Why (Some) Men Don't Support Summers

The Larry Summers rumpus goes on and on—with an informative but deceptively-titled story about the gender difference "Math Myth" making the cover of the March 7 Time Magazine—even though the President of Harvard announced his complete capitulation to the forces of political correctness back in January.

The release of the transcript of Summers' talk about why ultra-elite universities don't have as many women as men professors in science and engineering merely enraged his critics further. It proved to be logical, insightful, and sensible (as I pointed out recently in the National Post of Toronto). Indeed, Summers' bell curve-based way of thinking suggests that he might occasionally lock his office door, draw his blinds, and browse the website of the heretical statistician who calls himself the La Griffe du Lion.

One interesting point that hasn't been explored: why have so many male scientists and engineers piled on Summers?

Obviously, feminist intimidation plays a huge role. But some of the gentlemen actually seem to be semi-sincere.

No doubt a few have become true believers in the politically-correct cant with which they have been so heavily indoctrinated.

But a more interesting subset, however, are the male science and engineering types who support gender quotas for women out of self-interest. My theory: they see the feminists' vendetta against Summers as their chance to get revenge on the female sex for its annoying femaleness.

Why do these men insist that sexist discrimination and socialization are the only possible reasons there are fewer women than men in their own fields?

Why do they demand massive social engineering to get more women to become as obsessive about the pocket-protector professions as they are?

Paradoxically, this is typically because of how little these nerds appreciate women. They don't like females the way they are. They want a vast societal effort to remold women into liking the same nerdy things they like.

That way, maybe, nerds can finally get dates.

It's roughly the same reason you see so many butt-kicking babes in movies aimed at male teenage comic book geeks—such as "The Matrix," "X-Men," "Charlie's Angels," and "Tomb Raider" franchises. It's always hyped in the press as female empowerment. But it's driven far more by the adolescent male's wish that sexy girls would stop being interested in all that boring girl stuff like relationships and start being interested in cool guy stuff, like kung-fu fighting and really big guns.

There's also a somewhat older male constituency for re-engineering American society to persuade females to care more about crankshafts and subatomic particles: scientist and engineer fathers who hunger for a child to follow in their professional footsteps.

Increasingly, these men lack the sons whom they would previously have browbeaten into studying their specialties. Smaller family sizes mean fewer men have sons. Roughly half of all one-child families and one quarter of all two-child families have only daughters. So men are putting more pressure on their little girls to follow in their footsteps.

You see the same dynamic in kids' baseball these days. There will be eight 11-year-old boys on the field, and one girl, out in right field. She doesn't particularly want to be there. But her dad played a little ball back in school, and has always dreamed of a son who will fulfill his jock dreams. However, he doesn't have one. So she has to stand in.

It would make this father's job easier if society propagandized girls even more about how fashionable it is for girls to do traditionally male things.

One of the ironies of gender quotas intended to encourage women to enter male-dominated careers such as construction contractor is that they subsidize nepotism and dynasticism.

"Set-aside" government contracts earmarked for women-owned construction firms notoriously end up going to firms run by politically well-connected men—who have installed their daughters, wives, or mothers as phony owners. And even when the woman is actually running the construction company, she's often the daughter of a contractor.

My favorite example: the long-running scandal in which Chicago Mayor Richie Daley kept promising a full scale investigation to get to the bottom of whether or not his close friends, the Duff brothers, were indeed eligible for the millions in female-only contracts they had received from the city.

Similarly, gender quotas in white-collar fields tend to subsidize the daughters of the affluent. Years ago, a black lawyer pointed out to me that, sure, he benefited from affirmative action—but so did the wealthy young white women his corporate law firm hired, and with whom he had to compete.

His firm's goal was to fill their gender quota—and simultaneously do some rainmaking by hiring the daughters of CEOs.

This explains why sex quotas aren't as politically divisive as racial or ethnic quotas. Sure, gender preferences for women increase the burden on white males. But, while they take from men, they often give to their mothers, sisters, wives and daughters.

So, the net effect on a family as a whole tends to be more mixed. Whereas with race and ethnic preferences, individuals are battling over the treatment not only of themselves, but of their children and grandchildren.  

Another reason few men viscerally grasp that gender quotas like those Summers has now promised to women will work against their own opportunities: the individual male ego. Collective male solidarity is seldom a match for it.

Sex preferences for women penalize the marginal male. But what Real Man would admit to himself that he is marginal? (This was one of the findings of Frederick Lynch's 1992 study of white men and Affirmative Action, Invisible Victims.)

As an analogy, consider how men tend to think about polygamy. For 20 years, I've read every article I've come across in the press about polygamy, and they all follow the same pattern. They simply assume that polygamy is in the interest of men, and thus examine carefully whether polygamy is good for women.

I finally had to write an article myself pointing out that for one man to take four wives means that, in the normal course of events, three men will get no wives at all.

But in articles about polygamy, you never read about the lonely bachelors.

This blind spot seems to arise because it's virtually impossible for a man to imagine himself as one of the losers in a polygamous society, rather than the one big winner. He might prefer one wife to the 150 wives acquired by a Kenyan gentleman I once read about. But his male ego can't allow him to identify with the 149 men who end up rejected and alone.

This psychological quirk creates a reality distortion field in the heads of men when it comes to gender preferences: No way could I ever be the victim of a quota!

But there are indeed victims. And, as we see in Summers Show Trial, one of them is truth.

[Steve Sailer [email him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and movie critic for The American Conservative. His website www.iSteve.blogspot.com features his daily blog.]