by Justice William W. Bedsworth
The State of California has spent a great deal of money trying to convince me the two genders are equal. They have failed.
I know what the scientists say, I know what all the seminars and conferences have taught, I know what the politically correct position is for me to adopt, but I’m not buying it. Experience has taught me the two genders are not equal.
Women are far superior.
I figured this out in fifth grade. I looked around the room, sizing up my competition for report card stardom and there was no question about it: I was smarter than every other boy in the room. No contest. But Bernice Liebig and Maureen McCafferty . . . they were smart.
So I knew right then my gender was not necessarily superior. And nothing happened in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades to change that. Indeed, that’s when I began to develop an “interest” in the other gender—a generally unsuccessful pursuit that left me feeling even more aware of my inferiority.
Fortunately for me, my mother chose a parochial high school1 for me where the boys and girls were separated (concertina wire and machine gun emplacements). With no girls in my classes, I pretty much smoked the competition.2
That enabled me to land a scholarship for college, and—Mama didn’t raise no fool—I chose a men’s college. Again, without Bernice Liebig and Maureen McCafferty in my classes, I excelled.3 I was accepted at a very fine law school.
Law school being then about as exclusively male a domain as your average hunt club,4 I did just fine. The miniscule number of women was too small to warp the curve, and they had a separate lounge from the men.5
My first jury trial was before a woman. Celia Baker, a great woman who seems to me to have been tragically forgotten in Orange County. I believe she was our county’s first woman judge, and she was a beaut. She was smart and wise—an all too uncommon combination; she played no favorites and was about as easily intimidated as a rhinoceros.
Defense counsel knew I was a rookie, and when he found out it was my first trial, he pulled out all the stops. He committed somewhere between nine and twenty-three different types of misconduct.6 I objected to every one, Judge Baker sustained my objections, and—when appropriate—she admonished the jury.
But finally, I could take no more. I stood, objected, and demanded a mistrial.
Judge Baker looked at me over her glasses for a long time. I thought she was contemplating the merits of my motion. But instead of ruling, she intoned, softly and slowly, “Mr. Bedsworth, I think what we’re going to do is take a recess. We’ll let the jurors take a break and stretch their legs, and you can go back to your office and talk to your superiors and consider whether you really want to make that motion.”
“Oh, I want to make it, Your Honor.”
“I understand that, and I understand why you’re upset. Your objection is sustained. But you might want to talk to Mr. Beacom or Mr. Patterson about whether you want to move for a mistrial.”
So I went back to the office and tracked down Bruce Patterson, the Assistant Head-of-Court. I’d only been a prosecutor four days, and he was one of six people in the office I could reliably identify. I explained the situation and asked whether I needed office permission to move for a mistrial.
“Well,” he explained, “it’s not that, exactly.”
He smiled and shook his head, “Think about it, Bill. Jeopardy attached when you swore in the jury. If Judge Baker grants your motion for mistrial without the defense joining in the motion, the double jeopardy rule prevents us from re-trying the defendant. The case will be dismissed. So you’re essentially moving for an acquittal.”
I returned to the courtroom, withdrew my motion, and went home that day secure in the knowledge I had properly assessed the excellence of the female gender. Judge Baker had not only won my gratitude, not only demonstrated for me the difference between intelligence and wisdom, but also convinced me the law was no longer a “shirts” versus “skins” competition. Now there were “skirts” as well, and I wanted them on my team.
Years later, when the District Attorney’s Office put me in a position to hire, I recommended a ton of women. I can remember telling one of my bosses he was making a big mistake in not hiring one I had recommended. “Trust me, you’re gonna regret this one; you’d rather have her inside the tent pissing out.”
He didn’t listen, and deputy DAs came back from court reeking of her urine for a couple of decades.
I grabbed women for my section whenever I could.7 They were great for my career; they bolstered my stats and made me look like a genius. I rose through the office, and when I ran for the bench, I hired two women to run my campaign. Say what you will about me, I am not wholly uneducable.
And when I applied for this job, the chair of the committee that ranked me “exceptionally well-qualified” was a woman. Obviously one of taste and discernment.
So I go every year to the state-sponsored panels where they try to convince me that my gender can match up with women. And I have to admit, I’ve met plenty who can.
There are probably as many good male lawyers as there are good female ones. And I’m fortunate that I am at a level at which I see only the best of both genders, so my comfort level with being a member of the inferior gender is never an issue.
But I am convinced that men will eventually go the way of the great auk and the passenger pigeon. As soon as women perfect in vitro fertilization, we guys are gonna be as useless as the proverbial mammary glands on a porcine male.8 And then it’s only a matter of time before we’re phased out like so many Edsels.
It’s already happening with geckos. Some species of gecko reproduce asexually. All their adorable little lizard babies are females.
Those species clone. Every baby gecko gets 100% of Mom’s DNA. There are no gecko dads anymore. They all went off to play golf one day and mysteriously disappeared, leaving all the females behind shaking their heads and saying, “Gee, I wonder how that could have happened?”
Just as it was the lower orders of the animal world who first climbed out of the ocean onto land, it is apparently the lower orders who are showing the way to climb out of a male-dominated society: Eliminate males.
Fortunately for me, this is probably further off than my ability to witness history. Or, for that matter, biology.
And also fortunately, there are many enlightened males in our profession who are not so much being injured by the shards of the way-too-gradually falling glass ceiling as being educated by them. Someday the phrase “glass ceiling” will go the way of the great auk and the passenger pigeon.
In the meantime, I’ll keep going to the seminars. And I will keep accepting gender equality as an aspirational concept rather than a literal one. I will keep rooting for my gender to catch up.
It’s a little like rooting for the Angels.
William W. Bedsworth is an Associate Justice of the California Court of Appeal. He writes this column to get it out of his system. A Criminal Waste of Space won Best Column in California in 2018 from the California Newspaper Publishers Association (CNPA). And look for his latest book, Lawyers, Gubs, and Monkeys, through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Vandeplas Publishing. He can be contacted at email@example.com.