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The curiously underwhelming 2020 edition of International Women’s Day

OK, did anyone notice International Women’s Day? Get any emails? Read any stories about issues that concern women around the world, ranging from employment law through to their treatment in certain parts of the world? Well I did, but I was struck by how low-temperature it all was. The press releases that I received had a sort of “they are just phoning it in” quality.

Because whatever else one can say about this event, in recent years it appeared to loom quite large in my life in the media/wealth management world. There is usually lots of commentary about “pay gaps” (a fertile area for the misleading use of data, not to mention a lot of questionable assumptions). Not so much this year. It all felt a bit, well, lame. And it is not just because of COVID-19, although that obviously is a part of it. Certain harsh facts of reality have broken through our “woke” obsessions. (The virus appears to hit men harder than women, which violates a prime directive of modern feminism, that no evidence should be provided that suggests men and women are different other than in strict issues around making babies, unless the difference is to show that men are more “toxic”, reckless, etc.)

The day – 8 March – was also a Sunday, so a curiously odd day for such an event when a working day might make more sense (well, Sunday is a working day in Muslim nations, but not in the West for most people).

I don’t know whether there is just plain exhaustion out there about the endless claims that men wield all the power, have the best jobs, are “toxic”, that films, music, TV, the sale of services, etc, are all about men, and that this all needs to change. The truth in fact is that in much of the West, this process of complaining about men has gone on so long that fatigue is setting in when the rhetoric does not quite stack up against reality. According to consultancy and research firm Frost and Sullivan, women owners will account for 40 per cent of all registered businesses worldwide this year. In my financial services industry, they account for an increasingly important client base in terms of assets under management. This is particularly the case in regions such as Asia.

To take a more philosophical turn here, those of us on the classical liberal/libertarian end of the spectrum should remind folk that our starting point is that life isn’t a zero-sum game. If women succeed more in business or in sports, it is not at the expense of men, nor should it be. Also, if the percentage share of women in occupation/area A is greater than, or less than, that of men as a share of the total population, that is not ipso facto proof that something terrible has happened, and that this must be corrected. For it ignores how entirely free acts at the individual level can have an impact that might appear “disproportionate” at the macro one. At no stage was deliberate worsening/bettering of group intended, because this was not done with reference to a group outcome in the first place. What the “proportionate share” egalitarians would demand is that none of us should interact with another person unless we have gone through some sort of meta-choice process of sifting through a pre-approved “menu”, whether it is hiring an employee, checking out a date on a dating app, etc. For example, how many people should a guy choose from before making a “fair” choice of a woman to go out with and who should set this sample? If he chooses, to stick with the dating example, to say he does not want to date single mothers or those who paint their hair green, or who are clinically obese, or rail-thin, or whatever, who is to say that he should not? And if the man in question decides to stop using such apps, do the old-fashioned thing instead and meet women in bars or social events, who on earth is in a position to screen that?

I think a failure to understand things like this is behind bad ideas such as the State seeking to mandate how many women/others should sit on company boards, regardless of how that effectively violates freedom of firms to hire and invite whom they want. Even if adverts for certain jobs forbid certain likes and dislikes being expressed, as anyone knows preferences can and are still expressed in who gets a job. It is very hard to control this; the best “solution” to this issue is to have as competitive a labour market as possible: capitalism is the best solvent of irrational dislikes/likes of people, because it is a cost.

Back to more current matters, it does appear that for all the supposed march of identity politics, some countries are, much to the dislike of some, resistant if the quality of candidates is poor. Consider the US. The country in November faces a choice between the incumbent, whom we are told is a moron, Orange Man Bad. And yet the ladies haven’t made much of a dent. The best that the Democrats can come up with at this point are two ageing male Lefties, one of whom is a largely – as far as I know – unrepentant Communist and fan of Fidel Castro, and the other a creep with allegedly wandering hands who might have early-stage dementia. The women on the Democratic race, such as Elizabeth Warren (who absurdly played a native American Indian identity card, and got hammered for it), and Kamala Harris, fell by the wayside as their flaws became all too evident. (OK, Tulsi Gabbard is just about hanging on, but not for long. None of them, to be blunt about it, is a Maggie.)

IWD has caused people from different parts of the ideological spectrum, by the way, to claim that this or that group/viewpoint they dislike has “hijacked” it. Take this example from Progress, the UK magazine, in 2016, and more recently, from the Daily Telegraph.

Of course, if you want to wind certain people up, as I do in my less mature moments, one way to say that we should mark IWD is to salute the rise of UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, even if you aren’t that sold on her points-based approach to immigration.


12 comments to The curiously underwhelming 2020 edition of International Women’s Day

  • Ferox

    There should be a Men’s Day, which people would celebrate by looking around at all the things that make their lives easier and trying to imagine all the (disposable male) blood that was spilled in order to bring those things to them.

    I am talking about wood, iron, steel, glass, rubber, petroleum, meat, grain, electricity, construction, etc. Things that (primarily men) work extremely dangerous jobs to provide.

    But I am skeptical that it will ever happen. Those men are invisible in our culture, by design.

  • Albion's Blue Front Door

    “None of them… is a Maggie,” Indeed, for which they would be mightily glad. If they were a Maggie they could look forward to nothing less than full blown and unrestrained hatred, vilification and the demonising of the very air they breathe.

    All of which makes one wonder, what is it exactly that women want in public life?

  • Ian Bennett

    There should be a Men’s Day

    There is.

  • I realised it must be international women’s day when I chanced to use bing to websearch something and saw it had a background picture of suffragettes. The beeb had a couple of programmes (repeats, I think). From my very slight visibility of it, I can believe the OP’s ‘phoning it in’ assessment.

    if he chooses, to stick with the dating example, to say he does not want to date single mothers or those who paint their hair green, or who are clinically obese, or rail-thin, or whatever, who is to say that he should not?

    Well there is this latest example of Title IX in the US: Williams College suspended male student for not dating girl after kissing her: lawsuit.

    Of course, ‘breach of promise’ was a civil law issue in centuries past – which this could be seen as a return to. 🙂

  • NickM

    You used bing!?!?

    Care to elaborate?

  • Runcie Balspune

    For it ignores how entirely free acts at the individual level can have an impact that might appear “disproportionate” at the macro one

    What is also lost is how this disproportionally affects the proposed solution. If males do not generally choose to enter “female” occupations, such as heathcare, childcare, teaching, etc, this means more males are choosing, say, tech jobs, leading to a disproportionate number of males in those industries, the solution could be to promote males into the “female” occupations, rather than concentrate on female choices for “male” occupations.

  • Sam

    Agreed on the relatively muted tone of Gal’s Day this year. My politically-obsessed mind assumed it was because battlespace prep for a vagina-bedecked Dem presidential candidate was not needed this time round, and yet more nagging about how hard it is out there for a Yass Queen wouldn’t square with the Left’s duty to lie back and think of Biden.

  • Nicholas (unlicensed joker) Gray

    Perhaps the job is done? We have a woman as Queen of the United Kingdom (which could be called the Untied Kingdom if Scotland leaves), and women are all over the place, with a female Doctor Who. Now to go the other way! Remake “Little Women” as ‘Little Men’? Let a man be Queen of Britain?

  • Julie near Chicago

    Eee-w-w-w! Heh…good one, Nicholas!

  • Eric

    I think the problem is we can no longer say with any certainty what exactly a woman is. How can we celebrate something we can’t define?

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    Nicholas (unlicensed joker): the current Dr Who is so bad it is arguably the ultimate example of going broke by going woke. The Dr Who series is run by the BBC: without its licence fee, that series would have been canned months ago!

  • Paul Marks

    “Third Wave” (i.e. Marxist) Feminism is based upon LIES.

    A classic example of the lies is the “Pay Gap” myth – which is based on comparing men and women DOING DIFFERENT JOBS.

    There is “injustice” – but it is injustice against MEN. For example the “Family Courts” (in divorce and so on) are biased against men in many Western countries including the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom, and much of the United States of America.

    It is men who the “structural power relationships” “exploit” and “oppress” in the modern Western world (the “Family Courts” being just one of many examples). Women are indeed exploited and oppressed – but not by Western legal systems. Which cultures actually exploit and oppress women is something that the left does not want to talk about – indeed they scream such things as “racist” and “Islamophobe” at anyone who even mentions what actually exploits and oppresses women.