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Feb 08 2013

“Men And Women Aren’t Equal”

“Men and Women aren’t equal”, she wrote—
Just one of those stories you read now and then.
The truth, which the article fails, though, to note:
Women aren’t equal, and neither are men.

You won’t want to read it without a central nervous system depressant of choice, but foxnews.com has an opinion piece “To be happy, we must admit women and men aren’t ‘equal’“.

How bad is it?

But the truth must be heard. Being equal in worth, or value, is not the same as being identical, interchangeable beings. Men and women may be capable of doing many of the same things, but that doesn’t mean they want to. That we don’t have more female CEOs or stay-at-home dads proves this in spades.

Unless, of course, you’re beholden to feminism. In that case, you’ll believe the above is evidence of discrimination. You’ll believe what feminists taught you to believe: that gender is a social construct.

Those of us with children know better. We know little girls love their dolls and boys just want to kick that ball. This doesn’t mean men can’t take care of babies or women can’t play sports. It just means each gender has its own energy that flows in a specific direction. For God’s sake, let it flow.

You can click through for more if you want, but I really don’t recommend it.

I used to run a daycare. I know boys who love their dolls, and girls who want to kick that ball (and even if the writer was accurate, we’d still be left asking why; “it’s a boy/girl thing” is not an explanation). The thing is, boys and girls (and women and men) are not monolithic. For someone so eager to see differences between groups, the author of the article seems blind to differences within groups. And the differences within groups–the differences among individuals–are what matter. I’ve had female (and male) students who were faster than me, stronger than me, smarter than me (no, really!)… and it is very clear: making policies that shut doors based on averages (or worse, on stereotypes) will shut those doors on tremendously qualified individuals.

And when that happens, everybody loses.

Ooooh! Cuttlecap tip to @JessicaValenti (via Twitter, natch), who notes that the photo accompanying the article is (unbeknownst to Fox News) a same sex couple!

19 comments

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  1. 1
    Becca Stareyes

    Also, when you spend your time showing infants and toddlers pictures of girls playing dolls and boys playing ball, they pick things up. It’s why innate differences are a pain in the neck to test for because as soon as a kid is born, s/he starts picking up cues from what the other humans around him/her are doing.

  2. 2
    Scr... Archivist

    Stephanie Figarelle and Lela McArthur of Anchorage, Alaska, will celebrate their first anniversary next week. This is an ironic appearance in the media, but the timing is nice.

    And Venker is Schalfly’s neice. Of course. I would like to ask her how to measure “gender energy”. What units do we use?

  3. 3
    Randomfactor

    I would like to ask her how to measure “gender energy”. What units do we use?

    Women’s energy should be measured in jewels, of course.

  4. 4
    LeftSidePositive

    Randomfactor, FTW!

  5. 5
    And How

    It just means each gender has its own energy that flows in a specific direction. For God’s sake, let it flow.

    Oh, it’s flowing, but it’s certainly not gender specific energy !!! :)

  6. 6
    brucegee1962

    And besides, the question you have to ask is, even if she’s right, so what? Even if you take it as true (which is a big if) that more men than women have a desire to be X, or vis versa that’s no indication that a specific man will be better at X than a specific woman, as these people would have you believe.

  7. 7
    lucy

    Speaking for myself I love getting my hands dirty and playing in the mud. I am much more comfortable with helping my dad with an engine than housework and I live to cook so I think the cited article is a little short sighted. Things in life arnt this easy it all comes down to what your good at and what interests you personally.

  8. 8
    Crudely Wrott

    Men and women may be capable of doing many of the same things, but that doesn’t mean they want to. That we don’t have more female CEOs or stay-at-home dads proves this in spades.

    If that proves anything it simply proves that some people are slaves to predefined roles and never question them. Even if they do question they often simply don’t want to challenge the status quo for fear or making waves or losing an ally or suffering embarrassment. (Three more lovely bequeaths of traditional mores.)

    Tradition is a wonderful thing when it draws people close and makes them feel unified. When tradition pushes them apart and makes them feel separated, it is not so nice.

  9. 9
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    YARG! SMASH GENDER ESSENTIALISM AND EVOPSYCH BULLSHIT!!!!

  10. 10
    Matto the Hun

    Men and women may be capable of doing many of the same things, but that doesn’t mean they want to. That we don’t have more female CEOs or stay-at-home dads proves this in spades

    Wow, just… wow. Right because women have had the very same chances and decided not to. Same reason why there have been no women presidents right? Same reason women until recently could not serve on the front lines… no that wouldn’t have anything to do with not being allowed to, they simply just didn’t want to.
    Absurd.

    Also, how easily can when take this messed up logic and make it racist. Swap men for white and women for black, and now we know that there are less black CEOs because they black people don’t want to be!
    Oh what delightful fun this is!

  11. 11
    dvizard

    Also, when you spend your time showing infants and toddlers pictures of girls playing dolls and boys playing ball, they pick things up.

    But when it comes to this, the real question is how much do we want, or need, to change this? The real reason why girls play with dolls and boys play with balls, is, to a large part, that parents want their girls to behave like girls and their boys to behave like boys, because that’s what many people dream of when they’re thinking about having a family. And I don’t think girls behaving like girls is something inherently bad; it’s just a role you’re plugged into by your parents and by society.

    I think what we should work on is not primarily destroying societal constructs. We should destroy actual discrimination, such as women being paid less by men for the same job, girls being treated unequally at school, women being treated as sexual objects by teachers and professors, and try to protect underrepresented genders from harassment and ingroup/outgrouping in gender-dominated professions (which is mainly a problem for women, but also in a few professions for men.)

    But the fact alone that there are gender-dominated professions and gender-correlated behaviours is, to me, not something inherently bad. Just as there are professions dominated by urban people and professions dominated by rural people, or professions dominated by introverts and others dominated by extroverts.

    [The above content is not scientific research, it is what I personally think might be true.]

    Also: I work in science, in a group which is almost 50:50 male:female. I have worked in 100% male groups before and I would never want to go back there. Our work climate benefits a lot from the balanced gender distribution. So I am, in fact, very much in favor of tearing down barriers to gender equality. I just don’t believe in forcing everybody-has-to-behave-the-same-way behaviour on society. If men and women were, in fact, equal, we would live in a very boring society.

  12. 12
    dvizard

    Then again, I have read the article now and it really is bad.

  13. 13
    Cuttlefish

    I warned you, dvizard!

  14. 14
    Hermit Ladee

    So, if my entire self worth is tied to my wifely duties, then what happens when my severely doted upon husband decides he wants a more exciting and independent woman? Why do some people (as this writer does) seem to think we all came out of the same cookie cutter? She states “men and women are equal, but different”. Why can’t she admit that some men are different from yet equal to other men and some women are different from yet equal to other women?

  15. 15
    david

    Even if true that girls are more prone to play with dolls than boys, that does not disqualify them to be leaders. Women who have the “traditional” skills are very effective team leaders, and it’s been shown that corporations with more women in ranking roles have better profitability (Google “women leadership corporate profitability” to find evidence for that).

  16. 16
    Rowan vet-tech

    She would have hated to be my mother then.

    I hated dresses. I hated dolls. I wanted to climb trees, dig in the mud, kick balls, and wrestle. I loved dinosaurs and hated gossiping. Shopping was a form of torture. I spent countless hours making spears and bows.

    I guess I’m not a woman then.

  17. 17
    crowepps

    @ dvizard – I agree with you that there isn’t anything “inherently bad” about girls acting in societally approved ‘girly’ ways, or about parents being satisfied that their children will replicate themselves. Unfortunately, one of the ways girls are “plugged into” their role is by punishing them for stepping outside of it, and by pressuring them to repress any stray bits of their personalities that are too noisy, independent, intelligent or physically active. The process is similar to that in which boys are “plugged into” their role of liking sports, etc., particularly the part were ‘sissy boys’ who don’t conform are harassed until they ‘toughen up’ and ‘make dad proud’. Either societally approved role is great for those children who already are inclined in that direction, and is soul-destroying torment for those who are not.

    I grew up in the ’50s, when girls weren’t *allowed* to play sports, be self-directed or choose ‘real’ careers, but instead were *forced* by law into dependent and subsidiary roles. When the laws were changed and the legal restrictions removed, there was a surge of women who had hungered for more into every career and field.

    To recognize that the legal restrictions were unfair, to agree that they should be abolished, and yet continue to approve bringing to bear all the pressure parents and society can generate to make all girls voluntarily limit themselves comes across to me as an attempt to have it both ways; claim one is committed to equality and then blame continuing and obvious inequality on the victims of that societal pressure; “women are voluntarily *choosing* roles where they are secondary and submissive and paid less.”

    Some women like the ‘traditional’ female role of homemaker and mother, and those women will continue to choose that role even with all the other options open to them. Allowing other women to choose other roles isn’t a matter of “forcing everybody-has-to-behave-the-same-way behaviour on society”, but instead of letting all people choose the role they personally like.

    I find it interesting that your closing sentence is “If men and women were, in fact, equal, we would live in a very boring society.” Equal is not a synonym for identical, men are equal to other men without all of them being identical. Equal is instead a description of a society where both men and women have the same VALUE.

  18. 18
    dvizard

    Unfortunately, one of the ways girls are “plugged into” their role is by punishing them for stepping outside of it, and by pressuring them to repress [...]

    This is true, but it’s a problem of upbringing and “educational methods”, not of the roles themselves.

    Otherwise, I agree with everything you write. However, I believe that even in a totally pressure-less society we would be likely to see differences in individual choices between men and women and that that wouldn’t be a bad thing necessarily.

    I also think that saying women are in “roles” where they are “secondary and paid less” is sort of an ecological fallacy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecological_fallacy) – since in reality the vast majority of men are working in normal, non-leading, “secondary” positions which are not “superior” to a typical working woman’s job. The “leading” positions, where women are underrepresented, and which often are a matter of discussion, represent a minor part of the employment pool, and women’s underrepresentation there might be multifactorial – influenced by “legitimate” societal differences and individual choices, but also by discrimination on many levels before they would reach such a position.

    About the closing sentence, sorry, English is not my first language. I do think that they are equal in value, but I insist they are not interchangeable, and that the world would be a very boring place if they were.

  19. 19
    crowepps

    I approve wholeheartedly of “differences in individual choices between men and women”, however I don’t think most men will ‘naturally’ choose one thing and most women will ‘naturally’ choose a different thing, but that instead men and women will individually make choices which appeal to them, so that the middle of the continuum includes both. If we ever get a chance to reach that state it will be interesting to see how things work out, but society hasn’t yet given up rigid and exclusionary gender roles, and considering the known stigmatization of ‘stay-at-home-fathers’ and ‘childless-career-women’, ‘men-who-are-nurses’ and ‘women-who-are-surgeons’, we are so far from that state we can’t even imagine what it would look like.

  1. 20
    Delusions Of Gender | Lynley Stace

    […] Men and women aren’t equal. Some people actually believe this. Probably a lot of […]

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