The Missing Ingredient to Women’s Happiness

by Featured Guest on November 16, 2012

By Ethical

For all the debate sparked in the popular media by Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” published a few months ago in The Atlantic, aside from the demur musings of the occasional establishment poodle, men have been utterly excluded from the discussion. Some men will shrug ambivalently, but for a growing number, particularly the half of formerly married men in Ms. Slaughter’s generation who have experienced divorce, why there’s no room for our opinions on this issue is a question of growing concern. We’re uncomfortable about where the conversation’s headed, making us worry it’ll be us who’ll have to give up more of what we’re told is “patriarchal privilege” before the problem of “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” can be solved. For more than a few of us this is privilege we didn’t know we had. As middle aged men in the huge majority of divorces today we’re still reeling from having to pay child support for the privilege of having custody of our children wrested from us and our former partners being allowed to move our children far away, after which we’re then browbeaten into taking responsibility for the fatherlessness now devastating most western democracies.

“entitlement” is […] compelling […] to the person who feels entitled, but is far less attractive to those who must pick up the check.

No Maam, The Nightmare of Feminism,

We’re still stinging from learning that our wives, who overwhelmingly are first to file for divorce, are free to break the marriage contract without need for cause while that same contract demands we delay retirement or even shelve lifelong dreams to pay support to her for doing so.

the desire to “have it all” […] seems to go with an unwillingness to pay any price for it whatsoever. This violates what I consider to be a fundamental principle of economics, as well as life: “There just ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”. In the end someone has to pick up the check.

No Maam, Romantic Nonsense,

By all indications our sons will be even more sensitive to suggestions they benefit from any such male privilege. From elementary school they’ve watched as feminist education policies refused to let up and allow even a single program targeting boys with well needed support. They’ve watched programs for girls continue to march ahead full steam even as boys have been reduced to only 1/3 of some university graduating classes. And don’t think they haven’t noticed how girls are encouraged to compete fiercely against them in sports as in life, even while they’re ridiculed for losing to a girl. And despite all this, rather than being allowed to treat the girls as equals they as boys are met with harsh consequences for competing too earnestly in return. Waiting for them to change family law so marriage and family are still viable options? After seeing their fathers broken and emasculated fighting what they believe is an immovable feminist bias they scorn and ridicule men who try. They’re nihilists, answering to no one; hooking up with sexually liberated women and enjoying the party at the end of the world.

I don’t need the government to pass laws against alimony. I simply won’t marry in the USA. I don’t need the government to pass laws promoting fair child custody laws. I won’t impregnate an America girl. I don’t need the government to increase punishment for false rape accusers. I’ll cover my own back. I don’t need the government to ban trans fat to lower the weight of the population. I’ll go to Poland. While they try to change the minds and culture of 310 million Americans with their WordPress blogs, I’ll be hitting on pretty girls in a Croatian bar. I’ll be living the life that I want instead of being entitled and waiting for the government to give it to me. In the same breath they call me a pussy beggar, they beg the government for protection from pussy.

… The only true regret I have is that as part of the “manosphere” I’m automatically grouped in with those guys, who are even bigger losers than I could have imagined three years ago.

Roosh, The Men’s Rights Movement Is Dead,

Young and old we men have learned that whenever we have to rely on public opinion to adjudicate a conflict between us and women, public opinion will always ignore our interests. We just can’t win.

So when we hear the question “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All?” our Ritalin castrated minds have already trailed off into “I thought they did?” We honestly don’t know where to find any more we can give up in appeasement. We’re truly tapped out.

We couldn’t give you all you wanted even if we tried […] we are starting to recognize that the more we give you the more you’ll want, and we’re getting tired.

W.F. Price, Anne-Marie Slaughter Grasping at Straws in “Have it All” Article,

It’s difficult for women to understand the breadth of this emotional undercurrent among men, particularly without hearing men’s voices. Unfortunately even if men weren’t excluded from speaking about these issues in the popular media, with the exception of the Rush Limbaugh’s who make a living from controversy, most of us have good cause to be deeply reluctant about publicly voicing our honest opinions on feminist issues. But we’ve been far from silent. And in the corner of the internet known as the “Manosphere”, even if forced to use pseudonyms that’s been especially true.

Though “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” was widely hailed as provocative among women, from men’s commentary they were far more likely to be struck not by the refreshing candidness of the article but by how completely the article had skirted around the real issues.

Unfortunately, Slaughter can’t seem to see the issue through to its logical conclusion, instead clinging to the notion that more social engineering will deliver women into the magical promised land of limitless opportunity […] a feminist crusade for more power, more control, more everything.

W.F. Price, Anne-Marie Slaughter Grasping at Straws in “Have it All” Article,

Still we men want to be helpful. In fact we’ve always looked pragmatically for solutions as our mothers, significant others, and daughters struggled with similar work-life tradeoffs to those mentioned in Slaughter’s article.

But we know better than to offer unsolicited advice to counter the illogic we’ve heard since feminism’s first wave:

“No woman should be authorized to stay at home and raise her children […] Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one.” — Simone de Beauvoir, “Sex, Society, and the Female Dilemma” Saturday Review, June 14, 1975, p.18

no matter how any individual feminist might feel about childcare and housework, the movement as a whole [has] reasons to discourage full-time homemaking.” — Jane J. Mansbridge, Why We Lost the ERA, p.100

Still as we continue to hear the women in our lives espouse the same “every woman can and should have it all” fantasy that failed earlier feminists, we can’t help but sigh. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Rather than face up to cold harsh reality, something they had never had to do when their male mates had been willing to shoulder that part of the responsibility of maintaining a household, they changed their anthem from “I am woman hear me roar” to “I am victim, hear me whine”.

No Maam, The Nightmare of Feminism,

But then Slaughter compounds her folly by advocating women invest their efforts into changing the entire workforce rather than abandoning feminism as unproductive and simply making different individual choices themselves:

The best hope for improving the lot of all women, and for closing what Wolfers and Stevenson call a “new gender gap”— measured by well-being rather than wages—is to close the leadership gap: to elect a woman president and 50 women senators; to ensure that women are equally represented in the ranks of corporate executives and judicial leaders. Only when women wield power in sufficient numbers will we create a society that genuinely works for all women. That will be a society that works for everyone.

Being self sufficient to the point of libertarianism it’s only then we speak up to remind her of what should have been common sense: the only person any of us can rely on being able to change is ourselves.

From the standpoint of pragmatism and belief in self-sufficiency Slaughter’s article begged sharp criticism for failing to properly skewer the underlying feminist ideology that a great many men (and women) identify as the chief culprit deceiving today’s women into recklessly chasing whatever unrealistic liberal arts degree, inflexible career, biologically difficult family choices, or extravagant lifestyle she’s been told she can’t be happy without; driving her to pursue goals in each of these areas that may deeply conflict for her personally with no sense of the personal risk involved.

She[Slaughter]’s ignoring basic facts of biology here. Surgeons, for example, are known to peak in their 40s, after which their abilities decline. Trial lawyers probably follow a similar trajectory. Professional athletes, of course, peak far earlier. The thing is, there are only a choice few jobs in which people can continue to rise past the age of 50. There’s a big difference between being adequate and being in one’s prime. If you spend a large proportion of your prime working years taking care of kids, you simply aren’t going to rise as high. It’s a trade-off Slaughter isn’t willing to acknowledge.

W.F. Price, Anne-Marie Slaughter Grasping at Straws in “Have it All” Article,

As men we know that if we want it all we’re going to have to earn it. So we tend to define “having it all” in terms of meaningful pursuits worth our sacrifice … simple pleasures, and bonds with family and friends that truly add value. It deeply rankles us that under feminism the phrase “having it all” has lost any usefulness as far as a holistic focus on achieving a “life with purpose”, and has now come to demand women acquire the luxurious lifestyle, high flung career, domestic help, and other external trappings that a hopelessly lost generation of older feminists says she should have. We are so rankled in fact, that we are no longer willing to serve as “feminist appliances” to give her more free time to devote to such selfish and self-serving fantasies of personal fulfillment.

this time you’re going to have to do it yourself. We’ll be out fishing, hanging out with our kids, making craft beer or whatever strikes our fancy in our free time. You can have your glory — without us.

W.F. Price, Anne-Marie Slaughter Grasping at Straws in “Have it All” Article,

Woman can have it all, but they can go do it alone.

Nevertheless despite my personal misgivings about the gender politics of Slaughter’s article, after some reflection I did begin to greatly appreciate it. Its beauty lies in the difference between the way men and women tend to process arguments on sensitive issues. As any editor of an online forum will tell you, men tend to be drawn in by controversial arguments on sensitive subjects where women are driven off. Men will try to learn more about those arguments they disagree with and will actively engage their opponent to try to dismantle that logic. Women on the other hand tend to disengage from direct conflict by using ridicule to show the arguments they disagree with aren’t understandable at all. Typically women disengage online by banning the offensive person from the discussion, which the women happily carry on without any need for that opposing opinion to be fairly or accurately represented at all.

Because of this response pattern any writer who addresses sensitive women’s issues has to do so in a way that allows women to confront issues without being confronted. She must present criticism obliquely enough for her female readers to see opportunities for improvement in a wholly positive light. The writer can’t for example tell women to let go shallow unrealistic wants that are completely out of context of any holistic sense of well-being; and she can’t tell women that the closest they’ll get to achieving those goals is stressing themselves to the point where achieving more realistic goals and a more holistic balance is impossible. Instead the writer must give women readers half a compliment by saying “try not to be too perfect”. As men, by contrast, we measure the verity of our beliefs by the ends those beliefs enable us to achieve. Perfection is good or by definition it isn’t perfection, at least not for you. For us, as a useful means to an end a strategy that’s perfect demands praise, just as a wrongheaded one requires criticism. But in addressing women, using double-think like the half compliment is necessary because if the writer doesn’t catch women’s sympathies they will simply tune out. Communicating half an idea is better than communicating none of it at all.

Fortunately as a man exploring the views of men here I can speak plainly. Simply put, men overwhelmingly feel that feminists have been advocating life paths that lead to miserable tradeoffs for most women:

modern feminism is founded on women’s tendency to feel a vague (yet powerful) sense of dissatisfaction. It is the solution to the problem with no name. Betty Friedan was the founder of NOW and wrote the book The Feminine Mystique, which is generally credited with launching second wave feminism…

The “Problem That Has No Name” was described by Friedan in the beginning of the book:

“The problem lay buried, unspoken, for many years in the minds of American women. It was a strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning [that is, a longing] that women suffered in the middle of the 20th century in the United States. Each suburban wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries … she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question — ‘Is this all?”

Sorry feminists, you absolutely own that. Vague female dissatisfaction is your founding philosophy, and solving it is your reason for being. Just because you figured out that it is a feature, not a bug, you can’t beg off having to fix it. In an amazing blunder, feminists have stepped into the scapegoat role for women’s unhappiness and are now the new henpecked husband.

Over promise, under deliver, Dalrock,

Having patiently endured feminism’s henpecking so long we can be excused for having little sympathy feminism is now taking some of the abuse in our place:

All I can do is offer some advice: Just try being nice to her feminists, maybe ask her about her feelings more and she will snap right out of her malaise. If she isn’t happy, it must be something you are doing wrong.

Over promise, under deliver, Dalrock,

To us men the solution is simple. No women has to swallow that feminist Kool-Aid. Many less fortunate women have (often by necessity) shirked feminism completely and just gone ahead and successfully taken charge of finding their own balance. Ideology has nothing to do with making empowering choices. To us feminism just makes women unattractive by turning them into victims, narcissists, and adolescents who have no power over their own happiness; like the perpetual adolescents in the book “Grow Up! How Taking Responsibility Can Make You A Happy Adult” by Dr. Frank Pittman. I don’t know whether Pittman makes any statement for or against feminism, but he nicely sums up the predominant male sentiment when he writes: “… happy grown-ups take responsibility. They take responsibility for their bodies, their characters, and their relationships. They own their lives and they own up to the choices they make. Finding the responsible thing to do is the lifelong quest for grown-ups. And it leads to real, grown-up happiness…”

Of course the idea that valuing personal attributes like responsibility can lead to happiness isn’t new, though these core values may be increasingly foreign to women privileged enough to ponder the kind of work-life balance choices Slaughter writes about. Conversely women like Slaughter are rarely ones who want for any basic necessities. And they are wholly mislead in the belief their situation is representative of other women. The kind of luxury presumed as the birthright of all women in this age of consumption has never been realistically attainable by even a sizeable minority of women (or men) at any time throughout human history. In fact even today for people of any gender who are searching for well-being and contentment, a common element of spiritual practice in all religions and for the non-religious in all meditative or psychological therapies, is detaching from love of the material and acknowledgement of thankfulness instead. Rather than allowing ourselves to believe we need some possession or outcome and not allowing ourselves to be happy until we get it, having a sense of well-being in our historically ‘without infinite wealth’ existences has always meant being grateful for whatever little we already have. It has also meant honoring our gifts. In other words “we must tend our to gardens”; we must devote ourselves to carrying out our duties to the best of our abilities in order to derive satisfaction from them.

For modern women this simple valuable message has been drowned out by the endlessly repeating narrative feminists have indoctrinated her with since birth that to be happy she has to “have it all”. And she should never in any circumstances have to settle and learn to build happiness from the ashes of compromise.

Not allowed to take joy in whatever simple blessings she has available, she is driven to pursue some grueling career that will allow her to buy the perfect life, and to hold off from years of enjoying a satisfying committed relationship during her most attractive and reproductively viable years to hook up casually until she meets the prince who will treasure her and indulge her whims without ever expecting anything in return. Then she is told to have children exactly when it suits her plans, and to expect that raising children won’t impact significantly on her career or leisure time, all the while demanding absolute control over the environment her children are raised in.

She has been force fed one expectation after another to the point of being bloated with a pathological sense of entitlement that rejects responsibility for consequences of any of these decisions. As refreshingly caustic men’s blogger Angry Harry wrote: “Are women responsible for anything that they do”?

It’s a fair question I’ve listed some of men’s answers to.

  • From all the slut walks around the world we know feminism tells women it’s unfair to be held in any way responsible if they’re raped walking alone in dangerous places during the dead of night while wearing skimpy clothing that targets them. Or for getting so drunk or high in sexually charged situations that they lose control of their faculties and engage in conduct that’s misconstrued as consent. Or for any ambivalence in communicating their consent or lack of consent to sex.
  • From feminisms love of fist fighting movie heroines, from feminism’s condemnation of films portraying violence against women at the same time it absolutely supports movie violence against men in retaliation for fighting back against those women, we know feminism encourages women to feel at liberty to strike a man full force without responsibility for consequences. Then, from feminist’s violent opposition to statistics that women initiate up to 60 percent of domestic violence; from the death threats received by long time social worker Erin Pizzey who said it simply isn’t effective to look at domestic violence as just a problem of men victimizing women rather than a problem of two people in light of those statistics, we know that feminism tells women it’s unfair for them to take any responsibility for any role in domestic conflict either.
  • On top of that feminism tells women they aren’t responsible for the fact that the majority of child abuse is perpetrated by women. Men are responsible for stressing the women out, and if no man is in the picture men are still responsible because of their absence.
  • From the number of women who raise their children without significant help from their parents solely to avoid being told what to do by their mothers, we know feminism tells women she shouldn’t have to take responsibility for managing relationships with people she needs to depend on for childcare. She should be entitled to paid childcare who will do whatever she tells them to do.
  • Feminism says it’s unfair women have to take responsibility for having children before their biological clock runs out and fertility becomes an invasive medical procedure that costs as much as a new car.
  • Feminism tells women to be deeply offended at being held responsible for domestic duties like cooking, cleaning, and taking care of children. At the same time feminism says women shouldn’t bat an eye in holding their husbands responsible for earning a living or for cooking and cleaning if the husband stays at home.
  • To women who empower themselves by using their sexuality as a tool, feminism says it’s unfair for them to be judged or criticized. They should never be responsible to the opinions of anyone who believes that such conduct devalues them.

It’s ironic that in trying to absolve modern woman of much of her responsibility and instead foisting that responsibility onto us in “the patriarchy”, feminism only robbed her of opportunities to independently achieve well-being.

the word ‘responsibility’, so often thrown at men, is nowhere to be found when discussing women and the results of their actions. The result is that, yet again, men are held responsible to underwrite or otherwise support women’s choices

Elusive Wapiti, Judas’ Evangelicals,

Incredibly, having robbed her of responsibility and having seen that the desired ends hadn’t been achieved, feminism doubled down and continued to try to absolve her of even more responsibility in the mistaken idea that doing so would finally achieve empowerment. But rather than being empowering, removing all our responsibility turns us into spoiled and entitled children with less and less ability to control our outcomes, and therefore less ability to find the contentment we desire.

Because human beings rely on duty and obligation to compel us to devote ourselves to do anything for long enough, and with enough focus and commitment to derive satisfaction. Acknowledging our responsibilities enables us to feel it’s our duty and obligation to do what we’re responsible for, and this sense of responsibility is critical in building the bonds with others from which we derive a sense of well being.

It is because our own human existence is so dependent on the help of others that our need for love lies at the very foundation of our existence. Therefore we need a genuine sense of responsibility and a sincere concern for the welfare of others.

The Dalai Lama

A demanding and prestigious career, a thriving family, a well kept home, closets full of beautiful clothes, and lots of leisure are wonderful goals, but the simple truth is that for most women they are conflicting ones. Even the few lucky women who have it all will have to invest intense commitment and effort to get it, no one else will take responsibility for her own well-being and achieve it for her. None of us can achieve well-being for ourselves and those we care about without taking responsibility for doing everything within our control, even if that means letting go of the less important, to ensure this outcome.

Tragically only women’s voices can be raised in objection to the harm that feminism, in deceiving women, has caused all of us. Men’s voices speaking out against feminism are kryptonite to big media’s revenue from advertising. Provoking angry swarms of boycotting feminists we are effectively banned from the popular media and as a consequence the popular media only does feminism. But women also fear running afoul of “the tribe” and losing their feminist badge. There’s no opposing force that can compete with feminism to balance it out. And feminism has no “off” switch.

It can’t be in women’s interests that with no voice other than feminism, expressing simple joy and contentment at being a stay at home mother, even one who clips coupons, is seen as insulting and demeaning to women. It can’t be in women’s interest that expressing joy and contentment at making sure a man comes home to a hot meal every day is seen in the same negative way. Women should have the same freedom as men who have found fulfillment in being able to provide for their families if nothing else:

apparently women think that for all these years men were getting up and going to work because they were selfishly serving their own interests, only to discover on their deathbed that they wanted something else after all. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Men don’t work only for themselves, and we all know that. In fact, most of us work so that we can have a family.

W.F. Price, Anne-Marie Slaughter Grasping at Straws in “Have it All” Article,

A women should be free to pursue well-being wherever she finds it. Why should any traditional mechanism of fulfillment be closed off to her?

The next generation of women stands to suffer even more from being sold feminism’s bill of goods. The same feminism that causes today’s women to cruelly reject the idea of boys education programs, saying “it’s about time” when told that in some cases only 30% of university graduates OR LESS are men, is the same feminism that means none of the next generation of young women will be able to escape clipping coupons when they decide to have children with the marginalized young men they’ll marry, if those men marry them at all. For many of those women finding any husband will be doubtful as marriage rates continue to plummet and young men opt out of what they perceive to be legal bondage to a partner who will bear no responsibility to him whatsoever but who can break the contract at any time and still be entitled to the punitive financial support he’ll be enslaved with when he’s forced to pay for the privilege of being denied his own children.

In the next generation or so these forces are poised to transform society radically. I have argued facetiously in the past that any problems with global overpopulation will be fixed when feminism eventually disenfranchises young men so much and makes reproduction such an abusive proposition that rather than working hard to one day be able to support a family young men instead will opt out entirely. And I argued facetiously that if the end of economic growth is looming ahead as predicted by Jeff Rubin in “The End of Growth”, then this population reduction will be good for our resource constrained world.

The truth is however is that with the great challenges ahead of us society will have more need than ever for the problem solving abilities of young men. We will no longer have the luxury of allowing feminist entitlement and freedom from responsibility to disenfranchise our sons. A global cataclysm is looming, in the face of which women debating how to “have it all” will seem a quaint historical memory.

Yet in a strange twist the resource constraints of this new world might be exactly what feminism needs to recognize that the keys to women’s well being don’t lie in “having it all” as far as consumerism or freedom from any responsibility.

Many women are wising up to the falsehood that they can have it all, that both a powerful career and a happy family can be had if you just work hard enough, get enough subsidized childcare, get enough flextime, and find a sufficiently alpha husband–or accrue sufficient ex-husbands–to enable it.

Elusive Wapiti, The Feminist Lie of Sexual Equality,

Instead a more reliable route to well being lies in embracing the sense of duty, and obligation to family that has been steadily been beaten out of generations of young girls.

women are realizing once again that there is happiness in little things, in the smiles of children, and in the pleasures of a down-shifted life.

Elusive Wapiti, The Feminist Lie of Sexual Equality,

Ms. Slaughter expresses some surprise at the resistance of younger women to be forced into the same confining “iron woman” stereotype that hoodwinked her. But resistance was inevitable. Choosing the “red pill” young women refuse to be told they can’t follow treasured traditions just because those gender roles have been bringing value and balance to their families since their grandmothers times. For them the hard line of “feminism” must yield to the kinder wisdom of a “humanism” that recognizes women’s uniqueness rather than trying to reshape women into men, and that seeks to embrace a modern take on the age old values that have been the source of contentment for generations of women before. So to all those women seeking a kinder existence, from those of us men who have always loved and supported you, we continue to do our best to wait patiently. We hope the institution of marriage is still here when you return. Because the blessing of your feminine attentions adds beauty to our lives. We’re glad if you’re coming home.

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