Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Julia writes:
I agree with you about almost all of this, but I think that you're underestimating the degree to which women are naturally assertive and ambitious. Some of us aren't faking it.

I didn't mean to imply that all women are meek, little flowers. My point is that women as a class of people aren't going to out ambitious or out aggressive men as a class of people. While doing so may be an effective strategy for some women, it's a losing one for women overall.

As an example related to the previous post, maybe some women thrive on sport sex. However, there is no way that women as a group are going to come out on top in a sport sex competition with men.


Andrew Stevens said...

Indeed, I have often argued that a feminist utopia in which traditionally male roles are still lionized, but opened up to women, and traditionally female roles are denigrated is a fantastic world for the feminists who wanted to achieve it (mostly second-wave feminists, by the way). They do very well in such a world because they really can compete with men (outspoken feminism is, in and of itself, good evidence for aggression), but for most women, it is sweeping them out of an arena where they cannot lose and into an arena where they cannot win.

The "hook-up culture" doesn't bother me too much. Kids will be kids and this sort of thing has been going on for longer than there have been hominids. What bothers me much more is the tolerance for conjugal infidelity, aided and abetted by films like Bridges of Madison County and American Beauty. In a ruthlessly promiscuous society, women will always be the betrayed more than the betrayer and men will always have more options in leaving a marriage than women do, since men are more able to marry younger partners than women are (unless they look like Demi Moore). Such a culture must be anti-women in general, even if some women would thrive in such a culture. (The women who thrive in such a culture are, of course, women who combine high physical attractiveness and low moral standards, more than willing to ruthlessly poach another woman's husband and defend themselves by saying, "Well, if you can't keep him....")

I agree that the fatal flaw of some versions of feminism, though by no means all versions, was to accept male premises - aggressiveness is valuable and nurturing is not, "women's work" is shameful, people should be judged by the status of their job, sexual inexperience after the age of 15 is contemptible, etc. and simply to insist that women can so do everything a man can do and just as well. They were aided by the fact that this is indeed true of many women. Men and women don't exist in separate continuums, but in overlapping bell curves. Their answer to those women who (correctly from their own perspective) resisted this framing of the debate was to say, "Well, what can you expect from a bunch of weak and silly housewives?" A more clear sign that they have accepted male premises is hard to imagine.

(In defense of men, there are many men who do not accept these premises and there always have been. But traditionally they have been in a minority.)

Julia said...

Agreed, again, mostly. Staying away from the whole hook-up culture issue, my point is simply that even those women who have no intention of "beating men at their own game" are nevertheless living and working in environments where men are, to put it bluntly, superior. Being able to play "the game" is therefore more than just posturing, it's necessary. And furthermore, some women excel at it.

I realize I'm broadening your initial point, but it's really easy to separate men and women into classes and give each its own strengths, while ignoring the fact that the way we interact in the world rarely follows this neat separation. Making broad statements about the "nature" of men or women vastly oversimplifies the issue, I think.

FLG said...


Right. Regardless of gender strengths, if they exist, we have to deal with a messy world that isn't always easily compatible with those particular strengths.

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