Chan Lowe: What women lack

PITTSFIELD — A record number of women are running for public office this year — most of them Democrats. They're fed up with the current occupant of the White House who conducts his personal life like an endless frat party. They've had it with Republican males who don't blink an eye at dictating what women can do with their bodies while gutting programs that would feed their children and keep them healthy. They want to get paid the same as their male counterparts.

Most of all, they think they can do a better job of governing, and they're probably right. Here's the crux of it: whether we're talking international relations between world leaders, moving legislation through Congress or state legislatures or just running a town, there is something women lack that gives them a leg up on men. They don't possess a biologically hard-wired need to be the victor in human interactions.

President Trump can be seen as an example of the frailest of male egos who will sacrifice just about anything — including the best interests of his nation — to look like a "winner." One of the reasons our politics have descended into such a state of disrepair is that "compromise," the concept around which the Founding Fathers designed Congress, by definition allows all parties to win something. In today's zero-sum, chest-thumping, antler-locking world of hyperpartisanship, allowing one's opponent to retain something of what he fought for is to deny one's own side complete ownership of the battlefield, which is tantamount to losing.

Rivals into the sea

I once watched a pod of elephant seals during mating season on California's Central Coast. The females lounged around while the males got down to the serious business of determining which one was going to snag all the hot babes. There was a lot of noise, wrestling, whacking — even some bloodletting. Finally, the alpha male triumphed, but what he did next was very, well, Trumpian. He didn't settle down to enjoy his spoils until every other male had been driven into the sea to go find some other pod. He wouldn't even allow them to stay behind to court the wallflowers. It was all about — and only about — him.

Men in government tend to look over their shoulders to see how what they're doing is being received. This concern for their own status is a direct impediment to resolving thorny issues, for the reasons stated above. Women, on the other hand, first suss out what they have in common, then figure out a way for the greatest number to get the most of what they want. It isn't because they're better human beings, it's just that they don't suffer from that pesky biological need to preen men have.

For that reason, one of the most tragic byproducts of male domination of our society is war. If Angela Merkel and Theresa May had been leaders of their respective countries in 1939, they might have sat down and worked things out over tea rather than send millions of their young men to death by proxy. Our protracted involvement in Vietnam and, later, Afghanistan was, and is, all about the avoidance of looking like we were bested. Hence, the popularity of the phrase, "Let's just declare victory and get out."

Finally, I think a lot of people, especially men, were alienated by Hillary Clinton because she acted too much like a man. Of course, she was boxed in. It's still pretty much a man's world, and the conundrum women in politics face is that they have to be tougher than men at their own game if they're going to succeed, which overshadows those very qualities that make women effective politicians. Try as she might, Hillary didn't manage to thread that needle. When a woman finally does become leader of the free world — which can't come soon enough — that person will have been expected to figure out how to buck the howling headwinds of male privilege, yet emerge without a hair out of place.

As to who that might be, your guess is as good as mine.

Chan Lowe is the deputy editorial page editor of The Eagle and a syndicated editorial cartoonist.


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