Self-evidently, the differences between men and women are riches to be treasured; there is no reason to harp on a misdirected inferiority complex. If anything, gender relations make for a fruitful plus-sum game. It is idiotic to place the genders at opposite sides in some kind of power game, or insist on amends for the real or putative wrongs of times past.
The original motto of women’s liberation was equivalence, not similarity with
men. The radical feminists, however, insist on complete equality in all
respects; they do not accept any differences except obvious physical
characteristics. All behavioral differences between boys and girls are passed
off as cultural ballast which should be heaved overboard without delay. Here the
demand for absolute ‘cosmic’ justice reaches absurd proportions.
The twentieth century marked a comprehensive change in the praxis of democracy when the feminine half of the population gained full civic rights. Women’s liberation went from strength to strength and gender discrimination has become a criminal offense in the majority of democracies. In principle, and very far in practice, women now have equal opportunities to establish themselves in society. So far the outcome has not been parity in all areas, which is perceived as decisive proof for the persisting repression of women. This is muddled thinking.
Extremism aside, mainstream feminism is still encumbered by many quirks and fads. The demand for positive discrimination is becoming ever louder. In the Nordic countries gender parity at the ministerial level has been achieved which has whetted the appetite for government intervention. In Sweden the minister for equality threatened punitive legislation if company boards were understaffed with women. In Norway such a law is already enforced. Every deviation from parity produces outbursts of accusations and demands for immediate corrections.
In the United States Larry Summers, the president of Harvard University became the target for furious attacks. At an academic seminar he had intimated that the female under-representation at the science faculties may have other causes than discrimination. He could continue in his office only after repeated apologies (later on he resigned). In gender as well as in race discrimination, the burden of proof in practice rests on the defendant; you have to prove that you are innocent.
Both genders display great variations regarding spiritual and physical
aptitudes and there can be no question about the rights of everybody to realize
him- or herself within the bounds of their personal qualifications, irrespective
of gender. But on average the differences are so conspicuous that one must be
purblind not to perceive them.
Chess and bridge should be perfect arenas for a fair competition irrespective of gender. Even so, no objections are raised against the division into an open class and a ladies class in these games. Men seem to be too superior in the top echelon, despite a few exceptions like Judith Polgar and Pia Carling in chess. The explanation could be that the variation in intelligence is greater among men, with more extremely gifted and more blockheads. (This was Larry Summers’ hypothesis which earned him a thrashing.) A complementary hypothesis could be that the female intelligence is not bent on sharp logic but favors empathic human insight. Moreover, to win is not always the overwhelming goal for women, while men instinctively want to come out on top.
Upbringing certainly plays a part in reinforcing the gender roles, but the endocrine system does – fortunately – steer boys and girls in different directions. The great variations in behavior and aptitude within the same gender thus depend on individual differences in the hormonal balance. More research in this area would facilitate a dispassionate debate. All the same, gender does not inform about the competence of an applicant. But the rather spontaneous segregation into male and female occupations does, at least in part, depend on differences in average aptitudes and should not be seen as a problem. Quota thinking is at bottom an undemocratic plague which only precipitates new injustices.
The tension between masculine intellectual self-assertion and feminine
emotional realism is a stimulating irritant in the dialectics of social and
family life. In this interplay the male is second-best. His genetic make-up is
ambivalent and less adapted to the routines of modern civilization, which in
many ways suit the specifically female need for security.
In modern societies the male is desperately looking for a role. Morally he is by nature the weaker vessel. Therefore he should by hook or by crook be held accountable for the sustenance of the next generation. The fully emancipated female has, however, lost her interest in keeping her mate in check. And nothing suits the young male better than easily accessible women who at any moment can be left to their own devices.
Desertion by the father or uninhibited patriarchal dominance both upset the delicate balance of family life with dire consequences. Either the loss of dynamism leads to matriarchal cultural stagnation, or the women are ruthlessly exploited by frustrated family fathers. The masculine lust for power then loses contact with the essentials of ordinary life, finally crashing into destructive minus-sum games. The implications are even worse if the foundations of maternal morality are shattered. Bad masculine manners are certainly distasteful but a culture is definitely crippled if female self-indulgence ever gets the upper hand.