"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A lesson from Neanderthal...woman?

Those who've read this blog regularly know that I don't believe in something as fine-sounding but amorphous as "the equality of the sexes." I do of course believe in a certain sort of equality in principle: as rational adults and children of God, women and men are to be held to the same moral standards. That is apparently not as widespread a belief as I once assumed; over the past decade, I've come to observe that women, in many circles, are held to lower moral standards than men. While I would probably get some debate about that, the fact is that even as the feminist movement of the previous generation has mostly achieved its legitimate goals, the sexes are not treated equally—and that's because hardly anybody, whatever they may say for the sake of PC, really wants them to be. I have discussed and given examples of that before, and doubtless my vast readership could multiply them. Even that minority of people who call themselves feminists these days seem to want greater rights and privileges for women than for men, even though the smart ones are politically savvy enough to call that "equality." There's a lesson to be learned in all this.

Ideological feminism, as I was exposed to it in the Ivy League during the 1970s and 80s, was premised on the principle that there should be no presumptive social division of labor between the sexes. Everybody was to have every legitimate opportunity for self-definition and self-fulfillment open to them. E.g., if a woman wanted to be a corporate lawyer, or a man a househusband, that was fine and should be facilitated; and women were not to dress and carry on in such a way as to encourage men to treat them as "sex objects." A lot indeed has changed. To a much greater extent than was thought possible forty years ago, equality of opportunity has been achieved, leading to some corresponding change in results and status. But that has not quite added up to either equality of result or equality of social treatment; the "glass ceiling" is still intact in many sectors, even as many young women now seem to think think themselves empowered by dressing and carrying on like "ho's." People of both sexes seem to recoil instinctively from the prospect of equality of result and status—which is why the once-vaunted Equal Rights Amendment is dead and buried.

That in turn, I suspect, is because people know that equality of result and social treatment, as distinct from moral equality, is almost impossible to achieve and probably wouldn't work if it were. The Neanderthals had little or no social division of labor between the sexes. Remember what happened to them?
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