Saturday, January 7, 2017

Gender Neutering

Once upon a time I wrote a post entitled: “Why Can’t a Man Be More Like a Woman?” It’s not a serious question, but that has not prevented serious thinkers from asking it from time to time.

They agonize over the fact that men are not lining up to get jobs as nurses and caregivers. Since they do not recognize that men and women are not the same, and that gender is not a social construct, they continue to contort their minds to explain a point that biology will easily answer.

Call it the agony of ignorance. But, don’t confuse it with the more popular phrase: “the agenbite of inwit” which means, I am sure you know, the gnawing of conscience.

Anyway, Claire Cain Miller writes in the New York Times that it’s not a good time to be an unemployed male in America. As she adds, the most recent election offered a hint. Jobs that men want are vanishing while jobs that require a woman’s touch are begging for applicants.

Miller explains this phenomenon:

It hasn’t been a great time to be a man without a job.

The jobs that have been disappearing, like machine operator, are predominantly those that men do. The occupations that are growing, like health aide, employ mostly women.

One solution is for the men who have lost jobs in factories to become health aides. But while more than a fifth of American men aren’t working, they aren’t running to these new service-sector jobs. Why? They require very different skills, and pay a lot less.

They’re also seen as women’s work, which has always been devalued in the American labor market.

Where to begin? Obviously, men are not running out to find jobs for which they have neither the skills nor the interest in order to be paid less. Why should this be tormenting anyone? As for devaluing women’s work, it might be that being a caretaker or a nurse is less valuable than doing a job that produces something—whether wrenches or widgets.

And, lest we forget, men choose jobs because of the standards that women use in choosing men. Women are less likely to be attracted to a male nurse who is making a lot less money than, say, a doctor or an IT professional. If you think that this is merely a guy problem and merely evidence of endemic sexism, think again.

Actually, if Miller or any other journalist wanted to enlighten us she could do an analysis of why the economy is skewed in favor of healthcare and skewed away from manufacturing. And one would have to note that many segments of the modern economy skew toward men. Jobs in Silicon Valley tend to do so, but the men who were running lathes do not have the skills to do them. And jobs in the energy business also tend to skew toward men. As do jobs in construction? Unfortunately, there are not enough of them to make up for the lost factory jobs. Are schools encouraging boys to develop the skills needed for some of these jobs or are they trying to teach boys how best to be future nurses? Or else, are the schools trying to elevate girls at the expense of boys?

One notes in passing that many of the factory jobs have not just gone abroad. Many have been replaced by robots and other forms of automation.

Still, the experts are agonizing over the men who do not want to be nurses, so they offer up the feministically correct explanations:

Much of men’s resistance to pink-collar jobs is tied up in the culture of masculinity, say people who study the issue. Women are assumed to be empathetic and caring; men are supposed to be strong, tough and able to support a family.

“Traditional masculinity is standing in the way of working-class men’s employment, and I think it’s a problem,” said Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist and public policy professor at Johns Hopkins and author of “Labor’s Love Lost: The Rise and Fall of the Working-Class Family in America.”

“We have a cultural lag where our views of masculinity have not caught up to the change in the job market,” he said.

But telling working-class men to take feminine jobs plays to their anxieties and comes off as condescending, said Joan Williams, a law professor at U.C. Hastings and author of “Reshaping the Work-Family Debate: Why Men and Class Matter.”

“White working-class men’s wages have plummeted, and what happens to men in that context is anxieties about whether they’re ‘real men,’ ” she said.

In fact, these great minds would do better to examine the science.  You remember science, don’t  you? You recall that left thinking people insist that they are defending scientific truth against the right thinking yahoos who ignore it whenever it becomes inconvenient.

As for the science, Debra Soh (from York University in Toronto) explains the seeming conundrum in the Los Angeles Times. The information she offers is not proprietary. It has not been kept under wraps in the corner of a research lab. It is public record, available to everyone. And it would have explained the problem that the experts are agonizing over:

A large and long-standing body of research literature shows that toy preferences, for example, are innate, not socially constructed or shaped by parental feedback.

Most girls will gravitate toward socially interesting toys, like dolls, that help social and verbal abilities develop. Most boys will gravitate toward toys that are mechanically interesting, like cars and trucks, fostering visuo-spatial skills.

It’s not too complicated. The evidence is clear. And yet, parents across America are now bringing up their children to be gender neutral, or, should I say, gender neutered. The current mania over the transgendered seems to be harmless enough. If it causes you to bring up your child to be gender non-conforming it can easily be harmful.

Soh writes:

In a steadfast pursuit of gender equality and to promote nonconformity, it’s become popular in some social circles to start early, very early, by raising young children in a gender-neutral way: not revealing the baby’s sex at birth, dressing them and their bedroom in various shades of oatmeal, encouraging them to play with gender-neutral toys. There’s also pressure on corporations to help; parental complaints led Target to stop sex-segregating its toys, for instance.

Offering kids the opportunity to pursue what they’d like, freed from societal expectations, is an undeniably positive thing — whether it has to do with toys, clothing, or their future aspirations. But the scientific reality is that it’s futile to treat children as blank slates with no predetermined characteristics. Biology matters.

Yet, even Soh has drunk a little too much Kool Aid. It is not an “undeniably positive thing” to allow children to do what they please, regardless of societal expectations, or of ethical standards. Parents who do so are bringing up their children to be slugs, or, as the saying goes, Millennials.

Besides whoever got the idea that we ought to allow children to decide what is best? Whoever got the idea that we should respect the mature judgment of an eight-year-old boy who has decided that he is a girl?

And yet, the gender neuter movement has skewed the science in order to make it appear that they are on the side of the angels. Unfortunately, they have gotten it wrong.

Soh explains:

In the face of scientific data, the gender-neutral movement nevertheless continues to gain momentum. Indeed, its adherents took heart in a study published last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which touted the idea that the brains of women and men are identical. If so, that would offer support to the theory that gender is an artificially created, outdated concept.

However, an immense body of neuroimaging research has shown brain differences between the sexes. One meta-analysis of 126 studies found that men have larger total brain volumes than women. Men also show greater white matter connectivity running from the front to the back of the brain, while women have more of these connections running between the two hemispheres.

As it happens, you allow children to do what they please they will gravitate naturally toward their gender roles. But, parents ought to encourage and support them. The notion that we ought to be messing with this, that we ought to be remaking boys to conform to an ideology, or, to be able to fill jobs in the health care industry is… undeniably demented.


Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Queen bees consistently devalue "women's work" far more than any man can.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

"Besides whoever got the idea that we ought to allow children to decide what is best?"


Leftists glorify childhood, because that was the high point of their own lives. They blame all their problems on negative persons and events from their childhood. They believe that everything they ever needed to know they learned in kindergarten. They are not responsible for anything, as the world acts on them... not them acting in it. They're perfect victims. Cute, helpless, dependent.

This is why snowflakes must be protected in a cocoon of social fantasy for as long as possible. Every snowflake is unique and delicate. It must not be subjected to heat or it will melt. We must protect Frosty the Snowman from the inevitable change of seasons because all the happiness in the world disappears when Frosty's snowflake flesh vanishes.

Children require nurturing, provision, education, etc. All the things Leftists want to provide all of us... "for free."

Leftists are children. They know best. The admonishments of life ought not apply to them. People who upset this unnatural view of life are MEAN. Traditionally, this role falls on the man, husband, father. That's why neutering is desirable. It protects and perpetuates the fantasy that children should decide what is best.

sestamibi said...

It never occurred to these nitwits, I suppose, that large numbers of men flooding into traditionally female-dominated occupations (health care, teaching, etc.) would put significant downward pressure on wages in those occupations. This will give them something else to complain about.

Be careful what you ask for . . .

David Foster said...

Several years ago, I was in Huntington, WV, riding into town with a very talkative cab driver who had lived there a long time. He said that there used to be a lot of manufacturing there, but that the main employers there now were several large hospitals. It was very clear that he viewed this as a humiliating development for the city.

Trigger Warning said...

The most gratifying outcome for me is mediocre male athletes drifting into womyn's sports by "identifying" as womyn. Naturally, they are kicking a** and taking names, just as the Swedish National Women's Football (aka soccer) Team was crushed by a teen boy's team from Stockholm.

As the Olympics begin to accept Men who Identify as Womyn (MIWs, pronounced "mews", and they are "mewlings"), I expect many Olympic records to fall, except in "sports" like synchronized swimming.

Ares Olympus said...
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Ares Olympus said...

I'm open to the predicament or potential unfairness male-oriented jobs are generally paid more than female-oriented jobs, like when equal education or training is required. But I agree that some jobs simply have gender preferences. Raising salary for nurses will not clearly raise their status for men to enter these fields.

I do find it interesting that of the women engineers who work at my company, I believe 3 out of 4 are not native born citizens, so even to get diversity we apparently have to hire outside of America. That might suggest to me that Europe and South America are more encouraging to women in technical fields. Although our two technical writers are both women and native born, so writing skills is clearly high status for women.

When Stuart reflects "As for devaluing women’s work, it might be that being a caretaker or a nurse is less valuable than doing a job that produces something—whether wrenches or widgets." the idea of "productivity" is troublesome to me. And actually we can consider the opposite picture - men's factory work is so UNAVALUABLE that it is being exported to Mexico or China, and only comes back here if they can use robots to replace 500 workers with 5.

Teaching is the tricky issue for me as well. Overall I presume teaching is a high status job and pays well, but its also highly stressful, at least relative to the salary. And traditionally women tend to go into teaching younger kids, while there are more men for older kids, but still probably many more women teachers in high school than men.

And it might be that skillwise, we might benefit by having more male teachers, especially say in inner city school districts where discipline is most needed, where it is easier for women to be disrespected by students, and too much time is wasted on long detention sessions where a male teacher might have the will and skills to impose order on the spot, without sending Junior to the principal's office.

And perhaps in this case it might be we actually need to pay "silverback" burly male teachers MORE than female, simply because supply and demand says men won't go into teaching at sufficient numbers to the special skills they provide that diverge from the women's skills.

That's an even more interesting question than gender differences, intentional discrimination against gender bias.

Like perhaps Female engineers should be paid more than Male engineeers of the same experience to reward those willing to go against traditional gender strengths. And in some cases, we may find the contragender won't simply lower the quality of work, but change it in a way that it improves by measures previously unconsidered simply because the primary gender ignored them.

Anyway, apparently right now men are the ones in trouble, and unemployed men cause more problems than unemployed women, so even bad ideas right now seem to need discussing, just in case better ones come out.

Olympus Ares said...

"even bad ideas right now seem to need discussing, just in case better ones come out"

Just. In. Case.
So deep, so deep.

"The depths of our own beings are not all sunlit; to see clearly, we must be willing to dive into the dark."
--- Starhawk

Our beings, they deep. They is.


Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Ares Olympus @January 8, 2016 at 12:24 AM:

"Like perhaps Female engineers should be paid more than Male engineeers of the same experience to reward those willing to go against traditional gender strengths."

Uh-huh. Because we know from experience that favoring one group over another builds trust and harmony. Especially when it comes to compensation and opportunities for upward mobility.

You've missed the entire point of the original post. The majority of men and women are not equally interested in the "contragender" professions because of biology, and we will not be able to correct this. It's not because of incentives or lack therof. The federal government provides ample subsidies, quotas, setasides, penalties, regulations, policies and public shaming already to skew the employment market when it comes to career paths and gender norms. You favor adding more? When will it end?

Ares, when you make comments like this they serve as a reminder that there is no better time than the present to resurrect your blog. Then you'd have a reliable gauge on what people think of your ideas.

Trigger Warning said...

"there is no better time than the present to resurrect your blog"

Ares Zombie, staggering through the blogosphere, 1 pageview per century. :)

Even the web crawlers would avoid it.