- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 26, 2004

Sex’ shift

“[A] profound life-style trend … has extended over the last several decades — a development deftly portrayed, some might say celebrated, in the media. After a six-year run, the popular HBO series ‘Sex and the City’ ended in 2004 with what was widely reported as a happy ending. Each of the four heroines, in their late 30s and early 40s, found partners and commitment, while also pursuing gratifying careers. The series finale was a paean to love and individual fulfillment. But as for family life, these four vibrant, successful women approaching the terminus of their childbearing years ended up with only two marriages and one child between them. As a mirror of society, the media shift from kids bouncing off the walls in the ‘Brady Bunch’ to the .25 fertility rate in ‘Sex and the City’ several decades later clearly reflects the cultural and demographic trends over this period.

“Today, a little over one in five women in their early 40s are childless. That is close to double the proportion of childless women in 1976. … Women are increasingly having fewer children and a growing proportion are choosing not to have any children at all. And those who have children are delegating their care to others.”

Neil Gilbert, writing on “What Do Women Really Want?” in the winter issue of the Public Interest

Self-esteem’ scam

“For decades, psychologists believed that low self-esteem was an important cause of aggression. … [But a review of] assorted studies … concluded that perpetrators of aggression generally hold favorable and perhaps even inflated views of themselves. …

“Dan Olweus of the University of Bergen was one of the first to dispute the notion that under their tough exteriors, bullies suffer from insecurities and self-doubts. … [H]e showed that bullies reported less anxiety and were more sure of themselves than other children. Apparently the same applies to violent adults. …

“[H]igh self-esteem does not lessen a tendency toward violence … it does not deter adolescents from turning to alcohol, tobacco, drugs and sex, and … it fails to improve academic or job performance. …

“[W]e have found little to indicate that indiscriminately promoting self-esteem in today’s children or adults, just for being themselves, offers society any compensatory benefits beyond the seductive pleasure it brings to those engaged in the exercise.”

Roy F. Baumeister, Jennifer D. Campbell, Joachim I. Krueger and Kathleen D. Vohs, writing on “Exploding the Self-Esteem Myth,” in the January issue of Scientific American

Who we are

“As Americans, we must ask ourselves: Are we really so different? Must we stereotype those who disagree with us? Do we truly believe that all red-state residents are ignorant racist fascist knuckle-dragging NASCAR-obsessed cousin-marrying roadkill-eating tobacco-juice-dribbling gun-fondling religious fanatic rednecks; or that all blue-state residents are godless unpatriotic pierced-nose Volvo-driving France-loving left-wing communist latte-sucking tofu-chomping holistic-wacko neurotic vegan weenie perverts?

“Yes. This is called ‘diversity,’ and it is why we are such a great nation — a nation that has given the world both nuclear weapons and SpongeBob SquarePants.”

Dave Barry, writing on “Can’t we all just get along?” Dec. 12 in the Miami Herald

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