So Jennifer Lawrence recently penned a short essay being hailed about the Interwebs. Being a user of Google News (silly me), I thought I might take a look. Though I really don’t know much about her, Ms. Lawrence has struck me as an intelligent and interesting person who isn’t afraid to stand up and say what’s right (particularly during the release of her personal pictures to the Internet and the Sony hack), so I caved to the clickbait headlines.
It’s an interesting essay. She is articulate and casual, which is an always pleasant combination to read, and she begins with a nice admission of awareness that her situation is “not exactly relatable.” But there is much which is relatable in her situation, it seems, and I think her relatability might go beyond her expectations in many ways.
I’m a guy. A dude. I have a penis. However, my life is entirely unremarkable financially and in terms of economic success. I manage my resources well and I am not wanting in any serious regard, and for this I am most grateful; I balk at expressing any concern for myself whatsoever with statistics regarding poverty around the world as they are. I see a bit of that same concern in Ms. Lawrence’s article, and it is a friendly kinship I feel with her on that account.
Given my penis, and the observations of those such as Ms. Lawrence, one might wonder why I am not outrageously successful. I mean, I have that golden penis which ought to allow for me to come across as fierce and tactical in my negotiations. What’s more, given my abilities which tend to place me roughly near the top of a local skill spectrum, I should just be showered with money all day long while people worship my masculine awesomeness.
Of course, that’s a bit facetious. To her credit, Ms. Lawrence is careful to note that her pay disparity could be the result of characteristics typical of all young people or her seemingly pleasant personality. I’m pretty young myself, only a few years older than she, and I agree with that assessment. There is no question in my mind that having common human decency and being young often precludes one from making the same gains made by those who are in possession of neither youth nor decency.
And that’s sort of the introduction to the point I intend to make here. It is surely the case that there are sexists in the world. Of all sexists, it is almost certainly the case there are more misogynists than misandrists. Surely, whatever the case, the former are more consequential than the latter in the vast majority of situations. However, in my experience, such sexism is invariably the outcropping of a deeper immorality, and to whatever extent people in powerful positions possess that deeper immorality, they will inflict suffering on men and women alike who are young and decent.
There is good reason to believe I was run out of an otherwise wonderful (with the potential to be one of the best possible) job which I otherwise enjoyed by a group of blatantly misogynistic jerks. It is an opinion of mine which is held more strongly by my former coworkers, in fact, and there is a lot of good evidence for the conclusion. The men responsible for this did not mistreat me on account of my sex, obviously, but while my sex may have earned me a theoretical position in their boys’ club, sex alone would not keep one in the club.
Women who are mistreated by men may be inclined to believe that, were they male, such mistreatment would never have happened. But I want to say something which should be obvious and yet often goes unsaid: those same men who, out of their own moral failings, mistreat women superficially on account of their sex will mistreat men and women alike on account of their deeper sins if need be. Having a penis is not a fast track path to success lest it be coupled with the sacrifice of one’s soul.
For the people who compose these boys’ clubs are not very smart. They may have practical capabilities, but those are often generated and supported through a vast network of social connections and powers totally unrelated to intelligence. To whatever extent they are intelligent, their intelligence is out to lunch, so to speak, on the more important topics of the day. As one might suspect, they certainly don’t have a well-considered and studied misogyny from which their actions are guided. Rather, their misogyny is one of the many consequences of their impoverished intellectual lives. I have been privy to the discussions which go on in these boys’ clubs, and they are stunningly pathetic. They are practically their own satires. They are forty-year-old men sitting around ogling twenty-something college students and heading to bars where they believe the waitresses are hot.
Seriously, that’s what happens.
And I want no part in it. As I wrote, I sure got my foot in the door, and it is unquestionably on account of my male physiology that I was granted such an otherwise arbitrary invitation denied to most of the females in that same organization, but it was not a place I could remain. To acquiesce even passively to the grotesque behaviors of these fools would be to sacrifice my own integrity, and as a result, I very tactfully distanced myself from them. Yet, at this point, there was no covert means by which to stop my professional suffering because of it.
For eventually, one is asked by such wantonly immoral characters to accompany them in their immorality which extends beyond superficial sexism to downright malicious self-preservation. I was directly asked to lie on their behalf, and I refused. I made it clear to them repeatedly that I tolerate no immorality in myself, and the leading hypothesis to my stagnant wage (I made less than half of their salaries despite doing quite literally all of the work) and eventual uncontested departure (I found another job, and they did not try to match my still-less-than-half-of-their-salary offer) is that they wanted to be rid of the man who might betray their lies should some serious misdeed be made apparent to even higher powers (who were, of course, often in the club themselves, but who would sell those fools beneath them down the river in a heartbeat to save their own skins).
For you see, unlike those high-powered male jerks with whom Ms. Lawrence has worked, I have no such social currency with which to throw my weight around. Those above those above me were those to whom I might turn for support, and they were often even more corrupt. I know with certainty that my immediate superior above those most responsible for my departure was quite aware of their immorality, and I know for a further fact that person made use of that immorality when that person’s own situation called for it.
I absolutely labored over the most tactful way to convey my positions. Though Ms. Lawrence doubts that men ever have to suffer such considerations, let it be known that seemingly endlessly did I labor over those petty concerns, all out of the need to coexist professionally with a bunch of mindless jerks. Some of them were my professional superiors, and all of them worked together to ensure they retained their six figure salaries without having to do any actual work (and I mean that very literally and seriously, without hyperbole).
So, though I don’t want to deny the power of sexism, I want to point out that it is often (and it would surprise me if it were not virtually always) a symptom of a deeper problem which results in obstructions for any decent human being, male or female. Those same idiots who eschew women unfairly because of their sex I have observed also to eschew men because they were fat (I saw a man refused from a job interview by the boys’ club on that basis, actually initiated by a female cohort of the sexist men; her virtual membership in their club was an interesting testament to the strength of that bond of immorality over the superficial sexism, incidentally) or anyone because he or she was not complacent in the face of their immorality.
In short: eliminating sexism just isn’t going to solve the problems many seem to think it will solve. The immorality of sexists runs deeper than their superficial and casual dismissal of women. Were this avenue for expression of their immorality ripped from beneath their feet, they would simply walk another devious path. Society would be much better off being encouraged to focus on the elimination of the immorality upon which sexism depends than squabbling over one particular consequence of such immorality. Further, it’s not helping that the Internet is rapidly descending into a victimhood competition which is stoking the flames of radical feminists who espouse misandry as the solution to misogyny.
For a tangential, yet important point: I wonder if Ms. Lawrence considers while she is considering this problem of sexism that her career would not exist were it not for the fact that she is a very attractive female. There is approximately zero chance she would have been cast as Katniss were it not for her stellar good looks, and given her net worth in comparison to mine, one might reasonably argue that being (an attractive) female has done her a lot more good than being (an aesthetically unremarkable) male has done me. While she’s lamenting the unearned disadvantages with which she may be laden as a result of her biological accidents (such as her sex), she might consider the extreme unearned advantages she is reaping as a result of her biological accidents (her feminine attractiveness). It’s not, perhaps, the average condition of people on the planet, but it is worth consideration. The powers from which stem the opposition of good people are not so easily confined to single peripheral issues such as sexism.
Again, I don’t want to deny the importance of sexism, and I will certainly stand with those who seek to put a rational end to it. But our society’s pendulum seems to be swinging so strongly in this sort of Neo-PC, Neo-Feminist direction (note: not the direction implied by Ms. Lawrence’s essay) lately that a little counter-balance could do well for us. Of course, once one says that, some “Men’s Rights” activists show up and I’m back to contemplating the value of denying men voting rights altogether.