Girl Power

The other day a senior White House official, Kelly Sadler, made a comment about ailing Sen. McCain: “It doesn’t matter. He’s dying anyway.” Sadler was referring to McCain’s advanced cancer in the context of his opposition and thus a possible ‘no’ vote on a confirmation of another woman of questionable morals, Gina Haspel, Trump’s nominee for CIA director. One wonders: how can a public official or just any human being display such a lack of basic decency? What is it that has the capacity to make us into such assholes?

A moment of self-reflection brought back the memories of my early days on Wall Street. Back in a heyday, long before the shit hit the fan, there was a feature in the mortgage bonds called ‘prepayment penalty.’ Prepayment risk was one of the several risks of holding a mortgage bond. Still innocent about the ways of Wall Street, I couldn’t initially grasp what exactly was the problem when the borrower pays off the mortgage early. I was quickly disabused of my naivete by a shrewd and seasoned co-worker: that risk meant that a bondholder would have to reinvest that money at a different, probably lower rate. So naturally, the bondholders wanted to get compensated for carrying that risk. Thus Wall Street, he enlightened me, came up with a brilliant solution: prepayment penalty paid by the borrower. With this observation he accomplished two things: he revealed how the real world works, and how still unprepared I was for being a player in that world. As this new piece of info sinked in, I gazed upon the buzzing trading floor in embarrassment at my own inadequacy: these were all killers and I didn’t think like a killer.  This is how you were supposed to think: if a borrower is late on his mortgage – he pays a penalty; if he’s early – he still pays a penalty. You get to write these rules, you get a chicken for dinner every time. It’s almost like these masters of the universe WANTED the unwitting borrower to make a mistake; no, worse – in a cruel twist they also wanted to punish him for a prudent individual conduct. Why? Because this way they collect more fees. Of course, this industry would soon forget how it sought to punish a borrower for his attempt at paying off his debts and would blame the whole thing on him being a shiftless deadbeat. But that reckoning was still years away. At that moment, I was determined to become a killer like them.

Where am I going with this? Once I learned about this clever mechanism I didn’t feel outraged. It didn’t cause any internal conflict. What it produced instead was a self-satisfied chuckle, a realization that I was on the other, winning, side of this trade. It felt like an initiation into a special club. That it was I who, directly or indirectly, stood to benefit from all those poor schmucks who played by the rules written by ‘us’. Yes, at that point I have considered myself to belong to ‘Us’, the winners. I mean I was smart and worked 14-hour days and took plenty of abuse to get there, so, surely, I deserved it. In a set up like this it was just a matter of time before a disparaging word or a caustic comment towards the losers would slip off the tip of my tongue. I became a good cog.

Women like Kelly Sadler – also a good, loyal cog, blond and pretty and useful to the regime in many capacities, are often predisposed to not understand a toxic dynamic happening before her eyes, because her current status and a future lobbying career depend on not understanding it. She can smell that power the way I could smell that money.

The moment of initiation into a special exclusive club is the moment you lose your internal moral compass. Grateful of the rare privilege you want to prove being worthy of the membership. In the company of powerful men the misfortunes of the distant others is an odd topic to bring up. At best it will create suspicion about you having the right qualifications, about you having an understanding of the mission at hand. At worse, you’ll risk expulsion. Smart club administrators seek to invite new members from humble origins, minorities, women. They know those will be the best, most ruthless and most dedicated defenders of the club’s mission. The sense of belonging, of a need to belong, will trump the sense of right and wrong in most people most of the time. And indeed, throughout the history, women, especially white, privileged women, have been the loyal foot soldiers and defenders of the worst atrocities.

Kelly Sadler’s comment, put in that context, is a logical and totally predictable occurrence. She wasn’t thinking about McCain, or his family or even about how this will sound, should it ever come out, to an outside public. All she did was channel what everyone in that room was thinking. Judging by those standards she’s proved worthy of the membership.

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The Ability to Be Bad Is The Ultimate Gender Equalizer.

“Women are only good because they never had a chance to be bad”.

I saw “The Counselor” the other day, a movie based on the screenplay by Cormac McCarthy, the same guy who wrote No Country for Old Men and this post is a result of my ruminations on one of the film’s character. Spoiler alert: Cameron Diaz’s scheming and ruthless character kills Brad Pitt in an especially gruesome and chilling manner. For money – the most mundane and age-old reason of all. Some will find my thoughts and conclusions controversial. But here goes.

Women’s entire world, even when they are inclined to delude themselves about having some sort of power, revolved around the world of men. It’s the world built by men, with the rules written by men, so even when we think that we can achieve some sort of power, all we do is just play, real hard, by men’s rules. Sometimes we succeed, but those exceptions only confirm the rule. The bitchiness and cruelty that those of us who decide to wager into the man’s world develop is the manifestation and the confirmation of the man’s world. All this “Lean In” feminism that you keep hearing about is just a manual on how to be able to function in a man’s world. (A long, but dissecting and revealing account of what’s behind this movement.)

The ultimate gender equalizer is the ability to do evil. That includes the power to fleece the fools, to take advantage of the weak, to wage wars. True equality between sexes will be achieved not when a woman acquires access to tools of power she’s been denied for millennia; it will be achieved when she learns to lay them down after she’s had a good run. Women, especially at all those ubiquitous women’s conferences, like to think and talk of themselves as being better than men: we are nurturing, cooperative, benevolent, etc., etc. After all that uplifting talk women really begin to believe that they are better than those brutal apes, men. What bullshit! Women are only good because they never had a chance to be bad. It’s a feel-good fairy tale that women have been telling themselves for thousands of years just to cope with their second-class status. If you don’t have the power to do real shit then your only outlet in life, your only point of consolation is to “be nice”. When you are good out of weakness it doesn’t count, because you have no choice; you don’t get to pick a path, it’s been picked for you. How do you know if you’re truly a better part of humanity if you haven’t been exposed to and tempted with, at least not on a scale that men were, real power? Women think they are better than men because women never held that kind of power in reality – the power to do shit, not just depend on others to do shit. It is only during the last century we began to slowly shed those misconceptions. But here’s the kicker: once we, women, receive access to it, we are no different, no better no worse than men. That is a true equality – the ability to do things, sometimes despicable things, and only then the ability to abstain from doing them. Men had plenty of time to purge themselves of the bad things they were doing, to contemplate about their bad behavior; after all they’ve been doing bad things for a millennia. Men have had “fat tails” for generations (to use the statistical bell curve illustration): there are plenty of criminals, murderers, and vagabonds on the left-hand side of the curve among men; there are also a lot of geniuses and heroes on the right-hand side. Women’s bell curve looks much narrower: we don’t have as many delinquents and hobos, but we also don’t have as many outstanding statesmen and thinkers. We are new to this.

It is naïve to think that we can circumvent such natural evolution. First we have to have our own Raskolnikovs, Mussolinis, and Joe McCarthys in our midst; only then we can produce our own Rousseaus, our own Voltaires, our own Churchills. Only then we can sit by the fire, sip cognac and contemplate, in earnest, on the depravity of a human soul and our struggle to overcome it. Because then we will have a true understanding. Then we will know what it takes to lay down the power voluntarily, to refuse to use it to your advantage.

Benevolence and kindness of a woman had always carried a different flavor than a benevolence of a man. When a man is benevolent he projects strength; when a woman is benevolent she only does what is expected of her. A man doesn’t have to be benevolent; if he chooses to be it will come from his strength. If a woman is benevolent, she’s merely doing it because she’s weak.

Whether you like it or not, Margaret Thatcher waging war over Falklands was an essential part of that progress. That’s why we have to welcome even such cunts and dimwits as Ann Coulter and Sarah Palin – it’s progress; a hundred years ago they would just be voiceless housewives or spinsters. Having those public figures is natural growing pains. We despise them, but their existence is necessary to make way for future groundbreaking female leaders.

To achieve true equality we have to be bad first. We have to be bad for the next 2000 years. We will have to become the corrupt politicians, we will have to fleece the populace, to start wars, to fuck things up. We have to purge it all out of our system, to inoculate ourselves, so that later, hundreds or thousands of years from now, we can, this time genuinely, magnanimously, and without any social expectations, be good, show mercy. Then, we shall be truly equal.