Mad Menaissance

Will Wilkinson has a smart take-down of Kay Hymowitz' 1950's nostalgia porn, granting the essential point that, yes, social change causes anxiety until people learn to adjust and create new norms to live by, but the changes are generally worth it. I would just add the somewhat obvious point that even if the cost-benefit analysis didn't turn out positive, it's not like we can reverse the hands of time and go back to an era that never really was, so conservatives like Hymowitz can stop whining already. Yes, feminism came and saw and conquered, for better or for worse (mostly for the better), till death do us part, and we are now living in the "postfeminist era", whatever the hell that means, while clueless libertarians sit on the sidelines with their thumbs up their asses continually wondering "where all the wimmenz at?"

Also, if you're looking for new norms to live by, don't look to the creepy, repulsive "seduction community" when there are perfectly wholesome, flamingly gay advice columnists like Dan Savage dispensing commonsense weekly wisdom for free. More on that in the next post.

One part of Will's response that sticks out like a...sore thumb, though, is his interpretation of Mad Men:

I think Hymowitz’s story gives too small a part to resentment at the loss of male privilege. Many men aren’t angry and confused because they don’t know what women want. They’re angry because they want what their fathers or grandfathers had, and they can’t get it. They’re confused because they can’t quite grasp why not. I think part of the fascination for many white guys with the show Mad Men is that it is a window into an attractive (to them) world of white male dominance and privilege that has largely disappeared. It is still possible to create a traditional patriarchal household, but it’s harder than ever for men to find women who will happily play along. And, in any case, there is little assurance of the stability of this sort of arrangement, since the social esteem that was once accorded to it — which helped reinforce men’s and women’s confidence in their traditional roles within it — has largely dissipated.

I don't know what Will was thinking of when he wrote this. Maybe he just hasn't watched enough episodes yet? The overall point he is trying to make is a fine one, but Mad Men displays exactly the opposite of what he is trying to express.

What I see when I watch Mad Men is a bunch of privileged dominant white males - and their trophy wives - who are absolutely miserable, partly ( largely?) because they can see their privilege and dominance cracking under the weight of inexorable social change.

That's why Peggy seems to creep everyone out except Don, who is too busy trying to juggle all of the various lies he has made to his wife, kids, coworkers, mistresses, and clients to care that Peggy is breaking the glass ceiling, getting impregnated out of wedlock, and doing all of the things a woman of her station in life shouldn't be doing. Don sees himself reflected in Peggy, as a rule breaker and successful social status climber who has to navigate a new, false identity.

No one is truly happy in the show, and we the audience, with the advantage of 50 years of hindsight, know that things are only going to get worse for those characters desperately trying to clutch onto some romanticized, illusory past.

Notice the title sequence of a businessman falling from the top of a skyscraper, eliciting a sense of vertigo? It's not that subtle Will, and you were an art major!

The action begins as he enters his office in black silhouette, puts down his briefcase, and watches as his furniture begins to implode, almost melting. A small rotating fan spins in an open window, but we never see how the silhouetted man ends up outside the building; we just see him in a graceful freefall for over half of the sequence tumbling past seductive images of women, a glass of whiskey, advertising slogans (“Enjoy the Best America Has to Offer”; “It’s the Gift That Never Fails”), two hands wearing wedding rings, a couple kissing, a smiling nuclear family, and four old vintage photographs.

This is why Mad Men is such a great liberal response to conservative 50's ideal worship of the Kay Hymowitz variety; it's definitely not an attractive example of the reactionary ideal. If that's what viewers are seeing when they watch it, they're doing it wrong.

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Is Savage really a

Is Savage really a substitute for PUA writers? I find it implausible that someone aspiring to be Roissy (assuming Roissy's self-descriptions are accurate) might change their mind and angle for being Savage instead. I doubt straight men or women would give good dating-advice to the opposite sex (relative to a competent member of one's own), and I imagine a gay man would have even less helpful. I find both the Roissyites and Savage repulsive, but I can't say I have any argument that could convince those in the former camp and I'm less competent as an advice-giver than the latter.

Regarding Mad Men: Tv Tropes has plenty of examples of misaimed fandom/Draco in Leather Pants and so on. I don't think there is such a thing as "doing it wrong". At the same time, its normal to applaud outrageous things in entertainment that we wouldn't tolerate in real life (the worst I can think of off the top of my head is the Chopping Block webcomic), so we can't necessarily say it reflects much. Julian Sanchez made the same point about Jonah Goldberg.

I find both the Roissyites

I find both the Roissyites and Savage repulsive...

I think "repulsive" might be a bit much. The guy definitely has some closet issues.

Roissy is a guy who throws things and tears up his apartment when he breaks up with a Woman he loves. The guy has issues. Poor bastard. His minions can go ahead, and take this unstable fellow seriously. Preach his bible. Continue his worship. Meanwhile, I'll LOL over here in the corner pointing and laughing.

On the flip side, the guy can be damn funny. Props to him for that. If sheer amusement is ones goal, it can be a good read. I don't think any blog has made me laugh out loud except his.

On a blog-o-meter rating he's "upper tier" compared to everything else that exists. But I take him as he should be taken: with a grain of salt and an axe to grind.

I find it hard to explain

I find it hard to explain Wills hostility to division of labor. I thought libertarians approved of that.

My comparative advantage is not in childrearing. While i think its a honorable occupation, and id love to help out with it, my comparative advantange is in other things, and I know that there are women out there with much more passion for that job than I can muster.

Women are free to do as they please, but just so you women know: there is demand out there for intelligent mothers, politically incorrect as it may be. Being an excellent mother will do more for your status in my eyes than seeking rent at some lawfirm, or making your own art that noone ever buys, ever could. I guess noone ever told women that most jobs suck ass.

That said, i can see why it would seem like a raw deal to completely surrender your economic fate to someone else. I strongly approve of divorce, but I feel we need some innovation in terms of marriage contracts. I have some objections to the current package deal, and I similarly would if i were a woman forfeiting a career.

Work is not fun

" I guess noone ever told women that most jobs suck ass."

They didn't have to be told. Many, many, *many* women have worked at low-paid drugery (sp?) to put food in their kids' mouths. Traditionally in the US, a married women not having a regular job (either paid employment or working as a farm wife) was a privelege of the upper half (or quarter) of society.

Nobody ever told 'women'

Nobody ever told 'women' anything of course, but individual women in my part of the woods are raised with the notion that mothering is for losers, and that it is their feminist duty to enter the workforce, long before theyll even have the chance to find out for themselves that work does indeed suck.

People are going to grow up with one role model or another, and im not passing judgement on which is wrong or right, but as a proponent of specialization of labor, it is in my personal interest to signal that there is indeed a market for said labor.

Mad Men online

For those (like me) that don't have a television machine, I see you can watch an episode of Mad Men online.

I might watch it after I'm caught up on my episodes of The Prisoner. I'm still working through that 1967 backlog--can't wait to see if "Star Trek" is as good in the second season!