The Legitimacy of White Male Anger
Recently, while working on a longer article responding to critics of my women in philosophy article, this author came to a greater appreciation for conservative anger over affirmative action. Those demanding that more women be hired in various academic fields do so with considerable sanctimony and callousness. They sanctimoniously condemn Lawrence Summers, ignoring that they are the ones demanding the jobs. They callously ignore the victims of their policies (nerdy white dudes). And they seem to pursue these claims in a blatantly self-serving manner, never demanding that majority female fields achieve gender parity.
In the wake of the hysterical response to Lawrence Summers' infamous remarks on the status of women in the sciences, virtually everyone forgot the context. Lawrence Summers was responding to an implicit demand to give more women jobs, he was not attempting to deny anyone a job based on their gender. Feminists did not pounce on him for advocating discrimination; rather, feminists pounced because to suggest that men and women might, on average, have different interests and talents imposes "fetters" on women's self-actualization. But what if Lawrence Summers was right? What if men are more interested in, and able, at certain things? If this were the case, would the insistence on gender parity in all fields of endeavor not impose an unacceptable burden on men's self-actualization?
When one enrolls in a course taught by a feminist professor, one hears a familiar story: the integration of the trades. When women first moved into the blue collar trades they received a rather unfriendly reception from the men already there. While this is bad, and the men shouldn't have done this, do feminists ever stop and consider the men's perspective? The man they replaced probably needed that job more, and suffered more for the loss of it than the woman gained by taking it. Given the social norms, men were expected to be the breadwinners, they had families to support. Bemoan the norms all you want, but their existence is a matter of fact not opinion.
Very few tenure track jobs exist in philosophy, and they mean a lot to the people who have or want them. Opportunities for such a self-actualizing career are a scarce good, distributed to some and not to others. If you take one of these scarce goods, you deny it to someone else; this would cause a decent person to reflect on what basis they could deny this to somebody else. Merit seems to be the only legitimate reason. Do feminists think about this when they demand more tenure track jobs in philosophy for women? Not bloody likely.
Those who seek gender parity through affirmative action ashould have an appreciation for the legitimacy of the other side. When the wagon maker is asked to give up his occupation, it can be accepted as a necessary sacrifice to the greater good (technology, wealth maximization, all of that). But what goal does gender parity achieve? In practice we are asking someone to give up something very precious, simply so another may enjoy it. It's hard to imagine anyone readily accepting such an imposition.