Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Decline and Fall of American Marriage

Marriage is in decline. At a time when America has generously opened the institution to non-traditional couples, fewer people are getting married. Will the strangeness never cease!

Mark Regnerus has the numbers:

As recently as 2000, married 25- to 34-year-olds outnumbered their never-married peers by a margin of 55% to 34%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. By 2015, the most recent year for which data are available, those estimates had almost reversed, with never-marrieds outnumbering marrieds by 53% to 40%. Young Americans have quickly become wary of marriage.

Why is this happening?

Regnerus dismisses the argument that men are less desirous of conjugal bliss because they are less able to support wives and families. To that we should add that women might be less willing to marry men who are insolvent. This argument is not one way.

He continues to say that most men do want to marry eventually, just not now. Today they prefer to wait until they are around 30… a significant increase from the historical norm.

Regnerus examines the argument that men believe that marriage is a bad deal. One might ask how many women want to become wives and then to ask how many women want to marry when they are in their twenties. Even if most women do want eventually to marry, many of them today do not want to marry young. Again, we ought to consider the possibility that the decline of marriage has multiple causes.

Be that as it may, Regnerus offers his own hypothesis. Men are not getting married because they can get all the sex they want on the cheap. So, why get married and feel like they are paying for it. While that last sentence follows reasonably from the first, Regnerus does not quite put it that way. If bachelorhood offers cheap sex, doesn’t that entail that marriage offers more costly sex?

Were we to examine the implications of having a lot of cheap sex, we would also notice that… sorry to have to say it… in this life you often get what you pay for.

Regnerus does not say so in his article, but I will add that the cheap sex movement began began in the 1960s with the call for free love. Apparently, once love is free fewer and fewer people are willing to pay for it. But this assumes that you think that free love and free sex are the same thing? Besides, the Regnerus argument does not aim at free sex. It argues for the influence of cheap sex. When what used to be free is now cheap, maybe we are making progress.

Regnerus offers this argument:

For American men, sex has become rather cheap. As compared to the past, many women today expect little in return for sex, in terms of time, attention, commitment or fidelity. Men, in turn, do not feel compelled to supply these goods as they once did. It is the new sexual norm for Americans, men and women alike, of every age.

What caused this transformation? Regnerus says it began with birth control:

This transformation was driven in part by birth control. Its widespread adoption by women in recent decades not only boosted their educational and economic fortunes but also reduced their dependence on men. As the risk of pregnancy radically declined, sex shed many of the social and personal costs that once encouraged women to wait.

One needs to add that many women also came to believe that marriage was an oppressive institution. They did not really want any part of the classical marriage. Why marry a woman who does not want to be a wife? Why marry a woman who wants you to become a househusband. Could this be part of the issue, too?

And then there is the omnipresence of porn. Apparently, women in porn videos never say No:

Online porn has made sexual experience more widely and easily available too. A laptop never says no, and for many men, virtual women are now genuine competition for real partners. In the same survey, 46% of men (and 16% of women) under 40 reported watching pornography at some point in the past week—and 27% in the past day.

Porn is ubiquitous and it is free. True enough, it can and has been used to satisfy sexual cravings, but there is more to life than satisfying sexual cravings. Men gain no prestige and no status for watching porn. If they have nothing but porn in their lives, their prom or homecoming dates might be their hands. If so, the bros are not going to think you are a stud. I am not going to say that these men are missing out on the joy of a relationship, but I will say that they lose status for being unattached, for not having dates.

Some people have argued that pornography is degrading to women. Might it be that the more women are pornified, the more they feel that they must compete with porn stars through sexting, the less they seem to be marriage material. 

In this context, let’s not forget the influence of young men’s mothers. They, above all other people, will look seriously askance at a young woman who engages in sexting and hooking up.

Given one singular momentous event that occurred this week, we must mention that the Playboy Philosophy espoused by Hugh Hefner played a role in the way men saw their relationships with women. Hefner’s promotion of decadence for the masses told men that they did not need to shoulder the responsibilities that accompany serious relationships. As my friend Susan Brownmiller pointed out in the New York Times, Hefner relieved men of the responsibility to be breadwinners. He was not the only one who disparaged the role of breadwinner, but certainly he was influential. Hefner lived his life like a pasha with a harem.

With his passing, the media world has arisen en masse to praise him as a champion of women’s rights and the first amendment.

And you were wondering why our culture is in decline.

Anyway, when we are calculating the advantages that men gain from having lots of cheap sex, we cannot honestly overlook the risks. Among them, the STD risk. The New York Times reports on the latest from the Centers for Disease Control. Given that 110 million Americans now have an STD, at least we know that they did not get it from porn. One suspects that they got it from Tinder:

The incidence of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis is increasing, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An estimated 110 million Americans now are infected with a sexually transmitted disease.

Chlamydia is the most common S.T.D., and the number of cases rose 4.7 percent from 2015 to 2016. The increases occurred nationwide; rates were highest in the South and lowest in the Northeast.

Chlamydia is usually asymptomatic, and the number of reported cases may have grown in part because of newer, more sensitive screening techniques.

Adolescents and young adult women have the highest rates of chlamydia: one survey found that 9.2 percent of girls aged 15 to 19 were infected, as were 8.0 percent of women aged 20 to 24.

And also:

From 2015 to 2016, gonorrhea infections increased 22.2 percent among men and 13.8 percent among women, the C.D.C. reported. Almost 92 percent of cases are in people 15 to 44 years old.

And finally:

The rate of primary and secondary syphilis in 2016 is the highest it has been since 1993, and it increased among both men and women from 2015 to 2016. Men account for almost 90 percent of cases, and most are among men who have sex with men.


Friday, September 29, 2017

The Case of the Marxist-Feminist Slut

Since it’s Friday, it’s time for an advice column. To my eye, New York Magazine’s weekly offerings pale next to a letter that was sent to The Nation. (via Maggie’s Farm)

It was written by a woman who calls herself a Marxist-Feminist Slut. It shows us what happens to your mind when it is invaded and occupied by an ideology. Worse yet, it shows us the obstacles you face when you decide to politicize your personal life. That is, when you decide that your personal life, your romantic life must fulfill the terms of your pseudo-religion. And, to top it off, what happens when reality does not seem to be fulfilling your ideologically driven expectations?

You will probably feel a certain quantity of pathos for our Marxist-Feminist Slut. You would be right to do so. After all, she is sacrificing her life to a stupid idea. If she learned this in an indoctrination mill of a college, she should get a refund.

She addresses her letter to columnist Liza Featherstone:

I’m a 32-year-old woman who would like to have kids and a life partner in the not-so-distant future. And lucky me! I’ve recently started dating an excellent candidate. But I can’t even pretend to think it’s possible (or desirable) to have sex with just one person for the rest of my life or even, frankly, for a few years.

Monogamy feels antithetical to the type of feminism and anticapitalism I subscribe to. I am repulsed by the idea of being a man’s property. Also, monogamy—like capitalism—requires us to believe in a false scarcity: that we have to struggle for every little bit and that everything we gain comes at someone else’s expense. The kind of liberatory future I’d like to see is one of abundance and generosity and sharing. One of the few places we can experiment with that now is in our love lives.

But ALL the decent men I’ve dated are really opposed to open relationships, while the men I’ve slept with who say they fancy the idea don’t ever stick around long enough for the “relationship” part of an open relationship.

This leaves me feeling like once I find a partner, the options are: 1) cheating (crummy and unethical, also a big anxiety-inducing headache); 2) waiting for the mythical “one” who will magically make me never attracted to anyone else (I’m fairly certain this is a hoax); or 3) retire from my glorious days as a loud, proud slut and gradually wither away inside as I suffocate one of the parts of my life, personality, and politics I cherish most. Please tell me there is another option out there. 

As I said, you will feel sorry for MFS. She is living the ideology and she is discovering that it was all one big fat lie. She is looking for a polyamorous relationship, one where she can cheat at will, and she discovers that the “decent” men she has dated reject it. She has also discovered that the men who are happy to use her for sex have no interest in a relationship. It takes a Women's Studies course to obscure that truth.

She has shown us that we should not expect our lives to conform to some idiot ideology. Unfortunately, she does not have a clue about why a man who loved her would not want her to sleep around. She calls such men “decent” and the word pops out to us as the last living remnant of her moral sense.

What about Liza Featherstone’s advice? To be honest with you—and of course I am always honest—it is fairly solid. Surely, it is better than what we tend to find in New York Magazine columns.

OK, I admit that Featherstone does not question the fact that MFS has politicized her life to fulfill a half-assed ideology. Given the venue, The Nation, she probably does not have that much latitude. To be honest, most therapists would take the woman’s query at face value and would not question her beliefs. It would be like questioning someone’s religious beliefs—there is nothing to be gained by trying to undermine someone’s religion.

If our Marxist-Feminist Slut is going to learn the error of her ways, she is not going to learn it from an advice columnist. After all, she is a true believing zealot and zealots do not listen to reason. So MFS will need to learn it from the real world. Is she willing to dump her current boyfriend because he wants her to be monogamous or will she hold on to him and throw out her Marxist-feminist ideology? 

Instead, Featherstone offers a series of suggestions that tell this woman to learn how to negotiate with a recalcitrant reality. And she tells her that she will have to compromise. As I said, you might not like it, but, under the circumstances Featherstone could not do much better at leading MFS out of her ideological miasma and into the light.

She writes:

With your new boyfriend, treat this as you would any other major difference you have before settling down together: patiently and by tolerating some contingencies. If you wanted to live on the noisiest corner in Bushwick and your partner was happiest in rural Tennessee, you might take turns living in each other’s preferred locale, finding unexpected delights there. Experiment with a period of monogamy—remember, many people are most jealousy-prone early in a relationship—on the condition that he agrees to consider other arrangements in the future. Or perhaps some adventures are more acceptable to him than others. (Group sex only? Dalliances that take place out of town? No exes or class enemies?) If so, are you open to such compromises? And please attend closely to the tone of these conversations—you need to be able to discuss your desires with him without being made to feel immoral, disgusting, or greedy. If such talks give you hope, hang in there! If not, he might not be your future baby daddy.

Funny thing, when you read this you get the impression that MFS's desires are immoral, disgusting and greedy. As a rhetorical ploy, it has some merit.

An Epidemic of Gender Dysphoria

I have long suspected that the current brouhaha over gender dysphoria was producing more transgendered children. Since the means of transmission would be cultural, not biochemical, we cannot simply run an experiment to prove the point.

The more transgenderism is normalized and even glorified, the more children will grasp it as it a solution to whatever anguish they feel.

Recently, Jon Miltimore has collected some of the evidence on his Intellectual Takeout blog (via Maggie’s Farm.)

He begins by suggesting that since children no longer seem to want to rebel against authority, they are now rebelling against nature. What good is political correctness if it does not teach you that dogma trumps facts and science?

He writes:

When we think of teen rebellion in the modern era, we tend to think of a revolt against authority. Think James Dean or Jack Kerouac in the 1950s. But many teens today seem to be rebelling against something greater: nature.

I would add one caveat: today’s adults are increasingly unwilling to exercise authority. A child cannot effectively learn science and math or even historical facts if he does not respect authority—in this case, a teacher’s authority. See my post about Lenore Chu’s experience of having her children in school in Shanghai.

If children no longer respect authority they are taught the art of self-discovery. How does it work? Today’s Platonists tell students that they already know everything that is worth knowing, but that they need only to plumb the depths of their minds. The self-discovery method is a powerful means of persuasion. It tells students that they need not accept anyone’s authority, but need only to introspect to discover innate ideas that are lying dormant in their minds, awaiting an awakening.

Of course, this is rhetorical manipulation. In its more radical form it’s called brainwashing. A child who suffers this manipulation can come to believe that his inner truth is that he has always been a member of the opposite sex. And that the belief has not been imposed on him by any adult authority.

And yet, the idea is in the culture. Camille Paglia had previously called it a sign of cultural collapse. Now, according to Miltimore, she calls it a fashion or a fad. I think that she is downplaying the problem, which more closely resembles mind control. Fashion is something you put on… for favor or for fun. Transgender children believe that they really are the gender they think they are.

Miltimore continues:

Gender dysphoria, a condition described as “strong, persistent feelings of identification with the opposite gender and discomfort with one's own assigned sex,” is quite common in young people today.

The causes of gender dysphoria are “complex” and “not fully clear.” While many medical sites say gender dysphoria is caused by hormonal imbalances, some scholars believe the rise in gender fluidity is primarily a cultural phenomenon.  

“I think it’s become a fashion,” Camille Paglia said during a recent public interview. “The transgender definition has become a convenient label for young people who may simply feel alienated culturally for other reasons.”

Paglia, a professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and one of the world’s foremost intellectuals, went on to suggest that gender fluidity is simply the new face of the counter-culture.

What is called gender dysphoria is becoming more common. Its presence corresponds well to the media mayhem over it. And also to the media insistence that it is dogmatic truth, never to be questioned.

The statistics tell the story in Great Britain.

Increase of Gender Dysphoria

At the least, the statistics tell us that it cannot be hormonal:

Could the hormones of people living in the UK have changed that much in six years? Almost certainly not. Medical experts told the BBC that “the growth in numbers was likely to be due to greater awareness of gender identity issues.”

This suggests the change indeed is cultural.

Pundits, sociologists, doctors, and culture warriors can debate whether our culture is confusing young people or simply allowing people to become who they are by creating a more tolerant society—but it’s difficult to refute the idea that the forces behind the rise in gender dysphoria cases are sociological.

The question is, are teens capable—emotionally and intellectually—to make these determinations on their own?

Easily the worst part of this cultural degradation is the fact that children, as young as five years of age, are allowed to choose their gender. On the basis of these decisions, be given puberty blocking hormones, opposite sex hormones, and gender reassignment surgery.

I have already noted that I consider this to be child abuse. And that any parent who contributes to this process should be prosecuted and jailed.

Miltimore offers a similar view:

Children under 18 can’t smoke a cigarette or get a tattoo. Children under 16 can’t legally drive a car without supervision. Research suggests children under 14 aren’t even capable of crossing a busy street without assistance. Yet it is permissible to allow children to transition (in some cases as young as age 4) to the sex they choose to be identified as?

If Paglia is correct, and culturally alienated children are merely rebelling from gender as part of a newer and darker counter-culture movement, does our society not do them great harm by serving as their accomplice? I suspect that Patrick Mitchell and his mother would say we do.

See my post on Patrick Mitchell.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Real Fascists

Under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn the British Labour Party may or may not be making a comeback. It has been promoting a reactionary platform calling to a return to pre-Thatcherite England, one that has little chance of prevailing… were it not for the fact that Prime Minister Theresa May seems to be yet another model of political ineptitude.

Need we mention that parties in power are supposed to govern. They are supposed to get things done. They are not supposed to stand on ideological conviction. Better something than nothing.

Anyway, today’s British Labour Party is a hotbed of anti-Semitism. Who could have imagined that the international left is fascistic? After all, we in America suffered through Jeremiah Wright’s protégé… without recognizing that half of Barack Obama’s best friends are virulent anti-Semites. Whether Wright or Farrakhan or William Ayers or Rashid Khalidi.

Richard Littlejohn reports what happened at an advertised side meeting that took place during the recent Labour Party national conference.

It will not brighten your day or light up your life:

Holocaust denial, virulent anti-Semitism and Zionist conspiracy theories are the sort of dangerous, rabble-rousing poison you would expect from a neo-Nazi rally packed with knuckle-scraping skinheads.

Most people would not immediately associate this kind of vile behaviour with a self-styled anti-racist party, allegedly committed to equality and diversity.

But that’s exactly what has been on parade at this week’s Labour conference in Brighton. The Fascist Left have been in full flow, monstering supporters of Israel and demanding that members of the Jewish Labour Movement should be expelled from the party.

Speakers who compared ‘Zionists’ to Hitler’s genocidal Nazis were applauded by delegates at an event advertised in the official conference handbook.

It was even argued that questioning whether the murder of six million Jews during World War II actually happened was a legitimate matter of free speech.

This from activists who in other circumstances would be busily ‘no platforming’ anyone who expressed views which offended their own political sensibilities.

The fascist left… who would have thunk it? Where’s Antifa when we need it?

Littlejohn continues:

Don’t take my word for it, ask the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, which yesterday demanded that Corbyn expels all those who propagate anti-Semitic sentiment.

Chief executive Rebecca Hilsenrath said: ‘Anti-semitism is racism and the Labour Party needs to do more to establish that it is not a racist party. A zero-tolerance approach to anti-Semitism should mean just that.

‘When senior party figures are saying there is a problem, then the leadership should take swift action. It is not acceptable simply to say they oppose these views.

But, what about Corbyn himself? Littlejohn makes the case:

I’ve always been prepared to concede that Corbyn doesn’t consider himself an anti-Semite. Yet he counts among his ‘friends’ the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah, whose sole purpose in life is wiping Jews off the face of the earth.

And he’s prepared to countenance extremist, anti-Jewish views in his party, which if expressed by Conservatives would have outraged Labour spokesmen demanding they were arrested for ‘hate crimes’.

How did this happen? An alliance between the Far Left and militant Islam has legitimized anti-Semitism:

Where once Jew-baiting had been the sole preserve of the Far Right — the likes of Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts — it is now primarily driven by an unholy alliance between the Far Left and militant Islam.

These days the real fascists are on the left. 

The Refugee Crisis in Lebanon

Now that Merkelism has apparently-- and yet again-- ascended in Germany, it’s interesting to see how other nations are dealing with the refugee crisis provoked by President Obama’s mishandling of the war in Syria.

Before examining the problems posed by two million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, we take a moment to reflect on the fact, as pointed out by New York Times columnist Roger Cohen, that Barack Obama deserves a major share of the blame for what is happening in Syria. You will not hear anyone talking about this, but that does not mean that it’s not true.

Since the world is now up in arms in the fight against Nazis, especially the right wing groups that have formed in Germany and in other parts of Europe in reaction to Merkelist policies, it is worthwhile to examine the real enemy, the real threat to the civilization… and that would be Muslim refugees.

The Daily Mail has a heartwarming story about a Syrian refugee who was happy to repay the generosity shown him in Lebanon:

A Syrian national identified only by his initials as BH is thought to have raped and killed 26-year-old Lebanese national Rhea Chidiac inside her home in northern Lebanon. 

He came to Lebanon three years ago and worked for the victim's family and had intended to steal money from the house. 

But when he entered the family mansion and found Ms Chidiac alone, he allegedly raped her and then suffocated her.  

For reasons that can only bespeak bigotry, more and more Lebanese citizens want to expel all Syrian refugees:

The rape and murder has caused anger among residents towards Syrian refugees, who came to Lebanon at the beginning of the Syrian war.

Despite a small number trickling back to their home country just a few kilometres away there are still an estimated 2 million in Lebanon.  

Residents of the northern town of Miziara have now called on the Lebanese authorities to expel all displaced Syrians living in their town as unrest swept through the northern town following the crime.

As opposed to American dreamers, these refugees are not exactly the best and the brightest. One man wrote on social media:

'I don't know why people are surprised that this is happening.' 

'Most of the Syrians who are now refugees or working as janitors, helpers, etc are uneducated and have financial difficulties', one commented. 

'Add to that, years of civil war with no income, you've got yourself a recipe for disaster', he added.

The arrival of Syrian refugees into Lebanon has imposed huge economic and social burdens on the country, according to Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri who earlier in the year talked of a 'breaking point'.

Speaking to foreign media Hariri said: 'Today, if you go around most of the host communities, there is huge tension between the Lebanese and the Syrians.

'I fear civil unrest.'

Most of the refugees are not working, but are living in camps. They mostly live in informal camps across the country, some, in severe poverty. The Daily Mail concludes:

Indeed, it is that extreme poverty which is also to be blamed for the cases of appalling crimes to be committed both within the refugee communities and outside in the towns, where Syrian refugees are employed for as little as 6 pounds sterling a day. 

According to a report last year by a UK slavery organization, an alarming number of young Syrian women were providing sexual favours to their bosses, whilst the study also revealed that the majority of sex workers in Lebanon were Syrian refugees. 

The study also exposed an alarming number of child workers who were leaving farms to enter a world of sexual enslavement or forced marriage, often as young as twelve years old. 

We are happy to offer a modest proposal. Why not send them all to Germany and to Sweden and other places that have opened their arms to refugees.

If Germany is having problems with a million or so refugees, in a population of 82,000,000 imagine the problem that Lebanon is having with two million refugees in a population of 6,000,000.

Brawling in the Empathy Tent

Sometimes when it’s too good to be true, it's  still true.

The Daily Mail has the story:

At least four people were arrested after a fight broke out inside an 'empathy tent' during a right-wing rally at the University of California, Berkeley.

Who was fighting? You guessed it: right wing activists and anti-fascists protesters.

Don’t you just love the image of people fighting in the empathy tent? It reminds me of the gunfight at the OK Corral. 

Now, as predicted, the therapy culture has produced, sadistic empaths.

Is It Sexist to Take a Knee?

We have often been told that we are suffering because we do not see things through a woman’s eye. Apparently, all serious intellectual disciplines would profit by the inclusion of more women.

Perhaps you doubt this statement. Perhaps you find it vaguely sexist. Yet, yesterday Ann Althouse, a certified woman, offered us her own special female thoughts on the NFL, take a knee movement.

As Althouse explains—I trust, with tongue in cheek—taking a knee is sexist:

If you wear a skirt (other than a very long skirt), you can't go down on one knee without creating an upskirt view. It's interesting to me to see that photograph taken with the woman in the short skirt in the most prominent position. She's not in the taking-a-knee position, because she's down on both knees, for the obvious reason. But I don't know how she managed to get into that position without exposing whatever she's wearing under the skirt. Maybe she prepared and — like a figure skater — donned some sort of exposable undershorts. I'm thinking of something like this, but even then, people are going to think it's not intended to be exposed. I'd hate to find myself in some sort of work event — as a lawprof, I usually wore an above-the-knee skirt — and expected to go along with a group activity that put pressure on me to expose myself. It's a disparate burden with an element of sexual harassment.

I trust that you already feel more enlightened. At least now we know why no women are playing in the NFL. Speaking of sexism, if women can be in the military, why shouldn’t they be on the field playing professional football? I can sense the bigotry, can’t you?

Yes, I understand that if we tried to solve this problem by suggesting that women could take two knees, the image would evoke other associations, none of which are very flattering to women.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Was Mao Zedong a Feminist?

One accepts, because one is very open minded, that the New York Times has promoted itself as a leader of the Resistance against President Donald Trump. Nothing quite like striking a blow for democracy by extolling a disloyal opposition. One also accepts that the Times has profited for propagandizing its coverage of the Trump administration. In monetary terms Trump is the best thing that happened to the Times since Carlos Slim bailed it out.

And yet, how to explain that the newspaper could be so brain dead that it has taken to rationalizing Communism. One of the greatest and most destructive political failures in human history, an abomination that has brought death, desolation and starvation everywhere it goes… is worthy of a rethink by the New York Times.

In truth, the Times thinks that it is promoting feminism. And it imagines that Communism liberated women. After all, none other than Friedrich Engels promised that women’s lives would be better after the Revolution. A while back, as dutifully reported on this blog, the Times brought us the good news that women in Bulgaria and East Germany had more orgasms while living in the abject misery brought about by Communism. There wasn’t much bread and there certainly wasn’t much cake, but women had orgasms galore. 

Ready to return to those halcyon days? The Times never asked why people in Eastern Europe and everywhere Communism had been tried will go to very great lengths to forestall a return to the unmitigated horrors of Communism.

Yesterday, Helen Gao wrote in the Times that Mao Zedong had liberated women in China. Yes, indeed. If Gao had managed to take off her feminist blinders she  might have taken a glance at Harrison Salisbury’s book, The New Emperors. In it Salisbury describes how Mao sent his flunkies out into the countryside to gather up a bevy of pretty girls. He would happily deflower and rape a different one each evening… showing no concern for the fact that he was infecting them with an STD. Yes, indeed, Mao was great for women. (For the record, Salisbury was a distinguished journalist at... you guessed it... the New York Times.)

Here, without further ado, is Gao’s account. Upon presenting it, we will move on to reality, to the facts, which can be found in prior editions of the Times. Gao has no excuse for lying about Mao. Times editors have no excuse for running propaganda for a regime that produced some of the worst human catastrophes.

Gao is a true-believing ideologically committed feminist. Her ideological blinders obscure her vision:

While the Communist revolution brought women more job opportunities, it also made their interests subordinate to collective goals. Stopping at the household doorstep, Mao’s words and policies did little to alleviate women’s domestic burdens like housework and child care. And by inundating society with rhetoric blithely celebrating its achievements, the revolution deprived women of the private language with which they might understand and articulate their personal experiences.

Like Engels, Mao and his cronies were trying to seduce Western women into joining the Communist cause:

When historians researched the collectivization of the Chinese countryside in the 1950s, an event believed to have empowered rural women by offering them employment, they discovered a complicated picture. While women indeed contributed enormously to collective farming, they rarely rose to positions of responsibility; they remained outsiders in communes organized around their husbands’ family and village relationships. Studies also showed that women routinely performed physically demanding jobs but earned less than men, since the lighter, most valued tasks involving large animals or machinery were usually reserved for men.

Gao does admit that women’s conditions did not exactly fulfill the feminist dream:

Women were shunted to collective neighborhood workshops with meager pay and dismal working conditions, while men were more commonly employed in comfortable big-industry and state-enterprise jobs. Party cadres’ explanations for this reflected deeply entrenched gender prejudices: Women have a weaker constitution and gentler temper, rendering them unfit for the strenuous tasks of operating heavy equipment or manning factory floors.

If you can imagine such a thing, these newly empowered women had to household chores along with their liberating careers:

The party at times paid lip service to the equal sharing of domestic labor, but in practice it condoned women’s continuing subordination in the home. In posters and speeches, female socialist icons were portrayed as “iron women” who labored heroically in front of steel furnaces while maintaining a harmonious family. But it was a cherry-picking approach that focused exclusively on bringing women into the work force and neglected their experiences in other realms.

And, somehow or other, these women were not treated as equals in the factories. Call Sheryl Sandberg. She will know how to solve a problem that is no doubt a mere remnant from feudal times:

Researchers also observed that after marriage factory women often experienced slower career advancement than men as they became saddled with domestic responsibilities that left them with little time to learn new skills and take on extra work, both prerequisites for promotion. State services that promised to ease their burden, like public child care centers, were in reality few and far between. Unlike their counterparts in developed countries, Chinese women didn’t have labor-saving household appliances, since Mao’s economic policies prioritized heavy industry over the production of consumer products like washing machines and dishwashers.

But, despite it all, Communism advanced the feminist cause. That seems to be all that matters to Gao:

For all its flaws, the Communist revolution taught Chinese women to dream big. When it came to advice for my mother, my grandmother applauded her daughter’s decision to go to graduate school and urged her to find a husband who would be supportive of her career. She still seems to think that the new market economy — with its meritocracy and freedom of choice — will finally allow women to be masters of their minds and actions.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal James Freeman is gobsmacked at the Times’s unwillingness to allow reality to undermine its narrative. For an ideologue, the facts do not count. It’s the narrative uber alles.

Freeman counterpoints the Gao narrative with information that appeared in the Times itself. In truth, Mao's Communism produced unmitigated horrors for the people who lived under it.

Freeman writes:

And although Ms. Gao never mentions it, another Times contributor provided important context in a 2010 op-ed. Frank Dikötter described the results of his research into previously classified archives of local and national offices of China’s Communist Party:

In all, the records I studied suggest that the Great Leap Forward was responsible for at least 45 million deaths.

Between 2 and 3 million of these victims were tortured to death or summarily executed, often for the slightest infraction. People accused of not working hard enough were hung and beaten; sometimes they were bound and thrown into ponds. Punishments for the least violations included mutilation and forcing people to eat excrement.

One report dated Nov. 30, 1960, and circulated to the top leadership — most likely including Mao — tells how a man named Wang Ziyou had one of his ears chopped off, his legs tied up with iron wire and a 10-kilogram stone dropped on his back before he was branded with a sizzling tool. His crime: digging up a potato.

When a boy stole a handful of grain in a Hunan village, the local boss, Xiong Dechang, forced his father to bury his son alive on the spot.

That’s not all, folks. Freeman continues to give us a better picture of the Great Famine that followed fast upon Mao’s Great Leap Forward:

In “Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962,” Yang Jisheng meticulously documents the suffering, including among women who probably dreamed that the revolution could have somehow stopped before it reached their doorsteps. The author interviewed Zhang Shengzhi, who had served as chair of a county women’s federation in China before the party turned on her family. Many years later, she recalled the experience:

My grandmother and my elder sister starved to death. My sister was in Xi County and died in November. She was left in her home and not buried. The reason was so her family could continue collecting her ration of food, but the communal kitchen had closed down in any case. She was buried the following February. After being left out for several months, her face had been gnawed at by rats and was unrecognizable.

Journalistic malpractice, anyone?

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Rachel's Boyfriend Is Depressed

Here’s a thoroughly modern issue for you. It concerns Rachel and Rachel’s concerns for her long-term boyfriend’s mental health. It comes to us from Charlotte Cowles in New York Magazine.

Here is the Cowles description of the problem:

Rachel, 31, has been living with her long-term boyfriend for over a year now, and suspects he may be depressed. He seems to have lost interest in his job, his friends, his family, and her — and he’s been drinking a lot, too. He admits that he feels stuck and unhappy, but when she suggests professional help — a therapist — he says it’s too expensive. She understands that it’s a financial reach, but she thinks his mental well-being — not to mention their relationship — is well worth the cost. He’s a project manager for a nonprofit and she’s a teacher, so they’re not exactly swimming in extra cash, but they can’t go on like this. Would it help if she tried to scrape together the money and paid for his initial sessions? How else can she convince him that it’s “worth it”? What should she do?

This sounds a lot easier than it is. Rachel and the experts believe that they need to persuade BF to go to therapy. They believe that the problem is medical, that he is ill, and thus, that they want what is best for him.

Armed with what they think is science, they believe that they know what is best for other people. Apparently, therapists excel in the art of persuading people to do something that they do not want to do.  Yet, the therapists tell Cowles that BF must really, really want to do therapy.

Dare I mention that if the problem is medical and if it can be treated with a pill, the patient’s desires are incidental. No one really believes that the flu shot will only work if you want it to work. At least, we can hope so.

Of course, everyone is assuming that the BF’s problems have no basis in reality. For all we know, this might be true. He might have bipolar illness which is generally believed to be a metabolic disorder, only treatable by medication… and thus, not a mental illness.

If that is the case, he ought to be treated by a physician.

Yet, we do not know the truth. We do, however, know that he is working at a nonprofit, thus at a politically correct do-gooder organization that gives away money that other people have earned. We know that he does not have a lot of money. And we know that he is pushing back against a girlfriend who wants to tell him what to do.

We know nothing more about their relationship. We assume that they are millennials living an egalitarian relationship. If they cannot afford to see a therapist, can they afford to get married? Can he, working at a nonprofit, support a family? I suspect that these questions have never arisen. One might suggest that he should try changing careers, in order to feel more… dare I say it… manly.

My initial reaction to this letter was: perhaps Rachel is the one who needs therapy. How much he she contributing to his depression? Does she talk down to him, treat him like a child, oblige him to be her equal?

None of the experts ask whether Rachel is the problem or the solution. To me that suggests she is part of the problem. Has she beaten him down to the point that the only way he can assert his self-respect is to refuse to do what she is telling him to do.

A lot of people are trying to get him to do something he does not want to do. They are disrespecting him, trying to make him into a patient, and consigning him to the tender mercies of someone who is most likely female, most likely a feminist and most likely to try to talk him out of his last shred of manliness. Even if he does consult with a male therapist, the chances are good that the therapist will be a feminist and will tell him to get in touch with his feelings and give up his last shred of manliness.

You would be depressed too.

Tales of Kaepernick

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Medicaid and Opioid Abuse

America is suffering through an opioid epidemic. By now we all know that the fault lies with the pharmaceutical manufacturers who are producing and marketing them, with the physicians who are prescribing them willy-nilly and with the government regulators who offered blanket approval for the pills.

If we dig a little deeper into the numbers, as Allyssia Finley does, we discover that many of these prescriptions are being given to people who are covered by Medicaid. In particular, to those who live in states that accepted the Medicaid expansion offered by Obamacare. One reason it is so difficult to repeal and replace Obamacare is that it increases the level at which people can qualify for Medicaid to something like three or four times the poverty level. At that point, the number of those covered rises exponentially. They might not be getting very good medical care, but they have been getting more opioids.

Finley explained:

… government health-care programs are among the biggest suppliers of prescription painkillers. The attorneys general ought to be investigating how Medicaid may help promote opiate abuse and addiction.

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson this summer highlighted a correlation between the ObamaCare Medicaid expansion and opioid overdoses. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that overdose deaths per capita rose twice as much on average between 2013 and 2015 in states that expanded Medicaid than those that didn’t—for example, 205% in North Dakota, which expanded Medicaid, vs. 18% in South Dakota, which didn’t. That’s particularly striking since the energy boom boosted North Dakota’s economy and employment.

ObamaCare defenders note that the disparity in overdose fatalities appears to have begun around 2010—but due largely to sharp increases in a few expansion states, most notably West Virginia. What’s more, the disaggregated data show that the disparity between expansion and nonexpansion states with similar demographics and geography increased markedly after 2013. Between 2010 and 2013, overdose deaths rose by 28% in Ohio and 36% in Wisconsin. Between 2013 and 2015, they climbed 39% in Ohio, which expanded Medicaid, but only 2% in Wisconsin, which did not.

Why do Medicaid patients receive more opioids? Because they receive substandard treatment.

Finley wrote:

For one, Medicaid patients may be more likely to be prescribed opioids—twice as likely, according to two studies, as privately insured individuals. A recent study by Express Scripts Holding found that about a quarter of Medicaid patients were prescribed an opioid in 2015.

State Medicaid programs also favor generics over more expensive branded painkillers with abuse-deterrent formulas. According to the Express Scripts study, generics accounted for 90% of Medicaid opioid medication claims. Large doses of oxycodone, methadone and fentanyl can be obtained cheaply with a Medicaid card and resold for a nice profit on the black market. Sen. Johnson’s review of recent open-source court files and news articles turned up 261 defendants who had been convicted of improperly using Medicaid cards to obtain prescription opioids.

Many states in recent years have set up databases to identify patients at risk for abuse based on the number of prescriptions they fill and pharmacies they visit. But often providers, particularly in emergency rooms where many Medicaid patients seek treatment, don’t have time to check the databases, examine patients for abuse, perform follow-up consultations, or consider alternative analgesics or physical therapy….

Many primary-care providers won’t see Medicaid patients because of the low reimbursement rates, so emergency rooms have been inundated with patients. The wait to see a specialist can last months. Many Medicaid beneficiaries suffering from pain or substance abuse may not be getting the treatment they need.

The Medicaid recipients who are now militating against any changes to Obamacare are not receiving quality medical care. In many cases they are not receiving medical care at all. They receive painkillers.

At least, they are being entrepreneurial. They are selling the pills on the black market, the better to share the benefits of Obamacare.

Monday, September 25, 2017

From Therapy to Happiness

Ever on the lookout for glimpses into therapy, I am grateful to the attentive reader who just sent me this excerpt from New York Magazine’s “Sex Diaries.” The reader prefers to remain anonymous. You will understand why.

Here, it’s all in the juxtaposition. We witness a young woman’s journey from her therapist’s office to home care. We get to see how therapy leads to happiness. 

One appreciates that the writer, who has never had a relationship and has only on the rarest of occasions been on a date, is discussing these matters with her therapist. She might also be discussing her first experience with BDSM, but perhaps not.

She has been doing therapy for over six years. Since she is 23… do the math.

Here is what happens in her therapy session:

8:15 p.m. At my therapist’s. I’ve been seeing him for over six years. The past year we’ve almost exclusively worked on my relationships with men, specifically my tendency to put pressure on guys in order to get some relationship or sign that they like me. Unsurprisingly, that hasn’t worked for me in the past. Lately I’ve gotten a lot better at taking a step back and letting relationships run their course.

Then, here is what she does afterwards, when she gets home and wants to wind down after what was surely an intense therapy session. (Trigger Warning: this is decidedly NSFW):

10 p.m. I get home from therapy and text the Dom a photo of my butt plug. I turn on some porn, lube up my butt plug, and use my vibrator. It is amazing. I fall asleep happy.

You see, therapy has given her a pathway to happiness. I trust that her story brightens your day.

Emma Kelty's Search for Herself

A deluded adventure junky named Emma Kelty set out to find herself by kayaking solo down the 4,000 mile long Amazon river. She was told that it was dangerous. She was told that she would probably be killed. She was impervious to advice. She did it anyway.

Don’t we all know that we can only find ourselves by testing our limits? Don’t we know that we are all alone in the world and that we must learn how to subsist as independent, autonomous individuals? Isn’t it the most therapeutic exercise imaginable… being a woman who conquered the Amazon?

Daily Mail writer Rachel Johnson has a few salient thoughts on Emma Kelty:

I have become mildly obsessed by the horrible fate of Emma Kelty – the 43-year-old former headmistress murdered by river pirates on the Amazon – for reasons that will soon become clear.

I can’t decide: is she a great British heroine cut off in her prime, who wanted to add ‘longest solo kayaking journey ever undertaken by a woman’ to her impressive list of lifetime achievements?

Or was she a selfish nutter on a suicide mission, addicted to the adrenaline and attention generated by a life dedicated to one thing: adventure?

No challenge had ever defeated this daredevil ex-soldier, who relaxed by kickboxing, abseiling, running up mountains, turning round schools, skiing to the South Pole, or hiking across America.

I am slightly more confident than Johnson. Kelty was a fool and she paid for her foolishness.

The late Emma Kelty was clearly made of sterner stuff. But still. Everyone told her she was doomed, even though she already knew. ‘It’s stupid, it’s too dangerous, it’s too risky and I will die,’ she admitted.

On the trip, she blogged: ‘The world is huge and so much more to explore. I wish that others would join me on this way of life.’

No thanks. Especially not after what happened to Emma: attacked by a gang with machetes, tortured, and thrown into the river.

There is a fine line between brave and foolhardy.

I’m afraid she crossed it on this epic and tragic journey in search of herself.

What happened to Emma Kelty? The Telegraph has the story:

Prior to her death she stopped in the village of Sao Joao de Catua on the Solimoes river before embarking on the feared stretch of river after Coari, 100km upstream.

Resident Miliane Vincente told Mailonline they had warned her of the dangers.

"We saw her passing by and called her into the community. I told her it was very dangerous, that it was full of drug trafficking and terrorists," she said.

"I took her to my house and gave her water to drink, and we talked as she showed me her photos. I told her to go with us in our boat to Coari so she wouldn't be in danger.

"I still remember her last words: I can't stay, the more time I stay here the more time I'm losing. For me to succeed I have to do this route. Your hearts are very kind, but I have to carry on."

The Telegraph tells what happened to Emma Kelty:

The man, who didn't want to be named, said: "He said he was one of four men. The woman had put up her tent on the beach in exactly the area where the Colombia drug traffickers go through, and which is crawling with pirates who wait for them to arrive to attack.

"These men aren't pirates though, they are just drug users. We are all shocked that these men from our community did such a terrible thing to this woman.

"When the men saw her tent they thought it belonged to a Colombian with drugs, so they started firing from about 50 metres away. The woman was hit in the arm. She started waving frantically and screaming for help."

He said that when the four men saw that she was a woman they attacked her and, still believing she was carrying drugs, cut off her hair with a knife while demanding to know where the drugs were.

According to the man, one of the group then slit her through with the knife, before all four men "sexually abused her".

He said they then dragged her body to the river and dumped it in the fast-moving water.

He said: "The men fled into the forest after we all found out what they had done. We provided the police with the details and their identities. We're all disgusted by what they have done."

As of now they haven’t found her body. Authorities fear that it was eaten by the piranhas.