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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

War of the Sexes: Part 10 - Karma?

In The End of Men: And the Rise of Women, Hanna Rosin created a metaphor for modern men and women:
Throughout my reporting, a certain imaginary comic book duo kept presenting themselves to me: Plastic Woman and Cardboard Man. Plastic Woman has during the last century performed superhuman feats of flexibility. She has gone from barely working at all to working only until she got married to working while married and then working with children, even babies. If a space opens up for her to make more money than her husband, she grabs it. If she is no longer required by ladylike standards to restrain her temper, she starts a brawl at the bar. If she can get away with staying unmarried and living as she pleases deep into her thirties, she will do that too. And if the era calls for sexual adventurousness, she is game. [...]
Cardboard Man, meanwhile, hardly changes at all. A century can go by and his lifestyle and ambitions remain largely the same. There are many professions that have gone from all- male to female, and almost none that have gone the other way. For most of the century men derived their sense of manliness from their work, or their role as head of the family. A 'coalminer' or 'rigger' used to be a complete identity, connecting a man to a long lineage of men.
Clearly the female gender is far superior with its "superhuman" flexibility and success while "centuries" can go by with men mired in the same muck. But wait! In the uncountable centuries prior to the last couple, where was that vaunted flexibility and success of the female gender? It seems like women were rather stuck in the mud with the same "ambitions" century after century as well, just like men.

Ah, but I'm sure it was the oppression of the evil patriarchy that kept "Plastic Woman" from launching into her meteoric rise all these millennia. After all, it's always the patriarchy's fault. Of course, then we have to wonder why the patriarchy suddenly became incompetent at oppression in the last couple of centuries.

To play a little with a famous saying, god created man and woman, but Sam Colt made them equal. When the armaments of an age are the broadsword and longbow, which require a lot of strength to use effectively, wielding weapons of war and defense is best left to the physically stronger sex. With the development of hand guns and rifles, a woman wielding a weapon became every bit as dangerous as most men. I don't think it's a coincidence that Plastic Woman seems to have emerged with the development of modern, light, and powerful weapons. The cost of oppression was suddenly much higher and the need for male defenders swinging broadswords was suddenly much lower.

Weapons technology was one technology behind the emergence of Plastic Woman, but virtually every technology has moved all aspects of life towards matching women's nature. I realize that only an evil patriarch like myself would even dare to suggest that women and men have different natures, but I'm the evil author of this post, so deal with it.

Natural attributes of men, such as physical strength and willingness to engage in physical and even mortal danger, have been rendered nearly useless by inventing machines and refining them to tame their potentially violent and dangerous or deadly force. Though there is debate on the issue, my opinion is that one would have to be deaf to not know that women are more verbal than men (I'm using up all of my words for at least three days just to write this post), and with the increasing importance of information and complex networks in all aspects of society, verbal competency has become ever more important, playing to women's strengths. Being naturally nurturing in nursing and other jobs in the growing service sector also moves the world towards women.

Therefore, it's not that Plastic Woman necessarily has superhuman flexibility, but rather the world was dumped in her lap and she could hardly help but flourish. On the other hand, Cardboard Man has pretty much had everything taken away from the sweet spot of his abilities. From this perspective, women haven't been flexible at all and while men may not have flexed enough to keep up with the stunningly rapid change of the last two centuries, they have flexed quite a bit. Other than a few things like female prostitution, there really aren't any jobs a woman can do that a man can't, and men have made at least some inroads into most existing careers.

Ms. Rosin can continue to gloat for her gender for a while longer. But what goes around comes back around eventually, and technology, which has so far destroyed mostly only men's livelihoods while creating new opportunities for women, is relentlessly marching towards eliminating women's work as well. Within decades, computers will learn to speak, and not just the rote responses you get on the phone or from Apple's Siri. They will learn to understand what they hear and respond with knowledgeable and seemingly empathetic responses. My estimate is that this strong AI will start to be well developed within two decades.

Along the way, computers, coupled with sensors and actuators, will become better doctors, nurses and therapists than humans; better administrators; better at customer service; and better at sales. They may eventually even be better at prostitution, though robot sex may not be considered prostitution, I suppose. At that point we'll get to see if Plastic Woman is really fantastically flexible or if women also are ejected unceremoniously from the workforce and end up sitting around watching soap operas all day.

Then Ms. Rosin can write a new book with the title "The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence." Oh wait! Somebody already wrote that book.

19 comments:

erp said...

Bret, Sam Colt didn't make them equal, it was the pill that did it. You and the rest of your sex absolutely refuse to understand that it was motherhood that tipped the balance, so men evolved for heavy lifting, while women do the heavy thinking.

Bret said...

erp,

I've never found the pill argument to be persuasive. Condoms have been around for a long time. And given that we have the pill and poor illegitimacy rates are 70%, it seems like the pill isn't all that useful after all.

erp said...

Bret, condoms depended on the man, so they were unreliable at best and in NYC until the pills was introduced, condoms were illegal to sell in drug stores and in an all girls college health class, the instructor told us that by law, she couldn't discuss contraception with us.

When my kids (all in their fifties now) were in junior high school science books were not only missing the reproductive system but the bladder as well.

Illegitimacy is the product of welfare not contraception. Pay for something and you get more of it.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

---
At that point we'll get to see if Plastic Woman is really fantastically flexible or if women also are ejected unceremoniously from the workforce [...]
---
I must tell you, after 10 items in this very interesting series, it is quite a cold comfort to know that in the end the war on sex is a joke since the human race is doomed anyway to loose to Terminator.

We can pretty much forget all of our existencial doubts by now, in the long run we are all dead - or watching soap operas, which is even worse.


Erp,

---
Illegitimacy is the product of welfare not contraception. Pay for something and you get more of it.
---

I gave you that statistic before, but I can repeat it to you: presently more babies are born in "illegitimacy" from people *out of the welfare system* than from people in that system.

Who knew it: you can also get more of what you didn't pay for.

erp said...

There are lies, damn lies and statistics.

Clovis e Adri said...

And also those who can't differentiate between them.

Barry Meislin said...

Throughout this post, a certain imaginary comic book character kept presenting itself to me:

Plastic feminist.

(Actually, if it's a slow day and you're sorely in need of some entertainment, check out the reviews posted at the Amazon site...)

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "...or watching soap operas..."

Only the women will watch soap operas. The men will watch golf - that's oh so much better. :-)

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "...more babies are born in "illegitimacy" from people *out of the welfare system* than from people in that system."

I'm not surprised at all about that. I think the main driver of rising out-of-wedlock births is the low desirability of marrying the men who get those women pregnant. In other words, whether or not the woman might ultimately collect welfare, it does her no good to be saddled with the dead weight of a male who can't bring in any income beyond what it takes to sustain himself.

On the other hand, I'm wondering what was included in the "welfare system." AFDC? Medicaid? Food stamps? Other tax payer funded services? I can't find your link for that statistic. If you could give it to me again, I'd greatly appreciate it.

erp said...

Bret, don't know many gay men, do you? I think that now that few women are housewives in the same way we were in the past, it's mostly gay men who watch soap operas.

Re: statistics. You are so right that statistics and studies need to be defined. For example, what does illegitimate mean nowadays? Are the children of financially comfortable single women who opt to have a baby without being married, included as being illegitimate and you're right nobody needs a lout hanging around the house, but that lout wouldn't have a place to live and cash in his pocket without welfare and he might be in jail for not paying child support without welfare ... and on and on the wheel turns. Where it stops nobody knows.

I read recently that a person with the whole panoply of welfare bennies has an income comparable to a working stiff's after tax income of $55,000!

Hey Skipper said...

[Bret:] I've never found the pill argument to be persuasive.

Wait. What? What the What?

The pill is cheap and extremely reliable. It gave women something evolutionarily unprecedented: control over their own fertility.

In the realm of societal change, the intartubez are a doddle in comparison.

And given that we have the pill and poor illegitimacy rates are 70%, it seems like the pill isn't all that useful after all.

That is a classic non-sequitur (and relates to my last post).

For poor black women, the pill would be extremely useful. So the question isn't about its utility, but rather its use, or lack thereof.

The pill is useful. Why don't they use the pill?

Hey Skipper said...

[erp:] You and the rest of your sex absolutely refuse to understand that it was motherhood that tipped the balance, so men evolved for heavy lifting, while women do the heavy thinking.

Au contraire. The vast majority of men get that; it's progressives and feminists who don't.

The demands of childbirth and the extended dependency of children made women much more specialized than men -- including the realm of thinking. (NB: I'm speaking statistically.)

There are exactly two things women can do that men can't, and one of them is optional.

In contrast, there are hundreds of things men do that women either can't or, pace Hannah Rosin, won't.

Amongst progressives, which of course includes doctrinaire feminists, the low representation of women in STEM fields is down to the patriarchy.

Perhaps.

Or maybe its something to do with evolution not stopping at the neckline.

erp said...

Skipper, change that to poor black and white women. As the photos (and I'm sure scholarly studies and statistics) show, poor whites are no better off and neither use the pill because children are their source of income.

Hey Skipper said...

[Clovis:] I gave you that statistic before, but I can repeat it to you: presently more babies are born in "illegitimacy" from people *out of the welfare system* than from people in that system.

The far more important measure here is rate, not quantity.

erp said...

Skipper the chauvinism of the male animal is staggering. Why do you think STEM is at the top of charts of ability. It's only the modern adaptation of the manly arts of hunting and fighting -- making those things easier.

Women and men are different. That's a true fact, I saw it in statistical study stamped true by the U.S. Federal Government Department of F.& F. (FACTS & FIGURES).

Bret said...

Hey Skipper wrote: "The pill is useful. Why don't they use the pill?"

The pill isn't useful if they don't use it.

Hey Skipper said...

Bret:

Wrong. Something is useful if it has utility, regardless of whether it is used or not.

The Pill can't be simultaneously useful and useless, but that is what your assertion means.

However, the Pill can be simultaneously used and unused, which is reality.

Hey Skipper said...

[erp:] Skipper the chauvinism of the male animal is staggering. Why do you think STEM is at the top of charts of ability.

I don't think STEM is at the top of charts of ability. Rather, I think there is an aptitude for that kind of thinking that his highly gender correlated. Claire Cain Miller can bleat all she wants about systemic bias, but the words "A new study …" almost always point towards a group of college students being asked leading questions in a ridiculously artificial environment with the goal of justifying whatever nonsense the Social Science researchers had in mind in the first place.

(I remember reading one of her other articles that noted female participation in the sciences was rapidly increasing, based upon some government statistics. Looked at the statistics — they counted Social Science as a science.)

Here are some recent statistics regarding women's participation in non-traditional occupations. Anything with the word "mechanic" attached has female participation under 5%. Small engine mechanics? 3%. Why?

One explanation is that heteronormative patriarchy systemically crushes women's hopes and dreams to become small engine mechanics, or any other kind of mechanic.

However, an alternative explanation is that women, in general, lack either the inclination or the aptitude for that sort of thing, because evolution did not stop at the neckline. There are two advantages to this theory: it doesn't require extraordinary claims about evolution requiring, but entirely lacking, extraordinary evidence; also, this explanation is culture-independent — for the former to be true, the best proof would be some cultural counterexample, which doesn't exist.

erp said...

Skipper, yes.