How Sustainable is the New Girl Order?

The Wall Street Journal on Saturday, August 22, 2009 ran a story “They Know What She Wore Last Night,” about the website (and book), that allows young fashionistas to find out what designer a starlet wore to some event. Featured celebrities include Rachel Bilson, Kate Moss, and Rhianna (of the Chris Brown beat-down and criminal court case). While garnering only a small following (its weekly newsletter has only 125,000 subscribers, a fraction of what larger sites garner, even in the fashion subsegment), the website gets a commission from sales by users clicking on links to what various celebrities wear. Partners include everyone from Maybelline to J.C. Penney.

But what happens when the money runs out?

Rebecca Ravenna, who describes herself as “a religious WhoWhatWear reader,” says she didn’t know the site was selling feature names and getting commissions from the purchases of its readers. But she’s not bothered. “It’s a time for all of us to get creative financially,” says the 23-year-old real estate broker from Chicago.

What happens when the 23-year-old real estate broker from Chicago can’t afford to buy the latest fashions, and adopts a “use it up, wear it out” type of attitude? Particularly if she is not a real estate broker any more, and has to scramble for money?

Much of the new girl order is discretionary spending, on things such as fashion and cosmetics than can be stretched out, or used up. Belmont Club has links to various economic predictions of either inflation on a massive scale, debt repudiation, or perhaps both. Regardless, states like California, can no longer afford to simply keep government employment up, particularly when the stimulus money runs out in 2010. The the female-friendly employment in Health, Education, and Welfare, will be hit along with the far more sensitive resource extraction, construction, transportation, and manufacturing sectors that generated most of the layoffs, ala the Mancession. Government employment does not generate its own income stream, and depends on the larger economy for tax receipts. The current economic picture does not look good.

Inflation, of course, eats away at discretionary spending, which is the heart of the New Girl Order. Much of the “fabulous” excitement seeking in all areas, regardless if it’s fashion, or politics, or relationships, in the New Girl Order has been based on bubble wealth. has the uncomfortable ring of or So too does the spending on fashion, cosmetics, and other trivialities when inflation and debt repudiation by the US Treasury (something that has never happened before) are seriously considered. This is particularly true if real estate brokers in Chicago lose their jobs, and have to struggle to find work and pay bills. Website visits and spending on fashion can quickly go to zero. Eventually, if Jeffrey Rogers Hummel is correct, and most democracies will run out of money fairly quickly to fund most social programs, this will include the growth sectors of Health, Education, and Welfare that are and were, female-friendly.

It is not merely froth, bubble websites like that will take a hit, but most of the female-friendly employment sectors like real estate, banks, and so on that already are struggling. Commercial real estate is already reaching high levels of empty, unleased spaces, and tenants have far more leverage to negotiate deals. Maguire Properties are warning of defaults to loan terms. All of the non-governmental office jobs that helped support discretionary spending on cosmetics and fashion (or X-boxes and Playstations for men) are at risk and likely to disappear at least in part in the next few years. Men got hit first in terms of employment, via exposure to sectors vulnerable to initial layoffs, but women are sure to follow.

This means quite likely, an end to the “New Girl Order,” which could only survive, briefly, amidst economic expansion, and assured physical safety for women.

A reader, anonymously, sends in a series of links to what Britain is dealing with. These are (mostly all young men) who are deemed “not in education, employment, or training” aka “NEETs” who form a menacing, looming semi-criminal class, at least 1 million strong, in the UK. Not connected politically or socially, they seem intent on lounging around like Somali warriors in Mogadishu, waiting for opportunities, and whiling the time away in fairly poor circumstances (Britain’s welfare state is not generous to natives). Meanwhile, young females in Britain remain at least, underemployed if not fully employed. But have understandable concerns for their safety.

Indeed, the death-knell for the “New Girl Order” is likely to be the twin factors of safety and economic security. Attractive young women will certainly find somewhat older men who have financial security more winning than they used to, if not for marriage then certainly co-habitation. There promises to be relatively few of these men who are unattached, but “soft polygamy” of the John Edwards variety is gaining acceptance, and indeed it’s probable that Edwards career is not over. The other issue is of course safety. Increased risk of crime and gangs of young men with nothing to do are not generally associated with young women out and about on the streets at night, or even the daytime.

For most women, however, their lives promise to be radically different. Bars and nightclubs promise to be rare events, if nothing else because every penny has to be watched. Longer cohabitation with parents or family, or room-mates promises to be a factor for both men and women. Discretionary spending for both sexes promises to crater.

But likely the biggest factor is the collapse of the whole entertainment-media complex built around the “New Girl Order.” While male discretionary spending certainly exists, it tends to be oriented around specific sectors: video games, cars, trucks, motorcycles, and entertainment centers and electronics. In other words, big ticket items. More and more men live on their own, and do spend on a wide variety of consumer items, but marketers still inhabit in one sense the world of the 1950’s when women do all the shopping. You can still find sites such as asserting that 85% of all consumer purchases are made by women. Intuitively with high divorce rates, and delayed marriage rates, and chaotic cohabitation rates (couples rarely stick together) this figure does not make sense. Nevertheless, marketers believe it.

What we are likely to see, and in some instances already are is the substitution of online games for pay, console games, and the fairly rapid erosion of the video game industry, along with huge declines in auto, truck, and motorcycle sales. For “New Girl Order” sectors such as fashion, cosmetics, and the like, similar declines are a certainty as female consumers face inflation eroded paychecks or layoffs. It is not merely a question of going out of business, it’s dramatically reduced ad buys on “Gossip Girl” or the five or six vampire TV series that reduce them to not even a shadow of profitability. It is women forgoing seeing “Sex and the City Part Two” on release in favor of a cheap pay-per view or download from Netflix or Amazon or rental at Redbox a few months later. Its the entire edifice of everything from Oprah to the View to Today to the CW to Entertainment Tonight collapsing under ad revenues that simply cannot support the cost structure.

Much of the female-dominated media-entertainment rests on the simple fact that with huge margins, fashion houses, cosmetics manufacturers, and the like were willing to pay large sums of money to reach the inhabitants of the “New Girl Order.” With neither the economic pay-back (their consumers are likely to be pinching pennies for years) and an expectation of an ever-growing market, this is likely to change significantly, and in short time spans too.

Quite likely, we are going to see a broader, more mass-oriented culture, and one that is no longer youth-obsessed. We’ve already seen the start of that with the annoying Viagra and Cialis ads, and it’s likely that since the few remaining consumer dollars will be in middle aged hands, that is where the advertising dollars and revenue will move.

With younger women constrained both physically (risk of danger in the streets with our own “NEETs” about) and more importantly, economically (there will always be “some” safer areas), it is quite likely that younger cohorts can receive radically different cultural messages. Messages more attuned to the innate conservatism of middle age, when there is much yet to lose, than the risk-taking of the young. In particular, it is likely that the current wave of vampire fiction and television shows and movies will be the last, as young women find risk-taking in relationships less than appealing with a large dose of daily risk in their own lives. This would not necessarily mean “the return of the Beta Male” but he won’t look as bad as he did when the good times were rolling and fashionably dressed young women from Warsaw to Westchester did not need to worry about where the next paycheck will come from. Financial and physical insecurity tends to create a more conservative outlook.

About whiskeysplace

Conservative blogger focusing on culture, business, technology, and how they intersect.
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24 Responses to How Sustainable is the New Girl Order?

  1. Chuck says: article discusses the cutbacks an upper middle class single mother has had to face in the recession. she's had to forgo her $200 haircuts.

  2. Chuck says:

    whiskey:yes, i agree that there will be a decline in the "new girl order" you write about, but it moves cyclically with each expansion and recession. i don't think the current dissolution of the "order" marks any new development in the world. the website will benefit from its novelty for a few years. the fact that it's new and considered "different" will keep the hits coming and the dollars rolling in. it's at the fledgling stages of its product life cycle. either way, the discretionary spending of men will suffer much more than that of women. women's will decline during the recession, but men's will suffer that much more since we're more underemployed as a whole than women. this has the effect of making advertising and products even more gynocentric.

  3. The "New Girl Order" is heading to collapse at 250 MPH. It is in no way sustainable.We are in the midst of the collapse of residential real estate. This means less work for real estate agents, who are mostly women. Because real estate agents are considered "self employed", it takes longer for them to appear in the unemployment statistics because the definition has to be different. Plus, how would they even know a month of less work vs. actual unemployment. The upshot is there is a horde of women who don't know they are unemployed yet.You already pointed out the problems in commercial real estate. That is going to collapse as well causing things to get worse.Beyond that we are going to see a collapse in student loans and credit cards. (Remember that the recent economic bubble was primarily a CREDIT bubble.) With student loans collapsing, how is a woman going to fund her degree in women's studies or underwater basketweaving? She won't be able to.With credit cards collapsing, we will see a more direct collapse of the "New Girl Order". That more than anything else will destroy female consumer spending. What is going on now has been compared to Japan after their bubble. There is one important difference. Young men and women in Japan lived at home for the most part (since real estate is still hideously expensive in Japan) so they still had plenty of discresionary income. That is something women won't have here.On top of all this is government being unable to fund the health, education, and welfare sectors. There will be a collapse there sooner or later.As you point out, this doesn't mean women will start going for "beta" men. What we will see is women doubling down, quadrupling down, and going for broke on the economy of the "New Girl Order", just like Obama is acting now with the general economy. This is going to make things a disaster of biblical proportions.

  4. ganttsquarry says:

    Agree with the general trend of a contacting economy hurting women although I think it will continue to hurt men more. Girlcentric government sectors will continue to slow the fall of women. Education and healthcare, for example, have the kind of lobbying and built in protections from the market, that would require a massive downturn, even more then we are having now to result in substantial layoffs and the like. Could happen but I'm skeptical. Blue collar men are hurt by construction cutbacks, a tightening of the belt regarding landscaping and things of that nature and illegal immigration, although that has slowed down a bit.It will be interesting to see if the new girl order's collapse is temporary or a more long term thing. Promale made some good points about credit cards and college loans. Perhaps less vanity degrees like he alluded to. Depends on the length of the downturn. A lot of economists argue about it. I'm scared of inflation myself. I would think we are going to see anemic growth for at least a few years. A very slow recovery of years would be my guess with a smaller chance of a horrible no growth economy for a decade or more. I'm no economist though. I think the economy would have to be downright horrible for a long time to help the beta male much. I guess I could see a return to conservative mores by necessity and not some sea change in sentiment. What happens if and when the economy bounces back? If its not backed up by some greater change in attitudes I don't see it lasting. I think America is in a gradual decline but I think we have a few more gasps of glory before the ultimate collapse.I think, depending on how long this downturn lasts, we could see feminists arguing for masculinity 2.0. A demonizing of lazy man boys who play video games too much and dont "grow up". A cherry picking of male qualities of yesteryear beneficial to women. Men complimenting the strong superior women with more masculine traits as opposed to working along side Mr. Jessica Valenti, 50/50. This doesn't mean they will propose solutions that work toward that goal. They will fail in their battle with human nature like they always do. Got to remain victimized though.The way the trends are going, I can't see women in 20 years liking the job situation. The advantages they have in college education and more recession proof job markets will mean they are trapped into doing more work than they want to. Exciting careers will be viewed as boring mandatory drudgery. Marrying a higher earning male will become even harder. Feminism will have to stay relevant to stay appealing to women. Male oppression will be viewed as coming from down the ladder not from above the glass ceiling. I think you are right about a growing class of idle males unable or unwilling to find stable, monotonous, low paying employment.Chuck makes an interesting point about an even more gynocentric focus on advertising. I'm agnostic about it. I could see that or I could see new products and advertisements expanding their wings a bit and looking for untapped markets as well. I do think marketing is skewed disproportionately toward females now, so even with men doing worse in a recession a more balanced approach might be beneficial to the bottom line.

  5. A lot of women are starting to realize the mistakes they've made by saddling themselves with college debts, buying houses-and-cars on a two-person income, and delaying childbearing so late. So many of them now want to give up the job and stay home with their kids ~ but they can't because of the college debts and the two-income mortgage and car loans etc. College has been upheld as the be all and end all of human existence but it is one of the biggest causes of steep personal debt that often is still being paid off into middle age. Maybe now more and more women will begin to avoid this mess before they step into it ~ college is not everything. And with most people having college degrees, college grads have become a dime a dozen. I have hope that it's not just the collapse of "The New Girl Order" that will get women back on the right track but also the return to common sense due to reaping the negative rewards of so many Feminist mistakes…

  6. I don't think the NGO is as unsustainable as you think it is, at least from a macro-econ standpoint.Sure there will be some contraction, as the economy seeks equilibrium as the demand curve from debt spending resets. The decline in marriage rates means that women will have less and less ability to attach the wages of men to support their lifestyles. Some sectors will do okay, such as high-density housing, in the sense that there will be double the amount of housing of this type required. Large single-family homes will take a hit as incomes drop and prudence counsels against a singleton or a choice mom occupying a 4 bdr house.No, the downfall of the NGO will be demographics. It simply refuses to reproduce itself. This is the terminal blow to an economy, one that will contract so much that it must import migrants from abroad (that prolly do not share the NGO culture) to survive. This process is already underway in Europe. For certain the welfare state that the NGO culture depends upon will collapse because a welfare state society needs a pyramid of citizens to support it, not an hourglass or a rectangle.I hope the chicks are enjoying their prada-fuelled parties. Cuz they won't last.

  7. PeterW says:

    I started reading this article getting ready to say "so what if they have to cut back on handbags?" But your conclusions in this article are modest and reasonable. Good job.

  8. Anonymous says:

    FYI, whiskey, just found this after reading your posts:The female economy: What women want"Women account for 64% of the $18.4 trillion spent annually on consumer goods around the world. Pretty soon more women will be working in this country than men. Women already control half the wealth in the United States, and they will be responsible for roughly $5 trillion in additional earned income globally over the next five years. Welcome to the dawn of the female economy."

  9. Novaseeker says:

    I tend to agree with EW in that the economy itself won't bring the end of the NGO — the large-scale failure to breed out will do that in a few generations.

  10. madmax says:

    Whiskey,There is much of interest in your posts. But you speak as if the semi-socialist welfare state we now have were an immutable fact of nature. How would you answer the libertarians that argue that all of the problems we witness economically and socially would not exist if we had laissez-faire? The welfare state mandates racism, empowers feminism, encourages pacifism, etc.. Fight against political collectivism and you fight against the Left that you claim to oppose.I see a parallel with liberals and conservatives (including the Tradionalists or biodiversity crowd). A libertarian I know stated it this way. The Traditionalist right is kind of a mirror image of the Left. Take for example the dispute over health care. There are Leftists (essentially all of them) who hear the claim that people do not have a right to health care, or to food or shelter (explicitly made by John Mackey, for example) and immediately say "You want people to starve, or die of plague!" They cannot believe that people can attain the necessities of life by their own actions, without needing legal compulsion to provide them. In the same way, conservatives (especially Traditionalists) hear the proposal that the law should not punish non-marital sex, or abortion, or prevent divorce, and immediately say, "You want us all to spend our lives in range-of-the-moment hedonism!" They cannot believe that people can attain stable relationships by their own actions, because they value them, without needing legal repression to make them want something more than momentary physical gratification. In both cases, there is the assumption that only what is legally compelled matters. So no matter how good you PaleoCons are at pointing out the ills of society, in the end I don't see you as all that different in principle from the Left. Although I do admit, you have an interesting blog.

  11. Whiskey,Obama's single-payer health care gambit is the last gasp of the "New Girl Order.".The real objective of the Democratic health care plans is to nationalize the vast existing private health care oversight industry (insurance, etc.) and make them all public employees. Public employees who will then contribute money to the Democratic Party the way public education employees do..Note the consistent increase in non-teaching staff (mostly administrators) relative to teachers in shool systems is due to the ever-increasing paperwork requirements which add nothing to instructional value. With the administrators/non-teaching staff servicing left-wing causes in which they believe, and knowing that generous political donations to Democratic election groups keep their pay raises and promotions in an ever-increasing bureauracy coming..I.e., the Democrats intend to turn the existing huge, but as-yet mostly private, health bureacracy into another part of the Democratic Party’s public employee client base..A public employee client base paid for by constant reductions in actual health care, just as the public education budget is increasingly devoured by administrative overhead..This is what happened with Britain’s NHS. It is now a 1.3 million person British jobs program that has a payroll so large — bigger than the Chinese Army or the entire uniformed active duty American military — it can no longer deliver real medicine to those in need..The demographic problem for Obama is that the Boomers have seen what has happened to the American public schools are are unwilling to be rationed out of their current Medicare benefits..Added on top of that problem is the "Terri Schivo" effect of the Government intervening in famly medical decisions. .The Republican Party started tubing in 2005 with their moderate and libertarian wings when they catered to their Social conservative extremists..Obama's single-payer ideologs are doing that with the entire WW2 and Boomer generations as the latter are dying and the boomers are feeling their own encroaching mortality..This is the new 3rd rail of American politics and the Leftist Democrats around Obama are doing a slow goose step march on top of it.

  12. Whiskey says:

    Miltech — Agreed, and the idea that a massive bureaucracy/jobs program can be created is the self-immolation of the Dems. They just announced no COLA for Social Security, in the next five years and basically forever. They're trying to screw Seniors to benefit Blacks/Hispanics. A stupid mis-read of the situation. Women are souring on that because Breast Cancer and early screening treatment and so on are big concerns — and rationed health care is a non-starter.Madmax — The problem with the Welfare State world-wide, Europe, Japan, the US, China, is that it is running out of money. The NGO depends on large welfare expenditures which are now hitting hard limits. This is the crisis hitting the Welfare State, the can can not be kicked further down the road anymore.

  13. demosophist says:

    "Added on top of that problem is the "Terri Schivo" effect of the Government intervening in famly medical decisions."According to the 2006 World Values Survey for the US only 21% of the population believes that euthenasia is "never justified." Oddly, a higher percentage of the US population believes suicide is "never justified" (53%) than euthenasia, suggesting that they're more willing to allow someone else to kill you than allow you to kill yourself. That suggests that there's, unfortunately, an opening for this sort of "solution." It also explains why there are so many people pushing for it, although not as overtly or openly as they'd like.

  14. Novaseeker says:

    Yep. The Logan's Run scenario.

  15. demosophist says:

    I should add that the euthanasia and suicide variables are a 10 point scale from "never justified" (1) to "always justified" (10). So a higher percentage than I suggested could still oppose euthanasia in most cases. The distribution tends to be "double peaked." The highest percentage is 1 and the next highest is always 5, or right in the middle of the scale.

  16. Whiskey,.Democratic problem is that the party overall has devoted more than 30 years of effort into single-payer in terms of study, think-tanks, candidate development, etc. I.e., the Democratic party overall simply cannot back away single payer, however much individual candidates, even most of them, might want to..I saw early signs of this When then Sec of Defense Les Aspin went to hire Democratic party affliated staffers and policy wonks in 1992 for the Clinton Defense Department. .Aspin found an utter lack of young, smart, & flexible minds to fill those positions. He was left hiring Carter Administration re-treads and his House staffers for those slots because all the best Democratic Party minds had gone into health care issue related think tanks or policy positions during the 12 years of Reagan-Bush41.. The last of the real hawkish Democrats went down in the 1982-1984 Nuclear Freeze movement. After that, they all either retired, became defense contractor lobbiests & retired or became Republicans.. Sen. Sam Nunn's vote on the 1991 Gulf War killed the last of that senior policymaker rear guard in the Democratic Party and Aspin's hiring effort gave them their retirement pensions.. The Democrats have invested too much into single-payer for them to abandon it. This is a self-identification issue.. In terms of political effects, though, it's their tar baby. They can't let go of it and will keep pushing it long after it is politically hopeless. Plus their continued pushing of it will remind senior voters with money that the Democrats threaten the seniors' survival interests.. It looks like a perfect storm, politically, because the people who the Democrats have pissed off with the threat of single payer healthcare destroying private medical insurance have both money and options. .These formally Democratic Party leaning American voters have had good private insurance medical care their whole lives *and* they also have the resources to sue private insurers for cause and win.. They can't do that with the Federal government. For them, government universal healthcare represents a clear and present danger to their survival and their quality of life..The politics of this plays out as follows:.1) The people who want single payer want to see it kill private medical insurance inside their political life time AKA less than 10 years. They know if they don't get it right now, they never will. . 2) Because of #1, the people who want single payer have suceeded in making this a survival issue for a lot of elderly people with disposable income who now think being politically active is the only option they have to survive for the next 10-15 years.. 3) Because of #2, there will be a lot of conservative political entreprenures who will be primarily Republican (They don't face Democratic pro-single payer primary voters) tapping that mass of people outside either the Republican or Democratic partisan machines to get elected or push causes important to these people.. 4) As a result of #3, right wing populism will have a decade and a half of party independent seven figure plus funding for issues and candidates everywhere that caters to the interests of these newly activated political network.. High marginal tax rates, high property taxes and government health care are going to be these people's boogiemen.

  17. Harley says:

    Hi…I'm the Rebecca Ravenna quoted in the article…yes I googled myself and found you used my quote. First of all, I have to say I resent the way you represented my perfectly valid point. Yes, I am 23, but believe me fashion is not the first thing I worry about. Let me be more specific: I have cultivated a successful career selling real estate in a very difficult economy. I did this not to support my fashion habit, but to support my husband, pay my mortgage, pay my bills,etc. So to answer your question of what happens when my job becomes challenged due to the current economic situation, I'll say this. It has. I work that much harder and get that much more creative with the business that I created for myself. I celebrate the things I enjoy…like fashion. What I do not do is take to my blog and bitch.

  18. Whiskey says:

    Rebecca you as an individual don't matter (any more than I do). But you magnified by a hundred fold do.I stand by my assertion that when (not if) female employment drops, it will curtail spending on fashion.If you are laid off (as you mention, commercial real estate is in the toilet), and find employment at only a fraction of your income, I guarantee you won't be visiting and purchasing at . You'll make do, wear it out, use it up. Just like everyone else.Which in turn will collapse the entire business model based on selling fashion and cosmetics to women like you.

  19. >I stand by my assertion that when >(not if) female employment drops, >it will curtail spending on >fashion.Whiskey,The key cultural development metric to watch here is the growth of non-government orgaization thrift stores and private sector "second hand," or "Last year's fashion" stores.I am seeing a lot of both such stores opening up outside dense urban areas in run down strip center malls along with the various "Dollar stores."The places I see them show up are in strip malls where old Walmarts have moved out to "Super-Walmarts."

  20. Talleyrand says:

    The economic downturn is going to be far more severe than anyone wants to admit. Watch what the stock market does this fall and the ensuing panic (again).Will women turn to Beta males? Will men be willing to get married?It's going to be interesting to watch how those things unfold.Personally, I think the economic collapse isn't going to fix either of those problems.There's going to be more blaming and shaming of men and the NEETs are going to swell.

  21. Marquis says:

    the lifestyle obsession that women think they can wear overpriced shoes out to half priced martini night with the "girls" and bitch about men and claim they love their life of wanton sex with the occasional random guy….then as they sleep at night alone….the tears come.

  22. Anonymous says:

    The economy and the native born population are both going to crash, and with them will collapse the NGO. What women don't yet realize is the Mancession has just enlarged the ghost army of NEET's who will rip down this corrupt society from the bottom up and impose their rule. These are the ones who form violent political and religious extremist movements, and they will finish what the total destruction of the economy, county and native born population will start.

  23. Anonymous says:

    "A reader, anonymously, sends in a series of links to what Britain is dealing with. These are (mostly all young men) who are deemed "not in education, employment, or training" aka "NEETs" who form a menacing, looming semi-criminal class, at least 1 million strong, in the UK. Not connected politically or socially, they seem intent on lounging around like Somali warriors in Mogadishu, waiting for opportunities, and whiling the time away in fairly poor circumstances (Britain's welfare state is not generous to natives). Meanwhile, young females in Britain remain at least, underemployed if not fully employed. But have understandable concerns for their safety."Sorry I'm living in britain and you know what none of that paragraph is true in any way.

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