Monday, July 13, 2015

Unprotected or Overprotected?

Much is made in the popular press, especially on conservative sites, of how much more risk children were allowed and even encouraged to assume even one generation ago. If one goes just two doors down, however, there is a mirror complaint that children are so much more vulnerable these days, growing up with one parent or with stepparents much more often.

Both look true. Step-relatives are much more likely to physically or sexually abuse children, so that risk seems higher. Yet a hundred safety features of our machinery and structures make the world less physically dangerous, all while children are discouraged from taking physical risks now. If it seems paradoxical, it nonetheless makes sense.  If we are living in a safer and safer world, in which our chances of living to 100 years or more is increasing, then risk-taking is more foolish, because you have more to lose. Keep those helmets on, get those chemicals out of the water - you may be around a long time and you want those years to be full-brained and full-health.

But if one lives in a physically dangerous world, timidity and lack of risk-taking might be more of a trade-off.  Avoiding four dangers with cautious attitude would be a plus, but an inability to leap, risk, or attack at need might be a net negative.  These are not either-or, as both strategies have long been present in our society. (Which is why we have contradictory maxims Look before you leap and He who hesitates is lost. The critics can blame you either way.) The balance may be shifting.  In cultures where many die early, the idea of achieving a good death even while young has value. If we can live to be 200, I expect us to shift even more to preservation mode.

As for sexual protection, perhaps it isn't coincidental that the angrier sort of feminist is declaring this a "rape culture" and looking to protect feelings of young women in what had heretofore been regarded as normal emotional risks and sexual temptations.  The anger may be directed unfairly but justified in a pulling-the-fire-alarm sense. If we actually do have (I make up a number) ten times as many traumatised young women in college, that's a different environment. The proposed solutions would seem to be blaming the wrong perpetrators and shutting the barn door after the horse has left. The early sexualisation of children may have increased their vulnerability and thrust them into emotionally damaging situations at younger ages.

I will speak about the girls, because that is the usual discussion. Expand that to boys if you wish. Consider the simpler cases: A girl who grows up in what we consider a stable, decent, 2-bio parent with regular arguments and conflicts but no abuse, as she moves out into the world of boys, dating, seduction, rejection, and all the rest, might be expected to pretty much take her own life in hand when she gets to college, unless violence is present. A girl from a more pathological upbringing, however, might believe at some much more basic level that the world of men really is a rape culture and the deck stacked against her, so that what Girl A regards as normal, and absorbable stress Girl B automatically regards as confirmation of her experience of universal danger in the presence of men.  Imagining this as a continuum, putting them all in together and adding in the excitability of youth and the general narcissism of others, and a witch hunt mentality might easily develop.

Speaking of youth.  It has not been that long in this world that we have put large numbers of young men and women together essentially unsupervised and expected this to work out fine, because...well, because sometimes it does, so therefore it always should, right? The usual argument that "children have to go out on their own and make their own decisions (though sexual decisions track somewhat more closely with driving cars), so don't be some troglodyte who forbids them behaving like normal teenagers" has one large flaw: who says 18 is the best age for that?  What if it's a great idea, but not until they are 20, but because of accidnts in our academic progression, we are pushing them together two years too early?

***      ****

Speaking of good death, have I mentioned the attachment to narrative warps our evaluation of life?  In the books and movies, a person who has a sucky, rejected, lonely, and physically painful 80 years, but gets reunited with his children, vindicated in his career, and dies peacefully with loved ones around him at 81 is considered a satisfying story. A person who has a pretty good 80 years but dies alone with some ugly or painful disease while friends and family are too distant or turned away is seen as either justly punished or unfairly suffering because of that one last year. Tragic. Sad death.

Given my choice, I'd sign up for that 80 good years followed by one of impoverished suffering, thanks. I don't need the story to tie up neatly, because I've already got fifty stories that didn't tie up neatly, either.

8 comments:

Grim said...

My sense is that my sister might have known that to mention a matter that could be construed as rape to me or to my father would have resulted in -- significant consequences for the man she painted in that way. Understanding this raised the stakes. Now we don't think anyone will do anything -- not even the police! They won't be informed by the campus rape code -- so the threshold for false reports is higher.

But so, I should think, is the propensity to rape among those so inclined. We were a better protection than the campus review boards, and so in their way were the police.

Edith Hook said...

I have a hazy recollection of a stat from college that “if you were born in 1900, you had a 50/50 chance of being an orphan by the time you were 5” (I think this applied to just America but I could be remembering wrong). Up to and including the “Greatest Generation” most Americans had regular experience with pain, loss and tragedy [natural disasters (Galvaston vrs Katrina), occupational accidents (many of these jobs are gone), childhood and chronic diseases…]. Each subsequent generation has become more cocooned from the laws of nature and physics. It isn’t just kids, I had a back and forth recently with someone who believes all mining should cease because mining is such a dangerous occupation, but, in reality, it isn’t, relative to many other occupations like law enforcement. Even though I realize that the credit goes to advances in technology (health, occupation, and yes even government intervention ie sanitation, baby car seats), I still kinda think it represents the infantilization and feminization of America.

David Foster said...

Well, mining is really not something optional, unless one wants to revert to a hunter-gatherer society and kill off maybe 90% of the population.

Mining does have a pretty high fatal injury rate, though not the highest:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupational_fatality

David Foster said...

Re orphans, I don't know what the statistics were, but there were enough of them that there were regular "orphan trains" to take them from cities to new homes in the country:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/orphan/

David Foster said...

Dave Massengill performs his song Rider on an Orphan Train. Starts at around 6:50 on this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCnM3mducJs


Tom Russell also does a very good version of this.

ymarsakar said...

Families must be restructured to feudal or clan lines if one wishes to promote individual liberty and security from the bottom up.

This habit of relying upon the feds or some outside force to interfere in your own issues, is part of the problem, not the solution. When you don't defend yourself, the person that has the power to save you, is also your slave master. There's nothing stopping them, given the power imbalance.

Of course, feudal or clan lines merely requires one thing, a hierarchy, it doesn't require a change in cultural or social values.

For a prototypical clan head, the male is it, sometimes the female is instead.

The male patriarch handles the hierarchy for the males, the females handle the hierarchy for the females, with some cross over due to age or authority.

Presupposing 3 males, 3 females, we have this structure.

Clan Patriarch 45 years old
Clan heir male 20 years old
Clan second male 15 years old

Clan Matriarch 45 years old
Clan third oldest 14 years old
Clan fourth oldest 12 years old

The second oldest male cannot be commanded by the third or fourth oldest, the age gap is too wide and they aren't even in the same hierarchy or chain of command, necessarily. But the matriarch can command the second oldest male with authority equal to the patriarch, mostly.

The heir commands protects the second oldest male, forming a fraternal relationship similar to feudal relations. Protection in exchange for obedience and loyalty, honor for honor, love for love, obedience for security. The second oldest male then has his own responsibilities, he commands the third and fourth oldest. The third oldest, in the absence of any higher authority, is responsible for the guidance, protection, and safety of the fourth oldest.


Many US families are a de facto dictatorship. Extremely weak to insurgents or other attackers that prioritize hitting vulnerabilities and soft targets. A feudal system is not as "soft", even the Japanese aristocrats, the samurai lineages, had their women train in the naginata for home defense. The women were objectively inferior to the males in the Japanese hierarchy, however, but that doesn't stop them.

Btw, in a modern world, it wouldn't necessarily matter if the heir was male. The designated heir, oldest scion, could be female as well. And they would have the same feudal responsibilities as a male heir.

In order to reinforce the chain of command and the loyalty of subordinates, special names and marks are used to designate one's proper rank in the hierarchy. This rank is then reinforced when every member of the hierarchy recognizes who is above them and who is below them. Just like a very stable dog and wolf pack. Once the hierarchy is confirmed, violence reduces to almost nothing, everything else is handled via social reform and pressure. The males set an example as the protector of their families, so that their younger sisters can take as an example of what masculine qualities they would like to find in a husband. The younger sisters obey their brothers and help keep the family traditions alive with food culture or some other thing.

The issue of personal freedom usually comes into conflict, but given the social metamorphosis of the 21st century, most of that can be re-engineered. America has a black traitor on the Throne whipping whites and blacks around as a traitor King. Don't tell me social norms can't be modified, they certainly can be if the Will is there. Most people are gutless though. That's what the hierarchy is, to force people to learn how to take responsibility and care for those weaker than them, while obeying those with stronger authorities of a proper nature.

ymarsakar said...

The older family members are trained and conditioned to place their lives at risk to protect the youngest.

Thus even a 13 or 11 year old male is expected to jump in front of a rabid dog to shield his little sister or brother.

Insane and harsh? Perhaps. Warrior training, though, it qualifies. Better protection against pedos than the others, especially the ones in the family.

Because yes, the uncle can come in and scoop up some children for his fun, like Hollywood and Demoncrats do. But first they have to go through the direct superiors of those children, for those superiors will be watching their subordinates like a hawk. After all, without someone to obey them, they are just the gophers of their older brothers and sisters, appendages of their fathers and mothers. Parasites, helpless parasites.

Edith Hook said...

Hi Dave:
In the case I mentioned the arguement was over coal mining but here are the stats I came across.
Per the Dept of Labor; the average number of deaths in all mining, per year, for the last seven years was 45, 24 per year, were in coal mining.

I got roughly 1 death per 10000 in all miners, 2 deaths per 10000 miners in coal mining.

http://www.msha.gov/MSHAINFO/FactSheets/MSHAFCT10.asp