“The Same” is a Lousy Definition of “Equal” … Especially Between the Sexes

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The following heartbreaking article

A Nordic paradox: higher gender equality, more partner violence

presents statistics that women are much more likely to be abused by their husbands or boyfriends in countries such as Sweden where there is more gender “equality,” with “equality” being defined as more women in the workforce full-time.

The article speculates on causes. One is that men are dissatisfied with their partners’ earnings. (Ouch.)

These findings might seem counter-intuitive to many. How could abuse rates be so high – possibly as high as almost 50% – in a feminist paradise like Sweden? In a country with such strong social pressure on both men and women to behave in an androgynous manner?

I think the problem is with our definition of “equality.” Actually, the Nordic countries are not places of high gender equality. They are instead places where women are strongly pressured to behave as much like men as humanly possible.

Women don’t make good men. There. I said it.

We are not equipped for it. We tend to choose careers that make less money. We don’t have the upper-body strength to be good soldiers or firemen or sailors. We are more likely to get sick. We have hormones and a stronger tendency toward negative emotion, which cause predictable cycles in our productivity. We might, with little warning, have a baby, which takes us out of the work force for months at a time, causing our bosses to feel (rightly) that they can’t rely as well on a woman employee. Even when we do come back to work, we are likely to need more time off because of the needs of our children. Some of us leave “the workforce” for years.

All of this baffling behavior flows out of one very important fact that highly efficient, industrialized, egalitarian societies find most annoying: women are able to become mothers. All the traits mentioned above, which look like flaws in a factory or law firm, turn out to be effects cascading from design features that equip us for something very unique. We can make new people.

However, our society does not value motherhood nearly as much as it values the ability to be a good, man-style worker (whether “good worker” means a bold innovator or a reliable cog in the machine). So these characteristic womanly traits continue to be seen as flaws that need to be minimized if we are to achieve equality.

Or, as Andrew Klavan put it in a recent podcast, “A society that denigrates motherhood will be a society that does not respect women. And feminism has made this possible.”

Here is my story about this.

I was verbally attacked in my college cafeteria by a cute, grey-haired man who looked like an aging hippie. (It’s a type that I usually find endearing … at least, until they open their mouths.)

He was very friendly at first. He asked my major, and I said English. Then he spoke a few encouraging words along the lines of “You go, girl!” “Someday,” he said, “You’ll be in Tibet reporting for NPR.”

OK, great.

Then he sat down behind me, turned around, and added, “Too bad, that probably won’t happen. You’ll probably marry some dumb guy and get stuck at home. You’ll never end up doing anything with your life after the kids ruin you.”

I wish I had asked him if he really thought I had “ruined” my mother … or if he had “ruined” his.

Instead, I said, “Why are you insulting me?”

He got excited and said with a little smile, “Have I made you angry? I hope I’ve made you angry.”

The answer, of course, was Yes, a little … but not as much as you hoped, and not in the way that you hoped.

Not as much as he hoped because I’d heard this line of reasoning before. It was America in the 1990s and I wasn’t living under a rock.

Not in the way that he’d hoped because instead of becoming angry with the patriarchy, his speech only caused me to become annoyed with him for being such an idiot. He thought he was striking a blow for feminism, but instead he was just disrespecting me and every woman out there. In order to encourage me to “do something with my life,” he had to run down one truly amazing, uniquely feminine role that I would be really good at.

So I think that we have to give up our idea that men and women aren’t “equal” unless and until they do everything exactly the same. The concept of “equal” loses all of its positive value when it means asking people to deny, devalue, or skip over a huge part of their nature. (And, by the way, it’s not the subject of this article but there are also ways in which we ask men to deny their nature in the service of “equality” — read, sameness.)

I think it would be much more “equal” if we let both men and women do what they are naturally good at.

7 thoughts on ““The Same” is a Lousy Definition of “Equal” … Especially Between the Sexes

  1. Benjamin Ledford

    Very good Jen.

    We’re seeing more and more clearly the transhumanist element of the sexual revolution: that our reproductive functions and biological constraints and differences are obstacles to be overcome and engineered away.

    I’m sure there are multiple Alistair Roberts pieces that I should be linking to to make this point better.

    My own prediction (and I am reluctant to make predictions) is that among orthodox Christians we will actually see a reversion to more conservative positions on gender roles, women in pastoral ministry, contraception, etc., because as the endpoint of the alternative position becomes more and more clear, it becomes obvious that there’s no point in trying to accommodate it to any degree. That is *not* to say that I think all the people who are Christians now will become more traditional in their views. I think many/most of them have bought into the postmodern assumptions and will follow that, leading them straight out of historic Christianity altogether (whether they continue to identify as Christians or not). But for those who stay, who believe that the Bible is actually true and are willing to be cultural outcasts for it, I think there will be an increasingly conservative or traditionalist consensus. I’ve thought this for a while, but I think I’m actually starting to see it now within my own small circle.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gosh, that’s a really shocking fact- I didn’t know domestic violence rates were higher there. I very much agree that women don’t make good men. And (I can’t believe this is such a shocking statement of fact) but as a woman I don’t want to be a man. Something I hate most about modern feminism is the expectation that women should be as physically strong as men (when this isn’t possible- recently there was a rapper called Zuby who joked about being a woman for a day and beat all the women’s weightlifting records)- I have personally been criticised for this more times than I can count and told to bulk up (despite the fact this is impossible for my natural body shape)- I mean, excuse me? I thought feminism was supposed to look out for women (I know it doesn’t, but it’s what they claim).
    And yes, it’s terrible that our biggest quality (making new people) is now denigrated and seen as a failing. Even by women who choose to do gender studies- who somehow think they have the right to tell other women to go be engineers and make loads of money. Aside from the fact that if this was such an important thing for them, they probably should’ve gone that route themselves, cos practice what you preach, this comes down to their misunderstanding of what freedom and equality means. If they really believe in women having rights then they shouldn’t criticise me for making different choices. And they certainly shouldn’t criticise other women for making those choices- or say that they didn’t know they were forced to make them. I have to point out to people that my science teachers were begging me to continue, cos they knew I could get good grades (plus I went to girls schools- not much room for discrimination based on gender there) but it was my free choice to go and study humanities subjects (I often hear this argument that “the teachers are stopping girls taking science!” from people with failing grades- trust me, if you’re doing well in the subject, teachers want to keep you in their class).
    Anyway, I went on a bit of a tangent there. It’s terrible that we look at babies- of all things- as life-ruiners.
    I very much relate to your story about that bloke at uni- cos I’ve had so. many. male feminists patronise me about the choices I make. I actually don’t understand how they can’t see the irony of that. Or how they manage to square the circle of their own hypocrisy- claiming to offer freedom of choice, but actually serving up a whole lot of authoritarianism.
    Anyway, so sorry for going on! This is a topic I’m very passionate about! Couldn’t agree with this post more!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am really glad you left this comment, including the length and the passion. “Modern feminism is anti-woman” might be true, but it sounds so ridiculous on its face that we can never have enough women chiming in to confirm it. If they chime in with passion, so much the better.

      I am like you in that I enjoy science and can do well in it, but it’s not my passion. Humanities are.

      Thanks again for adding more evidence to the claims in this article.

      Look for more posts on this topic in September and possibly October.


  3. Pingback: The De-Mothering Project – Out of Babel

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