Saturday, January 29, 2005

Are Women More Moral than Men?

This was the discussion I wound up getting into with someone on a leftist blog. The poster had argued that the eight Democratic women senators who voted for Condi Rice might have done so as an act of "gender politics." I took umbrage with the suggestions, especially since he was careful to completely omit the idea that Obama might have voted for Rice as an act of "racial politics." Let me say immediately that I don't buy either argument, but I used Obama to try to get this guy to agree that his argument was specious and, well, lazy. He refused to acknowledge my point, and in fact, argued that women should have held Rice more accountable. Another person joined in the fray and argued that people voted women into politics because they thought women were going to bring a new moral vision into the mess that men had made.

At which point I threw up my hands and left the building.

I tried an experiment on google today. Barbara Boxer is called a "cunt," "harridan," and "harpie," in a lot of entries out there. I didn't have the stomach to put in other words, but I'm sure we could find every epithet for angry woman out there.

The woman who opposed Rice gets singled out; the women who didn't oppose Rice get singled out, and in the meantime, all those men in the Democratic party who acted on her nomination just get to be members of the Democratic party. The spineless Democratic party, but no one is out there suggesting that as men they had a moral duty to oppose Rice.

Elevating women to a position of moral superiority to men is still sexist. If we are still operating in a culture that argues that man is "normal", and woman is outside the norm, true equality will never be possible. Ceding the high moral ground to women is just another form of chivalry, something that Sarah Grimke characterized as "practicable contempt." If women are more moral than men, then we're not going to be equipped to deal with the realities of war, which is not a moral playground, and thus, we'll have to be spared it. If politics is immoral, well, you see the pattern. It just becomes another way to shut us out, unless, of course, we're needed to lend our moral voice to voting against something.

The Democratic party is already splintering into a bickering mess of "it's your fault we lost the election," with white males arguing that they need to dump gays, racial and religious minorities overboard in order to take control. I see this argument for the innate morality of women as part of this pernicious trend. Putting us up on thrones still keeps us out of the action.

5 comments:

FunkyB said...

Interesting point, truly. I may have to focus in on this one today because I've never been a very good feminist. While I don't want to be held back b/c of my gender, I do expect certain things b/c of my gender. More than that, I teach my son to treat women differently... you never EVER strike a woman, no matter what... you never swear in front of a woman (as a show of respect)... I have said to him on more than one occassion, "You treat girls gently, and with respect." So what am I really teaching him? Am I teaching him a form of acceptable segregation? Hmmmm...

Sheryl said...

I'm disappointed with anyone who supported Rice, but I think women who oppose her are better role models. Because equality or not, I am still a woman, and it is good to see other women accomplishing things and proving that women can accomplish cool things in our society.

Before she started compromising on everything (like the war and the Patriot Act), I considered Hillary Clinton a role model. Now she will say tough things, but she takes so few legislative chances. Like I would have thought more of her had she stood behind Barbara Boxer in opposing the Ohio vote. Instead, she and other democrats (male and female) had pretty speeches about the importance of every vote counting, but then didn't stand behind Boxer.

Same thing with Nancy Pelosi. She was fine till she became House Minority leader, but now she just towes the line. Barbara Lee would make a better leader.

I'm still disgusted with the men who are wimply, but it would be nice to have more Barbara Lees and Boxers to show women what is possible.

Just like Ann Richards. Ann Richards was a beautiful role model here in Texas. It gave me some sense of possibility to see a woman so powerful, but also gentle and moral as governor of Texas. Lady Bird Johnson also was a good female Texas role model.

I also think it was healthy to see Carol Moseley Braun running for President insofar as she was so intelligent and diplomatic.

I would not say that I feel any more or less pride for being a woman, but there are legitimate reasons to think that women in our society have different limits from men, and so seeing women bust through those limits never hurts.

Some Guy said...

I'm voting for Che Guevara next time he comes up for election. Not real sure when that will be, though, considering the CIA killed him a while back...

J.R. Boyd said...

Your blog-friend gives the senators too much credit: At least gender politics would have been voting on (some kind of) principle.

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