Showing posts with label Feminism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Feminism. Show all posts

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Heinlein's Women and Their Pricks.

If the universe has any purpose more important than topping the woman you love and making a baby with her hearty help, I’ve never heard of it. - Lazarus Long - Time Enough For Love, Robert A. Heinlein 1973.
Lazarus Long was a prick.  A prick with an uncommon respect for and admiration of competent women for his time, but as Galahad noted "...he has remained canalized by the primitive culture he was brought up in." Not surprising as Heinlein was canalized by the same primitive culture.  Woodie Smith 1912, Heinlein 7/7/7 (1907.)  In Christian America where men were men and women were baby breeders. Feminism was on the not to distant horizon, with some closet feminists trying to break the Kinder, Küche, Kirche track for women.  But until the mid-20th century and reliable contraception a working mother was of necessity rather than choice and "proper" mothers were expected to stay at home until the youngest child was in Kindergarten which effectively eliminated a career in a well paid profession. The options were volunteer work, teaching and service occupations.  

The early feminists tacitly accepted this culture, and advocated non-breeding for professional women.  At worst, a long delayed first and generally only child long after becoming established in a career.  Women who chose to breed in their 20s and still fight the misogyny of most professions were viewed by feminists as outlyers and not "real feminists."  The men who supported their choice of career and parent, were occasionally labled "enablers" of a dysfunctional choice for their wives.  Never mind that they too payed the price of parenting in their careers, less than women due to privilege but nevertheless choices had to be made that limited career opportunities.  But this mind set still lingers in the feminists who despise Heinlein for writing about women who intend to be mothers among other things.  

The problem feminists have with Heinlein women seems to be that all those intelligent, competent women were interested in propagating  their genotype and realized that an intelligent, competent man was a necessary adjunct in that endeavor.  Since Heinlein men are basically pricks one must appeal to the prick to get the genes. 

Make no mistake.  According to the prevailing misogynic social ethos of Heinlein's formative years, especially the military ethos, all his male characters are pricks.  See The Number of Beast where the pricks are going to go gallivanting around the multiverse while the ladies stay in Safe Harbor to have babies. Even late in his career his basic canalization was that men were gallant protectors of their women, but in general he was able to overcome this and substitute support and partnership for gallantry and most of the families had at least equally competent and frequently more competent women at the head.  
Heinlein was raised and socialized in a society where sex meant having babies.  (Disclaimer: I was raised in the same social ethos by feminists whose mantra was make damn sure you have sex only with a carefully chosen women who will be a partner in a good family. Recreational sex was not an option.) The difference in his later books was that recreational sex was an option, and the women knew they could manipulate pricks by effective use of recreational sex.  But in accord with Heinlein's early socialization he created few male characters that were immune to such manipulation.  I can only think of one male protagonist that was comfortable with non-manipulative recreational sex as the line marriage structure depended on it.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

There is Patriarchy, Libertine Patriarchy, and the Third Way

Read See More.  The best discussion of patriarchal systems that I have seen.

 The third way is largely invisible, as women take control of their Own Whole Lives* with men as simply partners in whatever they wish to do with their lives sexually, reproductively, and economically. There are enough men around who understand that women are whole humans and respect that to make it work.  They may also understand that for many desirable women men must buy into the whole woman to even have a chance at a sexual relationship.  Evident especially at high achieving universities where Grad School is a given for both men and women.  While the Mrs. is still a fall back for some, it is not the aspiration that got them into the university. 

 I was an early adopter of the concept and married a woman who from high school made it clear that a professional career was a higher priority than any man.  We both had demanding professionally careers, and shared child raising with both of us doing more than half.  While professional couples is my social milieu, I have made it a point to notice the woman driven change in other segments of the society.  Due to the vicissitudes of preparing for a dual career lifestyle and supporting a professional in a misogynistic profession I have lived in many social strata.

 The third way was made possible relatively recently with reliable contraception enabling women to finish whatever training or education they feel is necessary without worries about chastity or pregnancy.  At any point they may partner with a man for sex, rent, or companionship but dependence is not part of the package.  The gender of the partner is probably less important than the human respect, but heterosexuality is the norm so most of the partners are men at all stages of life.  At top universities co-ed living is now the norm. There is even a fraternity at Stanford that shares a co-ed house with two sororities.   

 Once settled these third way couples make a point of being invisible to their patriarchal neighbors.  The only observable difference is both cars leave in the morning.  Any children involved may be in either car.  On the weekends they may host a griller or tailgate to watch their favorite team, maybe even their kid's team, but frequently only one partner is hosting.  The other is "busy."  

 *Blatantly stolen from the OWL curriculum which teaches boys and girls how to take control of their Own Whole Lives, especially sexually but also relationships, and learning. 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Why I Am Not a Feminist. Part 1: Feminists Ignore the Fundamental Gender Issues

I am a humanist. In the words of the UU first principle "The inherent worth and dignity of every person."

Feminism divides people by gender, and once you have us vs. them somebody is inferior. 

Why does that woman, cis trans or in transition, who is your equal in every way need your feminism? She needs your respect as a colleague and probably a promotion to your grade. Got that? Or is feminism enough?

Why does that man need to fundamentally change behavior that is socially, religiously, and genetically conditioned to creating children and providing a safe nurturing space for them against all the slings and arrows society can muster against him for that safe and nurturing space for his children.  

Admittedly certain aspects of this masculinity may not be appropriate in a modern society. But why are men and women together not trying to change the dysfunctional manifestations of masculinity: rape, assault, paternalism, and pillaging for resources; rather than trying to fiddle around with their basic natures with language and shaming of minor behavioral or dominance issues.    

I come from a family tradition of strong, independent, competent women.  In choosing women friends and partners I search out those same qualities. None to my knowledge call themselves feminists.  They are too busy being twice as good as the average man to achieve their goals in life.  (As more than one noted “Fortunately that is not difficult.")

My parenting partner was in a brutally misogynistic profession, and many times I needed my white male MBA privilege to change jobs and careers since she had no flexibility in hers.  I spent exactly no time trying to change the culture of her profession, nor mine, and neither did she until she was tenured, and even then she was more concerned with proving that even without professional support a woman could exceed the achievements of most men in her profession. 

N.B.    More reasoned essays on feminism and humanism can be found on Thinking on the Blue Roads

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Why I Am Not a Feminist. Part 2: Professional Success While Parenting

The underlying premise of feminism is a fundamental refusal to recognize the fact that men and women are differently abled in a fundamental evolutionary necessary function.  Females of all sexual species including women produce and generally care for the fertilized ovum until it becomes an independently viable organism.  Generally in mammals independent viability is defined as being able to feed themselves. Males besides providing the necessary gamete also provide the necessary safe space for the female to get the zygote to viability.  Both functions can be shared but there are significant costs to doing so. 

Privileged feminists of both genders deny this fundamental difference and attempt to turn women into male surrogates. (There are few feminists in the underprivileged groups, they have different problems to deal with.)  The problem with male surrogacy is that the male function is to provide a safe space for children. This generally involves competition for resources to provide that safe space excluding most other values.  Even social activities and recreation are devoted to networking to increase access to those resources. 

It is not impossible for women to succeed in prick dominated professions, but they either need to be childless prick surrogates, even pricks aspiring to high levels are expected to be childless, or delay children until they achieve either success or failure.  Feminists of both genders seem to be advocating one of these career paths for women. 

The only alternative for a professional mom is to have a partner at home to share the child raising and housekeeping.  A lot can be contracted; even discriminatory pay in a prick job is generous if not equal.  But the quality time with partner and children can not be delegated, so some compromises on the job are necessary. Note that in many cases the partner is employed in some cases in a well-paid prick job, but even parent males in prick jobs face discrimination that limits both their income and opportunity for "success."  Being unable to spend the off-work networking time fucking around with the guys is a serious professional handicap for any parent. Even at conventions fucking around time is limited as a responsible parent still must read bedtime stories and deal with relationship issues for their children. Not to mention providing loving support for their parenting partner who for the time being is mom regardless of gender.  A sick kid can even cut into booth time at a convention.  Or in one case board meeting time in the home office.  

Once reliable contraception became common, and it became possible for women with the cooperation of their partners to choose not to accept the traditional role of barefoot and pregnant homemakers without giving up either sex or children.  "Family planning" with 2 to 4 well-spaced children became a desirable life style among the non-religious and some religious families which gave women time to be active in their communities and freed men from the rat race of having to provide a desired life style and opportunity for too many children.  For the first time a middle class family could afford to have all their children aspire to higher education and for the woman to seek opportunities outside the home after the youngest was in school.  

A few women were able to plan their lives around professional careers with or without children.  Those that planned professional careers with children knew that their partner would have to provide significant support mainly at home and that both would have to take the career hit that homemaking with children entailed.  


The following is a story of one such woman. It is not atypical, it is just one I know well.  By the time she entered high school in the 50's she knew that she was going to be a professional biologist.  She took all the STEM courses, one of the few women in the classes in high school and took her transcript to one of the most respected biology departments in the area and was admitted instantly.  

She dated normally, sex was not normally part of the dating scene at the time, but people were pairing off with the women seeking the Mrs. asap with a man with good potential as a provider with sex as the hook. 

The biologist was different, her date relatively early in the usual courtship rituals knew that sex was a distant dream.  This selected out most of the traditional menfolk, but did attract a certain group who were attracted to her mind and aspirations rather than her vagina.   

One such man met her after freeing himself of all female obligations in order to attend a prestigious distant University, and they bonded quickly but loosely.  The intellectual/aspirational bond was maintained by mail and phone, and occasional vacation partying, but was still non-exclusive.  Both dated normally for their peer group but the sex hook was dodged by both. Neither found a partner that shared their aspirations for a high achieving couple with children.  

She graduated college a year after he had started his desired career path in chemistry, and could support her in her master's degree at a local State college.  Plans evolved and both found themselves at the door of the financial aid officer at a prestigious university that advertised that admissions were need independent and that support would be provided for all admitted. The FAO explained that the way it was done was that the woman worked while the man got the MBA, then he supported her on her PhD program to which she was admitted.  This put the first kid 6 or 8 years off and the horny man lit into the FAO and said we are both starting in the fall, how are you going to get it paid for.  He delivered and the couple spent two years in abject poverty, to fit into the meager resources found.  The shared goals kept them going, and the newly minted MBA left for a prestigious job on the other coast, while she finished the residence requirements for the PhD.  She finished the masters and the PhD at a local university, while he finished his management rotation training assignments.  

He requested a transfer to a major metropolitan area with a rich source of opportunity for her as his first real assignment.  His first mistake as the company had other plans. He was told it was a stupid move as manufacturing was much more prestigious in the company than marketing. But privilege has its privilege and the transfer was arranged.  The first mistake of many.  She took a position far below her qualifications both in pay and prestige in a notoriously misogynistic occupation, but kept her head above water simply by being better than her male colleagues.  As she frequently quoted being better than the average man is not difficult.  

As time went on he was wrapping up a time consuming but extremely successful project and her first grant was on the books and the time was right for the next phase of their project: reproduction.  The feminists and the powers at her work were aghast as the implied bargain was no children. She didn't notice and started her next grant that was due about the same time as the child.  As her office was near the O.B. department she went in to work as usual prior to the planned induction at 2 in the afternoon.  She took the next 10 days off to work out the details of newborn care with her partner.  The grant went in on time, was approved in her name, and a long overdue promotion to her proper academic status followed quickly.

The next major event was an executive BBQ to vet the man for a major promotion earned by the successful project and not incidentally to see if his wife would fit into the paternalistic company's executive wife support group.  She was at a conference that weekend present her results.  When this was made known to the responsible exec, the man was told that his wife should just cancel the presentation and come to the BBQ, it was that important.  It had been obvious for some time that she would never fit in the paternalistic social milieu created by the company at the headquarters city, so the conference went on, the man was disinvited from the BBQ and all talk of promotions ceased.  It is probably significant to note that two of his superiors and their wives rode the project to the presidency of the company.  He began to look for other opportunities.            

A new job for him, a promotion and a bit more money for her, a new kid on the floor, and life went on.  Promotions for both, an injured kid dragged him out of a board meeting, but mom out of town raised no eyebrows, he neglected to mention it was a major scientific conference so there was no pushback.  The company was failing anyway so it was back to the job market for him.  The only opportunities in grade and in industry were out of town so another career change was indicated.  It is always interesting backing a successful career mom.  
There are many more interesting similar stories of interest only to the participants. 

The takeaway is that neither achieved the success that a married prick would have in the same job with or without children.  The only reason she could do as well as she did with children was that the career hit was unequally shared by the privileged male.  Maybe she would have done better as a childless prick, but the cultural handicaps remain for all women regardless of the noise feminists make about irrelevant issues. The possibility of pregnancy cannot be ignored by employers in spite of denialism by feminists.