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Archive for June, 2009

The Biological Clock

This is a less weighty matter than I usually discuss on these pages, but I am becoming concerned about the misinformation which is apparently prevalent about this.

The first time I encountered the common misconception about fertility and age, I didn’t think much of it. It was just me hanging around with a couple of friends, one my age, the other much younger. They are both, by the way, exceptionally intelligent and well-informed women. But for some reason, I alluded to the fact that I, then 38 years old, and the friend of the same age, were unlikely to have any pregnancies in our future. Both of them firmly informed me that I was just as fertile at 38 as I had been at 22.

The conversation turned to other things. In the back of my mind, I decided that what they had meant was that pregnancy is still possible at 38; their insistence that a 38-year-old is not less fertile than a woman in her early 20’s was just one of those incidents of conversational carelessness. None of us is as careful to keep every fact and meaning straight when chatting with a couple of friends as we are when writing an essay intended to be taken seriously.

But a few months later, at work I made a similar remark in passing. Three women jumped on me and declared that women could continue to have children up to the age of 63. I swear on a stack of Torah scrolls that this is what they said.

I think that likely there had been some news item about a woman who got pregnant at 63 – probably with considerable medical help – and these women were too stupid to distinguish between “possible with a lot of luck and a great deal of expensive and risky hormonal treatments” and “normal”.

[EDIT: I was correct. A Romanian woman gave birth at the age of 66.]

But I’m starting to see this more and more, in random places. This attitude that women’s fertility is as long-lived as men’s. A woman of 30 saying carelessly that “someday” she’ll start a family – when her most fertile years are already behind her.

For thousands of years, humans have known that women decline in fertility as they age. Mary I of England, who married Philip II when she was 37, piled gold upon any quack who promised that his treatments would enable her to conceive despite her age. I once read that an elderly woman was once given a generous sum of money simply for presenting herself at the palace and telling the queen that she had recently given birth; the queen paid well for the sliver of hope the old humbug gave her. Mary I never conceived the child she longed for so desperately.

Women today, it seems, are similarly grasping at straws. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine became sufficiently alarmed at how widespread the misconception has become that fertility does not decline with age to broadcast commercials presenting the facts. Feminist outrage led to these nefarious attempts at disseminating facts being taken off the air. This website, for instance, claims with apparent seriousness that the only reason women in their 20’s and early 30’s have more children is that that is the age at which women choose to have children, having nothing to do with biology, and that unwanted pregnancy in women over 40 is a widespread problem, surpassing that of unwanted teenage pregnancy.

Meanwhile, women who have swallowed these lies are paying through the nose. Fertility treatments for older women cost in the thousands. Martha Stewart’s daughter, at 42, reportedly pays $28,000 a month in her attempts to conceive. Thus far, it hasn’t worked. What do women in their 40’s whose families are not filthy rich do?

It’s easy enough to see why this misinformation is being promoted. On a practical level, women who know that conception is unlikely when they reach their mid-30’s are not going to squander their youths in getting advanced degrees or pursuing a career; if they want to do these things, they will, like Phyllis Schafly, wait until after they have had their children and the children are, if not grown up, at least old enough not to need constant care.

On a theoretical level, fertility is just one more area in which men have the biological edge. Male fertility does decline with age, but not as soon as ours does. Women stopped claiming that if we had “equal rights” women would grow beards before the 20th century. By the 1980’s, most had stopped claiming that without societal conditioning, women would be just as strong as men, but it does still crop up from time to time.

The facts, however, show that nature has been more generous to men in this area as in so many others. Or actually, not so much. We tend to forget that we did not evolve as an urban, technologically advanced species. For primitive tribespeople, for cavemen, having our reproductive organs die years before the rest of us did was a positive boon. If a man dies when his child is an infant, the child still has a good chance of survival. But if the mother dies? Maybe, if the tribe has enough food and enough time, other women might raise it. But if times become hard, well. No, nature was doing us a favor by ensuring that we would probably live long enough to rear our youngest child. Men stay fertile longer because, in terms of simple survival, they are not as important to their children as women are. Only civilization gives them a role as vital as the mother’s.

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Oh, brother. A couple of feminists have discovered my blog post about feminism recklessly endangering women. Maybe I got linked on some feminist blog or something and I’m about to get dogpiled. Yawn.
Anyway, they’re denouncing me. They’re really mad at me for saying that women shouldn’t go to Taliban-ruled countries or cruise bad neighborhoods in short skirts in the middle of the night; not that they disagree, just, I shouldn’t have implied that women don’t “have the same rights and privileges in society”. Also, the quotations that appear in my post aren’t actually there.

As Da pointed out, liberal arguments never vary. One of the feminists grandly declared that I am taking advantage of the mythical benefits that feminism has allegedly conferred on me, because, you know, before feminism, American women were kept barefoot and pregnant and illiterate and had to ask their husbands’ permission before doing anything. Whereas now, when women can’t even go to elementary school, let alone anywhere else, without risking assault from the products of feminist-enabled female-headed households, and men expect to be allowed to use our bodies for uncommitted recreation as a matter of course, life is glorious for us.

There’s also the usual insistence that what I’m mentioning “isn’t feminism”. You can assemble, as Carolyn Graglia did, pages of quotations of leading feminists voicing one particular sentiment, and people who want to disagree will still weasel out of it by saying that it isn’t real feminism. Or that you’re oversimplifying – progressives always say that when you point out facts. If they make things complicated enough, they can obfuscate the facts.

Also, they insist that feminism could do just as good a job of chivalry at protecting women. Never mind that it has yet to show any signs of doing so. I didn’t know anyone still believed that women’s lib would make women spontaneously become as large, strong and aggressive as men.

The biggest fallacy in their arguments is the blank slate myth. Progressives of any variety always believe that humans are born as tabulae rasa and can be formed into anything. Raise boys and girls to be the same and they will be. Raise boys to be feminists and they won’t grow up to commit rape. Raise girls to be independent and they’ll equal men in all areas of prowess. Has this worked? Nope.

Progressives can’t or won’t face that men and women are biologically different, and that human nature is innate. Every experiment in indoctrinating people into something new has failed utterly, but they insist that they just need to try again and this time it’ll work.

“Social constructs” will only be effective if they channel innate human urges. The most obvious example of this is that the social construct of capitalism channels people’s greed and competitiveness into providing good services. Communism provided no outlet for these natural urges, so it failed. The social construct of patriarchy channels people’s need for companionship, sex, protection (giving and receiving), children, and to produce something lasting. Feminism only channels men’s urge for irresponsible sex and women’s greed and vanity, which is why its effects have all been so destructive.

Of course, it’s really useless for us to bother arguing. I know perfectly well that human nature and sex differences are innate, and there’s piles of science as well as history backing me up. They’re equally certain that reality is as they wish it were, that people can be shaped into anything whatever so long as the indoctrination is sufficiently intense. It takes a long time, a lot of experience and reading and thinking, before such ingrained convictions can be changed; it doesn’t happen after a few comments on a blog thread, however insightful.

By the way, I approved these rancorous comments because even though they’re quite hysterical and hackneyed, they did have content and refrain from calling me nasty names, unlike WW a couple weeks back. Despite her accusation, I continue to approve comments that are not in complete agreement with me.

When I get into arguments like this, I often find that the progressives are stunned that they are actually talking to one of those people who holds those verboten, outmoded views. They wave their usual catchphrases, such as the assertion that women ought to have the same options as men, and expect me to crumple at the mere sight like a vampire shown a crucifix. When I point out that no, humans aren’t blank slates who can be morphed into anything, or no, women can’t be equal in all ways, they often have no idea how to respond to such heresy.

I pointed out a few of the more glaring holes in their arguments, but I’m bored with it now. I’ve been around this block dozens of times. I’ll only bother with such arguments for as long as they interest me. Why don’t progressives ever come up with anything original?

P.S. I know I’ve wasted time lately responding to the comments of progressives. I promise my next post will be a substantive one

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Now that Christians have lost control of Christendom, I wonder if they might be in store for centuries of living much as we Jews have since losing control of Judah. A minority in every country we live in. Sometimes tolerated, often oppressed or persecuted or segregated, always pressured to convert to the belief system of the majority. Clinging together to preserve our beliefs in a society which is hostile to us, often seeing our children turn apostate to escape the second-class citizenship. And always trying to be a light unto the nations which do not want our light.

The good news, brethren, is that your faith will survive, as ours has. And perhaps eventually will rise again.

The bad news is, the interim is likely to be unpleasant. Not just for Christians and Jews, either.

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I’ve had a bump in hits of late, and it appears to be because one of my posts is being discussed over at Lutheran Surrealism. Welcome, all of you!

Most of my posts are going to be on subjects I planned before I even started this blog, but sometimes comments get me to thinking. That’s what this post is going to be about.

First order of business: After reading the thoughts of regular readers and thinking it over, I have decided not to approve insulting comments, even if they do have a modicum of content. People who wish to disagree with me will have to do so without calling me names. It’ll be a broadening experience for them.

Part of the reason I decided this was that the more I thought about it, the angrier I felt at the word “redneck” being used as a slur. The most popular etymological explanation of this word is that it is derived from the sunburn white farmers get from the hours they spend outside, tending to the crops and livestock that feed and clothe all of us. I may be considered a snob, as I take class differences seriously, but there is a right way and a wrong way of being a snob. Feeling contempt for people who are in lower status professions than yourself is the wrong way. As Thomas Sowell articulated so well, “menial” jobs are vital to society.

Of course, when liberals sling the word “redneck” around, they mean those people, who aren’t educated (read: brainwashed) enough to share their enlightened opinions. Most liberals aren’t very bright, and for the dim, the only way to measure other people’s intelligence is to see how much they agree with oneself. If I had parroted the usual baloney about how of course women are completely equal to men in every way, she likely would have praised my intelligence. Since I disagree with her, I must be stupid, right? Only stupid people would disagree with her opinions!

It takes a keener intellect to judge intelligence by actual reasoning ability rather than by agreement. I cannot assume that someone who agrees with me that capitalism is good or that most women should be full-time wives and mothers is intelligent; they might only believe that because that’s how their parents raised them. On the other hand, I disagree with Ayn Rand about a lot of things, but I have to admit that she was much smarter than I am. The denizens of the Frankfurt School were unscrupulous and had warped values and promoted many false beliefs, but they were certainly not stupid.

Using the word “redneck” as a slur is insulting to the people who provide our food. Furthermore, it’s racist. It would be fatuous to claim that saying “redneck” is every bit as bad as saying “wetback” or nastier words that I’m not prepared even to quote, but that doesn’t mean that it’s all right. I wouldn’t delete a comment that discussed the higher crime rates among black and Latino Americans, but I would if they used ethnic slurs to denote those groups. Why should I tolerate a racist slur against a group I belong to? I wouldn’t let commenters call me nasty names based on my religion, why should I allow it based on my color?

WW, the commenter who speculated that I might be a “redneck man posting as a woman” has left a new comment in which she refrained from personal insults, so I approved it. I was actually going to invite her to make new comments, offering her ideas without the personal attacks.

Of course, she’s continued to attack me over at Lutheran Surrealism, where she declared:

Cassandra Goldman did not publish my comment on her blog. In fact the only comments she is publishing are those that are completely in agreement with her.

Why should I attempt to communicate with people who believe that the only two options available are “personal attacks” and “complete agreement”? Or who tell lies that anyone can debunk by bothering to read a few of the comments on my blog? Perhaps she hoped that everyone would just take her word for it and not read any of the comments here for themselves. WW, if you are still reading, you are welcome to continue to comment, but I will delete any comments that contain personal insults to me or any other commenter.

Second order of business: two of the gentlemen who comment here opined that I was too hard on working women, with my assertion that they aren’t very productive. Now, when people disagree with me in the same comment as calling me nasty names and making unfounded accusations and elsewhere tell lies about me, I’m inclined to dismiss them. But when people who have behaved in such a way to win my respect disagree, I have to think it over.

Most of my beliefs and opinions, I have an extensive bibliography I can quickly trot out to support. But my impression that most women in the workplace aren’t very productive isn’t one of those; it came from a combination of my personal observations (and anecdotal evidence is only useful, not definitive) and the implications of various things I’ve read. For example, the many books and articles I’ve read about the biological differences between the sexes. Or books that are critical of feminism.

Yesterday while I was going about my business, I found myself trying to think of how I could find data to support or disprove my assertion. Measuring actual workplace productivity is difficult. What are researchers going to do, stand over employees with a clipboard all day, marking down how many seconds they take to stretch their arms or take a sip of coffee? Well, it seems that researchers have in fact figured out ways to evaluate productivity:

Thirty-five percent — that’s how much productive work the average woman does in an eight-hour day! Women’s Health broke down the typical work day in its December issue and found out what we are doing with the remaining 65 percent of our time: Email, 20.83 percent; looking for stuff, 18.75 percent; interruptions, 12.5 percent; Internet searches, 12.92 percent.

Unfortunately, there weren’t matching stats for men. I’m linking this here mainly in case I eventually find some.

Sometimes you can find things out indirectly, though. I decided to look for data on absenteeism, the pay gap, and reasons for dismissal.

I thought that statistics on why men vs. women, get fired might provide some illumination, but I couldn’t dig any up. Even had I found them, I’m not sure what kind of conclusions I could have drawn. If I’m right that many women only remain employed because they would sue for sex discrimination if they were fired for lack of productivity, then the stats wouldn’t do much good. Actually, if you’ve ever wondered why today’s businesses have so many absurd regulations, it’s to protect employers from litigation. If you’re not a straight white male Gentile and you get fired for incompetence, you can sue for discrimination, and we all know that innocence is no defense from litigation. So if you don’t seem to be pulling your weight, or you don’t get on well with your co-workers and are causing friction, your boss can fire you citing some frivolous rule that everybody breaks. The rules are there to be broken. Your boss needs to have something on you.

Here’s what I did find:

Why Men Earn More: The Startling Truth Behind the Pay Gap and What Women Can Do About It

The far-left publication Publisher’s Weekly left this review of the book:

Why do men earn more than women? Because they deserve to, argues this contrarian challenge to feminist conventional wisdom. Men work longer hours at more dangerous and disagreeable jobs. They more readily accept night shifts, hardship postings to Alaska and entrepreneurial risks. Men get in-demand degrees in engineering, while women get degrees in French literature. Female librarians earn less than garbagemen, not because of discrimination, but because so many applicants compete for the safe, clean, comfortable, convenient, fulfilling jobs women prefer. Indeed, the author insists, statistics show that women and men with equal experience and qualifications, doing the same job, for the same hours, under the same conditions-get paid the same. Farrell, author of The Myth of Male Power, usefully points women towards high-paying, male-dominated fields that are becoming female friendly and suggests that ambitious women marry stay-at-home husbands. But he considers men the real victims, taken advantage of because of their innate chivalry and social expectations that they trade earning power for love and sex and be “willing to die to support the wives and children.” He decries anti-male discrimination in occupations like teaching, nursing and cocktail-waitressing, and pillories comparable worth initiatives as “spoiled-brat economics.” A whole chapter is devoted to “genetic celebrities”-i.e., beautiful women (exemplified in photos of same) whom men shower with free dinners, gifts and home repairs and who “marry up” into cushy lifestyles paid for by workaholic husbands. Ostensibly a road-map to workplace equality, Farrell’s portrait of pampered, ungrateful women and stoic, self-sacrificing men may strike some readers as an unhelpful caricature.

Why Women Still Make Less than Men

Women in the workforce are also less likely to work a full-time schedule and are more likely to leave the labor force for longer periods of time than men, further suppressing women’s wages. These differing work patterns lead to an even larger earnings gap between men and women – suggesting that working women are penalized for their dual roles as wage earners and those who disproportionately care for home and family.

The real reason women are paid less than men

I don’t much like the answer to this but here is what I think it is. Women are worth less to employers (male or female) than men are because they can’t be counted on to stay in their job for as long. I’m not saying that men don’t job hop all the time but in general an employer knows that if he gets paid well and treated nicely a man is likely to stay.

Women doctors ‘less productive than males’

Female absenteeism is not just about child care
Why women call in sick more than men is a complex workplace issue

Gender differences in absenteeism.

Reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (1982) show that when aggregate absenteeism data was broken down by gender, men and women tend to exhibit different rates of absenteeism for different age groups. In 1980, men from 16 to 19 years of age have the highest incidence of absenteeism. The incidence of absenteeism decreases as men age, reaching a low for those in the 25-34 age group. Absenteeism rates for men fluctuate through middle age but increase in the oldest age group, those age 55 and up. Although women in the 16-19 age group also exhibit the highest incidence of absenteeism, the rates in the other groups are very dissimilar from those of men. Women have their next highest rates in the 25-34 age group and have their lowest rates between 35-44 and over 55.

Of course, it’s only scrupulous to cite data that appears sound even if it goes against your thesis, so:

Childless women are the most productive staff of all, study finds

The article said that men with children are the second most productive, and women with children the least.

The comments of Mr. Palmer and Mr. Smith, chiding me for being too hard on the fair sex, also had me mentally reviewing my personal experience with working women. I found myself thinking about my co-workers at every job I’ve ever had, every professional I’ve had to employ, and all the workplaces I’ve had to deal with. Certainly I’ve known some competent, hardworking women and some slacker men. (An old beaux of mine began his most lasting friendship with a man with whom he had apparently little in common, because the two of them found that they were doing most of the work in their office, regardless of the sex, rank, age, or education level of everyone else there. My own friends, male or female, usually turn out to be those with strong work ethics. I don’t screen prospective friends for that, it just happens that way.) Still, on the whole, my impression that men are much better workers still stands. And when I think of some of the harm that’s been caused me by female doctors, well, I know there are good ones out there, but I decline to play the Russian roulette game of hoping I manage to find one of them. When I need a doctor, I go to a man. I can’t think of anything bad a male doctor’s ever done to me.

Still, Mr. Palmer and Mr. Smith have given me hope. My own observations of working women are such that I have become highly skeptical of all of them. If these gentlemen are right, then the problem isn’t as bad as I perceive it to be. One nice thing about being a pessimist: it’s very pleasant to be proven wrong.

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I’ve had a few drive-by commenters making ad feminem attacks on me, unsurprisingly. Like the psychologist who gave his professional opinion that reading a couple of hundred books and piles of articles, spending years pondering and experiencing a field, gathering large amounts of data and references, and synthesizing them into a coherent essay is “an exercise in unfettered self-indulgence”. (For a nerd, perhaps it is.)

Some of them have only read one of my posts because it came up in a search and apparently expect me to outline my entire belief system in every single post. “Oh, yeah? What about such-and-such, huh??” they demand. I blogged about it three months ago, that’s what.

In one sense, they’re right when they accuse me of not supporting every single statement I make. This is because I’m really writing for people who already share part of my context. You might not be capitalists, but you already know that socialism is bad. Whether you are religious or not, you recognize the immense value organized religion has for society. Whether you learned it from religion, science, or sociobiology, you’ve already discovered and accepted the fact that men and women are biologically different. Most of you probably have similarly noticed the seeming paradox that traditional women are far more competent – even at masculine fields of endeavour – than feminists. I cannot find the link, but a couple of years ago I read an article by a man whose daughter-in-law had been a highly paid and successful engineer before she quit to be a full-time wife and mother. He rhapsodized about her gourmet cooking, which was excellent because she approached it with the same precision with which she had engineering. He said that he wasn’t about to tell his son that he’d been had because then he wouldn’t get to enjoy her cooking anymore.

So I don’t need to explain these basics to most of you regular commenters. But not everyone who finds this blog on a random Google search is going to have that context, so they are genuinely shocked that I recognize in passing that men and women are different (specifically, that women are not as good at a lot of things as men) without giving them a truckload of footnotes, not that they would pay them any attention if I had. (I listed a couple of dozen references to support my debunking of psychology, and it was dismissed as “self-indulgent”.) But why should I do over the work that Steven Goldberg has already done so thoroughly?

Really, what these drive-by commenters are doing is policing the web for thought crimes. They see it and they call me a few names to remind me that outdated thoughts are no longer allowed.

Two of them accused me of being a man, because I oppose feminism. One of them challenged me to prove that I was a woman by posting a photo on “this hatefest”. As if a man couldn’t just upload a photo of his sister or some woman he works with and claim it was his own.

Of course, I have no intention of providing any identifying details about myself. I did reveal the year of my birth because it’s relevant to what I’ve observed, and yes, I really am female. But I intended this blog to be a place where I could say what I thought without scandalizing my mainstream conservative friends, or being stalked by those commenters who are so infuriated that I dared to voice such heresies, or maybe getting arrested in a few years if things keep on the way they’re going. So I won’t reveal my real name, my profession, my familial status, what area I live in, or anything about my personal life unless I decide to use it to support a point.

I didn’t set up this blog to moderate comments, but sometimes WordPress moderates them for me and they don’t appear until I approve them. I usually do unless they’re clearly irrelevant stuff like advertisements, or if it’s just a content-free insult.

I don’t know what makes WordPress choose some comments to withhold until I approve them. I do think one of its triggers is certain words, such as profanities or derogatory terms. For instance, the one that speculated that I am not actually a Jewish woman, but a “male redneck”. Because, you know, lots of rednecks spend their weekends writing essays about the Hegelian dialectic and paraphrasing Elizabeth I in a blog that derives its name from an expression of umbrage that was common among English gentlemen a century ago.

There’s two comments on my blog that are still awaiting approval or deletion, both by the same person. (The commenter claims to be a woman, but maybe she’s actually a redneck man!) I’m of two minds. They have very little content, but they do have some, chiefly in the form of the commenter’s hearsay about her own personal experience which conflicts with my statements, according to her. She does attempt to discuss my post about how feminism endangers women; not very well, but she’s clearly trying to form a reasoned argument, before she finishes up with a personal attack. The rest of the two comments, though, are personal insults, accusations that my beliefs are compensation for my personal problems, and personal questions I have no intention of answering.

I am asking you, my regular readers: should I approve this sort of comment? That has some content but is also full of facile insults? I am not going to trouble to answer their non-personal questions, which they could easily answer themselves if they read a better class of book. Years of experience arguing with progressives has shown me how futile such arguments are. If they want their worldview rebuilt from the ground up they need to go to Mencius Moldbug, not me. I have limited time for this blog and I will use it to discuss the matters that really interest me, not to try to convince devout liberals that their articles of faith are mistaken.

So if I approve that kind of comment, you, my esteemed regulars, will be the ones engaging with these people, if you choose to. Will it, in your view, enhance your experience? Should I let their slurs and their speculations about my personal life show them for what they are? Or would you rather the tone not be dragged down by comments that include declarations that I am a redneck and a man and that this blog is a hatefest?

Please, tell me your thoughts.

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The Editrix has a wonderfully angry post about some Dutchwoman who saw no reason that a blonde, female journalist shouldn’t go to Afghanistan to interview terrorists. Just proving the point I made a few weeks ago.

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