Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Speculations on the negative influence of female attitudes

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Over the years, I often contemplated whether many of the unfortunate political and societal tendencies of today might be partially rooted in a greater female* involvement in fields like politics and business, e.g. a focus on equality of outcome (instead of opportunity), the feelings-matter-more-than-facts mentality, the I-deserve-this attitude (as opposed to I-have-earned-this), the condemnation of anything considered “elitist” and the over-focus on just-different-not-better-or-worse, the misinterpretation of something as a personal** matter (as opposed as factual one), the increasing legal obligation of the “strong” to take care of the “weak”,*** the prioritization of effort over accomplishment (“A for effort”), …

*In general and not restricted to the negative influence of the pseudo-science “Gender Studies” and Feminism, which has for decades been increasingly unable to hide that it is a one-sided women’s movement, not an equality movement.

**As in e.g. “you said/did this because you dislike me, specifically and personally”, and as opposed to “you said/did this because you dislike what I said/did, and you would have said/done the same, had it been someone else”.

***Where “strong”, in reality, often amounts to nothing more than “is a hard worker who planned ahead”, while “weak” often amounts to “was lazy in school and is lazy at work”, or variations on similar themes.

A few days ago, this was again brought to my mind through a shopping incident, which, in it self, was no big deal, but did provide an excellent illustration of some problems that I have encountered again and again in interactions with women (it also illustrates why I often find women frustrating):

I went to grab a shopping cart, found that the first one in my aisle* had some sort of metal holder sticking up from the “handlebar” (for want of a better word), which served no obvious purpose, which I had never seen on any of the carts there or elsewhere, and which could not be removed. I would obviously have preferred to grab a cart without this add-on, but in order to do so, I would have had to lead this cart out of its aisle, temporarily leave it, go back down the aisle and grab the next cart, lead it throw the aisle, leave it unattended, while I brought the original cart back through the aisle, and then go out the aisle a last time to pick up the waiting cart—assuming that no-one had grabbed it, in which case I would have had to start over. Obviously, this would simultaneously have hindered others who wanted to access the aisle. In the pre-COVID-19 days, it would also have involved using two Euro coins instead of one, forcing me to go for my wallet instead of my pocket.**

*At this particular store, the shopping carts are parked in two quite long aisles surrounded by metal railings. My aisle was almost empty, while the other had exactly one cart. (In Germany, the last cart is often not removable, for unclear reasons, and going after it might have saved me some time or might have forced me to return to my original aisle with an additional loss of time.)

**Most shopping carts in Germany have a slot to insert a Euro coin to release it from the chain of carts. (The coin is refunded when the cart is returned.) During the COVID-19 era, many stores have dropped this requirement. (Presumably, to justify a parallel “you may not enter the store without a shopping cart” rule, in turn, likely, an attempt to either increase distances between people or to limit the number of simultaneous visitors to the store.)

I was halfway out of the aisle, when the following events and dialogue (from memory and paraphrased from German into English) began:

W(oman who was driving her cart back to her car): That cart is for [some baby thing or other]. It would be good if they were left for the mothers.

(Note how she does not spare a word on the extra effort that this would have implied for me, does not consider that it had been, apparently, mis-parked by someone else, and assumes in a blanket manner that only mothers would ever use it, not fathers, baby-sitters, whatnot. She also spoke in a reproachful you-should-know-better tone—but how should I have known better? Again, I have never seen this type of modified cart before!)

I: It would be good if I could reach the other carts.

W: Well, yes, that other woman did park it in the wrong place.

(If she had noticed this, why did she speak to me, now or at all, and not “that other woman” at the time? Or did she, again, just assume that it had to be a woman?)

W: Well, we can switch carts, I suppose, then I can drive it back where it belongs.

(This in a tone that and formulation as if she were doing me a favor, displaying a lack of perspective both on the situation and our respective roles.)

She moves one or two bags between carts and we go our separate ways. I soon notice that the cart is unusually clumsy for being empty, but first assume that it is just a locked* wheel, which she has pawned off on me. A moment later, I spot a carton with six (?) quart-sized juice boxes on some type of rack below the main “basket” of the cart.

*Many German shopping carts have an idiotic wheel lock that is triggered when the cart leaves a certain area, but which is not unlocked when the cart re-enters that area and the staff does not seem to unlock carts on its own initiative—if at all.

I: Lady, excuse me lady. Your beverages!

W: Oh, I forgot, come here and I’ll take them.

(She forgets, and I am supposed to come to her, a dozen-or-so meters in the wrong in direction? The forgetting, it self, is a little odd, but I might have given her a pass, had it not been for all the other oddities. I, too, occasionally forget things, but I take responsibility for them when I do.)

As I suspect that I would lose more time through arguing than I would gain, I do drive over—and then have to wait some ten seconds, while she fiddles around with her own cart, before she turns her attention to the juice. (If I cause a problem for someone else, I tend to that problem first and my own later. With hindsight, as I write some of the below, I cannot rule out that she was not just inconsiderately leaving me waiting, but positively expected me to move the juice for her.)

Now, imagine if her first line would have been that of an adult, e.g. “W: Excuse me, but someone must have placed that cart in the wrong place. It is a [baby this-or-that] and does not belong with the other carts. If you want to, we can switch, and then I will take it back where it belongs, when I am done.”—which version would you prefer and which is fairer? Alternately, she would still have left the world a little better off by just remaining silent towards me and, optionally, writing a letter to the store, suggesting some design change to prevent a return of the cart to the wrong place.

(As an aside, I would likely have been done faster, had I gone through the pick-another-cart-through-running-repeatedly-through-the-aisle scenario above. Should a similar situation happen again, I will be sorely tempted to make my first and only line “I: Take a hike, rude woman!” …)

Among the interesting sub-topics there are two overlapping that I want to address in more detail:

  1. That she spoke to the wrong person above and that women might expect more from men than from other women:

    Now, I do not know the specifics of her motivations above, and it is possible that she simply was too late to speak with the other woman (but in time to speak with me). However, it is quite possible that she picked me, because I am a man. More generally, many women still seem to work on the assumption that men are (or should be) kinder to women than other women are, are more likely (or even obliged) to do them favors, etc., which could explain the choice. (Also note the assumption that I would be the one to come to her with the juice.) If in doubt, a smile and a little flirting seems to be supposed to make men give women special treatment, and I suspect that one of the reasons that I have had proportionally more intra-office conflicts with women than with men is that I do not engage in such favors and that I do hold women to the same standard as I do men. While many women are reasonably professional, far too many are not (especially, among the younger): In a minor caricature, “I spent five minutes flirting and he still wanted me to fix my own error! Why didn’t he let it slide—or volunteer to do it for me?!?”

    The TV meme of a girl-friend wanting the boy-friend to drop everything and come over immediately has happened to me in real life and I have been asked to solve dozens of computer problems that the respective girl-friend could have solved herself in five minutes through just using her head or doing an Internet search. My niece apparently has managed to talk my step-father into driving her eighty kilometers to something as trivial as cheer-leading practice (“practice”, not “competition”) after she missed a train; and I have myself been told* that I really should have a car or I would not be able to drive my girl-friend when she needed a ride. In our teens, my sister (mother of the aforementioned niece) hardly lifted a finger in the household while I mowed the lawn and chopped wood. I once, in some context, read about a mother who had asked her (very young) daughter why she preferred to play with her father—the reply was along the lines “daddy plays like I want too”, which the mother did not. Etc.

    *In all fairness, this was a joking statement, by one of the more self-insightful female colleagues that I have had. My reply was that I did not have a girl-friend and, therefore, did not need a car. The attitude is real with some women, however.

    At the extreme end, I once read an article (blog post? whatnot?) by a woman who insisted that it was important to have many friends and, specifically, at least one friend in each area of potential need, to have a computer-geek friend (“he* fixes my computer for free”), an accountant friend (“he does my tax filings for free”), a lawyer friend (“if I am ever sued, he would represent me for free”), etc. (To avoid misunderstandings: her attitude was not “I am lucky to coincidentally have many good friends who are also very useful to me” but “I deliberately seek to make ‘friends’ because they will be useful to me—and you should do so too”.)

    *In my recollection, these friends were all or overwhelmingly male, but the general scheme was likely open to female ‘friends’, if they had the right skills to be useful and were naive enough to let themselves be used. A version which is less centered on male victims, however, would only move the example from this item to the next.

  2. Who-does-what and the contrast between selfless cooperation and own responsibility/cooperation for mutual benefit:

    Superficially, it might seem that it was reasonable that I drove my cart to her to get rid of the juice, instead of the opposite—I had a lesser load relative* my strength level, it was a lesser effort for me,** and she would now only have to reload the juice once (my cart to her car; instead of my cart to her cart to her car). This is also in line with the opinions that I had (or had instilled in me) as a child, to selflessly help others whenever we can—and to take such help from others for granted.

    *But not necessarily absolutely, depending on what she had in her bag(s).

    **At least, on a normal day. At the time, I was at the end of a ten kilometer walk with a lot of hills, but she had no way of knowing that.

    However, as I have understood as an adult, this type of reasoning causes no end of problems and unfairness. For instance, above, she made a mistake in implementing her suggestion, and I am supposed to rectify it. Why? In this particular case, it was not a big deal, but by an analog reasoning, if her car had broken down, I would have been obliged to carry her bags home for her. It fosters a lack of own responsibility, it removes the incentives to think first and take precautions (because if something goes wrong, someone else will fix it for free), it distorts markets and misses opportunities for economic growth, it lands the innocent with an undue burden, it opens the door for deliberate abuse, it keeps growth in the skills of the helped back,* etc.

    *In at least some cases, as e.g. with the child whose parents do everything for him, the girl-friend who refuses to fix her own computer problems, or the man who is given a fish instead of a book on fishing.

    For instance, consider the woman with many friends from the first item: As long as only she, or only just a small minority, follows her method, or as long as such free-of-charge services are limited to true and long-term friends and family members, things will still work fine. However, if (as per her suggestion) everyone tries to build the same type of friend network, what will happen? Take her accountant ‘friend’: He will now have next to no private business but have a roughly unchanged work-load, because people go to their “friend accountant” instead of their “paid-for accountant”. Those who deal mostly with corporate clients might still do well, but now with the additional workload from their “friends”. The profitability of being an accountant will drop, some current accountants will be forced to leave the profession,* members of the following generations will be less inclined to become accountants, etc. As an interesting side-effect, accountants with a greater interest in socializing will be hit worse, because they are more likely to have many friends, and some might deliberately cut down on friends to be able to remain in business. Is that a world that we want to live in? Especially, as the same will happen to more-or-less any useful profession? (The Leftist reader should also note the drop in tax revenue and that taxes are what ultimately pays for all those “free” government hand-outs.)

    *But they might still be on the hook for helping their friends, if they still have the right skills (and, possibly, certifications).

    Or consider fairness, incentives, and market forces, in a scenario like a teenage boy mowing the lawn for the wealthy old widow next door, because she is too weak to do so herself. If he does it for free, from the kindness of his heart, she benefits and no-one else. If she pays him, they both benefit. If the widows Smith and Wesson insist that he help them too, because he does help the widow Jones, he would he hard-pressed to turn them down. In one case, he has extra work for nothing; in the other, he has a fair recompense and, possibly, even the beginning of a small business, which will teach him valuable skills for his later life. (And the Leftist reader should, again, pay attention to taxes.) With remuneration, that one boy might not be stuck with moving all the lawns alone, because some other boy might be found willing. Or we might see two birds by one stone, when an unemployed (adult) neighbor starts to earn money. With remuneration the widow Jones might have the guts to point out that the boy occasionally nicks a flower when mowing around the flower beds. With remuneration the poorer widow Wesson might find that a bi-weekly mowing is enough, giving the boy some more spare time.

    Or consider taking or not taking own responsibility: Say that three poor co-eds go to a far-away party, stay until the middle of the night, and that one calls for a free-of-charge ride from her boy-friend, while another has to call a taxi, and the third has to walk home. Who will tendentially behave how the next weekend? (And would it not be fair for the first to at least cover gas and time spent for the drive?) Or say that the co-eds each have an unnecessarily expensive apartment, and that, at some point, rent is overdue and unpayable: The first student gets a no-strings-attached handout from her father; the second a loan, to be repaid within six months, no excuses; the third gets nothing*. Who is more and who is less likely to go through the effort of looking for a cheaper apartment, pay greater attention to unnecessary expenses during the month, and/or take on a part-time job?

    *Not that I necessarily suggest this where a parent–child relationship is involved. (Indeed, my parents volunteered to pay my rent through-out, so it would be hypocritical. With hindsight, however and from my more adult perspective, a loan would have fairer to them and I might have learned to take more own responsibility at an earlier stage.) Still, the illustration of principle is valid. If in doubt, feel free to mentally replace “father” with “boy-friend”, “landlord”, or “tax payer”.

In both cases, there is a fair chance that evolution has tilted women more strongly towards such flawed attitudes than men (and might well have tilted men to be cooperative with women, which increases the problem). For instance, in the second case, a woman in a historical setting has often been mostly surrounded by close relatives and close friends, where help has been highly likely to be reciprocated and often had a positive evolutionary effect. Most of the relatives have likely been young children, with a limited or even absent ability to take care of themselves. In this situation, an attitude focused on helping and being helped might be very useful, even up to and including the Communist mantra of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”.

Move to adult life, business, politics, … and this no longer holds. These attitudes are suddenly highly problematic for reasons like those discussed above.

Men, in the same historical times, have been mostly surrounded by adults, interacted with a wider range of people, traded with strangers, been exposed to the risk of free-loaders in a different manner, seen a much lower degree of fungibility of personnel,* hunted in a different type of cooperation, lived in a world where lack of responsibility in one person might have caused the failure of all and everyone needed to be held to said responsibility, etc. If someone is too slow to hunt a certain animal, the others cannot hold back or carry him (as women going to gather berries might or might not have done), because then the hunt will fail. Instead, some other role has to be found, e.g. as a layer of traps or maker of weapons. Should the reason be old age, they would take care of him based on past work for the team, but not should the reason be laziness and a wish to get something for nothing. This develops the attitudes suitable for adult life, business, politics, …

*I am uncertain how to formulate that reasonably, but the point is that the positive resp. negative effects of working with someone with higher resp. lower IQ, strength, speed, whatnot are much larger when e.g. hunting or building a house than when gathering berries or raising children (at least by the standards of old). Moreover, the proportion of tasks in which it was possible to compensate for a lack of ability through harder and longer work was likely considerably smaller among men. Hence the degree of fungibility among women was correspondingly higher than among men, and there was less point in rewarding excellence or giving the more able incentives to work harder.

As an aside, regarding parts of the second item, there is well-known joke that is highly pertinent:

A physician asks his lawyer friend what to do about all those people who want free medical advice when they meet him in private. “Easy”, says the lawyer, “give them their advice and then send them a bill for services rendered. Either they will stop asking or you will get paid for the effort.” The physician was happy to finally have a solution. Two weeks later, he received a bill from the lawyer.

I doubt that these bills can be enforced, because the “customer” was not made aware of the fee in advance, but the principle is sound. Imagine spending the entire day dealing with medical or legal problems, trying to relax* with a few friends in the evening, and then having to deal with further medical or legal problems with not a dime of recompense. A better friend might just as well have dropped down to the office for some official, paid-for advice, which the physician or lawyer might have reciprocated with a prioritized treatment or a family-and-friends rebate.

*My idea of relaxation is a good book, movie, sit-com, whatnot, while hanging out with friends after a hard day’s work seems like a chore, but I appear to be in the minority here.

Another point of interest is the physicians failure to see the symmetry of the situation and/or his failure to realize that his “one” question might have been the lawyer’s umpteenth, just like his own umpteenth question might have been “one” question to each of his own free-loaders. This is certainly something that those should keep in mind, who wish for help from others.

Excursion on sexes in examples:
In the examples, I have mostly stuck with a male helper/female “helpee” to stress the early points on female attitudes. While these constellations are typically more likely than others, other constellations do, obviously, exist.

Written by michaeleriksson

June 14, 2020 at 4:00 pm

4 Responses

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  1. […] back on a recent text dealing partially with topics like paying for services, I suspect that the superficial reader could misinterpret (or the politically hostile distort) it. […]

  2. […] This matches my impressions of very many women quite well. At least one or two of these likely apply to a majority of all women (and more than a few men, in all fairness). When it comes to mothers, at least up to a certain age of the child, the situation is even worse, as many seem to think that every non-mother is a second-class citizen. Note e.g. the rude woman in a recent text. […]

  3. […] *Note a drift towards the Center in more than name for a long time, repeated absurd coalition governments with nominal archenemy SPD (Social-Democrat), increased acceptance of “New Left” ideals (including e.g. Gender-Feminist/-Studies propaganda), and a disturbing past of doing more to increase than decrease the redistribution state and the nanny state. As to why I am concerned about too many women, see e.g. [2]. […]

  4. […] writing a few earlier texts ([1], [2]) negative towards charity, I have repeatedly seen, with some early puzzlement, the claim that […]


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