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5.23.2008

The Myth of Moral Superiority

I take a lot of continuing Ed to keep my counseling license. I have a strong preference for high content, low fluff, and I have a continuing interesting in the Brain, so I sit in a lot of seminars presenting the results of recent research. PET scans and other functional imaging have given us a wealth of data that is only beginning to be sifted. But it is clear that there is such a thing as a male brain vs a female brain both in structure and function.

A most important caveat is that there is more difference inside gender as there is between genders, but there are clear truthful generalizations that can be made. Some interesting ramifications are forthcoming; transgender is real - you can have a female functioning brain in a chromosomally male body. The autism spectrum can (rather simplistically) be seen as an 'extreme male brain' even when it appears in girls.

Women in general function socially, non-verbally and intuitively at a higher level than men. Men handle spatial relationships and certain kinds of complex systems better than women.

But none of this addresses morality. In one of our previous posts we saw young Saudi men putting forth the notion that females are morally inferior and need to be protected by segregation. Common in our culture and age is the notion that women are actually morally superior and that if they ruled, war (and a lot of other things) would never happen - ala Dee Dee. This is not actually a modern feminist notion, it is the core of Aristophanes's play Lysistrata, ca 411 BC. where the women of Athens get together with the women of the enemy, and deny sex to all the men until they cease making war.

It is a notion I have wrestled with. It is clear to me that women have been at least co-dependent in every war that ever happened. The Rebel groups that hide out in Burundi and the Congo, do not, I assure you, cook their own food, wash their own clothes, and do without sex. And they do not get these things entirely by violence or coercion. The women of Africa have affirmed this to me. I have in fact thought of having Lysistrata translated into Kirundi. When women take a stand in unison - things change. The situation in Rwanda is interesting. After 1994, with 100,000 dead and a 100,000 in prison, both disproportionally male, women had no choice but to step up, first at the local level and then at the national level. The quota system will be an interesting experiment. (why 30% and not 50% - notice one of our commenters suggested 60/40 - if you are going to have a quota, why not an equal one?)

But I just do not believe that it is that simple. I do believe that 50/50 participation at every level of society would bring some interesting balance. But I do not believe that it would bring peace on Earth, or even better morality, and less skullduggery.

I guess, bottom line, I believe this because I know ME. I do not believe that I am a better person than my brother. At least not because of my femininity. I have the same temptation to hate and revenge. I can be sneaky and judgmental. I can use my social skills for good or ill. I am pretty fierce about the protection of children, but I know of way too many women who seem to have missed this.

I think I have things to bring to the table as a woman, but innate superiority is not one of them. I believe that women may be spiritually tasked in certain areas (tomorrow's post). But our tasks are only equal to other groups tasks.

When I am good. When I am better, it is not because of what I am, but what I aspire to. It is because I am willing to be changed, transformed. It is because I recognize that I carry a vital piece of the entire image of God, but that other pieces are as vital as mine.

I do not want to replace a false male notion of God with a false female notion of God. I would not replace male dominance in human society with female dominance. It would be differently ugly, but ugly still it would be.

What if we surrendered the notion of superiority and brought what is best from every culture, every gender, every orientation, and were willing to have removed from us what is base in every culture, gender, orientation.

Just a notion.
Comments:
But who has a non-false notion of God? If it is best in a person or society is it not superior? Would the relationship be functional if you could be superior at something and I allow you to be? We could allow the uncertainty of difference, the challenge of conflict, and act within them with reverence, compassion and love. I know I can hate and destroy and conquer, so what? So can anyone else. I know I can love and create and nurture, so what? So can anyone else. But how about doing it together, weaving your ways with mine, leading and following along the paths we choose.

Jim
 
The idea of a quota to insure at least solid representation is a good one, though trying for 50% would be a tough parley. The story of the process in Ireland is also good, as I think that "female-weighted" or "more prevalent in women" tendency toward concensus making would contribute to a more balanced approach in negotiations. Maybe a quota for negotiating teams would be a good idea too. Indeed, we all have our individal personalities and problems, and nothing can be said to be one gender or the other completely, but there is something to be said for getting the widest set of views working together that we can.
In His Love,
Nate Swift
 
I think your notion is the only one that makes sense. Women and men do both have things to bring to the table and our participation should be equal and equally respected. Sometimes I wish there was a way to recognize our differences in a respectful, useful manner without risking further ghetto-ization of women, but that seems a long way off.
 
I said in my comment a *maximum* imbalance of 40:60. So the aim is 50:50, but anything up to 40:60 is tolerable.

I don't think gender balance in government is the whole of the answer. I think attending to the living presence of God is the whole answer! But I think overcoming gender imbalance does tend to have holy effects - Sweden has been working on this principle of maximum 40:60 gender imbalance for decades and their collective spending on healthcare, education, infrastructure and so on is way above most countries - I think there might be a real effect of gender there.
 
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