Male Aggression and the Financial Crisis

Masculinity was partly to blame for the obscure financial instruments that caused us so much grief.
  • Transcript


Question: Did male aggression contribute to the financial crisis?

Lionel Tiger:
That is undoubtedly true. The question though is also, why weren’t there more women involved in those systems and will women ever be involved in the same way.  The evidence we have is that women seem to not want to compete at that level with that kind of violence over a lifetime.  There was just a study done of women in Silicon Valley and about a third of the women leave very quickly from the competition, another third have babies and they never go back and the ones who persist are relatively more modest in their activities than the males are and I think we have to acknowledge the fact that males tend to be somewhat more bellicose and aggressive whether it is good for them to generate these collateralized debt obligation instruments that have caused us such tremendous grief.  I’m not sure that is gender specific, but the idea of making all that money and being of high status and having the money to give for your kids and so on, all of those things are associated with the male career by and large, so a lot of those people who made those huge salaries had two or three kids in private school and they had a whole array of expenses, which were really high and in general I think it’s the case that females don’t go for that kind of money because they don’t want to.

There is a lot of talk about a glass ceiling and so on, but for example Harvard Business School did a study some years ago and I’m afraid I can’t remember the details, but it turns out that a large, large percentage of the graduates don’t do business at all.  They go into the labor force for awhile and then they leave.  They either quite because they don’t like fighting for the corner suite or they have kids and they have a priority and they serve that priority.  So we’re not going to repeal biology and so long as you have a tournament area called Wall Street or whatever else you want to call it where a whole lot of really eager males can get together and fight over sources then you have to really regulate I think and this is what President Obama is concerned about.  In fact, he is New York City as we speak to talk to people about that issue and speaking primo dialogically I think he has got an interesting challenge, but also a good point.

Question: Is masculinity still necessary?

Lionel Tiger:
Overwhelmingly when we look at say sexual want ads in newspapers, it’s decreasing now because of the internet, but when these things first came out women… men would always ask for women who were affectionate, warm, fertile, good looking.  Women invariably asked for men who were reliable and to quote, unquote, professional.  By professional they meant somebody who is going to provide a general and a genuine and a predictable stream of income for me and for our children and women look for that all the time.  Women are always trying to find guys who are slightly older and slightly richer than they are and that is not being mean.  It makes a lot of sense because women do have babies. Most women still do and when they have babies they have needs.  There is a lot of discussion about the so called 77 cents on the dollar that women earn and President Obama has repeated this nonsense himself.  It’s true women earn 77 cents on the dollar, but the reason is that they’re out of the labor force for five to eight years and if you assume a 3% increase per annum for 8 years there is your difference and so the reason is that women make choices that men don’t make, don’t have to make and the consequence is that males will be in the tournament in Wall Street.  However, it’s now changed because of the credential problem that I mentioned that is that guys are not graduating from desirable schools to the extent they used to and so now in big cities such as New York, Toronto, Chicago, L.A., etc., women between 20 and 35 earn more money than men in that age group.  Now there is a good reason for that.  Again not only are women better at the school system which favors them it seems, but any woman who is at college now or who is coming to maturity in the modern world knows that not only has she to study to support herself, but she is studying for two because she may well have a child and she may well have no provider to take care of that child and her, so she better get a good job, good credential so she’ll be in shape to do this.

40% of babies born in the United States and in Europe are born to women who are not legally married.  Now some of the mare living with guys and connections may be made and they may be durable, but the fact is that the idea of so many women having babies on their own, risking that they may have to do this by themselves is I think very revealing and it suggests a great deal about what they think of the guys.  They just don’t trust them.

Question: Why are you supporting the idea of "male studies" as an academic discipline?

Lionel Tiger: There has been in the whole women’s studies world a notion that sex roles are the result of which magazines you read and which sitcom you watch and that it’s all confection.  It’s not indigenous out of the organism and so that and the idea of patriarch is if there were a bunch of guys sitting around and doing their very best to keep women down.  Again, possibly true and certainly true in a whole series of events, but the fact is that I think that it hasn’t worked, that that approach, the call it women’s studies approach, men’s studies approach, which is basically a branch plant of the women’s studies programs that hasn’t worked to yield for us a society of equal men and women equally enjoying, equally profiting from their educational experience and so it seemed to a number of us it was actually time to start again.  When you have a situation in which two-thirds of the graduates of an institution are female and it’s supposed to be for everybody you’re entitled to ask, why is this trip necessary?  How did it get this way?  And so we were rather innocently saying just let’s review the matter.  We’re not content with the result.  It hasn’t worked.