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Who read The Feminine Mystique?

POSTED ON Apr 25th 2013 BY LESLIE LOFTIS UNDER Feminism, Housewifery

I bumped this comment from  the Weight of Regret thread last month for easy linking to the point: after about 1970, it seems few contemporary feminists read their foundational tome, The Feminine Mystique

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Re: hard bound books, funny you should mention not being able to find them–they weren’t that well read past their first printing. Even The Feminine Mystique, perhaps the foundational work, the “click” that started the Second Wave–did you notice that in all the 50th Anniversary articles, many feminist scholars and advocates, not regular women but the women who ply feminism as a trade, that they were reading the book for the first time? I seriously wonder if only conservatives have actually read it since about 1970, which of course is how we know that feminism was never about choice, but certain choices. For the 50th, The Guardian ran a TFM reading blog, a “Pop Up Book Club,” because many of their writers hadn’t read it. Emily Bazelton and others at Slate posted some very revealing articles about how they hadn’t read it. (I commented late there because some of the last comments were too delicious to resist.) I liked this passage in particular:

I mean, Friedan compares, at chapter length, the plight of women stuck at home with their kids to concentration camp victims. Sure, I’ve never had to sit alone with a mop and a crying baby and no Internet (side question: Was the problem that had no name possibly the lack of Wi-Fi?), [This might be the silliest aside I’ve seen in a feminist article and proof that the author must have speed read TFM. Loneliness and isolation was only a side effect of the problem with no name, and the wi-fi mommy-blog solution only treats the symptoms.] but that seems more than a bit extreme to me. In fact, as much as I found myself cheering at the stirring introduction and conclusion, for much of the middle of the book, I was muttering and angrily underlining what I found to be particularly judgmental passages. “A baked potato is not as big as the world,” Friedan writes, “and vacuuming the living room floor—with or without makeup—is not work that takes enough thought or energy to challenge any woman’s full capacity.” Sharp is right! Is it any wonder it occasionally feels like feminism has devolved into a spinning carousel of accusatory blog posts about how your choices aren’t the exact right choices (including your choice to blog about your choices), with this as one of our founding texts?

Stephanie Coontz didn’t read it until Basic Books asked her to do a 50 year retrospective. From the intro of her book:

I jumped at the chance. I was certain that rereading this groundbreaking book would be an educational and inspiring experience…. After only a few pages I realized that in fact I had never read The Feminine Mystique, and after a few chapters I began to find much of it boring and dated…. It made claims about women’s history that I knew were oversimplified, exaggerating both the feminist victories of the 1920s and the antifeminist backlash of the 1940s and 1950s.

And the first review of Coontz’s A Strange Stirring:

I am a young professor of sociology teaching classes on gender, marriage and social change — and I have never read Betty Friedan’s The Feminist Mystique. Like many women of my generation, I thought I had. I must have, I told myself. Perhaps in college? No. And it turns out that very few of my well-educated feminist-leaning friends have either.

Considering TFM’s influence, anyone serious about participating in American intellectual discussion should have read the book. For a professional feminists to not have read it—their admission completely kills their credibility and explains quite a lot about modern confusion over feminism.

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As a practical matter, feminists’ failure to study their history means that they’ve spent 40 or so years essentially telling us what feminism means to them, cherry picking the bits they liked and denying the bits they didn’t. “Feminism has always been about choice” or “about women having control over their own lives” are propositions that fall upon light reading of contemporary sources. It’s a shame. If they had read just TFM, they might have recognized the foundations for some ills today.  For instance, the common lament that society is too focused on economic activity, some of that blame belongs to Friedan’s insistence that women must seek paid employment. They also might have avoided the Mommy Wars, as Friedan foresaw that corporate jobs and early motherhood would not mix well.

For anyone who has not yet read The Feminine Mystique—I know moms are short on time to read 50 year old social commentary—just read the last chapter, “A New Life Plan for Women”. You can avoid most of the heated rhetoric, find the best explanation of the mystique, and see how much better the feminist movement might have been if Friedan had won the movement’s internal struggles in the 70s when she fought against trading the housewife mystique for the sex goddess mystique or the career woman mystique. More at The Road Not Taken.

56 Comments



  1. Heather said:

    Betty Friedan’s book was, well, ‘suburban’, and gave rise to the National Organization FOR Women. I can’t remember reading it either. Simone Beauvoir’s “The Second Sex” was more interesting to those women of my cohort, which was primarily unmarried, university-age women. Friedan spoke to women with dishwashers.

  2. ari said:

    Heather! The box is on my kitchen table! I’m waiting for Leslie to come to Austin to open it!

    And what’s your favorite color, anyway?

    Patrick O’Brien, of Maturin and Aubrey books, translated SdB, for a very long time. Her first translator was a biologist, on a summer-shift.

  3. Heather said:

    my favorite color. hmmm. I like bright colors from the blue/green/red parts of the spectrum Not the gold/yellow/orange part. Does that help?

  4. Heather said:

    My hairdresser gives great gossip. I must pass this on, wondering if the following is a usual ‘thing’: My hairdresser leaves her stepdaughter off at school right near the cigarette smoking area. Her daughter smokes like 2 or 3 cigs per day, and with one pack on hand, she walks away every day with about $25. Not bad. Anyway, another mother approached my hairdresser, asking her to tell her daughter NOT to sell a cigarette ($1.00) to her daughter. My hairdresser looks straight at the concerned mother and explains reality: the other way the girl can get a cigarette is to buy one from one of the 18 year old boys who can buy cigs legally. The price? a bl-job. As my informant told me, this form of sex isn’t, to the high school kids of today, just ‘not sex.’
    I told three other women about this at lunchtime. It so shocked me that I couldn’t really SAY the whole story. TWO of the women knew all about it, though, and could fill in my blanks, and were shocked, I think because I am so shocked.

  5. Heather said:

    And put the price of a cigarette in a high school, with the rampant popularity of Twilight, and it all fits, doesn’t it? Apart from the whole disintegration of the west thing.

  6. Leslie Loftis said:

    ‘Splain. I don’t follow. I’ll probably say, “oh, duh,’ when you do, but too much in my head at the moment.

  7. ari said:

    Primaries, vivids, or slightly offs? can you go look at palette at knitpicks? I’ve got to order yarn for one shawl, already, two years of not being made while I was stuck in every possible way. I mean, I like purples, but some are the good, some are terrible, and some are the best thing, ever, even if I don’t own a single item of clothing in that color (yet!)

    And, golly, a blow-job for a cigarette? Really? Actually, I think I’m back at – they still have a smoking area? They banished those from Austin schools. There were, however, elementary school kids having sex on the playground at one of the schools, and then some kids in middle school going at it on the sidewalk- with a crowd around them filming the whole episode on their camera-phones.

    About half the kids in confirmation attend private, religious schools. The others attend wealthy district schools. I think there are two families attending AISD besides us. I wish I knew the name of one of the families. The girls picked Austin High because of it’s history. They made a good case for it.

    A blow-job, for a cigarette?

  8. Heather said:

    Yes! a blow job for a cigarette. It’s like jail. And yet another argument (mine) for ensuring that children finish school by their 14th birthday. No more highschool. No more blow jobs for cigarettes.

    The smoking area is outside the school on a snow pile (right now).

    The colours I like: Ciel, Delta, Peapod, Rosehip

  9. ari said:

    okay, I think I’m still stuck between “cigarette” and “blowjob.” I’m just really hoping it’s something fancy and exotic- handrolled, or Gauloises, or something imported, but I have a feeling we’re talking Marlboro Reds, or Kools? Virginia Slims, with the little ring of roses around the filter? Or would that look planned?

    I’m really stuck. I don’t even know how to set about sneering, or complaining, or anything. A cigarette? Knees in snow? A cigarette?

  10. Heather said:

    Yes! knees in the snow!! I really want to know if this is the usual thing, price, among the Y generation? I am so out of the loop.
    As to the sort of cigarette, I will ask my hairdresser informant, and her daughter.

  11. ari said:

    you know, just b/c leftists broke high school-I’m not sure that means we have to shut them all down and set kids loose. I’m a fan of well-run ones. I don’t think letting kids from well-off families sending their kids to “country day schools” while the feral proles work is necessarily a good idea. I went to three separate ones with really distinct cultures- a big suburban school, a magnet, and a ghetto public.

    Katrina shut down the ghetto school. The magnet has a foundation taking care of it. The big suburban one- that’s the one I’m most curious about. I mean, most people in America work for small firms- this school, with 3,000 students- is going to be the biggest machine anyone ever belongs to. Social scientists say people have ‘groups’ of about 250 people, max, so how many “tribes” are co-existing in one building? And why? Mostly, why?

    But shutting down the whole thing? That’s about like insisting b/c the Soviet Union imploded, therefore there should never be another nation/state/empire. Why not just loudly point out how incompetent and wretched these people are- they break everything, all the time, every time.

    I mean, I still use what I learned from the functional schools, just about every day. That’s a dizzying luxury- highly competent people show you how to do something, and watch your progress and practice, without it endangering your life or professional reputation. That’s a big, generous, project. Last century, it turned everyone into white-bread Americans. I have no idea how, but I bet it’s about to be a very popular question, give or take one or two more bombs.

  12. ari said:

    I’m turning this around in my head: it’s some sort of odd flirtation? I mean, it’s cold! what guy unfurls sensitive parts in the cold? and kneeling? in snow? I don’t know if this is just an aversion to snow, but I’m really not seeing how this even works. I mean, her jeans would stay damp all day. Add in, this big fascination with super-tight jeans- how can they even kneel? The girls here can’t even really bend their knees while walking, or getting into our out of cars. It looks like people in body-casts, waddling out of cars in the morning. I can think of two graceful girls: their jeans had some ease.

    Or, who does this? freshmen? When would a smoking senior even admit to talking to a freshman, much less carrying on some sort of awkward business transaction. Sophomores? Do freshman even smoke already? Would sophomores do this, or have they figured out being cagey with their favors? Probably not? And, again, that whole ” in public” thing. I mean, lying and dating sort of go together, like peanut butter and jelly. You can’t deny you hooked up with a revolting heifer if your friends saw you do it. I mean, I know one girl with a display problem that she was happy about- and she was heinous. She needed witnesses, otherwise nobody would believe her tales of romance.

    I can’t imagine a pretty girl going for bobbing for cigarettes in public, in the snow, during school hours. Where are the teachers? Heck, where are the janitors?

    Seniors, I can almost see seniors trying to be jaded and sophisticated, and trying odd sorts of flirtation. almost. The snow bit is the part that still gets me. Juniors, if they are desperately trying to be seen as sophisticated and grownup, that, I can see. But more along the lines of smoking and gossiping, not actually doing anything ridiculous in public.

  13. Leslie Loftis said:

    1. Y’all are cracking me up in a terrible, sometimes you have to laugh at the horror of it all sort of way. The way nurses joke about blood and death. The ring of roses. Awful. We have three daughters. We might not let them out of the house after the age of 10, at least until they are competent in self defense and old enough to get their CCL.
    2. Knees in the snow–you know they could probably just trade the cig for a later bj, at a less obvious location and time. And yes, freshmen and sophomores smoke. And a young prick like these guys would easily be seen with a freshman; they wouldn’t be talking with them after all. They hardly need to acknowledge them other than to motion for them to get on their knees.
    3. The visual imagery of women on their knees adds to the debasing. So much of casual sex that we encourage young 20 somethings to engage in is visually submissive; there is so much kneeling. I don’t know if you are watching Game of Thrones, but two scenes come to mind. In one a slave girl, former harem, is teaching a new queen how to please her husband. She’s teaching her how to be on top and make eye contact, that love comes in at the eyes, but the Queen demurs that this is not the tribe’s way, they always take women from behind. The slave answers something like “These men take slaves the way a hound takes a bitch. Are you a slave? Then don’t make love like one.” In another scene, a particularly dastardly prince is taking the captain of the ship’s daughter. She wants him to take her to be one of his port wives. (The prince is a sailor and his type have “wives” all over the place.) While turning her over because he doesn’t want to look at her and making her kneel so he has access, she tells him if he doesn’t take her, then her father will beat her for being a whore, to which he reassuringly answers, “But I haven’t paid you anything.”

  14. ari said:

    Have you seen the guy that wrote those books? Fan….ta…sies….he’d have a heart attack if some girl inflicted this on him in real life.

    Oh, gosh, there are nice boys! I’ve got two! Their friends are perfectly charming little church-boys, too! Bouquets of what will be tall, handsome, suitable, honorable, highly individual young men! They are already planning on wives and children and houses in the suburbs. It’s hysterical carpooling them. Nice boys! Violin-players in tuxedoes who also play football. Football players in sports-coats who are in the honor society. Boy Scouts galore. Geeky future corporate mediators taking drum lessons. Future engineers planning on internships and owning companies! Choir-boys ( no, really, choir-boys) who also want to do something analytical in math and management. I have no idea how they know about all these jobs at such a young age, but they do. I mean, they are already plotting out pay-rates, and internships and resumes. It’s really…..I hope there are nice girls willing to fall into place- the guys are trying to build good nests for them and their children, even though they are- at most- 13 years old- so, barely out of childhood themselves.

    The girls that strike them silent, walking by, are the pulled together, sheltered, cared for, ones. I had to think why I knew the girls that struck them silent were nice: they had brushed, shiny hair in waterfalls down their back, their jeans weren’t painted on, they were wearing blouses, and regular tennis-shoes, not athletic shoes- they held instrument cases, they had lip-gloss and mascara-regular pleasant features, as jane austen would say- not war-paint, one had braces- so shiny, nice, sheltered suburban girls- nothing high-fashion, nothing ghetto, nothing bad taste. One girl was wearing a dress- they said “she’s out of my league.” So, I’m thinking beautiful dresses and waterfall hair counts as game-changers.

  15. Leslie Loftis said:

    Yeah, I’ve seen him. Brilliant use of broken vessels. Happens all the time. Billy Joel wrote some of the more insightful modern love songs (most are utter crap) even though he had a rocky love life. CS Lewis was hardly a saint. One doesn’t necessarily have to experience something to understand it. But they do have to understand it to write it well. (As we saw from yesterday’s email discussion about the Boston Bomber fan fic club, people will write about anything. The moms who pitied him, however, I’m still noodling that twist.)

    Nice boys, here is my worry for nice boys. They make these plans. By some stroke of luck, they fall in love with one of these lovely girls, say about age 20. They are now old enough to know what kind of world lies out there, so they figure they are one of the lukcy ones, with this love saving both of them from the depravity of modern “dating” life. The girl, however, counseled by Gloria Steinem’s acolyte Hanna Rosin and her women’s chorus, she tells the girl it is too early to get tied down. She needs to establish her career and experiment with sexuality (which we learned from Jezebel is really about placebo intimacy). After a few years of this starter relationship, you know for stability and sex while she goes to school, she breaks it off. He’s devastated. His faith and trust broken. He might try again, but since were still in the early 20’s and most moms I know impose at least a 26 year old marriage floor for their daughters, he gets a repeat performance. He was holding back anyway from the original breach of trust. Whether burned once or twice, hey he figures just screw ’em, literally. And the nice boys become the Don Juans. Or maybe they swear off girls and just throw themselves into a job or extended adolescence. Best case scenario they become serial monogamists or even get into a long term, shacking up, marriage lite–they are way too untrusting of women to consider actual marriage at this point–and spend 10 years living with but not marrying their lovers even while her biological clock keeps ticking. She starts upping the pressure and finds that having already moved in with him and entered into every practical arrangement of marriage, then she has no power to compel save ultimatum. The best case then: they eventually marry and manage to have two children after shelling out tens of thousands on IVF treatments. The worst cases: he decides, usually when she’s about 35, that he doesn’t want to marry her, either because he was never that in to her but was using her for intimacy the way he was at 20, or because he doesn’t want marriage and kids because he’s still young or he trusts no one.
    That was a very general sum up of college-educated Gen X love life.

  16. Jody said:

    Check these statistics: http://www.pewresearch.org/daily-number/young-men-and-women-differ-on-the-importance-of-a-successful-marriage/

    “…the share of young men ages 18 to 34 who say that having a successful marriage is one of the most important things has dropped from 35% in 1997 to 29% now. Today a significantly smaller share of young men (29%) than young women (37%) list marriage as one of their highest priorities; this represents a change from 1997, when men and women were statistically equal on this measure.”

    These statistics are striking, I think, and the change in them is telling. It is interesting to speculate as to the reason for this shift. I have a couple of thoughts, but I cannot form them with children bickering over Minecraft in the immediate vicinity.

  17. Leslie Loftis said:

    I got lucky yesterday, kid wise. I’m fighting a head cold and they managed to sort themselves for the afternoon. I even got a cup of tea. Bickering over Minecraft, however, been there.
    I think the marriage numbers come from our turning marriage from a cornerstone to a capstone, an excellent analogy from the KnotYet group at UVa.
    Also, I didn’t mention in my good boys options yesterday that some simply get seduced by the availability of casual sex. For my peers, young sweethearts who broke up early, before junior year of college, that was usually due to the guy wanting to play around. If they broke up after Junior year, that was the girl, wanting to live life and establish her career before getting serious. Often, but of course not always, there was nothing actually wrong with the relationships, just an idea that they were supposed to play the field and do for themselves first. This was rarely mutual and often devastated the other party.

    A few quick blegs before I call my mom and then take issue with one of ari’s recent points:
    At a webcast the other day, some lawyer brought up a study that working moms spend just a many hours with their kids as homeschool moms. I can’t find it. I know it probably either just guesses or limits the survey to something like moms of seniors in high school and excludes any SAHM’s charity work as not work, but I’d like to be able to name the manipulation, not speculate. I just can’t find the study. Sound familiar anyone?
    I’m looking for a good chart on domestic violence that separates husbands and boyfriends. Steinem et al. like to claim that home is the most dangerous place for a woman, but they use the vague term “home” and most studies combine domestic violence rates, “husbands or boyfriends” thereby masking that women are far more likely to be abused, to say nothing of their children, outside of marriage.
    Heather, this one for you, but in the 70’s after the Second Wave launches there was a intellectual battle over domestic choices, was it ok to be a wife and mom? Insight, please. Because finally some feminists have discovered that motherhood, at least, is worthwhile. But they have little awareness that this ‘choice feminism’ battle was fought and lost in the early 70s.

  18. Jody said:

    Yes, good boys get seduced by the availability of casual, uncommitted sex. And good girls get swept away. And, they all wind up damaged, but most of them probably don’t even recognize that fact. They “wouldn’t be who they are without….”

    There’s actually a good analogy used in the Passport to Purity program. I haven’t used it, but my neighbor down the street told me about it. You take glue and stick two pieces of paper together, nice and good, and when you pull them apart, you see that pieces of both papers are missing some pieces and some are left on the other piece. Maybe if kids see this, they will at least be more careful about whom they’re gluing themselves to. Maybe I’m silly to think that something like that would even have an impact.

  19. ari said:

    okay, back to the bookstore, scanning books while little girl chats relentlessly. Another book on women networking. The main interesting thing about it, though, was counting out how each woman profiled had been divorced at least once. Which means she’s not exactly upper-class, according to Mr Murray.

    And, again, the emotional energy came from, quite seriously, corporate retreats. Seriously, there’s one where the woman is on-stage, and there’s a spotlight on her, and she’s taking questions after a speech, and somehow, this is a religious calling moment for her- she’s destined to be CEO of something. Her evidence? The light was overwhelming, and she felt this wave of emotion from the crowd, when they paid attention to her.

    There was even a section comparing various retreats and dinners and such, for emotional connection and networking and who knows what else. The writer is pretty emotional about this. She had been a corporate banker of some sort, had a kid, and switched over to writing. She wasn’t getting access to high- level movers and shakers, and then, somehow, she got one good interview with a woman, who then started calling other women in power. She’s pretty emotional about this. I can think of one true thing: she’s heinous on the sentence fragments and the slang- imagine Rick Bragg covering finance rather than white -trash Southerners, and you’ll have a sense of her style.

    So maybe the networking bits about being, well, sort of old-boy network preppy do need to be explicit, since these are really poor women made good? I mean, it’s fairly well documented that during the Depression, poor families just stopped having social anything, and then the kids did not learn networking, which limited their careers after World War 2. And, I think that’s when the “old boy network” turned into this mysterious, slightly evil thing- I’ve seen horror stories and seen trailers for movies positing a really nefarious social life for guys in frats, or men who wear blue blazers and striped ties.

    So, maybe, the Givers and Takers isn’t such a strange book? Is that it? I was reading it at the same time I was reading an article in ?the nation?? something lefty, profiling tech at SXSW- mostly the drinking and bombasticism proclaimed by drinkers in the lobby of the Driskill. (note to self: they.ain’t.right.) ( it’s documented.) ( by fans) The writer was a fan of all the networking, as long as she (?) ( or the most effeminate man, ever) was invited to be a part of it. Not substantive networking, just meeting people that looked like they might be “movers and shakers” and “powerful visionaries.”

  20. Heather said:

    I am going downtown thro the ice and snow, for a yearly appointment with my optometrist, and will then run Tif’s questions by my hairdresser. They are all good questions, by the way.
    As per networking, I know that the many brotherhoods (masons, kiwanis, etc etc) seem to have disappeared post WWII.
    Your description of the girls that strike your boys dumb is interesting. It is good to think that there are boys and girls like that. In my conversation with the 3 ladies the other day, one mentioned that her daughter is very impressed with the kids she is teaching … and (embarrassment!!!) the school is a Christian one.

    I don’t get the anger at Christianity. Much of it is fear of being next to a lower class person. Anyway.

  21. Jody said:

    So, here’s my question. Do these girls offer a BJ in exchange for a pack of cigarettes? Really, they have no other way of gaining access to cigarettes? There are no 18 year old girlfriends anywhere? I don’t understand. I simply cannot fathom that if just any random boy said, “I’ll buy you a pack of cigarettes if you give me a blow job,” that a girl would just casually take him up on it.

    I have two boys and two girls. The boys first, then the girls. My oldest is about to turn 15. He is a freshman in high school. He likes video games. There was a girl he had a crazy crush on, but when she started pursuing him, he had no idea how to proceed and, essentially, blew her off. She invited him to watch her tennis games, asked him to come to her church, and even convinced her parents to let him come over and hang out at their house, all of which he politely declined. I almost felt sorry for the poor girl. But, quite frankly, I am afraid of the girls. As far as I can tell, it’s the girls that are looking for relationships, and the boys are happy playing video games. I’m pretty sure my 9 year old daughter is more interested in dating than my 15 year old boy (I’m not going to comment further on that right now).

    I recently attended an awards ceremony for high school freshmen receiving academic letters. There were skin tight jeans and skirts so short I have not figured out how their wearers could possibly sit in a school desk without revealing something one would assume they would not wish to reveal. And, these are girls who are doing well academically, and, presumably, have other ways of validating self-worth than causing boys to gawk at them. You, know, not that smart girls don’t want boys to gawk at them.

    So, again, I go back to the cigarette question. Really? Or is this just how your hairdresser’s stepdaughter convinces her parents to give her cigarette money?

    And, because I feel odd just jumping in without introduction…Leslie, I believe we’ve met. I’m a friend of Ari’s. :)

  22. Leslie Loftis said:

    We have met before; I recognized your email. And I still need to do that connection. Ivy lurks around here–email soon my friend, writing stuff. Actually, I have a few connections for you, Jody.

    Back to the bj’s, I kind of have the same concern–really? But then there is this stage when women discover the powers their bodies have over men. They try it out, and in the supervised, heavily normed culture of the past, they had neither opportunity nor approval to push the limits. Now they have both. Cailtin Flanangan posited in “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Monica.” that one of the reasons girls were more willing to engage in oral sex, wait… let me find it:

    The modern girl’s casual willingness to perform oral sex may—as some cool-headed observers of the phenomenon like to propose—be her way of maintaining a post-feminist power in her sexual dealings, by being fully in control of the sexual act and of the pleasure a boy receives from it. Or it may be her desperate attempt to do something that the culture refuses to encourage: to keep her own sexuality—the emotions and the desires, as well as the anatomical real estate itself—private, secret, unviolated. It may not be her technical virginity that she is trying to preserve; it may be her own sexual awakening—which is all she really has left to protect anymore.

    We’ve made a world for our girls in which the pornography industry has become increasingly mainstream, in which Planned Parenthood’s response to the oral-sex craze has been to set up a help line, in which the forces of feminism have worked relentlessly to erode the patriarchy—which, despite its manifold evils, held that providing for the sexual safety of young girls was among its primary reasons for existence. And here are America’s girls: experienced beyond their years, lacking any clear message from the adult community about the importance of protecting their modesty, adrift in one of the most explicitly sexualized cultures in the history of the world. Here are America’s girls: on their knees.

    The 2006 article is long but well worth a full read if you haven’t already. And Ari, in case you are wondering, this article pointed out the knees imagery. I hear this last line in my head all the time.

  23. Heather said:

    Jody, the bj is for ONE cigarette (or cash, $1.00).
    I went downtown today, through the snow, ice and dust (!!!)** to deliver these questions to my hairdresser, but she wasn’t in her shop. I am going to forward these remarks to her via email, and maybe she and her step daughter will enlarge on this transaction
    ** up here, it is very dry, so snow goes, dust is right there.
    I just read a review of a book about the 1600s, when the sunspots decreased in quantity (like they are Today), and there were long cold winters, throughout the world, and there was trouble all over the world: downfall of the Mings, famine in Scotland, the 30 years war in Europe.. General crisis, lots of death (very bad plague in Europe).. But the population decreased to match the available food, etc. The book is by Geoffrey Parker: Climate Change and Catastrophe in the 17th Century.

  24. Jody said:

    I was just contemplating that this may be the latest spring I remember for awhile. Last year, we had 80 degrees in March, which, ultimately, resulted in the wiping out of all the cherries and peaches and apples. I am in Michigan. This year, we have colder temps and flooding. The river in my town hit its highest in 37 years, and the county just extended its state of emergency another week. The neighboring city, further down the river, is still quite a mess.

    The forsythia in my backyard just reached full bloom, on May 1. I cannot tell you for sure when it usually blooms, but it would seem at least a few weeks earlier. And, with that, my son is telling me as he prepares to leave for school, it is to be 82 and sunny today.

    The cherry packers are predicting records this year, as, apparently after a year of not producing, the trees will try to make up for the previous year. Of course, this is barring hailstorms or whatever else mother nature might have in store. Note it’s the folks in manufacturing predicting record crops, not the farmers. I imagine the farmers are still holding their breath.

  25. Heather said:

    Parker’s advice is: don’t fight wars, because in a time of cold, they tend to last a lot longer, and lead to complete collapse of established polities (ie, Ming China, Stuart Monarchy; Catholics versus Protestants)… and then
    be prepared.
    don’t move to Egypt, that country is looking at a very nasty time, as is most of the Middle East (Allah is not going to help).
    For us, I think the open concept for houses is going to be passe: smaller rooms hold heat better. Heavier clothes (I have noticed that the late Tudor fashions featured heavy collars, etc).
    But, people will make it through. We in the West, despite our governing classes, are a pretty competent bunch.

  26. Heather said:

    also, we in the North with winters, have to be prepared to spend a lot more of our income on heating fuel.

  27. ari said:

    Tell more?
    All the gay-rights history stuff and women’s history stuff have this happy free-style up to the 13th century, when everything gets all conservative and mean and not-pagan friendly. I have no idea what’s going on with that. They aren’t reading across departments. Every book, the author is stunned- Hey! We were cool until this oppressive edifice fell on us! The King did it!

    No clue if they are making up history, or if there’s snough grain to finance a centralized state. The cathedrals all got built in the 12-14th century, so there was enough food and kids around. Literacy increased. So, maybe it’s about like that guy who made up a happy, lotus-eating Crete, and had his graduate assistants paint on the murals that he thought ought to be there, while ignoring the battlements and fort reinforcements along cliffs…….Mellaart. Him. Faked. So, less literacy, more hooey made up about a minimal records time?

    What do you think?

  28. Leslie Loftis said:

    Yep, the competent bit, that is.
    So does Parker comment on heat? That wars tend to start in the heat, when frustrations are high? And then how does he reconcile his thesis about cold wars with Valley Forge or Napoleon land war in Asia? (“Never start a land war in Asia…”)
    Oh and the open concept houses have been on decline or for a while. The Not So Big House is, what 20 years old?

  29. Leslie Loftis said:

    My bet is with the farmers. When they get excited, then…

  30. Leslie Loftis said:

    Winter is coming. The sunspot theory has been around for a while, but the science is supposedly settled on Global Warming, or Weirding or whatever they are trying to call it to conform with the thesis that refuses to cooperate. If I were still trying to write round up posts, I’d update my environmental one (it needs it) and call it “Winter is coming.”
    I get the best title ideas from you and ari. There was “2K to not have sex?!”(new trends in pornography) and “Fish on Fridays, maybe the first crash diet?” (Christian rules aren’t rules just because God wants to watch us struggle against our baser nature but because they work). At some point I promise to use “the sparkly belt of Truth.” (False god of the Prosperity Gospel)

  31. Heather said:

    There are always wars. But Parker’s idea is that the 17th century wars caused very great changes, to foundations of civilization: ie, the Ming Dynasty was super civilized, and was replaced by a bunch of barbarian Manchus out of the north; the 30 years war saw the murder/starvation of one third of central Europe’s population; the Glorious Revolution in England was small potatoes in comparison, but it spelled the end of English Monarchy and led to a strong Parliament system. The Catholic Church system was broken forever. 17th Century wars were cataclysmic. The world changed.

    Now, from about 1000 to about 1300, there was a period of global warming, a great increase in population, and building of the cathedrals, etc. But into the 1300s, there was the “Little Ice Age”, and the trade routes across the Alps disappeared under snowpack; ships started to sail around Gibralter to Flanders, etc.. And, notably, there was the Black Plague (1348 and thereafter). Anyway, we here in North America ASSUME peace. It just isn’t so, though.

    Remember, the disasters of the past were when most people were rural types; communication networks were primitive or non existent. We live in a different world. But it won’t be nice to spend more of our income on just heating our houses.

  32. ari said:

    Oy. Read Caitlin Flanagan.
    Which I think brings back that thing I’ve been playing with, after reading an eye-bleeding amount of stuff over the past few weeks. As an aside- I still don’t get headlines or sub-lines, not one bit. Anyway, in the middle of some thorny hedge of spectacularly bad behavior under discussion, someone will recoil and say a Bible verse as a guide to behavior, and then someone else will rush in ‘Don’t JUDGE!” and quote the whole don’t judge verse. And it’s the only Bible verse, ever, that any of them know. So, I’m wondering- why not? What’s so incredibly important about Christians not judging? Vegans get to judge. Environmentalists get to judge. Social workers judge all over the place. I’m thinking it’s because when Christians judge- they make it stick- gates of Heaven, and all that.

    Plus, let’s see: right now taxes only fall on, what, the upper 45% (51%?) of all households. According to Mr Murray, those upper- earning income households are intact, with people who have college degrees. Which, right now, pretty much means Christian. We’re financing all the crap-tastic atrocious social behavior- b/c the not-tax, public dole families aren’t married, aren’t attending church, aren’t conventionally moral in any way, shape or form. Also, the social work edifice was built by social gospel believers- they really believed in the God of State- Jonah Goldberg lays it all out in Liberal Fascism. My dad sends me books about these “heroic” ‘saintly’ social gospel types- my stomach sinks as I read them. These are the people going into six figure debt to get an Ivy League Social Work/ Social Justice/ teach for america degree. They aren’t paying taxes. Fundamentalists believe in individual salvation, and individual work- they own businesses, and pay taxes. I should say- they pay almost all the taxes. If they were judging- the whole dependence edifice would fall down.

  33. ari said:

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Shaping-America-Geographical-Perspective/dp/0300038828/ref=pd_bxgy_b_text_y

    Okay, so this guy points out that you could tell which county had scots-irish citizens, or germans, just from the fences. The Germans built solid fences that took a great deal of work to build. They lasted. The Scots- Irish did that odd leaning triangle thing- no fence post-hole digging, no hard labor.

    When I go to school, the kids I notice and the ones who notice me…….the worst kid in the class. Seriously. The last little girl got dragged out of class in handcuffs by the Austin Police, for being out of control mouthy to the teacher– in Fifth Grade! She loves me. I think she’s charming. The other kid was nearly thrown out of kindergarten, and he drove the most saintly teacher I know nuts. I thought he was adorable and charming and huggable, and I was happy to see him, every time I saw him. He got pulled from school and sent to a military reform school for two years, in elementary. I didn’t even know they had them. When he came back, he was on a dose of Ritalin so high that he was drooling and staring into space, by the end of the school day. I wanted my bright-eyed, hyper-active bright kid back. And I think that’s part of it- charismatic interactions with strangers is part of their survival pack. Kids who know where their parents are , sheltered kids,are more reserved- not as much eye-contact, not for as long- not attractive reactions, indifferent manners- not open body language. They aren’t as “see-able” to me. The troubled kids are more reactive to strangers- they look up- smile widely- make expressions- walk up to strangers and ask for interactions and help, talk willingly while looking- hold eye contact longer-

    To my kids, the quieter kids are friends they can cope with. My kids hate the kids that love me. My kids make friends with–preacher’s kids, professor’s kids, teacher’s kids, computer experts’ kids. Low-key, pulled-together, emotionally and physically organized kids. They are looking at their work, sitting with their hands together, speaking in low tones.

    So, I’m thinking- you know how bees see in infra-red and ultra-violet? I’m thinking good kids “see” each other and are blind to the ‘not good’ kids. We’ve lived next door to a Section 8 house for years. The families have always had kids- my kids won’t even talk to them. They are in the same class- and they won’t talk to them. Which is fine by me- they don’t need the finer points of being molested, or guilting parents into buying I-pads, or how/to break doors, or the whole “heather has two mommies” orientation.

    That’s why I had to go back and figure out what set apart the “nice girls” that struck the boys silent, versus all the others. I mean, they’re all young- what are the details that are different?

    And, it’s pretty much the entire Gen X: would you let your kid go through what you endured? Me, neither. I have spent over a decade building this kid- I’m pretty comfortable being vocal about all sorts of things. And the thing is- Gen X, as a group, have had more than one episode of “falling in love.” My mom thought ‘swept away’ meant something- she was supposed to marry some guy b/c she was ‘swept away’ and ‘love is all you need’ and ‘we’ll make it work’ and who knows how many other cliches. Having been on the business end of that- bka child of divorce- I’m pretty comfortable being interventionist and judgey. We already talk to the kids about good judgement, choose carefully, all sorts of un-romantic, unsweepy, things. And that’s every last mother that I know- there isn’t a trusting approach to handing off your kid to any stranger that approaches them.

    There’s judgement all around, every step of the way. So far, there have been huge interferences on facilitating friendships with other boys planning on college, on boys going into football, on boys involved in youth group at church- not just my kid- every kid they hang out with. The moms have stepped in to help friends solve a problem, built car-pools around good kids- one mom got her lame, nerdy kid on the football team- for him to get better friends, not b/c she wanted him to play- kids get invited to church events. I can’t see this much facilitation going by the wayside when girls enter the picture.

    I’m being optimistic. But– the thing is, a college degree is a dowry for a girl, more or less. It’s not a good, all on its own, in the way it is for a guy. So, if that extra degree interferes with marriage and children, I can’t see that being a common model much longer.

    And Judy Blume: her books. they were fant…a…sies…in the same way that “My Secret Garden” was a fantasy. I can find a chart describing who stays married- a girl who gets laid for the first time on her wedding night. Everything else is a bad gamble. Guys are legitimately worried about losing everything in a divorce. JBlume wrote a book about a guy who had a curable VD. Okay, well, multi-drug resistant gonorrhea just showed up in Canada ( in a throat swab, since you didn’t ask) Elle Magazine has an article about the doctor curing infertility with no known etiology- his theory is that under-treated chlamydia encysts in people’s parts- so he treats them aggressively with IV abx, and vaginal washes- inspired by what they do to race-horses (really) and prostate injections. You know what you get if you take IV abx? diarrhea and skin-rashes, for starters. You can put a price tag on a virgin. People in the rest of the world do, We are about to, again. Just b/c it was sold by Scholastic doesn’t mean it wasn’t starter porn, or a Planned Parenthood PSA.

  34. Leslie Loftis said:

    Ok, the kids at school who like you, sounds a bit like the orphan syndrome. Its common in kids adopted from orphanages, that they latch onto every friendly face because they are looking for shelter. When families adopt foreign toddlers, these stranger issues–well they are issues. The kids don’t get, don’t trust, that they have parents dedicated to them. They have to learn that. I also get that other kids, including yours, don’t instinctively interact with these children. I do think they “see” each other. But…

    For your children, raised in a stable and happy Christian household, you should teach them to interact with these children. I don’t mean that you should send them over to the section 8 house to play, but that they should make the effort for a friendly smile, a helping hand or whatever. I know your experience with the foster system has left you…less than optimistic…about these households. But then remember, the smile from you, your children–that might be the most kindness these kids get.

    As for “swept away”–the shift from duty based marriage to love based marriage has been an utter failure. You have experience with that. The multiple episodes of falling in love just teach us how to break up. (I’ve got an old post on that.) Frankly marriage works best when it combines duty and love, but duty is just so unromantic. People think the bonds of true love escape duty, when in fact, love without duty just flames out.

    And Judy Blume (which in case anyone wonders how she came up, she’s covered in that Caitlin Flanagan article I linked to) was an informal PP PSA. I can’t remember where I read an interview, but that was her intent, to teach young girls how to have sex with their boyfriends.

  35. Jody said:

    Well, wouldn’t love-based marriage work if people actually felt a duty toward each other? The problem may not be that a marriage based on love is a flawed idea, but that people are now lacking in any sense of duty. 1. I don’t have to get married. 2. I don’t have to stay married. 3.I don’t have to get or stay married to the person I have kids with to be their parent.

    The beauty of the duty-based marriage was that people never expected to fall in love in the first place, and if they did, well, that was a perk.

  36. ari said:

    http://heartiste.wordpress.com/2010/09/16/why-sluts-make-bad-wives/

    it has the chart. I’ve seen this chart passed around all kinds of places on the web.

    It is why I am very, very, very comfortable being ruthless and direct about what I expect of my daughter- nothing ’til married, then paradise with one guy. She’s sheltered, loved, cared for, on the outside, sweet, literate, healthy, religious, on the inside. She might as well be dipped in gold, in the marriage market. She doesn’t even need to be ruthless or smart- notice how there are scheming, machiavellian mothers behind kings and queens- she can be an adorable little fluffy kitten on a velvet cushion, with the iron glove of her family inside that cushion. Jerks are intimidated by manly, strong dads and interfering moms. No clue why, but I’ve seen it enough to appreciate it as a negotiating tool.

  37. Leslie Loftis said:

    Then you need to prepare her for loneliness. For a good long while. In this era, even good men are skeptical of a woman who won’t sleep with them while dating. I know many women who have only slept with their husbands but only two that made it to the alter, both right after college. The rest of us were doing well to make it to engagement.
    The fact that women on the whole are willing makes sex easily available for the guy and/or makes the girl seem odd. Culture believes that you are supposed to try out sex. Yasha and I dated for 4 years before marrying, which looking back was rather long considering our ages. But he was afraid. He assumed, based on experience, that I was just trying out an older guy and would then leave him to do some experimenting of my own. That I’d be ok having only slept with him just didn’t compute.

  38. Jody said:

    I was going to say, you may not want to send her away to college. You know, I don’t know, though, what to say. I mean, I was never told don’t have sex before you’re married. I can do math and know that my mom, despite the fact that I was born six weeks early, was sixteen when I was conceived. When I talked seriously about a boy FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE, my mom said, “We should probably get you on the pill.” But, I had no plan, no idea of how it all was supposed to go, you know? So maybe if I knew the plan was, meet boy, get married, stay virgin until then…? I don’t know. I think my husband would have walked on by. I don’t think he would have suddenly decided that I was the one and married me. I really don’t. Whether, in the long term, that would have been OK, I am not in a position to speculate.

  39. ari said:

    Yeah, Leslie, he wanted you to fall in love with his brain, not just his body. It was fun watching you get so smiley just when he walked into the lobby at the law school. It was like a first date happy look.

  40. ari said:

    I’m not sure she’ll succeed. Pair-bonding from 17 or 18 on is pretty common, from what I’ve seen. It might not have a piece of paper, but it’s still pretty intense. I mean, even if you look at something like the movie American Pie- it’s four guys trying to lose their virginity on prom night. It’s a sex comedy with revolting excapades. My husband loves it, and he bought the rest of the trilogy. It goes on to the 10 year reunion. One guy marries his prom date. One guy pair bonds with an older woman, and doesn’t break it off for ten years. One guy has a girlfriend he went to college with, and then re-commits to her at the ten-year mark. The other two? One isn’t marriageable- divorce has scarred him, pretty obviously, from the beginning- he’s not mature or boundaried. One guy, I cannot remember. These are supposed to be the wild and crazy guys of sexual acting out- and they pair-bond.

    You need another survey to go hunt for? It’s first sexual experience, attitudes and practices, broken down by religion. Mormons, they say ” my mom will kill me if she finds out.” they wait, most of them wait until marriage. If they don’t wait, they use bunker-buster layers of protection-condoms, sponges, foams- all at the same time. They don’t get pregnant until they marry the guy- and they usually marry that first guy. I see Mormon moms all the time, not in my neighborhood- we’re in a crappy, poor neighborhood- but when we go do things with the kids- sports, or ExploreUT, or at the parks. They have a bunch of really cute kids. Their husbands cherish them. They look tired but pulled together when they are small, then they look pulled together when they are older, and the kids look secure, confident and happy.

    Lutherans weren’t mentioned specifically. The researcher lumped all Protestant groups together, which is fantastically odd. Would you put an Amish girl in the same category as a Methodist girl? If I told you that Mattachine Society activists ( the original gay rights group) had a big hand in writing the Methodist sex ed tracts, while Amish relied solely on the Bible, and Menno’s commentary– would you still? It’s why I’m curious about what my kids will get taught in confirmation. On one hand, I don’t know, on the other hand- the grownups all seem fine. I have no idea how they get that way, but this really does seem to be the church of shy people who don’t eat that marshmallow until after 15 minutes. The kids seem fine. The teens and twenty year olds seem fine, too. I don’t know if this is selection bias- if they show up at church, they are the kool-aid drinkers, or if the whole thing is good. My kids don’t have nightmares about going to hell, so it’s a big step up from the churches we grew up in.

  41. ari said:

    You know, though, the numbers aren’t with a sexual free-style. Judy Blume, cited in the Caitlin Flanagan article, emphasizes that cooties are curable. One of her characters gets one, and gets cured promptly. That was a very short period of time- about a decade and a half, at most. People took advantage. They do that. The morals when people thought they might drop of plague where scandalous, all things considered. The moral restraints right before Columbus discovered America changed pretty drastically when sailors returned home with venereal diseases from America ( syphilis? something) It’s in Shakespeare plays. Morality, overall, really is instrumental. People want happiness, they don’t want cooties. How to get there varies decade by decade. With multi-drug resistant gonorrhea, MRSA, chlamydia surviving its usual treatment, aggressive melanomas–I’m thinking we’re going to look less like the seventies, and more like the fifties- healthy, bursting out of our covers- but covered.

    The average American female has had three partners during her lifetime. I see this cited all over the place, but I haven’t seen the original, so I don’t know if it’s an 80 year old woman who has outlived three farmers, or a girl who celebrated prom, kept a boyfriend in the dorm, and then settled on an office-worker at age 29.

    85% of guys are okay. Like, 1 in 6 are sociopaths. I keep running across that. People get hyped up about jerks- but that 1 in 6- that’s a spectrum. That 1 guy might be a stock manipulator, he might be a serial killer- but he’s one in six. Most guys are pretty terrific. That’s the one thing that all the femininist press stuff, and mainstream stuff has forgotten- most guys are pretty terrific- they are funny and practical and heroic enough.

    The easiest sort for a good guy- how often does he talk to his dad? You don’t even need to ask about his politics or religion or anything- just- ask about his dad- it can even be loving but exasperated- like if the dad is an irresponsible hippy- that’s rocky, but do-able. But great guy with a close relationship with his dad- you could marry that guy tomorrow, not knowing anything else, and you’d be married to a great guy. That’s in Fatherless American, Peter Schweizer’s Makers and Takers, and Judith Wallerstein’s work. She profiles kids who grew up in divorce- and there were kids with violent dads. But the thing is- they loved their dad, and grew up to become a decent person, in spite of their dad’s bad modeling. She has them as “despite” and I have it as “including”- you want to become the ideal parent you loved, even if that person you loved was actually monstrous- you still had a model.

    That’s most guys- there are very few weirdos. They give off signals. Most women who think men suck are the women who find the jerks- it’s like a compass. They can’t judge what makes a guy good- it’s like they are color-blind. Read any Terry MacMillan- the women she profiles shouldn’t have relationships with cats, or work around people- they are that broken.

    People hang out with people like themselves. Like, if I said ” hey, I ignored my kids all day, and ate bon-bons, and watched Oprah for sixteen hours” I don’t know that anyone I like would even talk to me. Ya’ll are high-achieving, focused, driven, professional, reserved-ish, readers of books, thinkers of ideas. Our kids will find people like themselves.

    It takes a lot of grooming to twist someone. Even four decades into the shreklekheit ( that is so misspelled- wild, screaming war) most people want a good moral climate- they disagree what it looks like- but it’s still the ideal. Pointing out loudly, and often, that the Sexual Revolution was from the writings of a cult leader and his followers- all of whom had unhealthy interests in young teenagers- might do a lot to swing the pendulum back to something more livable. I mean, I’ve been poking around- people, today, with those same ~interest~ it still takes grooming and social pressure to get them to act out. Most people aren’t comfortable being plastic dolls in some perverts’ house of oddities tableaux. Most people could live with courtships and flirting and falling deeply in love with one person, over and over and over.

  42. Leslie Loftis said:

    I had friends over this afternoon. We touched on this fathers bit.
    I worry about the hookup culture, sending my kids out into the sexual void. But they reminded me today that my kids relationship with their father will be a strong shield against culture. They will want the marriage we have and will have an eye for the kind of man they want or want to be.
    A few years ago, another girlfriend and I were discussing a spate of work travel driven divorces. Both of us had husbands with the kind of schedule that makes us vulnerable to cheating. But we both would be shocked, utterly shocked, to find our husbands had cheated on us. Not because we thought we had some meant-to-be/MFEO love but because both of our husbands care a great deal about what their fathers think of them. For the unmarried, or those who don’t accept the role duty plays in a marriage, this will sound completely unromantic, yet it is one of the cornerstones of our marriage: I am quite certain that if ever faced with extreme temptation, my husband wouldn’t refuse just because I’m his wife, but because he would bitterly disappoint his father. (It’s true. His dad loves me. He’d kill him.)
    That is what my son will feel and what my daughters will seek.

    Back to the hookup and bj’s, Yasha reads here in binges. He read this thread yesterday. He wants me to add a warning on it that it is not suitable reading for fathers of daughters. He also wrote that a lot of this is worthy of individual posts. I can see that. First drafts, it’s a bunch of first drafts.

  43. ari said:

    der, falling more deeply in love with their spouse, during the seasons of their lives. It’s pretty much every advertisement- people re-seeing, and re-falling. the advertisements are more consistent than the shows, for one, and for two, they appeal to a more broad segment of any population. they are more reliable.

    the head of one of the networks kept scheduling cheating on spouse shows b/c that was his thing. any show had to appeal to him, not everyone else. advertisements appeal to everyone.

  44. Heather said:

    I love what you guys write.
    And, having thought some more about the ‘feminist revolution’ of which I was a part, well, it was a product of Hugh Hefner sex revolution/ the Pill (I can remember when The Pill was spoken of in whispers)/ and of course, The Movement (ie, anti Vietnam War). Also, Lots of money. As Tom Wolfe pointed out somewhere, the North American teen had lots of money; he didn’t have to stay at home with his parents; he could afford a car of his own! And all of the advertising world noticed this huge source of wealth, and there was music, and adverts and movies, and style, baby. And as to Revolution, well, it was exciting, it was cool, it encompassed the personal, it encompassed the political, it was Change! Without the guillotine (of course).

    I think Ari has a point here: the money is running out. It might be better to stay at home, go to community college, take a course in welding. And… get married to the girl (boy) down the street!

  45. Leslie Loftis said:

    And the first two paragraphs from this morning’s Transom: (www.thetransom.org)
    The rise of the idle young. http://vlt.tc/uas “For all of Europe’s troubles — a left-right combination of sclerotic labor markets and austerity — the United States has quietly surpassed much of Europe in the percentage of young adults without jobs. It’s not just Europe, either. Over the last 12 years, the United States has gone from having the highest share of employed 25- to 34-year-olds among large, wealthy economies to having among the lowest. The grim shift — “a historic turnaround,” says Robert A. Moffitt, a Johns Hopkins University economist — stems from two underappreciated aspects of our long economic slump. First, it has exacted the harshest toll on the young — even harsher than on people in their 50s and 60s, who have also suffered. And while the American economy has come back more robustly than some of its global rivals in terms of overall production, the recovery has been strangely light on new jobs, even after Friday’s better-than-expected unemployment report. American companies are doing more with less…”

    The problem is that for the long term unemployed, this represents a major hit to their future. “For many people with jobs and nest eggs, the economy is finally moving in the right direction, albeit a long way from booming. Average wages are no longer trailing inflation. Stocks have soared since their 2009 nadir, and home prices are increasing again. But little of that helps younger adults trying to get a foothold in the economy. Many of them are on the outside of the recovery looking in. The net worth of households headed by people 44 and younger has dropped more over the past decade than the net worth of middle-aged and elderly households, according to the Federal Reserve. According to the Labor Department, workers 25 to 34 years old are the only age group with lower average wages in early 2013 than in 2000. The problems start with a lack of jobs. In 2011, the most recent year for which international comparisons exist, 26.2 percent of Americans between ages 25 and 34 were not working. That includes those for whom unemployment is a choice (those in graduate school, for example, or taking care of children) and those for whom it is not (the officially unemployed or those who are out of work and no longer looking). The share was 20.2 percent in Canada, 20.5 percent in Germany, 21 percent in Japan, 21.6 percent in Britain and 22 percent in France.” More. http://vlt.tc/uba

    The only hitch I see in Heather and ari’s analysis, young people aren’t inclined to get married without some financial security, especially while fighting a cultural headwind to delay marriage.

  46. Heather said:

    In the Depression, people still got married, often at a very early age. If people waited for financial security, most of us wouldn’t be here. But the issue is the status of marriage in the West. The fact is, a university degree meant a higher economic base. (This isn’t so, today, of course… those Occupy Wall Street types were discovering that). However, Marriage, one that lasts, with children, etc., DOES lead to economic improvement. Children focus the mind, and lead to parents working to make their life good, if not better than their own. All this stuff, that one can’t ‘afford’ children, is so much silliness.

  47. ari said:

    I hate to ask this, but how does that break down by race? or region? urban welfare dependent families have been that way since the 1960’s- that’s half a century. The urban elite are writing them off, quite literally. The highest abortion rates, per capita, are of minorities in New York City. Black infants get aborted at 512 per 1,000 births. That’s more than half.

    As for the others- we are living in the nightmare that was New Orleans in the 80’s- no on the books employment, provisional employment, crazy high rates of government dependency, inefficiencies in health-care, racialist government, no money sloshing around, lost generations, a recruiting bonanza for the military- smart kids need the military to get out of town, I should mention sexual predation of the young. I curse our current leaders.

    I curse the obscene levels of licensing, regulations….I curse the broken educational system- elementary, junior, high schools, colleges. There’s other stuff.

  48. ari said:

    okay, here we go…..I don’t think we’re going back to a low-information, blue-collar world of limited horizons. I really, really don’t think this is true. Walter Russell Mead writes about this, in sort of a cheerleading, collectivist sort of way. He worked for Head Start, he’s pretty emotional about Northeastern mainline religion- he’s Episcopalian, and his meditations leading up to Christmas were fine, fine sermons–he’s sort of on the right track, iffy-ish. Where he misses- the South and Southwest- where young people with small children live?- do not buy into his collective, orderly, overwhelming, government vision.

    Right now, Match.com is responsible for 20% of all marriages. The reason the Dems- remember Nancy Pelosi said unemployment insurance would lead to jobs?- there is this study of truck-drivers in India- they were low-information parties- they would go to job fairs, and if they had enough to eat, they could negotiate- anyway, one pissant study in the Third World- is what saddled us with 99 weeks unemployment payout. On a side-note- in the West, which is measurably different- it’s ‘weak ties’ that find jobs- so it helps to be employed and acquainted with lots of people- we move information- which is why we’re the West, and they aren’t—anyway—-Digital mate hunting- there’s a new book out about it- makes it very efficient to find a person. There’s more information on who is out there. So people don’t even necessarily need ‘weak ties’- we’re in a nearly flat environment, for people comfortable with computers.

    The next step of writing is – how to use that information. Which, right now, looks like the pick-up artist community- on the quant, ‘spergy guy side- and I’m not really sure what sort of trainwreck on the girl side. The thing is- the guy answers they eventually sort out in a reddit kind of testable way- they are good things, anyway. Learn to not be mind-blind. Work out so you have muscles. Have a life plan that you follow through on. Build some savings. Have a life. That’s where that chart is from. It’s not bad advice. The hating women part is creepy, but I’m not sure they’re wrong to be very defensive around some of the women. The woman in the intro of Terry MacMillan’s book makes my eyes water with her cat-pee level acridness towards a stranger.

    The story: the guy is standing in line for coffee. The woman is telling Terry that there aren’t any nice guys. He says hi, and he says he’s working on a second cut of a beer commercial. She sneers at him. Okay, she can’t see that he’s (1) employed in a competitive field (2) creative (3) enough of a craftsman to do a good job a second time, to see how it works. The craftsman part kills me. She was looking at the corn-husk, not the really good seedcorn inside. That woman shouldn’t even be managing people. She’s a horrible person who deserves to only have cats with mangy skin conditions. That guy is going to get a little bitter. He shouldn’t be- he’s good at what he does, and he’s working on getting better. That’s a virtuous craftsman. That’s a very, very suitable man.

    I mean, I married a guy with a plan, who had worked out his frustrations at the gym-( oh.my.goodness. seeing him in all his glory for the first time is literally one of my most treasured memories) He loved and respected his father. His father had died a few years previous, and it can still bring him to sorrow, that his father did not live to see his grandchildren. When we met he was living in a grimy SRO, former student housing, near campus. If I was looking for flash- I wasn’t going to find it. He, however, was working at the bank at any job they would give him because he wanted to be a financial advisor, stock analyst. He lived near campus so he could study to get himself into an MBA program. He was in an SRO so that he could save money. The cornhusk was heinous- the seedcorn was gold. He got an MBA, I have three beautiful children, he’s a financial advisor who reads voraciously. He’s a great dad. I got to marry a great guy because most women are stupid and cannot value men.

    I think that’s the most criminal part of the last half-century: the ‘man in the house’ raids that LBJ instituted. That got men out of their family’s life. How can anyone estimate what a dad looks like, or a spouse?

    Add in, the weird divorce/ empowerment culture? There are two generations of women who have no clue how to deal with a guy. Dad’s wife thought he was some weird combination of Santa Claus and a toddler- he could fix everything, or he could fix nothing- not, he’s a human being with strengths and weaknesses, in different areas than her. The very nice, professional woman I used to work with is pregnant, her boyfriend wishes to marry her- and she won’t, for fear she’s “pressuring him.”?? That’s straight out of Friends, the TV show/ propaganda set-piece. It’s not normal American history- we do pressure. Or, at least, we used to. He loves her, he loves the kid- they ought to get married and joke about it fifty years later.

    Add in, all the very poor people who think weddings look like MTV extravaganzas? I’ts a $35 license, a $100 fee to the JP, and a dress- which can be handmade, or bought from Target for less than $200, with a ring from Wal-mart or Zales for $100. That’s less than $500- and that’s most weddings I’ve been to, among my friends. I think the Target dress might cost more than any of the wedding dresses my friends had. Me, too. Mine was $100 worth of dupioni silk. The minister was a friend who did it for free. The rings cost. I’ve been to book release parties that cost more than weddings. I’ve run these numbers by poor, unmarried neighbors, and they think I’m lying. It’s about like owning stock- they see shows about fabulously wealthy people- they don’t think- walk up to the bank, or an Edwards brokerage- there’s a firm right in the strip-mall. They don’t know how, or that they can do that. It’s about like the poor kids who don’t know they can go to the municipal science center- it’s free and open to the public- they literally cannot see themselve there. ( that example courtesy of a mother at church- that was her volunteer project-taking kids to there.)

    That’s the criminal theft of social capital that I think really has to change. A network TV head wanted shows about adultery. A network wanted progressive, liberal shows. They wrote checks then, they write checks now. Cable TV is changing that. I think netflix will, too.

    Fracking changes things, I’m not sure how. But money in different regions changes power-balances. California re-wrote our property laws when they had money from gold-mining, for the better, I might add. Pennsylvania hasn’t been able to enforce anything Quaker since the Cumberland Gap opened up. Seattle was just depressing until Microsoft and Amazon.

  49. Jody said:

    Every wedding I ever went to before I was 18 was ceremony with cake and punch in the basement of the church, except for one after which there was a party at the parents’ house. My dad didn’t have a ring for a long time, and my mom had a plain gold band, no engagement ring. Yeah, I don’t get the “we can’t afford to get married” stuff.

  50. Heather said:

    and… can one afford a child? Think of the total cost of the little rug-rat! Hundreds of thousands of dollars!!! We knew this family of 5 children. One of the kids had truly godawful arthritis, completely disabled throughout her life. Her father became a millionaire businessman, most probably because he had no choice, he had to support his daughter and his other children.

    A hero father recognizes that no choice thing… lives with it … and if he can, overcomes it. If not with money and success, then with just being a husband and a father, and keeping his dignity.

  51. Jody said:

    Unfortunately, people are made to believe that they have to have perfect circumstances in which to have a child, and if they don’t, they are bad, bad people for bringing children into the world. The truth of the matter is, there are too many variables when it comes to being prepared. Very, very few people can “afford” to have kids if they do the math, and, yet, somehow, it works.

    And, yes, absolutely, having children can be the impetus for achieving. I teach at a university that, in the past, has catered largely to non-traditional students. A huge number of my students with children have named their children as the reason they are in school, many going as far to say that they would not be there if not for them.

  52. ari said:

    http://www.alphagameplan.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-limits-of-desire.html

    pick up artist guys seek what is right and true and good by a discussion. and, yes, they probably screwed over an unbearable number of young women to get there. but still…..

    women are stupid about dating in the way that they are stupid about their careers. It’s not just about them, and they don’t know that. The big expense in recruiting for a job is finding a candidate. I’ve written about this before, in Belladonna Roger’s columns. To wit- agree to go out with any guy who isn’t likely a serial killer. Have one fun date- just fun,. Be happy-. Second date, interview. Interview as deeply and selflessly as possible. If he’s not your guy, find a friend that he’ll be compatible with, which you know b/c you know your friends, and you know him b/c you interviewed him well. Set them up. Repeat as necessary. At some point, maybe a year in, go ask all those people you’ve set up- about half of them will still be together, if you’re good at what you do- ask them to help you find a guy. Oh- if they do the two date thing- they can pass him on, too. This way, there’s no downside for the guy- he meets everyone else and realizes- he’s in- his friends are in- he’s got a social life- each girl isn’t a life-raft- she’s part of a fleet. It gets rid of a lot of the crazy.

    I’ve done it, consciously, about three times. It worked like a charm- the guys I’d been out with twice fetched perfectly nice boys for me. The third time it was the people I worked with, and I married the guy. This is from 15 to 24. Crowd-sourcing found much better guys than hunting by myself.

    Most guys- they get dumped b/c they aren’t the right one- and rejection hurts. They are usually that 5 out of 6. They don’t deserve to be treated like a psychopath. If they’d been handed off to a friend of the girl- they’re okay. People like people like themselves. I used to test it- I’d date a slew of guys, and then throw a dinner party every six months or so. The guys had a great time- they’d end up friends. The girls I knew could go shopping for new guys- and they all got along really well as a group. There was enough similarity among all of them. I had friends, acquaintances, and gossip. I had party invites, excuses to buy new dresses, and dinner parties with witty conversation. It really works.

    This, of course, sort of relies on personal continence- two dates meant two dates, not sex. That would make things sticky. One girl tried it, and failed. Stupid. stupid. stupid.

  53. Leslie Loftis said:

    Thank you ladies. These last few comments about affordability are helping me refocus one of the pieces I’ve been working on. BTW, I agree and think it’s worse than needing a perfect time to have kids. The way we parent–Helicopter or Tiger parenting is expensive. We do a lot of the expensive part to ourselves.
    Sorry I’ve been gone too. For the time being I only have time for writing or commenting and I tend to do them in spurts.

  54. Heather said:

    About Nice Boys: a story from my family back in the late 1800s: She was the prettiest of 5 sisters, and all of them were pretty (I have the photos!). However, she became engaged to two men at once (!). Both dropped her, word got around, and she never married, at a time when the only other option for a woman was to be the family dressmaker whilst looking after her parents.

  55. edge of the sandbox said:

    I read my TFM in an intro American history class (Berkeley) where nobody bothered to inform me that the historical narrative presented in book is not reliable. I think that was before it came out that Freidan’s personal history was also fraudulent. When I had to TA the same class in grad school the book was still on the reading list, and we were dancing around BF’s lies: “Oh, she certainly took liberties, but it’s about the argument she was making”. Same with Margaret Mead (I also had the misfortune to TA Anthro).
    We, the TAs, were in a weird position. On one hand we had to maintain relationships with the faculty, but on the other we didn’t want to lie. We whispered things to each other. When students asked questions along the lines of why are we reading it, I repeated their concerns and said “But it’s a historical document”.
    I’m surprised teenagers still smoke cigarettes.

  56. Leslie Loftis said:

    You TAed at Berkley? When you get out of Mommy Neverland, remind me not to get on your wrong side in a debate. When have you ever not been ideologically outnumbered? No wonder you show some serious critical thinking skills–you’ve never had the option of hanging out in a yes crowd.

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