Critical thinking is not dead. People just don’t use it when they don’t want to.
There are, however, cases when people dare to use their critical faculties, and that is when they want to prove their pre-existing opinions. Like their sexism.
I wonder if one can put this force to use. Can we put the contradictory forces of sexism and statism on a collision course and make people scrutinize their rulers by making said rulers female? Would people fight back and hold politicians more accountable if they were just women?
Critical thinking is not dead. People – man people and woman people – just don’t use it when they don’t want to. Or when they don’t dare to.
But they always dare to engage their most critical of thinking faculties and scrutinize a thought if it happens to come from a woman.
- Imagine Scarlett Johannson tweeting that the Mars is on the Moon
- Emilia Clarke suggesting to slap China with tariffs, that’ll show them!
- Gwyneth Paltrow opining that the North Korean dictator is a great guy.
Even a Trump supporter would suddenly see the problem with tariffs if the suggestion came from a woman. It doesn’t even have to be an adversary-woman, like Clinton, it can just be any female human – it would be sure to awaken critical thinking even in the most authoritarian of minds.
I understand both the proponents and the opponents of female quotas. Those who oppose quotas argue (correctly) that there is no merit in being a quota female, and that quotas are thus unfair to those who managed to get ahead based on merit.
Those who are for quotas (correctly) snort at this and ask the question that exactly what kind of merit someone needs to possess to get onto the board of a bank, for instance? Being good with numbers? Being the best at designing financial instruments? Did the boss’ son become VP because he was so good – or because he had the connections and learned the rules of the game at the earliest age, from his father? And if the latter, why can’t someone else have a shot at building the same connections and get a chance to learn the rules of the game – by being placed on the board in the first place?
Okay, I would not like to see laws forcing private enterprises (truly private ones, not the ones pulling political favors) to promote women. But political positions have no claim on being anyone’s private business and private responsibility. Neither do they feature anything merit-related in their selection mechanism. I have nothing against gender quotas in political positions, especially since they would help the fight against an equally nasty human thinking failure: default, unquestioning statism on both sides of the political divide.
Granted, sexism and statism are just two manifestations of the same thinking failure, authoritarianism. But is this case, they might be played against each other.
It may take a million years for society to balance itself out organically and truly see people for their individual merits – and not just through gender (or race) prism. But we might speed up the process by populating visible positions of power by female people, just to get used to the sight. If today’s kindergarteners get used to the mere sight of ladies as bosses, we can speed up the process.
It doesn’t help today’s grownups though who can’t square being told what to do with the fact that the suggestion came from a woman person. But even they would benefit from the educational effect of female politicians.
I would die laughing as otherwise unquestioningly statist people would suddenly scrutinize new laws and question the need for regulations in the first place – just because said regulations were proposed by female decisionmakers.
Society may let people be sexist, but the law is a bit harder to contemptuously defy and you can’t shrug it off in a sexist tantrum. So sexist men and women would engage their critical faculties and criticize that lady politician like a motherfucker.
“Are you sure you should regulate that field, darling? Is that really within your paygrade?
“I see that you asked experts, dear, but are you sure you understood what they said? Could you wrap your little head around it? Did you have time to read it? Did you have someone to explain it to you?
Questioning the expertise of decisionmakers and the legitimacy to legislate over reality would come back into fashion – and not just when the other side does it.
“We are talking about aviation, dear. What do you know about aviation, after all? Do you even know how big planes can take off? Do you understand it? No? So why do you think you can make a rule that doesn’t break anything by accident?
They would even read the Wikipedia pages of logical fallacies (not just send them) to correct the womenfolk.
“Yes, I’m sure, you think you understand, sweetheart, but have you heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect? It says that when you think you understand something, you really don’t. Here, read this link, it explains it.
They would even learn to analyse and argue.
“Look, darling, you have been elected based on popularity, OK? That doesn’t mean you also know how to govern. That is a different skillset than just stepping up on a stage, batting your eyelids and tell people to vote for you.
“Maybe you shouldn’t be so bossy. You should just calmly put down your credentials, tell us why you think you would be good for the job, and let us decide. Don’t just yell slogans, dear, anyone can do that. That’s unprofessional. We need leaders here, not just cheerleaders…
“Don’t just slap an important trade partner with tariffs in a hissy fit! Are you menstruating or something? Do you have some personal business that you’re promoting? Do you even understand economics? Yes, you may have a degree, but that doesn’t mean you understand this!
And of course, the inevitable struggle for independence, when your mother wants to impose a curfew.
“Who are you to tell us what to do? You are not my mother, know your place, politician!
And that is the force of nature I’d like to harness: spite, contempt, and the reflex to break free and jealously guard liberties from a ruling class that doesn’t know its place anymore.
And I want to put it to good use in educating people in the fine art of not being governed when they don’t need to be.
- I want them to see political leaders as people like themselves.
- I want them to ask the basic questions. I want them to analyse why we need politicians – and when we don’t.
- I want people to scrutinize politicians’ every move for overreach or moral corruption.
- I want people to count the household money and ask their politicians where it went.
- I want people to assign blame for unintended consequences of regulations and be skeptical of new ones.
And the only group of people that normally gets that treatment is women.
And sure enough, stupid stuff does come from womenfolk. I never said that the quality of regulation would skyrocket just because it’s made by women. Just because women have been silenced so far doesn’t mean they are right or correct. Those are two different things. Women politicians would come up with just as many stupid and vile regulations as men do. They would cause just as many unintended consequences as male politicians do.
Except that women would find it harder to ignore and deny the consequences of their actions because society would be quick to attribute the mistakes to them.
So why don’t we engage and utilize people’s newfound critical thinking in the service of sanity: make them more critical of their political elites. Make them more prone to fight back and question the necessity of new rules every week. Make society scrutinize legislation for nicely packaged corruption opportunities – because when lady politicians get nasty rich while in office, that’s not OK.
When a lady emperor is naked, we can all see it because we get an erection.
Make people genuinely critical of their state authorities and demanding of them – not just some token “anti-establishment” posturing that inevitably ends up voting for a strongman and forgoing even more freedoms. Populist fake anti-establishmentism lacks real courage. Courage to criticize the powerful, and the courage to see the fault in an argument, even if it comes from within one’s own political tribe. Even if it comes from those who order armies and police squads around.
Let’s fill top political positions with women and harness the scrutiny that would inevitably fall on them!
There is no talent or merit in politics anyway. Only the picking of the right tie, yelling the catchiest of slogans, promising the biggest amount of demagogy one can think of – getting elected is the ultimate counter-selection mechanism, ensuring that the worst gets on top and that no one with any aptitude to sanity and willingness to ask the right questions will ever get into position to do so. It might as well be a woman. At least the newcomers don’t know the ropes of corruption yet.
So yes, I am all for quotas in politics. Merit would be better, but that’s not forthcoming, not with these rules of popularity contests for elections. We don’ even know what merit is, or what makes a good policymaker – let alone designing a selection mechanism that filters for that.