"We still have problems. We still have the fact that the only people who can actually carry a child are women."
Elizabeth Corby (CEO of Allianz Global Investors), Hardtalk (BBC), 25-Apr-2012.
Strings and wind have different capacities, so they should play different parts in music.
Men and women have different capacities, so they should play different roles in society.
Men and women have different strengths and aptitudes, so they tend to have different tasks, men to explore and initiate, and women to consolidate and nurture. To see the difference between the sexes as a problem to be overcome would have been regarded as absurd by most people in most countries in most periods, but is now widely regarded as so self-evident that only a scoundrel would question it. Modern global Western orthodoxy seems determined to pretend that the sexes are, or should be, interchangeable, that the differences are either trivial or problematic (and sometimes, incoherently, both).
This absurd interchangeabilism represents one strand of what used to be called feminism. This strand, following in the footsteps of Mary Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Woman, starts from an absurd theory of human nature as being sexually neutral. This kind of feminism has done enormous harm by encouraging folk to stray excessively into patterns of activity more suited to the other sex.
In BBC PM of 01-Sep-2017 presenter Carolyn Quinn spends five minutes (about 25m to 30m in, but the recording may be offline) trying to maneuver a child behaviour expert who is trying to explain that boys and girls are different into saying that boys and girls are the same. (The context was a ludicrous all-girl remake of Lord of the Flies.)
The other strand, of which Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique is perhaps the classic, is more constructive. It discusses the possibilities for new patterns of female activity arising as a result of technical improvements. This kind of feminism has done much good by showing how women, freed from domestic labour by modern tools, can use their new-found free time constructively.
The prevalent idea of the equality of the sexes constantly struggles to avoid falling into interchangeability.
I don't do equality. Equality is not my game.
Geraine Greer, Hardtalk (BBC), 02-Aug-2010.
Most folk are confused. They recognise what stares us in the face, that men and women are different. But their notion of equality often teeters on the brink of interchangeability. Beauvoir (The Second Sex), Friedan and Greer (The Female Eunuch) all evade this point. The word equality is the source of much of the confusion. It is appropriate if it means that women's tasks are just as valuable as men's, but dangerously misleading when it veers towards interchangeablism.
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