Why, then, the relative decline of men in so many professions?
Some of it is probably that women tolerate the routine (men would say “boredon”) that characterizes most jobs today. Some of it is simply that women are finally competing. On their merits, a lot of women are better than a lot of men at a lot of things, so that, even if we decided things by ability, they would rise. This would be as it should be. But we don’t decide things primarily by merit. We decide them by race, creed, color, sex, and national origin.
There is today an enormous amount of affirmative action in favor of women and against men. Much of it is hidden. For example, when boys outperformed girls badly on the National Merit test, a fairly high-end test of scholastic ability, it was modified to reduce the disparity. Few know this.
Much affirmative action, though absurd, occurs openly. When Larry Summers, then president of Harvard, noted that men are better at mathematics, about which there is no doubt, feminists cowed Harvard into promising fifty million dollars to recruit female professors. This is nothing more than extortion. (For an adult and most politically incorrect exposition of this, Griffe Du Leon serves well.)
The SATs were recently slanted (“recentered,” I meant to say) to make bright members of the affirmative-action classes (chiefly women and blacks) indistinguishable from Asian and Caucasian males of much higher ability. Universities can then accept the bright girls over the brighter boys without an appearance of discrimination.
School, always unpleasant for rambunctious boys, which is almost to say boys, has been made almost unbearable for them. To be blunt, the schools have been feminized to the point of being hostile to boys, and particularly to bright boys. The sports and roughhousing that boys love have been outlawed as too violent; boys who point fingers and say “bang” are expelled; boys who are not adequately somnolent are drugged by the schools. Competition, upon which boys thrive, is now verboten. When boys reach college, they are likely to be subjected to anti-sexism training which amounts to little more than sanctioned hazing. This seems to spring from sheer female hostility.
But it is working.
In jobs, there is unending pressure to put women (and blacks) into jobs regardless of qualifications; the price for questioning this policy is high. The practice is packaged as pursuit of equality, but it isn’t: If eighty percent of students in a medical school are female, this is a triumph for women, but if eighty percent are male, it is sexist discrimination and results in recruitment of women by any means.
Special privilege for women is pervasive and enforced by the full weight of government. The federal government has special set-asides and sweetheart deals for businesses owned by women (and blacks). In the military physical standards as well as the rigorousness of training were greatly diminished so that women could pass. Big Sister watches carefully. A friend of mine moonlights as a one-man shop in graphic design. Periodically he gets a federal form asking how many blacks, women, and so on he employs. Heavy fines attach to failure to respond or false answers.
Further, much policy aims at preventing women from having to compete with men, while making it look as if they were. For example, a company that doesn’t hire enough women (or blacks) is subject to federal persecution and private lawsuits; if it then fails to promote them in statistically correct numbers, a company will again pay a heavy price. So it hires them. It is then reported that women (and blacks) are making great strides. Objective measures of merit are discouraged or forbidden. Try giving IQ tests to prospective employees.
A conspicuous example of the illusion of competitiveness was the television show Eco-Challenge in which teams raced each other over courses that required mountain biking, rappelling, swimming, and other physically demanding chores. The rules stated that each team of women had to include at least one man, and each team of men, at least one woman. This produced an appearance of sexual equality. But of course, since the teams had to stay together, each moved only as fast as its slowest member. The women were superb athletes and have my admiration. Yet the question, which this arrangement was designed to avoid answering, is what would have happened if all-male teams had been allowed to compete.
Then there is compulsory togetherness. Great governmental and political emphasis falls, thump, on keeping men from doing anything by themselves. If men want a bar or club of their own where they can enjoy masculine company, women will fight furiously to quash it. Logically they could as well start a bar for women only, to which no man would object. All-male colleges must be integrated (though not all-female ones). There is in all of this a tacit admission of inadequacy: Those who genuinely believe that they can compete don’t need federally enforced social access.
Historically of course merit has mattered less than membership in the right group. In particular, men maintained their dominance for thousands of years without regard to the merits of females. In 1900 there were women qualified to serve in congress, or for that matter to do almost anything, but were not allowed to, and there were many men who weren’t qualified but did serve. It is annoying to those whites and males who opposed special privilege by race and sex to find that that blacks and women do not want equal opportunity, but special privilege.
But perhaps the math department at Harvard doesn’t matter. If no further scientific discovery were ever made, we would be well fed, comfortable, and replete with with video iPods. The modern part of the world, no longer wild and impoverished, has become a vast bureaucracy. Offices require stability and predictability, not great talent, and efficiency seldom matters. What the hell.
Apologetic Note: Last week I mentioned the story about the grown-up Bush going into a supermarket and being astonished by the check-out technology. A reader informs me that this didn’t happen. Since I have spent a lot of time grousing about scuh fables, as for example the $600 toilet seat, I am embarrassed to have done it myself. With luck, you won’t have read this far.