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Patricia McGuire Headshot

Bosoms and Big Brass Ones

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It takes some big brass ones to dismiss more than half the world's population as being irrational, hormonally-driven basket cases incapable of serious work. It's even more ironic to make that claim while speaking at the University of Virginia, home of Dragas v. Sullivan, two of the most famous fearless female gladiators in all of higher education. Subtlety not being one of his obvious good traits, I suspect that Paul Tudor Jones may have missed that irony during his discourse on bosoms and addled brains. He was responding to a question about why a panel at the UVA School of Commerce was composed of only rich white men -- a fair question in this day and age. His response blamed women for getting married and having children.

You have to watch the video for the full effect of this stunning neanderthal performance.

By the way, will UVA give equal time to a discourse on the effects of testosterone surges on men's judgment?

In giving the entirely wrong answer to the question of why so few women work in the hyper-macho world of trading, Jones managed to be Exhibit A of the real answer. Jones opined that, "I don't think you'll ever see as many great women investors as men, period, end of story" and went on to explain this stunning unsubstantiated declaration by declaring that "a girl" who starts work in trading and then gets married will likely have children --- "which, in my mind, is as big of a killer as divorce" (more on this later) --- and then, "... as soon as that baby's lips touch that girl's bosom, forget it."

What he should have said was this: "There are not as many women traders because men like me won't hire them." Period, end of story.

Jones did subsequently issue the usual self-serving apology, claiming that, "Much of my adult life has been spend fighting for equal opportunity." Really? True, as a recent glowing story on 60 Minutes revealed, Jones has been very generous with his wealth, founding the Robin Hood Foundation to fight poverty in New York City and giving more than $100 Million to his alma mater UVA. Noblesse oblige, but no excuse. His "off-the-cuff" remarks about women reveal the real philosophy of the man behind the headlines and public acclaim, exposing the dark heart of sexist thinking that still stunts opportunities for millions of women in this nation and fosters misery and degradation for countless women worldwide.

Jones revealed other philosophies of the workplace that should make anyone who cares about the fair treatment of workers shudder. Turns out that men, too, may not measure up to his icy standards. His meandering discourse started with his view of the evil effects of divorce on a trader's mind -- honestly, his rhetoric sounded like a preacher doing a modern riff on Reefer Madness, divorce edition. Divorce is so emotionally distracting, to him, that a person "cannot think straight for 60 seconds." So his response to knowing a person is getting divorced is "redeem immediately," pull his money out. Who would work with a guy who has so little empathy for the human condition? If the key to success is to strip away every ounce of humanity in order to make money, what's left? Destroying human decency in order to make money is what's really addled and disruptive.

Jones did women everywhere the great service of reminding us that the revolution is far from over. From those testosterone-fueled trading desks, to the humiliations and terrors that military women suffer in barracks and officers quarters, to the promotion of such medieval concepts as "legitimate rape" and transvaginal probes, to the missing 23 cents on the dollar that our paychecks still lack compared to men's earnings, to the rigorous enforcement of all glass and marble and stained-glass ceilings that keep women out of professions they could truly transform for the good, men in positions of power and authority continue to insult, degrade, disparage, discriminate and dismiss women as unworthy, incapable, irrational, unequal.

Sure, not all men are guilty -- we all know plenty of great guys who shudder when people like Jones shoot their mouths off. And yet, the evidence is clear that when a powerful, wealthy man like Jones controls jobs and opportunities for making serious money, the chances that women will get to play are remote at best.

By the way, Jones didn't answer the whole question about why the UVA panel had only rich, white, middle-aged men. Perhaps, given his remarks on women, it's a blessing that he didn't go into a riff about the lack of African-American or Hispanic traders; prejudice continues to block their professional progress in much the same way as women's horizons are often stunted.

Jones did, however, go into a long digression about how "I'm here today" because he spent his apparently somewhat indulgent childhood playing board games -- chess, poker, backgammon, chinese checkers, solitaire. "That's all I did as a child," he said, and I could not help but conjure a picture of a very lonely little boy playing board games all alone in some sterile room. Too bad he didn't have to go out to shoot hoops and flip burgers like real kids. He learned to be smart about probability theory, but learned nothing about human life, relationships and complications, the real world of other people who are not like him, which is just about everybody.

It's not too late for Jones to redeem himself. I challenge him to come to our women's college at Trinity to meet some real women who know a thing or two about work, babies, focus, achievement and real life. We have no need to debate him, since debate suggests a valid premise for his line of thinking. We want to school him, to tutor the Tudor in what it really means to be a great leader and good human being, not just an individual privileged by wealth and gender.