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Interview: Helen Smith Talks Men on Strike


MR. DRISCOLL:  This Ed Driscoll for PJ Media.com, and we’re talking today with Dr. Helen Smith. If you’re a longtime reader of her blog at PJ Media.com, she needs no introduction, but for those stumbling into this podcast from elsewhere, Helen is a psychologist specializing in forensic and men’s issues. She holds a PhD from the University of Tennessee and master’s degrees from The New School for Social Research and the City University of New York. And she’s the wife of Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit.com. She’s also the author of the brand new book Men On Strike: Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood and the American Dream – and Why it Matters. It’s published by Encounter Books and available from Amazon.com and your local bookstore. And Helen, thanks for stopping by today.

DR. SMITH:  Well, thanks so much for having me on your show, Ed.

MR. DRISCOLL:  Helen, Ayn Rand originally titled Atlas Shrugged “The Strike.” Concurrent with Barack Obama taking office, the words “Going Galt” became a more or less household phrase, especially for entrepreneurs and those who are self-employed. So are men in particular going on strike? And if so, in a nutshell, what’s causing it?

DR. SMITH:  Well, you know, my book is basically about men going on strike, and sort of reading Ayn Rand sort of got me thinking about it.  I had talked about the term on my blog about four or five years ago.  And I sort of talked about going Galt during the Obama administration, and that's sort of just withdrawing your production from the world and not producing in the sense that because you feel like you're not getting a reward for what you're doing, that there are punishments.

And I think that same vein, we have men today -- and I think even more so than women -- who are sort of going on strike. And what's happening is, the basic message of my book, is that men are acting rationally.  The rewards for men in the fields of things like marriage, education, careers, and fatherhood, are a lot less than they used to be, and the costs and the dangers are higher.

So they're opting out, only kind of like people, you know, opt out when the taxes get so high, they sort of -- some people just quit producing as much.  And I think in the same vein, as you noted, I think men are not -- it's not that they're not producing as much; I think that they're thinking about production more along the lines not just to -- you know, it used to, I think, men were more ready to give themselves over to families and do -- wanted to do things for women, like provide for them and that sort of thing.  But now that times have changed, unfortunately, I think the traditional -- the feelings on the part of women and society are such that women are supposed to -- men are supposed to still do those things that are traditional, but at the same time, women have special privileges in the law and in marriage and in -- in a lot of ways.  And I don't think we've changed the incentives for men.