My favorite Naipaul story has sexist undertones. My mother doesn’t like me arguing when my father is driving. This is not because that’d distract him. She just doesn’t like it. She usually changes the subject or turn silent when I argue. Or she looks here and there. When I ask why, she wouldn’t answer, or say that she knows I’m wrong. Women hate arguments. Usually, when their husbands debate me on some abstract topic, women ask them to stop. They won’t say this, but they see debates as a sign of conflict. It took me so many years to see this.
One such day, I remembered Naipaul’s view that whenever he reads the prose of women, especially that of his publisher, “it was all this feminine tosh.” Now, this is not always true. Ayn Rand had a very male way of thinking. There are a few such female thinkers, but not too many. Off the top of my mind, in social sciences and culture, I can think of Judith Harris, Camille Paglia, Isabel Paterson and Rose Wilder Lane. Women I talk philosophy with have high IQs–except Michelle with whom I did not talk philosophy anyway, because she was a communist bimbo ejected from JNU. But when they write, it is always nonsense. This is not because they are stupid, or because their language skills ain’t any good. They do not really understand the conversation on the page. I see many such imitation donkeys on my Facebook feed— beautiful, brainless women who imagine themselves to be writers. There are too many of them, usually bong. They are not rational, and they hate men who argue with them. They don’t even know that they are no good. I don’t try to change their perception of themselves. They are happier that way.
I kept turning this in my mind, “It was all this feminine tosh”, thinking that I should blog about this. Clarity of thought is a male thing. All the rational people I know show signs of Asperger Syndrome. And they are usually men. There seems to be a male way of looking at the world. There seems to be an Aspie way of looking at the world. And both seem very similar. I put all this in my mind in order, and walked into a book store. Quite accidentally, I picked up Simon Baron-Cohen’s “The Essential Difference”. On the back cover, I read, “Men and women have always seemed to think in entirely different ways, from conversation and communication to games and gadgets. But are these differences created by society, or do our minds come ready-wired one way or another, with female brains tending towards interaction and male towards organization? Could this mean that Asperger Syndrome, rather than being a mental anomaly, is in fact an extreme male mind?”
I wept. This is a brilliant insight, but Simon Baron-Cohen had beaten me to this.
Feminists damned Naipaul for saying this, but mostly because they feared that this is true. If you observe how they responded to what he said, this is hard to miss. Lame old maids who interpret books for newspapers said:
“Blessed is the man, who having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.”
“Put bluntly, if you call yourself a reading man, but don’t read books by women, you are actually neither.”
“He’s losing his grip.”
“I’ll be surprised he’d read Jane Austen in about ten years.”
“I can only laugh.”
What Naipaul said seems more reasonable and intelligible to me.
“’Women writers are different, they are quite different. I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think it is unequal to me. I can’t share Jane Austen’s sentimentality, her narrow view of the world. And inevitably for a woman, she is not a complete master of a house, so that comes over in her writing too.”
Naipaul is a more subtle thinker than people give him credit for. If you think someone as intelligent as Naipaul is making sweeping generalizations, think again. I loved Patrick French’s biography of Naipaul, “The World Is What It Is”. A few days ago, I read “The World Is What It Is” till 3:45 in the morning. His mistress was more honest than the women who review books. She capsulized her attitude in a short sentence. “Being with Vidia is like always being in a film.” Naipaul is a success object. Women are status chasers. They love success objects. Naipaul and other such men love sex objects. This is why men like Naipaul have always had a good time with women. This is also why women write badly. Most people can’t see how these are connected.
Women are too eager to please
Not very long ago, the world was very poor. Most people did not live well into adulthood. Poor men couldn’t afford to date women. Women didn’t take them very seriously. Among men, only success objects had children. They lived longer. They were able to support women before and after childbirth. Some such men like Genghis Khan had so many children because they had sex with so many women. Most babies born in Central Asia today have some of the blood of Genghis Khan. There were such men in other parts of the world too. Most other men of those times did not leave their genes in the gene pool. Perhaps they did not have children. Perhaps their children did not leave descendants. Perhaps their grandchildren did not leave descendants. At some point, they slipped out of the gene pool. The dead ends usually died young, failing in their attempts to become successful and date women. So, we all descended from risk taking men like VS Naipaul and Genghis Khan. Few men had it easy. Most men suffered and died too soon. They couldn’t afford not to take risks. Otherwise they would have slipped out of the gene pool.
Women had it much easier. Most women were able to have kids. Men were willing to date them so long as they were not too bad. But men had a strong preference for young, beautiful women. Because they were healthier and more likely to survive pregnancy and childbirth. Female fertility peaks from 23 to 28, and then steeply declines. Even through IVF, only 3-5% of the women are able to have children at the age of 40. Being pregnant at 35 is more riskier than being pregnant at 16. Men can have children even in their 80s. So, women did not have such a strong preference for youth and good looks. Taking risks and being well-off did not raise the mate value of women much. They couldn’t afford to take risks. Risk seeking women were more likely to slip out of the gene pool. They just had to choose the best guy, while men had to risk their lives to find their place in the world—and subsequently, in the gene pool.
Few successful men took most women. So, most of our ancestors were female. People find this confusing, but it is possible for children to have the same father even when they have different mothers. Boys inherit Y chromosome solely from their fathers. Girls inherit mitochondrial DNA solely from their mothers. So, researchers looked into the genetic variability on Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA. They found that the ratio of women to men in our ancestral tree is 2:1. The average breeding ratio of men to women throughout history was 2:1. That’s two women for one man. For much of history when infant mortality was high and life expectancy was low, this was perhaps 3:1 or 4:1. That’s three or four women for one man.
This is the most underappreciated fact about gender, as psychologist Roy Baumeister argues, because this is why men and women are so different. We descended mostly from men who took risks and women who played safe. We descended mostly from great men and average women. So, there are not many women whose IQs that are higher than 140. Most great scientists, thinkers, writers and other innovators have IQs in the range of 150-160. Such women are almost non-existent. So, we do not see many peak performances from women. If this sounds bad, there are not many women with IQs lower than 70 either. There are enough such men. Most parents wouldn’t want their kids to have IQs above 140 or below 70, because it is difficult to raise them.
Feminists think that there is a glass ceiling at high levels of corporate power. This cannot be true. The economists who study gender and racial differences in wages find that when adjusted for IQ, experience, choices and other factors, almost all wage differences disappear. This is true of women. This is true of blacks and other racial minorities. Men are on the top because the smartest people are usually men.
If sexism explains male-female differences in career success, these differences must be largely rooted in prejudice. If this is true, women will have far more success in careers in which perceptions do not matter. That is, in solitary careers. Facts lie flatly against this. Women are more successful in careers in which perceptions matter more. They have had the least success in solitary careers like Mathematics. There are virtually no female mathematicians. This is true of physical sciences too. This is true of economics, despite the fact that women are more agreeable. Agreeable economists are are taken very seriously, even when they are not very good. If the failure of women is more pronounced in abstract tasks where co-operation and perceptions matter less, it is highly improbable that sexism is a major factor in the poor performance of women.
As Steven Pinker pointed out:
“The evidence suggests that not all sex differences in the professions are caused by these barriers. It is unlikely, for example, that among academics the mathematicians are unusually biased against women, the developmental psycholinguists are unusually biased against men, and the evolutionary psychologists are unusually free of bias.”
Men write better because writing is a high-risk career. Writing fiction is riskier than cricket. It is not surprising that risk-taking men do better than women who play safe. Only about 10% of the Nobel laureates in literature are women. But then these awards are political. Women and blacks have it easier. In a perfectly meritocratic world, women are not likely to have it so easy. When you tell the truth, you are taking a risk. Women never had much of an incentive to do that. Men can stand out by going by their own judgment—-if they can get away with it. But it isn’t easy to get away with it. You take such risks when you are so good—so good that you cannot afford not to take risks.
Inside the mind of a young, creative man, the fire is always burning. This is best expressed by the title of a chapter in the Naipaul biography: I want to win and win and win. This is what propels him to write great novels. This is what propels him to compose great symphonies. Here is my favorite bit from “The World Is What It Is”, and this explains why the best male writers write so much better:
“Vidia had a view of the world that he would do anything to maintain, just as he would sacrifice anything or anybody that stood in the way of his central purpose, to be “the writer”. In order to become what he wanted to be, he had to make himself someone else. He could not remain regional. His ambition was linked to fear, as it often is in an author or creative artist: fear of failure, fear of not being able to write, fear of disappearance, fear of mental or physical breakdown, fear that people were trying to do him down, fear of being faced down, fear of losing face, fear of being found out. Repeatedly he had to re-create or mask himself, clearing away his past, in order to become the apparently stateless, hyper-perceptive global observer who could, as a book reviewer once put it, look into the mad eye of history and not blink.”
The great Austrian economist Ludwig Von Mises puts this beautifully:
“Far above the millions that come and pass away tower the pioneers, the men whose deeds and ideas cut out new paths for mankind. For the pioneering genius to create is the essence of life. To live means for him to create. The activities of these prodigious men cannot be fully subsumed under the praxeological concept of labor. They are not labor because they are for the genius not means, but ends in themselves. He lives in creating and inventing. For him there is not leisure, only intermissions of temporary sterility and frustration. His incentive is not the desire to bring about a result, but the act of producing it. The accomplishment gratifies him neither mediately nor immediately. It does not gratify him mediately because his fellow men at best are unconcerned about it, more often even greet it with taunts, sneers, and persecution. Many a genius could have used his gifts to render his life agreeable and joyful; he did not even consider such a possibility and chose the thorny path without hesitation. The genius wants to accomplish what he considers his mission, even if he knows that he moves toward his own disaster.
Neither does the genius derive immediate gratification from his creative activities. Creating is for him agony and torment, a ceaseless excruciating struggle against internal and external obstacles; it consumes and crushes him. The Austrian poet Grillparzer has depicted this in a touching poem “Farewell to Gastein.” We may assume that in writing it he thought not only of his own sorrows and tribulations but also of the greater sufferings of a much greater man, of Beethoven, whose fate resembled his own and whom he understood, through devoted affection and sympathetic appreciation, better than any other of his contemporaries. Nietzsche compared himself to the flame that insatiably consumes and destroys itself. Such agonies are phenomena which have nothing in common with the connotations generally attached to the notions of work and labor, production and success, breadwinning and enjoyment of life.
The achievements of the creative innovator, his thoughts and theories, his poems, paintings, and compositions, cannot be classified praxeologically as products of labor. They are not the outcome of the employment of labor which could have been devoted to the production of other amenities for the “production” of a masterpiece of philosophy, art, or literature. Thinkers, poets, and artists are sometimes unfit to accomplish any other work. At any rate, the time and toil which they devote to creative activities are not withheld from employment for other purposes. Conditions may sometimes doom to sterility a man who would have had the power to bring forth things unheard of; they may leave him no alternative other than to die from starvation or to use all his forces in the struggle for mere physical survival. But if the genius succeeds in achieving his goals, nobody but himself pays the “costs” incurred. Goethe was perhaps in some respects hampered by his functions at the court of Weimar. But certainly he would not have accomplished more in his official duties as minister of state, theater manager, and administrator of mines if he had not written his plays, poems, and novels.”
Almost never does a woman go through such agony. Almost never does a woman experience so much pleasure. When I see women that are very smart, I always ask them to put their IQ to good use. But their response is “Meh”. That’s not what they want. All they want is a baby. It is lame to blame patriarchy for all this. This attitude was not transmitted from father to son. If many men had not died too young, all our male ancestors wouldn’t have been all alpha males. We see many men on the top of every field we can possibly think of. Patriarchy is not to blame for all this. If more of our male ancestors had survived, modern society wouldn’t have been so male dominated. Can’t do much about this. Get a life, women.
The modern debate on gender is idiotic. Most feminists and intellectuals know nothing about evolution. They know nothing about genetics. They know nothing about human psychology. They know close to nothing about anything that is worth knowing. Journalist duds are worse.
Women’s brains are wired to please. Women’s brains are not wired to see the truth. You don’t get the most out of writing by saying what everybody wants to hear. It is hard to write well if you are always thinking about pleasing everybody. Tyler Cowen says that if you go to a Sichuan restaurant, even if you don’t like spicy food, don’t show any sign of weakness to the wait staff. They won’t give you anything good, spicy or not. Writing is a lot like that. A lot of things are like that. Women don’t get it. They are waiting to take offense.
People are always telling you that they are weak. They always give you reasons to look down on them. Tell them that Facebook is good for kids, and they will say, “Don’t ever tell me how to raise my child.” Tell them intelligence is genetic, and they will think you just called them stupid. Tell them that there is no trade-off between inflation and growth, and they will think that you don’t like them. If you write that half the people in Mumbai live in one-room houses, they will remove you from their friend lists. Tell them that their parents are “bad”, and they will faint. But they will still admit, “I know that you are right, but this makes me so weary….so weary…” All this is not because they are nice or because they have lots of empathy. They are mush headed and politicking. If you are swayed by all that, you are not going to write anything that is any good.
Men and women are different because they are born different. Judith Harris observed in ‘The Nurture Assumption’ that all over North America and Europe, fathers were changing diapers and mothers were shifting gears, but childhood was as sexist as ever. Feminism was spreading like fire, but little boys and girls everywhere refused to reconsider their “bad attitude” towards each other. In other words, the “sexist” attitude of men in India is not transmitted from father to son. It is innate. The boys in Judith’s class used to snap the bras of early developers while the bolder girls chased a cute redhead threatening to kiss him when he squirmed away, because it was a fate worse than death to him. Children do not find it oppressive when they instinctively conform to the traditional gender norms because they are innately predisposed to do so. They do not complain.
When I hear that this or that group is oppressed, I do not reject it out of hand. I do not think that people always create their grievances out of thin air. It is hardly necessary. But, when I hear it too often, I am convinced that they are a privileged class. A truly oppressed group cannot whip up so much public sympathy. I know a smart fellow who campaigns for the rights of men who are cuckolded. Even the men who agree with him find him a laughing stock. How do you know whether people are prejudiced against you? You know it when you start complaining and hear almost everyone say, “Tough Luck”.
After feminism has spread like bubonic plague, people are not honest about male-female differences, even when it comes to pornography. In “The Diary Of A Wimpy Kid”, when Wimpy Kid’s little brother Manny got hold of their elder brother Rodrick’s heavy metal magazines, he took them to day care for show-and-tell. But, Wimpy Kid’s mom was not happy about it when she got a phone call from Manny’s teachers. As a punishment, she made Rodrick answer a bunch of questions:
Did owning this magazine make you a better person?
Did it make you more popular at school?
How do you feel about having owned this type of magazine?
I feel ashamed.
Do you have anything you want to say to women for having owned this offensive magazine?
I am sorry, women.
All of this is, of course, nonsense. It is now a consensus that pornography fosters disrespect toward women. But, even in hard core pornography, the women are almost never forced to be part of the industry. A lot many women are in the industry because they genuinely prefer to sell their sexual services for money. If you have ever seen the slogan in defense of spanking porn that these girls should have spared themselves the trouble by working in the local super market, you will know what I mean.
Pornography has its value. It is not just that pornography does not encourage crime against women, pornography saves women from being sexually harassed. This is especially true of internet pornography. The spread of internet pornography has led to a decline in sexual crimes, but it has not led to a corresponding decline in crime in general. The greatest decline in crime is found among the young boys who do not have easy access to women. No such study was done in India. But it is probable that this is even truer in sexually repressive cultures. Internet pornography is one of the many ways in which modernity and affluence satisfies the desires of men, saving women from being groped or raped. And men have such strong sexual desire because they descended from alpha males.
The truth is that pornography satisfies an important need of men, and brings down the urge to commit serious crimes for sex. Adolescent boys read pornographic magazines because they are hard wired to feel sexual desire, and not because they stereotype women unfavorably. But, then, when did common sense go out of fashion?
Rape is about sex
Women are more comfortable than ever. But, they are angrier than ever. Protests of women litter my Facebook news feed every single day:
“Being a woman in India means that I ought to be the epitome of genteelness, and never object to bad behavior from anyone! It does not become a ‘lady’ to object and protest. Instead, I ought to cultivate the art of Buddha like smile towards all those wrongful deeds.”
“It is very hard to dress like these sexist men want us to. Yes. It is very hard.”
“Men have it easy. They have always had it easy.”
The view that women are continually abused and exploited by men is one of dumbest things I have ever heard. If feminists are right, even sexual assault is part and parcel of the Indian culture that teaches “bad attitude” towards women. After the Delhi rape case, the media was busy popularizing the nonsense that rape is a tool of domination and subjugation. Sexual crimes against women are blamed on everything from judicial failure to the innate depravity of the Indian male. But, what is missing in their “analysis” is a fact known to every self aware man: Rape is primarily motivated by sexual desire.
Rape has roots in male sexuality. This is not just the evolutionary psychology explanation for rape. This is common sense. Only fanatics can deny such obvious truths. But, there was not a single Indian journalist who was willing to state this with the authority of scholarship. This, of course, means that almost everything that is written on the issue in the mainstream media is worthless.
The “Rape Is Not Sex” view is now considered the expert consensus by feminists, journalists, activists and other such dishonest people. But, this is just a popular delusion that gained currency in the 1970s. The sensible thinkers never took much to it. Honest men never found it convincing. Evolutionary psychologists and other credible scholars have always rejected this nonsense. But, the feminists search for any deviation from their official dogma, eager to root out such tendencies in supposedly enlightened men. Male intellectuals live in the fear of incurring the wrath of these harridans because a loosely constructed statement is enough to set off their radar. Intellectual discourse has become a tight-rope walk. But, at the root of this fake attempt at modernity lies the denial of the obvious. There has never been a debate in which so many people were kidding each other.
People do not know that not long ago, there was another act that was considered an expression of aggression in the deep depths of one’s mind. It was the primary sexual activity of mankind. Karl Menninger, the most respected American psychiatrist in the mid-20th century said just that. It was also the most commonly diagnosed “mental illness”. When a mother once sent a young hooligan to him, Freud looked at the boy’s trousers and said that diagnosis has never been so easy. Such psychiatrists were considered great benefactors of mankind. They were all living a lie.
The truth is that people can convince themselves that a boy guilty of an activity almost everyone engages in is mad. History teaches us as much. The reason, I suspect, is that people did not want others to know that it is universal. So, they denied it, demonized the people who engaged in it. They said that humanity will be better off if we get rid of such scoundrels. But, if people can convince themselves of this, it means that they can convince themselves of almost anything. They could not have done this without denial—denial of behavioral traits that are universal. They could not have done this without blatant, widespread dishonesty.
If you think that “Rape Is Not Sex” argument is somehow different, this is wishful thinking. Feminists are not being honest about this. It is not clear to me why rape and molestation taken very seriously, if it is violence that bothers them. Only 5 in 100 women who are raped suffer serious injuries. Only 1 in 500 women die from violence, when they are being raped. Women who are molested almost never suffer any serious injury. But, molestation is taken so seriously that the newspapers recently celebrated the adventures of a smarty who slapped a teenager who molested her. They even published a picture of her palm. But, why do many women think that even molesters should be punished severely? If rape is pure violence, there must be an independent reason why perpetrators deserve death penalty, and not proportional punishment.
If their claim is that women are often victimized by violent men, I think men have a lot more to complain. Women face far less violence than men. Only a minority of the victims of non-sexual violence are women. Most victims of male and female violence are men. When men beat women, they use far less force than they would use on a man. But when women beat men, they use far more force than they would use on a woman. It is not true that men are more violent and hostile toward women. Sexual violence is motivated by sexual desire, and not hostility. It is implausible that what bothers feminists is that rape is about “violence”. It has to be something else.
Now, it is common sense that men have strong sex drive. It is also true that young men often do not have easy access to sex, in most parts of India. Why is it implausible that many such men would use force to get what they so desire? It will be shocking if they do not. It is an obvious fact of human nature that people use force or fraud to get what they want.
Once, Norah Vincent, a lesbian feminist who looked like a man, tried to live posing as a man. She’d believed that men have it easier. But, almost overnight, she found it hard to attract and retain women. She felt that she can no longer feel entitled to respect. She found the experience so shattering that she went back to being a woman. Almost all men who talked to her while she worked on a book on her experiences living as a man told her that they had done something wrong for sex. The fact is that sexual urge in men is so strong that even the most civilized and enlightened men find it hard to control themselves. I think this is the most under-analyzed fact about sexual assault.
Men say that they were never tempted to rape a woman. I believe them. I was not either. But, then, I was never tempted to break into a bank either. This does not prove anything. What matters is that people are tempted by money. There will always be men who find money all too tempting, or are too lazy or stupid to make money through right means. Why is this hard to believe? When theft happens, no one claims that the burglars are prejudiced against the propertied class. This is not because people are not prejudiced against the propertied class, or because the burglars do not share this “attitude”. They almost certainly do. But, we do not hear this argument. It is not hard to see why men steal. There is no need to think up a complex, quirky explanation.
Feminist lament to the contrary notwithstanding, men do not have it easier than women. Women in India routinely face sexual harassment. But, this hardly proves that men have always had it easy or that women were historically oppressed. It means precisely the opposite: Women have it easier than men. Rape is not a display of power. It is a manifestation of the powerlessness of men.
Sexual assault is not a unique feature of the Indian society, as the wits of Indian journalism think. There is not a single human society in which sexual assault doesn’t happen. The reason is obvious. Men crave sex far more than women. Women are not too keen on having a surreptitious affair because they invest far more in child-birth and care while men direct more of their energy into having access to such women. This was even truer before the advent of contraceptives. The men of today descended from the men who were successful at gaining access to sex. The women of today descended from women who were careful in choosing their mates.
The alpha males
For much of human history, life was unbearably risky. The struggle for survival was an important part of the lives of men and women. In the past, most men were not successful in the mating game because they died very early in their lives, or because they were too unattractive as mates. They died in their attempts to succeed in the game of life, or in wars or accidents. But, most women were able to survive and pass on their genes because the reality that confronted them was a lot different. They were not engaged in high-risk occupations. The alpha males who had multiple partners were willing to channel the resources to them, and their children.
From DNA studies, we now know that 67% of our ancestors were women. Though nearly half of all the people who are born are men, only 33% of our ancestors were men. The alpha males were often polygamous, and could copulate with twice as many women. The rest of the men did not get very far in the mating game, and perished.
But, for much of history, the ratio was far more skewed. The survival rates of men were much lower for most of history. Much of the rise in population happened in the past two centuries, so much so that most people who ever lived on earth are alive now, or in the fairly recent past. Finding a mate and propagating ones kind have become easy. According to some estimates, perhaps 80% of the women who ever lived passed on their genes when only 40% of the men did so. The fact that two-third of our ancestors were women has many implications:
Our male ancestors were successful in the game of life, but our female ancestors were not necessarily so. This explains why there are far more successful men than women. Though feminists want to believe otherwise, this does not prove that women were historically oppressed. It means that most men died while trying to copulate, supporting the women in return. An overwhelming majority of the men in history were dead ends. They died before they could have had kids, and certainly did not have it easy. Even today, most people at the bottom of the social pyramid are men. Most low status jobs are done by men. Most people in dangerous jobs and the local prisons are men. Almost everyone on the death row are men. Almost everyone who dies in war are men.
The desire to give birth to, and raise children is a strong urge in women because descended from women who were successful in doing so. Similarly, men have much stronger sex drive because we descended from men who had multiple partners, and had struggled to gain access to fertile women. It is not surprising that the desire is all consuming, so much so that many of them would resort to force, if they cannot convince a woman to have sex with them.
The fact that two-thirds of our ancestors were women explains why men are at the top of the social pyramid. It also explains why some men rape.
Men love physical contact with women. Such is human nature. People find this truth offensive. I do not know why. Morality is about controlling such impulses. This is one of the reasons I consider myself a moral man, unlike men who do wrong things.
People are very judgmental about things that should not matter to them in the first place. When I was in school, I once told a boy that if you place a chocolate bar in front of a child, he will find it tempting. We were talking about Bill Clinton. In their lives, people are continuously tempted to jump the fence, to cross the boundaries. So, it is not surprising that many do. What if children are never allowed to have chocolates, when there are chocolate bars everywhere on the street, with moralistic labels stuck on them: “Do not touch“? I have no doubt that most children would feel that self-interest should triumph over morality. I think this is why men in India are often tempted to touch women without their permission.
This was always the case. In “Lives of the courtesans”, Lynne Lawner says that falling in love with statues and paintings and making love to them is an ancient fantasy that Renaissance was keenly aware of. In those days, men used to defy the law to make love with marble figures. In Ovid’s Metamorphosis, Pygmalion falls in love with the statue he himself had made. That is how strong sexual desire is in men.
I am feeling a little nervous while spreading this “information”, but I think sexual assault is far more common than people believe. You have to see that this is a very strong urge in men. The society forbids relationships outside the confines of marriage. How many men do you think would accept their fate without even a protest?
No one condones rape
I do not think that a feminist can read all this without losing the balance of her mind, without thinking that I am condoning rape. This is again, because they know nothing about social sciences. A moral judgment and a fact that can be verified by pure anthropological observation are different. There is no need to conflate both. Rape is motivated by sexual desire. But, this does not prove that rape does not deserve condemnation. The conclusion simply does not follow from the premises. Is there anyone who thinks that rape is justified? It is a universal moral intuition that rape is wrong, just like it is a universal moral intuition that murder and theft are wrong. No one disagrees with that. Subtleties aside, much of this has to do with many different naïve notions of these half-literates who imagine that a debate exists where it doesn’t.
People actually take sexual harassment more seriously than other forms of abuse. If you put quite a few people inside a building, many things are bound to happen. Many bad things are bound to happen. Unless they are, well, nerds. Anyone who has worked inside an office for more than a few months know this. Sexual harassment inside offices is just a special case. Sexual assault is a crime. So, why does sexual harassment inside offices bother people so much? Organizations are more likely to fire the girl who registers a complaint because the perpetrator is often a senior employee, while the victim is often a young girl. Not many girls would bother to register a formal complaint because not many girls want to be an occupational pariah.
But, before you think that people do not do anything about sexual harassment at workplace, think about this: If an intelligent man from Mars visits a modern day office searching for atrocities to put down, office politics would be at the top of his list. But, there are laws against sexual harassment and racial discrimination inside offices. There is no law against office politics. This is not because racial discrimination and sexual harassment are more harmful than office politics. Racial discrimination does not influence wages much. It is true that a girl might lose her job or even become an occupational pariah if she accuses her boss of sexual harassment. But, this is true even if she accuses her boss of engaging in coalition politics. Perhaps even more so. It is true that it is hard to nail the culprit in political games inside offices. But, again, it is not easy to prove that someone is discriminated against on racial grounds either. Why does not politicking bother people? The truth is that there is no agitation against office politics because most people are politicking.
If the sexual harassment at workplace is so widely debated, perhaps it is because bothers people, unlike other forms of politicking. Perhaps, the society is not as sexist as the feminists think?
Reasoning and our instincts
One evening, I was walking through a narrow lane in Lakshmi Nagar in East Delhi. It was very dark. I was feeling apprehensive because a few days ago, I had to chase a pickpocket in such a narrow lane in Delhi. I, then, saw a girl sitting in front of a shop, and checking her Facebook messages. This is typical. But, you cannot talk to a girl in the city for long without hearing that Delhi is a city where women are not safe. If they really believed it, they would not roam through the city late in the night.
The news media claims that Delhi is the rape capital of India. But few girls would feel so safe in a smaller city. Real estate prices in Delhi are much higher than that of most other cities. The probability of such a city being crime ridden is low because people would not be willing to invest so much in real estate in a place where they are likely to feel that they have opened themselves to criminals.
People do not know such statistical facts. They don’t even know that such arguments exist. But, they instinctively assess the degree of safety when they live in a city, and act according to it. Even the feminists who claim that the dress you wear has nothing to do with the likelihood of you being molested are more likely to wear revealing clothes in the expensive markets of Delhi. Researchers know that even the women who think that their dressing has nothing to do with it dress more carefully after they are sexually assaulted. This means that people are already enduring the truth. This is true of much of the beliefs that are based on the knee-jerk rejection of traditional morality.
Do men like virgins?
Over ten years ago, the South Indian actress Khushboo faced the wrath of her devotees when she said that educated men should get real by not expecting their girlfriends to be virgins. The temple dedicated to her was razed by protestors. I remember a Television show in which the audience predominantly agreed to her. But her devotees in Tamil Nadu expected more out of their Goddess than the cool calculation of the merits and demerits of an ethical norm. The preference for virginity no longer makes sense for most people. It is tempting to scoff at it. But, many men still have a strong preference for virginity because we evolved from ancestors who had a preference for virginity because it was perhaps the single biggest predictor of the stability of marriage. Even today, in conservative societies, the male preference for virginity perhaps makes sense. When a girl engages in a pre-marital sex despite the strong norms against it, it is not surprising that people look down on her.
Take this. Vinod Mehta’s autobiography “Lucknow Boy” tells us his experience with the broad minded Kabir Bedi who thought that the ‘Debonair’ Magazine was celebrating naked female body and making India proud of its rich culture and heritage. But, Kabir Bedi was not amused when ‘Debonair’ went as far as attempting to print his wife Protima Bedi naked. He threatened to break with her, and the center spread was instantly pulled off the machine. It is tempting to say that such tendencies in men and women are a relic of Victorian morality—or our colonial past. But, such norms have roots in our evolutionary past in which infidelity was very costly. Men were not keen on raising children who were not their own. So, cultures had norms which nudged people into looking down on promiscuity and exhibitionism.
Immigration and the freedom of women
I have always believed in the moral right of people to travel across borders. The immigration problem is not just a grave moral issue in itself. It is also a solution to many seemingly unrelated social evils. Craig Murray, a British political activist and writer once pointed out that he did not find middle class women walking through normal Delhi streets. There were very few female passengers in internal flights. Craig blamed the Indian men and the elite for their callousness towards women and the less fortunate.
But, Delhi is a large city. If you drive through a smaller Indian city for half an hour, you wouldn’t probably see middle class women at all, even in the major markets. To my knowledge, there is no law that prevents middle class women from walking through normal Indian streets. There is no law that prevents Indian women from traveling inside the country, or from living in any part of the country they prefer to live in.
What restricts their freedom is perhaps the Indian culture that is not sexually permissive. Or perhaps it is the fact that the law and the police system are not fully functional. But, what we call culture is a product of gene-environment interaction for thousands of years. It is unrealistic to expect Indian men or the Indian culture to change anytime soon. It is more realistic is to allow the sane to escape to fairer lands, where they will live longer, and healthier—where they have more mobility, and can easily find their own market niche.
But, there are laws that prevent Indian men and women from moving to the US or the UK. You cannot take a flight and move there. Gendarmes will catch you and put you in jail. It is at least possible for middle class men or women to migrate legally to the western world. For ordinary Indian men and women, it is almost impossible, and they are among the poorest people on the earth. They are permanently trapped in a third-world country.
Much has been written about the hypocrisy of the western intellectuals who are hesitant to air unpleasant truths about the narrow, nationalist, repressive and bigoted country that India is. But, if a sizable part of the world population is trapped in third world countries, at least part of the blame should be placed on the callousness of immigration policies of western capitalistic democracies. But, in our female-centric culture, the right of men and women to move to freer countries is not taken very seriously, even though everyone blames the patriarchal Indian society for sexual assault on women.
Think about this. Every year, at least hundreds of people die when they cross the borders to live in the US. Many more are imprisoned. People should be free to live wherever they want. But, if I simply take a flight and move there, to make the USA my home, I might be put behind bars. How would the media respond? How would even the staunch open border advocates respond? Much as they agree with me in the abstract, they would say without any qualms, “You stupid idiot, what the hell were you thinking?” It is possible to argue that I ended up in jail because I broke a law, but that would only strengthen my case. A prejudice becomes a law when the prejudice is deep enough, and widespread enough.
But if a girl who walks through the street at midnight in shorts is raped, how would the liberal media and the feminists respond? They would shout the same old slogan, “Don’t tell women how to dress, tell men not to rape. Don’t teach women how not to get raped, teach men not to rape”. But remember. There is no law that prevents women from dressing as they wish, and roaming around at midnight. But we always hear about the evils of sexism. We do not hear much about the evils of citizenism.
Liberals are convinced that women should be free to walk through the streets at any time, wearing whatever they wish to wear. Some women have told me, “It is very hard to dress the way these sexist men want us to dress.” Yes, it is very hard. I am sure that if women are free to wear shorter clothes and roam around, it would be a beautiful world. But, this proves far too much. The world is full of things that everyone should be free to do. I should be free to not pay taxes, to move to any country that I prefer to live in, to compete with the government post office, or even to start my own police station and court. It would be a wonderful world. It is only that we do not live in such a beautiful world.
The feminists might say that women should be free to get drunk with a guy, and sleep in his room. Yes, they should be, but that way madness lies. Perhaps, what is more rooted in reality is the seemingly sexist retort, “So perhaps momma’s caution about visiting guys in their homes late at night had something to say for it after all?”
Capitalism and the family
Though people think that feminism to be the driving force behind the liberation of women, this is a claim that will not withstand careful examination. The belief that Indian women were dominated by men for much of history is nonsense. The reason is, of course, that marriage is a contract. A man or her parents cannot coerce a girl into a relationship at the muzzle of a gun. As long as such practices do not have the sanction of the law, the girl is free to live on her own, and marry whoever she wants to marry. In a contractual relationship, both the people live according to how they understand the contract. Men and women needed each other so much that one gender dominating the other is impossible without the sanction of the law.
To most people, the India of the 1950s might appear sexist, but this is a substantive mistake. Till very recently, the families were large. The technology was primitive. There were no refrigerators, mixies, washing machines, electrical dishwashers, vacuum cleaners or anything of that sort. There was not even electricity or indoor plumbing. Effective contraceptives were non-existent. So, it is not surprising that most men wanted their wives to stay at home because both men and women wanted many children. Men did not have such preferences because they had a desire to dominate, just like the tendency of women to expect men to provide for them had nothing to do with their desire to make men their slaves. This was how men understood the contract, and this was how almost every woman understood the contract. Similarly, men expect women to grant sex, and this is how most men and women understand the contract. So, it is not surprising that when a woman decides not to grant sex, men are surprised.
A few decades ago, when a strange woman declared a day after marriage that she wanted to work, it is only natural that it made most men feel betrayed. This does not mean that there is something wrong with such a woman, just like there is nothing wrong with a man who does not want to provide for his wife. Different people have different priorities. But, the point is that most men and women would have had nothing to gain from an arrangement in which women did not want to have children, and men did not want to feel obliged to provide for her. The fact that such marriages are possible today is a great achievement of modernity.
It took billions of years of evolution for societies to become affluent to the point that people can marry for love. Though novelists and poets write sentimentally about romantic love, for much of history this was not even an option for most men and women. Men and women were caught in the struggle for survival much of their lives. They did not expect emotional involvement in a relationship. Divorces were rare in the past. This is true even in much of contemporary India and Japan because most men and women do not expect anything from the marriage other than conforming to traditional gender roles. Marriage was a form of glorified prostitution for much of history. This is true even today, for much of humanity.
It is technological advancement and mass affluence that liberated women from the drudgery at home. It is now possible for women to have a fulfilling career and a meaningful relationship at the same time. It is now possible for men and women to marry for love. If romantic love is an important need of men and women, it is a value for which humanity had to struggle for billions of years.
Technological advancement and mass affluence are not the only driving forces behind the liberation of men and women. In the past four decades, geneticists have proven almost conclusively that when their primary needs are met, parents do not influence the future success, happiness and health of children much. If the geneticists are right—and they are right—parents can leave their children alone, without feeling guilty. As women want children more than men, and spend more time nurturing and caring for their children, the conclusions of behavioral genetics might liberate women more than men because it suggests that there is no need for women to renounce their careers to have children.
Even other areas of intellectual inquiry like evolutionary psychology have the power to liberate men and women by unearthing important facts about human motivation and sexuality. This can happen in ways that most people cannot even imagine today. Mass affluence is a necessary condition for romantic love, but it is by no means a sufficient condition. I have no doubt that it is such sciences that would allow men and women to see the world more clearly and have a meaningful relationship because a marriage based on an emotional and intellectual bond is not the norm, even today. It might take generations for humanity to enjoy what ought to be a profound need of every civilized man and woman.
There is no point in complaining that women cannot have everything. The fact is that people cannot have everything. You cannot have your cake and eat it too. There are trade-offs. If someone thinks that it is disgusting that breathing is important for survival, nothing much can be done about it. If someone does not like the fact that even in the 21st century, it is the women who give birth to children and carry them for many months, not much can be done about it.