Can't Talk about Couples

How can young people form happy couples if they can't even talk about real issues?

The French used to have a saying about men and women: "Vive la difference!"

The man-woman thing has always had the potential to bring great happiness to both parties and provide a safe space for their children to grow up, but our modern society seems to have lost the knack for creating stable families.  Part of the problem is that we've abandoned the wisdom of the French.

Today's coed workplaces and coed colleges have created dysfunctional cultures that refuse to acknowledge any emotional differences between men and women; they preach, and their acolytes are forced to claim to believe, that all men and women have the same basic interests, feelings, capabilities, needs, and desires.  This ideology makes it hard for a specific man and women to acknowledge their differences enough to learn how to meet each others' needs much less to appreciate them enough to build a long-laasting relationship.

Some even go so far as to say that women, who're on the average smaller than men and have a lot less upper-body strength, are fully qualified to rescue victims of fire and carry them down ladders 3 or 4 stories high.  The recent push for women to serve in combat in the Army carries this ridiculous idea to even more absurd levels.

What has poisoned our culture, making it so hard for couples to come together in a mutually-supportive manner, at work, at college, or even at home?  Previous generations seemed to have had wisdom which once helped couples find stable relationships more easily than appears possible today.

These facts, although evident to anyone who thinks about the issues, are not at all politically correct.  The fact that we can't have candid conversations about what men and women want makes it less and less likely that either gender will end up satisfied with the arrangements they fall into.

If you don't know what you want, you'll probably get something else, but how can you figure out what you want if you aren't permitted to talk about it?

Workplace Issues

For the last hundred years, women have demanded their right to be allowed to do everything men can do, particularly in the form of equal employment rights.  Alas, coed workplaces aren't always "safe spaces" for women.

There are many recent reports of men being accused of improper behavior toward women subordinates or colleagues.  For example, the New York Times reported on the dismissal of Mike Cagney, now ex-chief executive of on-line lending start-up Social Finance, by the board of directors.  He was fired after a number of employees had complained about creating a sexually-permissive atmosphere which tolerated disrespectful treatment of women:

"It was a frat house," Ms. Zamora said. "You would find people having sex in their cars and in the parking lot. It was a free-for-all."

The company started with five employees in 2011 and grew to more than 1,200 employees with a valuation of more than $4 billion.  "You're under extraordinary pressures at a company that is growing that fast," Mr. Fanlo [the CFO] said.

Entrepreneurs who can create a valuable business that fast must have great drive and determination.  Men with such traits often pursue women as intently and forcefully as they pursue business growth.

The Times suggests that this issue is particularly fraught in technology companies.

One female entrepreneur recounted how she had been propositioned by a Silicon Valley venture capitalist while seeking a job with him, which she did not land after rebuffing him. Another showed the increasingly suggestive messages she had received from a start-up investor. And one chief executive described how she had faced numerous sexist comments from an investor while raising money for her on-line community website. ...

Many of the women also said they believed they had limited ability to push back against inappropriate behavior, often because they needed funding, a job or other help.

These episodes are far from unique, and aren't even the most extreme - startup UploadVR just settled a sexual harassment lawsuit that alleged, among other things, that the company had a fully-equipped "kink room" in its HQ for the purpose of "encouraging people to f**k."  Sexual hijinks this far-out were unknown even in the legendarily sexist workplaces of the "Mad Men" in the 60s, much less a century or two ago; it would seem that all the efforts of feminism have moved things in the wrong direction instead of elevating the status of women as they said they would.

Focusing on technology is more than a little disingenuous - how long has the "casting couch" been a Hollywood fixture?  And on the flip side, for how long have men and women turned what should be intimate, fulfilling relations into heartless business transactions?  Since ever when, or is this a recent phenomenon?

The Compensation Question

The Times also reported that Google is being sued by a group of women who argue that Google systematically pays women less than men are paid for "similar jobs."

... the plaintiffs say Google knew or should have known about the pay disparity between men and women at the company, but failed to take action to rectify it.

Women make up 31 percent of Google's work force but hold only 20 percent of the company's higher-paying engineering jobs.

Might there, perhaps, be reasons for this other than bigotry and sexism? Could it be that some women prefer to have dinner with their children at home in lieu of working the 12-hour days required for advancement in a high-tech pressure-cooker?  If so, we'll never know: James Damore, who merely asked the question in a private Google chatroom became an instant persona non grata.  He was summarily sacked after a large number of female Google employees refused to come to work if he were present, which suggests that his concerns about some females being unable to take the heat of world-class intellectual competition may have merit.

It's well known that, overall, American men are paid more than women; recent studies claim women receive just 80% of what men earn.  The left likes to use this as an argument for affirmative action, but there are other factors involved, as even liberal Slate admitted:

[The statistics give] the impression that a man and a woman standing next to each other doing the same job for the same number of hours get paid different salaries. That’s not at all the case. “Full time” officially means 35 hours, but men work more hours than women. That’s the first problem: We could be comparing men working 40 hours to women working 35.

Economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz attempted to do an honest, thorough comparison of wages, properly controlling for all the factors that legitimately affect compensation such as experience, education, hours worked, and gaps in work history.

Right out of school, they found only a tiny differential in salary between men and women, which might be because of a little bit of lingering discrimination or because women are worse at negotiating starting salaries. But 10 to 15 years later, the gap widens to 40 percent, almost all of which is due to career interruptions and fewer hours. The gap is even wider for women business school graduates who marry very high earners... You have to leave room at least for the option of choice—that women just don’t want to work the same way men do[emphasis added]

It's Motherhood!

This lines up with a Times report on a study by a Dr. Kerr that found, although there is a real pay disparity in that men are paid more than women overall, the difference is associated with motherhood:

When men and women finish school and start working, they're paid pretty much equally. But a gender pay gap soon appears, and it grows significantly over the next two decades.

... Unmarried women without children continue to earn closer to what men do.

According to the data, Ms. Kerr said, college-educated women make about 90 percent as much as men at age 25 and about 55 percent as much at age 45.  The career costs of marriage and motherhood compound over the decades.

Introducing motherhood - which, most people admit, is an exclusively female pursuit with only a small initial degree of male involvement - into the equation, closes most of the compensation gender gap; most of the rest can be explained by other choices women make that are affected by parenting, such as hours of overtime worked.  In a real way, effective parenting and career success are inherently in conflict.

As famous feminist Gloria Steinem said on "60 Minutes" in 1992, she never meant that women could "have it all" at the same time - it was "enemies of feminism" who said that.  Ms. Steinem set the example in her own life: she had a world-class career in activism, writing, and lecturing, but had no children and a brief marriage very late in life.

So a woman's income is inevitably tied back to how men and women get along; if you choose not to worry about intergender relationships in your personal life, you'll likely have more energy and time to pursue a high-flying career.

Down to Gehenna, or up to the Throne, He travels fastest who travels alone.
  - Rudyard Kipling

Most women, for reasons of their own, prefer not to take this route.

The Harvard PC Inquisition

Of course, not all women have the same choices available to Ms. Steinem; the vast majority of women are in the workforce because they have to be in order to keep bread on the table and a roof over their heads, either because they have children but no male provider, or because the men in their lives don't make enough money to maintain the families in the style which they prefer.

This seems like it ought to be the subject of public discussion on a variety of bases - is our society organized so as to allow people to make the choices they'd prefer?  Are there changes we can make which can be more accommodating to everyone's life choices and preferences, or at least make the choices a little less stark?

There's nothing wrong, in principle, with making workplaces friendlier to women who want to be in them.  Unfortunately, people who seek to discuss any questions surrounding women in the workplace often suffer for their mistake. The Times reports that in 2005,

The president of Harvard University, Lawrence H. Summers, who offended some women at an academic conference last week by suggesting that innate differences in sex may explain why fewer women succeed in science and math careers, stood by his comments yesterday but said he regretted if they were misunderstood.

"I'm sorry for any misunderstanding but believe that raising questions, discussing multiple factors that may explain a difficult problem, and seeking to understand how they interrelate is vitally important," Dr. Summers said in an interview.

His comments roused considerable hostility, particularly from Nancy Hopkins, a professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology:

"When he started talking about innate differences in aptitude between men and women, I just couldn't breathe because this kind of bias makes me physically ill," Dr. Hopkins said.  "Let's not forget that people used to say that women couldn't drive an automobile."  [emphasis added]

Dr. Hopkins forgets that at the time it was said that women couldn't drive automobiles, they couldn't.  The automatic starter hadn't been invented and very few women had enough arm strength to crank the engine over, particularly in cold weather.  Even then, most women couldn't turn the wheel firmly enough for safety on rough roads before power steering became common, to say nothing of the difference power brakes made.

Another crucial point has been pretty much overlooked in the resulting firestorm of criticism which led to Dr. Summers leaving his position at Harvard:

No transcript was made because the conference was designed to be off-the-record so that participants could speak candidly without fear of public misunderstanding or disclosure later[emphasis added]

Consider what happened:

  • Dr. Summers spoke at an off-the-record seminar what was kept private specifically to allow people to speak candidly.
  • He said that gender inequality was a very important issue, "Then I wanted to add some provocation to what I understand to be basically a social science discussion."
  • A female MIT professor said that hearing what he said made her so ill she couldn't breathe.
  • Dr. Summers was replaced as President of Harvard by Ms. Drew Gilpin Faust.
What are the odds that anyone else will dare to ask similar questions ever again?  If questions are not asked, however, they can never be answered.

Life In the Goolag

We'll never know exactly what Dr. Summers said at the supposedly off-the-record meeting, but we do know what ex-Googler James Damore said - you can read Mr. Damore's memo here although it doesn't have direct links to the scientific research he cited.

Mr. Damore may have learned at least enough from Dr.Summers' experience to have created ample documentation to defend himself with, although that didn't save his job.  He also took the trouble to include his most powerful point in writing:

I value diversity and inclusion, am not denying that sexism exists, and don't endorse using stereotypes. When addressing the gap in representation in the population, we need to look at population level differences in distributions. If we can't have an honest discussion about this, then we can never truly solve the problem[emphasis added]

It's should be obvious that we can't solve a problem we can't talk about; one wonders whether those who wish to ban discussing the problem really want to solve it or prefer to benefit from stirring up conflict via identity politics.

He went on to assert strongly that it is wrong to apply statistical data about a gender to individuals within it.  Every person deserves to be considered on his or her individual merits instead of being evaluated as a member of a group.  Shades of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous plea for people to be judged purely on the content of their characters!  Apparently judging people as individuals is no longer allowed.

If a firm like Google wants to have more women in certain jobs, he suggested that it might be a good idea to redefine the jobs to make them more appealing to women.  What could be wrong with that?

His heartfelt arguments against applying statistical stereotypes to individuals notwithstanding, Google CEO Sundar Pichai promptly fired Mr. Damore specifically for "advancing harmful gender stereotypes."  We wonder if Mr. Pichai read the memo before firing the author, or has ever listened to the speeches of Dr. King.

NPR quoted Kelly Ellis, a former Google employee, as saying that some women who still work at the company stayed home because the memo made them "uncomfortable going back to work."  This suggests that the Google women who suffered from the vapors so acutely that they had to call in sick hadn't read the memo either.

Dr. Summers spoke at a confidential meeting with the goal of provoking discussion.  His remarks were leaked, he suffered immense criticism, and lost his job.  Mr. Damore wrote on a confidential internal Google bulletin board.  His remarks were leaked, his ideas were criticized for things he hadn't even said, and he was fired.

Who's next to be trashed for questioning conventional wisdom about women?

Return of the Victorian Vapors

In days of old, long before feminism, men openly restricted women from high-end roles on the grounds that they had neither the brains nor the stamina to handle them; their proper place was at home in the kitchen and nursery doing low-impact and suitably feminine tasks.

A century of increasing experimentation has proven that at least a fair number of women are, indeed, the intellectual equals of men; anyone who claims that women are inherently childlike and shouldn't be educated to the maximum extent possible is an ignoramus as well as a fool.

On the other hand, the reaction of modern feminists to calm, intelligent men asking questions in an intellectual environment can't help but make us wonder if the Victorians had a point about women's weak constitutions.  When hearing the ideas of both Dr. Summers and Mr. Damore, women reported becoming physically ill!  Were there medics on hand with smelling-salts?

Before we return to the days of hoop-skirts and corsets, though, a moment's historical reflection is required: having women be such tender, delicate snowflakes is more cultural than genetic.  Generations of women, up to and including Rosie the Riveter, rolled up their sleeves and did whatever had to be done, no matter how they felt about it.  Nobody who has read Little House on the Prairie can imagine Mrs. Ingalls as a shrinking violet subject to fainting spells, not to mention Queen Elizabeth I, Catherine the Great, Indira Gandhi, or Margaret Thatcher, who was known as "The only man in her cabinet" as well as by the sobriquet "The Iron Lady."  Closer to home, ever hear the term "Steel Magnolia"?  These women would laugh at shrinking violets who faint at the thought that someone might think them incapable!

What has made so many modern women so incapable of open discussion in a free and frank fashion?  Are modern women so delicately brought up that they're likely to suffer illness when they hear ideas they don't like?  Not in our experience, but if this is as widespread as these lavishly-paid women openly claim, why would any profit-minded employer hire a woman for a high-stress job where uncomfortable ideas or uncomfortable realities might be presented from time to time?

The Google engineer said that not enough has been done to encourage a diversity of viewpoints and ideologies at Google; that's certainly true of Google+ and You Tube which overtly censor conservatives.  We find the same sort of shaming-based "discourse" on many college campuses where anyone who deviates from whatever the PC culture demands is blackballed.

The Nuclear Option in Corporate Politics

The fact that so many women felt perfectly free to confess to being made so ill by disagreeable ideas that they couldn't work is a reason for a business not to want to hire women for high-level jobs, but there's another reason to keep women away from the corporate heights.  Men fear having women colleagues because women have a nuclear option in corporate politics.  Politics gets more vicious the closer you get to the top.  If a woman accuses a man of sexual harassment, his career is effectively ended regardless of truth or falsehood of the accusation.  She or some other women gets the promotion instead as the corporation engages in a brisk bout of virtue signaling.

"War on Men" shows that even a very powerful man can be destroyed by accusations of sexual harassment whether true or not.  We know from the Duke Lacrosse rape case and Rolling Stone's fabricated article "A Rape on Campus" that false accusations can do great harm.  In today's extreme political climate, no man can tell when he might get attacked without evidence and without any defense.  It's prudent to reduce risk by not having any women in his work group if at all possible - while carefully never saying so.

What's worse, it's not permitted to even discuss such topics!

The New York Times reports that corporate efforts at diversity, abuse accusations, and the affirmative-action push for women's advancement are creating a masculine backlash:

Mr. Altizer, 52, said he had realized a few years ago that feminists in Silicon Valley had formed a cabal whose goal was to subjugate men. ...

Many men now feel like "there’s a gun to the head" to be better about gender issues, said Rebecca Lynn, a venture capitalist at Canvas Ventures, and while "there's a high awareness right now, which is positive, at the same time there's a fear." ...

And the investor Peter Thiel's business partner, Eric Weinstein, tweeted, "Dear @Google, Stop teaching my girl that her path to financial freedom lies not in coding but in complaining to HR."

All this furor certainly makes it hard for individual men and women to explore each other's needs as they try to form stable families.

Lee Tydings is a guest writer for  Read other articles by Lee Tydings or other articles on Society.
Reader Comments

Maybe there is legitimate truth to "feeling ill" upon hearing certain bad opinions. When an ex- girlfriend had her Facebook Avatar changed to a Black Lives Matter slogan, it made me feel pretty sick to my stomach.

It probably should not matter... but she is not a person of color just a "progressive".

September 24, 2017 11:33 PM

You aren't the only ones saying this. This article is correct, but there is no way a man can trust a woman not to come after him 30 years later, particulalry if they both end up rivals for a top job.

#MeToo Killed the Office Romance

It must be a brave soul who dares to strike up a flirtatious conversation at the workplace microwave these days. Only ten percent of Americans report having met their mate at the office, a level that is half what it was in the 1990s. I wonder how Ally McBeal would look today. I picture a nervous HR weenie separately inviting Jim and Pam from The Office in for a quiet word.

Over at Spiked, Ella Whelan calls this a dismal trend:

The truth that no one seems willing to admit is that many heterosexual women, even today, expect men to make the first move in a relationship. Women will drape ourselves over the printer, wear our best dresses to the Christmas party and talk loudly about the imaginary man texting us, all to subtly signal to our target that he should make a move. But in the post-#MeToo office, unless you send a memo to the guy you fancy, signed with your consent at the bottom, it is understandable that he wouldn’t want to make the first move for fear of being hauled before human resources.

It seems safer to take to Tinder instead. Whelan thinks this is pretty depressing.

The #MeToo movement seeks to change men’s behaviour to ‘protect’ the fairer sex from harassment. But in practice, that has meant subjecting our sexual freedom to initiate romantic endeavours to the scrutiny of neo-Victorian regulations and codes of conduct.

While our working lives dictate when we wake up, what we wear and what we do for eight hours a day, we shouldn’t allow work to dictate who we fall in love with. And there is no prospect of love without the kind of flirtation, spontaneity and danger that is effectively outlawed in today’s workplace.

Time to launch a resistance? Whelan (author of What Women Want: Fun, Freedom and an End to Feminism) thinks so.

It’s time to rebel against these attacks on workplace romance. So wear your lowest top to your next board meeting and linger too long by your colleague’s desk. We need to make the workplace a humane environment where sparks can once again fly.

August 3, 2019 7:14 PM

Google just fired a black woman researcher for writing an email “inconsistent with the expectations of a Google manager.”

That is to say, "You're fired!" So long, farewell, auf wiedersein, goodbye!

Last week, a prominent a co-leader of the Ethical Artificial Intelligence team at Google sent an email to her colleagues. Timnit Gebru had been working on a research paper that she hoped to publish, but ran into resistance from her superiors at Google. And so she sent a letter expressing her frustration to the internal listserv Google Brain Women and Allies.

A few days later, Gebru was fired — Google reportedly found the email “inconsistent with the expectations of a Google manager.” It details the struggles Gebru experienced as a Black leader working on ethics research within the company, and presents a bleak view of the path forward for underrepresented minorities at the company.

Gebru is well known and respected in the AI ethics community; here are Shelly Banjo and Mark Bergen on her background at Bloomberg:

Gebru, an alumni of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, is one of the leading voices in the ethical use of artificial intelligence. She is well-known for her work on a landmark study in 2018 that showed how facial recognition software misidentified dark-skinned women as much as 35% of the time, whereas the technology worked with near precision on white men.

She has also been an outspoken critic of the lack of diversity and unequal treatment of Black workers at tech companies, particularly at Alphabet Inc.’s Google, and said she believed her dismissal was meant to send a message to the rest of Google’s employees not to speak up.

Platformer received the email Gebru sent; she herself did not have access to her account after Google terminated her. It is published in full below.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But on Thursday morning, Jeff Dean, the head of Google research, emailed employees with his account of what happened. Dean said Gebru had issued ultimatum and would resign unless certain conditions were met. Platformer obtained Dean’s email as well; you can find it below Gebru’s.


December 4, 2020 11:06 AM
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