Monday, April 15, 2024
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Laura Perrins: The State cannot teach young women the wisdom of the ages


I am bemused. I am dumfounded, just what the hell is going on over at CapX, an off-shoot of the Centre for Policy Studies? My old nemesis Victoria Bateman is at it again.

In this piece (which I missed) she sets out all the challenges that society now faces since the great liberal sexual revolution. No going back, she tells us, just accept it.

Young women are now sexually active well before marriage becomes possible so they are ‘sleep-walking’ into single parenthood. Instead of just throwing money at these families, Bateman says, let’s ‘empower’ women not to become single-mothers in the first place, or at least have families beyond a size they can provide for. Further, we are told, it is not just teen single-mothers that are the problem – but those in their twenties from the bottom to the middle also.

I don’t think there is much sleepwalking going on. I don’t believe that young women think that baby arrives via a stork or there is such a thing as ‘falling’ pregnant. I think there is some wilful blindness going on and that sex has been devalued, but that is not the same thing as ‘sleep-walking’ into single-parenthood.

I also think, because of the book Promises I Can Keep, Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage, that many young women are happy to have a baby young with or without support from the father, as it gives them fulfilment. This is because these young women like children and do not view them as career killers. “Having children is viewed as a necessity, “an absolutely essential part of a young woman’s life, the chief source of identity and meaning.” A baby born in disadvantaged circumstances “represents an opportunity to prove one’s worth.”

This might sound shocking to a middle-class feminist, but it is true. In addition, the feminists told these women it could be done and there is no shame in it, so they did it, especially as everyone else picked up the tab and the State became provider.

Victoria (I feel we are on first name terms now) isn’t into kids much, especially unintended ones; the worst kind to a middle-class feminist. She compares children to “small cars on your doorstep that have to be paid for” (quite possibly the most bizarre analogy I have ever heard).

Having said all of that, I don’t argue with much of the analysis of modern day single parenthood – which Victoria sets out. I do argue with the solutions.

Victoria seems to think first that contraception is not available for free and universally on the NHS. The abortion rate stands at nearly 200,000 a year; teenagers can receive long-lasting contraception without parental knowledge or consent. But for some reason, Victoria thinks this is not enough. What more does she want? A million abortions, (paid for by the taxpayer)? Contraceptives in the water?

Children as young as ten are having their fertility blocked by long-lasting contraception. This makes it easier for men to abuse them and have underage and illegal sex with them but these girls are just collateral damage in the great sexual revolution.

Feminists truly are the blood-letting doctors of old. The patient did not recover because of my previous round of blood-letting – let’s have some more! It is simply because we did not do it for long enough or with enough force. Similarly feminists after years of bad medicine look at the social carnage they caused and say – we need more feminism, not understanding or caring that this is just more of the same bad medicine. Often, the patient just dies.

What Victoria does with contraception is dress up liberal social policy as economic theory with a generous sprinkling of euphemistic nonsense.

She tells us, “Never mind capitalism or the welfare state, there is no better tool to reduce poverty than a dose of modern day girl power.” Seriously, the Spice Girls? This is the solution?

“Modern day feminism is about empowering women, allowing them to take control of their own bodies and their own lives, and surely no one should take issue with that.” We have widespread contraception and abortion for all the good it has done us, and what does ‘empowering mean.’ I need specifics.

We also had: “In practical terms, young women need to be able to access the information needed about how their life chances hang delicately upon their fertility choices, to be supported in terms of body confidence and to stand up to the sexualisation of female bodies, to see that a woman’s value is not simply in sex.”

Essentially, Victoria believes we must teach young girls to think in the long term, delay or avoid risk-taking behaviour, and think through the consequences. This is known as building someone’s character but the problem is it cannot be taught in a sex education class for 30 mins.

It takes years to nurture what are sometimes called conservative bourgeois values in a young person, and it takes place in the private sphere. It is so predictable that a feminist believes the State can build in minutes what in reality takes families nearly two decades to cultivate in a child (and even then the battle is sometimes lost). So very predictable, but also very dangerous.

What Victoria is proposing, really, along with character and perhaps values education is some good old-fashioned matriarchal advice and flogging it as economic theory or ‘feminism.’ “Sex education needs to be about much more than how to avoid pregnancy, it needs to explain why doing so matters in terms of how the rest of your life will pan out.”

The trouble with economists is that they base their theories on often erroneous assumptions of human behaviour. Victoria believes that receiving life advice in sex education classes from some random teacher or ‘young person’ is the same as receiving it from your mother or grandmother, aunt or sister. She seems to think the young women will receive it in the same way and attach the same weight. They will not.

Advice from the State is not the same as advice from a matriarch. Advice given in love is vastly different to that given by a State agent who knows nothing about the recipient, her hope and dreams, strengths and weaknesses. Nowhere close.

Things have come to a pretty pass when an economist comes along and tries to set up a complicated intersection between economic and social policy and flog it as a seminal solution. It is not. It was what middle-class families have attempted to build and conserve for decades, only to be mocked by the Left.

Now that Humpty Dumpty has fallen off the wall, they think they can put him together again with a few classes. No, life does not work that way. I am afraid that rather like the welfare state, and high taxes, inequality between single mother households and the married family is here to stay.

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