The funny thing about conservatives is most have no idea they are raving feminists. Part of the problem is that social conservatism is much like a sea anchor. They exert constant force against the prevailing direction of social change, but they aren’t anchored to a specific point. At best So Cons will claim they are against feminism, but what they mean are the feminists of today. They have fully bought in with the feminist ideas they fought against 20 years ago.
I think their fundamental problem is they have bought into the lie that you have to be feminist for women to like you. They fear that not being feminist will be a political death sentence with an electorate with a majority of women. It will be interesting to see a new batch of conservative men come into power in the decades to come who have a sound grasp of female psychology in the form of game; they will understand that prostrating yourself in the face of childish demands doesn’t make women like you. In the meantime, we have the old guard of social conservatives who are so clueless they risk becoming caricatures of themselves.
But what would a social conservative who wasn’t a feminist look like? Lacking a defined anchor point to try to move society back to, how would they respond to the world we live in? I think this is an easier question to answer than it might seem at first glance. When they aren’t groveling to feminists, conservatives have a fairly clear cut philosophy. Think about how conservatives view business. They understand the need for fair, predictable, and consistent contract enforcement. Anything less is an obstacle to conducting business. They are acutely aware of unintended consequences. If you want more of something, subsidize and deregulate it. If you want less of it, tax and regulate it.
Fox news has an opinion piece by social conservative Penny Young Nance titled Why Does America Have So Many ‘Peter Pan’ Men? (H/T dragnet). She opens with:
Working in an office full of women, many of whom are young, single gals, I hear all the time, “Where are all the good men out there?” Even in this post-feminist age of asserting independence from men and having both a career and a family, women still want their prince and these days, he can be really tough to find.
If Ms. Nance was a conservative and not a feminist, what she would point out is that it is perfectly fair for women to unilaterally dictate the terms on which they will become wives, but it is also perfectly fair for men to decide what is in their own best interest in response. Women are free to assert their independence; men are free to let them have it. Women are free to try to extend courtship into a lifelong process, but men are free to make their own adjustments. But of course Ms. Nance isn’t a conservative when it comes to issues of the family, she is a feminist.
The feminist in conservative clothing continues:
[Men] have fallen behind in college where women now surpass men in getting their college degrees. These women are getting jobs in the workforce while the men are lingering in dead-end jobs — if they are working at all. While opportunity for women is a good thing, men should not take this as a cue to coast.
Men have fallen behind in college and the workforce? You don’t say? A conservative would look for (and find) government interference and regulation which could be removed to solve the problem. A conservative would also ask why a group of economic actors didn’t feel that expending effort and taking additional risk was worth the reward of doing so. If you told her that entrepreneurs were no longer starting up new businesses, holders of capital were keeping their money on the sideline and corporations weren’t hiring, would she write an opinion piece shaming them, accusing them of coasting? Of course not; that is what the left would do. She would demand lower taxes and less regulation on business. But this isn’t something important like business. This is only the family. If it were important, she would demand the courts stop restricting private parties from mutually defining their own terms upfront on how a potential divorce will be settled. She would push for an overhaul of the overwhelmingly biased custody process, and stop punishing men for marrying when considering the issue of cuckoldry (reproductive fraud). She would want to stop (or at least greatly reduce) subsidizing women who have children out of wedlock or kick the child’s father out of their lives in the form of welfare and child support.
If she were a conservative she would respect that individuals can decide for themselves the best way to spend their own time and money, so long as they aren’t infringing on the rights of someone else:
And don’t even get me started on the maturity level of these Peter Pan-like boys. The statistic from Bennett’s book that perhaps struck me the most is that teenage boys, ages 12-to-17 years old, actually spend less time playing video games than 18-to-34-year-old men. I can understand the desire to play a video game here and there as a kid, but as an adult? Grow up.
If she were a conservative her shame would be directed at a generation of women who are delaying marriage past their most marriageable years, and the authors of the books which advise them to do so. She would be shaming the women who are making motherhood a last priority. She would be shaming the mothers who raised a generation of sluts who prefer hookups to having a boyfriend instead of shaming the men who don’t feel motivated to work hard to support one of these sluts in a legal arrangement where the deck is stacked entirely against him. And finally she would be shaming a church which is too afraid to hurt the feelings of women who commit divorce theft and feel that they don’t need to compromise at all in marriage.
Like a good leftist, she knows better than individuals how they should lead their lives:
These men should be studying in college, getting a job, and contributing to society through the workforce and family. How in the world do they have time to play video games for hours? The answer is that they just don’t ever grow up.
She knows more about what is good for them than they do themselves:
men should man up, take on the responsibilities of an adult, get a job, have a family and be a contributing member to society. The benefits to being a married man are huge.
A conservative would ask if the deal is so sweet, why do you have to shame men into it? This idea that men universally benefit from marriage is a So Con unquestioned truth. It is the So Con equivalent to green energy and jobs on the left. Most So Cons ignore the legal nightmare of marriage 2.0 and the very high probability of divorce theft when espousing the benefits of marriage. This is Ms. Nance’s approach. Fellow So Con Dennis Prager takes it a step further, and argues that it is good for men to marry and then have their wives divorce them, even though he acknowledges the extreme bias in the system:
as a rule, it is far better for society to have people marry and divorce than never to marry.
Lest you think Ms. Nance only takes men to task, she takes women to task as well. These independent career gals need to stop discouraging men from opening doors for them and paying on dates, so long as there is no sense of reciprocity. Just because these women play by the new rules, it doesn’t mean they should discourage men from continuing to play by the old rules:
Feminism has been detrimental to the identity of the American male. Men have been rebuked if they pull out a chair or open a door for a woman. If they offer to pay for dinner (which they should), their date may be offended and demand to split the check because she can pay her own way. — Ladies, it’s not such a bad thing to be treated to dinner unless that meal comes with sexual expectations, which is another column.
Ms Nance closes her piece with an acknowledgement that men should make their own choices, so long as they choose what she tells them to:
But women also need to let men be men. Men don’t have to linger between college and well, college, forever. They can make choices to take control of their lives and be the men they are called to be if they just put down the game controls and choose a better direction. Sadly, at the moment, American women are apparently still in need of a few good men.
For a picture of Ms. Nance see Ferdinand’s post on the topic.