The Longhouse


The historical longhouse was a large communal hall, serving as the social focal point for many cultures and peoples throughout the world that were typically more sedentary and agrarian. In online discourse, this historical function gets generalized to contemporary patterns of social organization, in particular the exchange of privacy—and its attendant autonomy—for the modest comforts and security of collective living.

The most important feature of the Longhouse, and why it makes such a resonant (and controversial) symbol of our current circumstances, is the ubiquitous rule of the Den Mother. More than anything, the Longhouse refers to the remarkable overcorrection of the last two generations toward social norms centering feminine needs and feminine methods for controlling, directing, and modeling behavior. Many from left, right, and center have made note of this shift. In 2010, Hanna Rosin announced “The End of Men.” Hillary Clinton made it a slogan of her 2016 campaign: “The future is female.” She was correct.

As of 2022, women held 52 percent of professional-managerial roles in the U.S. Women earn more than 57 percent of bachelor degrees, 61 percent of master’s degrees, and 54 percent of doctoral degrees. And because they are overrepresented in professions, such as human resource management (73 percent) and compliance officers (57 percent), that determine workplace behavioral norms, they have an outsized influence on professional culture, which itself has an outsized influence on American culture more generally.

Richard Hanania has shown how the ascendance of the Civil Rights legal regime, and its transformation into the HR bureaucracy that manages nearly all of our public and private institutions, enforces the distinctly feminine values of its overwhelmingly female workforce. Thomas Edsall makes a similar case in the New York Times, emphasizing how female approaches to conflict and competition have become normative among the professional class. Edsall quotes evolutionary biologist Joyce Benenson’s summary of those approaches: