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Solved: the true nature of gender politics

By Mark Christensen - posted Monday, 23 April 2012


Political media adviser Max Tomlinson, who recently resigned after sending a macho email to the author of an article complaining about the decline of female representation in the new Queensland parliament, is both right and, sadly, also horribly misinformed.

It's true men have dominated human history by virtue of our singularly driven desire to succeed. A preponderance of testosterone is a biological fact, a force of nature bestowed by evolution or, if you're that way inclined, God. I think it is also reasonable to say society owes a great deal to Man's love of reason, it having delivered women and men a great bounty, in material and spiritual terms.

The key point, of course, is that women are in no way less intelligent. What's relevant, and sorely missed by Tomlinson, is the respective willingness of the sexes to favour a particular way of knowing, as there is more than one.

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I believe all men approach life ala the Blues Brothers. Each of us is on a mission from God, a quest involving anything from getting the band back together, finding the quickest route in peak hour traffic, to flying to the moon or contemplating why it is we exist and how the universe came into being. We possess an unshakable belief that achieving our goals, however big or small, for the individual or group, requires the awesome power of reason.

Women come at the world differently. Though obviously capable of abstract thought, they place far greater store in intuitive and emotional insight. They trust the heart over the head, which is why women often have to end a heated argument with a man by walking away or becoming hysterical. It's impossible to think your way to what can only be felt.

It's no surprise that the different hardwiring is a potential source of gender-based conflict. Indeed, it has been a profound problem for men throughout history.

For blokes, intuitive capability – both ours and that of women – is routinely assessed to be a threat to reason, and therefore our mission. It's too mysterious and unruly. Progress requires order and structure, rules and considered trade-offs, not bleeding hearts and fuzzy logic. Imagine where Western civilization and politics would be if one simply did what feels right? It'd be chaos, with all of humanity losing out.

While fair enough, there is a disconnect between this worldview and the story of civilisation. Man's relationship with women is evidence of a systematic failure to trust his defining conviction in reason.

Think about it. If men are so much better at certain pursuits, as understood by Tomlinson and many others, why, then, have we sought to protect our natural superiority by putting in place extensive doctrinal, legislative and cultural barriers intended to keep women out of religious, political, social and economic affairs? Such extensive effort down through the ages smacks of serious self-doubt on our part.

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This, I commend to the brotherhood, is the real – and rational – motivation behind the feminist movement. Modern women don't want a turf war, and never did. They insist upon equal opportunity as a means of dismantling the institutional and ideological facade behind which men continue to hide, frighten and in denial about our defensiveness.

Unfortunately for women, they've had to plead their case in the masculine domain of politics. Change required them to resort to the very same tools used to keep women in their place. As a result, men now themselves feel put upon.

The idea that recognition of women (or any other minority) requires positive discrimination, that sexism can be purged from our culture through regulatory means or that unity comes from focussing on what is different between us, are all abhorrent and, in the end, counter-productive.

The thing is, the supposed anti-male conspiracy theorists so despised by angry, humourless men, actually appreciate this, but feel as though they have no other means of affecting further progress. On the other hand, anti-female conspiracy theorists like Tomlinson, thanks to their boorishness, just plain miss the irony, believing their enemies to be emotional sourpusses, when really they are practicing a logical form of contrariness, hoping it will help men identify their shameful hypocrisy.

The generalisation that men are better at some things, women at others, while accurate, is of no lasting significance. Men have made it a drama because they – not women – have been hung up on gender roles throughout history. As such, it is men who are responsible for overwhelming our political and legal systems with politically-correct rules and regulations designed to achieve the impossible.

Ultimately, the battle is with ourselves, not the fairer sex.

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About the Author

Mark is a social and political commentator, with a background in economics. He also has an abiding interest in philosophy and theology, and is trying to write a book on the nature of reality. He blogs here.

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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