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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Portrait of a phony

The following item appeared on Page Six of the NY Post this morning:

Dan Abrams believes in female superiority

Msnbc legal eagle Dan Abrams is making the case for women, literally. He's inked a six-figure deal with Abrams Books (no relation) to chronicle ways women are superior to men. In "Man Down," he'll present studies, polls and other "evidence" to prove that women actually best the boys in typically male areas like gambling and enduring pain, and even make better hedge-fund managers and cops. Abrams isn't basing this on his own studies of gorgeous actresses: "If I had any unique insight into women, I would be married. I don't. This is a fun book written from the perspective of a lawyer making a case. A lot of people will be surprised by what we found." It's due around Mother's Day next year.

Dan Abrams
Dave Allocca/

A friend once said to me, "I have a friend whose philosophy is that every woman is more interesting as a person than every man."

I scoffed, "That's not a philosophy, that's a line. How many times have you heard him espouse this 'philosophy' when there are no women around?"

But there are lines, and there are lines. Dan Abrams' book is essentially the biggest line I've ever heard. Abrams, who evidently has a reputation for squiring around gorgeous actresses (rather than female cops or gamblers or hedge fund managers), is looking to burnish his rep with the sort of air-headed, politically correct actresses he dates. And what better line to counter his womanizing reputation with than, "Hey, I wrote an entire book about how women are better than men" -- and then actually being able to produce that book.

(This is also not a bad way to burnish his rep with the sort of air-headed, politically correct people he must butter up at his employer, MSNBC: this is the type of conclusion that they are always looking for, facts be damned.)

The entire story resonated with falseness from start to finish, but Abrams really gave the game away when he said that the book "will be written from the perspective of a lawyer making a case."

(We all know that lawyers on a case do nothing but seek the truth.)

You've got to wonder if he was able to say any of this with a straight face.


Anonymous said...

The pay day could be pretty good too. Released on Mother's Day, a feel-good book for women designed to be a 'great gift' for mothers everywhere.

Years ago I was given a copy of "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" by a girlfriend who thought I could learn from it. I stopped reading after an early chapter that dedicates over 20 pages (going by distant memory) to the ways men can adapt their behavior to accommodate women, then wraps up the chapter with a page and a half about the way women can adapt their behavior to accommodate men. Not much balance or fairness there, but a major seller. I'd like to know the percentage of men / women who bought that book, but I think its a safe bet that this book was written for, and purchased by women.

Isn't there a general theme in the mainstream media that men / male qualities are the root of most of society's ills, while women / female-ness are superior? That's my strong impression.

- Ed

John Craig said...

Ed --
Talk to people in the publishing business, and they'll tell you that women in general buy many more books than men, so a book geared towards them is going to be much more successful in general. I remember what a success "Men are from Mars..." was. I remember taking a look at it in a bookstore and being struck buy how much the author, John Gray, looked a grandmother. Appropriately enough, I guess.

As far as that general theme in the media you mention, that is a mild theme, nowhere near as strong as the white-people-are-bad-and-people-of-color-are-good theme, but it is there. I actually think there's something to it: men are by nature far more aggressive, and as such, are responsible for most of the wars and strife all over the world. And I'd say that in general men are far more egotistical and brusque, and also more likely to be sociopaths. I've read all these things in the media -- and they're all true.

On the other hand, men are also responsible for most of the progress that civilization has made. (Please, name the great women inventors and explorers and composers.) And Abrams' theme, that women make better cops and hedge fund managers, is ludicrous. As far as trading, all sorts of studies have shown that women are far more risk averse; and how does that trait go with being a better hedge fund manager/trader? And the idea that women make better cops is utterly ludicrous. I've heard that within police departments, it is accepted that women can never be paired with other women because women in general are far more reluctant to make the arrests they are supposed to. But of course, the NY Times would never breathe a word of this. The case that Abrams will undoubtedly make for women cops is that because they are less brutal by nature, they will not cause the sorts of incidents that can result from too much aggressiveness, and you'd never see four female cops teeing off on a Rodney King the way you saw the four male cops doing. Well, that's true. The downside is, they might never have tried to arrest him in the first place. Abrams will make the same case for women managers (less abrasive) and hedge fund managers (won't take bad risks). He'll have a point, but to make it will have to ignore most of the picture.

But we're getting a little off track here: I'm convinced the reason Abrams is writing this book in the first place is simply that he figures it will help him score and offset his reputation as a womanizer. Plus it will ingratiate him with the liberals at MSNBC. It's a win win proposition for him.

Anonymous said...

Continuing off the track....

I think comparing men and women is like comparing apples and oranges. We are different - with strengths that are rooted in our biological roles. Those biological role strengths can be either strengths or weaknesses in the many aspects of modern society. What's sad is that instead of openly recognizing, and honoring, the true differences and strengths of women and men, the law and political correctness insist that we pretend that men and women are equal and have equal capabilities.

I've spent a good amount of time with friends from Europe, India, and a few from Turkey. There's often a friendly banter between these men and women with jabs thrown by each gender against the other. Underneath is the recognition of the strengths and weaknesses of women and men, and a respect and honor of those differences. On the continent to our east they're comfortable with gender differences. In the US such discussion will usually be on the hostile side, with blame and proof of superiority as ultimate goals.

As far as the depiction of men in modern mainstream media, I think of weak bumbling father figures like Homer Simpson today, vs. the Father Knows Best of the 1950's. Examples to the contrary... ?

- Ed

John Craig said...

Ed --
You're absolutely right. I wrote in a recent post about the NY Times that while the French say Vive la difference!, the Times says, quel difference? The US is ridiculously pc, to the point of denying all sorts of obvious differences between the races and genders. It's ironic, because in this country we're supposed to be constantly celebrating our "diversity", while never looking too closely at exactly what makes us diverse.

As far as depictions go, I'd say that the Father Knows Best model continued up till the 80's or so (think of Eight is Enough, or The Brady Bunch), then that model was given up as boring. I think Homer Simpson is a pretty extreme example to take; Al Bundy of Married With Children started that trend in the 80's, but there the wife was equally piggish in her own way, as were both children. I don't watch enough TV these days, especially network shows, to have a handle on how men are portrayed as opposed to women, but I do know that a lot of the women portrayed in the movies are put in the superhero mold no matter how ridiculous it comes across. I don't know whether this is because such a woman is the typical Hollywood producer's ideal fantasy woman, or it's just an attempt on their part to be PC, but I can't tell you how many times I've seen watched really, really stupid scenes where some skinny little girl kicks the crap out of a whole gang of men. Lara Croft Tomb Raider (played by Angelina Jolie, one of whose breasts has more volume than both of her arms put together) would be a typical example. Overall, are women portrayed better than men? I don't think I see enough movies or TV to be able to say. It's not something that jumps out at me, the way it jumps out at me the way that, say, our newspapers take an obvious rooting interest in the women vs. men accomplishment issue.

Anonymous said...

There's at least one study that I've read that says that women make better money managers than men because they're not as likely to be overconfident and make risky bets. The study seemed to be well-designed and backed up what it said with data. However, there are very few women money managers and the study did have the flaw that the sample size of women managers was quite small. Having said that, of my hedge fund managers, my sole woman manager lost less than all the male managers in 2008 and made more than all of them in 2009.

John Craig said...

You have multiple hedge fund managers? Great, just what I need, an obnoxious rich guy boasting on my blog.

Hey, get lost, will you.