This morning there was a good point, very well made over at skepticlawyer.com.au about the relative skills of men and women. Helen noted that she has now conceded an argument she had made much earlier in life that many typically 'girly' pursuits (like beauty contests and debutants' balls) are nothing more than sexist rubbish and should be dismissed as such. This kind of argument seems to abound in (what little I know of) the feminist movement, as does the argument for gender equality. That reminded me that I think some feminists paint their argument with too broad a brush when suggesting women and men should be considered equal.
Is equality per se really the end game? Surely it's ok to admit that men and women are different, and that men are better at some things than women. I'm happy, even eager to admit that women are better at some things, probably a great many things, than men. That so many feminists seem to consider gender equality so important, a point also made relatively recently at thefword.org.uk, seems odd to say the least, if not somewhat counter productive.
I've recently watched a couple of episodes of Dangerous Jobs for Girls1 and was given the dirtiest of dirty looks by Laura for making the comment "I think I like this show because it knocks some feminists on their asses a bit"2. In retrospect, that was a very crude expression of my actual thoughts; really I just wonder why there's this constant quest by a good portion of the feminist movement3 to prove women are as good as men at things which for whatever reason men are predisposed to do very well.
There's no doubt that some women are able to perform as well as some men in typically male jobs (like tree felling). But it seems a lot like fact to me that the best female will never perform as well as the best male in jobs like tree felling, or any number of other jobs which require skills or abilities that males are predisposed to be better at.
To my mind, feminism shouldn't be about the broad concept of gender equality, or involve wholesale denunciation of typically 'girly' activities. Feminism needs to focus on attaining equality in specific factors where it doesn't exist, but should. The other all but insurmountable challenge is figuring out a way to change antiquated, hypocritical or just plain disrespectful attitudes.
- A couple of episodes has probably squeezed it dry of entertainment for me. [↩]
- Even while doing that it manages to very adeptly demonstrate to both the audience and the participants that highly capable females, no matter what the task is, are still highly capable. [↩]
- In fact, I suspect it's probably the idle feminists who are most guilty of this. The people who (rightly) like the idea of feminism, but haven't thought about it in any depth. Though there's no doubt that some very staunch feminists take this kind of (presumably well considered) stance. [↩]