19 November 2011

What Justin Bieber and Gold Diggers Can Teach Us About Feminism

What Justin Bieber and feminism can tell us about gold diggers

In this Huffington Post piece by Keli Goff, the incident involving Justin Bieber and his alleged paternity has introduced issues concerning feminist views on 'gold diggers. But as I see it, the situation Bieber was involved in is not the main issue. The phenomenon of gold digging is. And I don't see feminists sitting outside of that one. I see them as being as deeply involved as anyone else.

Kanye West's video about gold digging, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vwNcNOTVzY&feature=relmfu , came out a few years ago, before Justin Bieber made headlines over his 'women problems'. The term 'gold diggers' appears to have vague meanings, but rather than being strictly about situations such as Justin Bieber's, the term seem to be about life in general, about how some men and women conduct themselves in normal human relationships. As an aside, the girls in the video don't look as though their thoughts are on motherhood.

Gold diggers used to be seen as women who sought to marry a man for his money. Sometimes this seemed obvious, when the man was 80 or more and the woman in her 20s or 30s. I believe Hugh Hefner might fall into this category. of course, everything has changed now, since feminism has got women into the workforce in increasing numbers, many of them taking positions alongside men in a professional capacity. But to some extent, don't most women of today seek to marry men who can offer them the most, in terms of security and access to financial resources, even if the women themselves have a good career? Doesn't the thought of marrying well hold the possibility of an even more 'secure' lifestyle?

Years ago, say in the 50s and 60s, marrying a man for money might have been the only way a woman could be sure of achieving financial security, as so many women didn't work but relied on men as the 'breadwinners'. But today's world is different, thanks to feminism. In some ways, it seems as though the tables are turned. It used to be men who received encouragement and had more opportunities. But feminism has changed that. Their emphasis has been women, though of course, mainly on women from the middle classes.

I don't see 'gold digging' as mainly being about women who have sex for the purpose of getting pregnant, then getting the man to marry her, as has been claimed to be Mariah Yeater's aim. She now has a son, Tristyn, she claims to be Justin Bieber's. Any man should be suspicious of that kind of claim in today's world, now that contraceptives are generally available. That kind of claim might have worked years ago, in the 50's, before contraception became available, but no longer.

Nevertheless, good jobs and financially secure husbands may be hard to come by in todays's world, where unemployment is rife and feminism's impact has led to the dual-career, dual-income family doing well, on one side, and men and women struggling for subsistence on the other - the class divide.

Women in general, who have few other resources but whose sexual appeal is high (see video, Gold Digger by Kanye West), could well use that to get a man marry her, although basing a marriage on sexual attraction may not be the best way to go about it. But first has to acknowledge that men are often swayed by women's sexuality in order to accept this view. And then, the term 'gold digger' could be applied to that situation if the motivation for marriage was seen to be money, rather than compatibility, love, etc.

What I'm leading up to is this, that it is not just the overtly sexual woman with no college education who is seeking the best mate possible. In today's world, it's a fact of life that most women will seek to enhance their own assets, even if they have good prospects for a profitable career. Marrying a partner on his way up the corporate ladder may even help her own career. But is that seen as gold digging, or is that term kept (reserved) for the uneducated woman, who overtly displays her sexual assets, or who would have little opportunity to make her way in a tradtional career, or who chooses not to?

It isn't just women of today who are seeking partners with the most to offer. Men who need power on their side, and who desire a mutually-enhancing relationship, might also seek out a female partner based on their place on the income scale. After all,it is human nature to seek the best partner one can, under the circumstances, isn't it. So,. should the term gold diggers still be used, as it relaly applies to women of earlier generations who had so few choices in life?

Rather than look at Justin Bieber's experience as typical of 'gold digger' circumstances, I think it is not typical at all.

This is what I am suggesting the term 'gold digger' applies to, in general: Gold digging behaviour is surely more an accepted part of life that applies to all sort of women, from the poor, sexy uneducated young woman to the professional woman seeking the best partner she can acquire. Kanye West made a video about it not because it is unusual, but because it is what women do. And men love it.

Income, or personal assets, is one of the main criteria for choosing a partner. What if internet dating sites did not include these criteria as part of their set of 'characteristics,' to assist in selecting or excluding certain potential candidates from selection. What if people chose mates without taking into consideration their earning potential or material wealth, as so many of us did in the 60s?

Men and women marry for all sorts of reasons. In today's postfeminist society, men marry for a regular source of sex, or to have a trophy woman on his arm when he goes out, for companionship, for financial security, etc. Women marry men, not for sex, probably, but for financial security, and as trophies, too, and to have the good life - part of the dual career, dual income class in our society. It's what men and women do. 'Gold digging', if you still want to call it that, is one aspect of finding a partner.

What Justin Bieber and Gold Diggers Can Teach Us About Feminism
by Keli Goff
Huffington Post - Culture
Nov 15, 2011

9 November 2011

Ageism, Class, and the Wealth Gap Between the Young and Old

The only place in Huffington Post that the generation gap, or aging, or ageism, is being discussed is in the business section. And even so, this piece (the US Wealth Gap) written by Hope Yen could actually be about so many things, and not just about the division of wealth between the old and the young. It is a false division, more than likely intended to create division between the generations instead of explain it.

We all know there are seniors who are living in poverty, just as we know there are under 35-year-old­s who have too much money to spend. Manipulati­ng statistics to arrive at the conclusion one wants to isn't clever. It is devious, it is cunning, and it may even work (depending on one's agenda), but how can people have respect for such a person who writes this nonsense, or for the Huff Post editors who condone it, even encourage it. After all, isn't what counts the amount of reader interest, the number of comments (over 8,000).

Furthermore, why is there still a section called 'Women' in the Living category of this paper? Why isn't it called Gender? And how about one called 'Couples and Singledom'­?

And why isn't there a category called 'Aging' or the 'Generatio­n Gap'? Why are the difference­s between the young and the old all made to come down to money? I would like to talk about aging itself, and not simply about the differences in income between the generations that some writers are treating as the main issue.

The other piece referred to below is another piece of nonsense, placing the blame squarely on the high worth of the top 1% of households in the US. Yet the problem is not the top 1%. The problem is all around us. The problem is in the way some of the higher income earners in the 99% treat others in this immense category, which includes doctors, lawyers, service workers, and receptionists. It reflects the struggle of life, the quest for more, and the effort for some to stop others from getting even a small share fo the scarce resources our world has to offer.

The problem is not that the healthcare workers are overworked. It is that they spend their effort on taks that are non-productive, on trying to give more to some individuals and making sure others get less. The system is not so much overburdened with too may sick or old people. It is overburdened with too many who have health insurance making sure they get every dollar's worth, and then some.

I don't believe that 'generational warfare' was designed by the 1% to distract the rest of us from looking at class differences, as stated in 'One Percent.' The complexity of our world is such that different agendas collide as they pursue their own interests, and sometimes join forces to gang up on one group - usually the most vulnerable, and for the purpose for protecting their own interests. Get people to blame the 1% and they won't be so ready to place the responsibility where it lies - in the way boys and girls are raised, and indoctrinated, into pushing their way forward, seeking more money, and more power. What's more, the main divide isn't between the young and old; it isn't a generational divide. It's between each level of society, between those struggling for more and those who have it and are trying to keep it!

The One Percent Turns Class War Into Generational War
By Dean Baker
Huffington Post - Business
Nov 7, 2011

U.S. Wealth Gap Between Young, Old Is Widest Ever
By Hope Yen
Huffington Post - Business
Nov 7, 2011

7 November 2011

Widest-ever wealth gap between young and old in the US

This very one-sided article has appeared in numerous newspapers' websites today. It places blame for economic disparity between the young and the old strictly on the shoulders of the old, regardless of income, home ownership, marital status, or work history.

One reason the economic division between young and old can be seen as increasing over the last 30 to 50 years is the effect of feminism and increasing numbers of women in the workforce - changing norms, in other words.

Whereas 50 years ago a wealthy man might have a wife who stayed home and did charity work, now, older men are sought out by women for what they have to offer - in the firm, or as an influential, hidden, character reference for other careers. Thus the household with the head at age 65 plus might have a 45year old wife with high earning power in today's world.

I am not surprised that whoever wrote this piece didn't want to include this probable effect. It's not something the middle class really wants to deal with. And as women continue to marry men with the best resources, how can we ever expect the situation to get better. One of the side effects of feminism. What's that called again - oh, collateral damage.

Another problem with this article - something omitted - is that many old people, particularly older women, live in poverty. They may not be in debt, and so would not be included in the 8% mentioned in the last sentence. But despite receiving old age benefits, many will be struggling to get by.

So often we see articles and blogs that onlty serve to create more antagonism between the generations. Would I be right in assuming that the author of this piece is under 40, and female, and has her own agenda?

One other issue is the comment made by Harry Holzer, labor economist and public policy prof at Georgetown University, who is quoted as saying "It makes us wonder whether the extraordinary amount of resources we spend on retirees and their health care should be at least partially reallocated to those who are hurting worse than them." Apparently he called magnitude of the wealth gap "striking."

Note that he, like the other 'experts' mentioned in this piece, places the blame on old people in general, when it is obvious that the ones who will lose out if money allocated for healthcare is taken away are those with limited resources. It will be the ones without private medical insurance who will have to try to make do with even less proper healthcare.

I don't know if we can assume that the situation is the same in Canada., regarding health care matters and more importantly, the gap between the old and the young, but knowing the effects that feminism has caused in Canada, it sounds as though it could be the same here as in the US.

U.S. Wealth Gap Between Young, Old Is Widest Ever
By Hope Yen, Associated Press
Huffington Post Business
Nov 7, 2011

U.S. wealth gap between young and old is widest ever
By Hope Yen, Associated Press
USA Today
Nov 8, 2011

Links updated July, 2012

2 November 2011

Gender, sex and aging: What do we owe our spouses?

A trio of stories on the Huffington Post drew my interest recently, all related matters, to do with gender, sex, and aging. Sex was the drawing card in D A Wolf's 'Do We Owe Our Spouses Sex?', and is an inviting resource for anyone wanting to know what other readers think about sex between two people in a relationship. The comments section attracted an enthusiastic crowd, each one either telling their own personal story, or making one up, or simply letting everyone know what they thought about the subject of Wolf's piece.

But in the next piece on sex, the attitude of readers/commenters changed considerably. This one was about sex among the baby boomers, and for that reason, it appears, became the target of jokes and ridicule. Could it be that the approach was wrong, and not simply that older citizens are the target of jokes in this ageist society of ours? In an attempt to persuade the world that baby boomers can have sex just like anyone else, and enjoy it, the writers, whoever they were, may have been just a bit on the defensive. What formed the basis of the piece were myths that were then dispelled by the writers' claims. We don't hear who the writers were, and the format of the piece was awkward to read, being fairly short but, including the comments section, split up over 7 pages.

As with the first piece on the subject of sex, this second piece was also clearly about people within the state of coupledom. Those without partners had no real need to peruse the pieces, let alone comment on them, unless they still had hope, or at least intentions, to become half of a couple sometime in the future. This was my main objection to both these pieces, that single men and women were left out or left hanging on the margins, although in the 'ageless' couples and sex article, at least that was a topic many of us knew something about from previous experience. It doesn't seem to even occur to the writers of the boomers' sex piece that most older people aren't going to have casual sex, just for the fun of it (despite what the quoted lavalifePRIME says).

The final point about these two stories is that, as usual with such stories, there is little or no analysis of the society in which it all takes place. We all take for granted that we live in western society and that both men and women have certain freedoms, but there are still the remnants of traditional marriage present in our ways of thinking, as well as the modern ways of looking at our experiences through the eyes of feminism. Thus, women are seen (and speak) from both the perspective of not being equal with men in ways of dealing with sexual matters, as well as at times acting like men and taking on men's ways of dealing with sexual matters.

And that leads us to the last of the stories, also about the older generation, about women in particular. Once again, this piece incorporates aspects of old-fashioned tradition, of a woman being a homemaker, but about doing so after having had a fulfilling career. I think one aim of it was truly to justify and uphold the legitimate choice of women to be homemakers, but quite a number of readers comments were negative about the choices available to the writer, and particularly about the perceived uselessness of her choice, to stay home. At this point in our society, in which the economy has still not rebounded, if some women express the desire to remain at home to be homemakers and/or raise children, it doesn't help to treat them like pariahs. Just as some homemakers may not take their work seriously, or do a good job, so are there women in the workforce who aren't conscientious, or doing their work to the best of their ability. It isn't work per se that makes one person better than another. It isn't the paycheque that a person brings home, or the taxes they pay, that makes them better than someone else. It might lead them to be seen as different, to be living a lifestyle that's not the norm, in this society where occupation and financial resources are the determinants of a person's identity and worth. It's much easier to do after having a career, than rely on an ex to provide a reference, but it's still good to hear about women living this way, so that society does not forget how things were done in the past.

Do We Owe Our Spouses Sex?
by D A Wolf
Huffington Post Divorce
Oct 15, 2011

Most Common Sex Myths About Baby Boomers
Huffington Post Fifty
Oct 29, 2011

Words With Friends and Back to Home-Ec
by Jamie Lee Curtis
Huffington Post Fifty
Oct 11, 2011