Sunday, August 21, 2016

Economic Interest and Personal Interest

Once upon a time, there was a man on the Internet whose girlfriend left him to be with some drugged-out Mexican slimeball. The man claimed that women had needs that were incompatible with a civilization.

What I see in both cases is half a partner. The writer knew how to fulfil a woman's material and social needs, but had no idea how to fulfil her sexual and emotional needs. The Mexican knew how to fulfil a woman's sexual and emotional needs, but was a rotten citizen.

I know for a fact that it is possible to know how to fulfil a woman's sexual and emotional needs and be a good citizen at the same time.

When my former wife left her previous boyfriend to be with me, her father told her that she was selfish. In fact, in that relationship, she was being exploited. She made the bulk of the money and did the bulk of cleaning and child-rearing; he did not do much besides beating up on her and the kids. Her father is a businessman, and business is based on the concept of rational self-interest. If men have a right to economic self-interest, then women should likewise be allowed a healthy degree of personal self-interest. This keeps them from being exploited by men who want the woman's companionship, sex, cleaning and economic contributions but fail to value or compensate the woman according to what they get from her.

One thing that makes it hard to achieve the full-partner status is the so-called “traditional” attitudes. Men – and women – are told that sex is a bad thing, and men are also told that feelings are for wimps. This leads men who see themselves as ethical to avoid both. The solution is not embracing misogyny. The solution is teaching men better values and better beliefs.

What are these better values and better beliefs? Mainly that feelings and sex are in no way contradictory to good citizenship or ethical values. Both are there for a reason. If we have evolved then these things have done so for the benefit of the species; and if we were created then both are there accordingly to divine design. You fulfil your emotional and sexual needs with the woman, expect the woman to also want to fulfil her emotional and sexual needs.

And if human nature is fallen or of the Satan? Then so is economic self-interest. If sex and feelings are corrupt, then so is monetary interest. The Bible both impugns and extols all of the preceding. We have the “money is the root of all evil” line; we also see admiration for the economically shrewd Joseph, the wealthy Job and the very wealthy Solomon. We have the original-sin line; we also have the highly emotional Psalms and the very sexual Song of Songs.

In either case, both feelings and sex – and economic interest – are equal: Either in mutual virtue or in mutual sin.

Or, as I believe, a capacity for both. Something for which we see evidence around us every day. In the first case we see beautiful, loving relationships and magnificent art; we also see rape, incest and emotional violence. In the second case we see prosperity; we also see practices that are polluting, destructive and corrupt. Both feelings and sex, and economic interest, can be either good or bad depending on how they are practiced.

If men are allowed to pursue economic self-interest, then women should also be allowed to pursue personal self-interest. They are both either equally right or equally wrong – or, as I believe, capable of both. Both are capable of achieving good and bad outcomes – equally. It makes sense to neither extol nor condemn either. It makes sense to see both for what they are – their capacity for both right and wrong – and treat them accordingly in each case.


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