Feminism is a status game

I’ve posted before about my theory that feminism is about high-status people vs. low-status men.

I was thinking today a bit more about status.

Now, there exist feminist concerns that are not status-oriented, such as rape and assault. Feminism is vast; it contains multitudes. We will lay these aside for the moment to focus on status.

One of the things that makes me distrustful of feminism is the way extended family members attempt to use it to create marital discord between my husband and myself in order to get their way during disputes. Advertising does this, too, so I’ll use an example from advertising.

Family harmony and functioning require that husbands and wives agree on how the family’s money is spent, and that neither spouse spends recklessly or excessively. It is often simplest if one spouse has primary responsibility for setting the budget, paying the bills, etc. Sometimes, as in Japan, this is primarily the women; sometimes it is primarily the men. These arrangements are pure necessity: budgetary disorganization or reckless spending lead to financial problems like the electricity bill not getting paid.

Feminism promotes the idea that women should be in control of their own finances, which has been picked up by the advertising industry and promoted as the idea that spending money on whatever the hell you want is an act of female empowerment because you are defying your evil, patriarchal husband’s demands that you stick to a reasonable budget. You deserve it! (whatever “it” is.)

To be fair, advertisers do the exact same thing to men, albeit with slightly different language. You deserve a break today! A Big Mac! Cigarettes! Cars! Whatever it is, it isn’t some unneeded luxury advertisers for which are trying to convince you to fork over your hard-won budget dollars, but something you fundamentally deserve to have.

I get this a lot. “You deserve new clothes!” No, my current clothes are just fine; I am not dressed in rags. I buy new clothes when I need them and spend discretionary budget money on books, games, and other things for the children.

“You deserve a night out! Let’s go downtown and socialize with strangers!” No, I have no particular desire to act like a 20-something singleton cruising the bars. I certainly do not “deserve” to have someone else watch over my kids for me. Nor do I “deserve” to go to a restaurant; food is food. There is no sense in paying extra just so I can eat it outside my house.

“You deserve a vacation!” Fuck no. I hate travel.

“You deserve to sit in the front of the car instead of the back!” I sit in the back so I can supervise the distribution of ketchup packets when we get french fries. This is not a goddam status competition; I just want to make sure ketchup doesn’t go everywhere.

“You are not doing X that I want you to do! It must be because of your husband! He is poisoning you against me! You need to stop letting him boss you around! Stand up to him and let him know you are doing X because you deserve it, girl!”

At this point, I’m like OMFG, let’s just bring back patriarchy and then I can just redirect all of this bullshit at my husband and be like, “Sorry, I don’t make those decisions, that’s his department, so sorry, can’t help you at all! Bye-bye!” Okay, maybe that would be cruel to him, but it would at least spare me.

But none of these decisions were made because of political or patriarchal leanings. They’re all things we decided because they made practical sense for us to do them that way, or because I happen to have a personal preference in that department. The attempt to use feminist arguments a a wedge to make me spend more money or otherwise do things I dislike is, ultimately, an attempt to poison marital harmony by setting me against my husband.

But let’s get back to status.

Status is a shitty game. Chances are, you’ll lose; for 99.999% or so of people, there’s always someone higher status than themselves. Sure, you might have been good at sports in highschool, but in college you discovered that you suck and hundreds of people are much better than you. You might have been good at math in middle school, but come college, you discover that you do not have what it takes to get a degree in math. Or maybe you were skilled enough to get a degree in art, only to discover that people like you are a dime a gross and eating beans out of cans.

It is extremely hard in our modern world to be tops in any industry. It is hard to be tops in your neighborhood. It is hard to be tops in your church. It is hard to be top anything, anywhere, period.

Now rewind your clock to 1900 or so. Most people lived in small, rural farming communities, in which most people had the exact same occupation: farmer. “Status” in your community was directly tied to your ability to be a good farmer, or if you were a woman, a good farm wife. Do you plow your fields well? Work hard? Get the harvest in on time? Treat your neighbors decently and not stumble home drunk in the evenings? Then you were probably regarded as a “good” farmer and had reasonable status in your community. Did you keep the house clean, tend the garden, mend the clothe, watch the children, cook good meals, and preserve food for the winter? Then you were a “good” farm wife.

It’s a hard life, but they were tasks that mere mortals could aspire to do well, and whatever your status, it was obviously derived from the physical execution of your duties. You can’t fake getting in the harvest or cooking a good meal.

I reject–based on lack of evidence–the theory that 1800s farming societies viewed women derrogatorily. Farmsteads could not function without their female members (just as they could not function without men), and farm families spent long hours with no one but each other for company. Under these circumstances, I suspect that people generally valued and appreciated each other’s contributions, rather than engage in dumb fights over whether or not women were good at plowing.

Then came industrialization. People moved off the farms and into cities. Factory work replaced plowing.

While there are bad factory workers, there are no great ones. Working harder or faster than your fellows on the factory line does not result in better widgets or superior performance reviews, because the entire factory is designed to work at the exact same pace. Working faster or slower simply doesn’t work.

Factory work is, in many respects, more pleasant than farm work. It is less labor-intensive, you don’t have to shovel manure, you don’t have to work in inclement weather, and you’re less likely to starve to death due to inclement weather.

But there are many critiques arguing that factory work is inhuman (in the literal sense) and soul-deadening. The factory worker is little more than a flesh-and-blood robot, repeatedly performing a single function.

The farmer may look upon a stack of hay or newborn calf and feel pride in the work of his hands; the farm wife may look likewise on the food stacked in her cellar or her healthy children. But the factory worker has nothing he can point to and say, “I made this.” Factory work levels everyone into one great big undifferentiated mass.

War is perhaps the exception to this rule; those who band together to build tanks and planes to save their homelands do seem to feel great pride in their work. But merely making flip-flops or cellphones does not carry this kind of noble sentiment.

Outside of war, the factory worker has little status, and that he has is determined almost entirely by what others wish to pay him. There are therefore two ways for the factory worker to gain status: the country can go to war, or the worker can get a better-paying job.

Women have generally opted for “better jobs” over “more wars.”

Questions like “Why aren’t there more women in STEM?” or more generally, “Why aren’t there more women in profession X?” along with all the questions about equal pay all seem predicated on a quest for higher status, or at least on the idea that if women aren’t equal in any field, it’s a sign of people devaluing women (rather than, say, women just not being particularly interested in that field.)

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30 thoughts on “Feminism is a status game

  1. ”I reject–based on lack of evidence–the theory that 1800s farming societies viewed women derrogatorily”

    I suspect they are working to make this a reality paradoxically by demonizing and destroying men.

    ”Questions like “Why aren’t there more women in STEM?” or more generally, “Why aren’t there more women in profession X?””

    While such women predominantly end up childless doing such professions. So sooner or later that trend is exacerbated.

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  2. The dynamic you describe with family/friends/advertisers trying to use feminism to create rifts–I can relate, even if it’s unintentional. And sometimes I find myself falling for it.

    Since we all know that we women are unrelentingly hypergamous, I am insanely curious about your husband–is he some kind of super genius?

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  3. Very good essay. I believe there is another aspect to Feminism. It’s a challenge to Men. Women often challenge Men to test them. Verbal and otherwise. Common nomenclature is “shit test”. I believe Feminism is a big shit test and Men have failed. When Women ask,”Why don’t Men do this or that” the proper response is,”if you’re equal in all ways why not do it yourself?”. I don’t believe Men and Women are equal in all ways. I also don’t believe Men are more or that Women are less. They each have different qualities that when combined are more effective.

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    • Thank you.
      Feminists are often quite out of touch with what their fellow women want, so they pretty bad information sources for men. Unfortunately, a lot of shy men seem to think, “I’m not sure what women want in a man/how to approach then without looking like a creep. Feminists talk about what women want and what makes men creepy all the time, so I’ll go ask them.” This, of course, goes disastrously.

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  4. I would tend to think women who get AA’s have larger families. Less time spent in school during their fertile years means more time for whelping. I know a few families where the women chose AA’s in practical fields of study to have families/ fit in with family life so it might be a self selected group as well

    The families I know with 5 plus kids, the moms didn’t finish college or never attended. The family with 7 and the one with 10, both woman married before 20 and married men a good 7-10 years older.

    Whole thing might be skewed as I know mostly Southern, White and Veterans and we seem to have larger families then normal. As in I know more 3 plus kid families then 2 or less

    Would be interesting to know but my limited time on google on listed years of schooling and fertility rates which seemed to show that the more schooling the less babies for White women.

    Now that I think of it the age of husband and wife might make a serious difference too

    Any rate its observational data so not worth much in the big picture but got me to wondering anywhichway

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      • LOL now that you mention it the one jew I served with had 5 kids. He was also the only jew in our ranger batt or in an MC. That I am aware of that is.

        I don’t cotton to either group but I have worked with mormons as well( more often then jews) but they were all officers on the SWPL/UMC path so 2 kids best I can recall.

        The biggest familes I know of are Southern Baptist but I don’t put any stock in that as most folks around these parts are.

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  5. I wouldn’t exclude important issues like rape from your theory. If anything, treating an important issue as a status contest can lead to larger status increases when enough people buy into your game, since you’re signalling that you can afford to ignore the real problem – e.g. you’re not likely to get raped, because of the way you live.

    If you haven’t read it (which would be surprising given some similarities, you should check out some of Spandrell’s writings on his “Social Points theory” of human behaviour: https://bloodyshovel.wordpress.com/2015/10/09/the-social-module/

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    • Certainly poor women are more likely to be victims of all sorts of violence than wealthy women, and feminists do very little that actually addresses the vast majority of violence against women, which would require things like helping homeless people and venturing into the inner-cities. But violence remains something that almost all women are at least potentially subject to, because almost all of us are smaller/have significantly less muscle mass than the majority of men. (And a lot of feminists actually are women who’ve been raped/assaulted, and they will tell you about it, loudly, endlessly–it is definitely a culture where one’s credibility, one’s right to speak/personal worth, is based on one’s status as a victimized person.)

      Whereas, say, the pay of female CEOs is an issue that really only pertains to a subset of extremely wealthy women.

      Thanks for the link.

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      • Certainly, I agree that violence, and specifically sexual violence, remains (and will remain) a threat to women, in a way that’s simply not true of men. (Women live with men, and hopefully always will.) I didn’t mean to imply otherwise.

        And it’s obviously true for anyone looking that claiming the victim status raises one’s social status. (Which is why we see so many rape hoaxes, etc.)

        But how do feminists who are addressing rape act? Are they (as a body) actually effective? Or are they getting something else out of it instead?

        I think the answer becomes clear when you look at their promoted concerns: e.g. ‘rape culture’ vs. the Rotherham…thing.

        “Talking about rape” has largely become another method of demonizing unpopular men, rather than addressing root causes.

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      • You are correct that feminists use their claims of rape/assault entirely for status-raising purposes within feminist communities, (which is super unhealthy and leads to a lot of non-functional behavior,) and do nothing effective about it. It is ridiculous to see feminists “ally” with groups that commit the majority of violence against women, while attacking nerdy white guys. Such bullshit.

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  6. If I had to guess, I’d guess that, among college graduates who are women, those in STEM actually DO have more kids. First off, because being in STEM is a great way to meet marriage interested men, and having the smarts to do STEM is more likely to provoke general skepticism about the mainstream liberal narrative.

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      • I think STEM is a bit protected from the general leftiness. At least when I was in college, the STEM folks didn’t seem nearly as bad as the humanities majors, but things may have changed.

        I haven’t kept in great touch with folks from college, but my impression is that almost all of them are childless. The exceptions have STEM degrees, but this could just be random chance.

        The ability to find steady, decent-paying employment is probably part of it. I know a lot of people with top-notch degrees in underwater basket weaving who struggle to stay employed.

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      • I certainly won’t dispute your observations. Near one everyone is a progressive from my stand point. Including the STEM folks.

        Wonder if there are voting patterns by college degrees? Though voting form Romney is voting progressive at least it would be some sort of general guide line

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  7. Trying to establish value and worth as a person DOES seem to be a major concern of feminists today. Once you’ve devalued or become disconnected from marriage and childbearing, career, social involvement and sexual desirability are some of the few (secular) places left to establish personal worth. And do they ever try/demand. Interesting.

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