Disenfranchise Women?
By Alec Rawls © 1998 (1800 words) Published in The Stanford Review, 1997?

Florence King recently explained why she thinks women should be disenfranchised. "Women lack an objective point of view" she wrote, "and have not the inclination or ability to weigh and dissect dispassionately." There is an uncomfortable element of truth to her assessment. Women are born commiserators. From earliest childhood, female transactions are based on emotional gift exchange. You share a confidence, I share a confidence. You sympathize with me, I sympathize with you.

The problem with commiseration is that, by itself, it falls into bias. It is seeing things from one side: sympathetic instead of honest, anecdotal instead of scientific. In the realm of law, this is a disaster. Was a child killed not wearing a seat belt? Pass a law requiring air-bags! Was a child killed by an air-bag? Pass a law banning air-bags!

Freedom of choice would allow the best responses to emerge, but freedom is an abstract to the commiserator. It delivers value indirectly. Instead of responding actively, liberty allows people to follow their own best judgement. This abstract has little weight in the emotionally absorbed world of commiseration, which demands that "something be done." The archetypically female reaction to every tragedy is to have the government pass a law -- now! -- insuring that the same thing can never happen again.

The suffragettes unanimously accepted that with enfranchisement came the obligation to overcome whatever incompetencies ensued from woman's previously dependent state. That historical perspective is well worth regaining. As people whose accustomed station was one of dependence on paternalistic power (not just in recent history but, presumably, throughout mankind's evolutionary history as well), women can be expected to have an innate tendency to look to paternalistic power for their salvation.

When the Clintonites want to curtail freedoms they use a woman targeted appeal to the protection of children. When they want to pitch socialism they make woman targeted appeals for "affordable" housing, health care, and on down the laundry list of needs. "Affordable" means "below market price," which means below cost, but markets will not provide goods at below cost. Thus a policy of making goods "affordable" means socializing and subsidizing at least a hefty portion the relevant industry, and women eat it up. "Yes, there should be affordable housing." "Affordable" is another word for "socialism" ladies. Please, wake up.

I do not believe it is a coincidence that the era of socialist government in America began shortly after women got the vote, and that maternalistic government has been ballooning ever since. Neither has this development been unique to America. Socialism has coincided with woman suffrage throughout the democratic world. The battle against socialist government is the great battle our lifetimes. Enough people have rallied to the side of liberty now that turning the tide against domestic socialism is a possibility for the first time in sixty years, yet the battle is still very much in the breach because of "the gender gap."

I can hear the dissonance: "Women not value liberty? Why I, I... I value liberty!" Of course you do, until it comes up against your instinct to commiserate. A woman values liberty. She'll just give it up about a hundred times quicker than a man. She'll think about freeing people from being free to make mistakes. Unless she's learned better, and many women have. If I could pick one person to be President of the United States (besides myself) it would be Virginia Postrel, editor of Reason magazine. Her understanding of the instrumentalities of liberty is virtuostic, so much so as to make me wonder: is her understanding in this area so strong because it had to be to rule over her female nature?

Analogously, I often think that men are better than women at dealing with conflict and competition because it is our nature to compete. As a consequence, so we are forced to learn how to deal with competitiveness -- to keep it in a place that our understanding deems proper. I think there are quite a few women who become particularly adept at keeping commiseration in its place because that is the mental life they have had to come to grips with and give proper order to. For that reason, I could not favor the disenfranchisement of all women. Some of our best talents would be disqualified from political life when we need all the talent we can get. But what about those women who indulge their their tendency to unreason? The magnitude of the problem is huge because, while boys are taught to master their unreasoning tendencies, women are taught to indulge theirs.

The essence of sports is to temper competitiveness with fairness. Boys are steeped in this channeling of their innate tendency to competition from an early age. In addition, they are cautioned from an early age to master innate male ruthlessness. Girls get the opposite. From elementary school on our schools are teaching them that they have a better innate nature than boys, that they are the victims, not the perpetrators, not the one's who need to be held to account. Some of the teaching is explicit, as with the propaganda surrounding "take your daughter to work day." The new "Girl Power!" program from Dept. of Health and Human Services is premised on (and uses federal money to disseminate) every ten times debunked feminist lie (that girls suffer a drop in self-esteem, that women get paid less than men for the same work, that health services are biased against women, that rates of domestic violence are fifteen times higher than they actually are, etcetera ad nauseum).

Unintended reinforcement comes from the ever present innocent female victims in popular entertainment. As girls get older, biased news and magazine reporting give credence to every phoney feminist advocacy statistic. On campus the doctrines of female victim-hood and moral superiority are a vast industry. All of this tends to make women contented with -- even self-righteous about -- their natural tendencies to look for ways to see themselves as victims in order to have grounds to claim redress from the paternalistic powers that be.

"Don't blame the victim" started as a sympathetic response to one situation: "If I am raped, I don't want to be blamed because I wore a pretty dress or had previously tried to be nice to the guy." Then it was turned around and applied to anyone who could claim victim status -- out of a whole culture of claiming victim status, on grounds as wide as race -- until "don't blame the victim" became a general principle opposed to individual responsibility. Nobody can be held accountable because everyone is a victim and we can't blame victims. For half of a generation of university women, this has been their version of logic: an emotional hook that can bait them in any direction.

When liberty itself is being lost to this kind of incompetence, could a competency test for enfranchisement offer a solution? Unfortunately not. Our entire system of law and liberty is premised on the idea that, even if not everyone who can attain competent adulthood does, the only way to maintain incentives for individual responsibility so that most people will become competent adults is by treating people of a certain age as adults, regardless of their mental age (except for those who are so impaired that a mental age of adulthood is out of the range of possibility). Treating people of a certain age as adults is where our muscle comes from. To abandon it is to stop swimming, in which case we surely sink.

The fact that it would be wrong to disenfranchise women puts all the more burden on women to redress their own incompetencies. Especially as there is also a darker side to women's tendencies -- a failure, not just of competence, but of good will. In their historic/evolutionary position of subservience -- what women's nature has evolved to deal with -- women were not in a position to cede power but were stuck in the one dimensional position of trying to win concessions. Accordingly, we might expect the female tendency to see oneself as a victim to be relentless. Such tendencies, unchecked, can wreak as much havoc as unchecked male liabilities.

Men have made great progress in setting up institutions so as to restrain the male liabilities. The great achievement of western democracy was how far men in paternalistic society took their paternalism seriously. They recognized an obligation to serve all interests, not just their own. That is how democracy triumphed over tyranny.

Since men gave women the vote (an example of men acting for all interests, not just their own) women have not reciprocated by weighing all interests, but have continued to see themselves as sexual partisans -- charged with representing their own interests against the interests of men -- even as men continue to vote for both. The result has been a whole further class of paternalistic encumbrances, demanding that government step in to "do something" and regulate markets wherever some woman fails to fend for herself.

The efficient way to deal with sexual harassment is to let a market develop in policys and contracts for how sexual harassment will be defined and responded to by the contracting employer. No government regulation of markets is necessary. Instead, in this woman dominated era of democratic politics, we have ever growing government invasion of the labor market that both keep markets from developing the solutions they otherwise would and, by drastically raising the costs of doing business, impoverish us all considerably.

The same goes for mandated maternity leave, and women's advocacy in health insurance, and on and on. When the laws require that x,y, and z women's ailments be covered by health insurance (instead of women choosing to insure against x,y, and z) we head down the road of government designed and priced insurance policies, which in turn requires regulation of health providers and so on until the entire health care industry is socialized.

It is just an endless problem. Where the majority of men are trying to save the country before this stupid socialism destroys it, the majority of women are busy sticking knives between our ribs wherever they can find an opening. I'm not saying the disparity is huge. A lot of women are right beside us, and a lot of men are socialists and sexual sycophants. But what disparities do exist are being driven by the female liabilities -- liabilities that it is each woman's obligation to account and overcome.

The simple truth is, the battle against socialism would already be won if women did not have the vote. Women have got to stop listening to these very bad little girls who say that women are powerless so long as a relatively small number of women are in Congress or devote their lives to becoming CEOs instead of raising children. Ours is in fact an era of female domination. It is the candidates who women favor who are winning the elections. That means it isn't enough for women to just be injecting their female sympathies into the debate, as if they are just a subsidiary influence. They are steering!

So start swimming girls. Learn how to think straight morally. Get your heads above water. See more than an inch in front of your faces! It's easy. Just embrace honest reason. Stop swallowing poison lies in the expectation that such can possibly be to your advantage. Renounce the socialist scum that you have empowered! (What a sweet dream.)


Next article in the Non-ideal Theory volume of Moral Science: Should we be Neutral Between Tannen Styles?

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