The Latina Is Wiser than the White Man!

What Women Really Think
May 26 2009 3:15 PM

The Latina Is Wiser than the White Man!

Emily, you pull out the critical quote from Sotomayor's speech : "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

This quote does not go down easy. As Stuart Taylor pointed out last week, what if Samuel Alito had said: "I would hope that a white male with the richness of his traditional American values would reach a better conclusion than a Latina woman who hasn't lived that life." We would chuck him over to some Idaho compound, no?

Advertisement

Yes, it's true, Sotomayor is unabashedly embracing affirmative action, in a way you don't even hear much on campuses anymore. In that 2002 speech Sotomayor begins by counting up women and minorities, court by court, and then concluding, "sort of shocking, isn't it?" This is not even the subtle kind of affirmative action that UC-Berkeley (where she was speaking) now practices, but the old-school, bean counting kind.

But beyond that, Taylor was being unfair. Sotomayor was not talking about all cases. She was talking specifically about race and sex discrimination cases. In fact, the presence of female judges does seem to make a difference - not on all cases but on sex discrimination cases. Is this bias? Is it some defiance of logic? It seems perfectly natural to me. It does not apply in all cases, obviously (Clarence Thomas). And Sotomayor was a prosecutor in her past life, not a public defender.

Obama's phrase of today - "common touch" - seems all wrong, too, a little quaint and patronizing. But "empathy" and "curiosity" - two of his other words - seem about right. "Empathy" does not mean you lose your mind in a flood of hormone and tears. "Empathy" is not only available to women and minorities. It just means that sometimes you see things other people might miss, if only because you know what they look like.

Hanna Rosin is the founder of DoubleX and a writer for the Atlantic. She is also the author of The End of Men. Follow her on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Altered State

The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender

What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?

Surprise! The Women Hired to Fix the NFL Think the NFL Is Just Great.

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Moneybox
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 17 2014 7:03 PM Once Again, a Climate Policy Hearing Descends Into Absurdity
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 17 2014 6:53 PM LGBTQ Luminaries Honored With MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 8:25 PM A New Song and Music Video From Angel Olsen, Indie’s Next Big Thing
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 7:23 PM MIT Researchers Are Using Smartphones to Interact With Other Screens
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 11:18 AM A Bridge Across the Sky
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.