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Stop Thinking Like a Girl

September 27th, 2011 Posted by Susan's Musings 4 comments

I love girls. Not only am I one, but I have six daughters and four granddaughters. My best friends (with the exception of my husband) are women. You get the idea. My female family and friends are smart and talented. Many of them are politically involved, but I would say that it is to everyone’s benefit that they vote like men. What do I mean?

Many years ago, a popular Los Angeles radio personality we knew, regularly decried the inhumanity of the death penalty. Her views changed overnight when a friend of hers was raped and murdered. I happen to think that society benefits from having a death penalty (though I think that at present America’s legal system renders it unfair and ineffectual) but I was still disappointed that the broadcaster altered her views even to ones that aligned more closely with my own. While it is true that sometimes events occur which lead to a complete change in thinking, I don’t think that is what happened in this case.  Rather, emotions temporarily overwhelmed the radio host, which is completely understandable but a poor way to run a society.

As social studies replaced civics in school curricula, more than a name change occurred. In a slow, inexorable process, learning how to be an educated and good citizen was no longer primary. A people-focused curriculum substituted for knowledge of the Constitution, an analysis of history, and measured study. Snapshots of individuals and moments in history supplanted a broad overview. No longer was one trained to see that today’s decisions often have serious unintended ramifications years later. The underlying convictions which made America a great republic were ignored and instead the idea of unrestrained democracy took precedence.

As part of this change, emotions rather than thought often mandated political decisions.  Though it is politically incorrect to use this phraseology, one might say that we began teaching students of both genders to “think like a girl.” What does this mean? Thinking like a girl has nothing to do with I.Q.; it has everything to do with one’s primary method of filtering information. Men tend to place a higher value on rational and intellectual thought while women tend to be more easily influenced by an emotional component.  At different times and places, both men and women use, and should use, both modes of thinking. When it comes to public policy, rational analysis and penetrating discernment need to be elevated.

One of the reasons that societies flourish when men and women interact is because a society that is overly masculine ultimately becomes cruel and violent while a society that is overly feminine becomes weak and ineffective. Masculine socialist regimes such as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union were places where previously civilized people could murder an infant or torture a child, not in anger but because they believed it was the right thing to do. All feminine qualities of compassion were quashed. Too often, however, these societies come into being after an overabundance of feminine thinking, by both men and women, causes society to deteriorate. As people base their decisions by thinking in the moment and in the vague world of good intentions rather than having a long-term and realistic view, the society loses its rudder. It abandons a rigid measuring stick as to what is right and what is wrong, betrays justice by “compassionately” favoring some people more than others, and corrupts its money in a vain attempt to be “fair.” As that civilization inevitably crumbles; violence, unemployment and lawlessness increase. People then turn to government as their protector. While government may cater to feminine thinking by speaking  in platitudes of caring, it ends up amassing tremendous power in the hands of a few. The final result is an unhealthy overly masculine and cruel society.

The entire movement towards sound bites rather than policy statements; to one minute advertisements rather than articulated positions;  to demeaning debates which reward  glib and attention getting rhetoric encourages “thinking like a girl” among candidates, politicians and citizens.

I’m not advocating testosterone testing before voting, but I would have more confidence in the future of civilization if the political system showed fewer signs of estrogen poisoning.  Meanwhile, I wonder if there is a candidate among the Republican cadre for whom conservative principles are a touchstone and who can also articulate them in ways that can reach an America which has been trained to think more emotionally than cognitively.   The last thing we need is a president, either male or female, who “thinks like a girl.” But he or she will certainly need to know how to woo one.

 

 

4 comments

Gayle Johnson says:

Susan,
Thank you for this very articulate piece. I agree with you that young people are not taught the basic structure of our government, but more along the lines of ‘democracy.’ Moreover, that which is demonstrated by those in power (as opposed to the leaders) is seldom in line with the U.S. Constitution, but is designed to garner support from the citizens, in order to retain the power. This is not as it should be; since all of the universe lives in the ebb and flow of life, so should our political/economic cycles be. This is not a tragedy (as reported by the media), but the natural order of things. We must begin to teach that the cycle of life is connected to the requirement to make choices based on eternal principles which have been the foundation from the beginning. If we don’t, there will be no future for the generations to come.
I am grateful to have a candidate who will follow the Constitution, based on his 40 year track record!

Jim Milord says:

Wow, that is so intelligent, largely because it is so unusual. It is really politically incorrect, and I really appreciate that. And it is intellectual, which I don’t hear much from women. And finally, it introduces to me the novel truth that social studies is a devolution from civics. I want so much to send it along to my brother who teaches social studies, but we are unfortunately estranged because we are on opposite sides in the political divide, and I believe that he would not understand what you are saying and would argue with it. But he would agree that he thinks like a girl! Anyway, thanks so much for a wonderful piece, and thanks to the Rabbi for his consistent brilliance.

Wizard Prang says:

Susan,
This is absolutely brilliant, and reflects my own thought processes.
Of course had I said it, I would have been decried as a sexist pig, but you state the case more eloquently than I could.

Susan Lapin says:

I appreciate both your comments. I wasn’t sure how well I expressed myself since I didn’t want to go on and on, so I’m glad you got the point I was trying to make.

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