Craig Newmark recommends Harvey Mansfield's recent "Feminism and Its Discontents."  One passage focuses on the emergence of the collegiate rabbit culture.
The feminine mystique was her ideal; in regard to sex, it consisted of women’s modesty and in the double standard of sexual conduct that comes with it, which treated women’s misbehavior as more serious than men’s. Instead of trying to establish a single standard by bringing men up to the higher standard of women, as with earlier feminism, today’s feminism decided to demand that women be entitled to sink to the level of men. It bought into the sexual revolution of the late sixties and required that women be rewarded with the privileges of male conquest rather than, say, continue serving as camp followers of rock bands. The result has been the turn for the worse that we see in the plaint of the Harvard student. What was there in feminine modesty that the feminists left behind?

In return for women’s holding to a higher standard of sexual behavior, feminine modesty gave them protection while they considered whether they wanted to consent. It gave them time: Not so fast! Not the first date! I’m not ready for that! It gave them the pleasure of being courted along with the advantage of looking before you leap. To win over a woman, men had to strive to express their finer feelings, if they had any. Women could judge their character and choose accordingly. In sum, women had the right of choice, if I may borrow that slogan.
By its fruits shall ye know it.
Without feminine modesty, however, women must imitate men, and in matters of sex, the most predatory men, as we have seen. The consequence is the hook-up culture now prevalent on college campuses, and off-campus too (even more, it is said). The purpose of hooking up is to replace the human complexity of courtship with “good sex,” a kind of animal simplicity, eliminating all the preliminaries to sex as well as the aftermath. “Good sex,” by the way, is in good part a social construction of the alliance between feminists and male predators that we see today. It narrows and distorts the human potentiality for something nobler and more satisfying than the bare minimum.
Without younger people grasping that lesson, however, we're unlikely to see a new norm emerge.

Once upon a time, some younger people got it.  Here's an excerpt from a Badger Herald editorial, circa 1987.
One has to wonder how different things would have been if feminism had demanded economic freedom for women and denounced the sexual revolution in the interest of preserving womens' traditional roles as the guardians of chastity. This would have gained for women the equal pay and opportunity they deserved while at the same time ensuring that women who wanted to raise families would find willing husbands-to-be.

Such a situation would also have spread the gains from feminism. Today the only victors in the sexual revolution are those men and women who are good-looking and clever enough to enjoy multiple partners with a minimum of emotional and financial commitment. The dowdy and the not-so-clever (or not-so-unscrupulous) are used by the well-endowed and find loneliness and frustration where, in a previous generation, they would probably have been able to start families.
Yes, and the pickup artists teach the scrupulous to mimic the unscrupulous with a view to taking advantage of those supposedly liberated women.  Here's Professor Mansfield.
The hook-up culture denounced by conservatives is the very same rape culture denounced by feminists. Who wants it? Most college women do not; they ignore hookups and lament the loss of dating. Many men will not turn down the offer of an available woman, but what they really want is a girlfriend. The predatory males are a small minority among men who are the main beneficiaries of the feminist norm. It’s not the fault of men that women want to join them in excess rather than calm them down, for men too are victims of the rape culture. Nor is it the fault of women. Women are so far from wanting hook-ups that they must drink themselves into drunken consent—in order to overcome their natural modesty, one might suggest. Not having a sociable drink but getting blind drunk is today’s preliminary to sex. Beautifully romantic, isn’t it? The anonymous Harvard woman by getting drunk was unfortunately helping to pressure herself into consenting to a very bad experience. But she is right that the pressure comes with the encouragement of the culture. And the culture comes from the dogmas of feminism that made this mess for women and men too.
Dogmas that reflect insufficient thought.
The feminist desire for independence is defeated by the feminist principle of social construction that was designed and adopted to achieve it.

Social construction is whatever society does. The idea sounds independent and liberating because it suggests that society can do anything it wants. Society can make a feminine woman, as under patriarchy—the sort of woman that the American founder of feminism Betty Friedan deflated in her famous book The Feminine Mystique(1963)—or it can make the gender-neutral woman the feminists have tried to produce. This would be a woman no longer confined by male definition but capable all around, especially in matters formerly reserved for men. So which is better?

The problem with the idea of social construction is that society, on its own, has no notion of what is suitable to construct. Both the feminine woman and the feminist woman are socially constructed, and equally so. Actually, when one says social construction, the meaning is political construction: Who rules society in order to make its conventions, the patriarchal males or the feminists? But then we still have to know which ruler is more suitable for women—and let’s not forget men and children.
I can't help you with better. But I can help with "efficient." And there might be an efficiency argument behind social construction, namely institutions evolve to conserve on transaction costs.  But even that notion is controversial.  Let me propose one hypothesis.  Slut-shaming is a dishonor tax, and feminism is a tax cut.  Now go and read Donald Boudreaux, Joel Mokyr, John Nye, and Deirdre McCloskey and contemplate the complexities.

No comments: