"But how can you live and have no story to tell?" Fyodor Dostoevsky
The evidence is stark and clear. Societies that empower women flourish. Across cultures, across continents, the effect is pronounced and almost immediate. Moreover, women who gain control of their reproductive cycle bring compounded gains. No longer broodmares, these ladies excel. And we all benefit, men included.
But there is a price to pay. As society prospers and becomes affluent, then child-care and education become more expensive. Ultimately, this means only the well-off folks can marry given the costs of raising kids. Financial expenses, emotional investment and the sheer hardship of the process deter many.
Thus, you see in countries like Japan a huge one-third plunge in population predicted by 2060. Surveys suggest that as many as half of Japanese young women are not interested in raising a family. These ladies exist for their jobs, a consumer lifestyle and having fun. The same is happening in Hong Kong, where young women have pets instead of babies.
Meanwhile, in the West, the radical feminists assert that women have everything stacked against them. Pay is not equal, while for women opportunities are cut off. The evidence suggests otherwise. Nonetheless, that’s their mantra.
This simple assertion does not stand up to critical analysis. Ultimately women shape their futures by personal decisions. Mythical conspiring male-dominated structures have no role. Thus, to blame ‘white male patriarchy’ is palpable nonsense. It’s also a lazy analysis of a complex situation. Of course, as a white male, I’m risking life and limb pointing out these facts.
Worldwide, female literacy rates now equal or exceed males. The disparity in education has evaporated in the face of determined action. And educated girls are healthier, more productive and have far fewer children. The only exception is Afghanistan, where the appalling Taliban closed schools to girls.
Women are doing much better than men in education. With a superior academic performance, the numbers going through colleges are higher. And this then leads to career opportunities. As such, there is no end to the possibilities opening up.
We know that women are entering such professions as a lawyer in higher numbers than ever before. They then rocket up the career ladder, working 80-hour weeks to make partner in their early 30s. In the process, they’ve out-performed the majority of their male colleagues. Then a good portion leave.
It's believed that as women reach the upper echelon's of organisations, the reality dawns on them. A future of long-working weeks, the endless chasing of deadlines. Either the desire for a family gets shunted aside as you keep at the top of your game or something gives. If you relax or divert your energies, someone will forge forward to take your hard-won position. Men face the same challenge. But for men, there is one distinct and subtle difference. Men are not evolved to give birth to children.
An added complication for women is bearing most of the risks in opting to have a child. Potential medical issues are apparent; then there is insecurity brought about by a partner’s action. In general, it's the women who struggle to raise a child as a single parent.
Some argue that’s the reason we have marriage. It bounds the couple together in the interests of the child and the broader community. No matter how you cut it, a growing child needs Mum and Dad. The outcomes for single parent kids, in the main, are not favourable.
Evolution has factored this into human behaviour. When selecting partners, women opt for men who are older and of higher income. Women are 93 percent more likely to marry men with a higher salary than themselves. They do this to ensure that resources are available for the care of the child. Again, all cultures have this phenomenon.
For the high-flying woman, there are a unique set of challenges. Based on the high-income criteria, she is seeking a partner in a smaller pool of eligible candidates. Further, she is competing for that elusive man with ladies in lower income earning groups. Also, men hesitate to form marital relationships with women who have both more education and higher salaries than they do.
Research from Canada tracks high-flying ladies who opt out in their early 30s. It’s a complicated dynamic, with some evidence suggesting having a family is more important than a hard-driving job that consumes all your energy. They then return to work-force later, often in less-demanding jobs.
I’m sorry, but in the end, it's a rigged game. Biology and evolution have conspired to put ladies at a disadvantage when it comes to childbirth. And that’s not the fault of men. The feminist may as well blame the sun for rising in the East.
Nature balances the equation by having men face their own set of risks and challenges. Males do the vast majority of dangerous and outside jobs. If guys weren’t prepared to work on oil rigs or above the arctic circle, then oil and gas wouldn’t be available to keep us all warm and on the move. These professions have a higher death rate. Women are capable of doing these jobs but don’t.
Thus each sex has to deal with fairness and unfairness. None of this is a result of social structures, nor was put in place by a group of conniving men. The machinations of men and women’s status down the ages is an extremely complicated thing. Unfortunately, that complexity evades the most strident feminists. They adopt a simple viewpoint to demonise men.
I want a fair game for my daughters. What I’m not prepared to accept are idle, unsustainable and non-sensical arguments. I suspect radical feminists perpetuate the patriarchy argument because it's simple. It's an easy victimhood sell, ideal soundbite material. It doesn’t make it right. The reasoning starts to disintegrate when you throw the plight of poor, underprivileged white males into the equation.
All I know is that as a white male, a hate figure in the minds of some, I’m fighting for my daughters to do well. So, that makes me a feminist.
Walter De Havilland was one of the last of the colonial coppers. He served 35 years in the Royal Hong Kong Police and Hong Kong Police Force. He's long retired.