16 December 2011

It’s Still Nice To Have a Man Around

It’s just not as obvious as before:

The entire thrust of civilization has been to make manliness – or the work arising out of manliness – obsolete.  Men’s back strength was made obsolete by machines.  The 19th century legend of John Henry made that case.  Meanwhile, protection and provision were outsourced to governmental agencies.  ”It’s nice to have a man around,” no longer exists as a cultural meme as it once did (at least in Westerns).

First, Chuck is mistaken about men’s uselessness in the age of machines as women are not particularly inclined/capable of handling most machines (with the obvious exception of stoves, dishwashers, and sewing machines.  Zing!)  And while it is true that machines have replaced the need for men’s backs, those machines still need men’s minds.  Men are better at making and maintaining machines, and so women still tend to need them for that.  However, machine maintenance, in this day and age, has become so complex that compartmentalization is inevitable.  And so, women need men to fix the machines but, paradoxically, they don’t need a man to fix the machines.

Second, the outsourcing of protection is only beneficial as long as said protection is not so corrupt as to use its power to get its rape on.  Assuming the current trend of the united states turning into a police state is eventually realized in an obvious manner, it is not clear that those given power to protect women won’t turn around and use their power to exploit them.  Police already use their position to get freebies from prostitutes; it’s hard to argue they won’t be inclined to do the same to women in general.*

While it appears that technology and the police state have dispensed with the need to have a man around, it is folly to assume that this current state will stand until the end of time or even for a while longer.  The police state bodes the coming of fascism, which usually leads to social upheaval and economic retardation.  As such, the attempt to dispense with men will lead to their greater need.  And that transition will be a quite bloody learning experience when it happens.

* This is what happened in Nazi Germany, which serves as a pretty good example of the police state in action.  See this paper for evidence (but ignore the feminist PC-speak).


  1. Simon,

    Awesome blog, I've been meaning to tell you that. I enjoy the style - probably because its similar to the one I'm trying to use on my own blog.

    My argument about the obsolescence of men isn't that they are absolutely useless. Just marginally so. Technology crowds out men as it tends to crowd out labor costs. You often hear it said that something like 75% of a company's overhead is their labor. Labor costs money, and business owners would like to decrease labor costs to increase their profits.

    Over time, a premium is placed on those few men who are able to work with the machines, but this requires specialization and necessarily leaves a large segment of men on the outside looking in. As household appliances become harder to fix - as with cars which require specialized labor - the work can only get done by those with special training. If we look at today versus, say, the 1950s when more men had the necessary skills to get a lot more done, more men were useful on the homefront.

    Keep in mind, I'm moving away from the argument that men need to be useful to anyone. I say, let's let machines or specialized knowledge workers or specialized blue-collar workers do much of this work. That frees up our time and resources. The trick is that we now have to come to grips with our idleness.

  2. It appears I've misunderstood your initial point. One thing that I do want to make clear is that a good portion of the marginalization of men is artificially contrived as a result of government interference (custody laws, alimony laws, etc.) As such, men appear to be more marginal than they really are. As the legal system becomes more anti-man, there will be fewer men around, thus driving up their value. But with fewer men, there won't be enough men for all the women, so those without will be left out of the market, and they will then realize that it is nice to have a man around after all. Basically, the current market for men is basically an inverse bubble.

    I've addressed the issue of contracted labor markets as a result of time-shifting preferences in another post, so I'll link to it here for your review. Basically, the same thing that has happened to low-class workers has happened to men. The market should eventually correct this, and then men's utility won't be as marginal. This theory should complement your initial point.

    My apologies for misunderstanding you.