Women of the Welfare State
I just hope the Obamis are as stupid as we conservatives imagine. Because it would be too bad if the "Life of Julia" turned out to be a cunning Chicago buffalo jump, stampeding conservatives into jumping to red ruin in November. That's what Ross Douthat suspects.
Is this what liberation for women amounts to? A government-centric life sequestered away from the hurly-burly of modern life in the government's welfare-state harem, voting for metrosexual liberals to tax men and supply women with the goods their hearts desire: health care, education, and welfare? Maybe it's the closest we'll ever get to a matriarchy.
The telling commentary on Life with Barack was not Julia's mechanical relationship with her distant Uncle Sugar but girl-friend Genevieve Cook's relationship with a Distant Man, even though it was likely all cooked up by the Obamis and fed to friendly journalists.
Maybe nothing has changed. Jane Austen's Lizzie had to sit around waiting for Mr. Darcy to show up. Now Mr. Darcy is all over her like a cheap suit, but she is still waiting around for him to pop the question.
Be careful what you wish for. Women have indeed been liberated by reliable contraception and the A-word. But for what? Men have always wanted to get laid, and women have always wanted to be loved. The old deal was that women gave sex in order to get love and men gave love in order to get sex. Any resulting children were a joint responsibility. Today men are getting laid and women are pining for love and wondering what went wrong.
So here we are, 50 years after the Baby Boom "invented" sex, and nothing has changed. Men still want to get laid, and women still want to be loved.
How can a girl find true love in the 21st century? My daughter Beatriz Williams, with her debut novel Overseas out on May 10, has come up with an ingenious answer. Her 21st century heroine Kate Wilson finds that she has to go back to World War I to find the kind of man who will last a lifetime. What a coincidence that her novel is coming out in the week of Genevieve Cook's Dear Diary scribbles about her distant Barack and right after the second winter of Downton Abbey in which Matthew finally becomes a man in the trenches of Flanders and Lady Mary becomes a woman finally capable of love through devoted nursing of the war-broken Captain Crawley.
What is Kate looking for? Could it be the code of the gentleman that James Q. Wilson argues "was the most successful extralegal mechanism ever invented for adapting male behavior to the requirements of modern life?"
There is in the relationship between women and the welfare state a profound disconnect. Women are all about connection and relationship, sympathy and sharing. But the bureaucratic welfare state is all about rules and qualifications. Little boys, not little girls, writes James Q. Wilson in The Moral Sense, like to play games with complicated rules.
When Jean Piaget observed boys and girls at play, he noticed that boys were more concerned with rules, and girls with relationships. When a dispute arose, the boys were more likely to argue about the rules and search for fair procedures for applying them, while the girls were more inclined to manage conflict by making exceptions to the rules or ignoring them completely.
You can see the irony. The party that cares for women is dishing up bureaucratic rules, utterly devoid of love and sentiment, while the young women servicing its up-and-coming hopefuls are expected to lie back and think of Rights and Equality.
How can modern women stand the Life of Julia with its rigid bureaucratic rules, or the life of Genevieve, with its non-committal, distant men?
Maybe the welfare state works pretty well for college-educated Julias. But we already knew, from Charles Murray, that the upper 20 percent were doing fine. It's the bottom 30 percent that's been blitzed by the liberal neutron bomb. Remember the neutron bomb? Liberals were outraged that it killed people while leaving the buildings alone. This one is different. It destroys civil society while leaving the poor naked and "on their own."
So much for the women of the welfare state. I'm more interested in what conservative women are cooking up in the kitchen. Unlike Obama's women I suspect they reject the "choice between ecstatic chaos" as a liberal floozy and "lifeless mechanistic order" as a welfare-state dependent. They are nurturing something nobler and higher in their hearts.
Christopher Chantrill is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. See his usgovernmentspending.com and also usgovernmentdebt.us. At americanmanifesto.org he is blogging and writing An American Manifesto: Life After Liberalism.