Dilbert and Male Privilege

Yesterday morning, my wife asked me to read a posting by Scott Adams, the creator of the comic strip Dilbert, on his personal blog concerning the Democratic National Convention and the nomination of Hillary Clinton for POTUS. The post is entitled “Selling Past the Close”.

You may read it here (and you should) – http://blog.dilbert.com/post/148050318231/selling-past-the-close . It is obviously widely read and this post particularly.

I read the post while my wife watched my reaction. When I looked up, I tried to give an intellectually-driven answer that discussed the use of emotional, ethical, and logical appeals by both candidates to fire up their bases. What really happened was that I gave a response based on an assumption that my wife, who is one of the more brilliant people I know (and oozes with common sense), wanted an academic answer.

Wrong. She really wanted my opinion. She didn’t want Mr. “I Teach Rhetoric and Literature” guy. She wanted to hear from a man, a husband, the father of a daughter, the son of a single mother, and a teacher of teenagers.

It was the fact that I assumed that she wanted a sterilized answer is where I first failed. I didn’t agree with Adams, but intellectually I was trying to understand his side and then argue against it. But Adams was talking about gender issues, specifically making statements about how Hillary’s nomination was literally driving down testosterone levels in American males and that it was not a good thing because she was about to embark on a journey to run a building that was “man” made.

And I was talking with a woman, a lady, my wife, the mother of our two kids, a daughter of hard-working people, an employee of a health-care related field, and my best friend.

Here is part of the post he presented.

“Let me say this again, so you know I’m not kidding. Based on what I know about the human body, and the way our thoughts regulate our hormones, the Democratic National Convention is probably lowering testosterone levels all over the country. Literally, not figuratively. And since testosterone is a feel-good chemical for men, I think the Democratic convention is making men feel less happy. They might not know why they feel less happy, but they will start to associate the low feeling with whatever they are looking at when it happens, i.e. Clinton.

On the 2D playing field – where policies and facts matter – the Democratic National Convention is doing great. And when it comes to exciting women, it might be the best ever. But on an emotional level – where hormones rule – men have left the building…that they built.”

Honestly, I am still trying to figure out what “building” he is talking about.

I thought about this conversation and this post all day yesterday, and true to the fact that irony makes the world go round, it was my daughter’s birthday.

My teenage daughter. Who starts high school in a month. Who will soon catch the eye of some boy. Who will be able to vote for a president in the 2020 election. Who may become a mother herself.

How would I have answered her if she had asked me the same question that her mother did yesterday morning? My reaction to Adams’s post would have been much more visceral.

I kept rereading the post and focused a lot on this particular part.

“But if you’re an undecided voter, and male, you’re seeing something different. You’re seeing a celebration that your role in society is permanently diminished. And it’s happening in an impressive venue that was, in all likelihood, designed and built mostly by men. Men get to watch it all at home, in homes designed and built mostly by men, thanks to the technology that was designed and built mostly by men. I mention that as context, not opinion.

I agree with Michelle Obama’s gratitude about Clinton’s success so far, and how the country now “takes it for granted that a woman can be president.” That’s a big, big deal, and an accomplishment that you can never take away from Clinton, no matter how it all ends. I would argue – as did Michelle Obama – that Clinton already removed the glass ceiling. Now it’s just a question of who the voters prefer.”

And then I considered who Clinton was running against, Donald Trump, whose own nomination happened a week earlier during a convention that mentioned Clinton many more times than Trump’s own name under a cloud of “Lock her up!” chants.

Then I considered one of the top news stories from the last week – the speech by Khizr Khan at the DNC that called out Trump’s words on Muslims. That was the speech where Ghazala Khan stood by her husband and while she remained silent for her own reasons, she spoke volumes. Trump’s reactions propelled this speech in the national spotlight. He said in an interview later to George Stephanopoulos,

“If you look at his wife, she was standing there, she had nothing to say, she probably — maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say, you tell me.”

Mr. Trump also told Maureen Dowd of The New York Times on Friday night, “I’d like to hear his wife say something.”

Then I found this report from The Guardian called “Donald Trump Sexism tracker: Every offensive comment in one place” (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/politics/donald-trump-sexism-tracker-every-offensive-comment-in-one-place/ ). It’s an English publication, from the very same country that Trump just praised regarding Brexit. Then there was this report from The New York Times – “The 250 People, Places and Things Donald Trump Has Insulted on Twitter: A Complete List” (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/01/28/upshot/donald-trump-twitter-insults.html?_r=0 ).

Mr. Adams, that’s a man trying to place the glass ceiling back. In fact, Trump seems to suffer from “Male Privilege.”

In a country where women still do not get paid the same as their male counterparts, in a country that really only recently allowed women to vote, and in a country where half of the marriages that occur end in divorce, the spirit of Adams’s post is now really lost on me. Ironically, Adams pens a cartoon that satirizes corporate America, one of the more gender un-neutral arenas in the world.

And while he may have been explicitly talking about undecided voters, Adams’s post may have actually decided many people’s votes.

Maybe even Dilbert’s.

2 thoughts on “Dilbert and Male Privilege

  1. I felt like the spirit of Adams’ post was simply informative. Several years ago, I was sharing some plans about something I was going to tell an old manager, and an insightful friend challenged me: “Why bring this up? What are you hoping to accomplish?” After explaining that I really wanted this manager to understand where I was coming from, my friend reiterated his earlier points. He eventually helped me see there was no real task or objective to be accomplished, and in fact, there were potential negative ramifications in continuing to try to get my manager to see my perspective.

    With regards to Adams’ post, I see similarities… What is the DNC hoping to accomplish with the continued focus on Hilary as a woman? (She already has the pure “girl-power” votes covered). Are there potential negative implications with the continued focus? Yes, sadly there were some very valid points made regarding continued focus… No judgement, just fact.

    So getting back to where I started-if the objective is to increase HRC voters, I’d agree it probably makes sense to stoo focusing on her gender., and I don’t see it as offensive in any way (just logical)

    My $.02 for the evening. Have a great week, y’all!



    • Thanks for this Kate. Very illuminating. And thanks for reading the blog.

      I do have to say that a lot of this to me is fueled by how I view Trump and his statements during the campaign and in the past. If Hillary was running against someone else, like Rubio or Bush, then I don’t see this type of convention.

      Reactionary on her part? yes. But with voter ID laws being changes again (like here in NC) and the fact that Trump has been running a rather unconventional campaign it presents a lot of interesting angles to explore.

      The idea that there will not be a white man in the Oval Office for what may be 16 years and four terms is a seismic change from what we saw in our youth.

      Supposedly there is a very interesting interview by Adams with Bill Maher on Trump. I am going to try and view this week.

      Again, thanks for this. Helps to hear from those who sees things differently.


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