The rise of wokeness, ESG, the trans mania, etc. is all due to women’s new power in institutions

The new Western culture, especially the American variety, offers the old-fashioned conservative male dissident many trends to bewail. Discrimination against white males! Promotion of LGBTQ lifestyles! The trans mania with its mutilation of children and destruction of women’s sports! Suppression of meritocracy, free speech, free scientific inquiry, and due process of law! Runaway entitlement spending! Open borders! Critical race theory! The ESG investing fad! No-prosecute policies in violent cities! Proliferation of social contagions and hysterical illnesses, from ROGD and PTSD to Tik-Tok Tourette’s! Cascades of cancellations of perfectly competent white males, e.g., for “grading too hard in organic chemistry,” or for cracking an off-color joke! Widespread exclusion (in effect) of males from important professions, including public relations, publishing, and clinical psychology/psychotherapy. “Math is White Supremacy!” “Showing up for work is White Supremacy!!” “Not being a pea-brained slob is White Supremacy!!!”

My argument here is that everybody should stop bewailing these trends as separate phenomena—should stop fighting “wokeness” or “ESG” or the trans mania. They should, instead, focus on the one factor that underlies and causes all of these social developments.

Of course, I mean women—or more precisely, women’s newfound power in organizations and institutions, and in the culture generally.

An assumption everyone seems to have made during the decades of female emancipation is that women see things more or less as men do, and are just as devoted as men to the principles underlying Western civilization. Not so! As some feminist writers, including Virginia Woolf, warned long ago, women when they enter public life in business and government tend to look around and see lots of things they want to change. They’re just not fans, to the extent that men are, of things like free speech, open debate, due process of law, meritocracy, free scientific inquiry, maximizing shareholder value, equality of opportunity, and so on.

It’s not that women have worked things out logically and carefully and comprehensively, and now want to formally enact a scheme they think is better. It’s more that things in Western civ, which was made by men, often go against the emotional grain with women, causing them real discomfort, and compelling them to react. Women’s instincts were shaped by evolution for a maternal and domestic context, and seem to bias them towards short-term, feelgood, nurturing, and protective outcomes—on average compared to men. These instincts seem to be especially aroused by things like persistent racial inequality, discussions of race-based IQ differences, ruthless meritocratic competition unleavened by sympathy for the losers, stern cross-examinations of women making rape claims, medical skepticism over women’s unverifiable symptoms, and the kind of frat-boy humor that has gotten so many men cancelled. Now that women are largely in charge, they question why we need such things—or peremptorily try to stamp them out.

There are some nuances to this general theory. First, a lot of women are not woke. But the argument here is really about women on average as compared to men on average, and I don’t think it could be reasonably disputed that women, on average and compared to men, are significantly biased in the direction of wokeness. It’s also obviously true that modest average psychological differences between the sexes could translate to big social changes when one sex takes power from the other. I would suggest too that the women who seek power in institutions are less likely to be “average” women and more likely to be childless activist types. There is, moreover, a hell of a lot of depression and anxiety among modern women, especially younger ones, and that as well may push many women to embrace the woke activism mindset as a therapeutic source of meaning and purpose.

Another nuance has to do with women’s apparently superior ability, compared to men, to align themselves emotionally within a group. This means, in effect, that women in an organization will tend to be less independent-minded, with the tradeoff that they can collectively punch above their weight. Among the examples that come to mind is the recent cancellation of Woody Allen from his publisher due to activism among the publishing company’s junior staff. (The publishing industry, like public relations and psychology/psychiatry/psychotherapy, is utterly dominated by women—“junior staff” in publishing generally means millennial women.)

Women, as I’ve suggested in a recent essay, may also have, collectively, a stronger drive to dominate organizations, to eliminate the greater discomfort they experience when exposed to male organizational culture. Certainly the female-to-male ratio in many organizations now is one that would be condemned as discriminatory (by women) were the proportions reversed.

A further nuance, which I think will become increasingly obvious and important as our societal “pink shift” advances, is that women, as they align emotionally within groups, and ultimately purge dissenting voices, tend to cause the institutions they control to become unstable. In other words, like hysteria-prone convents of half a millenium ago, female-dominated institutions become relatively susceptible to groupthink contagions that swing them irrationally this way and that. Today these contagions introduce relatively mild new absurdities like pronoun declarations and land acknowledgments. But I expect it’s all going to get loopier, and more harshly enforced, as time goes on and female control solidifies.

Lastly, somewhat hair-splittingly, I don’t think that women when left to themselves running male-built institutions necessarily become woke in the way that we see now. I see wokeness as a contemporary, contagious mindset (not quite an ideology) that corresponds very well to, and thus easily infects, the average female mind, still moreso the younger, more neurotic, more activist female mind. But in principle, under different circumstances, one could gin up something substantially different that would also spread well among women, provided that it pressed their main buttons. Certainly in the centuries before women took such a large part in public life, thought contagions among them were common and varied, though usually localized and rarely very consequential (rarely but not never—see, for example, the Salem Witchcraft Hysteria).

But back to my main argument: If wokeness and its variants are all epiphenomena of the new, historically unprecedented power of women in public life, measures taken against wokeness etc. could be ineffective if there is no acknowledgment of the true source of the problem. Indeed all means short of reducing women’s presence in public life might be futile.

I’m not advocating a specific strategy, but I think it’s important at least to highlight this dilemma, which Western countries obviously have no easy way of resolving. It may be that over time, the current, Cultural Revolution-like surge of wokeness subsides and becomes less radical, as the women pushing wokeness are increasingly forced to acknowledge some of its adverse consequences, such as rising crime from weak law enforcement, social dissolution from uncontrolled immigration, the institutional incompetence that flows inevitably from the abandonment of meritocracy, and the aforementioned institutional instability.

Then again, by the time things get bad enough for women to acknowledge that they aren’t necessarily better than men at managing our civilization, the process of degeneration might be very, very advanced. Indeed, it’s plausible that, by then, other, even stronger, less reversible adverse processes—ethnic conflict, for example—will be underway, effectively sealing the West’s fate.


Author’s note:

I’d appreciate it, reader, if you would link to my essays on cultural feminization (or otherwise cite them) wherever you see this topic being discussed. I’ve been writing about “cult-fem” for more than a decade—which, as far as I know, is much longer than anyone else. Some of my essays have circulated widely in recent years, and I’ve even placed one in a moderately well-read webzine. I like to think that my contributions have helped seed what is becoming an important public discourse. Yet those contributions of mine are almost never acknowledged by the better-known opinionators who have ventured into this realm in the last year or so. Being pseudonymous and writing principally from a personal website seem to have left me in the unhappy state of being “much read but seldom cited.” (I discuss the general problem of citation in the Internet age in my short essay “The Tree of Knowledge.”)

Also, though I don’t charge a subscription to this website, or put ads on it, or even solicit donations, you could buy a copy of my e-book (see image below, linked to its Amazon page) if you’d like to support my writing.