Saturday, October 5, 2019

In Defense of Old White Males

     Someone recently commented on one of my posts that Old White Men have left us "a country crippled by debt and covered in unbreathable air and undrinkable water."

     I get the point. Old White Men have basically been in control of things for the last, oh, eight or ten thousand years, and so they are the ones responsible for all the bad things happening in our world today, from inequality to global warming to wars in the Middle East. I not only get the point, I can't even disagree with it.

     However, I happen to be an old white man myself, so I feel like I have to come to the defense of my own kind. And while I admit to some bias, I just don't believe old white males are as bad as they are sometimes made out to be. In fact, any statement blaming old white males for every problem under the sun hits the trifecta of discrimination: it is ageist, racist and sexist!

     So first of all, all the bad things can't possibly be entirely the fault of men in power, because there are, and have been, plenty of women in positions of power, ever since Cleopatra. So for example, we have had three recent female Secretaries of State: Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton. There are plenty of corporate ceos, such as Ginni Rometty at IBM, Mary Barra at GM and Indra Nooyi at Pepsi. Plus there are 25 women U. S. Senators and 102 female U. S. Representatives, as well as crowds of prominent women in the media (Oprah Winfrey), literature (Toni Morrison) and academia (Amy Gutmann, who as pres. of Univ. of Pennsylvania makes $3 million a year . . . hello income inequality, hello college debt!)

     So has the female record been any better than the male record? I dunno. In most cases, it's hard to tell. How do you compare, say, comedian Stephen Colbert with comedian Chelsea Handler? They're both funny in their own way.

     But what we can say is that women don't always do better than men. Carly Fiorina didn't do too well at Hewlett Packard. When she was named ceo in 1999 Fortune magazine gushed, "she didn't just break the glass ceiling, she obliterated it." Then she went on to lay off some 30,000 employees (yes, 30,000!), and was finally forced out in 2005.

     Or look at Marissa Meyer, who was supposed to save Yahoo. But instead, according to Business Insider, she generated "slowing growth, internal dissent, plummeting employee morale and calls for her resignation," before finally selling the company to Verizon for a fraction of what it was once worth.

     Or think about Indra Nooyi at Pepsi. She's considered a success for increasing profits and developing new products. But Pepsi basically makes its money selling sugar, salt and high fructose corn syrup to the masses. In short, she's done just what a successful man would do!

     Anyway, if you blame men for all the bad things in the world, you also have to give credit to men for all the good things as well, including all the great art, music and literature -- plus the modern conveniences in the home that save us from a life of drudgery, the modern transportation system that, for whatever its faults, allows us to visit our relatives and go on those wonderful vacations; the modern health-care system that, again for all its faults, has allowed us to live healthier, more active and much longer lives.

     Let's face it. If it weren't for old white men, most of us would be dead by now.

     Maybe if women had been in charge there would have been fewer wars. Maybe society would be more equal. Who knows? But one thing's for sure. Women will get their chance. Today, women earn 57% of bachelor degrees, 60% of master's degrees, and 52% of doctorates. And you can bet, that's where the leaders of tomorrow will come from.

20 comments:

gigihawaii said...

Classical music was composed by white men. Maybe, that's why I married a white man.

Bob Lowry said...

As an old white man myself, I am ready to say it is time to turn over many more seats at the table of power and influence.

White men have made the rules, both good and bad, forever. Let's see what would happen if people of different colors and genders got their long overdue shot. After all, we are all in this together.

DJan said...

I agree that all old white men cannot be held accountable for all the ills in the world. But humanity itself, in total, that's another story altogether. :-)

Kevin said...

It would be easier to take the blame for all the bad things in life if I had had the opportunity to choose: when I was born, my gender at birth; my physical, mental and moral characteristics at birth; and my race at birth. I'm happy to take my share of responsibility for my actions, failures, and accomplishments through life, acknowledging that society's perceptions of me and opportunities for me have been skewed by factors over which I've had little agency. We do the best we can.

Red said...

I disagree with what the guy says in your first paragraph. we had to borrow money to build the roads that this guy drives on and will continue to drove on for many years.

Tom at Sightings said...

Well, borrowing for investment, like roads, is a good thing. But borrowing for current consumption is like maxing out your credit card to go on vacation -- you had a good time, but you can't pay the bill. I don't know what they're doing in Canada; but here in the U. S. we seem to be maxing out our credit for nothing but a good time. And Bob, you are so right. Just ask my wife B about any issue, and ... she has a plan for that!

Kay said...

I agree that all old white males are not responsible for what has happened in the world. However, since we don't have a whole lot of women who have been able to gain control of things, it's hard to know what our sex as a whole will do. I should hope, hope, hope that there would be fewer wars and more equality. I guess I won't be around to see it.

Anonymous said...

As a woman, I haven't quite understood what's the point of blaming the (old) white men. What is the real benefit of blaming a social group anyway for where we are these days? What problems do we really solve if we point fingers at each other? The problem with the spending way beyond our means is systemic and rooted in the way our economy functions. Let's not forget that 2/3 of the economy is based on consumer consumption, so until we don't find ways to change that structure, we'll need to keep consuming. And because of the obsession with the growth of the economy, we as a nation will continue to consume more and more to make that growth possible. Who's got a good solution for that? I'll take it even though may come from an old white male's head.

JudyC said...

Hey, I'm grateful for what white males have done, but that doesn't mean we can't do better, and there are plenty of very capable people out there who don't fit that description. However I'm not ready to turn over the reins to anyone just because that person is not a white male. We have gotten so silly about this race/gender thing.

Jennifer (UnfoldAndBegin) said...

I've seen those comments before and they usually refer to baby boomers of which I am one, but not a male. They rail against us ruining the world and bringing on climate change, but don't ask us what we've done or our thoughts. Sure I think it's time younger generations get involved and I'm happy to see that it's happening. But there are climate deniers in the younger generation, too. They were raised by those old climate deniers.

Laurie Stone said...

Well said, Tom. My only rebuttal is when a powerful woman messes up, she stands for all women. When a white male messes up, everyone shrugs and appoints the next white male. But so true about literature, art, technology, and advancements made by men. Must give credit where much credit is due!

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

wow.
You chose a few women who got to go to the table. A few women.
Shall we count all the males at the table. Not a fair comparison.
I am not surprised at what you wrote. And that saddens me, I'm so used to it now. You think because woman have 60% of masters degrees that is something? That won't get them that job any easier. They will still have to fight for every little thing you take for granted. They will be passed over because they are women far more than a big fat dumb white guy. That is a fact I deal with old white men all day long. At the end of the day I go home to an old white man who thank God is enlightened enough to not understand how these men are so clueless in todays society. I would have thought baby boomers to not end up like this, but they are only a touch better than my fathers generation, but not by much. You just proved me right. You think we'd be mostly dead if it weren't for white men? Oh my gosh Joe.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

BTW, art literature etc was because women weren't allowed to showcase their writing, or paint. Louise May Alcott wrote under a mans name to get published. She was lauded as a man as a great writer. Until they found out she was female then no one would publish her. Same goes for painters etc. Women weren't allowed so who else is there? The men who held them down.

Retirement Confidential said...

You make some good points, but that whole "coming to the defense of my own kind" thing makes me nervous. Maybe come out in defense of someone else's kind?

Barb said...

On this particular issue I am with Peggy one hundred per cent. Instead of picking on a few CEOs lets compare all the men to all the women, shall we. You've just proven exactly why it's ten times harder for women, even when I expect, you weren't intendng to. sorry Tom.

Unknown said...

Regardless of what generation you belong to, it appears to be a human flaw to find fault in others, whether it is race, sex, religion, rich or poor, instead of looking in the mirror and taking responsibility for your own actions, choices, whatever. Sure there have been times when women, minorities, had to work harder, smarter to prove themselves. But in my opinion those times are long gone. Yes I am a woman, yes I worked in corporate,and frankly I preferred my males bosses over my female ones. I have been chastised by women for whom I have voted for, sorry just because a woman is running for a public office doesn't mean she is the most qualified candidate. The Me Too Movement where started off on the right foot, went to such extreme levels, men were found quality before having the right to prove their innocent. It makes me fearful for the men in my live, husband, sons, grandsons. I am grateful for all that have contributed to the better of man/womankind. For those that did not, they will have to answer to someone far greater than any of us.

Anonymous said...

As an 'Old White Guy', all of my decisions be they right or wrong are all the product of two words... "Yes Dear" :-)

Wisewebwoman said...

I would actually point out (in case you haven't already deducted for yourself!) that it is the patriarchal structure that needs to be torn down. These women in high places inherit the dysfunctional organization to begin with (government and corporate) and we all know how that is working as we plunge deeper into both debt in and destruction. The treasure of the US has been wasted on manly wars, bolstered by rah-rahism and boogy men hiding behind every desert cactus.

This is a long conversation and I'm basically just coasting the surface of it but a Constitution that throws up the orange nightmare who could declare himself president for life has got to be torn down. Impeachment? Never.

XO
WWW

CynicDC said...

A surprising (and disappointing) entry this time, Tom. Just saying.

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