Revenge of the Rabenmutter: No Sex for You - Pacific Standard

Revenge of the Rabenmutter: No Sex for You

You want to know which places are dying or failing? Look at the educational attainment rates of women.
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In Japan, most young women believe staying single is preferable to marriage. (PHOTO: MORIO/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

In Japan, most young women believe staying single is preferable to marriage. (PHOTO: MORIO/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

Educating girls changes everything. Save getting raw sewage out of city streets, nothing has done more for the poor than focusing on female human capital. How women diffused Paul Ehrlich's population bomb:

Almost universally, women with higher levels of education have fewer children. Better education is associated with lower mortality, better health, and different migration patterns. Hence, the global population outlook depends greatly on further progress in education, particularly of young women. By 2050, the highest and lowest education scenarios—assuming identical education-specific fertility rates—result in world population sizes of 8.9 and 10.0 billion, respectively. Better education also matters for human development, including health, economic growth, and democracy. Existing methods of multi-state demography can quantitatively integrate education into standard demographic analysis, thus adding the “quality” dimension.

Ignore the wonky (albeit fascinating) parts of the abstract and focus on the part I put in boldface. You want to know which places are dying or failing? Look at the educational attainment rates of women. The progress of women is a double-edged sword. Smarter means less children. Less children to mind means greater workforce. Because of the cultural bias against working moms, see Rabenmutter, the benefits of education are muted. Female talent need not apply.

Japan, never one to half-ass a cultural trend, takes the backlash against patriarchy to an extreme. As long as you aren't a mother, then you can have a career. Don't touch me, I'm smart:

I meet Eri Tomita, 32, over Saturday morning coffee in the smart Tokyo district of Ebisu. Tomita has a job she loves in the human resources department of a French-owned bank. A fluent French speaker with two university degrees, she avoids romantic attachments so she can focus on work. "A boyfriend proposed to me three years ago. I turned him down when I realised I cared more about my job. After that, I lost interest in dating. It became awkward when the question of the future came up."

Tomita says a woman's chances of promotion in Japan stop dead as soon as she marries. "The bosses assume you will get pregnant." Once a woman does have a child, she adds, the long, inflexible hours become unmanageable. "You have to resign. You end up being a housewife with no independent income. It's not an option for women like me."

Around 70% of Japanese women leave their jobs after their first child. The World Economic Forum consistently ranks Japan as one of the world's worst nations for gender equality at work. Social attitudes don't help. Married working women are sometimes demonised as oniyome, or "devil wives". In a telling Japanese ballet production of Bizet's Carmen a few years ago, Carmen was portrayed as a career woman who stole company secrets to get ahead and then framed her lowly security-guard lover José. Her end was not pretty. ...

... Tomita sometimes has one-night stands with men she meets in bars, but she says sex is not a priority, either. "I often get asked out by married men in the office who want an affair. They assume I'm desperate because I'm single." She grimaces, then shrugs. "Mendokusai."

Mendokusai translates loosely as "Too troublesome" or "I can't be bothered". It's the word I hear both sexes use most often when they talk about their relationship phobia. Romantic commitment seems to represent burden and drudgery, from the exorbitant costs of buying property in Japan to the uncertain expectations of a spouse and in-laws. And the centuries-old belief that the purpose of marriage is to produce children endures. Japan's Institute of Population and Social Security reports an astonishing 90% of young women believe that staying single is "preferable to what they imagine marriage to be like".

Rabenmutter. Oniyome. Germany and Japan hate talent. Japan loathes talent so much that its young women find the prospect of sex or even holding hands to be disgusting. The result is the fastest dying country in the world.

Highly-skilled immigrants drive taxis. Doctorates change diapers. What talent shortage? Brain drain is a matter of cultural perception.

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