I haven't read your book, and while I think I read all of Neera Badhwar's previous post, I don't remember clearly enough to say for certain.

That said, it feels sloppy that we're talking about both how women were treated in 1960 and and how women are treated today. The treatment of women in 1960 is evidence that we needed the movement in 1960, but is hardly evidence that we need it today.

The position is that Feminism in the 1960s was a harmful/unnecessary movement/identity and the position that Feminism in 2022 is a harmful/unnecessary movement/identity are very different. Maybe you hold both positions, but arguing about the 1960s clutters the much more useful discussion about what we should be doing today.

I can see some value in demonstrating that such a movement has been effective at improving the treatment of women, but it's a separate discussion from "here are the trade-offs being made today; let's discuss where the line is best drawn." (e.g., how cautious should we be about workplace harassment, how should we treat accusations, etc.) It's fine to have both discussions, but clear delineation is important.

Maybe it's because I take it for granted that the women's right movement did a massive amount of good that I feel this way, but it's at the margins where debate is valuable, and debate of where we're going too far or not far enough *today* that's of particular value and relevance.

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The conflation of 1960s feminism - which I’m greatly thankful for - with the modern version (that’s being passed off as some “third wave” bs) make both yours and Neera’s arguments difficult to fully appreciate. While there’s merit to what you’re saying the last third of your rebuttal left a lot to be desired...

You say -- But the idea that “Men had always been encouraged to be immoral” is odd. I don’t recall ever being so encouraged.

That’s not the point. Neera’s saying IF giving women the power of birth control was denied becoz it encourages them to be immoral then shouldn’t we apply the same standard to men?

Re IVY leagues - going to college was not encouraged. It is not ok to say that applied to a very small % because it’s symbolic and representative of other denials. Plus by this “it’s only a small %” argument isn’t it only a small % of men who suffer as a result of false sexual harassment charges? Where are the huge numbers there?

Serving on juries - again Neera states that “the reasons for not allowing women were demeaning” and you skirt that issue. If men were denied that right because they’re not smart or balanced or rational enough then yes it would be demeaning to them.

You also call out the need for paying attention to the merchants’ pov and letting couples decide for themselves. Agree but none of these “choices” exist in a social - cultural vaccum and sometimes we need to speak up. It’s not just about political rights alone. It’s why we protest bad cultural practices and call for better safeguards. Hijab anyone?

Overall you call out Neera but it’s actually disappointing to see two top notch libertarians unable to make sense of the much needed balance we need to arrive at.

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Feb 3·edited Feb 12

Although, Bryan, I largely agree with your take against Neera’s, I wonder how strong the evidence really is regarding the graph of how people meet others over time. While office romances have dropped, so have romances initiated through family and (even steeper drops) through friends and at college. Perhaps the graph is only evidence of how easy technology has made it to meet one’s match via apps designed to make that easy.

Regarding the “encouraged to be immoral” claim, I think that’s probably simply a poor phrasing of a real phenomenon. Prior to the “sexual revolution,” I do recall (and I’m older than you) a fairly common double standard where a woman who had many lovers was looked down upon while a man who had many lovers was not. It’s not that he was ENCOURAGED to “be immoral.” It was that he was not disapproved of for “being immoral.” While a similarly situated woman more likely was. Having acknowledged a double standard, I don’t think this has been true for several decades, since the wide availability of The Pill, so I don't see it helping Neera's argument.

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I’m 63 this year.

It always amuses me when I read “modern” discussions on feminism in the 70’s. Feminism, post the year 2000, especially “Me Too”, in my opinion, is just about the worst thing that has happened to women and especially men.

It has brutalized women and wussified men.

I turned 18 in 1978. I lived through a lot of what you all are talking about in these pieces. Women were viewed as property well into the 1960’s.

My first ever Substack post addressed the recent Roe v Wade opinion change. It’s why I started writing again.


It covered all of the things women couldn’t do in the 70’s, around the same time the the original supreme court opinion was written.

In 2005, I bought a house. I was in the middle of a divorce in Ohio. Ohio is a dower state. What’s dower? A medieval idea that says women can’t own property.

I had to have my to-be-ex sign off that he wouldn’t claim any rights to the house I was buying. Know that he used this for all it was worth at the time.

In 2022 I sold that house. The bank that was providing the mortgage to the new buyer wanted proof that my ex of 17 years had no rights to the property.

Where was modern feminism is this case?

Wearing pink pussy hats. That’s where.

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Your equation of most women always living their lives with a background fear of sexual assault and rape with a fraction of men in prison is really revealing. And a man being "forced" to support a child is worse than a woman being forced to be pregnant and give birth? Yowza.


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It's perfectly coherent to say that society horribly mistreats BOTH women & men, but that one's comparative advantage is focusing on one or the other. There are plenty of people who support multiple charities, even while those charities have workers who just work for that charity and don't find it objectionable that their donors also support those other charities.

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> Fear of being accused of sexual harassment is now a big problem for a large share of workers. I maintain that the latter problem is, on balance, much bigger. MeToo has responded to complex trade-offs with fanatical zeal, to the point where workers fear to initiate any workplace romance.

It's scary that some people just won't let go of the idea that potential victims should be believed by default. I thought this attitude... died down a bit? IDK why really. But yesterday I stumbled upon a post, on Effective Altruism forum (specifically, thread of comments below): https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/t5vFLabB2mQz2tgDr/i-m-a-22-year-old-woman-involved-in-effective-altruism-i-m?commentId=R7uP533Xr7sL75Yqx

So, a woman complained about EA being seemingly unsafe/uncomfortable environment for women. Turns out, it was partly based on false accusations which were proven false. Scott Alexander brought it up. And, for some bizarre reason, some people believed it was a bad thing to bring it up. Because it's important to empathize. With women, of course.

> it makes me sad that the top comment on this post is adversarial/argumentative and showing little emotional understanding/empathy (particularly the line "getting called out in posts like this one"). I think it unfortunately demonstrates well the point the author made about EA having an emotions problem:

> > [quote from post] However, there is an important distinction between interrogating someone’s research and interrogating someone’s lived experience. I fear that the attitude of truth-seeking and challenging one another to be better has led to an inclination to suspend compassion in the absence of substantial evidence of wrongdoing. You’re allowed to be sorry that someone experienced something without fully understanding it.

It's like it doesn't occur to some people that men are humans too. Unless it's not a claim that victim should be believed by default (but 'you're allowed to be sorry that someone experienced something' presupposes it, so...). But then, what's even the point of posting?

Anyway, later Scott wrote this:

> I understand that sexual assault is especially scary, and that it may seem jarring to compare it to less serious accusations like Bob's. But the original post says we need to express emotions more, and I wanted to try to convey an emotional sense of how scary this position feels to me. Sexual assault is really bad and we need strong norms about it. But we've been talking a lot about consequentialism vs. deontology lately, and where each of these is vs. isn't appropriate. And I think saying "sexual assault is so bad, that for the greater good we need to focus on supporting accusations around it, even when they're false and will destroy people's lives" is exactly the bad kind of consequentialism that never works in real life. The specific reason it never works in real life is that once you're known for throwing the occasional victim under the bus for the greater good, everyone is terrified of associating with you.

And somehow that wasn't convincing apparently:

> I would still push back against the gender-reversal false equivalency that you and others have mentioned. EA doesn't exist in a bubble. We live in a world where survivors, and in particular women, are not supported, not believed, and victim-blamed. Therefore I think it is pretty reasonable to have a prior that we should take accusations seriously and respond to them delicately.

Like... no, we don't. We live in a world where this is seemingly default opinion. This person seems to focus entirely on negative outcomes to women (was raped; wasn't believed), while being unconcerned about men who (didn't rape; weren't believed they didn't rape).


> I think "everyone knows" (in Zvi's sense of the term, where it's such strong conventional wisdom that nobody ever checks if it's true ) that the typical response to rape accusations is to challenge and victim-blame survivors. And that although this may be true in some times and places, the typical response in this community is the one which, in fact, actually happened - immediate belief by anyone who didn't know the situation, and a culture of fear preventing those who did know the situation from speaking out. I think it's useful to acknowledge and push back against that culture of fear.

> I realize this is an annoyingly stereotypical situation - I, as a cis man, coming into a thread like this and saying I'm worried about a false accusations and chilling effects. My only two defenses are, first, that I only got this way because of specific real and harmful false accusations, that I tried to do an extreme amount of homework on them before calling false, and that I only ever bring up in the context of defending my decision there. And second, that I hope I'm possible to work with and feel safe around, despite my cultural goals, because I want to have a firm deontological commitment to promoting true things and opposing false things, in a way that doesn't refer to my broader cultural goals at any point.

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I have memories of being in graduate school in the late 1960s. The deferral of military service for graduate students had just been ended, and the male graduate students were scrambling to get draft-exempt jobs. They watched the news from Vietnam (aka the war news) on the TV in the common room, and many were visibly stressed. Even if they escaped service that year, they were still on the hook until age 26.

Meanwhile the female graduate students could concentrate on their studies and then on their careers, without fear of interruption for military service.

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Some commentators want to know why I discussed the past situation of women instead of just the present. The reason is that Bryan discussed it.

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Several of the commentators below are puzzled about Bryan's and my discussion of women's social situation in the past. I address it because Bryan does: he argues that women were probably better off in the 1950s than they are now.

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One thing that could make a difference is if men would have the right to "judicial abortion", meaning that if one does not want to become a father, he could make a legal statement for abortion in judicial and social sense, thereby not becoming a father.

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>Sexual harassment has long been a big problem for a small share of workers. Fear of being accused of sexual harassment is now a big problem for a large share of workers. I maintain that the latter problem is, on balance, much bigger. 

I think mst people assume that sexual harassment is a much bigger problem per person affected, and this outweighs it's relative rarity. (This might be more true now than before due to more women in the workplace.)

>Sexual harassment law, in contrast, makes it illegal to have any workplace that says “Accusations not welcome here.”

Such a workplace would obviously attract people looking to commit sex crimes. Although it might still be legal in some jurisdictions if you explicitly made every employee a sex worker (you might need to publish security footage in places that allow porn stars but not conventional prostitutes; the whole premise sounds like a porn scenario anyway.)

>At minimum, these three facts argue for a high burden of proof for sexual harassment accusations, combined with harsh punishments for not just falsehood but hypersensitivity.

I genuinely don't understand why you think this follows, I think your argument is missing a step. This isn't a dunk, I'm just missing something.

>The voluntarism and tolerance perspective. Whatever couples voluntarily decide between themselves is probably fine.

As soon as no-fault divorce was legalised, it skyrocketed, with divorces mostly initiated by women. That suggests a decent fraction of women were *not* remaining in relationships voluntarily, in the sense that they preferred to leave.

>Unless unfairness toward women is especially severe or overlooked, why focus on unfairness toward women rather than unfairness toward humans?

Division of labour? Many charities focus on things other than the Worst Thing.

Also, many feminists do pay attention to ways men are negatively affected by gender norms and emphasise that they want to end sexism towards "all humans". This is a very common position! You might object that the *name* feminism belies this, but for some mysterious reason women invented the feminist movement.

>If only women were forced to serve on juries, who would imagine that this “demeans” men?

Again, looking at feminist criticism of things men aren't allowed to do ... yes?

>Due to extraordinary levels of prison rape, it is not in fact clear that women suffer more rapes than men in the U.S. But in any case, men clearly suffer much more violence than women overall. So why is there so much focus on “violence against women” rather than violence per se?

Male-male violence, especially in prisons, is much more frequently between targets who are similarly criminal and thus often regarded as more "deserved" (and possibly less tractable a problem.) Non-prison rape is seen as a problem for, and within, "civilian" society which is more amenable to tactics like shaming.

Also, quite a lot of the support for male victims I've seen, including opposition to the way prison rape is normalised, has been from feminists using feminist arguments.

>Rightly or wrongly, states that ban abortion once again put women and men in the same boat.

Come on, this is *clearly* not true! I'm pro-life, but pregnancy and childbirth are obviously *fairly major* consequences here that men don't share.

>Horribly unjust in a worst-case scenario, where the husband plans to abscond with the money? Or in normal scenarios where husband and wife keep living and spending together?

Obviously the latter; do you agree that's clearly unjust (if perhaps rare enough not to change your stance), then?

>But you haven’t presented notable evidence that women are (or were) more victimized than I initially acknowledged. 

You accepted two of their examples! Birth control and Ivy League admissions! Is your contention that they weren't "notable"?

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I'm like 99% on your side on this, but I will point out two things.

"It is easy to end unwanted attention by ending all attention. Easy, absurd, and tyrannical. "

Personally, I think "no romantic relationships at work" is a very rational perspective and I would prefer it that way. I just generally think work is a place to make money and your personal life should stay very separate. This goes beyond just romantic issues, I hate this "bring your whole self to work" stuff.

If you aren't supposed to have any relationships at work, then we don't have any misunderstandings.

The problem with #MeToo is that people not even trying to form relationships can get accused on flimsy grounds and have their lives ruined.

"Whatever couples voluntarily decide between themselves is probably fine. Total strangers should keep their mouths shut, and even close family and friends should think twice before expressing an opinion."

It depends. Richard Hanania is currently defending the righteousness of having his 15 year old son get a girl pregnant.

How about "adults following the "half + 7 rule" with no other red flags should be given the benefit of the doubt".

In general I think you take "nonjudgementalism" too far. I doubt you would really apply it to your own children if they started engaging in highly suspect behavior.

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I think an important problem would be that even if you think that men and women are treated equally fairly or men are treated slightly more fairly, given robust historical trends its pretty clearly the case that in the near future women are going to be treated significantly more fairly than men and it doesn't seem like anything would be able to change this.

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