How’s that for a controversial headline?
To be totally honest, keeping women out of politics — because they are women — is not the sort of thing I would have considered even a month ago. I’d heard the idea floated in certain circles, but I never really took it seriously until now. Government always seemed primarily to be a function of national management, and as a rule, women make as good managers as men — if not better.
And then came this Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez livestream.
Cortez essentially recounts the riot of January 6th, and describes hiding in her office from protesters who she fears might very well kill her. In the end, a man does enter her office, and she is momentarily convinced that this is the end. Fortunately for her, it turns out the man is a police officer, trying to find her in order to protect her from potential violence, though she still describes this protector in fearful language:
It didn’t feel right. Because he was looking at me with a tremendous amount of anger and hostility. Things weren’t adding up.Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
She also alluded to previous sexual violence in her own past.
Watching this video — and, especially, watching the response to it — now has me convinced that we should start weighing the benefits and costs of permitting women to run for political office.
The problem is not that women are incapable — almost the opposite. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is probably among the most talented politicians in America today. She has all of Obama’s pop-culture knowledge and internet marketing skills, combined with Trump’s knack for toeing the line of public acceptability, with an apparent budding tendency toward triangulation that would make Bill Clinton proud.
But what makes her so especially competent — and dangerous — is simply that she is a woman.
Women have a super-power over men, which is that men — as a group — feel a kind of instinct to protect women. This is in addition to their sexuality, which Christopher Hitchens observed in Margaret Thatcher:
In her livestream, Ocasio-Cortez presents herself smiling and casual, complete with a sweater and austere background… like a girlfriend skyping you from her hostel room across the state. It’s a strangely intimate medium. She even accidentally knocks the camera over at one point.
Presented on a national scale, this combination of sexuality and vulnerability short-circuits rational decision-making, and overpowers whatever theoretical ideals men may have about leaders leading from the front and sharing the risk they impose upon their subjects. Historically, kings and other leaders derived their legitimacy from this kind of risk-taking and risk-sharing. Interestingly enough, one of the best examples of this kind of sentiment came from a woman — specifically, Queen Elizabeth:
My loving people, we have been persuaded by some that are careful of our safety to take heed how we commit ourself to armed multitudes for fear of treachery; but I assure you, I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear. I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safe guard in the loyal hearts and good will of my subjects, and therefore I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live or die amongst you all, to lay down my life for my God and for my kingdom and for my people, my honour, and my blood, even in the dust.Queen Elizabeth, 1588
But how could a woman — especially a woman who holds such a patriotic sentiment! — truly share that risk? What man in that army wouldn’t have given his own life, or even the life of his fellow soldiers, to preserve such a woman in the face of danger?
Government is the monopoly of violence, and politicians wield this violence. Political legitimacy is the right to wield this weighty weapon through legitimacy, which is traditionally earned by sharing in the risks that they impose upon others.
This is why war-mongering sounds more compelling from Dan Crenshaw than it does from Ben Shapiro.
I’d fight for Dan Crenshaw. Maybe even in a war we didn’t need to be in.
I couldn’t say the same for Ben.
It is the blessing of women that they receive a unique degree of protection from society at large. Men hate seeing women in danger. Perhaps this is why the vast majority of the homeless, the incarcerated, and those who die at work are men. But this blessing comes at a cost, which is that women cannot realistically take on their share in risk which would justify legitimate political power.
The subject of Ocasio-Cortez’ livestream was the January 6 riot, and the last month of political debate has been whether or not then-president Trump “incited” this riot. Yet as Rand Paul observed, Democrats have been inciting violence for the past year. Alongside Bernie Sanders, Maxine Waters, and Kamala Harris, Ocasio-Cortez has been among the leading democratic congressmen to incite Antifa and BLM riots all through 2020, resulting in millions of dollars in property damage and dozens of deaths.
Because Ocasio-Cortez is a young and relatively attractive woman, she gets a pass, compared to Trump.
President Trump crossed the DMZ in Korea, alone. This was treated with a casual nod: “yep, that’s what a leader does–next story.”
What kind of adulation would AOC have received if she had done merely what was expected of a male leader?
Would she have even been allowed?
Would she have even known that that kind of action is expected of a national leader?
Given that she hid in a closet and took running shoes from her intern, my guess is no. She didn’t know that that is what is expected of a leader. She didn’t know that that is what is required of a legitimate political leader, armed with the violent power of the state. And she would never be willing to take on that responsibility.
Worse, the public would never let her take on that risk.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez knows that.
That’s what this livestream was all about.
Interestingly, a woman did die on January 6th. But it was a protester, not a politician. Scott Adams has speculated that perhaps the decision to shoot a woman was intentional: a man dying is just war, and might even fire up the crowd. But a woman dying causes everyone around her bleeding corpse to question their entire life. It’s an energy siphon — a woman died.
The influence that AOC wields is incredible. Maybe even she doesn’t realize how powerful she is — but she will. And if “our democracy” continues on its current trajectory, there will be more like her. Perhaps Sarah Palin the “MILF” was the prototype in America, just as Hitchens observed that Thatcher had an element of this power in Britain. Lauren Boebert is a potential candidate for this archetype as well.
But none of them are as skillful as AOC.
The attractive female-politican short-circuits the sort of rational thinking that is assumed as a prerequisite for democracy to work. It hijacks the male protective instinct in a way that necessarily and inevitably leads to more centralized protection of the state and its attractive and vulnerable leaders. White knights will fall over themselves to die in defense of “m’lady.” If political legitimacy has to do with shared risk, then female politicians — in their appearance of vulnerability — seem to undermine the very grounds for political legitimacy of our leaders.
And no one can stop them.
If she can mobilize this, there’s no stopping her.Christopher Hitchens
I can imagine a feminist retorting that men should just stop treating women differently, should simply be okay with women risking death in battle or political assassination. But that just isn’t going to happen. You can’t philosophize away the evolutionary pressure of the reproductive value of women. That’s an instinct that overpowers reason every single time.
No one knows that better than Ocasio-Cortez.