HBD: Human Biodiversity

The Women Have a Social Network Problem


A few months back, Entertainment Weekly published a feminist screed, 'The Social Network's Woman Problem'. In it, columnist Jennifer Armstrong, reviewing The Social Network, concedes that women generally aren't interested in computer science and that they don't feature prominently in the true-life story that inspired the movie. While she grudgingly admits that it wouldn't be appropriate to lie about events, she sniffs that, "[I]f this were fiction, the snubs would be inexcusable."

How refreshing! Here we have an admission that the female computer gurus are largely fictional, but that writers have a moral obligation to depict an inverted world that corroborates egalitarian gender fantasies. It would be inexcusable for gender egalitarians to suggest that males are the primary drivers of technological innovation.

Ironically, Larry Summers, the same former Harvard President who shooed the Winklevoss twins out his office in the movie would probably shoo Armstrong out as well. Back in 2005 he ignited a firestorm of feminist outrage with his frank attribution of the “underrepresentation” of women in science and engineering to “upbringing, genetics and time spent on child-rearing.”

And how did the Ivy League audience respond to the suggestion that gender differences in academic and professional outcomes owed to something other than victimization and systemic White male bigotry?

"I felt I was going to be sick," said Nancy Hopkins, a biology professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who listened to part of Summers's speech Friday at a session on the progress of women in academia organized by the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Mass. She walked out in what she described as a physical sense of disgust.

"My heart was pounding and my breath was shallow," she said. "I was extremely upset." 

One lady in attendance angrily declared that, "That's the kind of insidious, destructive, un-thought-through attitude that causes a lot of harm. It's one thing for an ordinary person to shoot his mouth off like that, but quite another for a top educational leader."

Note the parallel with Armstrong’s position: that there's an empirical world of ordinary people who accept gender realities, and an intellectual one that must uphold a standard of reality denial.

Summers' remarks were correct: While there are always exceptions, women are on the whole less naturally gifted than men in science and technology. This is not to say that on the whole they are inferior to men; they simply tend to excel in different areas. The paradox underlying contemporary feminism is that feminists esteem traditional male roles more than traditional female ones, eager to achieve female equality at wage slavery, computer programming, and athleticism, while contemptuous of their natural areas of excellence, such as sociability, multitasking, organising, and holding a family together in times of crisis. Are the latter not important too?

We only need to watch the role that women play in this movie, how they are treated, to see what feminism has accomplished in the last 50 years. Zuckerberg and pals publicly humiliate them, liken them to farm animals, and use them as disposable sex toys. Armstrong describes these depictions of women as "50s-level sexist", but women in the 50s didn't act like the women in The Social Network, and neither were they treated like the women in that film. Their behavior and treatment in the movie is fully contemporary.

She and countless other feminists prefer to reside in fiction. The current degree to which women are "empowered" is unsustainable. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that their pensions and 401k plans will be raided or devalued in the coming decades, leaving them at the mercy of the families and community networks their careers left them too busy to create.

 The illusions they cling to are comfortable, while reality is anything but: They're not sexually liberating themselves—they're forfeiting the leverage nature gave them in the battle of the sexes to a subset of slick pick-up artists. Their barren wombs are not about "family planning", they're about not planning to have a family. Their careers are not making them independent, dependence is simply being transferred from husbands and fathers to Big Brother. That's well and good for their personal interests as long as the economy is strong, the government is solvent, and the pensions are well-funded. But are those safe bets?

Women around the world already envied their Western counterparts’ unusual freedom and autonomy well before feminism screamed for more. The greater freedom and autonomy traditionally enjoyed by Western women makes our society very attractive, but the current social model isn't sustainable. Like the mythical Icarus, feminists have been tempted to push the limits to breaking point and are setting all women up for a devastating fall. Feminists aren't the only ones in the West casting aside tradition in favor of illusory short-term gains, but of all the groups doing so, they have the most to lose in the long run. The continuing population replacement in the West by non-White Third World immigrants suggest that the White and Western cultural context that feminism depends on will give way to a Third Worldish social model that will rob women of their freedom... among much else.

Tradition isn’t regression and it doesn't mean a repetition of past excesses and injustices. It means working toward balancing the need for individual expression with the need to play a role in something greater than the self: in the family, the community, and the nation. It means having the humility to know your weaknesses and the wisdom to play on your strengths. We don't need fantasies about women developing virtual social network applications. We need women developing real-world families and community networks. That's the real social network problem.