GENDER AND THE GATES INCIDENT.

Steven Teles has a very astute analysis of L'Affaire Gates as primarily about "honor:"

This whole thing would have been a big nothing if either man were willing to swallow his pride. The cop could have defused it by letting Gates call him a racist and have it roll off his back. He couldn't because, I think, he has a self-conception as precisely not a racist cop (given that he does racial profiling seminars). To back down would have been to accept what Gates was accusing him of--to be dishonored. Gates couldn't back down and say "yes, officer, whatever you ask, officer" because he believed he was being treated in a way that was inappropriate to his status as a Harvard professor and because he thought he was being hassled because he was black. To back down would have been untrue to his idea of himself--as a race man and a part of America's elite. Again, he would have accepted being dishonored. So they both stood their ground, and the guy with the gun won.

Yep. I'd only add that "honor" and "pride" -- and anger! -- are, so often, driven by expectations around acceptable masculinity. It seems to me that men are way more likely than women to loudly and publicly defend themselves against slights, instead of "cooling down" and dealing with the problem later on, in a more constructive way. Which begs the question -- would any of this have happened if the major players had been women?

--Dana Goldstein

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