Estrogen Empowerment


The May/July issue of Foreign Affairs has a long article on "The Global Glass Ceiling," written by women's rights activist Isobel Coleman. The author calls on international corporations to join the fight for female empowerment in the developing world. Coleman hopes to convince those trying to turn a profit in emerging markets that their future gains depend in great part on making sure women are being educated and joining the workforce.  

The article proceeds to provide evidence that this is already happening. Goldman Sachs, for example, has put forward $100 million towards educating women entrepreneurs in Third World countries. The CEO of the company declares that programs like this are a good way of "manufacturing global GNP."  Walmart is taking it upon itself to increase female literacy in countries in which it operates. If they can be convinced to rely on women-owned businesses for one percent of their supply of goods, Coleman tells us, billions would go into women's empowerment, far more than what international agencies are able to provide towards the same ends. 

One of the most proactive of the Western corporations in trying to further the goals of Third World feminism is Nike, which set up the Nike Foundation in 2004 to address gender gaps in developing counties. Thus far, the organization has spent $100 million on education, health and "leadership" programs for poor young girls. The famous shoe and apparel company has also made use of its marketing skills, creating in 2008 a video called "The Girl Effect," which, we are informed, has "gone viral."

What else is new? some paleoconservatives may ask. Years ago Samuel Francis denounced the triumph of Economic Man in a piece on the controversy over the Confederate flag in Georgia in the early 2000s. He lamented the fact that blacks were able to put monetary pressure on the state by threatening boycotts if Georgia decided that a design based on the symbol of Old Dixie belonged on the current state flag. Francis wrote elsewhere that he disagreed with neoconservatives and rightist libertarians in that he saw capitalism as a destructive enemy of tradition.

At first glance, there seems to be something to this view. After all, corporations and businessmen in general would benefit if there was a way to double their available labor supply. Under a purely free-market system, a traditionalist may argue, the interests of capitalists and feminists converge. It's little wonder that Nike, Goldman and others have become supporters of progressive causes.  

Oh ye of little faith in human nature! Such an argument underestimates the natural differences between men and women. It is based on the assumption that putting money towards educating women is bound to pay off. If one looks at the top 10 college majors that women choose, at least six are absolutely worthless when it comes to creating wealth while the most lucrative undergraduate programs are known for being disproportionately male. Because the state to a large extent funds higher education through grants and subsidized loans, the disincentives to spending four years in school not developing any marketable skills are mitigated.  

Corporations hoping to educate girls in their own self-interest will be disappointed when they find that few are suited for leadership or high-paying positions. They would then give up paying for the training of those least likely to benefit from it, assuming that the culture they're operating in is neutral towards feminism. That's not to say corporations always rationally act in their own self-interest in the way understood in classical economics. Those companies mentioned in Coleman's articles are simply hoping to receive some good publicity and/or buy into egalitarian myths themselves. Whatever the case may be, the problem is the myths themselves rather than the economic system.

As science shows that women are more suited for lower-earning fields and tend to value money less than men when they decide on a career, it may make good business sense, ignoring PR considerations, to try to train large amounts of women to be retail clerks and secretaries but not engineers and investment bankers. One of the main problems with feminism is that it pushes for government policies in the hopes that women will eventually earn more relative to men, making the sexes less attractive to one another. The free market doesn't tend to lead to such results, especially when it's not operating in a sea of poisonous ideas, which, we must admit, would still be there under a more statist system.  

Francis failed to consider that blacks are not the majority in Georgia or the United States. Nor do they have much purchasing power relative to their numbers. If this smaller and poorer population is able to flex its economic muscles and push around whites, it's certainly not capitalism's fault! Southern whites, and whites in general, are willing to vote to maintain their heritage, but seem unable to organize to use economic levers to get their way. There's no economic reason why this has to be the case.  

Traditionalists unhappy with the world tend to blame any force that has power for what has gone wrong: the education system, the media, the state or the market.  While without question all have had some negative societal effects, the last is the only one that naturally moves towards fulfilling human desires and there is no way to fulfill human desires without a consideration for human nature. The reason Bill Gates is an anti-white multiculturalist isn't because he's a capitalist; it's because he's an educated Westerner at the start of 21st century. Bad ideas are bound to be pushed upon the rest of society as long as they're held by the vast majority of our civilization's brightest individuals and thus accepted by any potential elite. Finding ourselves in such circumstances, the biggest enemy is the coercive and unaccountable force of government.