Weekly Digest: Commentary on Having Children Today
Welcome to my weekly digest for January 6, 2023.
For new subscribers, this contains a roundup of my recent writings and podcasts, as well as links to the best articles from around the web this week. You can control what emails you get from me by visiting your account page.
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Doxxing and Outing
A reader emailed me with comments on newsletter #71, which was a primer on doxxing. He compared the ethics of doxxing to those around “outing” in the gay community.
This is an interesting primer and typology of popular morals around this issue, and accurate in my experience. I was wondering though if the history of doxxing may go back deeper. Like a number of things in leftist culture, I suspect doxxing has its origins in gay culture. Specifically, "Outing" - publicly disclosing that a figure (usually a public figure) is homosexual - has a long history. Outing has often been used by gay rights activists to shame figures they perceived as working against their agenda publicly who were secretly gay in their private lives. Like doxxing, it has often been viewed with distaste by other members of the gay rights community. I believe the common "state of exception" in the gay rights community is that outing is OK "only if the person in the closet is using their position to harm homosexuals." Likewise, media reporting on outings varies depending on the standards of proof which are offered (the documentary Outrage purportedly outed a number of conservative media and political figures, but it wasn't reported on in media due to lack of evidence). Overall, it seems like many of the norms and morals surrounding doxxing were first debated with regards to outing (a practice which goes back 100 years or more).
Best of the Web
Jake Meador published his annual Elliott Awards of the best articles and essays of the year for 2022. Lots of good stuff in here.
There were a number of recent articles looking at various aspects of having and raising children today.
The Atlantic: The Married Mom Advantage
As tough as motherhood was during COVID, mothers were both happier and more financially secure than childless women during the pandemic. This gap existed before COVID, but it continued during the worst days of the pandemic and has remained since then. This phenomenon is especially noteworthy because moms, and parents more generally, used to be less happy than childless adults as recently as the 2000s.
NYT: Their Mothers Were Teenagers. They Didn’t Want That for Themselves - Teen pregnancies have plummeted, as has child poverty. The result is a profound change in the forces that bring opportunity between generations.
Over the decade since the A.S.R.M. announcement, the number of people who have frozen their eggs in the United States rose by more than 400 percent, to over 13,000 in 2020 from just over 2,500 in 2012, according to data from the Society of Assisted Reproductive Technology. Most are white, middle-class professionals, and a growing number — roughly 35 percent, compared with 25 percent in 2012 — are women under the age of 35…Despite more women freezing their eggs in the last decade, fertility experts and endocrinologists don’t have clear success rates of live births from frozen eggs; they have only probabilities. And a majority of those women don’t go back to use their frozen eggs; a small study from 2017 found that only 6 percent of those who froze their eggs between 1999 and 2014 used them to get pregnant.
Lyman Stone: The Truth about Demographic Decline
Will higher immigration make some other person less likely to overdose on fentanyl? If we issue 150,000 more green cards, will it make the young men debating whether to buy a ring or a new car decide for a ring? Can we expect immigration to have any effect at all on a family deliberating whether or not to have a third child? Economists will leap to offer entertaining examples: immigrant labor may reduce the cost of household services which are used for childbearing! Faster aggregate population growth may make marriage markets more liquid! These arguments are fair but also a bit silly; they are so marginal to the core decisions being made that they cannot be seriously entertained as the main tools at society’s disposal for helping people overcome barriers to their individual freedom and flourishing. Immigration may be good or bad, but it just isn’t responsive to demographic decline, as it does not get to the basic, individual-level tragedies of varying intensity which are constitutive of that “decline.”
Mr. Haidt especially worries about girls. By 2020 more than 25% of female teenagers had “a major depression.” The comparable number for boys was just under 9%. The comparable numbers for millennials at the same age registered at half the Gen-Z rate: about 13% for girls and 5% for boys. “Kids are on their devices all the time,” he says, but boys play videogames, often in groups: “Boys thrive if they have a group of boys competing against another group of boys.”
Most girls, by contrast, are drawn to “visual platforms,” Instagram and TikTok in particular. “Those are about display and performance. You post your perfect life, and then you flip through the photos of other girls who have a more perfect life, and you feel depressed.” He calls this phenomenon “compare and despair” and says: “It seems social because you’re communicating with people. But it’s performative. You don’t actually get social relationships. You get weak, fake social links.”
A Word from Our Sponsor
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New Content and Media Mentions
I was quoted this week in The Economist on prospects for the city of Chicago. I continue to get calls about and engage on urban issues from time to time. Since this is a paywalled article, here’s the paragraph featuring me.
What Chicago has, says Aaron Renn of the Manhattan Institute, a right-leaning think-tank, is an identity crisis. “Chicago feels like it deserves to be considered one of the big important global cities,” he says. But whereas its culture, museums, restaurants and much else can be considered truly global, its economy is not, quite. Where cities on the coasts have specialised in finance or tech, Chicago is a diversified economy. It has tech: Google is busy renovating a modernist office block, the Thomson Centre, downtown to house over 2,000 workers. It has finance: the Chicago Mercantile Exchange remains a hub of derivatives and commodities trading. It even still has a relatively large manufacturing industry. But no sector dominates, and the city has few top-tier firms headquartered there. Instead of being a truly “global city”, its economy tends to reflect America’s at large. Its greatest asset, Mr Renn says, is affordability—which means that upper-middle-class professionals can have the sort of affluent urban lifestyles scarcely possible in New York or San Francisco.
I was a guest on the Intercollegiate Studies Institute podcast talking about evangelicalism in America, American Reformer, and Christian nationalist politics.
Carmel Richardson referenced my article about Sen. Josh Hawley and masculinity.
New during the Christmas holiday period:
Why Sen. Josh Hawley Telling Young Men to Man Up Won't Work (paid only). My analysis of Sen. Hawley’s recent speech at Turning Points USA and a related appearance on Tucker Carlson.
African Founders and the Early Black American Experience (paid only). My look at historian David Hackett Fischers’ Albion’s Seed, this one focused on black Americans.
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