> First, feminism is a life-tarnishing creed for the adherent because it makes a virtue out of wallowing in antipathy and self-pity. While many self-styled feminists are kind and happy, this is largely because they don’t take their doctrine seriously. Earnest feminism reliably leads to dire character flaws.

It still seems to me that your entire argument boils down to telling people what they believe isn't really what they believe. And that's a losing argument.

Let's say 80% of self-styled feminists are kind and happy. 20% are dyed-in-the-wool man-hating harpies.

1. The 80% basically don't *need* to be told anything, because they're already kind and happy. Lecturing them about what they don't actually believe is kind of off-putting, to put it charitably. For the same reasons that, say, laying into someone for being a registered Democrat or Republican is also inappropriate.

2. The 20% who are inclined to treat people poorly and be unhappy (over the long-run)... does anyone think this is really because of dogged adherence to feminism? I don't. I expect that it's enough to have a good relationship with your daughter, model good behaviors, and be able to communicate. As you say, if your daughter grows up seeing you as fundamentally "not evil", the contest is already won. The number of people who truly, lastingly throw out healthy relationships to adhere to ideology is pretty small.

I'm sure there are exceptions, but most well-developed people don't go off and join cults.

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Leaving aside the merits of feminism, I don't agree with you on this. If we grant that feminism is a misguided ideology that would damage people's lives if they really believed in it, and further grant that a large swath of people pay lip service to it while not actually believing it, then it is defintely worthwhile to convince those people to stop paying the lip service. Paying verbal allegiance to something evil that you don't really believe is corrosive to the people doing it and the society in which they live (cf. Soviet Russia as described by, say, the Gulag Archipelago Vol. 1, or Nazi Germany for similar reasons).

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1. I don't grant that feminism is a single, misguided ideology. There has to be some recognition that the word means different things to different people. I'm sympathetic to the argument that people pay lip service to bad ideologies, but we shouldn't, as a rule, attack people for adhering to a milder version of the ideology that's perhaps not even pernicious at all. Whatever you believe in, you don't want to be painted with the excesses of the most extreme version of whatever you call yourself, do you?

2. And, NOT paying verbal allegiance to Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany was also pretty harmful for the people who lived there. I think we're better off backing off from forcing average people to have above average heroism and/or political interest. Even most really smart folks don't manage to do what you're expecting them to do, but instead sound like the absurd, self-righteous people on Twitter.

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1. But the issue at hand is not people who call themselves feminists while advocating more moderate views. It's people verbally subscribing to the more extreme views without actually believing them. I agree that we musn't paint with broad strokes, but surely it's acceptable to call out non-excessive people who give their nominal support to the excessive views?

2. No one is forcing anyone to do anything. Agreed, it was individually bad for Soviet citizens to speak out against the ruling ideology. That certainly makes the decision to knuckle under understandable, but it was still wrong. Furthermore, for people to stop asserting their support for hardline feminist views isn't really a big ask. It's not, as you say, asking average people to have above average heroism or political interest. If anything, I'd prefer people spent LESS time making platitudinous political statements.

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The patriarchy was a rational response to the incentive structure of all pre modern societies. Women needed to give birth a lot, and men needed to use upper body strength to kill other men. It's unlikely any outcome acknowledging those realities would be different than "the patriarchy", which was not fundamentally malicious but rather necessarily tragic.

As technology allowed us to escape the necessary context of the pre modern, its quite frankly pretty amazing how quickly society adapted to the new incentive structures for females. I don't see anything to feel overly guilty about.

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"men needed to use upper body strength to kill other men"

Probably more that most economic labor was upper-body-strength-intensive than due to the need for violence. E.g., countries that used ploughs in agriculture were/are more 'patriarchal' apparently because ploughs intensified male comparative advantage in economic labor.

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It's interesting to me that:

1) Bryan thinks the peer group he wants his daughter socializing with is composed of miserable people who are likely to get his daughter to adopt a miserable philosophy

2) Rather then fix that, he thinks she will respond to a letter

Maybe this is because Bryan believes this would work on him?

If he really doesn't want her to become a feminist, I would try to steer her towards better peer groups.

And as you note simply having a loving relationship with her father is 95% of the issue.

It's notable that, thus far in his excerpts, it's all about social justice type stuff and arguments about society. Like, the biggest issue is whether his daughter will have a healthy dating life and marry well. If she does that, I think the odds of her becoming an earnstwhile feminist are practically zero.

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It seems to me the argument is more like "Don't believe you can't or assume that people won't let you. Assume that you can and sure some people won't want you to, but they cannot stop you, and assuming the former takes away your agency."

I think he is trying to point to the inherent self limiting belief in the doctrine that is practically received wisdom for a large swath of society.

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Be seems to be conceding that many, probably most feminists don't actually believe the inherent self-limiting belief parts of feminism though.

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I suspect I would agree with your criticisms in many concrete cases but it feels like you are just walking into a really obvious trap laid by the very ppl you most want to critisize regarding how they brand their movement. Why not adopt the rhetoric of: real feminism is believing that women are equal to men and the attempt to demand ever more special treatment and demean women's free rational choices in the labor market is anti-feminist?

Feminist is now a word like patriot, freedom, liberty etc... For most ppl the meaning is tied more strongly to it being a good thing than any policy preference. Especially for readers in your daughter's generation I suspect they are far more likely to see an argument that some kind of advocacy about gender is wrong as showing that's not really feminism than that feminism is bad.

It's one of the oldest tricks in the book to call your political movement, idea, law etc some kind of positive term like the freedom from tyranny bill or the patriot party so you can accuse critics of not liking freedom, patriotism etc... And the standard response is to always respond by insisting: you aren't the real patriot etc. So why walk into the buzzsaw and make ppl less reciptive to your arguments?

I get that feminist is used in a kind of motte-bailey way with ppl falling back to "it just means women are equal to men" very often but the ppl you are calling not really believing in feminists absolutely think they are feminists and just that it doesn't mean that other stuff.

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I have read all your previews of the book and I think you made poor arguments against feminism. I think you didn't mention the main topics. There are two big topics that feminists talk about a lot: The sexualization/objectification of women and the negative bias that women face everytime they do something else than being a housewife or mother, like being in the workplace ("Women are too hormonal, illogical, emotional, irrational").

Things like sexual harassment sexual assault are very common among women, much more so than among men. The sexual double standards are still alive, many people blame women's clothes or being in the wrong place for the harassment they face, or they call women sluts for any sexual behavior outside of a relationship/marriage. So when feminists stand up against this, they have a point.

The negative bias against women doing something except being a housewife and mother are so well alive that I could show you recent examples of them made by people you know. Here is Richard Hanania blaming women's emotions for the rise of "woke madness" in academia and politics (many commenters say women should not be allowed in college and lose the right to vote):


Another example, Dennis Prager from a few weeks ago attacking women for destroying the country because female teachers let kids visit drag queen story hours:


Sadly, you yourself have said demeaning things about women in your econlib blog. Here you philosophized about how women might be "soft heads" and therefore less rational:


That sounds pretty much like Hanania or Prager. Women as too emotional, irrational, illogical. In fact, in your last preview, when you wrote in your letter to your daughter "Feminists will react emotional against my book, look at how evil feminists are!", this was another weird example of this bias. I mean, there are libertarians who are racist, antisemitic, sexist and homophobic, yet I personally still think libertarianism is correct and would not see it as an argument against libertarianism to say that Ron Paul is racist. Why does it matter if some feminists react emotional to your book?

This anti-female bias about "too emotional" women can have real-life consequences. You said the gender wage gap is not real. I agree, mostly. But the truth is that, there is still an amount that is unexplained by different life choices. Some say it's as much as 9%.


And the reasons could vey well be a negative bias against women, as there is evidence that men overestimate their competence while women underestimate their competence, and that disagreebleness helps men in negotiations, while it doesn't help women ("bitchy").


You said the men make top 1% and the bottom 1% of society. This is true (politicians, CEO vs. homicide victims, suicide victims, homeless people, prison rape victims). But if you look at the important part, the median 98%, women face significantly more disadvantages than men: More sexual harassment and assault, more severe domestic violence, more negative bias in the workplace and more difficulties in access to healthcare (not just since the overturn of Roe v. Wade). So feminist activism can be a force of good, although every movement has bad apples.

And honestly, there is no easier way to draw a child to an idea than being obsessed about her not embracing it. That's why I believe your daughter will be a staunch feminist. Considering the upcoming political situation (the abortion fight), her father's curious obsession of her not becoming a feminist, and the overall realities of life as a woman, she will very likely embrace feminism.

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The fraction of men who are in prison, homeless, commit suicide or are murdered are way above 2%, so that 98% figure is obviously off (and all of those things are way way worse than being subjected to biases or verbal harassment). And most institutions nowadays seem to discriminate in favor of women. In academia, women tend to get hired over comparably qualified men, for example.

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No, it's actually way below 1%. In the U.S., all murder and suicide victims combined are less than 0.1%, homeless people of all genders make up 0.2%, prison rape happens to less than 0,1%.

The 98% median of men don't experience nearly the same amount of sexual harassment, sexual violence and physical violence than the 98% median of women. And negative bias against women are still way higher than against men. Even Mr. Caplan talks about how women are "soft heads" and "less rational".

You didn't say anything about the unexplained gender wage gap. And about the abortion issue, I'm surprised how no one asked Mr. Caplan about that.

About academia: Men are way more likely to benefit from affirmative action than women


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Caplan's main point, in my view, is that you don’t have to be a feminist to care about the things you mention, and in fact, most people do. What actually distinguishes feminist ideology from ordinary common decency is a reluctance to admit that the unfairness of society affects both women and men.

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Entrenched political interests do not want to admit error. Too many free riders and rent seekers.

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> “If women are really paid 20 or 30% less than equally qualified men, why don’t employers just fire all their men, replace them with women, and earn massive profits?”

One reason why I suspect Becker's approach here is deeply flawed is that we know, from history, that this didn't happen with African American workers. For decades, black people were systemically paid less than white counterparts for the same work. If Becker (and after him, Friedman) were correct, this could never have happened, but history proves otherwise.

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So my mother calls herself a feminist...loudly and proudly because she entered the legal profession at a time when she was frequently told she should just go and have her baby and the old boys club kept women from becoming partners.

Yet, at the same time, she has become quite critical of programs that give women preference in hiring in areas like academia where the evidence suggests little net bias. She constantly pushes back against the ppl who insist that we need to stop confrontation stop rewarding boldness/speaking up bc it harms women.

She, and many ppl like her, would probably agree with many of your criticisms. They see it as unfeminist to try and coddle women or demand equal outcomes. To them feminism just means not ignoring things like harassment (but don't think that means not treating men's concerns as serious as well).

But you'll never reach her or ppl like her with a book like this. It's like calling your book critisizing US foreign policy: "America is evil" and putting a pic of you stepping in the flag on the cover...you might get some extra sales but lots of ppl who might be sympathetic to the content will never listen bc of the branding.

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Sep 20, 2022·edited Sep 20, 2022

I tried to get the Alameda County Library to purchase. AS they often do with Conservative/Libertarian books they did not purchase because their vendors do not carry. I challenged them to get new vendors. Of course this will go nowhere but I tried

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It amazes me how you create such a strawman of feminism. So pathetic and shocking for someone so smart.


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I’m sorry, but I cannot continue to read your review after this opening:

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

WTF? Most evil people are fathers. Is this Bryan's level of logic / persuasion? "Defer to me because I impregnated your mother."


Clearly Bryan means that she knows he is not evil based on their personal relationship and years of direct observation.

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You barely responded to anything Bryan wrote. All you did was go on a rant about historical disadvantages women faced, which, while true, isn't relevant to whether one should be a feminist in these advanced days of 2022.

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