualified people we can get. But we don’t need people who only pretend to be qualified.

          2. Ori – while there is no doubt that people we’re referring to fit in 10% of the bell curve of intelligence – on the upper end of the bell, the ‘difference’ you’re referring to is in the extreme outliers – only becoming statistically significant in the top 0.5% :-). And as these are probability curves, it means, yes, your genius – the 1:10 000 000 fellow, is probably male, but not inevitably so.

            1. Well, obviously, too few understand logic. It’s been many long years since I played with nor and nand gates and the like, but asserting higher probability of conditions A and X does not preclude the occurrence of B and X … thus the invalidity of arguing B, therefore not X.

  24. “women tend to repeat slogans without examining them”

    Try humans. As a species we are mentally lazy. People talk in cliches constantly, people apply criticisms which anyone with their eyes open should see are inacurate and inappropriate as a way of signaling their individual dislike. One particular manifestation that gets under my skin is the trotting out of children to parrot the current conventional wisdom, and go “oh, look, even a child can see it” as if the child was a moron who didn’t know exactly what the adult wanted them to say. Children generally are the more perceptive than adults. The older we get the more we act on habit and the stupider we become. Some people seem to have decided that once they’ve finished their “education” they can simply shut off whatever faculties of reason they possess and need never bother with it again. To an extent, this is necessary. Constraints of time and energy simply don’t allow for the conscious reasoned processing of everything we have to deal with on a daily basis so we take mental shortcuts. Is it sometimes irritating? Hell, yes. But it’s what we are, and anyone who thinks they’re an exception is delusional.

    Sorry if someones already said as much, but the post itself was borderline TL;DR, I don’t have time to wade through all the comments.

    1. DDW,

      In context, the post indicated that women are generally more likely to use the mental shortcuts and repeat the slogans without examining them. This is observable fact.

      The why of it is rather more complex and involves multiple biological and social triggers. Suffice to say that any kind of outlier is more likely to be male than female, and the most vicious enforcer of the designated conformity is more likely to be female.

      1. Kate, any further reading you can point me at? Overview level, preferably, I’m curious, but unlikely to spend a substantial amount of time on it.

      2. Part of this effect is a result of two factors: schools are geared more toward girls (in spite of Losing Ophelia tripe) and girls are, in general, more biddable than boys, Greater susceptibility to peer group pressure and higher desire for teacher approval lead girls to absorb lessons (most of which are, essentially, slogans) more readily.

        Girls are also, for the reasons cited above, less likely to challenge teachers’ assertions (although my daughter, in 2nd grade, got on teacher’s wrong side by disputing the teacher’s assertion that snakes are invertebrates … come to think of it, the Deranged Daughter was probably the one employing the word invertebrate.)

        Very little of modern pedagogy attempts to develop higher order critical examination of ideas and concepts. Regurgitation on demand (tests) is more in line with the goals.

        One other factor regarding education, unrelated to m/f issues is that over a 50-year period it seems likely that about half of what we “knew” at the beginning of the period is proven wrong, and about half of the remainder will be found incomplete. Fifty years ago the schools still taught the planetary model of the atom, for instance. Apportionate is my very inscientific rule of thumb and is completely absent evidential support. (translation: I pulled the numbers out of my ***.)

    2. To an extent, education is a process of learning to ignore things. Ever read Mimsy Were The Borogroves?

      1. RES, Other than the obvious Lewis Carroll reference I am not familiar with it. The wikipedia summary sounds interesting though, I’ll try and track it down.

        1. Apparently Henry Kuttner’s efforts are harder to find than when I was young. Amazon offers a Best of, I recommend buying the HB, used if you’re so inclined. One of the grand masters of Golden Age SF, I am startled to find none of his works offered at NESFA’s site: but there’s lots of good reading there anyway.

    3. Oooh! Lookie! A drive-by troll! ::waves:: How very … snobbish of you. Including the fact that you obviously haven’t bothered to read the *post*, let alone the comments. What liberal hit-squad dispatched you? You’re not earning whatever they pay you, trust me.

      1. I’d say your comment doesn’t really make any sense, but then you clearly didn’t comprehend mine, so perhaps in your mind it does. Whatever.

        1. You’ve been perfectly polite as far as I can see. Basically saying, “You treated this particular statement as a fact — can you back that up?” and were polite when a link to evidence was provided.

          A few days ago there was a leakage of trolls from somewhere, so some of the folks here are kind of itchy about the trigger finger. Especially as several people have tried sarcastic one-liners in the comment thread above us, apparently not realizing that since sarcasm is conveyed primarily through tone of voice, it would make them look like jerks. Then they get all snippy about it when someone points out how rude they are being. Ah, life on the Internet…

          1. Susan, it’s hard to see the way this blog nests, but my comment came *before* the back and forth (you have to check the times on them) but was down *under* the more nested quotes. I’m not responsible for *where* it showed up. Since *this* response was made three hours after mine, some changes in the interactions occurred. But if you want to paint me as being rude, go for it. Trust me, though — if I were being *rude* there would be no question involved. I’m a snarky bitch when someone lets me off my leash 😉

        2. I suspect the comment was intended for everlastingphelps and was attached to your post inadvertently.

          1. Apparently, “you didn’t get the joke” is now trolling. Who knew?

            I know trolls. This is far, far from what a true troll would be doing.

            1. Ayup – for certain types of jokes. As the man said: “When you call me that, smile.”

  25. I’m university educated and have a degree in the social sciences, with a nod to Classics (1975). A former prof, a feminist and stalwart champion of women, taught the “text” in her studies and was roundly dismissed by other women “feminists.” Isn’t this what you’re trying to say? That she taught by the text, i.e. she taught in light of how it was for them then? Why would the “modern” feminists in 1991 take such delight in scorning her in a symposium? (I know, that’s a while ago now). That bothered me when I heard of it and my respect for this woman is such that I think she is a brilliant and independent thinker, and was probably right. What does it mean to teach by the “text” and not “theory”? These opponents referred to theory and that they’d fought “long and hard” to teach by their “theory” and not the “text.” I know I’m really really stoopid, Sarah, but I’ve been looking for an answer for 20 years. I am not a prof and have no contact with this former prof anymore. I heard of it on-line from a paper that was presented about the conference she attended. Also, during this conference, there were women with children (it was a feminist group) and no child care was provided. Makes me think I’m glad I didn’t pursue my dream of higher education (i.e. PhD) and teach in a post-secondary setting. I’m not strong enough to deal with the politics and the vicious infighting that appears to go on.

    That being said, I have nothing but respect for this former prof,, now retired, and I think she was right. I just wish there were a way to tell her that. She subsequently too an early retirement after years of academia, enough said, a sensitive and brave soul who also suffered from bipolar if I’m not mistaken.

  26. One of the things that often gets lost, or is never introduced, in these discussions is that the system we consider morally and ethically Good, the One True Way, has only been around since roughly the mid-19th century, which makes it (by evolutionary standards, either societal or genetic) so new the paint’s still sticky. It’s pretty well confined to Western societies to boot.

    One hundred percent of our predecessor societies had some system for restricting women’s choices, especially their choices of mates. Some of those systems were, by modern standards, cruel to the point of viciousness, some less so; but you cannot point to one single previous society which granted full autonomy to women, and even those that made moves in that direction hedged them ’round with restrictions.

    Why is that?

    Modern theorists point to the other new things — steam engines, electricity, and all the other ground-breaking inventions — and say the answer’s obvious: previous generations were too stupid and/or cruel to come up with the right answer; it is only we moderns that got it right! But can you honestly make that assumption? Or is it possible that earlier peoples were not stupid, were not cruel?

    Of course you can’t, because lurking in those weeds is the unsettling proposition that it has been tried before. The whole point of the “Adam’s rib” myth is that women are made of the same stuff as men, and it’s pretty obvious that women are the intellectual equals (at least) of men. But if anybody thought of female autonomy and implemented it, it’s been lost from the record.

    What if that implies that it doesn’t work, as a long-term strategy for a society? What if it’s been tried before — and the reason we don’t see it in history and/or anthropology is that the societies that tried it died out, leaving no trace, while the ones that went the other way survived long enough to be visible to us moderns? Societal arrangements don’t leave fossils…


    1. Ric,

      When were you planning to write this? Just curious…

      Oh hell. No I’m not. I want to see this story.

    2. Herodotus’ amazons and the matriarchies of the Kinnaur valley in Tibet come to mind.

    3. Of course you can’t, because lurking in those weeds is the unsettling proposition that it has been tried before. The whole point of the “Adam’s rib” myth is that women are made of the same stuff as men, and it’s pretty obvious that women are the intellectual equals (at least) of men. But if anybody thought of female autonomy and implemented it, it’s been lost from the record.

      Oh no. Look at the mo suo — matrilinial and matriarchal, males live with their mother’s families, hunt and fish and otherwise act more or less as portable sperm banks. The Tibetans were often polyandrous, with women holding the property.

      1. Thank you! That was just what I needed. I was trying to invent something similar from scratch, and am pleased to say that I got most of it right.

        The point remains: the females in those societies are not fully free in their mating choices. The fact that the people choosing for them are also female is irrelevant, as is the fact that the males aren’t free at all.

        As somebody pointed out above — sorry I didn’t directly attribute, but I couldn’t find it quickly — if there’s a status quo to be enforced, the most rigid enforcers are likely to be female. That was certainly true in the First Baptist Church of [xxx] in my boyhood, and note that practitioners of FGM even today are more likely to be, or include, women than not.

        1. Ric, I’m not sure what you’re looking for in the fiction, but just from the standpoint of the argument, I’m sort of puzzled: can you suggest any context in any society in which anyone is “fully free” in their mating choices?

          It would seem that to be “fully free” in one’s mating choices would imply, hypothetically, would be able, without hinderance, to arrange a threesome with Megan Fox and Dakota Fanning. Beyond all the issues of them being gorgeous, Dakota being underage, and me being old and tired and funny looking distinguished, there’s going to be an issue, simply of time.

          1. Sorry, you’ve fallen into another Marxoid trap. The current set of leftoids take it for granted that if you can’t afford something you aren’t free to do it — you aren’t free to go to Bali if you can’t afford the plane ticket — and argue from there that everybody ought to have the same resources. (Oversimplification; not relevant to this discussion).

            You are perfectly free to attempt to set up the arrangement (for me it’d be Reba McEntire and Taylor Swift, but we have different tastes), and they are perfectly free to reject the proposal(s). There is no authority you or I could refer to that could require them to go along.

            The difference is simply free to choose and somebody else chooses. Whether or not either of us has the horsepower to enforce our choices doesn’t matter to the principle.

          2. But Megan Fox and Dakota Fanning would have to be able to say no…or it would not be fully free for them.

            There is a reason that it is the pursuit of happiness, with no out come based guarantee. 😉

    4. You might want to wade through Hesiod. I think the concept does get a mention as having not endured for too long – the silver age, when men obeyed their mothers which may refer to a matriarchal society, or memories there of. Could be in could be works and days… Sorry, Ric. Must be ?35 years since I read it. 🙂 The Greeks, to their credit (and they need credit right now) did some interesting social experiments. Timocracy being an interesting one to compare to current political systems. One of my takes on this is that people confuse survival of the fittest with survival of the best. It’s a valid argument that current western society (of which I am supporter, thinking it might be flawed but I’d rather live in it than any of the alternatives!) may not be as fit as some very unpleasant alternatives.

    5. I think you’re right that women were always constrained in some way. My general reaction to that is usually to point out that *undoubtedly* men’s lives were also constrained. I realize that’s not what we’re talking about, but talking about societal constraints on women seems usually to be presented as some great and unassailable truth of oppression that I’ve developed a sort of knee-jerk need to point out that men’s lives sucked *too*.

      (And interestingly, as constraints on women are abandoned, we’re finding the social constraints on men, generally to marry and support offspring and wives, etc., seem to be failing as well.)

      1. Keep in mind that there exists not just formal power but informal power. The Man of the House may decide who gets to marry his daughter, but I bet Momma has a say in who gets interviewed. Getting to sort the resumes may matter more than being the hiring manager.

    6. Love the ‘paint’s still sticky’ description. I have thought of it as a car that hasn’t yet been driven that first thousand miles. You really haven’t been able to take her out and see what she can do yet.

      It is possible that without modern conveniences that we could not survive such an experiment. With modern conveniences it might be ridiculous not to give it a try. (But I did never thought that I was the type who would ‘be happy to keep his dinner warm till he comes wearily home from down town.’)

  27. Herodotus’s amazons were imaginary, a cautionary tale designed to scare people into not doing that. The matriarchies of Kinnaur are tiny and weak, and survive only by geographic isolation. Those are examples, not counterexamples.

    1. And, after looking them up to refresh my memory, the only reason for citing the matriarchies of Kinnaur is a continuation of the pseudo-Marxist “patriarchy” myth. The matriarchs of Kinnaur are extremely strict about who can mate with whom. The enforcers don’t have to be men.

      1. Okay, now I can’t figure what you’re arguing. The mo suo are quite, erm, liberal is how the males get together with females, but yeah, being as they are humans, I bet if Mom — or in their case, great grand mom — doesn’t like the boyfriend he may find himself unwelcome.

        1. Those societies are more the exception than the rule. And there are solid, evolutionary reasons for the restrictions most societies have placed on women.

          Which is not to say that the RIFs aren’t a bunch of misogynistic barbs without whom the world would be a better place, but that’s another blog entirely…

  28. Where is it written that such discussions must come up when I have to get ready for tomorrow?

    You win. Pick your prize from the shelf at the upper left, and be sure to come back next year!


  29. Sadly, for most people afflicted with these type of blinders, you can never convince them that the past was anything other that exactly like today – today’s circumstances, today’s moralities, today’s beliefs, today’s consequences to decisions made. I’ve long felt that this fuels some American’s disdain for their country and their need to continually apologize for it.

  30. I first encountered Marxist thought in High School, where an English teacher led a discussion about altruism. As a good Catholic, I argued that my priorities were first to follow God’s will, second to insure that my immortal soul was destined for Heaven, and only then to behave altruistically towards my fellow humans. I I was the only Catholic in the class, I was the only one educated by nuns from 1st to 8th grade, and I was amazed anyone thought my prioritization was unusual.

    I was the only person to prioritize God, self, then others. Everyone else thought it better to put others before self. I scoffed at their idiocy then and do so still.

    One classmate went off to college and a few years later told me that my presentation was the basis of her conversion to evangelical Christianity. So there.

  31. Once again Glenn Reynolds brings me here and you reveal to me that I am not alone. You are spot on….I have much more in common with my conservative husband than with any liberal feminazi out there. To conclude that “I vote against my interests’ when I don’t support their positions is the ultimate in hubris. To reduce my clarity to my vagina is completely ironic coming from these people. What is almost amusing to me is that they still think and act like it’s 1970 in their racial and gender politics but my son and daughter have no idea what they are talking about. I think more of us should speak out, and speak out vociferously. Thanks for taking up the mantle.

  32. you’re assuming that suffrage is always an universal good. I will grant you our history – which they didn’t have – seems to show it.

    You’re still indoctrinated. Our history shows (A) monotonic increase in suffrage, (B) monotonic increase in government power, and (C) monotonic increase in average wealth, and thus people’s well-being. All of these are more or less true. (Over a period of a few years, there are exceptions, but not over periods of say 20 years or more.)

    The progressive line, which we have all been taught as gospel from grade school onward, is that A causes B and B causes C, although the step through B is often somewhat less emphasized. But although A does cause B, B actually retards C. The free market — what’s left of it — is a powerful thing, and thus far B has not actually made C untrue — not in the USA at least. But B isn’t done yet. C will change before any substantial political change is possible.

  33. *ponder* What if, as mother to a daughter, one sees all the ways that there is still a lot of force on girls to be… well, “girls.” And work in groups, and be biddable — and, while they’re there, to put up with bullying from boys because “boys will be boys.” (I prefer adult men, myself; it’s not like my sire ever actually achieved that status, save biologically… I know what it looks like after it stops being “cute.”)

    It’s funny; in college, despite the minor in Womens’ Studies (or Women’s Studies; I was never quite clear on where the apostrophe went), I was much less sympathetic to a lot of the theories of the time. I’ve had to get older and see stuff in action to start leaning the other ways. And be a mom to a girl who isn’t a follower, and isn’t a leader (yet? oh pray stars there’s a “yet” there), and isn’t an exclusive tomboy and isn’t a girly-girl.

    I don’t really see schools as “girl friendly” — unless, I suppose, someone is a stereotypical “girl.” And that’s… That’s a whole chunk of problem right there.

    1. Beth,
      You’re clearly not in OUR area. One of my sons was threatened with police, on an accusation of kissing a girl, even though it was impossible for him to have done it since he was in line with his Spanish teacher at the time, and she said he hadn’t. But the girl said he had, and her word was absolute. Or it would be disparaging or something. Ditto he was bullied by EIGHTEEN girls. EIGHTEEN. Coordinated. A group. The particular form of bullying? Accuse him of doing things. Except they did things like say they were afraid of him and — I watched this, as I was parked under a tree and they didn’t see me — follow him out of the school calling him names and running up to hit him. AFTER I pulled him out of the school, they egged our house AND broke into our yard and scared our older son who is built like the proverbial brick sh*thouse. Marshall’s crime? He had a speech impediment, wore glasses and was painfully shy. Three years later, in highschool, they tried to pull the same cr*p, only fortunately we’d forwarned the counselor about the issues he’d had. Still — they caused him a lot of trouble and low grades. The response from staff and administrators “girls don’t DO that. Only boys do.” THIS is what gets on my nerves. Yes, a lot of outlier girls DON’T like groups, and don’t like the fluffy stuff other girls like and THOSE are as discriminated against as the boys. In fact they get it from both sides. I’d last -4 seconds in today’s schooling without killing someone. BUT from talking to these idiots they think they’re doing it “for the girls” In fact, they’re making an entire generation miserable, well done them. I’ve said before if my kids were girls, I’d be MORE furious. It’s a horrible thing to do to girls and young women. They treat them as both untouchable AND inferior. No wonder so many are completely nuts by the time they hit adulthood. … ooh. Look. A soapbox. (Climbs down) Actually you could say the current system works only for the worst elements who WORK the system. Like people who accuse you of being Victorian if you step out of line. And boys who have the smarmy feminist front, while treating women like dirt. Yes, you’re right there are problems, but for HEAVEN’S SAKE don’t give any more power to people who get their money/power/jollies from continuing to scream victimhood and coming up with ever more insane rules.In my world, there are all types of teaching systems, and kids get to choose and people are judged on competency not sexual organs. Let’s hope that day is near.

      1. What we have right now is a highly destructive and divisive feedback loop, harming both the sexes.

        Lights suddenly going off in head: if the school chose to believe the kissing accusation of the girl, rather than the testimony of the Spanish teacher what message was given to the teachers and students? Certainly not that the teacher had the trust and respect of the authorities.

        The Daughter was and remains an outlier. Her third grade teacher was completely straight faced when he assured me that by third grade kids no longer teased one another. Well maybe not, guess it had all graduated to full on-bullying.

        I believe that was the same year that the school counselor commented to me, as we were observing the children eating their lunch, that it was a shame that my daughter was not amenable to peer pressure. (True, it might have helped her eat a more varied diet, but really.) I replied that while it might be nice for some things, just think about how positive her resistance would be later on when the pressure is to try drink, drugs, smokes and sex. The counselor blanched.

  34. Sarah, something I have often said is that most of ‘bad things’ men (and all the other prescribed bads) get accused of are not for example the product of maleness (or if you are talking race, whiteness, or orientation, hetro) They’re about power dynamics. And you make any group (rather than individuals as individuals) powerful there will be those who abuse the system for their own benefit or pleasure. And those who refuse to fit into the group (but could) will be worse off than those who can’t.

    1. Dave, are you suggesting power corrupts? Who knew!

      I suspect it is possible to delineate the ways in which the willingness to abuse power fosters increased power (only to a point, Yertle, only to a point.)

      1. heh, RES, Actually I was suggesting that certain patterns of behavior are shaped by dominance, not ‘because they’re male’. Things like bullying or sexual harassment occur even when it’s not the usual suspects. A bunch of nerds will bully a jock if the circumstances allow it. A bunch of gay guys are also capable of doing anything you might say about straight guys…. etc.

        🙂 Any Power doesn’t always corrupt. I have had some charged batteries for years and no one has tried to bribe me.

  35. “The essential failure of making individuals go through groups with which they share a characteristic, is that ultimately groups are too amorphous for the representative to represent anything but himself.”
    This makes me think of many congressmen and women from “safe” districts. They end up being totally unresponsive to citizens they purportedly represent because there are enough who just pull the ‘D’ or ‘R’ lever.

    1. Yes, exactly. To be covered later is the fact that these “soviets” were supposed to be mandatory. If you had an issue you had to go to the appropriate soviet. So say I was having a problem with how my kids were treated, I had to go to the mothers soviet. Which in ultimate analysis would always be a “safe district.” This form of organization gave me SUCH nightmares that it is the government in the novel The Brave And The Free which I hope to put out this summer. (Unless Baen really, really wants it, because I think it would disrupt the way business is done through normal publishing. As in, having THREE space opera series with Baen, all along a future history continuum but not related might be an issue for how their fandom perceives things [I don’t actually know]) TB&TF is 500 years after DST.

      1. Don’t think it’s anything Ringo or Weber (how many branches to the Honor Harrington universe?) haven’t done. I hope Baen buys everything you write for oodles of money!

  36. Agree or disagree, that was one of the most beautiful rants I have ever seen, chock full of wonderful ideas and quotables (Eg. “it’s like stupidity. Calling it neo-stupidity makes it sound so much better.”)

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