It was a couple of summers ago, and my buddy Ryan and I were having a pint or few in a pub in the East End of London (The Half Moon on Mile End Road, if you know it). We were sitting there, the two of us, putting the World to rights (or possibly just talking about cars), when two quite young women bumped into us. And when I say “bumped into” I mean quite literally fell onto our shoulders; such was their state of inebriation. As we started to chat, they quickly declared that they were out partying because they had just finished their English Literature degrees at the nearby university. They also made it clear that they simply wanted us to buy them more booze. We declined to buy them drinks because a) they had clearly had enough already, and b) we simply didn’t want to.
That didn’t stop one of them thrusting some pieces of paper into my hand, which apparently was her dissertation, of which she seemed to be quite proud. Just reading the first few lines left me baffled, a state of confusion not entirely down to the fact I was on my third pint of Abbot Ale. I have never done a university degree, so I don’t really know what a dissertation should look like. But, and call me naïve for this, I thought English literature would involve analysis of writers like Shakespeare or Hemmingway. Instead, I appeared to be reading a rather long-winded and uncritical reiteration of a feminist author I’d never heard of. Ryan continued to read the piece, as the girl started to explain the thrust of it, which was something like “society favours some people simply because they have a penis”. Quite clearly her friend was of the same mind. They seemed to be genuinely aggrieved at the disadvantages they felt they had because of the gender roles society had given them (but you’ll note they were quite happy to exploit those gender roles to get free drinks..). Several times they said something along the lines of “you guys [Ryan and I] have all the advantages in today’s society because you are male”.
As they were telling us how they were barred from “typical male jobs”, Ryan asked them what kind of jobs they had in mind. Then a strange thing happened; they had to stop and think. Just let that sink-in: after 3 years of being inculcated with these ideas, day in and day out, at no point had they actually thought about what specifically they were being denied. Eventually they came up with two “typical male jobs”: financial markets trader, and real estate agent.
We had both been trying to be polite up until then, but at that we just burst out laughing. You see, I had just restarted work as a long-haul truck driver, and Ryan was a heavy machinery operator. Not only was it laughable that the types of job they nominated were “typically male”, but so was the whole notion that our “maleness” somehow gave us an advantage in society. At that point, both of us were technically homeless, living in a hostel for ex-servicemen. Naturally therefore, we are ex-servicemen, both of us combat-at-arms (me infantry, him cavalry), parts of the British Army consisting of men, men whose role is to be first into the line of fire. We had both escaped abusive marriage partners, and, just a few weeks before, we had returned to the UK with literally just the clothes on our backs. And, at that point, we were both being denied access to our children. So much for “male privilege”.
Yet here we had two middle-class, well-spoken, young university graduates, with their lives ahead of them, telling us, no… insisting, that Ryan and I held all the cards simply because we were male. The whole idea is a massive slap in the face for people like us (and, as I’m writing this, a WW2 Spitfire has flown over my house, a reminder that some male roles can have the ultimate cost). We have no beef with women, feminists, or any minority, we have no power but lots of responsibility, we just want to work hard, contribute, provide, and survive. At some level, we can all claim victimhood; life is rough, and it’s rougher for some than for others. But having the mindset of victim is no help to us, or those around us, or to society at large. And there is this extraordinary thing; we now have young people being actively taught to nurture their inner victim, even though they are in the least disadvantaged parts of society. It is so extremely unproductive, it’s actively harmful.
I’ve got no animosity towards these two young women. In a way they are victims, but not of this somehow patriarchal society, but of the educational establishment to which they had just given vast amounts of time and money. Not only have they gotten horrifically in debt to get very little in the way of skills, but they’ve been imbued with the very worst quality one can have when going to a job interview: a chip on their shoulders. Their brains had been wired-up, by others, to enter a World of conflict, not a World of creation or production. At one point, extending the conversation about “male jobs”, I had said “take truck driving; it’s an OK job, it’s a job typically done by men, it pays above the national average, and it pays very well for a young person. But the reason you can’t do that job isn’t because you are women, it’s because you’re not qualified”. It’s very difficult to describe the looks on their faces at that point (and I suppose it’s not very tactful to point out that after 3 years of study, they weren’t even qualified to be truck drivers. Hopefully they extrapolated it out to other skill-sets). It seemed an alien concept to them: one may actually have to be qualified to do something, the work doesn’t just get given to those in favour.
Quite honestly, they would have been better off starting jobs as truckers instead of going to university. After a couple of weeks training (at a bargain price compared to college) they would be working, and after 3 years they could have had £60,000 in the bank rather than be £60,000 in debt. (Let’s just put that into writing, for effect: £120,000 in costs and opportunity costs for a university education. Before you are 25 years old. Now let’s carry on…). Into the bargain, they would also have experienced some of the real World. Then at least they would have had some more options, including still going to university if they so wished. You could make an intellectual development argument against this, but then indoctrination isn’t intellectually challenging.
In Britain we’ve done something really strange with work and education. What we’ve done to young people is close to being abuse. We’ve shuffled as many of them as possible into university (ensuring those remaining feel like failures) where they will amass huge amounts of debt, whether or not the degree has any value to them or society. Many courses are imbued with unproductive ideology, others are explicitly ideological in nature, yet the kids will still have to pay for them. We certainly need tertiary education for doctors, engineers, and the like. Yes, we need physicists and research scientists, and we probably need a few historians, economists, and philosophers. But do we need quite so many kids in university? And do we need them to go there straight from school? And why does it need to be so expensive? And why are so many of the courses irrelevant to the futures of those taking them?
At the same time, we’ve brought in millions of immigrants, stripping their poorer home countries of sorely needed skilled labour. Those migrants are now doing the worthwhile jobs that some of our young people could have been doing, at least temporarily, instead of getting into debt to be indoctrinated. It seems we are heading towards some kind of education event horizon, where over-indoctrinated, over-indebted, artificially aggrieved young people spill out into society to impose their unproductive ideologies on all of us. Two years after those two feminists walked into a bar in East London, this is what appears to be happening.
Anyway, the next morning I called Goldman Sachs, and on hearing I was male, they promptly offered me a £400k a year job….
(… and of course that didn’t happen.)