The douchebags ain’t going anywhere

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I live in Texas, but I’m actually fairly liberal. In general, like most of us, I also don’t enjoy douchebags.

They seem to be everywhere these days, though. Driven by deification of the workaholic and the myth of the high achiever, we’ve come to believe you must be a hard-charger to get anything significant done in America. (Probably in the world.) This has led to managerial approaches where “innovation” just means “make sure the top ranks make a lot of money.” Ultimately, it doesn’t benefit that many people. There are definitely places you can carve out a good life — Texas would be one right now — but in general, many of us are more nervous than ever before about our future. If you have a kid tomorrow, that kid probably enters a job market that’s 40–50% less accessible than the current one. That’s a real discussion topic that, unfortunately, many of us are burying our heads in the sand about currently. Take all this together, and social isolation is probably increasing.

Then there are the douchebags.

These are the guys that seem to have everything: nice car, nice house, hot wife, kids they potentially ignore, deals always ready to go, etc. Some people have all these things and are nice. They would not be douchebags. Some — probably more — have all these things and regularly discuss having these things. They are, well, douchebags.

Now that we’ve established some definitions here, let’s move on to a real issue we need to discuss.

Douchebags and the rise of aggressive males

A male being aggressive with a female in a work context puts you in the douchebags category. (If it’s a sexual context, that puts you in jail, at least ideally.)

Well, some researchers at UPenn did some studies around male/female dynamics and aggression and here’s a takeaway:

Over a series lab experiments, conducted before and after Election Day, they observed a striking result: Post-election, study participants were less cooperative, more likely to use adversarial strategies and less likely to reach an agreement with a partner. The effect was driven by an increase in men acting more aggressively toward women.

Here come the douchebags!

“Grab em by the pussy”

A guy who became President of the United States — theoretically the leader of the free world — said that to a TV hack and still won the Presidency. Yes, HRC was a flawed candidate and their Upper Midwest strategy was a chicken fart. But if a guy can say “grab em by the pussy” and still have a model wife, his name on buildings, and win the Presidency … do we think men are then going to become less aggressive?

The great irony of this whole thing

Not necessarily saying these two words are synonyms, but do you know one of the most common words used about women on performance reviews? “Abrasive.” So again, is “aggressive” the same thing as “abrasive?” Not 100 percent. But those aren’t super far off either.

So men are being aggressive more and more over this research — douchebags — but women are getting described as abrasive. See the dichotomy in how we think about men and women relative to work?

Will we get less douchebags anytime soon?

In a winner-take-all capitalism model? Absolutely not. It’s actually probably better in that context to be a complete douchebag, so long as you’re hitting your marks and targets. What else matters?

One of the issues here would be charismatic leadership. We’re often drawn to these types of people, but two things end up happening:

  • They believe their own hype.
  • We get led to the wrong spot.

I wouldn’t necessarily say this is happening with Trump, although it’s close. (Personally I’d say he was never really a “leader” to begin with.) Some say Hitler is in this group of charismatic leaders. Not sure on that either, but many CEOs would fall here. Charismatic guys who begin to eventually drive everyone towards short-sighted profit decisions that only benefit 1 in every 18 employees. (Such as them and their reports.) It’s not great. It’s Douchebags United at some places.

The aggression thing does worry me, though, and needs to be toppled. Little girls are being born into this world every second, you know? We can’t let a culture of aggressive male douchebags rise up to meet them.

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