The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

The Value of Motherhood

Posted on | December 27, 2015 | 63 Comments


Charles Murray (@charlesmurray on Twitter) co-authored with the late Richard Herrnstein one of the most controversial books of the 20th century, The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (1994). When it was first published, the harsh criticism from liberals — who claimed the book was practically neo-Nazi propaganda — led me to believe that it really was a bad book.

Liberal propaganda works this way. If enough people tell you they see smoke (sexism, racism, homophobia, etc.) you tend to assume that there must actually be some kind of hateful fire. So in 1994-95, after reading numerous reviews, articles and op-ed columns condemning The Bell Curve as crypto-racist pseudo-science, I just assumed the critics were correct. It wasn’t until 1996, when I made a dismissive remark about The Bell Curve in an Internet argument, that I found myself challenged: Had I actually read the book? So . . .

Charles Murray’s critics were not merely wrong, they were dishonest (because SJWs Always Lie, as Vox Day has recently explained). The recognition that I had been scammed, hoodwinked and bamboozled by liberal smears of The Bell Curve angered me. The first 125 pages of the book, which have nothing to do with the subject of race, are perhaps the most valuable part of The Bell Curve. Standardized testing and nationwide recruiting by elite universities have resulted in cognitive segregation, the creation of something very much like a caste system. The educational apparatus by which high-IQ children are tracked into “gifted” programs in elementary school and “honors” programs in high school, with the goal of sending every smart kid in the country to an elite university, has the effect of dissolving the social and cultural affinities between the elite caste and the vast majority of Americans. (At age 11, I was placed in an experimental “gifted” program, the first of its kind in our community. I hated it — a ridiculous waste of time, a burdensome “honor” conferring no actual benefit — and rebelled against the system, becoming a teenage hoodlum in middle school.) Once you get past page 125 of The Bell Curve, really, it is an attempt to explain why liberal policies have failed to eliminate socioeconomic disparities between racial and ethnic groups. If you keep in mind that the argument is about the efficacy of public policy — what the government is doing in our name, with our tax dollars — the accusations of “racism” directed at The Bell Curve must be recognized as an attempt to silence a cogent criticism of five decades of blundering, misguided wastefulness. “The Ivy League is decadent and depraved.” But I digress . . .

On Saturday, the Harvard-educated liberal snob Matthew Yglesias smeared Charles Murray by way of attacking Donald Trump, with the unintended consequence that a quote by Murray was called to my attention and, considering my own interest in radical feminism, I asked Murray via Twitter, “Did you ever tackle the ‘innate differences’ controversy that got Larry Summers fired at Harvard?” He replied with a link to an AEI paper he published in 2005, “The Inequality Taboo”:

The president of Harvard University offered a few mild, speculative, off-the-record remarks about innate differences between men and women in their aptitude for high-level science and mathematics, and was treated by Harvard’s faculty as if he were a crank. The typical news story portrayed the idea of innate sex differences as a renegade position that reputable scholars rejected. . . .
One such premise is that the distribution of innate abilities and propensities is the same across different groups. The statistical tests for uncovering job discrimination assume that men are not innately different from women, blacks from whites, older people from younger people, homosexuals from heterosexuals, Latinos from Anglos, in ways that can legitimately affect employment decisions. . . . Affirmative action in all its forms assumes there are no innate differences between any of the groups it seeks to help and everyone else. The assumption of no innate differences among groups suffuses American social policy. That assumption is wrong.
When the outcomes that these policies are supposed to produce fail to occur, with one group falling short, the fault for the discrepancy has been assigned to society. It continues to be assumed that better programs, better regulations, or the right court decisions can make the differences go away. That assumption is also wrong. . . .

Here we may interrupt to point out that the phrase “innate differences” refers to average differences between groups. Anyone who watches the NBA cannot help but notice that most of the players are black. This doesn’t mean, however, that there are no good white, Asian or Hispanic basketball players. Nor does it mean that all black people are good at basketball. Also, it does not mean that the NBA is engaging in discrimination. Whenever we see any disproportionate outcome that might be explained by average group differences, we must keep in mind that such differences do not tell us anything about any individual‘s potential, abilities or tendencies, and it is generally a mistake, in a free society, to leap to the conclusion that discrimination causes disparities in outcomes. (The Bell Curve carries many such disclaimers, by the way.) Now, we return to Charles Murray’s 2005 article:

The technical literature documenting sex differences and their biological basis grew surreptitiously during feminism’s heyday in the 1970’s and 1980’s. By the 1990’s, it had become so extensive that the bibliography in David Geary’s pioneering Male, Female (1998) ran to 53 pages. Currently, the best short account of the state of knowledge is Steven Pinker’s chapter on gender in The Blank Slate (2002). . . .
Regarding women, men, and babies, the technical literature is as unambiguous as everyday experience would lead one to suppose. As a rule, the experience of parenthood is more profoundly life-altering for women than for men. . . . Among humans, extensive empirical study has demonstrated that women are more attracted to children than are men, respond to them more intensely on an emotional level, and get more and different kinds of satisfactions from nurturing them. Many of these behavioral differences have been linked with biochemical differences between men and women.
Thus, for reasons embedded in the biochemistry and neurophysiology of being female, many women with the cognitive skills for achievement at the highest level also have something else they want to do in life: have a baby. In the arts and sciences, forty is the mean age at which peak accomplishment occurs, preceded by years of intense effort mastering the discipline in question. These are precisely the years during which most women must bear children if they are to bear them at all.
Among women who have become mothers, the possibilities for high-level accomplishment in the arts and sciences shrink because, for innate reasons, the distractions of parenthood are greater. To put it in a way that most readers with children will recognize, a father can go to work and forget about his children for the whole day. Hardly any mother can do this, no matter how good her day-care arrangement or full-time nanny may be. My point is not that women must choose between a career and children, but that accomplishment at the extremes commonly comes from a single-minded focus that leaves no room for anything but the task at hand.

You can read the whole thing, to which I wish to add this: It does not matter whether male-female differences, as they relate to parenting, are “innate” or “socially constructed.” Biological realities of pregnancy and nursing mean that women have a greater personal investment in parenthood. Without any resort to Darwinian explanations, there are numerous practical reasons why we should expect mothers to be more nurturing than men. Furthermore, we would also expect mothers to be more nurturing than women who avoid motherhood. Radical feminists scoff at any suggestion that women’s greater tendency toward nurturing is a matter of hard-wired neurological differences. Radical feminists deny that there is any such thing as “human nature” which could explain women’s behavior in terms of a “maternal instinct.” Radical feminists generally eschew motherhood and many of them abhor heterosexuality, per se. Women’s Studies textbooks assert that only social and cultural influences (e.g., “compulsory heterosexuality”) explain why most women desire husbands and babies. Because they have no “maternal instinct” nor any romantic or sexual interest in males, radical feminists seem to assume that other women are under the spell of some sort of patriarchal brainwashing: “Most Women Have to Be Coerced into Heterosexuality.”

Why is this abhorrence of men, marriage and motherhood so common among radical feminists? Because they are intellectuals — academics, authors and journalists — and their chosen careers force them into a competition against males that makes it impossible for them to view men as anything other than hostile antagonists. In the ruthless competition for tenure-track professorships, the ambitious female academic has every incentive to avoid the “distractions” of marriage and motherhood.

There is a reason why “lesbianism and feminism have been coterminous,” as Professor Bonnie Zimmerman said, and the disproportionate overrepresentation of lesbians on university faculties is surely not a coincidence. One of the most outspoken critics of Larry Summers in the 2005 “innate differences” controversy was a lesbian professor named Denice Denton, who committed suicide not long after she became chancellor of UC-Santa Cruz. The anti-male/anti heterosexual ideology of feminism (“Fear and Loathing of the Penis”) is pervasive in academia. One consequence is that college-educated women are encouraged to believe that motherhood is a task for which only stupid women are suited. No intelligent woman could possibly find pleasure in caring for small children, according to the anti-natalist fanatics who insist that motherhood is nothing but patriarchal oppression.

“I don’t particularly like babies. They are loud and smelly and, above all other things, demanding . . . time-sucking monsters with their constant neediness. . . . I don’t want a baby. . . . Nothing will make me want a baby. . . . This is why, if my birth control fails, I am totally having an abortion.”
Amanda Marcotte, March 2014

Feminism is not only man-hating, but also baby-hating, and insofar as feminism is the official philosophy of women in academia, a major function of our higher education system is to discourage intelligent women from having children. This means that each subsequent generation of American children will have less intelligent mothers, and yet feminists seem unconcerned about the potential consequences of this dysgenic trend. The Census Bureau issued a report in April that demonstrated the scope of this problem:

Not a high school graduate
Lifetime births (average) ….. 2.6
Childless ………………………….. 11.6%

Bachelor’s degree
Lifetime births (average) ….. 1.8
Childless ………………………….. 19.9%

As I summarized this data, “High-school dropouts, on average, had 44% more children than women who had college diplomas. Childlessness was 72% more common for college graduates than for high-school dropouts.” What does this mean? The future will be an increasingly stupid place.

An electorate with more stupid voters is good for the Democrat Party, I guess, which may explain why feminists don’t give a damn about the emerging Idiocracy. Anything that helps Democrats is OK with Amanda Marcotte, but this trend that feminists have done so much to encourage should concern all Americans who have children and grandchildren.

Feminism stigmatizes motherhood. Feminists deny that the mother caring for her own children is doing valuable work. Feminism teaches that husband is a synonym for oppressor, and feminists proclaim that not only are fathers unnecessary to the well-being of children, but that fathers — like all other males — are a violent and terrifying menace.

“All women are prisoners and hostages to men’s world. Men’s world is like a vast prison or concentration camp for women. This isn’t a metaphor, it’s reality. Each man is a threat. We can’t escape men.”
Radical Wind, August 2013

These are the ideas taught by Women’s Studies professors in our universities. Ideas Have Consequences, Richard Weaver observed, and we cannot safely ignore the consequences of feminist ideas.

My stake in America’s future is not merely a matter of rhetoric and ideology, but flesh and blood. “The personal is political,” after all.



63 Responses to “The Value of Motherhood”

  1. Kudzu_Bob
    December 28th, 2015 @ 8:57 pm

    Anyone who has ever read HG Well’s “The Time Machine” knows that many people have long expected that different social classes might split along genetic lines as well.

  2. Kudzu_Bob
    December 28th, 2015 @ 8:59 pm

    I don’t disagree with a word you wrote, but it should be noted that the single biggest beneficiary of feminism as has been corporations, since herding women into the workforce increases the labor pool and drives down wages. Ditto for immigration.

  3. Kudzu_Bob
    December 28th, 2015 @ 9:33 pm

    The irony is that what is anyone who mentions The Bell Curve is now condemned as a Nazi by so-called “mainstream conservatives.” Over time, the Right has allowed the bounds of acceptable discourse to be determined by its enemies on the Left, which explains a great deal about the decline of the West.

  4. RS
    December 28th, 2015 @ 9:35 pm

    Your assertion is disputed, though to be fair, within the “science” of pedagogy, one can find a journal article supporting virtually any position one wants. Within my own knowledge, I can name at least five different methodologies for teaching foreign languages in this country, all of which have subsequently been “debunked” but the next idiot trying to get an Ed.D. (See also, this and scroll down to “Myth 4.”)

    As for the rest, I think it’s undisputed that the quality of American high school graduates has decreased significantly over the last three decades. This decrease has occurred notwithstanding the proliferation of “gifted” programs, AP courses, and the like. The question is, “why?” The segregation of students by methodologies hasn’t seemed to do much good. In fact, the quality of the average student has moved ever lower.

  5. Kudzu_Bob
    December 28th, 2015 @ 9:44 pm

    Smart people are often bored by things that stupid people find fascinating. Stupid people are often bored by things that smart people find fascinating. This should not come as a shock to you, but it evidently does.

    As for the decline in the quality of high school graduates, recall that there was a time not all that long ago when students who were not college material (that is, about 2/3 of young people) were considered to be fully educated upon completion of the eighth grade. What you call a decline is more of a dilution.

  6. RS
    December 28th, 2015 @ 9:44 pm

    Absolutely spot-on observation. As I note above, my friends’ fathers were all WWII vets who had college degrees and worked white collar jobs, while the moms were high school grads who stayed at home and took care of us. In my neighborhood, though, there were doctors, lawyers, engineers, brewery workers, a hardware store owner, a retired Lutheran missionary and an electrician among others. The dad all found the moms at church or synagogue. But by the time I went to college, men found their wives at university. Whether society is now better, is an obviously open question.

  7. RS
    December 28th, 2015 @ 10:06 pm

    It’s certainly a dilution and I said as much above. What’s a decline is the general level of education among Americans since the late ’60s. The level of knowledge is significantly less.

    I’m well aware of the history of education in this country and the quality of that education. The one-room, eight grade school house my father attended still stands. He was the first in his family to attend high school. The curriculum he had to master to graduate from a rural Ozark high school in 1937 would put your average American B.A. holder to shame in 2015.

    As for the snark in your first paragraph, note you made two assertions in your response to me. The first concerns varying teaching methodologies based upon the individual students. That assertion is disputed. I provided a cite. Rebut with a cite if you wish.

    The second concerns memorization as a teaching tool which is useful only for “dumb” people but not “smart” people. You also add in the modifier “rote,” a term you do not define. Your second assertion is absurd on its face. Education/learning is predicated upon memory. Your differentiation between “smart” and “dumb” is most likely based upon categorizing certain subjects as worthy of learning versus those which are not.

  8. Kudzu_Bob
    December 28th, 2015 @ 10:17 pm

    Step One: Try to use the same method to teach all kids.
    Step Two: Blame the resultant bad outcome on anything but Step One.
    Step Three: Cite an irrelevant article.
    Step Four: Act surprised when somebody who’s paying attention makes fun of you.

  9. Ilion
    December 29th, 2015 @ 11:21 am

    That’s a very good example which highlights my two points —

    1) this general idea has been out there in the culture for a very ong time;

    2) the people dishonestly misrepresenting Murray and Herrnstein actually believe someting far stronger than what they dishonestly asserted that M & H said.

  10. Ilion
    December 29th, 2015 @ 11:40 am

    What? They didn’t Google? 😉

    But, seriously, ‘Ernest’ is a more traditionally German-language name (though, to German speakers, it’s ‘Ernst’) than and English-language name.

  11. JosephBleau
    December 30th, 2015 @ 7:43 pm

    Pay up! One Dollar!

  12. JosephBleau
    December 30th, 2015 @ 7:44 pm

    It also explains the popularity of Trump, who is the only candidate that has refused to honor those bounds from time to time.

  13. Kudzu_Bob
    December 30th, 2015 @ 8:00 pm

    Quite right. It also explains why Trump’s most ardent foes are in the Republican party, which is a captive of those who that stand for the economic, cultural, and at last genetic eradication of the GOP’s own natural constituency, that is, white Americans, all in the name of deeply flawed universalist beliefs.