Law in Contemporary Society

Never Accept a First Offer

-- By SamanthaWishman - 17 May 2012

The basis for the comparison is a little casual. With respect to sexual bargaining, it's true that the social expectations that shape our behavior are gender-specific: in heterosexual sex, men advance, women select. Perhaps this runs a trifle deeper, even, than social construction. Female sexual selection, after all, is the real subject of Darwin's Descent of Man, because—as Darwin tries to establish in his painstaking consilient fashion—female sexual selection is the primary form of natural selection that created Homo Sapiens.

There's no evolutionary significance to salary bargaining, however, and I don't generally take my sociology from Sheryl Sandberg, thank you very much. I think the reason women are still occupying a small sliver of the world's most powerful positions is that men stop them. I don't think the problem is that women aren't aggressive enough. Or that they don't have some other kind of necessary character. Male control of all the public levers of power was simply presumed throughout human society until one generation ago, when the Pill gave women practical control over fertility for the first time in human history. Men have not simply surrendered their control. Two generations from now, however, the most widespread social revolution in our history will have completed itself, from this rather narrow point of view.

In the meantime, you are arguing, I think, that women in our society should be given negotiation training. So should men. If we redesigned high school, which is always a good idea and which never happens, we would be well advised to try to get adolescents to learn some rudimentary negotiation skills. Of course, they would be poor learners. Adolescents are biologically and psychically in a poor position to learn skilful negotiation. The best time to teach people how to negotiate is, in fact, when they're young adults. Unfortunately, as you say, that's long after they've started having sex. But that's what negotiation training in high school is for. You think school boards in Texas, Kansas, and Iowa will sign right up?


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r7 - 22 Jan 2013 - 20:10:12 - IanSullivan
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