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If Women Ran Wall Street Would We Be Looking at Epic Fail?

Valhalla's picture

Over at New Deal 2.0, Nomi Prins, a former Goldman insider, thinks the answer's no:

But, the question is, would the massive bailout of the financial sector have occurred, had women been at its helm? Indeed, Davos economists this year speculated that the presence of more women on Wall Street might have averted the downturn.

She lines up the likes of Elizabeth Warren, Sheila Blair, Brooksely Borne against some of the more prominent vampire squid -- Bernke, Paulson, Geithner, Lloyd Blankfein (of we're doing "God's work" fame) et al and thinks the gender split may be not just coincidental.

Of course, women weren’t in the position of running these firms, so how could they have presided over their problems? Perhaps the attainment of such positions requires the shedding of a certain ethical code....

Of course, it is not just women that question corporate fraud or widespread financial risk. But for the most systemically compromising and expensive breaches of ethics and restraint, it has been women who have fought against the barrier of male nonsense to shine a light and an alarm.

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DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

vaporized 50% of HP's value during her brief tenure. Are we done here?

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

With women like Meg Whitman hanging around also, and not a single Democratic woman among the most progressive Senators fighting against the class war, I sure hope we're done thinking this is a gender issue.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

I'm glad to see Iceland's women doing so well. But I still don't think it's a gender issue. Why do you?

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

but if you follow the Davos link, I think there's an argument to be made that part of the epic fail was because of high-competition driven risky behavior. Lambert's point on the Iceland link that it might be alpha-male risk behavior that's the really the problem is well taken, but wherever the source is (nature, nurture, social pressures, combination, etc) women in general do engage in less risky behaviors than men. It could very well be that the same influences (both self-selective and exclusionary) that keep women out of Versailles-level high finance positions lead to a perpetuation of the closed and self-reinforcing system that served as a critical contributor to the epic fail.

The Davos conference point is at a base level, an argument for more diversity of risk-acceptance behavior at the top of (and throughout, I guess) the industry. They focus on gender diversity, because of differences between the genders in risk-acceptance. That doesn't mean there aren't other ways to diversify risk-behavior, or other ways to address the problem (eg, a little old-fashioned regulation might go a long way...). In fact, Lambert's comment on the Iceland article expresses this better than I seem to be capable of at the moment:

I don't think the theme of the post is that all women are good because they are women and not men.

Rather, it is that a useful and interesting set of values that many may choose to adopt emerged from a feminist context. Granted, the context is a female faction of Iceland's ruling class, which took over after a male faction of the ruling class totally screwed the pooch? Shat the bed? Pick your metaphor.

To your point about Congresspeople: I think it's a fairly well-accepted proposition that the first new members of an excluded group tend to be much more similar to the members of an existing privileged group than the average member of the excluded group. It's not until a decent sized number of the excludeds get in that anything changes in the mores and behavior of the includeds group. (like, say, 30%). Between the small sample size of Congress overall, and the small percentage of women in it, plus the extremely small sample of 'true' progressive politicians (on HCR, where are we? do we have more than 5 total we could maybe apply that label to?), it's not surprising we don't have a large faction of female 'standouts'. Although, I think most of the stand-up against Stupak did come from female legislators.

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

Because one data point does not negate a trend.

One problem with Prins post is that from a data-based perspective, her sample size is too small to make solid conclusions. Of course, the number of Versailles-level finance players is very small to begin with, and the number of women allowed within any distance of the Big Table is astonishingly miniscule so decent-sized data is hard to come by for at least the next 100 years or so. (yes, I'm an optimist).

But if one Fiorna data-point were to count as anti-argument, then the 6 women Prins references count as pro-trend. (aside from Blair, Borne and Warren, she points to the three female whistlerblowers that Time named its People of the year in 2002, Sherron Watkins, former Vice President of Enron, Colleen Rowley from the FBI, and WorldCom’s Cynthia Cooper).

The Davos economists' conference had some thoughts along these lines:

there seemed to be a pretty broad consensus among Davos Women (and, yes, some Davos Men) that if women had run Wall Street, they would have saved the world from the corrosive gambling culture that dominated many a trading room.

And it seems the people of Iceland are willing to test this all out with their currently ruined economy.

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

There is a whole lot of emotion engendered by even suggesting that such a thing is possible; that women in general could have a more fair, equitable, and sustainable vision of financial matters.

The type of specious and dismissive argument that has come at you is very familiar to me. Heaven forfend that we should compare female and male economists and draw any conclusions from that comparison!

Keep on keeping on, Valhalla. The status quo will only change when we have the courage to ask questions like this.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

I'm all for gender comparisons if people want to study the question. It may well be that women as a group do behave in a different way than men, and that these differences are relevant for financial management and risk taking. I'm just saying the comparisons should be more rigorous and less anecdotal.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Nomi Prins's data points are just a few, so statistically, I don't think they're a trend.

All I'm saying, is that if you wanted to select a person to a key decision making position whose responsibility it was to keep the global economic system stable and sustainable, I think you'd want to make that selection based on the track record, abilities and attitudes of the person and not on gender-based considerations. In saying this, I'm not suggesting there should not be deliberate actions to break glass ceilings or dismantle the structure of past discrimination. I'm very much for that.

I'm also not saying that "track record" should be interpreted as mere experience in some stepping stone job. From my point of view failure really ought to disqualify a person from further trust at least for awhile. The idea of hiring Summers again after he was so central to building the system that led to the collapse was just unforgivable in my view.

I think the idea that people are fated or determined to act in a particular way based on gender is an idea that needs very careful scientific testing before it can be taken seriously. Loose speculations based on a few data points made by popular writers should be viewed skeptically, especially in view of past uses of such speculations to discriminate.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

Is that women don't have parity.

You think there aren't women who don't have " track record, abilities and attitudes" necessary for these positions?

Like splashy9 says downthread the lack of equality between genders is a cause of the problems we are seeing in finance. So yes, gender based employment decisions must be made in favor of the marginalized gender, until parity is achieved.

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

I don't think anyone here is arguing biological determinism or any sort of ev-psych crap. At least I know I'm not.

But to ignore the fact that when women reach a certain membership level in groups from which they've been excluded tends to change the dynamics of a group is not at all productive in terms of breaking the glass ceiling. Esp. given that the use of past speculations to discriminate to which you refer have been almost entirely against women.

Men and women often have very different approaches to problem-solving and (in the case discussed in the article) risk-taking. Whether that's nature or nurture is almost besides the point; the question is whether one can look at those differences and learn anything that would prevent the kind of excesses that put us in any one of several messes we're dealing with now.

For instance, let's take Yves rather flip point about Iceland:

I actually find this sort of gender stereotyping annoying, and worse, the women here are playing it up. Women are not paragons of virtue. The reason that women can be useful reformers is they are typically only marginal players in the power structure, and they therefore have little to lose and much to gain by taking high-profile cleanup roles.

Let's say Yves put aside his/her(?) annoyance for a second, and really considered this statement. If it's true, then why aren't we looking into putting "marginal players" into the "reformer" roles, instead of continuing to rely on the same tied-in people to police themselves? Right now, women ARE mostly in marginal roles and it's not like that's going to end soon. And while we're at it, let's take the opportunity to normalize what may or may not be an inherent female quality in reformer roles so that reformers in general don't get coopted into playing the fox that guards the chicken coop?

The reluctance to contemplate differences between gendered behaviors when it might be female behavior that would resolve problems in the name of careful scrutiny, etc etc., ignores the fact that the rather sudden and recent attention to such prudence is not in itself gender-neutral and does not in fact, produce non-discriminatory results. That is partly Aeryl's point.

Valley Girl's picture
Submitted by Valley Girl on

is that of women getting to the point to "run Wall Street" or run whatever.

The odds are totally stacked against any of the women you have named to be in such a position. I would say, if the values that these women have and hold were running Wall Street, well, no we wouldn't be looking at epic fail.

The problem I see in assuming that "women" (any woman) would "do it better" leaves out the reality that the the "system" is totally dominated by generic "male" values (no insult meant to the "good guys"), and that many of the women who rise in male-dominated venues do so by becoming just as ugly and unconscionable as the dominant males.

I form this opinion based on my experience of the microcosm of academic life- women with the values of those you have named get formally and systemically stiffed in this environment. The ones who rise do so by taking on all of the tactics that promote and continue hierarchical male dominated society.

So, no, I don't see it as a gender issue per se. I'm way past believing that just because someone has an F next to their gender, they can be counted on. M or F, no, it's not strictly a matter of gender. It's about holding true to certain values.

basement angel's picture
Submitted by basement angel on

than men as a group. Men are responsible for 90% of violence in the US, according to the FBI. Women are the great bulk of single parents. Women are dramatically less likely to commit predatory acts of crime than men though I can't find that number quickly. There are fundamental differences.

I think it's absolutely ridiculous to look at the great history of human race and come to the conclusion that women are as likely to be as destructive as men are. When it comes to groups of sociopaths unleashing themselves to society's detriment, it almost entirely male in orientation.

Troll Prophylactic = I am not saying that all men are sociopaths, or that most men are sociopaths. I am also not saying that no woman is a sociopath. I recognize that there are good and bad apples in both genders. I am just saying that the preponderance of destructive behavior has been engaged in by men, and because of that, we can legitimately assume that if women ran Wall Street in their own right, it would probably function in a different and more responsible fashion.

splashy9's picture
Submitted by splashy9 on

If you look at animals, the females are usually much easier to deal with. For instance, and uncut stallion is unpredictable. It's just common knowledge. Doesn't mean there aren't some females that are difficult, and some males that aren't.

I understand the men not wanting to admit these things, but the evidence is overwhelming.

The thing is, what is needed is balance, not the taking over by the women. Each group brings different things to the table. The problem has been the lack of balance for far too long, skewed toward the males running things, to the detriment of all. We all have our strengths, and weaknesses. We do better of there is equal influence, without the more aggressive dominating things.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

basement angel, You said:

". . . I am just saying that the preponderance of destructive behavior has been engaged in by men, and because of that, we can legitimately assume that if women ran Wall Street in their own right, it would probably function in a different and more responsible fashion."

I certainly agree with the first part of this statement, but the "because of that we can legitimately assume . . . " etc. doesn't follow logically from the first clause. It is just a guess, and the guess may well be wrong. One reason why it may be wrong is because it has been the social role of men to engage in destructive behavior in human societies. As women take on roles that have historically spawned destructive behavior, they are subject to the same social and cultural expectations as men entering these roles. They are also subject to the same conflict situations that lead to destructive behavior. Perhaps genetic differences, or early socialization differences will allow them to act differently from men. But the record isn't encouraging here.

Was Indira Gandhi less or more aggressive than Jawaharlal Nehru? Was Margaret Thatcher more or less aggressive than Jimmy Carter or Ronald Reagan? Is Hillary Clinton more or less aggressive in foreign policy than Barack Obama. In the Senate today, are the female Democratic Senators more or less likely than the male Democratic Senators to vote for appropriations for the Afghan War, or for maintaining the troops in Iraq? Are they more or less likely to vote for tough financial industry regulations? I don't know the answer to all of these questions because I haven't done a gender-based study, but my impression is that there are no systematic gender-based differences.

Going further, someone mentioned Brooksley Born, Sheila Bair, and Elizabeth Warren, and their orientations toward strong regulation and fears that without that we would be subject to severe economic cycles. Well, they were right, and I wish they were listened to, or had the power to actually make decisions, but it's also true that Nouriel Roubini, George Soros, and Nassim Nicholas Taleb, have been warning about excessive risk-taking in the bubble economy for many years now and that all three predicted the Crash of 2008 before it happened. I really wish that that they, too, had had the decision making power necessary to do something about the bubbles.

Moving to the general area of politics, who are the most reliably progressive and anti-war Senators today? Bernie Sanders, Russ Feingold, Pat Leahy, perhaps Al Franken. They're all men. Where's that strong liberal female voice in the Senate?

I ask this question, but I don't really draw any gender-based conclusions from it, because I know that individual differences and state constituency differences are the best explanations for the fact that the most liberal members of the Senate at this point are not women.

Consider also, the females on the Republican side of the fence. People like Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Marsha Blackburn, Virginia Fox, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, Susan Collins, Olympia. Are they really any less warlike than the Republican men? Off the top of my head, I'd say no.

So, again I just don't think the "because" you referred to above references either logical or causal necessity, and that, in addition, anecdotes can be told all day on either side of this question. Without very carefully designed scientific studies, I doubt that this question can be settled.

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

lets, we had a bunch of discussions (I think it was a bunch) about the 30% solution here, before you were on Corrente, and I'm hoping to dig up some links today for this discussion here, but there's a snowstorm coming so I'm worried about not having time.

If anyone else has some handy links, I'd appreciate it. Maybe madamab, whose done more on the 30% number than I have?

The problem with throwing out a small number of high profile names of both genders as if they were proof is that there's too few to conclude anything. Esp. when it comes to any sort of gender discussion because it's the people acting contra-gender expectations that stick out.

And asking the better/worse question is not very productive, because it is too general and distracts from more important points (and devolves into girls are better! no boys are better! pretty quickly).

But it's becoming fairly well known (or at least well-discussed) that yes, when women reach a certain level of representation in any particular power group, they do change the playing field. The first few breaking in do not often change overall group dynamics for just the reasons you cite.

Even in throwing out politicians names to suggest that we're all the same regardless of gender is easily refuted by looking at the gender gap in party demographics -- many more women than men are on the Democratic/liberal side of the spectrum, and more men cluster at the conservative end. I think you'd have a pretty hard time arguing that that's mere coincidence. Throwing out Palin or Malkin as refutation doesn't work. For any one you posit as a data point, you have to ask whether they are representative of the general dataset.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Valhalla, I agree with this way of putting things. I haven't been trying to prove anything by throwing out names. I've been trying to call easy hypotheses into question. I know my examples are anecdotal. And what I'm saying is that anecdotes don't settle the question of causality with respect to behavioral differences. You said:

"But it's becoming fairly well known (or at least well-discussed) that yes, when women reach a certain level of representation in any particular power group, they do change the playing field. The first few breaking in do not often change overall group dynamics for just the reasons you cite."

And I do agree with that. The issue I've been raising is cause. I think that issue is central because it goes to what we do in the future. I expect most of us here agree that gender parity should be sought on grounds of gender justice and also on grounds that we want to have no barriers in the way of every individual using her/his capabilities to the utmost for the good of all of us. But we seem to disagree on the question of what causes changes in the playing field that occur when gender parity is more closely approached. If these changes are caused by the integration of a group of people who have certain cultural differences from the previous dominant group, then there are no necessary implications for future hiring practices once the differing cultures come together and get integrated. That is, the very process of integration provides the cure for previous fragmentation.

On the other hand, if these changes are based on causal factors that are enduring in the post-parity context, and have measurable impact on behavior, then hiring policy, perhaps even one dispensing with parity, might be the result. So I think we need to be very careful with this issue and with our attribution of cause. It can have very serious social justice implications if we're not.

Submitted by lambert on

I don't think humans are to be trusted with power over other humans, period. That's why we have checks and balances...

That said, if the data leads us to conclude that the 30% solution leads to better outcomes (granted, for some definition of "better"), especially in finance and politics, then have at it, say I. And so what if in a generation power has corrupted in new ways? We've still been better off for that time. No essences, so no permanent solution...

Submitted by lambert on

IIRC (and I'm too lazy to go back for the links) the good effect of women in finance has to do moderating risk taking behavior by men in groups doing financial decision making in the market (the ol' "Big Swingin' Dick" syndrome that Michael Lewis wrote of).

That's not the same context as politics (Maggie Thatcher) and possibly not even CEO leadership.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

I agree that the examples conflated different things. But I was addressing the broad hypothesis that women and men are different in relation to the performance. They may very well be, with respect to specific kinds of performance and situational contexts. But my experience in the social sciences tells me that broad-scope hypotheses about male-female differences won't stand the test of time, and won't form a practical basis for recruitment and hiring policy.

Much more important in the end, will be individual differences in experience, culture, intelligence and values, and these are so inter-woven with gender-based differences that I don't think it will be possible to tease a very great independent effect of those out of statistical data.

Submitted by hipparchia on

before or after glass-steagall repeals began? and are we talking about all finance the world over, or just the us?

are we talking about an alternate history where brooksley born, sheila bair, elizabeth warren had had more influence and larry summers and his ilk had had less? from what i've read, people of all genders and intelligence levels find larry summers difficult to deal with, and often downright intimidating. it's not hard to imagine summers browbeating anybody, not just born, who stood in his way at the time.

are we talking about some future where boys are equally socialized to be risk-averse [or conversely, equally socialized to enjoy risk and indulge in hyper-competitive behaviors]?

alternatively, if we'd had 50% women in congress from before the time the financialists began their assault on glass-steagall, would they have kept the regulations from unravelling in the first place, thereby making the gender composition of wall street a moot point?

girls are socialized to be good little girlz and boys are socialized to be bad boyz, and this is at least part of the reason that women appear to be more risk-adverse and men appear to be less so.

it's fun to fantasize that this is an innate quality, and that women innately would not have crashed the economy, but it's worth remembering that men drove the roaring 20s economy, men crashed that economy, men repaired that economy and enacted laws to keep it from happening again, men kept the economy humming along after ww2, ... but you get the picture, men can be prudent too, all on their own, without women having to come behind them and pick up the pieces, or look over their shoulders and keep them from setting the house on fire.

i get tired of the constant women are x, men are y analyses for a lot of reasons, but chief among them for purposes of this discussion is that it rather absolves men of having to act responsibly: oh, it's just their y chromosomes, they can't help themselves, the poor dears!

Submitted by lambert on

... let alone being an essentialist.

But rather than argue about all this, it just struck me that we've got a massive social experiment going on in the military right now. Does anyone have any evidence of how women in the military have affected... Risk-taking, let's say, or possibly better decision-making, in the Army?

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

this is only mildly related, but it caught my eye a few months back. Actually maybe I saw it here?

I have some mixed feelings about the overall piece, but in short, the Marines have established special female units in Afghanistan to reach out to the local populations, esp. to Afghani women, to fight counter-insurgency.

The F.E.T. units are comprised of female marines with various operational specialties who conduct liaison work with Afghan women in remote villages. Their assignments range from searching women at checkpoints to running medical clinics to their core mission of engaging rural Pashtun women, often in their homes.

According to a September Marine Corps After Action Review, the teams have been most effective when Afghans perceive their intent as one of establishing a relationship of mutual trust and interest, rather than one of gathering intelligence. They often are welcomed into village homes while dressed in military drab and headscarves. Afghans purportedly view these American women as a “third gender” — female marines are extended the respect shown to men, but granted the access reserved for women. This access has shown the Americans that indigenous women wield significant influence with their husbands, brothers and, especially, their adolescent sons. The presence of F.E.T.’s sends a strong signal of peaceful engagement to local villages. As one village elder put it, “Your men come to fight, but we know the women are here to help.”

I find the 'third gender' part fascinating.

Using the military as an experiment, though, I'm not sure about, since I imagine there's a fair amount of self-selection bias (girls are heavily socialized against physical fighting, etc) as well as the culture assimilation that goes on in all branches of the military (or maybe I mean cultural indoctrination, which the military is extremely effective at).

cwaltz's picture
Submitted by cwaltz on

Women as a whole have made some advancements. I saw women on carriers during my tenure and we finally have female subs as a result of a lawsuit brought by women who said not being allowed to serve hurt their advancement opportunites(which is true). That being said we are looking at a mere decade or so since policy changes have been enacted and I think it will take longer before we will see results on women making the policy rather than acting upon it.

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

hipp -- (if I may call you hipp) I don't think the point of my post or any of the links were to create excuses for men who are irresponsible. If anything, it's an argument toward creating diversity of risk behavior, which currently correlates with gendered behavior. Or, at an extreme, locking them out of 'desirable' power positions until they learn to behave or more responsible behavior (more risk-averse behavior in this case) becomes normalized in an area like 'high' finance where what's at stake is the economic security of the entire globe.

Men and women on average and in general do have behavioral differences in a lot of areas. I tend to believe that it's rather little to do with any sort of biological determinism than socialization, but I was trying to avoid that discussion a bit. (now that I think of it, I can't remember why, exactly).

Regardless, rather than deny the differences, we could take them as they exist now to kick off creation of the socialization you're talking about in the future.

I have occasion to read a lot of business management theory and practice-type stuff, and for the past several years there's been umpteen articles about how male vs female management styles differ, and how female management styles (in general, not every specific case) are in a lot of ways better at increasing productivity, communication and employee 'engagement' -- mostly all the things corporations claim to want. The effect seems to diminish the higher up the ladder you go (where there are less women and the few women there are more along the lines of the kind of value-assilimilation which Valley Girl describes). I'm less interested in this sort of research as a nyah nyah girls-are-better exercise (and not at all interested in it as excuse-building) than in now to capture the differences and use them to figure out how to improve things, both in my little everyday world and the world at large.

Submitted by hipparchia on

not aimed at you particularly, nor do i see you as purposely making that point. it's just the general idea floating around in society that women are from venus and men are from mars, and i find this brand of pop psychology to be insidious on so many levels.

it doesn't help that i've lately been watching videos extolling just how wonderful same-sex classrooms are too.

i get you on creating diversity of risk behavior [yay!] and on the apparent differences in management styles [grrrr].

as a practical means of gaining and keeping power, i'm not in the least opposed to women utilizing their 'female' management techniques to improve the way anything is done, but as a philosophical underpinning for empowering women, individually and as a class, it stinks. as a philosophical underpinning it really does relegate women to remaining 'womanly' [and second-class beings] and it really does absolve men of responsibility.

it's been -- what? -- two decades since hillary said it, but we're still living in a world where a woman who doesn't want to stay home and bake cookies can't say so out loud without being labeled a freak of nature. in spite of the fact that her politics are too far right for my taste, i've been a devoted fan of hers ever since that moment.

I'm less interested in this sort of research as a nyah nyah girls-are-better exercise (and not at all interested in it as excuse-building) than in now to capture the differences and use them to figure out how to improve things, both in my little everyday world and the world at large.

and this is where i become an unreasonable person. agree with you on the nyah nyah girls-are-better part of it, but i'm not at all interested in capturing the differences and using them to make the world a better place. otoh, i'm all you go grrrrl! if any woman wants to use any part of the current financial crisis to further her interests or ambitions or horizons. call it shock doctrine feminism if you like.

and yes, of course you may call me hipp.

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

Claims not to have experienced differences in the way a group of men and a group of women do things, then I would say that claim is not believable.

Look. As a society, we can continue to pretend that shutting women out of high-level politics and business is okay, and that womens' voices don't need to be heard. But I think it's screamingly obvious that keeping women oppressed and unequal has a deleterious effect on any society. Certainly there is quite a bit of data that supports this assertion, and jeez, just do a gut check. Social equality and justice for the majority of the population elevates the whole group together.

Does this mean that women wouldn't have crashed the economy? Not necessarily. But isn't it important to ponder what would happen if women were equally represented and rewarded throughout our society?

And why are people so hostile to this type of inquiry? I think that's a good question too.

Submitted by hipparchia on

isn't it important to ponder what would happen if women were equally represented and rewarded throughout our society?

yes and no.

pondering how improving the lot of women improves the lives of women, sure. with you 100%, and then some.

but what if improving the lives of women doesn't improve society, or the economy, or the lives of men, or the lives of children? it's when this subtext seems to be creeping in that all my porcupine quills go on full alert. no female person should ever have to feel that she has to justify asking for or making an improvement in her life because it helps some other person [or cause], not even as a secondary justification.

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

Social justice for women is my primary goal. Did you notice my signature line, perchance?

I will help with the Justice Party, but frankly, I don't care about helping out men at this point. Men are doing fine by themselves, and quite often, are doing it by oppressing women. I want the oligarchy/patriarchy overthrown.

However, I do believe that when social justice for women is achieved, we will live in a better, more peaceful, more prosperous and more respectful society. It's happening all over the world that way, and I have no reason to believe that it would happen otherwise in America. (For linky goodness on this, on my blog http://thewiddershins.wordpress.com I have a "Resources for Women" page. Check under "The 30% Solution.")

Second of all, I am not sure why you're pointing your arrows at me and Valhalla. Neither of us is suggesting what you seem to think we're suggesting. Maybe your target lies elsewhere.

splashy9's picture
Submitted by splashy9 on

However, I do believe that when social justice for women is achieved, we will live in a better, more peaceful, more prosperous and more respectful society.

The key thing is the reason that would happen is because then physical strength and aggressiveness wouldn't be the basis for ruling things. That is the key to that.

Men would be allowed to get ahead without being forced to be bullies to do it, as many men are at the present time. They are socialized that it is the only sure way to get anywhere, by other men. It's quite sadistic, really. Men steal and abuse each other quite a bit.

Work to change the system to a less abusive one, and everyone will prosper more. I don't know how to do that, but that is where the problems are generated. Criminal behavior is rewarded too much.

Submitted by lambert on

You write:

We must destroy The Village in order to save it.

I'd say:

We must destroy The Village in order to destroy it.

Unless we mean different things by "The Village"?

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

I mean the "common wisdom" and the oligarchy/patriarchy...and I think that if we destroy The Village, we will save our society.

I certainly don't think destruction for its own sake is appealing to me. What will go in its place once we tear down The Village?

Of course, there's Hillary's construction, "It Takes a Village," by which she means something entirely different from "The Village."

The sig is meant to make people go "hmmmm." Guess it worked. ;-)

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

I agree with this, but am frankly often torn in terms of how to achieve it without invoking the "it'll raise all boats" line of thinking at least in part.

It's a very practical problem -- of course I agree with you that we should have equality for women an improve the lives of females the world over for their own sake. But putting that forth as the only principle doesn't get nearly as much traction as putting forth the idea that everyone will benefit, people being what they are.

And I actually do want to improve the world around me for the benefit of everyone, although when there's a conflict, I do prioritize women (mostly because they're almost never prioritized outside some very narrow areas).

I think (and perhaps this is just hopefulness on my part) that "We must treat women like full members of society because we'll all be better off" can be used as a stepping stone to "We must treat women like full members of society full stop." There are many places, both real and virtual, where the idea of treating women like full members of society is still foreign enough that just getting any form of the idea spread around is a big challenge. The full stop version may be too much of a shock to the system.

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

if they don't think it will ultimately benefit them?

People generally behave in their own best interests. As hipparchia says, as women, we need no other reason to advance the cause of women's equality than social justice for ourselves.

But I believe that we need help from men, too. Thus, I don't think the "rising tide lifts all boats" argument is wrong, depending on your audience.

I think it doesn't really matter why people believe that women's equality is a laudable and necessary goal. It just matters that we get it done.

Submitted by lambert on

I think politics is always about both, so why be ashamed of it?