Friday, August 2, 2013

Post Apocalyptic Feminism

I have read both of, and reviewed the second book, in James Howard Kunstler's World Made By Hand post-apocalyptic series.
Personally I thought they were more about middle age wish fulfillment than an accurate accounting of a possible future.
But apparently the author, who is touchy feely with the more leftward (sustainable) side of the survival spectrum, so there was fallout I didn't even consider.

Reality does not have an ideology: Class, Race, Hierarchy, and Social Relations in The Long Emergency, James Howard Kunstler, 30 July 2013
The characters in my novels lived very differently than people do in these late days of turbo-petro-industrialism. The economy of their town and the county surrounding it — the extent of normal travel in the new times — was centered on agriculture and the activities that supported it and derived from it. The division of labor had changed drastically in my fictional world, household management especially. Without microwave ovens, washing machines, heating furnaces, and other mechanical slaves that we take for granted, running a household required a lot more work. It was my heuristic judgment (i.e., guess) that such conditions would likely propel work assignments back to more traditional arrangements between men and women, especially because the care of very young children takes place in the home and, despite the wishful propaganda of our times, such care happens to fall mostly to mothers among the higher primates. (The vaunted role of “house-husband” might be improbable if it were not for the fact that so many “breadwinner” jobs today can be done by anybody, male, female, or someone in between.)
Anyway, the reaction to this fictional experiment was surprisingly pugnacious. High and low, far and wide, women denounced my book in formal reviews and casual emails. There was a unifying theme to them, though: a refusal to consider the possibility that social relations might change no matter what happened to the economy. That, and outrage that anyone might suggest a retrograde path for the recent achievements of feminism. It seemed self-evident to me that a lot of this achievement was provisional, depending on larger macro historical trends. That idea alone was greeted, in my replies to reader emails, by the sharpest opprobrium, since it was assumed that the political victories of recent decades have become permanent installations of the human condition. I recognize that, as a principle of politics, privileges and rights attained are rarely given up without a fight. But I wondered at the failure of imagination I was witnessing, especially among educated women readers.
I don't know.  In the near term, a soft collapse (which was the case of the distantly Upstate New York where the novel takes place, if not for the rest of the planet) into a lower level of technology probably isn't going to be particularly favorable to men or women.  It's not as if there is a huge amount of folks out there who have a whole lot of bankable survival skills.  He has the usual Navy SEAL types (backed up by a magical bee queen mama), but compared to the overall population total that makes for a very small number of people.  In some of the slash and burn cultures (the east agricultural type to get back up and running without fossil fuels) women were the main farmers.
So I think there is some fairness to some of the criticism. In the near term, the outcomes will be far more random than his novels indicates.  Historically, women were just as involved in the physical labor that went into feeding a family.  Not all cultures broke down the labor effort they way American frontier settlers did.
So while I think the feminists are likely being a bit clueless (he didn't link to specific complaints), that doesn't mean that Kunstler is isn't clueless as well.  If I had to take a guess, you will have near random small grouping of adults, with an equally random grouping of small children.  Given the stress, and likely starvation involved, there probably will be relatively few infants until there is a settling down.  Which is about where things are when his novels get started.


Degringolade said...

I am conflicted on this particular issue.

I tend to think that there are distinct differences between the sexes. I guess that in mathematics I would consider the word equivalence instead of equality.

Things got balled up in the industrial revolution. Sorting the whole thing out has not happened yet.

But the violence of reaction to any statement not supporting feminism is always amusing

PioneerPreppy said...

Feminism is a charade and always has been. Even at it's current modern day core where it exists it is really only propped up by men who enforce it. Traditionally the men who enforce feminism were not the ones who suffered the ill effects of it but also reaped the beneficial side effects in their turn. In a collapse situation their will be no enforcers and so therefore it ends.

Now will some women be able to continue to live as feminist? Sure, the smart ones or the worthy ones as it should be but the real power of today's feminism and wealth redistribution will be gone.

That scares the holy beejebus out of the women who cannot support themselves.

kymber said...

i hate to be the one to say it, but men and women have had traditional and expected roles since the beginning of time! i'm not saying that women couldn't hunt if their husband was sick, or care for the farm, but there have always been traditional roles and those roles go back thousands of years! it is only in more recent modern times, industrial revolution and all that, that this whole joke of feminism reared it's ugly head.

as an example - should women be allowed to vote? why? why do women need to vote? that right there started splitting families!!! a husband and wife are supposed to discuss these kinds of things together, make an informed decision and the husband goes off and votes based on the decision they make together. we don't need women voting against their husbands!!!

i have been accused of being a feminist by just about everyone i ever encountered in my adult working life! i'd rather be called a child-killing satanist! yes, i worked a job for most of my early adult life but that was because of circumstances! i didn't meet the love of my life until i was 30, but the minute i did, i wanted nothing more than to make his lunch every day, iron his clothes, make sure there was supper on the table when he came home. if i had have met him when i was 15 i would have married him right then and never gone to work.

arghghghghgh! feminism crap makes me nuts! sorry if i went off on a bit of a rant, Russell! your friend,

PioneerPreppy said...

See Kymber is a good example of what I was saying. Those women who deserve feminism or the propaganda parts of it will get it for themselves.

The parts that will stop are the ones that create the problems today. Government support from welfare to the courts with LEO's backing it up.

russell1200 said...

Degringolade: I think equivalence is a good term. I am not aware of any traditional society were the two sexes have the same roles. What is interesting is that the exact roles (other than warfare) are not always the same. Oddly enough, farming is often a female role when it does not oxen and plow teams.

Kymber: In the Anglo-Saxon countries, voting tends to allow democratic governments extract more money through taxes. The greater the overall body they can bring into the system, the easier it is to be intrusive in the tax system. It should also be noted that even in Victorian England marriage was often very late (late 20s) and many women (~10%) never married.

Pioneer: Feminism suffers for having become a civil religion. At the point that an idea becomes a belief structure with its own set rules, it gains a certain solidarity of purpose, but looses flexibility and coherence. I assume that that is also true of civil religions (Second Amendment issues for one) that I support.