Body Crimes, a feminist, wrote an interesting article titled “Is economic distress leading to a sharp rise in women hating?” that promotes a hypothesis I don’t think I’ve heard advocated before; that it is the bad economy (presumably especially since December 2007) that has led to an increase in “woman hating” as she puts it.
Feminists all the time make various claims that it is the economy causing problems in the family, that women have to work for economic reasons, that improved house cleaning appliances (such as vacuum cleaners) make housework so easy it no longer has any social value; different assertions that economic factors either make feminism inevitable or desirable or are to blame for the problems in the family. To actually blame “increased woman hating” on the recent bad economic times however is a new one to me. So called “woman hating” has been blamed on men feeling disoriented and unable to adapt to the changes in society and jealously over women’s economic advancement while men lag behind but I have not heard of “women hating” being specifically tied to the current recession; in particular the idea that bad economic times lead to more men being “losers” cut off from women due to their low earning power therefore leading to a kind of rage against womankind because women don’t want them anymore now that they can’t get jobs.
Judging by the sites Body Crimes links to in her article when she talks about “woman haters” she is almost exclusively talking about MRA (Men’s Rights Activist) types with a little bit of PUA talk (Pick Up Artists) thrown in. In my experience during the past 5 years the MRA contingent has definitely grown bigger. Radical anti-feminism of all sorts has grown bigger in the past 5 years (at least here in the United States); I’ve seen it with my own eyes. The question then becomes whether the bad economy itself is a reasonable explanation for this.
I want to compare two time periods of economic trouble in the United States; 1979 to 1985 and 2006 to 2012. Below is a table giving the unemployment rate of those 25 and over for particular years at comparable points in each cycle (4 years before peak unemployment, the peak unemployment year, and then 2 years after peak unemployment).
The recent bad economic times have definitely been more severe than the closest comparable period of 1979 to 1985 but not, I think, by a huge margin.
So if the theory is that the recent bad economic times have caused a surge in “woman hating” due to men being harmed economically while women gain leading men to be cast as “losers” by women due to their lowered economic status and men looking upon women jealously because of the gains women are enjoying that must have been “stolen from them” in the first place; let’s now look at how men and women fared economically compared to each other during these two recessionary periods.
Definitions: E/P Ratio is the Employment to Population Ratio of the 25 to 54 age group; F/T Med/E is the Median Annual Earnings of All Full-Time Year-Round Workers expressed in 2012 constant dollars; Low/Inc is for Low Income, the proportion of people whose income was less than $15,000 (2012 dollars). High/Inc is for High Income, the proportion of people whose income was $75,000 or higher (2012 dollars). Data is for all races combined for the United States.
Male and Female Economic Indicators: 1979 – 1985 and 2006 – 2012 Compared (United States)
|E/P Ratio||F/T Med/E||Low/Inc||High/Inc|
Looking at the above table the fall in men working was huge from 2006 to 2012 (4.8 percentage points) compared to the 1979 to 1985 period (2.4 percentage points). Women however gained big in employment from 1979 to 1985 (6.3 percentage points) while women lost employment from 2006 to 2012 (3.3 percentage points). Looking at median earnings men lost 1.8% from 1979 to 1985 but actually gained 2.6% from 2006 to 2012. For women median earnings gained 6.3% from 1979 to 1985 but gained only 2.1% (less than for men) from 2006 to 2012. In terms of the numbers of “winners” and “losers” low income men increased 0.4 percentage points from 1979 to 1985 but increased 2.0 percentage points from 2006 to 2012. High income men increased from 1979 to 1985 (1.0 percentage points) but decreased from 2006 to 2012 (0.8 percentage points). High income women exploded in proportional terms from 1979 to 1985 almost doubling their share from 1.1% to 2.0% but high income women fell a bit from 2006 to 2012 (from 7.9% to 7.7%).
How does this match with the theory of economic pain for men increasing “woman hating” as women forge ahead leaving men behind. The fall in male employment has certainly been huge but for those men still working they actually fared better than their female counterparts (from 2006 to 2012). Women comparatively speaking fared much better in the 1979 to 1985 period than in the 2006 to 2012 period; huge jobs and income gains from 1979 to 1985 with women particularly breaking into the high earner tier where few women ventured before. From 2006 to 2012 women lost jobs just like men did, women’s median earnings rose less than men’s did, both high income men and high income women fell, and both low income men and low income women rose (though the rise among men was much greater at 2.0 percentage points).
If “woman hating” in hard economic times is based on male jealously of women advancing while they aren’t then economically motivated “woman hating” should have been far greater from 1979 to 1985 than from 2006 to 2012 because in comparative terms (and absolute terms) women’s advancement was pretty much frozen from 2006 to 2012. If “woman hating” is based on men suddenly being demoted to “loser” status due to them no longer having a job or them newly entering into the “low income” ranks then the connection is more plausible. It looks like 2% of men have been seriously harmed economically and therefore status wise in relation to women during the 2006 to 2012 period; more so than was the case in the prior period of severe economic distress from 1979 to 1985.
Another thing, I have definitely noticed cross over between readers of doom and gloom economic websites and doom and gloom cultural websites. A “the world doesn’t work” mindset definitely leads to both belief in cultural dysfunction and belief in economic dysfunction. Economic problems can definitely trigger the feeling that “something is wrong” in a generalized sense; the culture potentially included. Also a feeling that “the world doesn’t work” due to cultural problems can make someone more aware of other areas where something might be wrong such as the economy. Such associations work both ways.
Median male earnings of full-time year round workers peaked in 1973 at $51,670 (2012 dollars). This is totally amazing as this is a nearly 40 year period of no wage growth after hundreds of years of prior continuous progress and economic innovation. The year of the starting point of this, 1973, is mighty suspicious as this is almost exactly the time the feminist push of women into the workforce accelerated and in particular when workplace anti-discrimination laws started to be enforced. A sharp rise of “career women” and women wanting to work full time in a serious way combined with the enforcement of newly enacted anti-discrimination laws so that employers would be forced to hire women into positions of authority against their will and against their better judgment may have killed off any further economic improvements in the condition of the ordinary man. Also, it is worth adding, earnings gains for women also slowed down sharply after 1973. From 1960 to 1973 men’s median earnings increased 2.7% a year while women’s median earnings increased 2.2% a year. From 1973 to 2012 however men’s median earnings dropped 0.1% a year while women’s median earnings increased 0.7% a year. In the past 10 years, from 2002 to 2012, men’s median earnings dropped 1.8% while women’s median earnings dropped 2.0%. It’s kind of looking like women’s median earnings have now stopped rising just like men’s.
There is definitely something wrong with the economy and there is also definitely something wrong with the culture. Might these two problems feed on each other? Yes, I wouldn’t see why not. There are several mechanisms through which cultural problems could have negative impacts on the economy and several mechanisms through which economic problems could negatively impact the culture. The cultural realm and the economic realm are not separated from each other. Human beings are both economic creatures and social creates both. Men in particular need economic competence in order to achieve relationship competence. If a man is functioning poorly socially however he will have a harder time succeeding economically. Also women working as if they are men, trying to do what men do, is itself a cultural disorder that will then harm the economy by imposing the cost upon the workplace of women being in inappropriate relationships relative to men hierarchically and socially. There has also been a very serious economic problem in the United States of growing income inequality since 1980. This may be due to a loss of community spirit, a sense of just looking out for number one rather than seeing oneself as part of the wider community one is a part of. This loss of community spirit may be derivative of loss of family connections and loss of feeling socially connected to others which in turn is due to social breakdown and the loss of the ethic in men that their purpose is to serve those they are in authority over.
So I think Body Crimes may be onto something, that economic problems may indeed be fueling hostility to feminism as feminism is the “dominate order” such that when “the world doesn’t work anymore” it is perfectly reasonable to look to feminism as a possible cause. There is good anti-feminism and bad anti-feminism however. Good anti-feminism (often referred to as fundy) is that which focuses on men’s culpability in the mess and looks to men for redemption; that demands responsibility from men to fix things. Bad anti-feminism, of the MRA variety, will try to pin blame and responsibility on women. Remember where authority lays, authority lays with men. Men must take responsibility and men must fix things; that is the first principle.
Sources for Statistical Information: