By Rod Van Mechelen
In order to sustain its life, every living species has to follow a certain course of action required by its nature.
-- Ayn Rand, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal
One of the most effective means to disprove a proposition is to embrace it to the point of demonstrating its flaws. Keep that in mind as you read the following. - Rod Van Mechelen
The Myth of Female Moral Superiority
1992 Bellevue, Wash. - Most men know women are their moral superiors. Our myths, upbringing, and pop-feminists instill this widely held though seldom acknowledged belief.
The idea women are morally superior to men is rooted in the Age of Chivalry, when bards and poets hiked their cloaks free of the muck and mud of mundane reality to portray women as beings of untouchable purity for whose beauty a man might live to die for. But until the Victorian era, most took this idea of courtly
love more as popular myth, a fine aspiration rather than fact. (Sex in History, Reay Tannahill, p 389)
The Victorian era changed that.
The Victorian ascent of woman portrayed them as too "pure" and "decent" to enjoy sex. Since their husbands' sexual appetites were the result of "men's natural moral inferiority," the men could discretely seek release for their "base" and "vulgar" lust in the arms of prostitutes, thereby relieving their wives of this
onerous task. It was a convenient contrivance that protected "proper" women from the ravages of frequent child-bearing.
While one unfortunate result of this "division of labor" was the quick and dirty spread of venereal disease (Sex in History, Reay Tannahill, p 364), another, which followed us into this century, is the myth of female moral superiority: "Anita Bryant (women-as-guardians-of-morality) and Kate Millett (women-as-superior-beings) still display the two sides of the same traditional coin." (Sex in History, Reay Tannahill, p 390 - 91) But "female" morality derives and depends upon "male" morality.
The purpose of morality is to provide a framework for optimum human survival. What behaviors will optimize human survival? How can we survive best as human beings? In this respect, morality is not entirely absolute. Behaviors that promote survival in rainy Seattle would probably not work well in the dry Sahara desert. The standard of morality, however, is absolute and immutable -- long-term optimum human survival.
Not fully understanding this, Carol Gilligan, author of In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development, a widely regarded feminist book on the difference between male and female morality, distinguishes between the two without recognizing that the female concept of morality is only a component of a broader concept of morality
she identifies as distinctly masculine.
The moral imperative that emerges repeatedly in interviews with women is an injunction to care, a responsibility to discern and alleviate the "real and recognizable trouble" of this world. For men, the moral imperative appears rather as an injunction to respect the rights of others and thus to protect from interference the rights to life and self-fulfillment. (In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development, Carol Gilligan, p 100)
This "female" morality evolved within the context of dependency on male protection, while "male" morality formed within the larger context of protecting women and children through the enforcement of rights.
The Purpose of Male Morality
Men apply the rule of law -- the "morality of rights" -- to provide a relatively safe and stable environment for women and children. (In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development, Carol Gilligan, p 37 - 38) This contrasts radically with female morality, which is "tied to
feelings of empathy and compassion." (In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development, Carol Gilligan, p 69)
Where survival is dependent upon action and, by our actions, we are expected to sustain others, a morality of rights is necessary. But where survival requires dependence upon others, the moral traditions are necessarily different. Shaped by
thousands of years of dependence upon the actions of men for their survival, the ethic of care Gilligan attributes to women leads to a morality unsuited to sustain civilization in isolation from the ethic of rights she attributes to men.
Vaguely perceiving this, Gilligan surmises the two disparate concepts are complementary rather than competitive. (In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development, Carol Gilligan, p 100) But her analysis breaks down in that she fails to recognize this "female" morality is a "morality of dependence," a dependent subset of "male" morality, and that it can not be sustained outside the sphere of the "male" morality of rights. Pop-feminists and most feminists don't understand this.
They don't understand the intimate connection between life and work, morality and mortality, sanctions and survival. For them, life happens: "The men's role that feminists seek is not the real role of men but the male role of the Marxist dream in which 'society' does the work." (Men and Marriage, George Gilder, p 173)
The reality of civilized life is that we must exchange creativity and productivity -- goods and services -- to survive and sustain human life. Recognizing and enforcing property rights and the responsibilities that go with them promotes this process of exchange, nurtures civilization and thereby optimizes human survival.
In a state grounded solely on the "female" ethic of care, this process breaks down and civilization ends. By itself, the "female" ethic of care is the ethic of the wandering stone age band. Only the "male" ethic of rights and the "female" ethic
of care together can sustain civilization.
Rod Van Mechelen