Naturally More Successful

We were having one of those “what if” conversations, the ones that start to happen once a relationship reaches it’s one year mark.

“If you won a million dollars…” or “Would you still love me if…” when finally we came around to kids. What if we had them? What if we had a boy and a girl – which one would be more successful?

He was haltingly careful, dating a feminist, and proclaiming to fight gender equality. “Of course, I’d expect them both to be incredibly successful, blessed with our intelligence and good looks, but he’d probably be more successful.”

“Why, glass ceiling and all?” I asked innocently.

“Well…” and he goes silent, muttering excuses instead of answers.

“What, you think he’d just naturally be more successful?” My hackles were raised. “Why’s that, exactly?”

And out trots the same old evolutionary psychology arguments. It boiled down to the fact that mean were “naturally” better leaders and are more aggressive managers. I could have laughed it off, in fact I nearly did, but I mentioned my own career success as an aggressive manager and industry leader. Eventually, we had to agree to disagree. In his heart of hearts, he believed that men were naturally more successful.

That discussion stayed with me, long after the relationship ended, and helped spur me on to becoming a radical feminist. I never had a “click moment” when I became a feminist, but I remember that conversation as the one that helped me realize that even among those I considered progressive, there was still so much work to be done.

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