Out with the Good, In with the Bad

As I was peering through the daily dose of editorials off of boingboing, an editorial from Clay Shirky caught my eye.

"A Rant About Women."

Hmm. Intriguing. It pertains to me. And I love rants. So I decide to read it.

Even more intriguing. The topic itself--why women aren't as successful in the work force--is a topic that has been beaten to death to no avail. I myself have thought a lot about it, but I can't seem to come to any good conclusions.

Shirky's perspective goes as follows (excerpts):
I’m not concerned that women don’t engage in enough building of self-confidence or self-esteem. I’m worried about something much simpler: not enough women have what it takes to behave like arrogant self-aggrandizing jerks.

It’s not that women will be better off being con artists; a lot of con artists aren’t better off being con artists either. It’s just that until women have role models who are willing to risk incarceration to get ahead, they’ll miss out on channelling smaller amounts of self-promoting con artistry to get what they want, and if they can’t do that, they’ll get less of what they want than they want.

It’s tempting to imagine that women could be forceful and self-confident without being arrogant or jerky, but that’s a false hope, because it’s other people who get to decide when they think you’re a jerk, and trying to stay under that threshold means giving those people veto power over your actions. To put yourself forward as someone good enough to do interesting things is, by definition, to expose yourself to all kinds of negative judgments, and as far as I can tell, the fact that other people get to decide what they think of your behavior leaves only two strategies for not suffering from those judgments: not doing anything, or not caring about the reaction.
Essentially, I need to be a self-invested asshole to get ahead in today's society. To be noticed, I must inflate myself. I need role models that are willing to spend time in jail and don't give two shits about being a liar or thief or lawbreakers.

Frankly, I kind of like this idea. Too bad the only female con artist I know who is currently in jail only goes after feeble Williamsburg residents. It's funny to look at the comments to the blogpost. Of course it's a touchy subject--to be more successful, women must yet again adopt characteristics generally associated with men. But if it works, I'm all in.

Warning: Do not be offended if I become an arrogant self-aggrandizing jerk. Know that I'm probably happier. You should congratulate me if I succeed.


Tiffany Chen said...

It's funny that you post this.
It's exactly what I'm dealing with right now.

Jesse Chorng said...

well, the male role model to being an asshole in order to get ahead is Ayn Rand. Maybe there needs to be a male version for y'all :)