Been sitting on this article for a few days - waiting to see if it exploded across the blogosphere - but nope - haven't seen it anywhere else. To me, this is one of the most important articles of the year. And it's by mainstreamer, Fareed Zakaria - who I rarely agree with - but in this case, he's all over this trend that nobody else has seemed to notice. Sure, everyone is talking about a female POTUS in 2008, but the talk rarely goes to the Feminist argument for a female POTUS - that of a female politician having a fundamentally different set of priorities than a male politician, and how this might play on a worldwide scale.
What difference does it make? Does it really matter that a president or a representative is male or female? Many voters seem to think so. A 2000 Gallup poll in Latin America found that 62 percent of people believed that women would do better than men at fighting poverty, 72 percent favored women for improving education and 53 percent thought women would make better diplomats. There is growing evidence that, at the very least, where women make up a significant percentage of government, they tend to hold priorities that are different from men's. The World Economic Forum found, in a study of just three countries, that women wanted more money for health care, education and social welfare, and less for the military. Across the globe, women are perceived as less corrupt.
This is consistent with growing evidence at a micro level that women are better recipients of aid than men. Around the world, if you give cash to a mother, she tends to use it to invest in children's health and education. (A man, on the other hand, will often take it and head to the local watering hole.) 'Studies from Brazil show that survival possibilities of a child increase by 20 percent if the income is in the hands of the mother rather than the father,' says the World Bank's Mayra Buvinic.
There is another perceived difference between men and women. Seven years ago, Francis Fukuyama published an article in Foreign Affairs in which he drew on the rapidly growing field of evolutionary biology to argue that 'aggression, violence, war, and intense competition for dominance... are more closely associated with men than women.' He concluded that 'a world run by women would follow different rules ... and it is towards this kind of world that all post-industrial societies in the West are moving. As women gain power in these countries, the latter should become less aggressive, adventurous, competitive, and violent.' He even asks the politically incorrect question, could some "female" traits have negative effects for governance.
Fukuyama's view was denounced by some feminists for ignoring the reality that war is a complex event produced by many forces—not just machismo—and for propagating a stereotypical view of women as "soft" and men as "hard." But there does appear to be growing scientific evidence that certain basic distinctions between men and women are hard-wired. There are always the female exceptions—Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi—just as there are male ones—the Buddha, Gandhi—but there are some studies that support the general distinction between most men and women.
It is much too soon to be able to tell how different the world would be if women were equal partners in government. But it's a trend that's coming soon to a country near you, so keep watching.
Leave it to the Feminists to criticize an article that uses scientific evidence to suggest that countries headed by females will become, among other things, less aggressive and violent. Brilliant, Feminists.
I don't know if Zakaria has got his story straight about some Feminists criticizing Fukuyama for calling women 'soft', but here are a couple of Fukuyama's graphs - I didn't find anything offensive:
Both men and women participate in perpetuating the stereotypical gender identities that associate men with war and competition and women with peace and cooperation. As sophisticated feminists like Jean Bethke Elshtain have pointed out, the traditional dichotomy between the male "just warrior" marching to war and the female "beautiful soul" marching for peace is frequently transcended in practice by women intoxicated by war and by men repulsed by its cruelties. But like many stereotypes, it rests on a truth, amply confirmed by much of the new research in evolutionary biology. Wives and mothers can enthusiastically send their husbands and sons off to war; like Sioux women, they can question their manliness for failing to go into battle or themselves torture prisoners. But statistically speaking it is primarily men who enjoy the experience of aggression and the camaraderie it brings and who revel in the ritualization of war that is, as the anthropologist Robin Fox puts it, another way of understanding diplomacy.
A truly matriarchal world, then, would be less prone to conflict and more conciliatory and cooperative than the one we inhabit now. Where the new biology parts company with feminism is in the causal explanation it gives for this difference in sex roles. The ongoing revolution in the life sciences has almost totally escaped the notice of much of the social sciences and humanities, particularly the parts of the academy concerned with feminism, postmodernism, cultural studies, and the like. While there are some feminists who believe that sex differences have a natural basis, by far the majority are committed to the idea that men and women are psychologically identical, and that any differences in behavior, with regard to violence or any other characteristic, are the result of some prior social construction passed on by the prevailing culture.
What could the Feminists have been objecting to? Got me.
We mentioned Fukuyama before on this blog - he's a neocon. And while this older, pre-Iraq War article of his seems to be pretty quality, I knew that I'd criticized him harshly since the beginning of the Iraq War.
I looked for some of my criticism of him on this blog, but apparently I must not have left any here. Well, better late than never - Francis Fukuyama is an intellectual coward. After Iraq started turning to shit, he hit the press to say something to the effect, "well, I thought it might be a bad idea, but I just wanted to see if they could pull it off". No right or wrong, no legal or illegal - he just played good little intellectual and kept his mouth shut while his buddies committed treason and drove us off to war. This is exactly the kind of intellectual that Chomsky warns us about - the kind who kowtows to the powers-that-be. Disgraceful. Dr. Fukuyama, you should be ashamed of yourself. Retire your post and go hang you head in shame for the rest of your days on this earth.