Too much testosterone?

In Washington, white men are in, and women are out

President Trump and House Republicans celebrate passing ObamaCare replacement legislation.
(Image credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

This is the editor's letter in the current issue of The Week magazine.

Let me say right off that some of my best friends are white men. I have been white and male myself for as long as I remember. Yet it must be said there's something odd about the overwhelming white maleness of Washington's current leadership. When the House passed the American Health Care Act last week, only 20 of the 217 votes in favor came from women. Among women House members, the bill lost 63 to 20. A photo of President Trump celebrating the bill's passage shows him surrounded by more than 30 congressmen, with just two women visible. In the Senate, the 13 legislators chosen to draft that chamber's version of TrumpCare are — yep — all white males. No women, blacks, or Hispanics need apply. And it's not just health care. Every time President Trump signs a new executive order, he is surrounded by dozens of grinning aides, congressmen, and industry CEOs, nearly all of them white, male, and over 50.

Is there a message there? Remember: Only 31 percent of the U.S. population consists of white, non-Hispanic males. The other 69 percent might well wonder if the disproportionate monochromatic maleness of those making laws and regulations might skew their thinking — leading this fraternity to conclude, for example, that Planned Parenthood should lose all federal funding, or that health insurers should be free to exclude contraception and maternity coverage. (Who needs that? Not us.) Perspective matters. In a new study, researchers found that giving men a shot of testosterone made them more likely to make dumb mistakes, and to insist nevertheless, "I'm definitely right." Now, as my wife and two daughters would tell you, I'm prone to a surfeit of certitude myself. But think about a hyper-male who rushes into poorly considered gut decisions, and refuses to even consider the possibility that he's wrong ... Does that remind you of anyone?

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William Falk

William Falk is editor-in-chief of The Week, and has held that role since the magazine's first issue in 2001. He has previously been a reporter, columnist, and editor at the Gannett Westchester Newspapers and at Newsday, where he was part of two reporting teams that won Pulitzer Prizes.