The Thinking 
Housewife
 

A Few Words on the Women’s Franchise

November 5, 2011

 

AT VFR, Lawrence Auster argues that the women’s franchise initially had little noticeable effect on political life, but has been progressively damaging. (The politicization of women, I would add, has deprived natural feminine preoccupations of dignity and led to the trivialization of women’s work.) Mr. Auster writes:

There are many examples of the deleterious effects that the women’s franchise and the assumption of political power by women have had on politics. Think of the mob of Democratic female House members like a bunch of crazed Bacchae climbing the stairs of the U.S. Senate in October 1991 demanding the destruction of Clarence Thomas. Another example, still vivid in my mind, is the 2000 GOP national convention. The first three days of the convention consisted of a minority “dog and pony show” with endless blacks and Hispanics appearing on the stage before an audience of almost 100 percent white delegates. The purpose of this ridiculous display was not to win the black and Hispanic electorates (because the GOP leaders knew that wasn’t possible), but to assure the white “soccer moms” that the GOP was “nice.”

The placing of females’ emotional preoccupations at the center of politics, combined with the obligatory equal inclusion of women in leading political positions, also corresponds with women’s narcissistic celebration of their “power,” as seen in the recent sexy magazine cover shotof 37-year-old Romanian cabinet minister Elena Udrea.

Politics cannot be serious when women are equally included in it. Women’s political equality has become a major factor in the now precipitous decline of the West.

 

                                                      — Comments —

Francis W. Poretti writes:

Mr. Auster is a longtime opponent of women in politics, including in the voting booth, so his take on such as you cited it is no surprise. But there’s an alternate explanation that serves equally well, if not better.

Human characteristics, including intelligence, aggression, and resilience in the face of an assault, exist in a distribution. Some women will have a great deal more of these things than others. However, the standard deviations of the sexes’ respective bell curves are quite different, which causes certain sex-linked correlations to become significant. One of those correlations is the one between aggression and confidence. 

The sort of woman who possesses the necessary aggression to attain high federal office is also likely to be impenetrably confident in herself: both in the accuracy of her views and in the moral soundness of her position. This gives her an advantage over a man whose aggression is adequate to reach the same office, but is unwilling to assail a woman on her moral stance. The asymmetry allows her an avenue of attack he denies to himself. Most men, being less confident in their stances, unwilling to retaliate in kind, and desiring to appear gracious toward a female colleague, will concede to such an attack from a woman.

In part, it’s a consequence of the contradiction built into contemporary feminist ideas: She can do anything he can, but she’s a fragile flower who must be protected from him and helped to rise to his level. The incentives for bad behavior from female politicians are obvious. 

If the contradiction were to be dispelled, the incentives for misbehavior would go with it. Whether that’s possible, given the other asymmetries between the sexes, is of course debatable. But I would prefer that approach to Auster’s preference that women be excluded from politics and political office. 

A tangential observation: Local and state offices require less aggression to attain and impose less stress on their occupants. However, the relentless way in which Washington has sucked the sovereignty and authority out of lesser political units has made those positions appear trivial, even though they retain significance and at least some independence of action. Many women who aspire to political office would be extremely well suited to local and state offices, where there’s a far better chance that the people over whom they hold sway would know them personally, would be welcome in their homes, and would be allowed to counsel them. Instead, the local and state levels are dominated by the slimiest sort of male politician, the sort of whom Ferdinand Lundberg once wrote: 

…it is a settled conclusion among seasoned observers that, Congress apart as a separate case, the lower legislatures — state, county, and municipal — are Augean stables of misfeasance, malfeasance, and nonfeasance from year to year and decade to decade, and that they are preponderantly staffed by riffraff, or what the police define as “undesirables,” people who if they were not in influential positions would be unceremoniously told to “keep moving.” Exceptions among them are minor. Many of them, including congressmen, refuse to go before the television cameras because it is then so plainly obvious to everybody what they are. Their whole demeanor arouses instant distrust in the intelligent. They are, all too painfully, type-cast for the race track, the sideshow carnival, the back alley, the peep show, the low tavern, the bordello, the dive. Evasiveness, dissimulation, insincerity shine through their false bonhomie like beacon lights….

As to other legislatures, Senator Estes Kefauver found representatives of the vulpine Chicago Mafia ensconced in the Illinois legislature, which has been rocked by one scandal of the standard variety after the other off and on for seventy-five years. What he didn’t bring out was that the Mafians were clearly superior types to many non-Mafians.

Public attention, indeed, usually centers on only a few lower legislatures — Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, California and Illinois — and the impression is thereby fostered in the unduly trusting that the ones they don’t hear about are on the level. But such an impression is false. The ones just mentioned come into more frequent view because their jurisdictions are extremely competitive and the pickings are richer. Fierce fights over the spoils generate telltale commotion. Most of the states are quieter under strict one-party quasi-Soviet Establishment dominance, with local newspapers cut in on the gravy. Public criticism and information are held to a minimum, grousers are thrown a bone, and not many in the local populace know or really care. Even so, scandalous goings-on explode into view from time to time in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Missouri and elsewhere — no state excepted. Any enterprising newspaper at any time could send an aggressive reporter into any one of them and come up with enough ordure to make the Founding Fathers collectively vomit up their very souls in their graves. [From The Rich and the Super-Rich,1968]

Laura writes:

My complaint against the women’s franchise is somewhat different from Mr. Auster’s, although I agree with his observation that the entry of large numbers of women in politics in a feminist society has trivialized political discussion.

More importantly, the women’s franchise has hurt marriage. When men vote on behalf of their families, society affirms fatherhood. The male franchise had an important symbolic purpose. It  conveyed what men do. (Society doesn’t need to convey what women do in the familyIt’s obvious.) Men lead their families. Without public affirmation of the institution of fatherhood, a community loses its common understanding of this male role.

Men will always overwhelmingly occupy positions of high public power, given their innate competitiveness, aggression and abstract intelligence. However, men are not assured this role in private life. They can, if a society so chooses, be stripped of all effective power within the family.

And when men don’t have a clearly-defined family role, monogamy suffers. It becomes less appealing to both men and women. The more power women gain in the political sphere, the more the private sphere becomes decivilized. Given that this is the sphere in which women truly excel and where they possess their own form of dominance, this means that the lives of many women are worsened and children are relatively neglected.

Mr. Poretti writes:

The sort of woman who possesses the necessary aggression to attain high federal office is also likely to be impenetrably confident in herself: both in the accuracy of her views and in the moral soundness of her position. This gives her an advantage over a man whose aggression is adequate to reach the same office, but is unwilling to assail a woman on her moral stance. The asymmetry allows her an avenue of attack he denies to himself. Most men, being less confident in their stances, unwilling to retaliate in kind, and desiring to appear gracious toward a female colleague, will concede to such an attack from a woman.

In part, it’s a consequence of the contradiction built into contemporary feminist ideas: She can do anything he can, but she’s a fragile flower who must be protected from him and helped to rise to his level. The incentives for bad behavior from female politicians are obvious.

That’s an excellent observation. 

The psychodynamics between the sexes create serious problems in a coed political world. The temptation for female misbehavior you mention shows itself most often, in my opinion, when women politicians intrude narcissistic concerns into political discussion. An example of this was when Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Elena Kagan lectured the nation at Kagan’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings on the need to make life better for women.

“The best thing we could do as a society is to try and enable women … to manage those balances… [and] the desire to have a fulfilling professional life and a wonderful family life,” said Kagan.

Men in political life naturally defer to feminism.

However, Mr.Poretti writes:

If the contradiction were to be dispelled, the incentives for misbehavior would go with it. Whether that’s possible, given the other asymmetries between the sexes, is of course debatable.

Any effort to exterminate inborn tendencies requires draconian measures, such as sexual harrassment laws. These measures will always be anti-male in an egalitarian society. There will never be harsh measures against women because society’s natural and healthy inclination is to protect women from harm.

In my state, there are many women in the state legislature; more and more women are running for other state elective offices. I disagree with your point on lower elective offices. Men have a natural tendency to differentiate themselves from women and to be attracted to careers, in part, by the opportunity to compete with other men, not with women. The more women occupy positions of leadership, the less appealing they become to men.

Once women enter these lower levels of poltical life, there is the risk of them becoming heavily dominated by women. Besides, many of these are careerist positions, and women should not be encouraged in careerism. In any event, you suggest that women would be more virtuous in state office than men. This contradicts your earlier point. But more importantly, women, because of their greater empathy, naturally want government to solve social problems. However virtuous they might be as state legistlators, over time the effect of many women in office at the state level would be to enlarge government.

Women are naturally compassionate. That is their greatest strength. They shouldn’t govern in large numbers because they risk putting this inborn strength to improper ends and depriving society of compassion where it is most needed.

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