Monday, 10 September 2012

Modern Misandry and the Decline of Men

The Spectator magazine has published a piece called 'the Richer Sex' by Liz Mundy, (predictably republished in the Daily Mail) declaring that women are overtaking men in terms of earning power and will be the majority of breadwinners in the next few years. The Spectator's editor, Fraser Nelson, who is clearly very taken with the theory, backs it up with more data in his Spectator blog.

The social consequences of such a change would, of course, be profound, changing not just hundreds but thousands of years of assumptions on how society is organised. It would clearly require politicians to radically rethink gender and family policies.  Will men in future need quotas to help them in education and the workplace? How should child-care rights be re-thought? Will men and women adapt to these trends, or will role-reversal lead to society become yet more atomised and birth-rates falling still further?

To begin with, I should declare an interest and say as a man with strong traditionalists instincts  on the masculine role in society and family, I instinctively recoil from the thought of such change, and that undoubtedly induces some cognitive bias into my thinking on the subject, but here goes:

The first thing that needs challenging is the exceptionally lazy assumption that these trends are "inevitable" or "irrevocable'. Many things have been regarded as "inevitable" in my lifetime. such as the decline of the Britain to third world status in the 1970s, the victory of Communism over Capitalism, Irish reunification, and not least the adoption of a successful European single currency by the United Kingdom! Indeed, those, of us of a certain age can remember that the Mundy's arguments were all the rage during the 1990s when we were forcefully told ad nauseam that women would inevitably triumph over men in all aspects of life.

In fact, asserting something is inevitable is usually a sign that some of the arguments behind the assumptions are fundamentally quite weak, and that is certainly the case with aspects the analysis presented by Mundy and Fraser Nelson in their Spectator pieces.

Perhaps the most outlandish of Mundy's claims is that there is something intrinsically feminine about a college education and by extension that girls will continue to outperform boys in this vital area. Really? So why did boys outperform girls in education prior to 1985?

Mundy and Nelson are also guilty of gross oversimplification to suggest that educational attainment will automatically transfer to career success later in life. Of course it is an important factor, but so are life choices such as having children. Survey after survey shows that most women want to prioritise child-rearing once they have children of their own and it is at this point that the gender pay gap reverses in favour of men.

Lastly, Fraser Nelson especially should know that trends in UK employment during the last 15 years have greatly favoured women over men, with the vast expansion of the public and charitable sectors in term of both pay and numbers relative to the private sector. These trends are now almost certainly at an end, and some future areas of growth in manufacturing or information technology may well favour men over women.

All that said, it does appear likely that  the long term gender power-shift will continue. Some of the reasons for this are clearly to be welcomed, such as genuine equality for women both before the law and in perception of their abilities. Others, such as changes in the structure of Western economies away from relying on hard  labour that favoured male physical strength are very unlikely to be reversed.

However, I would argue that, far from being inevitable, to a significant extent they  are the result of pronounced misandry in modern culture which is damaging the prospects of men and are to the long term detriment of both sexes.

The reason for this lies in the baby-boomer years: in  many countries since the 1960s, we have seen the rise of an over-class which have never known anything but peace, prosperity and individual success, and whom have gone onto dominate most of areas of national life. It is perhaps unsurprising that, largely shielded from life's harsher realities, this new elite preferred to develop an increasingly emotionally based culture rather than a factually based one. In terms of public policy, this culture  tends to favour analyses and opinions that are often very shallow but nonetheless feel right and validate the egos of the holders. It is perhaps a bit insulting to women to term such a sentimental  and narcissistic culture as "feminised", but nonetheless in terms of public policy it does naturally tend to favour those groups in society perceived as most feminine - i.e. women or gay men - and discounts heterosexual masculine virtues. It is often said we live in a Politically Correct culture, but it would be much more true to say we live in an Emotionally Correct one.

Take for instance the issue of education. What was it that changed so much that meant the girls's started to do so much better than boys?  The answer is that the nature of education itself changed substantially, with a shift towards a more course-work oriented approach and away from examinations. It is a well known fact that males respond best to a competitive work environment whereas females prefer collaboration, and to some extent these changes were made to eliminate the undoubted bias in the system towards boys that existed at the time. However, a deeper reason for the change was that somehow competition itself was deemed to be nasty, cruel and damaging to the self-esteem of those less gifted. Instead an "all must have prizes" culture emerged.  Essentially, male learning culture was deemed to be culturally incorrect, and not surprisingly boy's academic performance started to severely lag behind  girl's.

Or take for instance nostrums of "equality" when it came to salaries and positions. Although the original ideals between equal pay legislation were certainly correct, i.e. to eliminate discrimination against women, they were extended to suggest that all inequality in outcomes must be intrinsically wrong. The idea that much of the gap could be explainable by the fact that men work for longer hours than women, often in more stressful, dangerous or unpleasant jobs, was and is completely ignored.  The equality myth is most pernicious in the public sector, which in recent years has started to equalise pay across completely different jobs and roles according to their perceived equality of value  to the employer, again taking absolutely no account as to what doing the job may actually entail. This had the result of discriminating against men, who often prefer to do unpleasant jobs which would otherwise attract a premium in order to be able to fulfil their roles as breadwinners. Another result of this legislation is that women are now substantially overpaid for public sector jobs compared to the same position in the private sector.

As a final example, take the issue of family policy. It is now established beyond reasonable doubt that marriage is by far the best way of raising children, and is helpful to the wellbeing of adults of both sexes, particularly men. However,  still the government hesitates to support it through the tax system through fear of seeming harsh and judgmental, being only interested in the subject of gay marriage. Other difficult issues such as child benefit, which effectively partially nationalise the role of the father in lower income groups, or the rights of fathers when couples have separated, are largely avoided.

The tragedy of all this is that none of the arguments presented here in favour of more male-friendly policies are in any way new, and have been put forcefully, not least by female commentators such as Melanie Phillips and Ruth Lea, down the years. But they remain completely ignored and their merits hardly ever honestly debated.

A good deal of the reason for this is cynical calculation by the Political Class, who are well aware that women are more likely than men to vote and are more likely to be floating voters. As most senior politicians are male, it is seen as a political death wish to debate these issues honestly and risk been seen as a misogynist. (This is also not helped by men's reticence in complaining about the situation for fear of being seen unmanly or sexist.) But mostly, the problem lies in the fact that our shallow and narcissistic establishment prefers solutions that press all the right emotional buttons, irrespective of the fairness of their outcomes in the real world.

The misandry that runs through our establishment elite has also permeated down into our general culture, not least into the world of television and especially television advertising, which very routinely show appallingly derogatory stereotypes for men which would no longer be allowed for women. In future years, we will look back at this is total disgust and be amazed  that this was ever allowed. Likewise  in television drama, positive male role models can be few and far between. Indeed, it was said that unusually for a period drama, men very much enjoyed the series 'Downton Abbey" because of the Earl of Grantham character was so appealing a role model for men. Again, the portrayal of men in the media is a long term problem which has been rattling away for around 20 years now, and plainly the drip-drip-drip of negative stereotypes must by now be seriously be affecting men's  morale and thus their performance in both education and the work-place.

So what of the future? It seems doubtful that our feminised Metropolitan Liberal elite will be replaced by anything else anytime soon, so the future for men may appear rather bleak. An exception may be in education, where Michael Gove's new free schools should allow concerned parents and individuals to reintroduce masculine values of competition and discipline into education. However, it is perhaps ominous that a school designed very much for that purpose, the proposed Phoenix Free School in Oldham, was turned down flat by the Department of Education this year on seemingly spurious grounds.

A ray of light is that men do seem to be waking up their position as second-class citizens in society and are now becoming more vocal in opposition to further and further feminisation in the name of "equality". if you want evidence of this, look at the seething anger in the many comments left at the bottom of the Spectator magazine piece.

There is a huge opportunity for UKIP here which we should exploit both out of principle and political calculation: men's rights are plainly going to be a developing issue, as far sighted MP's such as Dominic Raab have already spotted. The time is ripe: a great many votes from alienated men will go to the political party that starts to articulate male concerns in a dignified and measured manner that doesn't threaten or insult women. In this regard we have a significant advantage, in that the effete Metropolitan leaders of LibLabCon parties, who no doubt Arnold Schwartzenegger would dismiss as "girly men",  will never be able to speak as convincingly as our own dear Nigel Farage or Paul Nuttall on this subject.

Let us have the courage to grasp this new opportunity and create a truly equal future free of both misandry and misogyny.