March 18, 2005

Why don't women write many good op-eds?

... asks Dahlia Lithwick, an editor at Slate:

I can also swear to the fact that as an editor, the number of pitches I receive from men outnumbers the pitches I see from women by several orders of magnitude. I can add, again purely anecdotally, that women largely send in pitches for reported pieces, and are far less inclined to frame a piece as an "argument"—which may prove Tannen's point that argument is not necessarily a comfortable or natural mode of communication for women (a phenomenon I observed in law school as well). This is, in short, an insanely interesting thought problem to which we are applying very little interesting thought.

Paul Newman put his finger on it when he said: In our family I make all the big decisions like what the official Newman Family stance is on nuclear disarmament, while my wife makes all the little decisions, like where we'll live and where'll we send our kids to school.

Women are simply, on average, more practical than men. They aren't as interested in big issues where they are unlikely to have much impact. They are more interested in how to improve their own lives and those of the people they care about.

I've spent enormous amounts of time standing around magazine racks in my life, and I can assure you that women almost never look at the prestige section where they group together "The Economist," "The New Republic," and "The National Interest," and other journals that don't have anything to do with your personal life. Attractive single women look at fashion and beauty magazines. Attractive married women look at expensive home decorating magazines.

Sure, women are interested in the lives of celebrities they don't know, but it's all more or less research for their own lives. If Jen can figure out how to get Brad back, maybe they can use her technique someday on their husbands.

The median woman's life is simply more important from a Darwinian perspective than the median man's life because women are the limiting resource in reproduction, so they can't afford to waste their lives on disinterested interests, like all those guys who submit op-eds to Dahlia Lithwick about, say, the Lebanese situation even though, in practical sense, Lebanon is irrelevant to their lives.

Now, back to round-the-clock Lebablogging!

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