I badly need that. The comments threads of even the better types of newspapers are full of hatred, anger and stupidity. The last mentioned is especially irritating because it is not a form of sincere not-knowing, but an utter unwillingness to actually look at data, to read history or to study statistics. The stupid person's statistics are picked on the basis of their gut feelings.
Even that would be OK. What's not OK when all that comes together with racism, sexism, hatred of foreigners or you-name-it.
It's like wading in rotting corpses, to read that comment shit.
The "Science Column"
Anyway, I somehow started reading a so-called science column from last October at the website of Helsingin Sanomat, Finland's largest newspaper. The story has the following headline: "Man Without Woman And Sex Is An Irate Wasp." To give you a flavor of the story, this is how it begins (my translation):
Satutteko muistamaan, kun Aamulehti kirjoitti Norjan joukkomurhan jälkeen, että jos Breivik – ja Jokelan ja Kauhajoen koulusurmaajat – olisivat saaneet seksiä, murhenäytelmältä olisi ehkä vältytty? Kirjoitus nostatti järjettömän haloon, joka huomioitiin ulkomaita myöten, ja vastalauseet olivat kipakoita.
Tyypillinen vastine oli "just joo, nyt sitten joka tyttö vain jakamaan luuseripojille piparia, ettei heistä tule joukkomurhaajia".
"Do you happen to remember how Aamulehti (another Finnish newspaper) wrote after the Norwegian mass murder that if Breivik --- and the school killers at Jokela and Kauhajoki (places in Finland) --- had gotten sex, maybe the tragedy could have been avoided? That piece raised an incredible hullabaloo which was noticed even abroad, and counterarguments were angry.
A typical resonse was "Just so, now every girl is then obligated to share the gingerbread with loser boys so that they don't become mass murderers."
The author of the column, Jani Kaaro, then says that such political correctness is very sad among the Finns because there's a lot of truth in that statement. Men who don't get sex also don't get a family, children and all the restraints on bad behavior those contribute. Single men are a danger to the health of the rest of the society.
So let's stop here, for a moment, and ask what evidence there is that the named mass murderers "got" no sex or what evidence there is that it was the possible lack of nookie which made them killers.
Let's also notice here that by looking at not "getting" sex or wives or girlfriend as the possible cause of heterosexual male violence (rather than, say, one of its consequences), the onus IS indeed put on women. Or rather, women are seen as a commodity (sex slot machines), and the inadequate distribution of such slot machines among the would-be players is the real problem behind some types of male violence.
A kinder interpretation is that the women are supposed to perform that "taming" role, to "civilize" men.
Great stuff, eh? Note that there's nothing even faintly resembling science in any of this, so far. Also note how the article has labeled men as essentially incapable of self-restraint, as being lead around by their penises, as, indeed, also a kind of slot machines: If you don't put in pu**y, out comes violence.
So both men and women have been turned into extreme types of caricatures. Neither men nor women have real agency. Men, because they cannot control themselves and women, because they are a resource or a commodity.
Now comes the evidence for all this! Wait for it: The Wild West and its biased ratios of men and women. Because Wild West (at least the television version of it) was a realm of men and violent, it must be the case that lack of sex and women (the two being treated as equal here) is what caused high levels of male violence.
OK. That's not really evidence. So Kaaro next mentions the worrisome sex ratios in China, stating that 160 million girls were never born because of son preference. (Take note of that sentence.) He then notes that there are millions of men in Asia who will not "get" sex or wives because of this sex-ratio imbalance.
Kaaro hints that those countries will become more violent. There already are young, unmarried men there who get together to play war games and blow up home-made bombs!
The implication is that soon those war games will no longer be games:
Jotkut poliittiset kommentaattorit ovatkin todenneet, että suurin globaali turvallisuusuhka ei ole Lähi-idässä tai islamistisessa terrorissa, vaan näissä Aasian toimettomissa, yksinäisissä vanhoissapojissa, joilla ei ole mahdollisuutta koskaan päästä naimisiin. Heitä on helppo houkutella poliittisiin ääriliikkeisiin, ja tilanne on ihanteellinen myös vihanlietsonnalle. Jos agitaattori osoittaa jotakin ryhmää ja sanoo "he vievät meidän naisemme", helähtää se syvällä nuorten vanhojenpoikien sielussa.Historia ja demografia osoittavat, ettei ole kaukaa haettua yhdistää miesten väkivaltaisuutta seksuaalisten suhteiden puuttumiseen.
Tilanne ei ole yhtään sen ruusuisempi niille naisille, jotka ovat livahtaneet abortointiseulan lävitse. Esimerkiksi Vietnamissa on lukuisia kyliä, joissa ei ole ainoatakaan lisääntymisikäistä naista, koska heidät on myyty kirjemorsiamiksi Kiinaan tai salakuljetettu prostituoiduksi ulkomaille. Naisen voi saada, jos on rikas, mikä katkeroittaa välejä rikkaan ja köyhän kansanosan välillä. Myös katkeruus naisia kohtaan on kovaa siellä, missä toive naisesta on vain etäinen kangastus – miksi tavallinen maamies ei kelpaa naisille?
Some political commentators have stated that the largest global security risk is not in Near East or in Islamic terrorism but in these Asian old bachelors who will never be able to marry. They are easy to lure into political extremist movements, and the situation is also ideal for fanning the flames of hatred. If an agitator points at some groups and says "they take our women," it will cause a deep response in the souls of these bachelors.
The situation isn't any rosier for those women who managed to slip through the abortion filter. In Vietnam, for instance, numerous villages have no women in fertile age groups because they have been sold as mail-order brides to China or smuggled abroad for prostitution. One can get a woman if one is rich. This makes the relationship between the poor and the rich a bitter one. Likewise, bitterness towards women is strong there where a hope for a woman is but a distant mirage --- why isn't an ordinary farmer good enough for women?
It's true that the imbalance in the sex ratios of several Asian countries is deeply problematic, with potentially bad consequences. It's also true that the real tragedy here is the fact that the preference for sons equals a dislike of daughters, and that dislike comes directly from the societal gender norms. And perhaps the greatest tragedy (though sorta not stressed by Kaaro) here is the fact that women seem to go from the frying pan into the fire (from shabby social standing to an interpretation of them as just for sex) in these Asian countries. As I have written earlier, the Korean solution to the beginning of a similar gender balance seemed to work and it did so by supporting the value of daughters and by improving the status of women in the society as well as by making sex selective abortions harder to get.
But Kaaro is not interested in the solutions to this Asian dilemma. He seems to apply it to all men, apparently even Finnish men! But before I look at that, note the Othering language in the last quote: "One can get a woman if one is rich" etc. The "one" in that quote has to be male, and Kaaro has neatly slid into writing for only half of humanity as relevant in the groups of the rich and the poor.
That's why I sense the story to be really about women as slot-machines for sex, with the demand that such machines should be more evenly distributed.
Historia ja demografia osoittavat, ettei ole kaukaa haettua yhdistää miesten väkivaltaisuutta seksuaalisten suhteiden puuttumiseen. Miehet, jotka ovat tippuneet avioliittomarkkinoiden ulkopuolelle, vailla oleellisia mahdollisuuksia vaikuttaa omaan tilanteeseensa, ovat kuin loppusyksyn äkäiset ampiaiset: kun kuningatar hylkää yhdyskuntansa, työläiset jäävät toimettomiksi, ja elämänsä keskipisteen ja motivaation menettäneenä niistä tulee arvaamattomia ja aggressiivisia.
History and demography show that it is not far-fetched to connect men's violence with the absence of sexual relationships. Men who have fallen below the marriage market level, without real chances to affect their own situation are like the irate wasps of late season: when the queen rejects her community, the workers become unemployed and because they have lost the focus of their lives and motivations they become unpredictable and aggressive.
There you have it! Men are like the worker-wasps (which are not male, as far as I understand it) and women are like the queen wasp who has rejected them by refusing to keep on laying eggs nonstop over the winter.
The metaphor is terrible. But it is also very revealing.
Note that we have moved from mass murderers via Wild West (as shown by television and movies, at least) to Asian son preference and the problems those cause to --- what? The possibility that all men who cannot find wives or "get sex" become unpredictable and aggressive.
This piece is a mess. It's not science, because it combines all sorts of evidence and then applies it far beyond the scope for it. It also continuously uses correlation as causation. For instance, my guess is that men don't become mass murderers because they can't find girlfriends or wives. Those men can't find girlfriends or wives because they are future mass murderers. That's a more credible theory, even though it, too, is pulled out of my --- helmet.
And On Its Comments
I do go on here! My apologies for it. Perhaps some of you enjoy the analysis enough to justify it. But mostly I'm writing this post because I'm so very irate! Like a late-autumn wasp.
Then to the comments. I read them because I was already ready to sting. And many of the comments didn't disappoint me. Out of the 200+ comments only a handful understood what was bad about the article, and only another handful presented a feminist take (i.e., that women matter as persons, too). Most of the comments took for granted that the problem is how to make sure that single men can "get" as much sex as they need in order to not become killers and how women can be made more willing to marry them or to have sex with them.
Thus, the proposals included supporting prostitution, even starting government subsidized brothels. A few MRAs were out there writing about women's tendency to only marry "alpha-males" (a numerical impossibility unless "alpha-males" are interpreted as all married men), several people wrote about the "in-built" biological drive in women to marry only wealthy men (given that no such drive has been shown to exist and that women's assumed hypergamy can better be explained by the fact that women have had historically no other way to make their own living, outside prostitution, than through marriage.).
There were those who wanted all minimum quotas for women in high positions of power to be questioned, given that those would "marginalize" men. The idea, I guess, is that women will only marry financially upwards, that all "marginalized" men are at the bottom of the societal heap and that the solution to this is to make sure that there are women beneath them. In all meanings of that term.
The strongest impression I got from the comments is that the click-magnet headline worked: The focus was largely on physical sexual intercourse and how to get more of it to the "marginalized men." Several comments did point out that the problem (if there is one, outside Asia and perhaps the Middle East) is probably more about rootlessness and loneliness than physical sex. But even those stopped short of asking what it is about the men without partners which might contribute to their problems. Instead, that part was replaced by the idea that women only marry "up" and that marrying "up" has nothing to do with a man who is willing to share parenting and everyday chores and not just incomes. Traditional sex roles and evolutionary psychology, in short.
Oh, the Pickup Artists cropped up, too. According to them ANY woman can just wait and then decide which of the many, many offers she wishes to accept. There are no such terms as "wall flowers" or "spinsters" in their world. All women are "alpha-women", I presume.
Then More Seriously
It is not my intention to imply that the men in China and India who will never find wives somehow deserve their fates or that there isn't a correlation between single status and violence in men (though some of it is probably caused by the correlation between violence and youth on the one hand and youth and singleness on the other hand). But that correlation does not tell us anything about causation. Men who are violent and dysfunctional in society may be unable to find a partner because they are violent and dysfunctional. That's an equally likely theory, though the causality might go in both directions at the same time.
I also think that all this is a good example of the ills of patriarchy for men, too. The gender imbalance in China, India and Azerbaijan is because families want sons rather than daughters, and that, in turn, is because families are patriarchal, marriages are patrilocal and the view of family is based on the male line. All this is exacerbated by lack of pensions and other forms of social safety net and the tradition to find those in one's adult sons, not in one's adult daughters. And it is her husband's elderly parents that a Chinese woman is expected to care for. It's easy to see why daughters are not greatly wanted. But those customs can be changed. Some slight signs of a more natural sex ratio in China are already evident*.
Likewise, the disgruntled young single men in the Middle East are that way because of the bad economic situation but also because of the tradition that women shouldn't work outside the home. Given that tradition, men must be able to earn enough on their own to support both a wife and any future children. The disapproval of dating and pre-marital sex worsens this situation further.
But how any of this relates to single men in general or single men in the Western countries is something the article left very unclear. It was, of course, intended as clickbait. But I don't think a
"science" column should be so low-brow and so open to various kinds of sexisms.
Sigh. I shouldn't pour buckets of text on something that appeared a month ago and in a different language. But someone has to clean out the crap.
*One interesting argument about why we see these changes (other than government attempts to raise the valuation of girls etc.) is that the correction is a consequence of the imbalance in the sex ratios itself. Once prospective parents realize that a son might never be able to find a wife, but a daughter might fairly easily find a husband, the Confucian desire to continue the family raises the value of a daughter somewhat. But the Confucian philosophy still places men above women.