The leads in the classic 1973 movie, "The Sting", of course. Both leads were male, playing roles that were prototypically male in our social order. Why is that?
Clay Shirkey has some ideas about that, which he wrote up as "A Rant About Women". Not "A Rant Against Women", mind you. Some did not see that as a difference that makes a difference, notably Zo at this post on her (misnamed) humorlessbitch.com blog. This post, beyond this explanatory header, is my comment to her blog-post-as-comment, the 190th comment in 30 hours. I have slightly reformatted it, as the original was only able to use CAPS for emphasis.
A tip of the hat to Venessa Miemis (@venessamiemis on Twitter) for tweeting about this.
Maybe this is because I have the ability to look at this as a Shirkeyesque male who “only told lies I could live up to, and I knew when to stop.” The sorry fact that he’s pointing out – too obliquely – is that many/most arenas of professional and creative endeavour have been created, led and/or taken over by men who fit the portrait that Shirkey is painting. Risk-taking, self-promotion and so on are seen as predominantly “male” character aspects/flaws, in large part because society has been and is fundamentally sexist – and is likely to remain so unless and until women can function within the existing framework successfully enough to alter it.
That’s what I get from reading Shirkey’s piece; not a snarky bit of braggadocio that “men are on top because we know how to game the system,” so much as “until increasing numbers of women in a variety of fields – professional, academic, artistic, and so on – can work within this aspect of the system, it won’t be changed.” Not because change wouldn’t benefit men as well as women. It would. But rather, because those “gatekeepers” who control the system, having got to where they are now by gaming the system, lack the will if not the means to change it.
We are at a turning point in human history, of a kind that hasn’t been seen in well over a thousand years. Institutions and conventions are changing all around us, and, not knowing how to change and survive, they change and die. Others watch the process attentively, determined against reality to avoid the same fate. But if we do NOT come up with a way to fundamentally change our society, to make it more equitable, transparent and open, we risk a new Dark Ages that will compare to the European mediaeval one as a broken fingernail compares to a petrol bomb.
I believe that is what Shirkey fears, as do I.