The phrase, “Women can do anything men can do,” seems at first to be a rather harmless sentiment. As with all such, it has its uses, if not taken too far. If men can be surgeons, then so can women. If men can run a hardware store, then so can women. If men can be linebackers in the National Football League -- uh, too far.
Unfortunately, for leftist ideologues, there are no moderate positions on anything. You either agree with them in every detail, or else you are evil. Can we discuss our differences? No!
By now, you have surely read about the firing of James Damore, a software engineer at Google. He was fired for writing a thoughtful memo that questioned the wisdom of Google’s diversity policy. There is no need to repeat all the arguments, pro and con, of what he wrote, or whether it justified his firing. That has been done elsewhere.
The point of this commentary, is to remark on the insanity of it all. According to leftist ideology, there are no legitimate reasons, legal or social, to distinguish between men and women. Ever. Well, we can set quotas that favor women, but that’s only because women are treated so unfairly. Otherwise, we must pretend, as the late Betty Friedan claimed, that aside from external appearances (she called it, “packaging”), men and women are exactly the same in every relevant category. All of them.
The left seems never to ask why it is that women have, historically, been given roles that are viewed as subservient to men. If they would analyze the facts, then perhaps they could help fashion better policies for a society in which the roles and status of the sexes are being transformed. Jumping from medieval concepts of chivalry, to a sexless society, cannot be done in the one fell swoop of an Equal Rights Amendment -- if ever. To deny that is to deny reality, both biological and social.
To hear the Left tell it, history is the chronicle of a massive and unfair conspiracy by men against women. From time immemorial, with few exceptions (for example, on the island of Lesbos), men have enslaved women, abused them, raped them, and prevented them from achieving their full potential as human beings. But men have always overpowered less powerful men, as well.
Could any of this overpowering possibly have anything to do with the fact that, on average, men are physically stronger than women, and thus are readily able to overpower them? The fact that this truth may seem unfair does not overrule reality. Men are, on average, physically stronger than women. (I am imagining the apoplectic howls of certain feminists I have met throughout the years, who deny this.)
But the differences between the sexes goes much, much farther than that. A recent criticism of Ivanka Trump, daughter of the president, pilloried her for wearing a “girly dress” at the G-20 summit, because the dress (somehow) was a statement that women have, for millennia, been considered to be the property of men.
They have been. But, why?
The reason is the most obvious and pervasive fact of sex differences. Women give birth. Men can’t.
The value of childbirth to a society cannot be overstated. Indeed, Western society’s forgetfulness on this matter is in large part responsible for the Muslim overrun of Europe. The birth rate among ethnic European women in the West is dropping precipitously. Population replacement is necessary for a society to survive. If childbirth rates decrease, then immigration is one way to compensate. Of course, unwise immigration policy is disastrous.
Historically, societies across the globe understood that female fertility was of extraordinary value, especially when the only retirement plan most people could have, was in their old age, to be taken care of by their children. It was for this reason that dowries were established in one form or another. It also gave families and communities an enormous stake in their daughters, a stake which, yes, resulted in their being regarded as chattel. Daughters were valued for their ability to give birth, and giving birth to as many children as possible (to compensate for child deaths) was considered their duty, to both family and society.
Viewing this through the eyes of twenty-first-century feminist ideologues, the situation seems outrageous and unjust. Therefore, they seize upon every anecdote, from Boudica to Joan of Arc, to claim that women were always the equal of men, and but for the male conspiracy, able to lead men into battle.
Fast forward to today. Male strength is far less relevant today than it was when Joan of Arc led men (but not women) into battle. That fact can and should be taken into account when deciding, for example, whether to hire women to operate heavy machinery.
But the morphing of roles has been far more extreme than that. From same-sex so-called marriage, to so-called sex-change operations (which change no one’s sex), to the leftist redefinition of gender into fifty-seven varieties (which allow one person to continually change his/her/its sex-identity from minute to minute), the inmates are now running the asylum.
Many societies have risen and fallen throughout recorded history. Many factors played a part. But this is something new. It is difficult to imagine that any society can long survive after it loses its capacity to apply common sense to immutable reality.
Men and women are different. That’s a good thing for both.