Undead Sexist Cliche: Everyone (but the feminazis) knows women and men are different

This is one that crops up semi-regularly in right-wing columns, particularly of the traditional-values kind: At some point the pundit will turn to the reader (so to speak) and remind us of the fatal weakness of feminism: Women are different. And every culture——up until our present PC-dominated, feminist-ruled era——has always accepted this, so it must be true.
And it’s perfectly true that almost all cultures have treated men and women differently (I’m not sure they all assumed any innate difference beyond “Men should be the boss!” but i’ll let that pass). Nevertheless, as an argument for present-day sexism (usually with the subtext that the reason women really don’t want those high-paying job and multiple sexual partners guys do, so it’s pointless to talk about sexism and discrimination), it’s a con game. While it’s true “women and men are different” has been a consistent beliefs in western European culture (among others) the definition of that difference has been anything but consistent.
•At one time it was a given that women were stupider than men, period. Simple, artless creatures who provided light amusement (and of course, sex) for their spouses, but couldn’t possibly be capable of handling business or government (the reality was quite different, of course, but when did reality ever stop sexism?).
•The medieval era assumed women were insatiably lustful, horny creatures who would seduce any man within armshot if they weren’t watched, chastity-belted and preached to constantly.
•Some 19th century physicians asserted that a virtuous woman was incapable of an orgasm (this doesn’t seem to have been a majority belief, though).
•One psychiatrist in the 1950s claimed that any woman who wanted her own career was almost certainly frigid and probably a lesbian.
•A Time article in the early sixties stated that women, even educated ones, had no interest in a career, and husband and kids would always come first (remarkably, this was an argument in favor of women’s education).
•Women today, we’re told, form deeper, more meaningful friendships than male bonding ever achieves. Back around the time I was born, the argument was the opposite: Women were too bitchy and competitive to form real friendships, particularly if there was a man in the same room to compete over. Friendship was men’s domain.
•Women cannot or don’t want to——let’s see, do science, do math, write hardboiled detective stories, write SF, read SF … The list of things that are completely against women’s nature that they somehow manage to do anyway is a long one.
•And that’s not even counting those feminists who argue the difference (whatever they claim it to be) actually makes women better scientists/politicians/business people/leaders.
In short, any pundit who simply asserts that his view of male/female differences is some kind of universal view common to all cultures is full of crap.
And that’s quite aside from the fact that whole bunches of things have been universally attested to over the years that we know longer believe. A lot of cultures throughout history believed in the divine right of kings; some still do. Does that mean 1776 was a big mistake?
For a few centuries, most of America “knew” that blacks were an inferior race, fit only for slavery. Do the rightwingers think that’s evidence of anything (some of them undoubtedly do, but I’d like to think most do not)?
While some pundits may be pulling sleight-of-hand with this argument, I suspect others are just going by that delusion of the right wing where “all cultures” and “history” mean “the way life was back in the 1950s, which was the culmination of all human society and evolution.”
Either way, it’s another cliché that needs a stake through its heart.


Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches

2 responses to “Undead Sexist Cliche: Everyone (but the feminazis) knows women and men are different

  1. Pingback: Undead homophobic cliché: Every culture’s ideal marriage looks like Ozzie and Harriet « Fraser Sherman's Blog

  2. Pingback: Undead sexist cliche: It’s only natural (for women to submit and men to rule) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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