Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

A question from the X-chromosome challenged.

by Colman Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 06:13:00 AM EST

Why is it that people think that not having a Y chromosome (i.e. being female) gives you special insight into the reality of other people in completely different situations and from completely different backgrounds who also happen to be female? How does that work? And does it work for men?


Display:
Prompted by the normal response half-way through any discussion on "women's issues" (which always sounds like embroidery to me, since I can both knit and sew but can't embroider. Well, knit and sew badly.)
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 06:14:40 AM EST
Because women constitute a homogenous group. Get with the programme.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 06:23:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh. And there was me thinking that they were individuals. Silly me.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 06:25:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They're a homogenous group of individuals.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 06:44:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You know, if you and Sam are arguing, you can just say that, too... :)

From where this inspirational piece of thought?

With extra special ass-padding: Women (generally) emphatise more than men (generally) do, who (generally) rationalise more.

Have at it.

by Nomad on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 06:26:52 AM EST
From every time we discuss something like burka bans and somebody pipes up asking what the women think.

With extra special ass-padding: Women (generally) emphasise more than men (generally) do, who (generally) rationalise more.

Please provide evidence. If you'd said women are trained to pretend to empathise more and men are trained to pretend to be rational you might be on safer ground.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 06:31:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think he said "emphat(h)ise" not "emphasise"...

(just helping keep the peace here...)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 07:05:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow. How did I do that with cut and paste?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 07:07:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're on a Mac? :)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 07:08:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's magic!
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 07:28:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not a bug.  It's a feature!

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 09:22:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Though I didn't write that men/women are "trained to pretend". Perhaps they are, perhaps they aren't.

This XX and XY chromosomal business is turning any debate on gender issues into black-and-white framing. Which well may be futile from the start, as "gender" is increasingly showing to be a fluent concept.

A tranistory scale with a division other than "male" or "female" would be handier.

Except that I've no idea what those brackets should/could be.

by Nomad on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 08:16:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We could disaggregate gender into physical gender differences, including normative hormonal  and ontological differences, normative social role differences, which vary across cultures, and subjective issues such as gender identity, but the question that Coleman poses seems to me to involve cross gender perceptions.

Cross gender perceptions, the perception of one gendered individual by an individual of the opposite gender, and especially, the evaluation of interior thought processes in that context, is doubly tricky. Hermeneutics is the philosophical-psychological subject involved there, so we are immediately in blue water, with no bottom that will ever do any of us any good, yet that is exactly where some of the most interesting questions are to be found. Abandon all certainty, ye who enter here! But then I am told we have to abandon certainty to "do" quantum mechanics. But it is not the same, I am sure. :-)

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 10:18:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, concerning the burqa question it seems logical to me that women should be asked, or at least the women who have to wear burqas, it concerns them directly. Only they can tell what it realy means to them and what it feels like wearing one.

The same pattern came up with women givinge birth to babies - men just had no real live experience what it means to be pregnant. That might change now, as in the next few days for the second time a man is bringen a baby into this world. :-D

by Fran on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 08:23:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
at least the women who have to wear burqas

Yes, the people who are involved would have a more valid opinion, though it seems that quite often when they are asked their opinions are discounted as being inadmissible since they are by definition oppressed. My question is what makes you better able to understand their situation than me?

As far as I know, we don't have any active Muslim men, never mind Muslim women, never mind conservative (or radical) Muslim women who wear the veil. No-one ever asks where our Muslims are.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 08:32:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
at least the women who have to wear burqas
Yes, the people who are involved would have a more valid opinion, though it seems that quite often when they are asked their opinions are discounted as being inadmissible since they are by definition oppressed.
Well, I did post a comment about such women (though not all such women)
We can look at Libération, too. Ni Putes Ni Soumises demonstrates in favour of the burqa ban in front of the PS headquarters because the PS is too ambiguous for their liking.
However, the discussion in that diary appears to be on the whole more about the French PS than about muslim women in France.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 08:53:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But why do women who have never had babies get to have opinions on childbirth where men don't?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 08:34:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Your guess is as good as mine. :-)
by Fran on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 02:06:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In the UK there is a significant historical context to that.  

Women generally were constructed as being more caring and nurturing by nature. Women who worked were expected to give up work when they got married and men's wages were set at levels to support a family. A woman's role was in the home raising the family, and also caring for other adult dependents such as parents.
Of course it is well known that the process of raising a family is highly satisfying for women, because they are fulfilling their 'natural' instinct of caring for others, be that their children or other dependents. So women are best placed to take on a caring role.

Single women were dually constructed as angels/demons.  Think of associations with 'spinsters' - nasty, evil, interfering.  But women are natural carers, so they are also the angels that take up domestic service and look after wealthy people's children.  

The line of thought was that a single woman needed to sublimate her sexual urges by diverting her energy to caring for others and if she didn't have her own children, this process of sublimation could be achieved by looking after other people's children.  Many women were forced to go into domestic services if they weren't married (surplus of women due to the 'lost generation' of men in the war.)

Single women were also expected to look after their parents as they became older and indeed many couples would 'keep' usually their youngest daughter for this purpose and marry the rest off. So single women were able to live a happy and fulfilled life free of frustrated sexual desire by caring for other people.

But this also extended to 'spinsters' who took on roles as midwives and sort of social workers, which in itself was something of an extension on the philanthropic work done by middle classe women attempting to bring morality and Jesus to the unwashed masses of deviant working class women.  So single women eventually became constructed as experts on childbirth and child rearing.

And that, Colman, is why single women who have never had children are more entitled than you to offer their opinions on childbirth and child raising.  Consider it a hangover from the last century.  

The day I am no longer discriminated against in employment for being a woman, be it through wage differentials, assumptions about the worth and value of jobs that women do, or gender roles restricting my choice in the place I take up across the work/home divide; is the day that you can have an opinion about childbirth.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 03:57:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The day I am no longer discriminated against in employment for being a woman, be it through wage differentials, assumptions about the worth and value of jobs that women do, or gender roles restricting my choice in the place I take up across the work/home divide; is the day that you can have an opinion about childbirth.
That's just great. Anything else you are going to deny people the right to have an opinion about because of a grievance you have with third persons?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 04:07:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Though I entirely disagree with that statement by In Wales, I find

Migeru:

a grievance you have with third persons

to be an unnecessarily belittling description of the discrimination women face and that she sets out.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 04:27:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If she's in the business of defining what others can or cannot voice an opinion on, I don't have to take her seriously.

Of course, nobody has to take me seriously either.

Then we can just all stand in our corner talking to ourselves until we're blue in the face.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 04:30:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's of no interest whether you take her seriously or not. I am saying that you are reducing discrimination against women to a sneer when you write "a grievance you have with third persons".

But since you appear to stand by it, that's cool.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 04:33:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am actually not defining what Colman can and can't say and was hoping it wouldn't be taken that way - it isn't MY opinion but the general attitude of society that I'm referencing there.

I was making the point that the inequality goes both ways.  Because of assigned gender roles, I as a woman am given a particular place in society, just as Colman as a man is given one. Whilst Colman is ascribed an identity that constructs his 'masculinity' and with that an assumption that he can't possibly have an opinion on childbirth, I am ascribed an identity that constructs my 'femininity' and within that a level of authority on matters pertaining to child rearing, even though I've never had a child of my own. But associated with my 'femininity' still, is an assumption that as someone who is 'naturally' inclined to a caring role my instincts will of course better place me for raising a family than doing a demanding job that a man would be better at.

Colman chose a fairly provocative way of setting out this diary, I chose a provocative way of responding to one of his points within it. In reality, all gender roles aside, Colman is proving to be an excellent father to his child and of course has much more right to voicing his opinion on such matters than I do because he has that experience and I don't. I hope I've clarified myself.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 05:09:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's better - it did look as if you were deciding who could have an opinion and who couldn't.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 05:37:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I should have made my snark more obvious.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 05:52:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We need more of this kind of policy - and for it to be taken further.

Commenting on Government proposals announced today (Thursday) to make the second six months of maternity leave transferrable between parents, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:

'These proposals will help millions of people balance their work and family life. As both parents work in most modern families, it's right that mums and dads should decide who looks after their baby, rather than the state deciding for them by only paying the mother for parental leave.

'Business lobby groups have opposed every new family-friendly right, from flexible working to extended maternity pay. But in reality these changes have hugely benefitted millions of families and have had no damaging effect on businesses.'


by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 06:48:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And for employers to implement good practice and reduce stigma experienced by men who want to share childcare more equally.

See TUC guide to family friendly working

TUC Press release

However, while millions of workers and their families have benefitted from the growth of flexible working, the guide warns that poorly managed workplaces can do harm more than good, often leading to long and unsocial hours.

The guide explains the various legal entitlements to paid and unpaid time off, as well as the right to request flexible working. Unions are often able to negotiate policies that go well beyond the legal minimum, with some of the most effective policies open to all staff and not just parents, the guide says.

The TUC says that many employers still base family friendly working practices on traditional notions of family. This is likely to exclude many workers such as fathers and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, who also have rights as parents and carers, the guide says.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'Unions have led the way in the long battle for more family friendly rights and it's now one of the main issues that members ask their union rep for guidance on.

'As fewer parents and carers fit the stereotypical model of the breadwinner husband with part-time working wife, it's important for union reps to be fully informed on everyone's legal entitlements.

'Our new guide should help union reps negotiate better family friendly working practices. After all, as the examples in our guide show, good policies can benefit both staff and employers alike.'

These kind of developments if pushed with good leadership will have eventual influence in shifting attitudes and breaking down gender roles.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 06:58:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How old is that historical context?  Most women have always worked and contributed economically to the upkeep of the family, except for about 15 minutes in the middle of the 20th C after WWII. What women have done has changed from era to era and place to place, but the idea that all they did was childrear, clean and cook (as opposed to primary food preparation like making cheese and butter) is an anomaly as far as I can tell.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 08:05:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Late 1800s and onwards. It may be an anomaly in the grand scheme of things but the narratives have proved hard to shift and reconstruct.  Ditto the construction of childhood which arguably is a Victorian invention.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 08:21:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nomad:
Women (generally) emphatise more than men

classic! what one letter displaced two spaces'll do.

you're in trouble now...

;)

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 12:43:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Women have insight, men don't.

Don't you know anything?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 06:59:32 AM EST
silly me, i thought it was because women think horizontally... or something.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 01:12:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, there seems to be the shared jittery feeling motivating against partaking in discussions like this thread which, while it may not be unique to those without Y chromosome, appears to be universal among them.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 07:26:45 AM EST
Did you just say no women participated or will participate in this thread?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 07:29:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or, as the sole one participating in the burqua one, will feel bad about it.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 08:13:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What? I'm afraid my male inability to empathise makes me unable to understand what you're talking about.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 08:15:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here. As another male with even less ability to empathise, I don't know why she feels so, and I'd wish ET women would not have qualms participating in that or this thread, but I have a hunch they won't.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 08:23:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I mean will (have qualms).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 08:25:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... to have snarky meta-diaries on the front page?

On the substance, I think this is a mischaracterisation of the issue. When you have a (set of) topic(s) that are overwhelmingly discussed by either gender, it does not seem irrelevant to ask why this is, and whether the reasons should prompt a change in site policy or culture.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 07:55:30 AM EST
Yes: I felt like doing it.

When you have a (set of) topic(s) that are overwhelmingly discussed by either gender, it does not seem irrelevant to ask why this is, and whether the reasons should prompt a change in site policy or culture.

Like all topics on ET?

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 08:02:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If the entire community is composed mostly of one gender/skin colour/socioeconomic group, a little introspection might be in order.

It's not that homogeneity is necessarily evidence that something is wrong - there may be a variety of entirely acceptable reasons (or at least reasons that are beyond the power of the editors to change). But it should be cause for some introspection on a not too irregular basis.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 08:17:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By introspection, you do not mean a meta diary?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 08:27:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I mean perhaps a less snarky one.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 08:29:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So write it

Patience with people telling me what to write or not write gone now.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 11:58:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That seems like a reasonable request.

So I went and did that.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 07:22:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - A question from the X-chromosome challenged.
Why is it that people think that not having a Y chromosome (i.e. being female) gives you special insight into the reality of other people in completely different situations and from completely different backgrounds who also happen to be female? How does that work? And does it work for men?

Why is it that you know what people think, have you developed psychic powers? How does that work? And does it work for anyone?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 09:07:22 AM EST
I'm not allowed talk about that.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 09:11:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"And does it work for men?"

Doesn't that part of it sort of capture the bulk of human history? Men thinking that they should control everything?

by asdf on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 09:29:32 AM EST
I don't honestly know: I'm increasingly distrustful of that narrative too.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 09:47:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ok, i'll bite

womens' propensity for understanding the need to care for others colours their thinking more than mens', who tend to be able to focus their minds more exclusively upon a subject, to the exclusion of all else.

what really makes it interesting is (and here i think Jung was right) that men, to fully actualise ourselves, need to understand not only how the male mind works, (which comes easier, as we are acculturated to that, because of our physical gender).

to be 'round' a man must learn to be tender and kind, like a woman (ideally).

to be 'whole' a woman needs to understand the virtues of a masculine mindset, and integrate them into her personality.

(self-deprecation alert) mens' agendas are much simpler to track, so women have it easier in this respect, lol. flamesuit on

there are -and probably always will be- differences, and that's exactly what makes the world go round in dynamic equilibrium, wobbly though it is.

as we proceed in our understanding of the 'other' and affirm that which binds us in similarity and difference, and see how we hold both sides of the equation, their tensions and resolutions, inside us, we will maintain better internal balance, and reflect that in our daily dealings with both sexes...

men and women who try to become caricatures of extreme one-sided 'genderness' do it because of insecurity, and fall into parody territory. it's not about androgynity either, i believe, fusing into some asexual sameness, but taking the best of both-and, and thus expanding one's range of feeling more fully human.

wha used to be mystifyingly frustrating about the love-battle of the sexes, is revealing itself with time as being fascinating and charming, though still able to tug the rug from under reality occasionally.

it'd be nice if more of the feminine persuasion participated here, and i think maybe they will with time, though on one level, it is what it is, and trying to resteer it may be lumpier than leaving it alone. it's great we have some women here at all, and i think we men could put our ears a little closer to the ground sometimes and listen to what they're saying more, between the lines.

i do find women do subtly unpredictable better, though some men have greatly and pleasantly surprised me in this regard.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 01:54:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Or to put that another way: a whole human is not defined by the socially conditioned gender roles.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 03:57:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Or has successfully striven to transcend their physical and socially defined gender.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 10:33:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i think both these replies are correct. as we see beyond the boundaries of our own cultural determination, whether gender, food, dance be the aspects in question, and as we age accumulating more events to integrate and synthesize, more points of view to consider and possibly emulate, then we expand to our potential, dipping and pollinating from the one planet's human cultural diversity.

so yes in terms of transcending limitations, no as regards transcending as abandoning in any way. it's inclusive...

by abandoning i means smoothing over the differences, i think transcendence is the celebration of the combination of the polarities, it is its child, its celebration.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 07:48:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
well, bearing in mind that 'whole' is relative, a goal, possibly unattainable in any absolute sense... that's the beauty of jung's thesis, that we learn quintessentially important stuff equally from both sexes.

it's getting more ok to have friends of either sex, as excessive formality slowly gives way to more tolerant and relaxed attitudes to life, and a more balanced personality, playful with the differences, and comfortable both sides of the fence.

one is a lot less circumscribed than before, we are learning to trust that it's ok to be different, there's a place for that in the scene of things, in fact that's what gives life its mystery.

in some ways, the more obvious one's cultural roots are, the more likely one is to be somewhat narrow in perspective, even if one can be deeply grounded and strengthened by the healthy roots that implies.

of course some traditions give false strength, such as the myth that our tribe is of necessity superior to another.

reality gets its way and dismembers illusions eventually, though the road there can be long and arduous. likewise with our losing our apprehensions about communication across the Great Divide of gender, we all had a parent or sibling of the other persuasion, so it shouldn't be so strange, after all...

except it is!

it really helps to get that we can't be complete until we suss our complementary opposite, and meet in the middle. that's the alchemy, where the dross, the pettiness burns off and the gold of who we really are can shine.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 08:06:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As a self-confirming, implied-answer rhetorical question, this reflects a commonly used, omnipotent-male attitude asking for validation.  

http://articles.latimes.com/2008/apr/13/opinion/op-solnit13  

http://tinyurl.com/ylhqoox

Although some men are aware and try to work for real equality in the best interest of all, there is a long way to go even in the rhetorical plane.  

Change is inevitable; personal growth is optional.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Sat Jan 30th, 2010 at 08:26:31 PM EST


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