Monday, March 22, 2010

Did Male Bashing Cause the Financial Crisis?

For decades now we have been told that gender is a social construct whose salient characteristics can be changed if only we learn to talk differently about gender.

To further this goal editors and teachers all over the nation declared war on masculine generic pronouns. The generic He was banned, to be replaced by the more neutral, He-or-She. After a time writers discovered that he-or-she was awkward-- so they all started using the generic She.

Thus, did women receive grammatical empowerment. Thus did the world of discourse become matriarchal. Was it for better or for worse?

I can't say that I was too surprised to read in New York Magazine that the financial crisis should be blamed on men. In particular, New York wants to blame it on their excessive testosterone levels. According to Sheelah Kolhatkar, Wall Street would be a better and nicer place, a place where risks were measured, where kindness and caring would prevail, if only women ran the place. Link here.

Good-bye social constructs. Welcome biochemical determinism.

The argument goes like this: men have too much testosterone. Because of it they take excessive risks, and are impervious to the consequences of their actions. They are aggressive, violent, competitive, and do not play by the rules.

What men really need is to be run by women... because then they will be able to get in touch with their feminine sides. With more women in charge, men will be softened up.

Kolhatkar's reasoning does not entirely hold up to scrutiny. Travel down memory lane, and recall Michael Lewis's description of the trading floor at Salomon Bros. in the 1980s. There you will find the same virile types, the same manly men, the same risk-takers, men who were hypermasculine to a fault.

But if you grant, even for the sake of argument, that today's traders are more impervious to risk than the men of the 1980s, why would we not notice that it has accompanied the increasing presence of women in the workplace. What are we to make of that?

The real flaw with biochemical determinism is that it does not distinguish between manliness and machismo. The latter, a caricature of what is involved in manly behavior, tends to prevail in cultures that are-- surprise-- matriarchal.

When women are in charge, when women's values are imposed on men, then, men revert to more savage expressions of masculinity. Male bashing is the problem, not the solution.

If you want men to be better men, then teach them to behave better as men. Don't imagine that you are going to make them better men by teaching them to behave more like girls.

When men do not have positive male role models, when they are not taught to compete within the rules, when they are not going to develop their good character as men. They will fall back on more vulgar displays of masculinity.

They take unnecessary risks, and have no use for prudence. They exploit women, and do not think that they have any duty to protect them. They take whatever they can get for themselves, and have no conception of working for the common good. They try to get away with what they can, and have no notion of sportsmanship.

In the absence of an ethic that defines the parameters of manly character, men become more violent, more predatory, and more fearless. In the absence of rules and standards, their world becomes more anarchic.

Men are going to be men. If you want them to be good men, responsible citizens, fair competitors, caring husbands and fathers, you need to teach them some basic ethics. And you need to start in school There you should encourage them to develop their manly character.

One might conclude that the Wall Street traders who facilitated the financial crisis did not have an ethic to ground their behavior. That feels reasonable enough. But, whose fault is that? Might it not have something to do with the fact that they has spent most of their prior years within the matriarchal, gynocentric world of American education.

Remember, these traders are young. They are fresh out of school. It is reasonable to assume that their behavior might still be suffering the influence of their schooling.

If American education has been working to help boys get in touch with their feminine side, it is also teaching them that society's institutions have no real place for them to be responsible men. Boys who are taught not to compete in school, who are taught that virtue lies in sharing, who are taught to feel badly for everyone else's pain... go home and play violent video games.

Even then, things are not as simple as Kolhatkar believes. One of the indisputable cornerstones of the financial crisis was the market in subprime mortgages. And, it was certainly not a free market.

Through statute and regulation, to say nothing of community organizers, bankers were forced to lend money to people who were not even remotely capable of repaying them. Would you call that prudent lending? Would you call that responsible behavior? If you don't, well then, ask yourself whose values, whose exalted sense of do-goodism, of caring for people, produced the bad behavior?

It wasn't an excess of testosterone that caused bankers to make imprudent mortgage loans. It was an excessive amount of Nanny state meddling in the marketplace, an excessive amount of imposed matriarchal values.

[For more on this topic, see the next post.]


Grand Blogger said...

How dare you speak against feminist tyranny. Fear you not of being politically incorrect? Fear you not of loosing your job?

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Luckily, I work for myself.

Grand Blogger said...

One of the reasons that feminism is successful is that there is no cost associated with male bashing. On the other hand, there is a severe cost associated with female bashing. Consider the following example - In 2005 Lawrence Summers (then President of Harvard University) made a legitimate obvservation which had the potential of undermining feminist doctrine - see He paid a terrible price for it. Harvard University ended up appeasing the feminists by dedicating $20 million for the promotion of women in science and technology. On the other hand, women, like Harriet Herman (the Deputy prime minister of UK) continually gets away with sexist remarks like the following -

In an ideal world, one should be able to force Time magazine to sack people like Sheelah Kolhatkar for making sexist remarks. This would serve as a deterrent for feminist writers trying to use influential media outlets for spreading their propaganda.

Anonymous said...

Don't women make 80% of the buying decisons? Sounds like the "blame" should be spread accordingly.-Norm

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thanks for the comments. I will blog some more about this topic later today.

Memphis said...

I have only just discovered your blog, thanks to Dr. Helen linking you. But I can guarantee I'll be back if the rest of what you write is like this. And I'll be linking to your blog, as well. Preach it, brother.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thank you. I appreciate it.

aHuman said...

Great Post.
I've always wondered if that testosterone explanation of the crash wasn't just a tad simplistic.

Now we name it by taking the two most evil things in society and create one word from them:
That word surely tells us everything about the current sentiment and the real problems. I bet it'll find some entries in the history books of the future.

pjanus said...

Warren Buffet described 'Credit Default Swaps' as a finacial weapon of mass destruction and is rightly blamed for causing the collapse of Global Markets. Guess what,a woman by the name of Blythe Masters can take credit for its invention

More here

Unknown said...

"I've always wondered if that testosterone explanation of the crash wasn't just a tad simplistic."

Don't stop with the crash, its both bigger and even more simplistic than that.

According to the femino-academic complex, *everything* that they deem wrong with our society, environment and the universe in general is the fault of one or more of the following:

1) Men/testosterone
2) George W. Bush
3) Republicans

Any speech, article, or book from the left boils down to blaming one or more of the above.

And, of course, their solutions to all the problems created by men?

1) Women
2) Women of color
3) Womyn

That's it. The entire span of history and existence, good and bad, explained and solved.

It's just *that* simplistic.

Anonymous said...

I think it's pretty clear by now that Feminism is all about usurping authority as long is it doesn't entail shouldering any kind of responsibility:

Tom Grey said...

I fully agree with:
"When men do not have positive male role models, then they are not taught to compete within the rules, when they are not going to develop their good character as men."

It should even be emphasized more.

Tiny typo:
But it should also be correct, not like you wrote with "When men..., when they" (two whens, no then).

Great post idea, thanks.

Tom Grey said...

"When men do not have positive male role models, when they are not taught to compete within the rules, then they are not going to develop their good character as men."

Let's try again, two whens, one then.

LOL -- at myself. Trying to be helpful.
(shouldn't try just before lunch, in Slovakia)

Porky D. said...

Title of article - "What If Women Ran Wall Street?"

The answer is that if they were anything like Blythe Masters it would have been worse!