Don't Be a Feminist

Essays on Genuine Justice

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I guess I'm a Bryan Caplan fanboy. I purchased this book (on dead trees) mostly just to show my support, because I've read nearly all its content over the years on the EconLog blog. He has since moved on to his own Substack, Bet On It. But most of the stuff here seems timeless.

("We are living in the future" aside: I ordered the book from on September 12 of last year, and the back page informs me the book was printed on September 12. Very cool.)

The lead essay here, "Don't Be a Feminist", is apparently new, though. It's an open letter to Caplan's daughter, Valeria. He takes on (for example) the male/female "wage gap" shibboleth, with the standard observation: if you control for relevant variables, most of the "gap" vanishes. Other examples of how women are treated unfairly because of sexism are discussed and debunked. Provocative!

Other than the initial essay, the articles collected here are mostly short and (seemingly) translated mechanically from the original blog posts. Links have been converted to footnotes. At one point (page 211) we're instructed to "prove me wrong in the comments". I noticed a missing-word typo on page 143 ("If you wisely try to get out Dodge…") which was in the original blog post. (Amusingly, it was quoted verbatim by Ilya Somin at the Washington Post, Reason magazine, and the Foundation for Economic Education.) If I notice one, I assume there are more.

Typos are inevitable on a blog. I assume I have accumulated hundreds over the years. I keep noticing them anyway. But… come on, it's a book. That I spent money for.

Caplan's viewpoints are firmly in the libertarian camp. I'm (therefore) very sympathetic. I remain not totally convinced by some of his opinions. He's a fervent backer of open borders; I'm dubious. He is a thoroughgoing pacifist; I suspect that pacifism is an impractical course for a country that doesn't want its citizenry to be dominated and oppressed by less-pacifistic aggressors. On a related matter, he's an ardent anti-nationalist; which is fine in theory, but not much use in navigating the world as it is.

Or I could be wrong. Because I realize that Caplan's arguments are pretty good even when I disagree.

I reported on Caplan's previous blog dumps here and here. His books are also very good; see here, here, and here.

Last Modified 2024-01-11 2:55 PM EDT