Thursday, August 16, 2012

From The Memory Hole: John Tierney, The Meninist

I'm still going through my old archives.  Remember John Tierney?  For a while he was a conservative political opinion columnist at the New York Times.  In November 2006 he returned to writing about science in the same place.

Which is a truly frightening thought.

I only read Tierney during the year of 2006*, and this is what he wrote about women during those few months:

In January 2006:

Judge Samuel Alito is a reactionary - at least according to feminists horrified by his notion that a woman can be required to notify her husband before an abortion. But Alito's critics in the Senate face two big obstacles this week if they try to make that label stick.

The first is public opinion. Most Americans tell pollsters that they think a husband should be notified before an abortion, and the Pennsylvania law that Alito approved was hardly a draconian version of that principle. It merely required a woman to say, without presenting any proof, that she'd told her husband. If she said she feared physical abuse, she was exempted.

The second obstacle is the logic of feminism. Spousal notification has been denounced as retrograde by the same advocates who have been demanding gender equality in the workplace and at home. If men are expected to be parents with equal responsibilities, shouldn't they at least be allowed to discuss whether to have a child?

This is an easy question for those on the pro-life side of the abortion debate. They'd like men to be not only notified of pregnancies, but also given veto power over abortions.

Being pro-choice, I don't agree with that position, but I admire the logic. It's a gender-neutral policy: if either parent thinks it's wrong to end the pregnancy, then the pregnancy must proceed.

In February 2006:

Yes, husbands may usually make more money on the work front, but wives still typically make the important decisions on the home front, like where the children go to school or how to spend the family's money. Wives also (and Haltzman presents supporting data here on the gender gap in libido) tend to make the decision on whether to have sex.

And more in February 2006:

Freud confessed that his "thirty years of research into the feminine soul" left him unable to answer one great question: "What does a woman want?" Modern feminists have been arguing for decades over a variation of it: What should a woman want?

This week two sociologists from the University of Virginia are publishing the answer to a more manageable variation. Drawing on one of the most thorough surveys ever done of married couples, they've crunched the numbers and asked: What makes a woman happy with her marriage?

But it turns out that an equal division of labor didn't make husbands more affectionate or wives more fulfilled. The wives working outside the home reported less satisfaction with their husbands and their marriages than did the stay-at-home wives. And among those with outside jobs, the happiest wives, regardless of the family's overall income, were the ones whose husbands brought in at least two-thirds of the money.

In March 2006:

Some opponents of polygamy call it the exploitation of women by rich men, and that's true if the wives are coerced into the marriages. But many wives have willingly chosen it, like the three women on "Big Love," who have married a successful businessman.

These three wives, who live in adjacent houses, sound much like the women in polygamous marriages I've talked to in rural Africa. The African wives told me they had mixed feelings about the arrangement — and their fellow wives — but over all, they figured it was better to share one prosperous husband than to marry someone else without land, cows or a job.

That's the way social scientists figure it, too. Polygamy isn't the cause of women's low status in traditional societies, but rather a consequence of their trying to move up. The biggest losers from polygamy are the poorer men who end up with no wives. Women benefit because polygamy increases their number of marriage prospects — and in traditional societies, marriage is often the only way for a woman to improve her status.

And in July 2006:

When Title IX was enacted in 1972, women were a minority on college campuses, and it sounded reasonable to fight any discrimination against them. But now men are the underachieving minority on campus, as a series by The Times has been documenting. So why is it so important to cling to the myth behind Title IX: that women need sports as much as men do?

Yes, some women are dedicated athletes, and they should be encouraged with every opportunity. But a lot of others have better things to do, like study or work on other extracurricular activities that will be more useful to their careers. For decades, athletic directors have been creating women's sports teams and dangling scholarships and hoping to match the men's numbers, but they've learned that not even the Department of Education can eradicate gender differences.

At the University of Maryland, the women's lacrosse team won national championships year after year but still had a hard time getting 40 players to turn out for the team. The men's team had no such trouble, because guys were more than willing to warm the bench even if they weren't getting a scholarship, but the coach had to cut the extra ones to maintain the gender balance. The school satisfied Title IX, but to no one's benefit.

On or off campus, men play more team sports and watch more team sports. Besides enjoying the testosterone rushes, they have a better chance of glory — and of impressing the opposite sex. Thirty-four years after Title IX, most women's games still attract sparse audiences. Both sexes would still rather watch men play games, especially football.

I haven't checked if Tierney wrote anything more on the proper gender roles during that year.  But the guy does seem a bit obsessed by that Woman Question.    Seeing his posts like this, one after the other, is pretty shocking.  I'm sure he has kept up the good work even after 2006.


*The first links go to my blog posts, the links in the body of the quoted material go to Tierney's NYT columns.