I usually enjoy everything you write, but this framing around your daughter is just cringe. I feel bad for her that she's being dragged into a political debate against her will. I also feel like it will just make her want to do the opposite of what you're saying.

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Why is it "cringe?"

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It's written in an odd way and some parts of it almost seem sarcastic or like jokes. I guess Bryan meant it genuinely but when I read "as your father, I am eager to help you" and "since I am your father, you know I’m not evil" I laughed. Especially knowing this is written for someone who can't even read it right now it lacks social awareness about how it looks to outsiders of his family.

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I read the "since I am your father" in context. It's not just his daughter knows Bryan is her father: it's that she knows he's a good father. It's like saying, "since you know me well."

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The letter doesn't read like something to his daughter. If it was, things like "I'm not a monster" aren't something you would need to say in such a letter.

It feels more like the letter is addressed, at least in large part, to "the audience". The people being invited into this encounter between father and daughter.

And that's the problem. It's not really appropriate to have an audience in this conversation. If Bryan wishes to address an audience, he need not involve his own child.

Unlike some people that do this in an exploitive way, I don't really get that vibe from Bryan here, but I do think its a mistake.

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I agree that's what he meant. I'm not saying he's wrong.

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There are already many such books titled, "How to raise feminists?", etc. Do you think they are cringe because children are being dragged to a political debate?

Most probably you consider you are calling it cringing because its dragging to a non leftist idea.

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total cringe. has the stink of "I love my daughter, so how could I be a misogynist?" Also - and I say this with consideration - it's very patronizing. Lecturing your daughter on feminism - and notably not doing so to your son - is pretty... ick. Leaving aside everything else I dont agree with in the essay. Hard pass on all this mess.

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Maybe because his sons are unlikely to be persuaded of feminism to begin with? It’s not like feminists go out of their way to target men. Many of the men who do convert to feminism tend to do it as a virtue signal.

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Yeah, definitely. No political book could ever be filled with letters to the author's son or daughter. The author would collapse in on themselves, a neutron star of cringe. Such a book just couldn't ever be a bestseller.

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Oh so she's not going to be dragged into a political debate against her will anyway, but if it's not her dad that makes it OK right?

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It seems unlikely that you're, or anyone else's daughter, will become a feminist. If by feminist we mean actively supportive of social justice/equity on gender issues. Maybe the temptation is worse because your community is more leftist.

It's slightly more likely that girls will pick up a few anti-male talking points and grievances, but unlike say racial tensions there is too much fraternizing with the enemy for that kind of resentment to work with most people.

I want my daughters to marry well and have a family. There are many other pursuits that might bring them live satisfaction, but I suspect if they don't nail those two it would be a big failure (I believe the same for sons, but think market based accomplishment is more of a prerequisite for successful family formation).

The biggest things that could get in the way of that "feminism" wise are too much focus on career, narrowing the dating pool to male feminists/progressives, not being feminine enough to attract a decent mate, and/or being slutty.

Personally, I think peers will probably be a bigger influence on all that than essays, but have at it.

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If your daughters think of dating and marrying the same way you do, then they have already failed. Finding a mate is a matching problem, not a bargaining problem. It is about finding the person who is the best match, not the person who has the best "value." Someone who is a good match for one person might be a terrible match for another. For example, a man who despises ice hockey is a decent mate for a woman who doesn't care about it, but a terrible mate for a woman with season tickets to the Redwings. (When my wife was a little girl her mother told her to stop playing superhero because guys don't like that. Now that she is married to me, superheroes are approximately 30% of the things we talk about together)

It's true that there are some mate preferences that are so universal we can treat them as objective criteria (i.e. "isn't abusive," "isn't chronically unemployed"). However, these tend to be, if anything, positively correlated with caring about whether a woman is feminine. So not being feminine enough to attract a decent mate is not really an issue. On the contrary, being feminine might well be a hindrance. There's nothing wrong with a man having a purely aesthetic preference for feminine women, but there are a lot of men who insist on moralizing it, and those men are disproportionately likely to have "low quality" mate characteristics like being domineering or violent.

In general, reasons why someone doesn't want to date/marry you are also reasons why you wouldn't want to date or marry them. If a woman is unfeminine or slutty it is actually really good that those traits repel a lot of men, because the type of man who is repelled by those traits is also the type of man who is a poor match for her. That is why so many advice columnists encourage people to "be yourself" when dating.

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Dating is definitely in large part a bargaining problem, since many of the things we value in mates are valued by most of the species. E.g. we mostly have similar standards of physical attraction; there are certain traits, like being funny, smart, charismatic, and professionally successful, that nearly everyone values, and other traits that hardly anyone values. It may be to some extent a matching problem with respect to having similar interests and values, but there are also undeniably people who are broadly more attractive than others and this have a better pool to choose from. It is, in other words, a market.

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> It is about finding the person who is the best match

...and snatching them from your competitors!

The fact that there is someone looking for a partner that looks exactly like me, is not a guarantee of success, if there happen to be e.g. 1000 "people like me" but only 10 "people looking for someone like me".

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I don't think you can write this kind of book well without fixing the feminist "definition trap" you've fallen into. This crystalized to me as I again read your argument about what the definition of feminism is and why you're deviating from it. But by deviating from it, you lose the rhetorical battle you're trying to wage and concede legitimacy on the folks you deem illegitimate.

From a moral perspective, as scientists, think of it like this:

1. We want to know the truth.

2. Language is imperfect, and we need to speak in a consistent, agreed upon way to convey truth.

3. A fundamental rhetorical trick (a crooked, unscientific argument) is the shifting of an argument by shifting the definition of the words being used. This is something to be avoided and countered.

3. You go wrong when you throw out the consistent, agreed upon definition of "feminism", that which is found in the dictionary, for one that's basically a rhetorical device.

4. Your argument for doing so, that most already think of "feminism" as its rhetorical definition doesn't seem compelling to me. Wouldn't it be better to say, "this word controversial because it's often misused, but as a matter of clear communication, we are going to use the plain meaning of the word." Once you lay out the dictionary definition, most of those who disagree would find it immediately appealing. Oh? That's what feminism is? Then yeah, I agree.

5. On the other hand, this would force responses to your writing to signal what changes they would make to the term openly instead of simply changing the definition ad-hoc and claiming it means whatever they want.

To me, the rhetoric of being honest and agreeable is best. Start with accepted definitions and on common ground, and you have a better chance of changing minds. Start off by telling people they're flat out wrong, and they won't listen one bit.

Much like that cartoon you've recently been posting, if the first impression you make is one of disagreement and dislike, you can hardly be surprised when people tune you out.

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>And since I am your father, you know I’m not evil.

WTF? Most evil people are fathers. Is this your level of logic?

>Sure, feminists believe in the blueness of the sky – but who doesn’t?

Just because people say something doesn't mean it is true. Most people *say* they aren't racist, but tons of people *are.* One example -- my wife, a brilliant and award-winning teacher, was told by several men (not at her university) that she only got the job because she was a woman. They said this to her face. How many men thought that?

And I'm sure all of them agree “men and women should be social, political, and economic equals.”

Within my lifetime, many (or in most cases, all) women in the US were NOT able to:

Get a credit card in her own name.

Be guaranteed that they would not get fired for getting pregnant.

Serve on a jury.

Fight on the front lines.

Go to any Ivy league school.

Take legal action against workplace sexual harassment.

Decide not to have sex with their husband.

Obtain health insurance at the same monetary rate as a man.

Take the birth control pill


But the problem, in your eyes, is that women and men want to improve our society, for real, rather than just in lip service. And they will be opposed by angry, resentful men who read you as an ally in their hatred of "uppity" women.

This essay, as represented in the excerpts, is such whiny garbage it pains me. Moreso, it is blind to the realities in our world -- the realities your kid and my kid face. (And our wives, etc.)

Here is just one example of many:


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Matt Ball, ladies and gentlemen. Feast your eyes.

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Are most evil people fathers? Mass shooters tend not to be.

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Jan 26, 2023·edited Jan 26, 2023

Wish my dad had written me such a letter. Many fathers who think along these lines are hesitant—or lack the skills—to articulate it clearly and persuasively.

P.S. Valeria a la the sister of Poplicola, who implored Coriolanus’ mother to plead with him? (Or.. the first priestess of Fortuna Muliebris?) In any case, good name.

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Amazing. The only cringe is in this discussion thread. Am I the only one who understood that this is not actually addressed to his own daughter?

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I agree with all you're saying, and I will buy the book.

I still don't think you're doing yourself or the subject a favour with the title.

Main concerns are:

> Many people will be skimreading your book titles, and not read any of your work because of the title of this one book

> Many people who otherwise like your work, but don't like to be seen reading a book with that title. They don't want to justify reading it or argue with people - they just want to read it

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I have repeatedly heard this.

If people live in such a leftist eco chamber that they would be shunned for even reading non leftist books, the problem is their group and they need to fix that.

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Ordered. Here's to having yet another Caplan book on my shelf that I have to explain why "It's not what you think" to visitors.

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I can’t wait to read it

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Bet on it: what odds would you give me on your daughter identifying as a feminist at age 21?

Also, could you're real motive for writing *this* essay be that you've a contrarian and streak and flair for self publicity ;)

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