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Problems with Radical Feminism

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No sane and educated person with a bit of common sense would say that women aren’t equal to men and they don’t deserve equality in our society. However, the tricky term in the last sentence is ‘equality’. Why is this tricky? You will get an idea in the following paragraphs.

I admit that feminism has brought a lot of positive changes in the society. It has successfully given equal rights to women in many societies around the world. Women are heard equally, if not more in media, and in judicial cases involving men and women. Many powerful women have risen out of the feminist movements. However, women empowerment is an always ongoing process and it has been happening even before the origin of the word ‘feminism’. In fact, the majority of the empowered women around the world, especially in Asian, African, South American countries, don’t even know that there exists a term such as feminism. For example, medieval India had developed many regressive practices such as Sati and child marriage (of both sexes) which were reformed and duly addressed by thinkers such as Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar, etc. If a society has regressive practices, thinkers of that society need to stand up to those practices and through activism, awareness and judicial framework, reforms can be and have been brought upon.

However, there is always a danger when you confine the needs of women in various societies around the world within the definition of feminism, more specifically radical feminism. This form of feminism is highly prevalent in our urban culture, movies, social, moral, speech policing and even academia (humanities).

Radical feminism is a perspective within feminism that calls for a radical reordering of society in which male supremacy is eliminated in all social and economic contexts. The justification for such strong measures is again the victimization and oppressive narrative which blames the patriarchy for seemingly unequal representation of women in the society.

Women were oppressed throughout the history by men. Due to patriarchy, women never got the opportunities to occupy higher positions. Men and women are equally capable and their outputs should be equal too. I will address this argument in the context of India. Think about your family for a moment. What percentage of its decisions (such as buying property, car, vegetables, electronics, marriages of children, etc.) are influenced by women? It is close to 83% (Women account for 85% of all consumer purchases)! Again it depends on family to family. Women have such an influence on family decision making today. Why do you think it would be any different say a 100 years ago? The structure of family in our societies have some strong, conserved, basic features.

One such feature is the influence of females on decision making of males. The influence is huge. As long a society is fairly liberal (which was the case in ancient India), has decent moral standards and isn’t oppressed or constantly attacked by other societies (medieval India), females continue to influence males on an immense scale in their decision making. Hence the quote, “Behind every successful man, there is a woman.” My question is, women influence men’s decision on such vast scales, how can one say that societal behaviours and rules of the past were exclusively determined by males with no influence or inputs from females?

How does this women’s influence on men’s decision making work? It is biologically deeply embedded in our systems. Females invite competition among males for mating and producing genetically fittest offsprings. That naturally pushes males to work hard, to fiercely compete with other males, to push for better resources, wealth, etc. What’s the role of women? Females have to present their best version to invite as many competitive males as possible. Makeups are popular because of this very reason. It enhances sexually attractive features of females. The feeling of confidence comes due to an enhancement of these sexually attractive features. For example, high heels bring changes in the stance which further highlights the sexually attractive features of women such as their breasts and hips. Height is also an attractive feature. Hence, heels overall make women sexier. Hence, they buy it as eventually that makes them feel better and confident. Something similar happens with men too. Gym going men will usually wear tight shirts, T-shirts to show off their strong hands and muscles. These are our basic biological instincts.

Many of our behaviours are derived from those basic biological instincts. This brings me to differences between males and females. Physical differences are obvious. Men are physically stronger, women are more flexible and have a higher fat percentage. Women tend to live longer. Due to such differences, large portions of physically intense tasks such as the combat, hard labourer, construction works and even trading (which involved long distance travelling) have been male-dominated. However, the most important physical task that is giving birth was exclusively women’s responsibility. And not only that but raising children after birth has largely been women’s responsibility throughout the history not only in case of humans but animals too. You might have watched, how protective female lions are of their cubs. Male lions, however, don’t seem to be as interested and involved as much as female lions in raising and giving training to their cubs.

Feminists somehow demean the task of raising children and want women to give up a good percentage of this responsibility to men in exchange for their jobs and career. That’s downright stupid. There is a reason why mothers have stronger bonds with their children. No one understands a child better than her mother, especially in the first five years. Mothers experience a surge of oxytocin during childbirth. This makes a very strong relationship with her child. This relationship comes with the responsibility of raising children, which mothers usually adore and make it their topmost priority. Replacing that with their careers and jobs isn’t an option for most women. Shifting that responsibility to fathers (who also play a part but much less) isn’t something women want or will ever do in substantial numbers. Hence they end up prioritizing their families and children while men are more willing to sacrifice their family life for their careers. Biological differences create some deep behavioural differences between the two genders.

Which brings me to the second difference between males and females: behavioural differences. Women are more agreeable than men, men are more aggressive than women. How large are these differences? Not much on an average population, say about 60-40 difference. However, when it comes to extreme cases (and extreme cases produces a chunk of output as explained by the Pareto principle), the difference is huge. For example, in a society 99 out of 100 most horrendous criminals would be males. Extreme ends of a graph are dominated by the group having, seemingly minute edge in the population on an average. Aggressive nature, however, helps men by standing up to the oppression more often than females. Men are more likely to demand higher wages, positions in a company. In the last paragraph, I discussed that men are more willing to sacrifice their family life and work harder and for longer durations. Such behavioural differences bring inequality in outcomes of males and females in the society. These are vastly due to behavioural differences.

Another example is compassion. Women are more compassionate than men. Hence they prefer compassionate jobs such as nursing, medical science. In fact, in Scandinavian societies, as they became more egalitarian, the differences in the outputs of males and females increased instead of decreasing as predicted by feminists. What happened is, when provided with equal opportunities, equal resources, an equal likelihood of getting a job; in absence of any pressure women due to their behavioural differences chose different kinds of jobs compared to men. Medical sciences, humanities, nursing jobs were dominated by women. Engineering, corporate jobs being dominated by men.
Differences in outputs of the two genders increases in egalitarian societies!

 

When there are so many behavioural differences in men and women which are not much significant on an average but plays a massive role in determining who reaches the top 20% positions in a field, to achieve or aim equality of outcomes in such a field is an absurd demand which isn’t well-thought off and well-researched. Such demands requiring the whole well-functioning society to change their behaviours many of which are based on our evolutionary instincts is both undesirable and impossible for both sexes.

There might be a third kind of difference between males and females which again is seemingly minute in the average population, yet can play a big role in favouring one gender at the extreme spectrum. That difference is cognitive abilities. I haven’t come across studies based on substantial data in this regard. Though I once encountered a study that discussed slightly superior abilities of men in imagining shapes, figures which amount to abstract thinking and reasoning. The gross difference in outputs of men and women in various fields suggest that there might be cognitive differences between men and women. For example, women understand emotions and body language better than men.

Men might have a slight advantage in abstract thinking and mathematical abilities. Some strong examples of gross differences in outcomes of men and women are: Men dominate physics, mathematics in academia by quite a margin. Especially the top researchers in fields of physics, maths, philosophy, logic are mostly men. There hasn’t been a single girl topper of IIT-JEE, one of the most competitive exams of India. Girls, however, top CBSE, ICSE, NEET, AIIMS and UPSC-CSE on a regular basis. Some of these exams, especially UPSC, AIIMS are equally competitive as IIT-JEE. The reason might be that IIT-JEE asks very different kinds of questions, especially in physics and mathematics sections. These questions mostly involve abstract thinking and problem-solving. Compare this to UPSC-CSE which involves a lot of answer writing, hard work and analysing current affairs, history and geography.

These exams test vastly different cognitive abilities. Another example is chess. Women chess grand-masters (GMs) are significantly weaker than men chess GMs. There hasn’t been a women chess world champion. In fact, there is currently only one woman in world’s top 100 chess players. Chess involves high levels of imagination. Some of the best chess players have learnt the chess playing skills quite naturally (the same is true for a lot of mathematicians such as Srinivasa Ramanujan). Society hardly played any significant part in the development of these extraordinary geniuses. Kids below 15 years becoming IMs, GMs are quite common. Most of these kids are again males. In the case of absolute equality of cognitive abilities of men and women, there would have been at least some women super-GMs too. The whole idea of presenting such examples was to suggest that there are differences between men and women and we are uneducated as to how deep these small differences produce differential outputs.

One should always demand equality in opportunities, justice, resources. But to demand equality of outcomes is absurd. Let the women, men of the society choose their field of play based on their own free choices. Men and women complement and cooperate with each other excellently. Their differences make this cooperation and interactions all the more fun. Which man would enjoy the company of a woman with masculine qualities? Which woman would prefer a weak man lacking masculine qualities? Not many if they only follow their natural instincts without paying any heed to nonsense ideological narratives.

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