Saturday, 5 January 2019

Who's Really to Blame for Male Decline?

A recent Huffington Post article blasts conservative pundit Tucker Carlson for blaming male decline on women earning higher wages. Read the article and view Carlson's video clip here.

In a recent video segment on Fox News, pundit Tucker Carlson discusses the declining marriage prospects for an underclass of blue collar men who've been dislocated by the evaporation of blue collar jobs in America over the last generation or so. Women have less interest in marrying men without financial prospects, and this in turn exacerbates single motherhood which conservatives, according to Carlson, claim is a significant factor in pathologies such as alcoholism, drug abuse and crime that plague young men in affected communities. Behind this ominous rise in single parenthood and its associated pathologies is big government and the high taxes it levies to enact the social programs that incentivize fatherlessness and create reliable voting blocs for liberal democratic politicians. Or so we are told.

It would well behoove conservative Republicans to take the plight of displaced young white men in rust belt and heartland communities seriously, Carlson urges, since this is the G.O.P voter base.

While Carlson's take on all of this isn't entirely false, it's far from the whole story and while he does allude to the nature of the core problem, he's reluctant to come right out and say it. This is because conservatives Republicans are just as guilty, and benefited from this just as much as liberal democrats did, if not moreso. It's a little late now for conservatives to lament the decline in male wages and the impact this has had on their marriage prospects, when lower wages, not just for male workers but for everyone who isn't a majority shareholder or c-suite executive, are exactly what the conservatives want and have been pushing for for decades now. Don't expect Fox News to host a pundit who will admit this.

One would think, therefore, that progressive newsblogs would be shouting this fact from the rooftops. One would think. But not quite. The mainstream leftist Huffington Post lambasted Carlson for "blaming higher earning women for men in decline."

The narrative that the Huffpost and Media Matters seem to be pushing is that of Carlson being an old, sexually insecure curmudgeon incapable of reconciling himself with rising female empowerment.

The Huffpost then goes on to quote numerous tweets from empowered women and their new age sensitive male supporters who are simply outraged that Carlson would dare suggest such a thing!

@jbinnie7 tweets:
@JennyCraig Please cease advertising on the Tucker Carlson show. He continues to advocate for outmoded ideas that are used to repress women. Throughout history, women have fought and struggled for the right to vote, to be paid equal wages and not be victimized.
Sigh. This is always the go-to response among feminists, isn't it? Somebody said something they don't like. Therefore deplatform them. Women are apparently so empowered and strong that they're leaving men in the dust in the job market, but still need mountains of ideological protectionism and moral dependency when faced with even the slightest lack of support and encouragement from those same men. Doesn't sound too empowered and independent to me.

@kelownascott tweets:
Tucker Carlson is a misogynist afraid of economically secure women who can't be dominated by cash
The comments section in the Huffpost article is loaded with similar sentiments:
So.... my high achieving daughters are to blame because BillyBob can't find a date?  I think Darwin had an explanation for the 'problem' and the likely outcome.  Meanwhile, I don't think I am going to worry about it.
So progressives are social Darwinists now? When the losers are lower class white males - "Billy Bob" - I guess they are. It all just depends on who your untermensch are, I suppose.
If higher earning women have led to the decline of men then Carlson recognizes and acknowledges the power and superiority of women over the weakness, decline and subordination of men. Hear them roar down there Carlson!
Men are losing! Women are winning! Hooray! This can only be for everyone's greater good. Right?

This is the whole problem with the Huffington Post's take on this. Feminists, not surprisingly, are making this all about themselves and the only thing that really matters to them at the end of the day: their egos. Some whiny conservative MRA is snivelling because women are succeeding financially and socially without men, and he needs to get with the times or get the hell off the media.

I wouldn't disagree with this take if that's all there was to it. But while Carlson's off the mark in his interpretation of what's going on here, due mainly to his own ideological limitations, he is highlighting a legitimate problem. Men and women really are in this boat together. If either gender loses, neither gender wins. An injury to one is an injury to all, after all.

And finally:
Carlson has become a bad parody of a political commentator.   
Women have greater pay equity in places like Finland Sweden Denmark and Norway, where incarceration rates  (along with suicide, infant mortality, medical bankruptcy) are much, much lower than in the US.
Now that's interesting. Gender equity in pay alongside much lower rates of incarceration among men in the Scandinavian countries. Why might that be, I wonder?  Something to do with stronger unions and a social democratic political tradition perhaps?

This conversation, if it can be called that, highlights everything wrong with American political discourse. So let me make this very easy for people.

  • American conservatives, of whom I trust we can consider Tucker Carlson, Fox News and much of its viewership as being examples of, caused this. Men weren't brought low by feminism. Feminists celebrate the defeat of the white male, quite naturally, but they didn't cause it. Neoliberalism caused it Let me repeat that. Neoliberalism caused it. Outsourcing and free trade caused it. Blue collar male wages were decimated when the unions were decimated. And that's precisely what conservatives wanted and why they went ahead with it. They have no business now portraying themselves as the champions of blue collar men.
  • American liberals are not without blame here. The democrats of the Clinton and Obama eras largely acceded to the macroeconomic realities created by Reagan and Bush. Their politics is simply about putting a woman's or a person of color's face on the same neocon foreign policies and neoliberal economic policies. The conservative criticism of the democrats is not without some validity here. Creating whole blocs of demographics dependent on a threadbare welfare state in order to farm votes is no solution here. But we're not exactly seeing the G.O.P push for an industrial strategy that prioritizes full employment and living wages themselves. 
  • White males abandoned in group preference and thus made themselves vulnerable to this. When I say in group preference, I don't mean it in the half way and degenerate sense that reactionaries mean it, which is the construction of an identity politics around a narrative of white male victimhood and resentment against a risen middle class of women and people of color. We don't need a white male version of feminism. I mean the only form of in group preference that really matters: class consciousness. White males were the demographic that most reliably supported Reagan in America, Thatcher in the UK, Mulroney and later Manning in Canada and others world wide who pushed for neoliberal policy. As such, white men should resist the allure of anti-feminist conservatives, libertarians and reactionaries. While feminism certainly isn't the friend of the white male, the right wing is his true enemy - all the more sinister an enemy for how it masquerades as his friend.
  • Anyone celebrating the immiseration of the blue collar white male as a victory for women and people of color has no business calling herself a progressive or a leftist. To be on the left is to side with the poor and marginalized against corporate and state power. Full stop. Race and gender do not matter beyond that. The Huffpost's brand if "leftism" isn't at all leftist. It's conservatism for women and people of color. If the impoverishment and stagnation of the white male worker is to be considered a victory for feminism, then feminism is little better than fascism. And women would do well to take heed here, and not get too smug. Their newly arisen status has nothing to do with their inherent greatness that has been so long and unjustly suppressed by white males. It has everything to do with their being a relatively new market, and more easily used as workers and consumers. Once some other demographic, or maybe robots, can do their jobs for cheaper, they'll be cast aside just as quickly.
  • Yeah, women aren't interested in marrying men with dismal economic prospects. Why should they, and why should we be surprised to discover that economic relations so consistently underlie social relations?  Why should women not seek greater independence and earning power? In their shoes, I'd do the same. It should go without saying at this point that women's increased earning power isn't why men are in decline. While stable marriages would certainly be a benefit for the reasons conservatives outline, a stable economy is a necessary prerequisite for this. Financial matters stress even secure marriages. A financialized banana republic of a nation firmly dedicated to trickle down economics, with minimal checks on wild speculation and zero protection for workers is no place to raise a family. So libertarian MRAs need to STFU and eat this one, because they brought it on themselves. So long as the men's rights movement tends towards libertarian capitalism, they will be their own worst enemies.
  • As something of an aside, these same MRA types who lament women's declining interest in marrying men are themselves avid critics of marriage in other contexts, citing marriage as a trap best avoided by men. Who wants eighteen years (at least) of child support and alimony payments, they ask. Not the kinds of financially unstable men we're discussing here. And no, abolishing child support and alimony won't really help, since that merely shifts the risk from men to women, and further disincentivizing their marrying. No one commits to a disadvantage, as MRA godfather Warren Farrell once put it. This is a complex problem with no easy answers.
  • The feminist IdPol left and the free market libertarian right need to step aside and let the Bernie Bros, the brocialists and the "dirtbag left" types step in and straighten this whole mess out, because we're the only ones who seem to know what the problem really is and what needs to be done about it.

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