Take either position, but accept the consequences (If you're going to argue for innate capabilities, follow it through to the end...)


Was helping Rosey with her homework this evening, and just got frustrated. The text she's being asked to summarise is basically arguing that the primary message of the feminist movement was that emotions should be given equal footing with logic and/or the scientific method (and ironically, one of the main thrusts of the text is also that the only way to eliminate racial/cultural prejudices is through the application of the scientific method).

Note the implied idea there "women are better at the emotional aspects of intelligence, so, to give them an equal footing, we must consider emotion equal to abstract thought".

Okay, ignore the question of whether you'd want to fly in an airplane designed by someone following this ideology. Ignore the female PhD's, mathematicians and logicians who might want to question the idea that men are better at these "non-emotional" disciplines. Ignore the huge body of feminist thought that contradicts these ideas (there is that which supports it as well, of course). Ignore the hordes of feminists who'd be outright offended as such a simplistic rendering of feminism.

What I want to rant about is this:

You're introducing the idea that one (your) sex is better than the other at something. Once you do that, you must admit the possibility that the other group is better at something. That is, if you make a claim that there is a measurable, appreciable difference between two groups, you must recognise that you've stated that the two groups are not the same, and that one may be better than the other at something.

So, at this point, claiming that all distinctions made based on sex are prejudicial and must be eliminated means what, precisely? You mean all distinctions which don't benefit you (in your world-view, at least)? To be frank, what you're proposing is that the prejudice be reversed, not eliminated. This logic crops up all over the place (which is why it frustrates me when I hear it) "everyone is equal, but I'm better at X/should have special privileges".

If you take the position that there are (appreciable) innate differences between people, take up residence for the whole argument. If you can be better than someone else, then someone can be better than you. If you want to colonise all "emotional" disciplines based on a supposed innate superiority, then you are implicitly declaring that it is valid for the other group to colonise all "non-emotional" disciplines for which they have a supposed innate superiority.

So what's my actual take on the subject? AFAICT, men and women innately have approximately the same general capacities, i.e. they can both achieve just as much in emotional and non-emotional disciplines. While there may be some aspects based on extremely low-level instincts and/or the effects of testosterone/estrogen, I would imagine they are noise compared to the environmental effects of culture and upbringing.

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