Oh, this is a long title. Most of you probably decided to leave just from this title. All of my writing is a work in progress. I never complete a blog post it is only put on pause as I develop my ideas to add to ones I wrote about before. This blog post actually follows from a line of thinking that I had to deal with in a conversation with a gender essentialist that happened to be a libertarian as well (a more true libertarian, one that desired to go back to the roots of man/woman/child/adult/people, one that believed people should be left to themselves and that is the best way to organise for all).
I have my difference in my beliefs in comparison to the essentialist and one of the arguments we were having was in the way males and females react to being dependent or staying at home. Really we were talking about the capabilities of a male to be a caretaker, he believed that a caretaker is best seen in a woman and that it is her natural place. That women desire more often than not to stay at home. He was very careful to say that it is not that they ought to stay at home, it is just what they desire to do more than men and in the system that we live in today women aren’t able to do this more and more often and we have regulated these duties over towards the state; he was very careful to say that woman that do wish to act differently should be allowed to do what they wish and we had no disagreements there. What we disagreed with is the nature. What the nature of man/woman is.
I believe that the difference biologically between these binary categories are vastly overstated in our society to the point that they aren’t useful descriptors in many cases and often harm people more than help them. He believed that we have been ignoring the natural difference between these groups and economic force has acted to push people in to do things they otherwise would not do. The pieces of evidence he pointed to were the increases in depression for stay-at-home dads compared to mothers, the fact that women do not care as much about not being financially dependent compared to men and the higher amounts of men that prefer higher paying and more stressful work than women. He pointed me towards a Vice article on the subject that he probably hadn’t read. Why do I say he probably hadn’t read it? Because of the article’s clear indication that there are greater social reasons for the fact that more stay at home dads are depressed rather than essentialist ones. I mean it is right there in the subtitle:
Strangers are suspicious, our friends are patronizing, and stay-at-home moms often won’t let you into their club.
None of these things require biology to explain most of these facts. Which then begs the question: if women can better deal with the problems of stay at home parenthood because they don’t have to deal with this, what were the internal social views of most people when it comes to financial dependence before? How has this affected our view of women? Okay, maybe it doesn’t beg that question but that is the one that I found asking myself while reading this article. I have been reading a lot of anthropology recently and I suppose it has the effect of always leading you to ask: how did this or that cultural belief arise and develop, how did the first people who had to deal with it feel, how did they react? I just kept theorizing since I couldn’t do the research myself. I admit the rest of this is somewhat based on conjecture.
Women are docile.
That is a cultural belief we often have. But where did it come from? Nowhere. At least according to the essentialist. But I believe such a belief arose because it originates from being forced into a position of financial dependence. Resource dependence. But women for most of her story haven’t been in such a state of dependence. It is rather mostly the opposite. Independent. As the gatherers, they took care of most of the resources in most smaller societies and this remains the case even in a permaculture society. People like their independence and the way society dealt with forcing women into a state of dependence was to forge the myth that docility is a part of one’s self. Just the way it is. Matter of fact. You are docile. You are obedient. Otherwise, how else could you not feel depressed about being dependent on some other person to survive? What else could possibly stop a rise in suicide other than the engineering the myth that this is what you are? Men don’t have such a myth. Men weren’t given the myth of docility and so, naturally feel depressed in such a state.
Women are the carers.
If women are culturally the carers then men cannot be. This is, of course, the dichotomy. The binary arrangement of positions. If women are docile, men are not (when in fact people, in general, abhor either). If women are carers, men are not. Logic. Well no, this is not true at all. Men can be carers too and jobs have shifted in this view before. Nursing, for example, is supposed to be a women’s job right? And it always primarily was right? Wrong. Vox has a great video on it, but I will surmise the point. In 1854, an English nurse named Florence Nightingale. She revolutionized nursing and barred men from joining her nursing schools because according to her men didn’t have that capacity. Before her, men had a very long history in the profession. A male nurse named Walt Whitman even made a poem about it. And that is not even talking about field medics. If men are the hunters and killers what do you make of a man like Desmond Doss? A person who refused to kill in combat and rushed out to care for people in the line of fire. The idea that only women can care or that women are the carers is a myth. A myth that harms both men and women from pursuing their abilities. You can care for others or you can not. What you are is mostly what you do.