I caught this clip a couple days ago and finally circled back to it because I kept thinking about. You’re probably already familiar with Bret Weinstein as the person who was the focus of the events at Evergreen State College back in 2017. The person he’s talking with in this clip is his wife (also a former biology professor) Heather Heying. In this clip taken from a longer podcast they are talking about the recent spate of people who’ve attempted to stand up to Critical Race Theory as it is being embraced at elite private schools. I wrote about this burgeoning trend here and here and here.
But in this clip Heying brings up something which I hadn’t considered. Most of the people who’ve been standing up and refusing to go along with CRT at their institutions have been men. Heying suggests that until women come to the point where they are willing to also stand up to it, the situation is unlikely to change at a societal level. “I think for that dam to break the tougher parent in most situations to see this ideology for what it is and to resist it and to be disagreeable…is going to be mothers,” Heying said.
But what’s most interesting is their discussion of why that might be. For instance, it’s generally considered a well supported fact in personality research that women tend to display more agreeableness on average than men. That doesn’t mean individual men can’t be more agreeable than individual women but on average women are more agreeable. So it makes sense that women would be less likely to rock the boat on a controversial topic like Critical Race Theory.
And a bit later they get into another reason that might be true. Women and men both compete socially but Heying argues men are (again on average) more likely to compete overtly while women compete covertly and socially. And that also has an impact on how women relate to discussions of wokeness. “It will also be harder to opt out of covert than overt games,” she said. She continued, “As a man you can say ‘Yup, not playing’ and you might get chided for it, you might get shamed for it but everyone knows he’s not playing, he’s doing something different.
“And if the competition is covert, it’s all behind the back and it’s gossip and it’s sidelining and it’s social, you can’t just say ‘I’m not playing.’”
Weinstein chimed in with a joke at that point, “She’s says she’s not playing—oh, that’s a really good move.”
Weinstein offered a sobering thought at this point. This one has to do with another topic which has become somewhat controversial in the past few years, though again it’s pretty well established, the idea that, on average, men tend to be more interested in things while women are more interested in people.
The world of things (engineering, programming, construction, etc.) “is a world of conservation laws that are unforgiving” Weinstein said. You could even say (though he doesn’t) it’s the ‘facts don’t care about your feelings’ branch of human endeavor. You may feel your bridge design is a good one but it will either stand up for 50 years or it won’t and the difference could be life or death.
On the other hand the social world doesn’t have those kind of firm limits. There is no similar penalty for advancing an “illogical system” like CRT. And if that’s so then it may be harder to get people to give it up in exactly the same way it’s hard to deprogram people from a cult.
And finally Heying suggested a third reason why that idea might make it harder for women to reject woke ideology than men. Because if women are more interested in people then social life will be a bigger part of their experience. As she put it, “many women have more of their entire lives invested in the relationships that they have. so it actually comes at a cost to a higher percentage of their life to go against the crowd, whereas men if they are engaged with these things that are meaningful to them, they can go into their damn shop…”
Overall, a really insightful 11 minutes from these two on the hope for some kind of breakthrough with regard to the public perception of Critical Race Theory. And stick around to the end of this clip for the little comment that wraps up this discussion. Truly perfect.