Cartoon: Debate Us You Cowards!


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This one was fun to draw! Probably the most challenging thing to draw was the coffee shop counter in panel 3. As a cartoonist, there’s a balance to be found here: You want to draw enough detail so that it’ll feel right and recognizable to readers without them having to think about it, but not so much detail that readers look at the setting more than at the characters.

I’m never going to be great at drawing backgrounds, but I’m getting better, and that feeling of gradual growth is honestly so much fun. I’m so lucky to have this job! (Thank you, patrons!)

* * *

There’s a funny cartoon I’ve seen around, mocking the kind of political cartoon where we see the characters speaking for the point of view the cartoonist disagrees with, yelling and waving their hands and being angry, while the opposing character – the one the cartoonist agrees with – is calm and reasonable.

And when I say “I’ve seen it around,” I mean that people have posted it on social media as a response to cartoons I’ve drawn that fit that pattern.

(I really wish I could find this cartoon to show it to you here! But I can’t find it at the moment. “Political cartoons about political cartoons that show their political opponents as angry” just isn’t a fruitful google search string.)

Anyway, yes, guilty as charged – it’s a trope I’ve used a lot. So I wanted to do a cartoon in which the characters I disagree with are calm and collected, while the characters I agree with were angry arm-wavers.

And the “civil debate” issue – the constant demand that even bad-faith trolls, or outright racists, must be accommodated whenever they ask to debate – is perfect for that framing.

Look: I LOVE debate. I was obsessed with competitive parliamentary debate in college. I used to spend ten or twenty hours a week debating people online. I have to discipline myself NOT to do that nowadays, because I want to get other things done. (Although I admit, I’m not as fond of debate as I used to be).

But no one is obligated to debate anything. In particular, no one is required to debate their own human dignity with anyone. “I’m not going to debate that with you” is a perfectly reasonable response, even when said angrily.

Journalist Jesse Singal recently got egg on his face on Twitter, responding to someone asking if slaves should have debated slave owners by implying it would have been disastrous if former slave abolitionists had said “I refuse to debate with people who don’t see me as human.”

(I think Singal eventually deleted his tweet, while denying that he had been mistaken in any way, but the tweet was preserved in screen captures, such as this one of Noah Berlatsky responding to Singal).

Singal is a very prominent and admired voice, and his attitudes are not unusual. The “debate me!” crowd really seems to have no idea of how change actually happens – nor of how debilitating such debates can feel.


By the way, in case anyone thinks the argument I attribute to the Jordan Peterson fan in panel two is a strawman: It’s not a strawman. (At some point, I might do a cartoon of nothing but ridiculous, extreme things Jordan Peterson has said.)


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has four panels, each of which takes place in a different setting, and with a different set of characters.

PANEL 1

A man wearing a polo shirt and jeans follows a woman down the street. The woman is wearing a hoodie and is walking a small dog. The man is talking cheerfully, doing the “explaining with my hands” palms up gesture; the woman is looking back at him out of the corner of her eye and has raised her voice testily.

POLO SHIRT: So you see, when you “transgenders” insist you’re women, that’s you forcing society to along with your delusions. Let’s discuss this.

DOG WALKER: LEAVE ME ALONE!

DOG (in thought balloon): Jerk!

PANEL 2

A woman and man are walking on a path in a park, the woman walking away from the man. The man is bald-headed with a van dyke beard, and is wearing a t-shirt with a big exclamation point on it, and an open black vest over the shirt. The woman has tattoos and blue hair.

The man has a friendly smile and has raised one forefinger in a “professor explaining a point” style; the woman is holding up a smartphone and speaking angrily.

VEST DUDE: When men aren’t allowed to hit women, men have no means of controlling crazy women. If I may quote Professor Jordan Peterson-

BLUE HAIR: DUDE! GO AWAY!

PANEL 3

A customer at a coffee shop, a blonde woman with curly blonde hair, is chatting with a friendly expression with the barista. The barista, who is Black and wearing cat’s eye glasses, is waving their hands and yelling. The customer has a “Q,” in the same font as the “Quilette” logo, on the back of her shirt.

CUSTOMER: There’s no need to get mad. I just want to politely debate whether or not Black people have genes that make them stupid.

BARISTA: i’M NOT GOING TO “DEBATE” THAT!

PANEL 4

Three characters from the previous three panels – Polo Shirt, Vest Dude, and Customer – are sitting around a round table with coffee cups on it. They are all looking annoyed and unhappy.

POLO SHIRT: These “identitarians” are so rude!

CUSTOMER: Why won’t they debate us?

VEST DUDE: They’re cowards!

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106 Responses to Cartoon: Debate Us You Cowards!

  1. 1
    Doug S. says:

    I think there’s often value in debating / rebutting this kind of jerk, but there shouldn’t be an obligation to, and especially not if they get to structure the debate in a way that favors them.

  2. 2
    J. Squid says:

    This is probably a reflection of both why I’m terrible at reading comics and the fact that I can’t remember a single time I’ve been in a coffee shop (outside of Starbucks a couple of times at least 10 years ago, if not more), but… I never would have known that was a coffee shop counter if you hadn’t told me. I assumed it was a bank teller. Not that I’ve been in a bank in the last 13 years.

    There’s no value in debating those folks if you’re a person like me. I can’t do it. I just wind up yelling at them about how terrible they are as people. I haven’t noticed that it gets me anywhere, but they do stop talking to me so I’ve got that.

  3. 3
    Michael says:

    Firstly, I’m not sure that the common left tactics are any better. Having Twitter mobs swarm people over comments they made on obscure blogs and accuse them of being monsters – and often not giving a chance to respond- isn’t a way to criticize people. it’s a way to coerce them into silence. In both cases, the person just wants to be left alone.
    As for having to argue your humanity. I agree, it can be debilitating. However, did it ever occur to you that sometimes the person on the other side feels like you’re the one denying THEIR humanity? ( Obviously that’s not the case in the examples in the cartoon.)

  4. 4
    Patrick Linnen says:

    There is debate.

    There is debating the Gish Galloper. (pass)

    And then there debating people that deny you are even human. (very hard pass)

  5. 5
    nobody.really says:

    I LOVE debate. I was obsessed with competitive parliamentary debate in college.

    I enjoyed formal Lincoln/Douglas debate in high school. But certainly, I came to understand some of the gamesmanship involved—strategies to “win” unrelated to the merits of the arguments proffered.

    Increasingly I have come to doubt the value of “debate” as contest, and especially as we encounter it in political campaigns or in Parliament’s “Question Time” (pause for groans). At best, debate have become joint news conferences, where each party makes speeches that only tangentially relate to the question or what the other party has said. And at worst, they become shouting matches.

    As Jon Steward observed, this kind of thing is hurting America. Did he foresee the Russian-fueled effort to promote public divisiveness—quite literally an effort to hurt America via us-vs-them debate?

    I reflect on Scott Alexander’s Conflict vs. Mistake distinction. I strive to approach disagreements as a joint exercise illuminating an issue, rather than an opportunity for a sales pitch. But once you turn debate into a win/lose competition—even a structured one—that spirit dies.

    (In high school, I joined a church youth group that seemed to focus on helping us cope with understanding ourselves and our role in the world and our relationships to each other. Oh, and back rubs. Anyway, eventually new administration at the church shut the group down because it wasn’t producing sufficient numbers of Christian converts. It had not occurred to me that the group was a sales pitch—in part because it clearly didn’t function as such. I thought it was a “do unto others” kinda thing, without expectation of return.)

    I don’t mean to ignore human dynamics. We compete for attention—and the more articulate among us may favor competitive debate as the forum where we can best display our better qualities. Even in the scientific “pursuit of truth,” scientists compete for funding, staff, and positions. And arguably this competition motivates greater effort. It almost certainly promotes cheating—an act that seems to explicitly subordinate the pursuit of truth to the pursuit of victory.

    I’ve even heard the theory that language skills arose as a means to demonstrate fitness to potential mates. Or, as Robin Williams said in Dead Poet’s Society, the purpose of poetry is … to woo women.

    In sum, I question the value of most self-conscious “debate.” In contrast, I value above diamonds exercises such as Grace’s Mint Garden–wherein Grace surrendered herself to serve as a laboratory specimen for laymen to poke and prod. Grace recognized that, rightly or not, laymen were going to look for subtle/covert ways to poke and prod anyway. Like the people in the cartoon, she did not engage in “debate”—but neither did she shield herself from scrutiny. Rather than a sales pitch, she offered candid information and perspectives. And I can think of few better exercises for promoting understanding and compassion than that.

  6. 6
    Ampersand says:

    Michael:

    Firstly, I’m not sure that the common left tactics are any better. Having Twitter mobs swarm people over comments they made on obscure blogs and accuse them of being monsters – and often not giving a chance to respond- isn’t a way to criticize people. it’s a way to coerce them into silence.

    I agree, that sucks. But you’ve seriously pulled the wool over your own eyes if you think that’s a “left tactic,” as if the right doesn’t use it too, and about as often. If you’re really against that shit, then be against it period. All you’re doing here is making a partisan point of what shouldn’t be a partisan issue.

    However, did it ever occur to you that sometimes the person on the other side feels like you’re the one denying THEIR humanity? ( Obviously that’s not the case in the examples in the cartoon.)

    I feel you sort of answered yourself here.

  7. 7
    Elkins says:

    There’s a funny cartoon I’ve seen around, mocking the kind of political cartoon where we see the characters speaking for the point of view the cartoonist disagrees with, yelling and waving their hands and being angry, while the opposing character – the one the cartoonist agrees with – is calm and reasonable.

    I’m pretty sure the cartoon you’re thinking of is Shmorky’s Dumb and So Goddamned Crazy. People on the Something Awful politoons thread often just use the acronym DASGC to refer to cartoons they feel fall into that category.

  8. 8
    Michael says:

    @Ampersand#6- I agree that the right can be just as horrible. My point is that there’s a tendency on the Left to excuse such behavior as “just criticizing” racism and sexism while there’s a tendency on the Right to excuse the above behavior as just asking to debate. And yes, I agree that the Right is totally hypocritical on free speech.

  9. 9
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Ampersand,

    Perhaps the right seeks to ‘deplatform’ people as often as people on the left, but that doesn’t mean that they get their way as often. Major speech platforms are dominated by the left: media, social media, universities, as well as the bureaucracy in general (or ‘deep state’ as others may call it).

    I also want to comment on the Peterson quote: the intent was to argue that between illegal and proper, there is (extremely) improper, where people who are treated that way tend to retaliate, not necessarily with words. Women are allowed to retaliate more harshly against men than vice versa (note that men and women are allowed to retaliate more harshly against their own gender).

    Based on the fairly common idea that consequences (at least partially) control behavior, Peterson then argues that women have similar control over misbehaving men as men over misbehaving men, but more than men over misbehaving women.

    Peterson actually takes it further than this by arguing that respect depends on fear of the other. Peterson is not arguing that people should commonly use violence, but rather that the threat of violence shapes how people behave.

    This is actually very similar to Social Justice arguments that I’ve seen, where it is argued that women are coerced into behavior that men want because there is a threat of violence that emanates from men. So coercion then happens even if violence is not used, nor explicitly threatened.

    Ampersand, do you reject those arguments as strongly as you reject Peterson’s beliefs?

    Finally, are you familiar with quote mining? One can create a false perception of a person by taking a quote of context, where people will assume that the context is different then it actually was. So you can actually create a straw man by quoting someone.

  10. 10
    Ampersand says:

    Elkins:

    I’m pretty sure the cartoon you’re thinking of is Shmorky’s Dumb and So Goddamned Crazy. People on the Something Awful politoons thread often just use the acronym DASGC to refer to cartoons they feel fall into that category.

    Actually, that isn’t the cartoon I had seen – but it’s very similar (and significantly better drawn). I hadn’t seen that before, thanks.

  11. 11
    Patrick Linnen says:

    @Lol;

    This is actually very similar to Social Justice arguments that I’ve seen, where it is argued that women are coerced into behavior that men want because there is a threat of violence that emanates from men. So coercion then happens even if violence is not used, nor explicitly threatened.

    wut. Got any citations for any of that?

    Yes, “Marriage is Rape” was ‘said’ by a feminist. By a character in a book she wrote. The time it was written? The legal codes of a majority of US states and territories still considered marriage to automatically mean consent by the woman in that marriage.

    Look up rape statistics. Also Statutory rape, as well as grooming, gas-lighting, and psychological abuse. Yes, coercion does not always mean physical threat.

    Your whataboutism is tiresome.

  12. 12
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Patrick,

    Catharine MacKinnon actually went even further, by arguing that women cope with the treat of abuse not merely by yielding to male desires in the absence of specific coercion by the man they yield to, but that they regard this as their own choice:

    All women live in sexual objectification like fish live in water. Given the statistical realities, all women live all the time under the shadow of the threat of sexual abuse. The question is, what can life as a woman mean, what can sex mean to targeted survivors in a rape culture? Given the statistical realities, much of women’s sexual lives will occur under post-traumatic stress. Being surrounded by pornography – which is not only socially ubiquitous but often directly used as part of sex – makes this a relatively constant condition. Women cope with objectification through trying to meet the male standard, and measure their self-worth by the degree to which they succeed. Women seem to cope with sexual abuse principally through denial or fear. On the denial side, immense energy goes into defending sexuality as just fine and getting better all the time, and into trying to make sexuality feel all right, like it is supposed to feel. Women who are compromised, cajoled, pressured, tricked, blackmailed, or outright forced into sex (or pornography) often respond to the unspeakable humiliation, coupled with the sense of having lost some irreplaceable integrity, by claiming that sexuality as their own. Faced with no alternatives, the strategy to acquire self-respect and pride is: I chose it.

    A rather similar claim is ‘Schrodinger’s rapist’, where it is also argued that the threat of male sexual violence coerces women into behavior to keep them safe, although it is a slightly smarter argument in that it recognizes that safety is not merely achieved by compliance.

    The legal codes of a majority of US states and territories still considered marriage to automatically mean consent by the woman in that marriage.

    By the man as well, actually. The wife could no more be convicted for rape of her husband than vice versa.

    Look up rape statistics. Also Statutory rape, as well as grooming, gas-lighting, and psychological abuse. Yes, coercion does not always mean physical threat.

    You are not actually making an argument here. What are those rape statistics supposed to show?

    Your whataboutism is tiresome.

    A problem with accusations of logical fallacies is that they are often applied too liberally. Whataboutism in particular is only a fallacy in very specific situations, but is often used to ignore/legitimize double standards and/or to not reflect on the consequences of applying certain principles consistently.

    I was also falsely accused of moving the goal posts in the other thread, by people who don’t understand that changing the subject is something completely different from moving the goal posts.

    It seems to me that some research into the correct application of logical fallacies might benefit some of the visitors of this forum.

  13. 13
    Ampersand says:

    I don’t think a Catherine Mackinnon book from 29 years ago is “social justice.” MacKinnon’s work is part of the radical feminist canon, but I doubt many social justice folks nowadays would cite MacKinnon as an important influence. Rather, it seems to me that the rise of SJ’s importance on the left has coincided with radical feminism becoming less important.

    Modern radical feminism is frequently in conflict with SJ perspectives. For instance, virtually all feminists who are anti-trans and anti-sex-worker are radical feminists. (Although MacKinnon is not anti-trans.)

    (Note that when I say “radical feminism,” I’m not using it as people on the right often do – an empty pejorative for any feminist to the left of Christina Hoff Sommers. I’m using it as a term for a particular school of feminism, and it is the term that radical feminists use for themselves).

    This is actually very similar to Social Justice arguments that I’ve seen, where it is argued that women are coerced into behavior that men want because there is a threat of violence that emanates from men. So coercion then happens even if violence is not used, nor explicitly threatened.

    Ampersand, do you reject those arguments as strongly as you reject Peterson’s beliefs?

    Wow, is this soft-peddling Peterson’s views. Yes, of course coercion can happen without violence being used, or explicitly threatened. If that was all Peterson had said, I wouldn’t have disagreed with him at all.

    One essential difference between Peterson’s and MacKinnon’s views is that Peterson is arguing that the way threats of violence shapes relationships is inevitable, and he finds it in some ways beneficial. (Did you watch the video clip I linked to? Because your description of what Peterson allegedly meant bears little resemblance to what Peterson says in that clip.) Indeed, Peterson says that it’s impossible for him to respect a man who will not under any circumstance violently fight Peterson.

    MacKinnon – for all that I disagree with her analysis – at least thinks implicit violent coercion is bad, and thinks moving away from this coercive system is possible and desirable.

    Look up rape statistics. Also Statutory rape, as well as grooming, gas-lighting, and psychological abuse. Yes, coercion does not always mean physical threat.

    You are not actually making an argument here. What are those rape statistics supposed to show?

    I agree that what’s meant by “rape statistics” here is ambiguous. But it’s obvious that Patrick is offering “grooming, gas-lighting, and psychological abuse” as examples of coercion that can occur without physical threat. “These are examples of X, therefore X can happen” is an argument.

    I was also falsely accused of moving the goal posts in the other thread, by people who don’t understand that changing the subject is something completely different from moving the goal posts.

    If you have an argument about something someone said on the other thread, take it to that thread. In particular, unless Patrick is the specific person who said you moved the goal posts, bringing it up to Patrick this way seems unwarranted and unhelpful.

    It seems to me that some research into the correct application of logical fallacies might benefit some of the visitors of this forum.

    Please don’t make this sort of condescending generalization about the other posters here. Thanks.

    Also, I sent you an email 8 days ago which I’m not sure you ever saw.

  14. 14
    Chris says:

    I have to admit I stopped listening to that clip of Peterson when he said that the threat of physical violence is an underlying factor in any serious interaction between two men. So I don’t know what views he expressed about women later in the clip, but my guess is they’re at least as stupid as his views about men.

  15. 15
    Patrick Linnen says:

    @Ampersand
    You and LoL are right. That is ambiguous. I was thinking of stats provided by the ‘yesmeansyes’ site that showed what I meant (supported by FBI stats and research survey results), was unable to locate the page in question and got impatient, and then derped.

    And to be honest I should have followed Internet best practices and provided definition links for the terms I mentioned to avoid any manosphere google-bombs.

    I will try to do better in the future.

  16. That clip of Peterson really is offensive. Susan Faludi’s Backlash, in full voice—or, to put that another way, contrary to the book’s subtitle (The Undeclared War Against American Women), Peterson seems to have declared war outright. (I have not paid all that much attention to him; clearly I need to start.)

  17. 17
    dragon_snap says:

    Regarding Peterson (and Amp, please feel to move this to an open thread if you feel it’s off-topic), several female friends of mine their twenties (various ages in that decade) have in the last six months or so related tales of needing to break off a romantic relationship with a man, or not pursue an otherwise promising new connection with a man, due to appreciation/enjoyment of Jordan Peterson on the part of the gentlemen in question. I don’t think radicalization is the right word, but he is definitely reaching men who otherwise had not thought at length about the gendered nature of our society, and have now come to a lot of pretty toxic conclusions (and feel sure in them). I’m not sure of his overall popularity in the US, but in Canada –and especially with the publication of his book — he’s certainly reached some level of ubiquity. I’ve been aware of him since 2015, and I’ve watched his rise with consternation.

  18. 18
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Ampersand,

    I didn’t claim that MacKinnon is a central figure in or emblematic of current Social Justice. My goal in making the comparison was not to make a claim that Social Justice in general supports these beliefs, but to potentially create more understanding of Peterson by showing how some feminists have similar beliefs about how humans are being coerced into behaviors by fully implicit threats of violence.

    I never saw Peterson argue that “the way threats of violence shapes relationships is inevitable,” but merely that it’s how things work, with the implication that most individuals have to deal with social norms as they are*. That doesn’t seem like a very controversial claim. Do you believe that you can simply flout societal norms while still getting your way?

    Of course, you may, as I, not agree with Peterson on what the norms & mechanisms exactly are, disagree that certain societally sanctioned methods are ethical, accuse him of bias, etc.

    Anyway, your second claim, that implicit violent coercion is bad shows that your bias or assumptions matches the bias or assumptions of MacKinnon, rather than those of Peterson. Peterson is wrong by being overly positive about implicit violent coercion, while MacKinnon is overly negative. For example, under traditional norms, a woman who is groped may strike a man, who is then humiliated. The threat of this happening disincentivizes men who’d like to grope a woman through implicit violent coercion. Another example of implicit violent coercion with positive effects is that it disincentivizes robbers.

    As for your clarification of Patrick’s paragraph: I agree that a major weakness in both Peterson’s and MacKinnon’s argument is that non-violent coercion also exists and arguably, is far more common and has a larger effect overall. However, I think that Patrick is overly negative here by only pointing to negative forms of coercion. Mandatory schooling of kids is also non-violent coercion.

    * In general, Peterson is a strong anti-Utopian, who believes that only very imperfect outcomes are possible and that we should thus accept the lesser evil. This doesn’t mean that he believes that progress is impossible, but rather, that it is extremely hard and requires very strong skepticism, to prevent things from getting worse instead.

    Ampersand, you’ve ignored my claim that you are quote mining. The entire digression that led to MacKinnon was all intended to lay the ground work for that claim. Let me be more explicit:

    I think that most people who read your Peterson-panel will assume that Peterson is advocating violence against women. However, if you look at the video, he actually advocates that women police other women (if they violate norms of common decency). This is somewhat similar to a relatively common Social Justice demand of men: that they police misogyny from other men, as women cannot do so effectively.

    I think that you can only portray Peterson’s claim fairly if you give more context, for example by changing the text to: “Women should defend men from crazy women, including with violence in extreme cases, because men are not allowed to defend themselves like that. If I may quote…”

  19. 19
    Ampersand says:

    LOL: This is actually very similar to Social Justice arguments that I’ve seen, where it is argued that women are coerced into behavior that men want because there is a threat of violence that emanates from men. So coercion then happens even if violence is not used, nor explicitly threatened.

    PATRICK: wut. Got any citations for any of that?

    LOL: Patrick, Catharine MacKinnon actually went even further, by arguing that women cope with the treat of abuse not merely by yielding to male desires in the absence of specific coercion by the man they yield to, but that they regard this as their own choice:

    So, LOL, you gave Catherine MacKinnon as an example, when asked for a citation to prove a claim you made about “Social Justice arguments.” That’s why I questioned if MacKinnon can be considered part of SJ thinking.

    * * *

    I think that most people who read your Peterson-panel will assume that Peterson is advocating violence against women.

    I don’t think most readers will come away thinking that. First of all, the character obviously isn’t Peterson himself, but someone influenced by Peterson’s thought; I think most of my readers are smart enough to know the difference. (If I had wanted to accuse Peterson of saying something, I would have drawn Peterson saying it). And second of all, although the character (like Peterson) seems to consider it somewhat of a shame that men aren’t allowed to hit women, he stops short of advocating violence against women (like Peterson).

    That said, I’ll ask around, and if it does seem that people are misreading that panel as “Jordan Peterson advocates hitting women,” then I’ll change the dialog to something along the lines of what you suggest.

    (I am reminded of another Canadian misogynist, although in that case, the person – cartoonist Dave Sim – actually did advocate hitting women.)

  20. 20
    Michael says:

    Just to clarify, the example Peterson used of a “crazy woman” in the hitting discussion was a woman who called Peterson a Nazi. IOW, Peterson was complaining that his critics weren’t afraid of violence.

  21. 21
    Patrick Linnen says:

    Jordan “Misogyny will go away if women give men sex” Peterson : From Guardian

    “Violent attacks are what happens when men do not have partners, Mr Peterson says, and society needs to work to make sure those men are married. ‘The cure for that is monogamy. That’s actually why monogamy emerges,’ [he says.] Enforced monogamy is, to him, simply a rational solution. Otherwise, women will only go for the most high-status men, he explains, and that couldn’t make either gender happy in the end.
    “‘Half the men fail,’ he says, meaning they don’t procreate. ‘And no one cares about the men who fail.’
    “I laugh, because it is absurd.
    “‘You’re laughing about them,’ he says, giving me a disappointed look. ‘That’s because you’re female.’”

    That Jordan Peterson. Huh.

  22. 22
    Mandolin says:

    I’m not sure what the worst thing one of my characters has ever said is, but I’m damn sure I wouldn’t want it attributed to me as if I’d said it as myself.

  23. 23
    Ampersand says:

    Yes, “Marriage is Rape” was ‘said’ by a feminist. By a character in a book she wrote. The time it was written? The legal codes of a majority of US states and territories still considered marriage to automatically mean consent by the woman in that marriage.

    What book was this? Fear of Flying?

  24. 24
    nobody.really says:

    “Violent attacks are what happens when men do not have partners, [Jordan] Peterson says, and society needs to work to make sure those men are married. ‘The cure for that is monogamy. That’s actually why monogamy emerges,’ [he says.] Enforced monogamy is, to him, simply a rational solution. Otherwise, women will only go for the most high-status men, he explains, and that couldn’t make either gender happy in the end.
    “‘Half the men fail,’ he says, meaning they don’t procreate. ‘And no one cares about the men who fail.’”

    “The anthropological record indicates that approximately 85 per cent of human societies have permitted men to have more than one wife (polygynous marriage), and both empirical and evolutionary considerations suggest that large absolute differences in wealth should favour more polygynous marriages. Yet, monogamous marriage has spread across Europe, and more recently across the globe, even as absolute wealth differences have expanded. Here, we develop and explore the hypothesis that the norms and institutions that compose the modern package of monogamous marriage have been favoured by cultural evolution because of their group-beneficial effects—promoting success in inter-group competition. In suppressing intrasexual competition and reducing the size of the pool of unmarried men, normative monogamy reduces crime rates, including rape, murder, assault, robbery and fraud, as well as decreasing personal abuses. By assuaging the competition for younger brides, normative monogamy decreases (i) the spousal age gap, (ii) fertility, and (iii) gender inequality. By shifting male efforts from seeking wives to paternal investment, normative monogamy increases savings, child investment and economic productivity. By increasing the relatedness within households, normative monogamy reduces intra-household conflict, leading to lower rates of child neglect, abuse, accidental death and homicide. These predictions are tested using converging lines of evidence from across the human sciences.”

    The puzzle of monogamous marriage (2012)

    In societies that recognize plural marriage, what do we observe? Women tend to marry men with high status (within their societies), even if those men already have one or more wives. And, by default, men of lower status do not find wives.

    So when a society bans plural marriage, this has the effect of shifting the supply of women down the status ladder. Putting it bluntly, monogamy is a social program benefiting low-status men.

    But low-status men don’t generally drive social policy. So why do we observe the spread of monogamy–a policy that impinges upon the prerogatives of high-status men? The authors of the above-cited study argue that monogamy produces many social benefits, and that societies that fail to adopt monogamy find themselves at a disadvantage when competing with societies that do, all else being equal.

  25. 25
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Ampersand,

    I think that radical feminism is certainly part of the Social Justice movement, even if it is not the most typical variant. You argued earlier that radical positions on trans people and sex work(ers) make them very different, but radical feminist opposition to trans women and sex work seems very much based on claims and arguments that are very popular among non-radical feminists, but then applied with different assumptions.

    For example, the common radical argument against trans women seems to be that they have been socialized as men and thus have toxic masculinity, which makes them a threat to women, akin to men. So just like men should be treated as the threat that they are, trans women should too. This doesn’t seem all that different from the non-radical feminists who believe in toxic masculinity, but believe that trans women don’t have this or that they shouldn’t be treated like men for other reasons (like how oppressed they are).

    The radical objection to sex work seems to be based on the idea that sex workers exist because of and are severely harmed by rape culture, which is a Social Justice belief that many non-radical believe in as well.

    Patrick Linnen,

    Jordan “Misogyny will go away if women give men sex” Peterson

    You need to be aware that the media commonly strawmans and misinterprets Peterson. He never said what the Guardian or you accuses him off. He didn’t talk about male misogyny, but about male violence, never limiting it to female victims. He didn’t talk about sex, but about partners.

    The assumption that male anger over not having partners must be due to a lack of sex and must be aimed at women, strongly suggests an anti-male bias to me. Apparently, the Guardian can’t imagine that men might want a partner for more than just sex and might be angry at society in general, rather than just women.

    The basic claim by Peterson is that polygamy is the natural state of unregulated society, leaving many less privileged men single, who will radicalize due to an inability to get a good life.

  26. 26
    J. Squid says:

    He never said what the Guardian or you accuses him off.

    Are you saying that the reporter made up that direct quote from Peterson? That’s quite an accusation.

  27. The Washington Post did a story called “Too Many Men,” which is not precisely what people are talking about here in terms of monogamy, but it does examine the question of what happens when “men do not have [or can’t find] find partners,” to use Peterson’s words.

    It’s worth noting how heteronormative and male-centric (dare I resurrect a word I haven’t seen used in a long time and say phallocentric) Peterson’s argument is. There may be some descriptive legitimacy in the point(s) he makes in this regard—in that, in a heteronormative, male dominant culture with certain kinds of expectations of men, and in which men are raised to have certain kinds of expectations about heterosexual partnership (because let’s not pretend that life partnership is not also about sexual partnership), a scarcity of women might indeed lead to a kind of anger and resentment among men that finds expression in violence. But it is a descriptive accuracy only.

  28. 28
    Mandolin says:

    I mean, another solution is for it to be socially encouraged for women to fuck multiple men. Somehow that proposal seems to be missing. As if there were an underlying philosophy driving the conclusions about what should be done, rather than simply a drive to solve a described (or at least hypothesized) problem.

  29. 29
    dreadfullyawry says:

    One of my team has started reading Jordan Peterson. I am a bit concerned. I don’t want to police what my coworkers read in their spare time. I’ve never seen him be anything but considerate and professional to female coworkers either in the office or at work social events. On the other hand, he is young (in his twenties), heterosexual, white, ex-military, very devoted to physical fitness and he has recently had a couple of hard breakups that left him feeling hurt and confused.

    I feel like there is a real risk factor for him becoming a misogynist, and him reading Peterson obviously doesn’t make me less concerned. As his team leader I don’t really know what to do. Obviously if he started to behave in a misogynist way at work I would act, but I am concerned about more than just his behaviour as a coworker, but as a person. And I am worried female coworkers may feel uncomfortable when they see the Peterson book on his desk.

    Any advice?

  30. 30
    Mandolin says:

    There’s also the women’s sex drives increase in their thirties thing. Are these people who are very concerned about the lack of sexing for young men proposing that they go fuck older ladies?

    I mean, I’m not saying these alternate solutions are GOOD ones. I’m just saying that there’s a definite bias to saying the obvious solution is enforced monogamy.

  31. 31
    Mandolin says:

    Dreadfully Awry — Do you know him well enough to straight up ask how he’s doing and if he wants to talk to someone? It seems like that’s hard for a boss.

    Write to Ask a Manager?

    I suspect she would tell you that you just should continue what you’re doing — not saying anything, and keeping an eye out for behavior affecting the workplace. But that’s just my guess from reading too many of her columns.

  32. 32
    Ampersand says:

    Honestly, as weird as it feels, D.A., if he hasn’t actually done anything in the workplace that merits his boss talking to him (and I know you hope it doesn’t come to that), I don’t think there’s anything you can do. That’s a talk for friends to have with friends, not for bosses to have with employees. :-(

  33. 33
    J. Squid says:

    Honestly, as weird as it feels, D.A., if he hasn’t actually done anything in the workplace that merits his boss talking to him (and I know you hope it doesn’t come to that), I don’t think there’s anything you can do.

    Agreed. I work with scads of racists & misogynists. But until they do something that creates a hostile work environment, I can’t do shit about it. But I am pretty sure everybody knows where I stand on those issues and that’s the most I can do.

  34. 34
    desipis says:

    dreadfullyawry:

    Any advice?

    As a point of comparison, consider how much vile shit is in the holy books of the Abrahamic religions. Then consider how you would react if one of your colleagues told you they’d become interested in Christianity, or Islam, or Judaism.

    Peterson’s advice is typically centred on individualism and self-improvement. His critic’s typically cherry-pick and take much of what they criticise out of context. Additionally, most of the people who read his books and/or watch him speak don’t do so because they see him as some great messiah who’s word is dogma, they engage with his ideas critically. I wouldn’t worry about it.

    … he is young (in his twenties), heterosexual, white…

    Given how you phrased this, I’d be more concerned about whether you’re going to do something that would constitute sexual or racial discrimination as a team leader against one of your reports.

  35. 35
    desipis says:

    RJN:

    There may be some descriptive legitimacy in the point(s) he makes in this regard—in that, in a heteronormative, male dominant culture with certain kinds of expectations of men, and in which men are raised to have certain kinds of expectations about heterosexual partnership (because let’s not pretend that life partnership is not also about sexual partnership), a scarcity of women might indeed lead to a kind of anger and resentment among men that finds expression in violence. But it is a descriptive accuracy only.

    Peterson’s background is in clinical psychology. He’s views come from dealing with people and their problems in the actual real world, not the magic social utopia that political ideologies often wish (if not assume) exists. My only disagreement with your comment is that (as a psychologist) he’s talking as much about fundamental human psychology as he is with any specific culture.

  36. 36
    Ben Lehman says:

    The thing that puzzles me about Peterson’s “legally mandated monogamy” is that monogamy is already legally mandated in basically every western country*. It’s just really puzzling, like someone campaigning to outlaw murder. That has, in fact, already happened.

    If Peterson wants to outlaw polygamy, he’s going to have to move somewhere else to do it.

    It’s possible what he means is something worse, or more draconian, like outlawing pre- or extra-marital sex or forced marriage. Which would be awful. But as it stands it’s just a correct statement of the current state of the law, phrased as if it’s a daring proposal.

    yrs–
    –Ben

    * The US makes exceptions for immigrants from countries with legal polygamy, if they are already married to more than one person. But we’re weird and also this exception applies to almost no one.

  37. 37
    Patrick Linnen says:

    @Ampersand;
    ‘Fear of Flying’? Possibly. It is really going to bug me that I cannot remember the name.

    Here is where I come from in this. About a decade back, pre-redpill/MGTOW/incel, in threads discussing how men killing and how MRA influenced them, there would evidently be some special dude saying “This Feminist said, ‘Marriage Is Rape!’ therefore Feminists are more Extreme!” Maybe not all the time, but regularly enough to mark a theme.

    After the 8th or 10th occurrence, I decided to wiki the feminist in question and found she did write that. For a character in a work of fiction. Written in the early ’60s. I then cast my net wider to look at the legal aspects of Marital Rape and found that, at the time, only about 8 state smade marital rape illegal. It was not until the ’80s that all states enacted such laws.

    Of course it never came up again for me to use my rebuttal.

    Going from ‘married women have automatically consented’ to the absolute of ‘marriage is rape’ can be considered by some to be a bit of a stretch. However, from a philosophical point of view, this is a valid and logical stand. I cannot say how the feminist in question arrived at it, either in her view or in the viewpoint of the character, but my mind the removal of the ability to deny is a removal of agency. The rest pretty much follows, Q.E.D.

    Sorry for the delayed response

  38. 38
    dreadfullyawry says:

    “Given how you phrased this, I’d be more concerned about whether you’re going to do something that would constitute sexual or racial discrimination as a team leader against one of your reports.”

    For the record I am also a white, heterosexual man. So I don’t think I am biased against any of those groups.

    I just realise that misogyny is much more common among white heterosexual men than it is among queer women of colour. I don’t think it’s discriminatory to acknowledge that. I don’t treat every white heterosexual man as a potential misogynist, but when they start behaving in ways that can be a gateway to misogyny (e.g. reading misogynist literature), I become wary.

    To all the others who gave advice, thank you. Hopefully everything turns out fine.

  39. 39
    nobody.really says:

    [A]t the time, only about 8 states made marital rape illegal. It was not until the ’80s that all states enacted such laws.

    If only….

  40. Desipis:

    My only disagreement with your comment is that (as a psychologist) he’s talking as much about fundamental human psychology as he is with any specific culture.

    Which means, I assume, that you think there is a level at which “fundamental human psychology” is not shaped by culture?

  41. 41
    dreadfullyawry says:

    Is it possible that Peterson, when he says “legally mandated monogamy”, is talking about making adultery illegal?

  42. 42
    J. Squid says:

    Seems to me that by “enforced monogamy” Peterson means every man is required to be married to a woman and every woman is required to be married to a man. It’s an odious position, not only because it outlaws homosexuality and asexuality, but because it also eliminates so much freedom of choice in how to live one’s life, regardless of sexuality. All in the service of the dubious proposition that if only every young man had a woman who was his to fuck, that we’d greatly reduce violence from disenchanted and violent men.

  43. 43
    Patrick Linnen says:

    @nobody.really;
    Damn, that is depressing.

  44. 44
    lurker23 says:

    i looked this up once. i think that peterson uses “enforced monogamy” to mean something else.

    i do not know why anyone would say “enforced monogamy” unless they were trying to talk about “enforceing” something, and what you would be enforceing would be “monogamy”, i think it is a dumb word choice. but if you want to know what peterson actually says he means, here is as part of it and the link to it.

    https://www.jordanbpeterson.com/media/on-the-new-york-times-and-enforced-monogamy/

    It’s been a truism among anthropologists and biologically-oriented psychologists for decades that all human societies face two primary tasks: regulation of female reproduction (so the babies don’t die, you see) and male aggression (so that everyone doesn’t die). The social enforcement of monogamy happens to be an effective means of addressing both issues, as most societies have come to realize (pair-bonded marriages constituting, as they do, a human universal (see the list of human universals here, derived from Donald Brown’s book by that name).

    Here’s something intelligent about the issue, written by antiquark2 on reddit (after the NYT piece appeared and produced its tempest in a tea pot): “Peterson is using well-established anthropological language here: “enforced monogamy” does not mean government-enforced monogamy. “Enforced monogamy” means socially-promoted, culturally-inculcated monogamy, as opposed to genetic monogamy – evolutionarily-dictated monogamy, which does exist in some species (but does not exist in humans). This distinction has been present in anthropological and scientific literature for decades.”

    i don’t know anything about it but i thought that might help.

  45. 45
    lurker23 says:

    Patrick Linnen says:
    And then there debating people that deny you are even human. (very hard pass)

    i think that because this is a hard pass and because people like to win, this ends up being a thing that people do to win arguments, when they say people are “denying they are human” but they just mean “disagreeing”

    it is like:
    the right to housing is a human right, everyone has the right to free housing
    you are denying that homeless people should have a right to free housing
    so you are denying that homeless people are human
    so you are not worth arguing with or listening to
    so i win, and because i win we should obviously give free housing to homeless people.

    but that is a funny thing to say! because people are really disagreeing with the idea that housing is a human right, they are not disagreeing with the idea that homeless people are human.

    the same is true with transgender people, if someone says a transgender woman is “actually a man” they are not saying “not human” because i am sure they think men are human!

    i think that disagreement and not-liking people ends up getting called “not treating them as human” alot, and i think that makes no sense. it is just a game to say something is a “human right” or “denying humanity” to win arguments.

  46. 46
    Patrick Linnen says:

    @lurker23

    i think that because this is a hard pass and because people like to win, this ends up being a thing that people do to win arguments, when they say people are “denying they are human” but they just mean “disagreeing”

    Ha Ha Ha Ha, no.

    The low-hanging fruit counter-example are the alt-right. (Richard Spencer’s cover for being a Nazi.) Blacks, Latinos, Gay people, Trans people, Jews, Muslims, Liberals, Women. Any category of ‘The Other’ is considered “sub-human.” Full Stop.
    This is not ‘disagreement’. This is ‘the rest of society would shun us if we hunt these groups like animals in public yet so we have to do it in the dark and behind white sheet masks.”

  47. 47
    Patrick Linnen says:

    Derped it again. To clarify, the ‘we’ and ‘us’ I used above refer to the Alt-Right movement

  48. 48
    J. Squid says:

    I refuse to call them by the name they want in order to cover up the fact that they’re simply nazis. So I call them nazis. Unless, of course, I’m feeling especially generous, in which case I call them neo-nazis.

    And, no, I won’t debate them.

  49. 49
    Kate says:

    In societies that recognize plural marriage, what do we observe? Women tend to marry men with high status (within their societies), even if those men already have one or more wives.

    Such societies usually have arranged marriages. Therefore, it is parents who tend to choose men from families “with high status (within their societies)” to form alliances through marriage with their daughters, “even if those men already have one or more wives”. Women generally have only limited choice in the matter.

    Here’s something intelligent about the issue, written by antiquark2 on reddit (after the NYT piece appeared and produced its tempest in a tea pot): “Peterson is using well-established anthropological language here: “enforced monogamy” does not mean government-enforced monogamy. “Enforced monogamy” means socially-promoted, culturally-inculcated monogamy, as opposed to genetic monogamy – evolutionarily-dictated monogamy, which does exist in some species (but does not exist in humans). This distinction has been present in anthropological and scientific literature for decades.

    So, in preaching “enforced monogamy” to a bunch of angry young men who can’t find the female partners they desire, Peterson’s not trying to get these men to vote for governments which will enforce these standards by law. He’s encouraging them to personally enforce these standards themselves. What could possibly go wrong?

  50. 50
    dreadfullyawry says:

    If “enforced monogamy” means strong cultural and social pressure to enter into a state of monogamy, then we already have it. Perhaps not quite as strongly as we did fifty years ago, but the very strong expectation is that people are supposed to enter into a lifelong monogamous bond, and that this is the desired end state of romantic life.

    It’s not the opinion of everybody everywhere that this is the ideal, but it is the opinion of most people, most of the time. And while it isn’t enforced by coercion, it is enforced very strongly by social norms, both on a societal level (most media presents this is as the ideal) and the individual/peer group level (people sympathise with people who are single as missing something, encourage their friends to enter long term unions, and celebrate when they do). Conversely, leaving a monogamous union is generally seen as a sad event.

    So if Peterson thinks we are not enforcing monogamy, he means that all of the above isn’t enough. If we steelman this argument, it means that we need to do more to celebrate monogamous unions, more to move people into them, and be sadder when they end. Even this proposal, which I will emphasise again, is the taking the “we need enforced monogamy argument” and giving it the most charitable interpretation, is not something I can really get behind, since it is essentially a rewind to 1950s-style thinking about heterosexual relationships, which I don’t like.

    If this is what Peterson means, in addition to promoting retrograde ideas about relationships, he is also guilty of using extremely imprecise language, because it is really hard to square what I am discussing above with “enforcement”.

    If this is the argument that is being made it would be much better to talk about “promoted monogamy”, “lionised monogamy”, “encouraged monogamy”, or something like that. Indeed, if you think this is what Peterson is proposing and you do like the idea I would encourage you to use a word other than “enforced” – it really leads people in the wrong direction, and even if you like Peterson’s idea, that doesn’t mean you need to like the phrase he uses to convey the idea.

    So in summary, the best case scenario is that Peterson is promoting a retrograde, unsavoury concept, and in addition to that is using language that makes his concept seem far scarier than just retrograde. As best case scenarios go it’s still pretty bad. Is this best case scenario likely? I will leave it up to those more familiar with Peterson to decide.

  51. 51
    desipis says:

    RJN:

    Which means, I assume, that you think there is a level at which “fundamental human psychology” is not shaped by culture?

    Of course. Seeing human psychology as a blank slate that is completely shaped by culture requires a flat-earther level denying of evidence.

  52. 52
    Ampersand says:

    I agree. There are probably some people who believe in a 100% blank slate human nature, but I doubt there are many.

    However, there’s a huge amount of space between “humans are an absolute blank slate by nature, there is nothing but culture,” and believing that Jordan Peterson’s view of masculinity and what men are like is fixed biological human nature. I don’t think either of these extremes is true.

  53. 53
    desipis says:

    Sure. Which is why I mentioned both in my comment.

    To clarify my understanding of Peterson’s position, I see the “the implicit threat of violence underpins civil discourse” is the more fundamental aspect (inherent subconscious cognitive process), while the gender differences are the cultural one.

    When growing up (as toddlers, as teenagers) we learn that if we push people too far psychologically, they respond physically. In order to avoid the mutually destructive risk of physical consequences we learn to ease up on psychological attacks and have an initiative sense of how far we can push people. Any “serious” (i.e. conflict resolving) discussion will be bounded by the limits of how far each party can push the other before the conflict turns physical (something generally detrimental to both parties). There may be other factors that bound the discussion to a much narrower extent, however the underlying risk of physicality and its bounds will still be there.

    This underlying psychological truth is why provocation has long been a defence in law. Of course the typical limits for people to turn violent are going to be a function of circumstances, including the impact of culture.

    A person who will not under any circumstance be violent is someone to whom you can apply unlimited psychological pressure and hence is someone you have complete control over. They are practically your slave and any compromise you grant them is out of benevolence and not respect. Of course every human will have a limit at which they resort to violence, so this is very much a hypothetical point being used to illustrate the broader concept by exploring it’s extremes.

    The gender aspect comes from the fact that (in certain cultures) men are conditioned to tolerate significantly greater psychological pressure from women before resorting to resorting to being physical. This means that in any “serious” (conflict resolving) discussion women are at a certain liberty to put more psychological pressure on men, than vice versa. Many women (reasonable, fair minded, etc) won’t generally exploit this, although they may take advantage of this female privilege in certain circumstances. However, the malicious or vindictive ones will exploit it to a significant extent, and that’s what Peterson is talking about.

    The two ways I see to resolve this inequality are to increase the social acceptance of men to become physical against women, or to increase the social sanctions against women who psychologically push men past the point that that violence would be tolerated against other men.

  54. Desipis:

    Seeing human psychology as a blank slate that is completely shaped by culture requires a flat-earther level denying of evidence.

    Amp:

    There are probably some people who believe in a 100% blank slate human nature, but I doubt there are many.

    Setting aside Desipis’ snark, note the difference. It is one thing to say that “human nature” is a blank slate, which I would agree denies the fact that we are animals born with certain genetically inherited traits, etc., while it is quite another to say that human psychology, which is the body of knowledge that we develop to make sense out of human nature (along with the methodology we use to construct that knowledge), is somehow fundamental or essential in a way that transcends its embeddedness in history and culture.

    This is not merely a semantic difference. Assume, for the moment, that there is indeed an inherent biological male (meaning XY chromosomal) proclivity towards certain kinds of aggression. That’s human nature. The meaning we give to that proclivity, how we study it, how we understand the way it should fit (or not fit) into normative human society, how we treat men (clinically, in therapy, etc.) who do not fit that norm—all the stuff of which psychology is made is not “natural.” It is, precisely, made, and because it is made, it’s really important when talking about claims like the ones Peterson puts forward to pay attention to how they are constructed and on what basis. In other words, while his description of a particular problem might be accurate on its own terms, it is not necessary to accept that those terms must also be the ones on which a solution should be based.

    Please note: I am not arguing that psychology as a discipline should therefore be harnessed to somehow produce “the magic social utopia[s]” that Desipis so unthinkingly belittled in a previous comment. People are entitled to be happy and satisfied in their lives, and helping people who are having difficult achieving that is one vitally important function that psychology/ists serve. Peterson, however, is making sweeping diagnoses about society and culture as a whole and offering similarly sweeping prescriptions for change. Given that, the cultural basis for, and bias underlying, what he says certainly deserves careful, careful scrutiny.

  55. 55
    desipis says:

    RJN:

    psychology
    /sʌɪˈkɒlədʒi/
    noun
    1. the scientific study of the human mind and its functions, especially those affecting behaviour in a given context.
    synonyms: study of the mind, science of the mind, science of the personality, study of the mental processes
    “she has a degree in psychology”
    2. the mental characteristics or attitude of a person or group.
    “the psychology of child-killers”
    synonyms: mindset, mind, mental processes, thought processes, way of thinking, cast of mind, frame of mind, turn of mind, mentality, persona, psyche, (mental) attitude(s), make-up, character, disposition, temperament, temper, behaviour; informal what makes someone tick.

    I was using the second definition.

    unthinkingly belittled

    It wasn’t unthinking at all. Utopian thinking premised on people as abstract thinking beings disconnected from the cognitive processes and limitations of the human brain is something that plagues philosophy of all kinds.

  56. 56
    Michael says:

    I think that it’s important not to use psychiatry to rationalize one’s personal policy preferences. And it’s ultimately an argument from authority- Peterson uses his “just so” story to rationalize taking us back to the 50s and the APA came up with the opposite conclusion in their “toxic masculinity” declaration a few weeks back.They came to completely OPPOSITE conclusions. Neither of them were practicing science- just using it to rationalize their beliefs.
    That being said, there’s a difference between using science to rationalize one’s prior beliefs and drawing data from the treatment of various conditions. The delayed gratification studies with marshmallows, for example, were meant to validate prior beliefs about the importance of delayed gratification, not to treat patients with, I don’t know, kleptomania. But the body of knowledge drawn from treating patients and discovering what makes them get better and worse is valid- and it’s universal. For example, psychiatrists agree that it’s unhealthy for most people to try to suppress intrusive thoughts. But that needs to be applied across the board- Bob has to not suppress intrusive thoughts about raping Alice and Bob has to not suppress blasphemous thoughts against Christianity if he’s Christian. If someone says, “that’s ridiculous that Bob shouldn’t suppress his thoughts about rape- that’s patriarchy”, then a Christian can say “It’s your anti-Christian bias that leads you to believe Bob shouldn’t suppress his blasphemous thoughts” and then the legitimate advice of psychiatrists gets ignored. I’m not saying that’s what Richard was advocating- I’m just saying that most people have no idea of the damage done by refusing to follow a treatment because it seems counterintuitive.

  57. 57
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    This cartoon is confusing. On one level, it seems to poke fun at the stereotypical “reply guy,” who invades conversations looking to debate his opponents with his devastating logic. On another level, it’s arguing that the arguments advances by reply guys are unworthy of a platform. I’m calling bullshit on both points as they apply to today’s discourse.

    It’s common to see proponents of SJ comment in spaces where they are challenging or “calling out,” the original poster, including on many posts made by the sort of thinkers who write for Quillette (I see the logo in panel 3). I also remember a recent tweet by Roxanne Gay where she called out the sexism of a cashier for asking is she wanted a boy’s or girls happymeal. I’m not saying there’s always something wrong with that, but let’s be even-handed, here. Unwanted call out culture can be every bit as obnoxious as the worst reply-guy in certain situations, but I think it’s also warranted in others, particularly when supporting the case that an argument is biased. Sometimes people are being jerks, and sometimes they are improving the quality of a discussion, and this goes both for Quillette readers/writers and feminist social critics. If a science journalist makes truth claims over social media, and a reply guy enters the conversations and presents counter-evidence, that’s a good thing, IMO. The same is true for.public intellectuals making claims. “Hey, you need to actually engage with these opposing arguments if you want people like me to agree with you,” is a good norm for laypeople to hold, and also a good way to actually win minds. Ive never been convinced by a sneering dismissal or the “I’m not going to do your research for you,” reply.

    As to whether or not the typical “reply guy” argument is out of bounds to be platformed, that’s just not true. Personally, I learn a great deal listening to two thinkers debate, especially if they are experts in their field. I also think ideas and arguments are sharpened this way, including the ideas of many feminists (as an example, I see less advocates of blank slatism than I used to). Many ideas considered out of bounds by some are actually hotly contested if not the consensus opinion of experts (iq research is the best example of this, and I’ve used quotes from leading researchers to dispel misconception in these comment sections. How did these misconceptions get so common? Probably because counter arguments have been tabooed or dismissed such that most people have no idea what the consensus among experts is).

    Finally, not engaging with Quillette types is just a massive strategic blunder. If laypeople see a well reasoned Quillette article on sex differences, but don’t get to hear opponents of the Quillette piece engage it, they’ll come away assuming there just isn’t a good counter argument.

    (Also, the idea that Douglas didn’t debate those who dehumanized him is just bunk. I didn’t take Singal’s tweet to suggest that Douglas traveled to the South to attend an Oxford style debate at a podium, I took it the way most would, and that’s that Douglas engaged and destroyed the arguments of those who would enslave him through his writing, which he unquestionably did.
    The lack of charity is disappointing, but not surprising coming from Berlatsky)

  58. 58
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    J. Squid,

    Are you saying that the reporter made up that direct quote from Peterson? That’s quite an accusation.

    What I’m saying is that the direct quote doesn’t say what the Guardian reporter says it does. Reporters misrepresenting what people with very different beliefs actually say is extremely common. Presumably, this is not intentional, but due to a lack of understanding of the world view of the other person. This is one reason why dominance by one worldview of (mainstream) media, science, the bureaucracy etc is an issue.

    Mandolin,

    I mean, another solution is for it to be socially encouraged for women to fuck multiple men.

    Only if (heterosexual) men’s only need with regard to female companionship is sex. However, this is not the case. For example, the majority of men want, just like women, to have companionship and children.

    Ben Lehman,

    The thing that puzzles me about Peterson’s “legally mandated monogamy”

    Your confusion may be because you’ve been lied to about Peterson’s beliefs. Peterson has never talked about “legally mandated monogamy,” but about enforced monogamy. Your use of quotes suggests that you are quoting someone, but I see no plausible source. Can you tell me where you got “legally mandated monogamy” from?

    dreadfullyawry,

    it is essentially a rewind to 1950s-style thinking about heterosexual relationships, which I don’t like.

    I am missing an actual argument in your comment why certain modern/progressive relationship norms are better than certain older/conservative norms. Peterson’s argument is that modern/progressive norms result in fewer people of both sexes having partners, because women are less willing to settle. Whether this is the cause or not, the statistics do show that people tend to spend a increasing percentage of their lives single and that over 25% of households with an underage child now have a single mother. Various studies* have found a link between a surplus of men and violence/crimes, providing some support for Peterson’s claim of increased violence when men are less able to find a partner.

    Of course, you may believe that the benefits of modern/progressive relationship norms outweigh the costs. However, if you don’t actually have a progressive solution to these downsides, then I don’t see why people who think that the costs outweigh the benefits wouldn’t prefer older/conservative norms.

    Note that the downsides of modern/progressive relationship norms seem to disproportionately accrue at the bottom of society. For example, single mothers are much less educated on average & far more often black or Hispanic. The Hidden Tribes study shows that ‘progressive activists’ and ‘traditional liberals’ are far more educated and more likely to be white than the average American. So it then makes perfect sense for these progressives to like these relationship norms more than other groups, as they get less of the downsides (and probably more of the upsides). They much more often still get to raise a child with a partner present.

    * In the discussion section, there are references to other studies with similar findings.

    and in addition to that is using language that makes his concept seem far scarier than just retrograde.

    I actually consider it refreshing and honest that he doesn’t paper over the coercion that he advocates for. Societal discourse has a huge amount of ‘framing’ where people use language games to get their way. It’s very common for people to advocate for the coercion, but then deny that they are doing so. I prefer that people own it and explain why they believe it necessary.

  59. 59
    lurker23 says:

    Patrick Linnen says:
    May 11, 2019 at 1:06 pm
    @lurker23

    i think that because this is a hard pass and because people like to win, this ends up being a thing that people do to win arguments, when they say people are “denying they are human” but they just mean “disagreeing”

    Ha Ha Ha Ha, no.

    The low-hanging fruit counter-example are the alt-right. (Richard Spencer’s cover for being a Nazi.) Blacks, Latinos, Gay people, Trans people, Jews, Muslims, Liberals, Women. Any category of ‘The Other’ is considered “sub-human.” Full Stop.

    if “full stop” the same as “period” like you really really mean it but you do not need to explain why?

    i do not like the alt right, they are not nice people and alot of them seem to want very different things than i do, i am not friends with alt right people.

    but when i talk about “de humanising” and “not human right” and stuff i like to try hard to use a line that seems fair on both sides. because i do not think that alot of the people who i like are actually seeing the alt right people as sub human or not human or lesser humans, but i sometimes wonder if they applied their own definitions, would they be?

    i know of course there are some people who would really in real life like to kill blacks or gays or transsexuals if they could. but there are people in any group who are going to be crazy and hate people in different groups i think.

    i mean, look at only two examples in the ampersand cartoon.

    take iq. according to alot of us, the people who think that some groups have a smaller average iq are supposedly all a bunch of alt right white power nazis. but almost all of those people also think that the average white iq is lower than asians and ashkenazi jewish people, if you want to follow people like charles murray about average iq differences it is clear that he thinks european whites are NOT on top. if you think that thinking any group average might be lower iq is “dehumanizing” then anyone who agrees with that is “dehumanizing” themselves unless they happen to be from a high iq part of asia or an ashkenazi jew. so then “dehumanizing” is really just used to mean “mean” or “rude”.

    you can say “full stop” or “period” as much as you want but i am curious: can you come up with a way to define de-humaning someone or thinking someone is “subhuman” because of group membership that would not apply to, i think, alot of either liberals, progressives, or people who they support?

    i think it is not so easy, i am not sure i can do it.

    i mean, to use an example if you make a definition which would fit this:

    dreadfullyawry says:
    May 10, 2019 at 11:46 am
    One of my team has started reading Jordan Peterson. I am a bit concerned. I don’t want to police what my coworkers read in their spare time. I’ve never seen him be anything but considerate and professional to female coworkers either in the office or at work social events. On the other hand, he is young (in his twenties), heterosexual, white, ex-military, very devoted to physical fitness and he has recently had a couple of hard breakups that left him feeling hurt and confused.

    I feel like there is a real risk factor for him becoming a misogynist, and him reading Peterson obviously doesn’t make me less concerned. As his team leader I don’t really know what to do. Obviously if he started to behave in a misogynist way at work I would act, but I am concerned about more than just his behaviour as a coworker, but as a person. And I am worried female coworkers may feel uncomfortable when they see the Peterson book on his desk.

    will that definition not also fit alot of other things?

  60. 60
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    That Peterson quote about violence and men’s social interactions is actually pretty fascinating- not because I think it’s super useful, but because it is an interesting theory that may shape some small percentage of interactions, or opperate to a small degree in the subconscious for some males It’s the kind of thing I’d like to see subjected to vigorous testing.

    Twice in my life I’ve been pretty viciously bullied by women, once as a teenager by a close family member over several years, and once by an ex girlfriend, also over several years. In both cases I can actually relate to Peterson’s narrative. I had an older brother who… I love him and won’t call it bullying me, but he refused to respect my desire to be alone throughout my childhood, and my mom insisted that I solve the problem myself, and I did, by eventually standing up for myself with physical force to make him leave my room or stop breaking my things. It took several bruises abrasions and scrapes, but eventually it worked. Once he knew I could hurt him, he was willing to respect my desire to be alone and stopped breaking the model planes I’d build. It forever changed our interactions. But there was nothing I could do when my ex bullied me, and I did feel helpless. It’s not that I actually desired to be violent with her, I’m not one to get in a fight. It’s just the the possibility of violence among men, even when friends, is real even if it’s small, while I know with certainty that I’d never hit my ex, not even to defend myself, and she knew it too. We are all slightly evolved apes, and I think theres a part of our brain always tuned to identifying risks to our well-being, and other humans are a big part of that risk. It’s why many men can relate when I say it’s common for guys to quietly size each other up physically upon meeting. It’s just a subconscious thing we do, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it does affect the way men talk to each other on some level to some degree.

    Maybe Peterson thinks this dynamic is super important and maybe he places too high a certainty on the validity of this model for male to male interaction, or perhaps he could support a nuanced view by citing solid literature. I just don’t know, because the reaction to his idea is to roll the eyes, scoff, or sneer, rather than interrogate his ideas in a way that resmbles a debate. (I also wonder how many people are hunting for a normative argument that just isn’t there)

    I can imagine a response to this, something like, “Jeff, I remember not too long ago when you seemed pretty dismissive of a certain Bell Hooks book, comparing her work to astrology. Perhaps her veiws also can be interpreted with more nuance, even when they sound preposterous at first reading” Fair enough, but you know what would help me see that nuance? It would help if Bell was willing to actually enter into something like a debate or discussion with an expert on the subject matters with which she writes about. It would help if an intelligent individual would push back on her to help reveal where she’s certain, where her views are more complicated than they appear on first reading and how she defines various terms. But we don’t get that, because people like Bell Hooks won’t debate a psychologist like Jordan Peterson, even as she makes claims that fall under his area of study. She wont go on econ-talk and discuss capitalism with an economist. I know because I’ve listened to hours of her discussions. On the other hand, Jordan will debate, even when his opponent outclasses him (that zizek debate was a murder!).

    I remember the first time I heard Cathy O’Neil, the author of “weapons of math destruction,” interviewed. It was on NPR and not very confrontational, and she came across as a social justice crusader rather than a subject matter expert with important analysis. I totally wrote her off, as well as her thesis. Then she appeared on econ talk, where Russ Roberts pushed back on some of her claims in his kind and open minded way. It was like a switch flipped and she suddenly became aware of her audience, how they may understand disperate results in computer algorithms, and how best to engage those who probably don’t agree with her already. She totally reframed the debate and placed different emphasis on different point. She became more nuanced, but also more persuasive. It ended up being one of the most upvoted episodes that year, and one I’ve listed to several times. Debate is good. It shouldn’t be compelled, and those who won’t debate shouldn’t be shamed for it. But for those who care about truth seeking, its mostly a good thing. It also shapes the thinking of people, even if it’s not a face to face discussion. Editorials, papers, books, and podcasts can operate like a debate so long as they actually engage opposing ideas, and people really do change their opinions as they consume these things, even if the change is slow.

  61. 61
    Ampersand says:

    Jeffrey:

    I also remember a recent tweet by Roxanne Gay where she called out the sexism of a cashier for asking is she wanted a boy’s or girls happymeal.

    I wouldn’t call January of 2016 “recent.” More importantly, Gay was obviously joking.

    Of course SJ folks should and do engage with opposing views frequently. Regarding panel 1, for example, there are a lot of smart people who address common arguments and questions regarding trans people’s existence and lives, from Grace’s The Mint Garden here on Alas to higher-profile writers like Julia Serano.

    But that doesn’t mean that any trans person is obligated to directly debate anti-trans people where and when they demand, or to accept invidious framings.

    Finally, not engaging with Quillette types is just a massive strategic blunder. If laypeople see a well reasoned Quillette article on sex differences, but don’t get to hear opponents of the Quillette piece engage it, they’ll come away assuming there just isn’t a good counter argument.

    I’m not convinced this is actually how minds are changed, in practice.[*] And although I think feminist arguments about sex differences should be made (and have been made! Over and over!), I don’t think that anyone’s obligated to address any particular publication’s articles.

    I didn’t take Singal’s tweet to suggest that Douglas traveled to the South to attend an Oxford style debate at a podium, I took it the way most would, and that’s that Douglas engaged and destroyed the arguments of those who would enslave him through his writing, which he unquestionably did.

    This isn’t a charitable reading on your part; this is you blatantly ignoring what Singal wrote, and pretending he wrote something else entirely.

    Joe Ro wrote:

    “I am trying to imagine a debate between a slave and slave owner for instance. What would that seem like to me?”

    Singal replied (emphasis added): “I mean this literally happened!”

    That’s not ambiguous. (And I can’t see any way that could be read as Singal joking.)

    Maybe Singal misspoke (er, miswrote). That happens all the time, and if so Singal could have said so, and after that I think it would be extremely uncharitable to not accept his word for it. But it’s not uncharitable to respond to what Singal actually wrote.

    I find it ironic that you’re criticizing Noah for lack of charity, at the same time you’re accusing him of “bunk” for what appears to be a good-faith response to what Singal actually wrote. (And citing Roxanne Gay’s self-effacing joke as if it were serious).

    That said, let’s say that when Singal wrote “I mean this literally happened!,” regarding debates between slave and slave owner, what he meant was “ex slaves addressed pro-slavery arguments in forums other than direct debates with slave owners.”

    Then what about the “I refuse to debate with people who don’t see me as human?” view is Singal even criticizing? To use trans writers as an example, trans writers have written thousands of essays responding to anti-trans and trans-critical views. Singal, who has been the subject of many of these essays, is very aware of this.

    If we’re saying that by “debate,” Singal meant to include former slaves engaging with ideas in print but not directly debating slavers – if that what Singal sees as sufficient – then he has absolutely no grounds for criticizing SJs for saying “I refuse to debate with people who don’t see me as human.”

    So either Singal’s tweet:

    1) Is saying what it appears to say, in which case Noah’s response is fair.

    2) Is saying what you claim it says, in which case Singal’s criticism of modern SJ is a complete double standard.

    [*] ETA: I mean, given how many millions of humans exist, I’m sure there are some whose minds are changed primarily by this sort of thing. But I haven’t seen any evidence showing that this is generally how minds are changed.

  62. 62
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Jesse did eventually clarify that he didn’t mean a literal debate, I’m pretty sure he was referring to this:

    https://www.backstoryradio.org/blog/to-my-old-master/

    A good way to figure that out is just to ask him, rather than dragging him, and let’s be honest, Berlatsky has been going after Singal for a while now, sometimes unfairly, like this:

    https://twitter.com/jessesingal/status/1085964387507154945

    The whole thing is stupid and proof that twitter amplifies uncharitable attitudes.

    As to Singal being aware that some people, including trans people, are willing to debate and engage, of course he is. He’s written entire articles responding to what he considered good criticism. He’s talking about the people who argue that debating is bad because it platforms people like Singal, and also this sort of thing:

    https://twitter.com/JeffreyASachs/status/1086250852623499270

  63. 63
    Ampersand says:

    As I recall, Jesse eventually said (I’m paraphrasing) that he had never said that ex slaves literally debated slave owners, and that everyone who said he had was lying. I see that as pretty different from “I guess I wasn’t clear enough, what I meant was…”

    I can’t ask Jesse directly, since he blocked me, I think after this tweet – in which I was in the wrong, but I don’t think I was rude to Jesse at all. (We’d had a few previous back and forths in which both of us were polite.)

    Yes, I said that of course Jesse is aware of writers like Julia Serano. But that leaves me wondering what on earth his problem is. Is every single trans activist obligated to debate and engage? I assume he would say no, they aren’t. But if we agree that not every single trans activist is required to engage; but there are some who do; then what’s the problem?

  64. 64
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    I take him to be saying that the “debating these bigots is bad” argument, is a bad argument, for several reasons he laid out, including the over-application of “bigot,” but also going further and justifying the virtue of arguing actual bigots, even bigots who are bigoted against you or me. I don’t think he’s demanding the people actual debate, he’s responding to a type of argument he encounters on social media (and probably in meat space, I’ve heard things like it in person) The original context here is important.

    I think it’s sort of like saying. “Stopping to help someone in need is a good thing to do.” I believe this, and do it all the time. I wish more people were helpful to others. That said, I think it kind of goes without saying that I’m not laying down a law that everyone must stop and help any person in need who they encounter, especially since some people may not always feel safe in certain stranger interactions, but it would be awful if we all convinced each other that all or most strangers are dangerous, when most people are kind and harmless. It’s a shame that Jesse blocked you for such a benign comment, had he not, you could have found out what he meant, but that means actually engaging, and not dunking on him for your fans like Berlatsky did. I really want less people to be like Noah in that regard, and I don’t think he’s doing his on cause any favors.

  65. 65
    J. Squid says:

    Look, I’m not going to debate nazis even if you think it’s a bad idea to not debate nazis, Jeffrey. If you wanna do it, go right ahead, but it’s only going to get you killed while having no effect on nazis.

  66. 66
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    J Squid,

    I’m not really that scared of talking to Nazis. I’ve talked to a klansman before, and the conversation was civil.

    Would you consider Charles Murray a Nazi? If yes, are you afraid he’d attempt to kill you if you challenged his arguments?

  67. 67
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    The idea that reaching out to even very extreme people who are open to a conversation results in a very high risk of being murdered seems incorrect.

    Daryl Davis has been convincing KKK members to leave the movement for 30 years.

    James Stern seems to have convinced the leader of one of the oldest Neo-Nazi organizations to hand control to him, to disband it.

    Both of these gentlemen are black and alive.

    Stories from ex-members and those who pull people out of such movements seem to pretty consistently describe the extremists as people who seek the acceptance that they didn’t get from mainstream society & that the way to pull them out is to show them that acceptance outside of extremism is possible for them.

  68. 68
    desipis says:

    One of the downsides of the “I’m not going to debate my political opponents” schtick is that we end up with people in authority, such as moderating global social media platform, that are so indoctrinated and ignorant they cannot tell the difference between bigots and subject matter experts.

  69. 69
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    One of the downsides of the “I’m not going to debate my political opponents” schtick is that we end up with people in authority, such as moderating global social media platform, that are so indoctrinated and ignorant they cannot tell the difference between bigots and subject matter experts.

    I hope that was just an algorithm responding to mass reporting, but without any transparency, who knows? Anyway, this is one of those times when the initial moderation only amplified the message. I doubt many people would have seen it otherwise.

  70. 70
    lurker23 says:

    i think that alot of the time it starts with “I’m not going to debate my political opponents” but then it gets worse like this.

    i will not debate my political opponents

    it is bad for my political opponents to ask me to debate my political opponents

    it is bad for my political opponents to ask anyone to debate my political opponents

    it is bad for anyone else to debate the issue with my political opponents even if they are okay with it because the issue is not up for debate

    it is bad for me to even hear my political opponents position being said anywhere.

    i think ALOT of people will try to test the scale because the farther down the scale you go then it is easier to “win” because your political opponents cannot even really talk about their position anymore or say alot of things about why you might be wrong. the only way to keep alot of people from moving down the scale is for everyone to try really hard to refuse to accept the lower things as okay for anyone, whether or not you agree with what people are actually trying to say.

    this is not right or left, like if you look at usa history you can see that the right tried to go far down the scale with communism for example. these days i read about alot more of it on the left because alot of education and media is left and i read those things (i do not really read alot of really right people) but it is not a “left thing” or a “right thing” i think it is just something everyone always tries to do.

  71. 71
    nobody.really says:

    Daryl Davis has been convincing KKK members to leave the movement for 30 years.

    James Stern seems to have convinced the leader of one of the oldest Neo-Nazi organizations to hand control to him, to disband it.

    Stories from ex-members and those who pull people out of such movements seem to pretty consistently describe the extremists as people who seek the acceptance that they didn’t get from mainstream society & that the way to pull them out is to show them that acceptance outside of extremism is possible for them.

    These stories inspire me.

    And, come to think of it, I also derive inspiration from the fact Amp had long, respectful conversations with David Blankenhorn, the sole witness to testify in support of California’s constitutional amendment banning state recognition of same-sex marriage. Blankenhorn eventually switched his view of the constitutional amendment.

    I don’t know that Blankenhorn really posed a threat to Amp’s sense of identity. But clearly Amp did not retreat from the debate. And the world is better for this….

  72. 72
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    I’m not at all convinced the debate isn’t effective. so I’ll keep doing it. I think millions of debates held around the USA at dinner tables, dorm rooms, jobsites and bedrooms have helped to shape opinions on things like the theory of evolution, gay rights, neo-liberalism (in the 70’s, though things may be changing), climate change, and the decriminalization/legalization of pot. I imagine that much of the time, a desire to belong on the same side as the smart people is part of the driving force that “changes minds,” but in many ways, that’s almost just as good as a world where people are convinced by superior argumentation.

  73. 73
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Jeffrey Gandee,

    A complication is that social norms, laws and institutions that work fairly well for the well-educated & gifted, may not always work so well for those with less education and/or ability. Sometimes this is because of lack of ability, but often due to circumstance.

    For a professor, who has both the income to hire manual laborers and is part of a subculture that approves of and expects her to outsource that work to others, a migration policy that brings in lots of manual laborers is quite beneficial. However, a working class person who themselves provides (or used to provide) such labor for the middle/upper class for money and to his working class friends for free for status & bonding, an influx of manual laborers that undercut him, disrupts both his job security and his social status.

    I think that a major reason for the rise of populism is an increased belief that the well-educated globalists are shaping society in a way that benefits them, but that leaves many people worse off. Note that this can be subjective. A policy that subsidizes or spares single earner households benefits those who like a certain lifestyle, while a policy that subsidizes or spares dual earner households benefits a different group.

    Quite a few conflicts are ultimately not due to a factual disagreement, but about incompatible desires or abilities. Some of these may be changeable, but research suggests that some of this is strongly related to personality traits that seem quite resilient, if not fixed.

  74. 74
    Saurs says:

    Daryl Davis has been convincing KKK members to leave the movement for 30 years.

    James Stern seems to have convinced the leader of one of the oldest Neo-Nazi organizations to hand control to him, to disband it.

    Neither Davis’s nor Stern’s claims have been independently corroborated or verified. Stern’s “leadership” is disputed, seems to exist only on paper, and has had no demonstrable effect on the group’s activities, which seem largely to have dissipated prior to Stern unilaterally claiming some measure of ownership, which the former head disputes on the chapter’s official website and in its legal filings. Davis’s assertion that he ousted the KKK from Maryland wasn’t true when he said so, in 2015, nor is it true now. Both have asserted, at different times, to have “befriended” white supremacists; there is scant evidence of this, and no evidence that supports the proposition that such friendship constitutes alienation, on the
    part of the allegedly befriended, from organized racism.

  75. 75
    Saurs says:

    as people who seek the acceptance that they didn’t get from mainstream society & that the way to pull them out is to show them that acceptance outside of extremism is possible for them.

    According to your link and pace his own words, acceptance is not what the self-styled ex-racist was thirsting for, but an outlet for his anger and the means of protecting his ethnic “pride.” If you’re suggesting that racists take up racism because they yearn for any kind of acceptance, anti-racism is widely accepted and tolerated. There is nothing to suggest that adopting racism occurs in a vacuum; rather, it is people already predisposed to white identity politics who find succor and solace in this violent extremism, an extremism that validates their pre-conceived taxonomy of humans. To achieve “acceptance,” he had only to reverse his actions and end up back where he started, having unlearned hate. His “acceptance” appears to consist of earning a living and attracting attention by talking about this change of fortune; that is a narrow and niche path that, if it becomes mainstream, will cease to have any value. A deluge of ex-white supremacists keen on recruitment and high-profile mentoring will saturate the market before long.

  76. 76
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Saurs,

    According to your link and pace his own words, acceptance is not what the self-styled ex-racist was thirsting for, but an outlet for his anger and the means of protecting his ethnic “pride.”

    From the article:

    Looking back, he describes his introduction to the group as receiving a “lifeline of acceptance.”

    So it was the fear rhetoric. … I can tell you that every single person that I recruited or that was recruited around the same time that I did, up to now, up to what we’re seeing today, is recruited through vulnerabilities and not through ideology.

    If you’re suggesting that racists take up racism because they yearn for any kind of acceptance, anti-racism is widely accepted and tolerated.

    I’m not suggesting that. In this context, I think that acceptance should be read as ‘love,’ not ‘tolerance.’

    I think that feeling loved requires experiencing an above-average appreciation of what one does and/or is, by some. People typically find this in communities smaller than general society, like a movement, a hobby group, a group of friends or a relationship. In his case, it was music fans.

    To achieve “acceptance,” he had only to reverse his actions and end up back where he started, having unlearned hate.

    One of my favorite quotes is “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” All around us you can see that most people are not actually content with merely being treated as generic humans. They want to treated like they are special, by some people.

    His “acceptance” appears to consist of earning a living and attracting attention by talking about this change of fortune

    That’s not what the article says, at all.

    rather, it is people already predisposed to white identity politics who find succor and solace in this violent extremism, an extremism that validates their pre-conceived taxonomy of humans.

    You are conflating white identity politics with violence. Either can exist without the other. See antifa and non-violent white nationalists. Antifa’s are Social Justice advocates with a tendency towards violent solutions, but there are plenty of advocates without such tendencies. The same for white nationalists who go out to beat up people vs those that don’t.

    As for your second claim: I believe that extremist ideologies have to fit with people’s perceptions, for them to be accepted. Preconceived notions shape perception, so they are linked. However, that doesn’t mean that it is as crude as you suggest, where people already have to believe the core tenets of an ideology to be susceptible to it.

  77. 77
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    LOL, I think I get the point you made in your comment addressing me, and I think it’s a good one, but I want to make sure. Are you saying that debate cannot solve disputes over metaphorical truths because these truths differ from person to person and group to group because they aren’t aiming at the ideal of subjectivity, but rather, these are truths that grant advantages to those who hold them? It’s a great point, and why I think it’s important to differentiate between metaphorical and good-old-fashioned truths.

    My beef is mostly with those who make truth claims of the non-metaphorical sort, but refuse to interrogate them. It’s incredibly arrogant when one considers that everyone everywhere is wrong about everything, even as we all slowly move toward a slightly more true model of how the world really works. My problem with the SJ left is the certainty and lack of humility. SJ spaces can feel downright puritanical to me. I will grant you this, though: the idea that it is a good in itself to seek truth is itself a metaphorical truth that might harm people. I can grant that, feel bad for those who are harmed, and still decide that seeking grants us utility that outweighs the harms caused.

  78. 78
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Jeffrey Gandee,

    I was gesturing more to something else. What is very interesting is that studies and surveys have found that those who are better educated (on issues) actually tend to have more polarized beliefs than those with less knowledge. However, as you can see in the Drummond study (and some other studies I’ve seen), this increased polarization seems to only exist when the beliefs align with identity issues.

    So it seems that people prioritize defending their identity/group and will employ motivated reasoning to accomplish that, where more knowledge allows better cherry picking of evidence. Or to put it more crudely: well educated people lie (to themselves and others) by omission, while the less educated do so by commission. Note that I see a danger here in the seemingly common attacks by the well-educated on the less educated for being factually incorrect much more, where those people ignore that lies by omission are not as susceptible to fact checking, yet no less capable of (self-)deception.

    So key to convincing people in general is then to weaken the link between identity and specific policies, if possible.

    However, political identities seem to be based at least partially on personality differences (see table 1), where conservatives are primarily less open to new experiences (O) and more conscientious (C). These personality traits then result in different desires & needs, as well as judgments. A person with low O is going to enjoy a more stable environment and a person with high C is going to judge people (including herself) more on their self-discipline, their dutifulness, etc. So conservatives will tend to have a higher expectation of perseverance for people with negative life experiences, even if the environment was/is unjust, while progressives will tend to be more accepting of them demanding help from others & not giving it their all due to a poor quid-pro-quo. If you convince high-C and low-C people of the same facts about inequality of opportunity, they will still judge this differently.

    Big-5 personality differences are very stable and thus almost certainly can’t be educated away. So peaceful and democratic* coexistence then requires compromise.

    * In a real sense, where the desires and needs of people are catered to roughly in proportion to the commonality of those desires and needs.

    Metaphorical truths are a very interesting topic. One aspect is that society and humanity is very complex and having a partial understanding may cause worse outcomes for some than a simplified rule.

    For example, the (partial) understanding of sexual behavior that well-educated progressives tend to have, where they see promiscuous behavior as not inherently bad, but where it only becomes bad due to bad judgment or abusive behavior, works better for people with better judgment (& impulse control) and a better ability to recognize & stop abusers. Promiscuity works a lot better for people who are good at using condoms, the pill, noticing that they are pregnant, organizing an abortion, judging sexual partners, etc.

    At a certain level of poor judgment and/or susceptibility to abuse, a person is probably better off with a far more crude belief, like the idea that promiscuous behavior is inherently immoral because God said so and He knows better.

    I think that many well-educated people have moral frameworks that are designed around a fairly high ability and that teaching and applying that moral framework to people with lesser ability, predictably results in moral transgressions.

    With the increase in education, the logical outcome is that society became much more designed around the abilities of the well educated. What progressives tend to see as a fight for liberation from oppressive norms, may in part actually be a fight for norms that benefit the well educated at the expense of the less educated. Class warfare in denial.

  79. 79
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    LOL,

    I agree with everything you wrote. I don’t know what to do other than to be aware of it the ways education can strengthen bias, and try to support norms within the educated class, where open-mindedness and admitting “I was wrong,” grant one higher status.

    I’d like to live in a world where more lefties read Quillette from time to time, and more people on the right (why isn’t “righties” a word?) read current affairs.

  80. 80
    VK1892 says:

    LimitsofLanguage

    Mandolin,

    I mean, another solution is for it to be socially encouraged for women to fuck multiple men.

    Only if (heterosexual) men’s only need with regard to female companionship is sex. However, this is not the case. For example, the majority of men want, just like women, to have companionship and children.

    Okay, then have women marry multiple men. Switch the family module to one women and multiple men, living together and having children. Every husband get sex, companionship and the possibility of children (assuming they marry a woman who wants children).
    Could even allow the addition of extra wifes!
    Monogamy is not the only solution to this, and enforced monogamy (shudder!) really isn’t.

  81. 81
    Kate says:

    For example, the (partial) understanding of sexual behavior that well-educated progressives tend to have, where they see promiscuous behavior as not inherently bad, but where it only becomes bad due to bad judgment or abusive behavior, works better for people with better judgment (& impulse control) and a better ability to recognize & stop abusers. Promiscuity works a lot better for people who are good at using condoms, the pill, noticing that they are pregnant, organizing an abortion, judging sexual partners, etc.
    At a certain level of poor judgment and/or susceptibility to abuse, a person is probably better off with a far He knows better.

    This is wrong on so many levels…I’ve had trouble figuring out where to begin…
    The notion that impulsive people with poor judgement will be more able to abstain from sex entirely because “God says so” than to figure out how to use condoms or some other form of birth control is just absurd.
    Being well educated does not protect one from abusive relationships. Getting married does not protect one from abuse either.
    Being well educated does not make one less likely to engage in impulsive behavior. In fact, quite the contrary. Being well-educated, and well-off often protects one from the consequences of impulsive behavior, thereby making such behavior more likely. The “poorly educated” people I work in retail with almost universally display more impulse control on a day to day basis than the well-educated academics I know. They must if they are going to keep their jobs.
    It is true that people who are so poor as to be actually hungry, exhaused and under a great deal of stress make worse decisions than people who are well fed, well rested and relatively free of stress. However, adding the stress of denying, likely for years with no end in sight, a very primal impulse, on top of that…in effect, threatening hungry, tired, stressed people with eternal damnation if they seek a bit of pleasure in one of the few fun, free, comforting activities within their grasp does not seem to me like a way to make the situation better.

  82. 82
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    I think in a very literal sense want LOL is saying about promiscuity is true. In the wake of the anti-abortion laws being passed in our nation’s south, Ive been thinking mostly about young women, many of when will be in high school, who future will be severely impacted by these laws, and these women will be disproportionately in lower classes. I’m not sure about the whole impulse control thing, and how that fits in there, but my experience is different than Kate’s. The lower class men I work with disproportionately make poor and impulsive choices (like having a few beers before returning to a job site in a running factory with machines that will kill you), but I imagine many of these bad choices are related to the environment they live in as lower class blue collar guys. I’d want to see more data, I’m sure theres a literature on this. I’m not sure it matters, though. LOLs main point seems to be that promiscuity disproportionately harms lower class people seems right to me.

  83. 83
    J. Squid says:

    The lower class men I work with disproportionately make poor and impulsive choices (like having a few beers before returning to a job site in a running factory with machines that will kill you), but I imagine many of these bad choices are related to the environment they live in as lower class blue collar guys.

    Not so different than the middle to upper class white collar professionals I’ve worked with who will drink a pitcher of beer at lunch and then smoke a joint on their way back to work.

    Most of the differences that I have seen between upper/middle class and lower/working class have to do with management of finances & spending.

  84. 84
    lurker23 says:

    where conservatives are primarily less open to new experiences and more conscientious

    but not-change and conscientous is alot of how conservatives want to be in the first place, i think! so i do not think it makes sense to say that “conservatives are primarily less open to new experiences and more conscientious”, it is better that people who are “primarily less open to new experiences and more conscientious” are usually conservatives, i think.

    J. Squid says:
    May 17, 2019 at 7:01 am

    Not so different than the middle to upper class white collar professionals I’ve worked with who will drink a pitcher of beer at lunch and then smoke a joint on their way back to work.

    “white collar professionals” do not die at work if they are drunk or high or slow, a laptop does not kill you, “a job site in a running factory with machines that will kill you” is very different.

  85. 85
    J. Squid says:

    “white collar professionals” do not die at work if they are drunk or high or slow

    Driving in NY highway traffic with a pitcher of beer in your belly and two lungfuls of weed is perfectly safe, eh lurker23? In that case, white collar professionals make poor and impulsive choices disproportionately in the other direction. But I’m not buying the argument even a little bit.

  86. 86
    J. Squid says:

    Although, to be fair to lurker23, my original comment didn’t specify how they got to lunch and back to work. I apologize for my tone.

  87. 87
    Kate says:

    “white collar professionals” do not die at work if they are drunk or high or slow, a laptop does not kill you, “a job site in a running factory with machines that will kill you” is very different.

    There are plenty of white collar workers who need to be sober to perform their jobs safely…surgeons, to take an extreme example. But, sure, blue collar workers are more likely to get injured or killed on the job. As I said @81

    Being well-educated, and well-off often protects one from the consequences of impulsive behavior…

    The consequences for impulsive behaviour are greater the lower on the income scale you go. That doesn’t mean that impulsive behaviors are more common. It does mean that they are much more visible, even if they may be less common.
    It is also worth noting, whereas I live in a country with a livable minimum wage and strong occupational health and safety enforcement, I believe you live in the U.S.. So, one factor that could differentiate your experience from mine is that the people I work with are, for the most part, free of the extreme stress of poverty that retail workers in the U.S. suffer under. Another, on the more industrial side, the forklift drivers at the place where I work won’t even drink the night before a shift, much less on a break from one. It isn’t just that they know that enforcement is such that they will get caught (although that is true). This is a culture in which industrial accidents are considered unacceptable, and workers care deeply about their own safety and the safety of their mates.

    LOLs main point seems to be that promiscuity disproportionately harms lower class people seems right to me.

    Sure. Most things dispropotionalty harm lower class people. They don’t have the money, resilient social networks or status to bounce back from mistakes or just plain bad luck. The question is, how best to mitigate the possible harms associated with sexual activity? Liberals propose comprehensive sex education in all public schools and free access to reproductive healthcare. Conservatives propose abstinance only sex education; forcing young people who wind up pregnant into early marriages or putting their children up for adoption; and shaming single and divorced mothers and, by extension, their children.
    Liberal policies work better. Teenagers who receive comprehensive sex education actually wait longer to have sex than those who receive abstenance only sex education. They are also less likely to get pregnant or develop STIs. Abstinance only education does not reduce impulsiveness. It just means people are less likely to prepare before having sex.

  88. 88
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Kate, liberals have a better plan when it comes to sex-ed, but it’s not enough. In my city, teen pregnancies and single-motherhood are huge problems and contribute to never ending cycles of poverty. I think it’s valuable to examine at cultural norms and their contribution to these problems, and I think that’s what LOL is asking us to do here, precisely because these norms affect the least well off more. It’s certainly a drum I’ve been beating.

    It’s weird to me when it is and isn’t OK to critize culture. I can say “My wife and I wanna move out of DC to somewhere more rural, but not too far South, as we don’t really like the culture” and no one bats an eye. But to say “The culture in DC is a big contributor to the crime, poverty, and horrible public education system” well, this is the kind of thing that is obviously true, but dangerous to say. It’s an unhealthy norm.

  89. 89
    Exfoliator says:

    @Jeffrey: The difference is, in the first example you are saying you don’t personally want to participate in a certain culture. The second example you are at least implicitly saying other people should change their culture.

    One is a statement about yourself, the other is a statement about others.

    This largely accounts for the different ways these two statements are perceived. It’s nothing to do with attitudes towards culture.

    It’s the difference between “I don’t want to eat meat” and “I have a problem with people eating meat”.

  90. 90
    Kate says:

    [L]iberals have a better plan when it comes to sex-ed, but it’s not enough. In my city, teen pregnancies and single-motherhood are huge problems and contribute to never ending cycles of poverty.

    The teen pregnancy rate in the U.S. has been dropping steadily for nearly thirty years. It is lowest in the parts of the country dominated by liberal social policy, and highest in the parts of the country where out of wedlock births are most highly stigmatized source. If teen pregnancies and single motherhood caused these cycles of poverty, those cycles should have been seriously disrupted over the past thirty years. That is not the case. If liberal culture led to higher rates of teenage pregnancy and out-of-wedlock births, the south should have the best numbers in the country, and the northeast should have the worst. The reverse is true.

    I think it’s valuable to examine at cultural norms and their contribution to these problems…

    It is, if you are part of that culture, or if you are being oppressed by that culture. However, if (as is my understanding of both you and LOL, correct me if I am wrong) you are coming from a postion of relative privledge from outside that culture, I don’t think it is valuable. Leave the sermons to the religious leaders in those communities. They have it covered.
    I think our time is better spent listening to what community leaders in those neighborhoods say they need from us, which is generally work on systemic problems, like mass incarceration, police brutality, the school-to-prison pipeline, funding public education, childcare, access to healthcare, and public transportation between their neighborhoods and neighborhoods with jobs.

    It’s weird to me when it is and isn’t OK to critize culture.

    The issue for me is when it is useful. What do you think that you are accomplishing by criticizing inner city cultures in this way? Do you think there aren’t people within these cultures already raising these concerns and working on these problems?
    In my experience, when people focus on culture in this way, they are trying to get out of taking responsibility for the systemic problems I listed above.

  91. 91
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Exfoliator, there is nothing at all wrong with wanting to see cultural norms change in cultures that you and I don’t belong to.

    Example. I was introduced to a “southern Ohio” culture when I dropped out of college to become a pipe fitter. That culture is sexist as fuck, and thats something I’ve written about here before. I don’t care if I was raised in Columbus suburbs in a house where NASCAR never played on the TV, there are shitty norms among southern Ohio men, and I’m going to talk about them. When I see women pipefitters harrassed every damn day, I want to see the culture change, and I’m ok criticizing it from the outside. Some cultural norms really are better than other ones. How the hell can a feminist operate in the multicultural USA where sexism is part of so many cultures, without engaging in cultural criticism? Relativism isnt an option here. If I had to guess, the real objection isnt the criticism, but the fact that I’m “punching down.”

    Kate, I’m fine adding my voice to those who’d also like to criticize DCs culture, be they black, white, rich, or poor. I live here so it affects me. I’m not in a segrated neighborhood, but people likr me are a minority here on several dimensions. I know what issues are important to the people here, and I hear the voices of community leaders. I know which messages are amplified by the local media. I listen to the callers on local radio and regularly read the shitshow that is our community list Serv. There aren’t enough voices calling for necessary changes. I don’t expect my voice to change anything, I’m just some guy in a comment section. I just think the that the ways in which cultural criticism is tabooed for some cultures makes it harder for all critics including those who are better positioned than I am. When Glenn Loury makes the same criticisms I’d make, he’s also called out for “punching down,” (perhaps with racist language, like “uncle tom”) despite his Chicago upbringing.

  92. 92
    Ampersand says:

    Jeffrey, I checked to see if Kate’s numbers on teen births applied to the DC area, and it seems like they do.

    The teen birth rate in Washington, DC declined 81% between 1991 and 2017. Even so, in 2017 there were 408 births to teens. Most teen births in Washington, DC (N/A%) are to older teens (age 18-19). It is also the case that 20% of all teen births were to teens who already had a child. The public savings in 2015 due to declines in the teen birth rate totaled $31 million. Teen birth rates have fallen for all racial and ethnic groups, and in some cases the gap in teen birth rates by race/ethnicity has narrowed, but disparities remain.

    The sources for that webpage’s data are various publications from the US Department of Health and Human Services.

    Serious question: Does knowing that you’re mistaken about the facts change your conclusion?

    There’s a lot of reasons to think that it’s not always that teen, single motherhood causes poverty. It’s possible the causal arrow might go in the other direction: Being poor makes early, unmarried motherhood a rational choice. Some reasons this might be so.

    1) Less marriageable men available, due to higher levels of unemployment and criminal records (the two are related).
    2) Forestalling motherhood for a career makes less sense if career prospects are poor.
    3) If you’re not married, help from your mother with your kids might be essential. But if you’re depending on your mother to help, it makes sense to have children while your mother is still relatively young.
    4) With limited career prospects, motherhood may become relatively more important as a source of accomplishment and satisfaction in your life.

    The book Promises I Can Keep (the #2 book, right after bell hooks, on that list of books we discussed) is really worth reading on this subject. It’s qualitative research, however, not quantitative.

  93. 93
    Ampersand says:

    I also read a quantitative study, several years back, comparing single mothers to their female siblings who hadn’t had children. As I recall, there was no significant difference in likelihood of being in poverty, which is counter-intuitive. However, I’m not able to find the study now, and it’s possible I’m misremembering it.

  94. 94
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Amp, how am I wrong? I never disagreed with Kate’s claim that the numbers have dropped. I’m just arguing that there are way too many single moms and pregnant teens in DC (though I mispoke here, as my real objection is teen motherhood, which is why I brought up the abortion laws being passed in the south), a point that is true, even if the numbers are dropping. I’m arguing that these things are seen as fairly normal here, in a way they aren’t where I’m from.

    Imagine if you tried to argue that America has too many gun deaths, and a conservative “proved you wrong” by showing that in fact, gun deaths have been trending down for some time. It’s great news, but I imagine you aren’t willing to settle for the status quo, especially if you came from a place or can easily imagine a place where it doesn’t have to be like that.

    Also, some more context, as DC is undergoing some pretty radical changes in parts of the city, but not others: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/teen-pregnancies-stay-stubbornly-high-in-poor-dc-wards-low-expectations-are-cited/2014/01/29/0e65b1a4-8927-11e3-a5bd-844629433ba3_story.html?utm_term=.6e500873f750

    I think I remember that study you mention, and I don’t doubt it. My understanding is that the effects of single motherhood on social mobility shows up more at the community level, and mostly affect the children. Obviously, I’m citing Chetty here. If my memory serves me right, a communities percentage of single motherhood is a better predictor of social mobility than any other measure, including race. I’m also absolutely floored by some of the areas in the USA with Scandinavian levels of upward mobility- places like the Mormon parts of Utah. I can’t see how Mormon culture isn’t a big factor there, especially when one considers the low social and educational spending in throughout the state. My larger point is that culture matters, and the sooner we all accept this, the better w’ll get at actually improving outcomes (unless you think that cultures are too hard to change, an argument I’m open too, but skeptical of)

  95. 95
    Kate says:

    …how am I wrong? I never disagreed with Kate’s claim that the numbers have dropped. I’m just arguing that there are way too many single moms and pregnant teens in DC

    That’s not the only issue I raised. It isn’t JUST that the rate of teenage pregnancy has dropped dramatically. It’s that the drop has NOT resulted in lower poverty levels. If single motherhood were driving poverty cycles, as you claim, we would expect poverty to be dropping as the result of a 30 year trend in reduced teenage pregnancy. But, the poverty rate has held pretty steady over that time.
    If, to take your analogy, I argued that more guns lead to more gun deaths, and you showed me that the number of guns had declined dramatically even as gun deaths held steady, I would need to reconsider my position.
    Moreover, in the gun analogy, I don’t see guns themselves as a problem, only the gun deaths. If more guns don’t lead to more gun deaths, I see no reason to restrict them. I also don’t see single motherhood, or even teenage pregnancy as, necessarily, problems. It is the poverty, and derailed lives that are the problem.

  96. 96
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Kate, your argument doesn’t quite follow when talking about something as multi-causal and complicated as poverty (imagine a model where poverty stays, constant for example, single motherhood within the model could still matter, or imagine a model where the value of unskilled labor decreases over time). Though I don’t have these numbers, to make a case like the one you’re making, you’d have to show that decreased single motherhood rates doesn’t affect upward mobility relative to areas that didn’t experience these same decreased rates (or run a controlled experiment, but that’s not happening) I don’t have these numbers, but I bet Chetty has something like it. I wonder if he answers his email? I’d like to know this myself, but absent this data, Chetty’s mulit-variant look at mobility across zip codes is one of the best pieces of evidence we have when discussing this kind of thing, though I admit it’s only one study and imperfect.

    Do you and/or Amp actually believe single motherhood and teen motherhood aren’t related to mobility? Or do you think these things aren’t cultural? I’m not sure what you guys actually think, maybe it’s just that you’re generally skeptical of the argument I’m forwarding, to the point where you think it’s more likely than not that I’m wrong about social mobility and single/teen motherhood?

  97. 97
    Kate says:

    Do you and/or Amp actually believe single motherhood and teen motherhood aren’t related to mobility?

    I think the relationship is vastly overstated, with little evidence behind it because it makes sense intuitively. I think, insofar as there is a causal relationship, it is poverty that causes single motherhood, more than the reverse.
    I think the best way to reduce the rate of teenage pregnancy and single motherhood is to provide sex education and access to reproductive healthcare, to reduce unplanned pregnancies. I believe that is a major factor behind the thirty year decline in teenage pregnancy. There are a local studies indicating that reversing such policies leads to local increases in the teenage pregnancy rate (one in Colorado, I believe). The uneven application of Medicare expansion means that there are still significant opportunities in this area. So, I think how we can continue to increase access to comprehensive sex education and reproductive healthcare is a more fruitful discussion to be having.
    As for people who choose to become pregnant as teenagers, I think they will continue to do so as long as they can’t see better options – educational opportunities, jobs, and stable marriage partners. I think if those opportunities are opened up, the choice to put off childbearing will follow. That means financial investment and addressing racism in both the education and the criminal justice systems. So, I think how to create jobs in poor communities, create transportation systems so that people in poor communities can get to the jobs that are out there more easily, how to improve education systems and make the criminal justice system more just are all more fruitful conversations to be having.
    Whether I am right about the causation or not, I think “cultural pressure” on women who do choose to have children out of wedlock and/or as teenagers generally degrades into slut shaming pretty quickly. I think it does more harm than good. It further marginalizes already vulnerable women and their children. I see no evidence that social shaming reduces out of wedlock births, and much evidence that is may perversely have the opposite effect by making people ashamed to seek out birth control.
    I think, in short, that since the problem is clearly multi-causal, we should begin with other causes. In particular, causes that don’t put the weight of blame on the individual choices of young women.
    But, if you ARE the one who is right. If what we need to do is exert more cultural pressure on young women to abstain from sex and put off childbearing…what would that look like? Because, all the models I can think of for that are pretty ugly.

  98. 98
    desipis says:

    Ampersand:

    1) Less marriageable men available, due to higher levels of unemployment and criminal records (the two are related).

    I think the way unemployed men are classified as “less marriageable” says a lot about how men are valued in society. Especially when they are classified as such in the context of teen single mothers.

  99. 99
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    VK1892 #80,

    Polyandry is/was extremely uncommon as a societal model, and if it occurs, it’s not uncommon for the men who marry the same wife to be brothers. This may be because while the women in a polygynous relationship are guaranteed to pass on their genes (assuming each woman gets to have at least one child), this is far from certain in a polyandrous marriage. So the man may invest his resources entirely in the child(ren) of a (genetic) stranger.

    So I’m skeptical that polyandry is acceptable to men. Perhaps in childless relationships, but the desire for children is quite high, so presumably few people would consider that acceptable.

    Kate #81,

    The notion that impulsive people with poor judgement will be more able to abstain from sex entirely because “God says so” than to figure out how to use condoms or some other form of birth control is just absurd.

    I never said that this would (merely) involve abstaining. Abstaining is not the opposite of promiscuity. In fact, despite having more promiscuity, people are probably having less sex than in the past.

    In your other comments, you also seem to be suggesting that the classic patriarchal solution is to “put off childbearing,” but it’s feminists who insist that women must be (able to be) financially independent and thus educated very well. Yet women tend to half-commit to providing, often choosing poor paying professions, part-time work, etc. The result is that women tend to put off having children for relatively little monetary compensation and a relatively small earning potential. So then when they do have children, the typical choice is work far fewer hours or drop out of the workforce, while the man, who tends to have better earnings and/or better earning potential work, keeps working a lot more.

    Modern norms have resulted in far more relationship instability, with 50-60% of marriages not lasting. With many couples never marrying or cohabitating for a long time, this is probably an underestimate. Divorce is linked to substantial drops in happiness for men and severe loss of income for women. Despite the substantial effort that women put into education and work at a relatively young age, they often are not (very) financially independent upon separation.

    Divorce rates are far higher for the less educated and marriage rates far lower. The divorce increase preceded the reduction in marriages, so there may be a causal link. Bumpass argued more generally that there may be a feedback loop where the increase in instability of relationships/marriage causes less willingness to invest in relationships/marriage, due to a lower expected return on that investment, which in turn makes relationships less stable.

    Black children are both far more likely to live in single parent households and far more likely to have unmarried parents, with the latter suggesting reduced long term investment. You can blame racism and lack of opportunity, but fact is this change happened as racism became less prevalent and opportunity for black people increased. However, you act as if the norms that you advocate having nothing to do with it, despite the evidence strongly suggesting that they do.

    My claim is that (increasingly) many progressives have a strong tendency to make policy that works for the most able and most well off. In effect, they see those at the bottom of society as temporarily embarrassed professors. So they make policy for the top-25% and then plan to uplift the rest of society to the professor lifestyle/culture, ignoring those who aren’t held back by lack of opportunity, but by lack of talent, as well as those held back by policies that work relatively well once people are in the elite, but that reduce social mobility.

  100. 100
    Ampersand says:

    Desipis, think of it from the perspective of a low-income single mom who knows she’ll be struggling to feed herself and her kid on her income. Is it really surprising that she is less likely to marry a man who she thinks there’s a good chance she’ll end up supporting? Do you blame her for this?

    It is a shitty situation, especially for those men. But I don’t think it would help matters if scholars refused to acknowledge that men’s employment prospects affect their marriage prospects. In other words, I think the situation is the problem, not the words sociologists use to describe the situation.

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