So now there are sexual misconduct allegations against Al Gore. Of all of the male politicians in the US Al Gore always seemed the most pure. After all he was the great green crusader who may now be facing his own ‘inconvenient truth.’

I am not going to bother going into the details of this case. What I am more interested in is the why. Why on earth would anyone in a position of power, especially one who served through the Clinton Administration become involved in the same kind of behaviour. There have been so many politicians who have gone down due to this kind of behaviour.

Perhaps it is the power. They must feel that they can do anything they want, whenever they want to whomever they want. Yet, realistically, they must know that there is a realistic expectation they will be caught. Certainly much of this is rooted in the patriarchy whereby young boys are brought up to believe that the world is their’s to do with what they want. Women and children are property and are at their disposal. In spite of more than ½ a century of a feminism straight, white men still rule the world.

How do we go about fostering the type of societal change necessary to stop men from thinking they dominion over others. Our entire culture and the discourse surrounding it from fairy tales we tell children to the television shows we all watch all put out the message that men are better, smarter and stronger than women. The problem is that it is so pervasive in our culture that we don’t even see it. Even those of us who have been trained in discourse theory and who knows how language plays a role in how we live our lives and how the thoughts we think inform our actions can’t help but be influenced. We all need to see the language around us and how it limits what we can or can’t do.

I believe the only solution is for all of us to understand our role in our own discourse. Do we work hard to challenge our own racist views or do we laugh at the racist joke our boss tells because we don’t know what to do? Do we stand up for young girls and tell them that they can be anything they want to be or do we encourage them to settle for something lesser? Do we support and encourage women to be in leadership positions or do we call them bitches when they make hard decisions? All of these actions or inactions are what support men, in positions of power, to do whatever they want to women. It is time for it to end.

5 thoughts on “The Problem with Male Politicians

  1. It’s power, but it’s also risk and the enjoyment of it. “I might get caught” is part of the experience for these guys, I think. Some also explain (though don’t excuse) it in terms of evolutionary psychology, and perhaps there’s something to that as well, though that whole field of study has its problems:

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-scientific-fundamentalist/200803/evolutionary-psychological-view

    http://www.penmachine.com/2007/12/review-why-beautiful-people-have-more

    1. Evolutionary psychology is essentialist in its arguments. While there may be some basis for this (very small I would think) we do not live in a world where we are essential human beings. Instead we are shaped by society, culture and family and it is these groups that inform our behaviour. Even with all the external controls* (albeit contradictory) some men just can’t behave appropriately. I think until people understand the role religion plays in our lives every single day and how it informs many of our beliefs this kind of behaviour will continue. It’s too bad for Al Gore as he seemed to be different.

      *For example the bible gives ‘man’ dominion over the earth and all of its beings yet says they must also be moral.

  2. Many EP proponents go to far in claiming explanatory power for their field, but I don’t think it’s that easy to discount either. We are shaped by society, culture, family, religion, and so on, but those have, in turn, been shaped in part by our biology as well as our history and by each other.

    Our brains are not simple reproduction-driving engines as some EP types seem to believe, but neither are they homes of a dualist mind separate from our evolutionary past. A lot of recent psychological research shows that we make many decisions and then retroactively justify them as if they had been rational and logical choices, when they are not when we make them.

    Building external controls that assume no evolutionary influence on our psychology and behaviour is probably one of the reasons those controls sometimes fail, and why some men behave inappropriately despite them.

    That doesn’t mean giving up or giving bad behaviour a pass, or reclassifying it as not bad. Ethics is something we genuinely have to think about. But it does mean that we should understand the societal and biological components of our decisions, and when trying to enforce our ethics, take that background into account in how we propose to change people’s minds, and actions.

      1. LOL! A friend of mine once got a letter claiming that she had gone ‘to far’ and we debated for years where that was…!

        Anyway, I am a firm believer in Darwin and the biological imperative to reproduce – especially as it pertains to men. However, we are sentient beings with the capacity to reason and to understand what is right and wrong. I don’t believe for a second that Al Gore (if guilty) or the many hundreds who have come before him are doing this out of some kind of biological imperative. I believe they do it because we live in a patriarchal society that gives some men (especially men in power) carte blanche to do whatever they want and damn the consequences.

        If men were driven by the biological imperative to reproduce then there would be many more men who would be off cheating on their wives. Moreover how would the biological imperative to reproduce be applied to homosexual men?

        The thing is while deep down in our instictual selves this imperative might exist, I think is easily squelched by those who have a stronger moral code.

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