It took me a little while to understand that I was doing it wrong.
I didn’t come to the conclusion on my own. I had others with more skin in the game help me see the light. They were people not easily impressed by the novelty of a middle aged man that wasn’t a misogynist. People less accepting of uninvested signalling; bullshit, as we used to say before we got sophisticated enough to think up bullshit words for bullshit.
They didn’t necessarily change my mind about how I felt or what my positions on critical policy issues were. They simply helped me understand clearly, that appearing to be a champion for women’s causes, and actually being one, are not always the same thing.
I’d done the work, I thought. I was a vocal critic of first the Trump campaign and now the Trump administration. I even wrote a book about it complete with a chapter on how, once caught on tape bragging about forcing himself on women, it’s reasonable to believe that then candidate Trump deserved to receive the punishment of not being the most powerful man in the world.
I wrote about asymmetries in the workplace, complete with data because, after all, reason and measured approaches move the world forward.
I wrote about the asymmetries of single parenting. Asymmetries were important to me. They were mathematical proof that in fact, something was amiss. A smoking gun.
That I needed to do work to find a smoking gun should have been my first clue that I wasn’t really getting it.
I wrote about the horrors of sexual harassment and assault. And how unacceptable it was for we men to tolerate it when we had the power to stop it.
I checked all the boxes. It wasn’t insincere. I believed every word of it. I was shouting at the top of my lungs that I was a good guy. And that others should be too. And that I was willing, at some risk to my man brand that could exclude me from future podcast appearances as a liberty loving veteran and warrior thinker, to let the world know that those of us with agency over others needed to treat those others well.
Don’t harass or assault women. Take your responsibilities as a father seriously. Encourage your daughters to do anything they want. Don’t discriminate. Don’t support political candidates that do.
Be a good guy. Not the other sort.
Don’t be a dick to those you have agency over. Who could argue with that?
And then, I heard it. Somewhere in my haze of self righteous virtue signaling, tweet storms and think pieces, something a friend said to me finally stuck.
How about advocating for policies and cultural norms that deconstruct the world that gives you agency over others…you dick.
And then I felt the millions of collective eye-rolls come crashing down upon me.
I wasn’t helping. In fact, sounding like helping and not helping was actually hurting. So I did the only thing that someone not impacted by issues should start with in regards to those issues. I shut up. And I listened.
And then I learned something.
If there’s one thing that red blooded American lovers of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness delivered through the wonders of accountable democratic government ought to appreciate, it’s the modern American progressive women’s movement. They appear to be one of the few groups that actually votes their interest any more.
In a world where blue collar workers vote for a party that supports policies expressly aimed at driving down the cost of labor and rural America votes for an administration whose tariffs are crushing farmers, one ought to be somewhat heartened by a group narrowly focused on championing causes that actually further their interests.
Progressive women want control over their reproductive rights because few things impact their earning potential, educational opportunities or their dependence on others like unwanted pregnancies. They want extended maternity leave because the same things can be said for wanted pregnancies in the modern American employment environment.
Progressive women want stricter accountability and prosecution requirements for campus sexual assault because they don’t want sexual assault to be a regular part of earning a degree.
Progressive women want more protection from domestic violence and gun control because when murdered, they’re usually shot by their husbands/boyfriends.
See the pattern?
Focused solutions to specific problems that can be attained through either changing or maintaining existing policies or access. Not vague, theoretical or non-sequitur platform promises like fixing the economy or immigration, bringing back manufacturing or making America great again.
Women want to decide when to have a baby. They don’t want to be penalized professionally if they do. They don’t want to be sexually assaulted in college, at work or anywhere else. And they’d like it if they weren’t twice as likely to be shot and killed by their husbands than by the other 7 billion people on the planet combined.
There’s really no sound argument against the above issues representing real and material headwinds to equality of opportunity between men and women. And there’s mountains upon mountains of data that support their claims. In a world swimming in political bullshit, there are few things as honest as what progressive women stand for. Agree with them or not. And if one values supporting those causes, the path to take is simple. Vote for and support candidates that do. No other value signaling required or desired.
This week, hearings will continue to determine if Brett Kavanaugh, now accused by two women of sexual misconduct, will be confirmed for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. Rest assured, if it’s not Kavanaugh, another candidate who holds similar views will be appointed. Which means that within the next one to two years, it’s possible that rights women have had for the last two generations will likely no longer be considered rights. And then the issue of women’s control over their bodies will be turned over to the electorate.
Justice Ginsberg is 85 years old. Justice Breyer is 80. Both lean liberal. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, it’s likely going to stay that way for a generation even if Donald Trump only lasts one term because the next two justices out the door will be liberals.
Then it’s up to the electorate.