Thursday, February 14, 2013

All those poor women who can't find a mature man to marry

Emotivism is an ethical philosophy that says that all moral judgments are nothing more than saying, I approve of this. Thus, our ethical arguments are really nothing more than saying, I think this is good and think you should too.

One of the consequences of emotivism is that, if you believe it (and many millions of people do), then all distinction between moral argument and moral manipulation disapear.

Okay, I've said this before but it's one of those points worth repeating. Also worth repeating is how this transfers into advice to women about finding a marriage partner. Over and over again, women are advised to manipulate men into marriage. For example, Ryan Duffy (H/T Instapundit) has written a piece called: Training Men to be Better: Rewards and Punishments. It's about how to get a man to marry you!

He opens with what he calls "behaviorism".
Anyone who has taken an introductory psychology class has been exposed to the theory of behaviorism. In a nutshell, behaviorists believe that the reason human beings feel, think, and behave the way they do is a result of rewards and punishments. If a seven year old child gets ice cream when she gets an A on a test, she will keep wanting to try and get an A. If an adult in a romantic relationship gets scolded every time he leaves the toilet seat up, he will eventually stop doing it.  It’s a very basic principle, but is also one that dominated the field of psychology for decades.
Actually, behaviourism has been a dead letter in the field of psychology for decades. That perhaps doesn't matter as Duff clearly has no clue what the word means. In any case. forget that and notice how casually manipulative his attitude here is. You push the stimulus you want to get the result you want; the needs, desires and beliefs of the person you are manipulating aren't even on the radar screen.

By the way, this sort of simplistic behavioural programming doesn't work. If your kid isn't very good at getting As, the only consequence of feeding her ice cream will be childhood obesity. And if you scold your man for leaving the toilet seat up, he might reform but he might also leave you for a younger, hotter woman. The software (what a person knows and wants) is just as important as the hardware (inputs and outputs).

Okay, back to Duffy. Here is the problem as he, and others, diagnose it. He begins by pointing out that while men are just as enthusiastic about long term relationships as women are, they have an even stronger preference for what he calls "short-term relationships". Given this set up, he tells us the following sad story of perverse incentives that has gotten us where we are today:
But over time as women have become more sexually liberated and standards of waiting until marriage for sex having basically gone by the way side for both genders, an unfortunate consequence has resulted: women have been feeding the beast of men’s desire for short-term relationships. Being able to spend most of the day playing video games and getting drunk while also still reaping the reward of short-term relationships is hard for men to turn down.
Note the language here. I particularly like,  "while also still reaping the reward of short-term relationships". What he mans by that is that you can be an immature jerk and still get lots of sex. But the key transition is between both sexes being "sexually liberated" and the consequence of this being "women have been feeding the beast of men’s desire for short-term relationships".  That's interesting because the very next paragraph begins with the claim that "women have been the unfortunate victims of this cultural phenomenon". And the question I want to ask is, are women to blame for this or are they the victims?

Or to put it another way, if women really don't want"short-term relationships" why do they enter into them? Duffy's implied answer is that they do it for the sex. Think that through though. If women who go through serial monogamy between the ages of 19 and 27 don't really value those short term relationships much, if all they were doing was getting the sexual adventures that new sexual freedoms entitle them to, then they were just using those guys weren't they?

Duffy doesn't dwell on that because he wants to move on to his proposed solution. Before we get to that, however, we should note that his language here is contradictory. When women pursue the freedoms available to them that is just fine. When men do likewise, that is bad.

There are unspoken assumptions at work in Duffy's argument. One of them is that the real point of relationships is to produce children. The other is that women deserve to get a supportive, long-term partner to help them raise their children.

That's not crazy although it is incomplete. Another reason for long term relationships is to live with someone who loves and supports you in various ways and you can love and support them in various ways. What is crazy is the manipulative language used at every turn.
But should we also look to women to play a role in this process? In his book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, Steve Harvey talks about men like animals and the importance of rewards and punishments. Harvey actively acknowledges his suggestions might not work so well with feminists, but makes suggestions likely waiting ninety days before having sex with men to ensure he is truly in it for the right reasons.
This is the same tired old games that always get proposed. And notice the problem. What he proposes is a social solution. It will only work if most other people buy into it and that means changing the whole culture.

If most people don't buy in, the results are predictable. Twenty-one year old Rachel has no desire to get married just now. She plans to think about it later, so she isn't going to wait any ninety days. Twenty-seven year old Carrie now wants marriage, so she is being more selective. Thirty year old Joe meets them both this month. Tell me why it's his fault if he chooses Rachel?

In any case, "chooses" is probably too strong a word for what he does. He meets and likes both women. Perhaps he even prefers Carrie in some ways but Rachel offers him sex now, so he has sex with her. That doesn't get him a long term relationship of any sort but he is happy because he got to have sex with a hot twenty-one year old and a thirty year old man who isn't rich or famous knows he isn't going to have many more such opportunities. Rachel only wanted sex in the first place so she has nothing to complain about. That said, if she changes her mind because of her experiences with Joe and decides she wants to marry him, her chances of convincing him are probably better than Duffy allows for, she is twenty-one after all. (This may seem unlikely but it happens with some regularity and I've seen a lot more happy married Rachels than Carries in my life.) You can see how Carrie will be demoralized because the life she wanted and hoped for is no longer available to her.

But the temptation, when Carrie comes complaining, is to say, "So what?" Life has always been tough and it has actually been tougher at most other times in history. Why should the rest of us care that a bunch of women coming to the end of their prime reproductive years are having a hard time finding husbands? And why does this justify women being manipulative towards men?

The solution to the problem, by the way, should be obvious. If women really want to get married and have children as a life goal then they have to get about it much sooner and in a much more single-minded fashion. If they are your desires, then it's up to you to make them happen.

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