Even the most ardent historian, male or female—citing Amazons and tribal matriarchies and Cleopatra—can’t conceal that women have basically done fuck all for the last 100,000 years. Come on—let’s admit it. Let’s stop exhaustingly pretending that there is a parallel history of women being victorious and creative, on an equal with men, that’s just been comprehensively covered up by The Man. There isn’t. Our empires, armies, cities, artworks, philosophers, philanthropists, inventors, scientists, astronauts, explorers, politicians and icons could all fit, comfortably into one of the private karaoke booths in SingStar. We have no Mozart; no Einstein; no Galileo; no Ghandi. No Beatles, no Churchill, no Hawking, no Columbus. It just didn’t happen.

Nearly everything so far has been the creation of men—and a liberal, right-on denial of it makes everything more awkward and difficult in the long run. Pretending that women have had a pop at all this before but ultimately didn’t do as well as the men, that the experiment of female liberation has already happened but floundered gives strength to the belief that women simply aren’t as good as men, full stop. That things should just carry on as they are—with the world shaped around, and honouring, the priorities, needs, whims, and successes of men. Women are over, without having even begun. When the truth is that we haven’t even begun at all. Of course we haven’t. We’ll know it when we have.

~Caitlin Moran

Do you agree or disagree with the above sentiment and statements, and why or why not?


NOTE: I'll be contrarian in the discussion, both because I find it fun, and also because echo chambers are boring.

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I think I agree that the recorded contributions of women are, compared to men, almost non-existent.


1)  I don't think that makes those that are recorded worthy of dismissal.

2)  And I don't necessarily agree with the conclusion, but that's partly because the conclusion was written somewhat poetically, and thus it's specific meaning is far from clear.

But, I would like to point out, that, much the same could be said for many ethnic groups.  Even more tellingly, the same could be said for the lower economic classes.  And if we assume that women have, on the whole been appx 50% of the population, while the lower economic classes have been a MUCH higher percentage of the population, maybe even being as high as 90%, depending on the historical period and region in question.  So, that seems more noteworthy.

Again, not sure exactly what you mean in your conclusion, but, I'd have to say, given the above, I'd disagree with the sentiment, as I understood it.

I mean, is your point that, if you happen to be a black woman from a low socio-economic class, things are so bad, that life isn't worth living, given the totality of history?

I think, that leads me to one more potential objection.  Regardless of any factor of age, gender, class, race, etc, you can't compete with the totality of history.  You can only contend with the present.  Let the future decide how to remember you once you are a part of the distant past.  Depending on what one woman living in the present does right now, or in the near future, in 10,000 more years, the same question might be gender reversed, and the first name listed citing all the remarkable women throughout history (while bemoaning the paucity of male contributions) might be the woman who acts now or in the near future.

Historically, most of what the upper classes have "accomplished" has to do with acquisition and conquest more than invention and innovation.

The roster of poor and middle class folk who've left an indelible mark on the history of great accomplishments is long and full. Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart were not rich. Most of the great scientists and mathematicians were not particularly well-to-do. The great architects, for the most part, worked on contract or direction of rich people rather than the other way around, and Frank Lloyd Wright became rich after a while but certainly didn't start out that way. He had his ups and downs as well. 

My contention is that in the aggregate, and unique and exceptional individuals aside, it's clear that men and women tend to have different sorts of goals. The great men have been ego-driven, self-centered, and obsessive about their goals, and if those goals are dramatic and large in scale, and they succeed in reaching them, those men go down in history. Women are more inclined to selfless goals and to take the impact of their work on friends, family, and most especially their children into account, and so that limits them in terms of grand pursuits. 

It's been said that a woman will build a house and move in with her family to build a life. A man will build a house, move his family in, then go and build another house to sell to another family. As the gender-based restraints on women are falling off, we don't see any dramatic change in the interests and inclinations of men and women. If there are more male CEO's, it's starting to appear that even if there is something of a glass ceiling, a great part of it is that being a CEO is not what as many women (as a percentage of their sex) want to be, compared to men.

Exceptions aside, men and women in the aggregate are just different from each other, not better or worse. While it's now allowed for women to become fighter pilots, realistically how many high school girls can't wait to graduate so that they can attend military flight school and start preparing to shoot down enemy planes? 

While there are examples of lower class people who have accomplished great things, total when compared to women is about the same.  And they are historically a far larger segment of the population.  I would challenge, further, that a great many of your examples are middle class, who, I will admit, are much better represented than the lower class (not surprisingly, mostly only in the last few hundred years, though).

Now, nit picking aside, and on to your main contention....  I'd say that you contention is far from proven.  Again, aside from the rare few individuals, of both genders, all races, classes, etc, the vast majority of humanity just aspires to 'get along'.  So, given that opportunities for men have almost always been greater, and expansion of the chances for the middle class (and later, even the lower classes) happened before the chances for women expanded, I'd have to say that the jury is still out.  Recall, also, that to compare a lower class man to 'a generic' woman, isn't possible.  If it's a fair comparison, it's a lower class man and a lower class woman.  So, the woman has twice the obstacles to overcome for her to even believe she has a chance to make an impact, then less chance to achieve that goal, then to have it even acknowledged and recorded, then to have it even remembered.

And that's assumes that the playing field of today is now totally even, and it's demonstrably not the case.  If you're counting the contributions total of all men today alone, vs all women to today alone, the men have a much vaster pool to draw from, given that women in a large number of the worlds societies still aren't on even close to even footing, and that would be a huge opportunity difference, even if we assumed that the western 1st world countries have zero bias in favour of men still, which would be tough to prove. 

If we could compare matriarchal societies closely with very similar patriarchal societies, we might be able to get a clearer picture. Sadly, that doesn't seem to be an option.

The only way we might be able to resolve this debate based on anything other than conjecture, is either a very long wait, or a scientific experiment with controls, and carefully controlled variables.  I can't think of any *ethical* experiment that could do that.

As to your last paragraph specifically, I think to some degree, it's how the children are raised.  How much so, it's really hard to say.  Almost every parent I'm aware of starts imprinting their child with gender roles and societies gender expectations from day one.  And how many girls historically, have been brought up from childhood believe they even had a chance to become fighter pilots if they wanted to?  And been encouraged in that dream, probably not many.  I'd say a part of the problem is identifiable role models. 

Brain chemistry will certainly produce some difference in behavior and interests among the genders, but I think to ignore all the other factors that can play into things and assume an assumption can be made already, is pretty poor science.

I guess we'll have to put our heads together in 100-200 years or so to know the truth, but research indicates that very early on, before children can have absorbed gender stereotypes, male and female children have different toy preferences, with girls tending toward soft-edged roundish toys (dolls, stuffed toys) vs. boys tending more toward the more hard-edged toys (trucks, toy tools, etc.). (source)

Another study discovered that men and women treat parental leave differently:

When both male and female college professors have the freedom to take post-birth parental leave, the men almost never do half of the infant care from birth to age 2, even when they believe that child care should be shared equally.

The reason female professors do more infant care may boil down to the fact that they enjoy it more than men do – and that reason may be rooted in evolutionary differences between the sexes, suggests a new, first-of-its-kind study, co-authored by Steven Rhoads, a political scientist in the University of Virginia's College of Arts & Sciences.

The study concludes that gender-neutral policies extending paid post-birth leave to male professors should be re-examined – and possibly repealed. (source)

Women took longer leave than men and used it differently. Why? The conclusion was that women enjoy taking care of babies more than men. And given their biology, why wouldn't they?

But, I ask you this: given that virtually everywhere male and female behavior show gender differences, why are you so insistent on the counterintuitive hypothesis that humans are different from the other higher animals? I think the idea that humans are different from other mammals is the extraordinary hypothesis in need of extraordinary proof.

I think, given the last sentence of my preceding post, that it should be clear I accept some difference.  I frankly don't know if I could have been clearer.  I will try, though.

There are differences between the genders in humans.  But, the imbalance of perceived contributions to the sweep of history or the advancement of humankind can not possibly be attributed with any certainty (at this point)  to these differences, in light of the huge societal difference in the sexes in a vast number of areas.  

Therefore, I think it reasonable to think that (Some difference biologically)=/=(no contributions to society ever) 

And the preceding statement isn't even totally fair, as I know that is not your real position. 

But, even allowing for differences, I that it pretty evident that, given more (equal) opportunity, a lack of systemic suppression, and fair reporting of results, I think the gender contributions would be a LOT closer.  Perhaps, we might even see women significantly ahead, as the differences you point out may be advantageous in a lot of endeavors..

Apologies for my earlier lack of clarity.  I hope that this clears things up.

I'm not sure what counts as suppression. You might count as suppression expectations that society in general (meaning both men and women) find valuable for whatever reasons even if they aren't innate. These can work both ways. In another thread on this board, a male nurse detailed the prejudice against men in nursing school and, one can fairly assume, in employment as well. It would seem fair to suppose similar prejudices keep men from going into such fields as elementary education and "mannying," etc.

But it's nice we're not that far apart. 

I like turtles. :D


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