At the recent State of the Union Address, Republicans cheered President Trump’s announcement that women “filled 58 percent of the newly created jobs last year” and that “Americans can be proud” of how females are now the workforce’s majority. But far from being something to cheer about, studies have shown that this phenomenon reflects a declining civilization.
After all, high female and relatively low male employment numbers are strongly associated with below-replacement-level fertility rates, and as commentator Mark Steyn so pithily put it, “The future belongs to those who show up for it.”
With Westerners not replacing themselves, we’re poised to be a no-show. Of course, it’s not politically correct to talk about women staying at home — even though this is most women’s preference. According to a 2015 Gallup poll of women, for example, “56%, who have a child younger than 18 would ideally like to stay home and care for their house and family,” if given the choice.
But this choice is increasingly being frustrated. On top of the high taxation already compelling wives to seek a second income to supplement what’s stolen from their husband’s first one, now Democrat presidential candidates are touting child-care plans that would further incentivize two-income households.
The media and even the occasional foreign leader abet this. Critiquing the president’s SOTU assertions and claiming that the “United States has fallen to ninth place, behind Germany, Canada, Australia, Japan and others” in female labor participation (FLP), the Washington Post wrote last week that “Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently took a swipe at Trump”: Abe boasted that his nation’s FLP of 67 percent is well above our 57.5 percent.
Not coincidentally, Japan’s fertility rate (1.44 children per woman) is also well below ours (1.80), and both are below replacement level, 2.1. Is Abe oblivious to how FLP contributes to Japan’s demographic death spiral? Probably not. He has addressed the birth dearth with policies designed to increase fecundity, after all, and politically correct chest-pounding is a thing among world leaders.
What the Japanese haven’t done, to their credit, is what Germany has: use their baby bust as an excuse to import millions of unassimilable immigrants. But that is the Western formula: Increase FLP (among other things), collapse birthrates, and then replace your disappearing population with a foreign one. And people cheer.
Commentator Suzanne Venker recently addressed excessive FLP’s downside in a piece entitled, “Men need work in a way women don’t.” She wrote:
When men dominate the workforce, there’s no negative effect on marriage and family formation. But unemployed and underemployed men have 0% chance of finding a wife.
We envision ourselves progressive when it comes to women and work, but women are still (and always will be) the sex that gets pregnant. As such, they know that if they want to have children, and if they want the option of taking care of those children, if only for a few years, they need a competent working husband on whom they can rely. Women also aren’t attracted to men who lack ambition or drive. A man doesn’t need to be rich, but he needs to know where he’s going and how he’s going to get there.
We cannot reverse the sexes in this scenario and end up with the same result. A woman’s employment status determines zero of her physical attractiveness. The average man isn’t looking for a woman who can support him (nor is his desire for her related to her level of ambition), so his attachment to work is very different from a woman’s. Work is a man’s identity, his means of being useful.
This relates to the cynical sounding criticism that men view women as sex objects and the corresponding, though less voiced one that women consider men success objects. A gentler way of putting it is that, generally speaking, men are attracted to pulchritude and women to prosperity.
The reason is simple: Beauty is generally a quality of younger women of childbearing age, and men’s having resources enables them to take care of wives and children. So what the sexes instinctively seek in each other facilitates the species’ perpetuation.
(This doesn’t mean that, ideally, people shouldn’t also look for deeper qualities in a mate. But not much would get done if we relied on deeper motives to actuate man. This is one reason socialism doesn’t work: Basic incentives are necessary to motivate those [most people] not animated by higher ones.)
Then there’s careerism. The fine documentary Demographic Winter (video below), citing sociological research, explains that the greatest predictor of family size is the number of children women say they want. It also points out that when women are imbued with careerism, they postpone childbearing and often have only one or even no offspring.
It’s a vicious circle, too. Men being less marriageable (successful) only encourages women to pursue careers while simultaneously causing the men to lose hope of ever being able to have and support a family.
One hallmark of leftism, starting with its French Revolution birth, is the belief that man’s nature is malleable and can be molded to fit the latest ideological fashions. But Venker reminds us that “men and women aren’t interchangeable,” they can’t be made so, and that “nothing good will come from men being displaced by women in the workforce.”
This is precisely what our society encourages, however. Yet far from the “girl power,” affirmative-action agenda we currently pursue that prioritizes female employment, “it makes more sense for men to have a leg up in the marketplace,” writes Venker. In other words, maybe our forefathers weren’t so dumb after all.
Thus, seeing conservatives cheer a symptom of our demise can bring to mind how the West has “two great types,” as G.K. Chesterton noted adressing the lib/con dichotomy — “the advanced person who rushes us into ruin, and the retrospective person who admires the ruins.”
The Left’s destruction of the family deserves jeers, not cheers.
Selwyn Duke (@SelwynDuke) has written for The New American for more than a decade. He has also written for The Hill, Observer, The American Conservative, WorldNetDaily, American Thinker, and many other print and online publications. In addition, he has contributed to college textbooks published by Gale-Cengage Learning, has appeared on television, and is a frequent guest on radio.