Women and the Freedom Philosophy: Is There Hope?
by Karen De Coster
by Karen De Coster
The August 3rd, 2006 edition of The Economist includes a fascinating piece titled "The Mismeasure of Women." Did you know that the female brain is the "default setting" for all human beings, and it is the surges of testosterone during gestation and post-birth that transform the brain for a male child?
In the past, it was assumed that a female was simply a male with hormones, says Tracey Shors, a professor of neuroscience at Rutgers University. The truth is the exact opposite. Female is the default brain setting. Until the eighth week of gestation every human fetal brain looks female. The brain, like the rest of the human body, becomes male as a result of surges of testosterone — one during gestation and one shortly after birth.
This wash of hormones creates an organ that generates typically boyish behaviour, such as rough-and-tumble play. Behavioural differences appear early.
If you listen to the usual squawk on this topic, we are supposed to be shocked that men and women are undeniably different as regards behavior. However, it's easy enough to observe that men and women do reveal distinct thinking skills, oftentimes gender influenced. We each react to dilemmas rather differently. For example, you guys say we get mad about stuff, and you have no clue as to why we are mad. And we are mad at you because, well, sometimes that's the only way we can get your attention, but since we're too complex and imprudent to just tell you we need your attention, we just get mad to start the ball rolling. But it never works. It just makes you less attentive, and we just get angrier.
According to the Economist article, research shows that there is this thing in the brain known as the corpus callosum, which is made of white matter and connects the brain's two hemispheres, and this part of the brain is proportionally smaller in the male. Hence a possible explanation as to why women will often employ both sides of the brain for some problem-solving, whereas men will utilize the left side of their brains. So, you see, our brains are sort of like taking the long way around. Information hits our grey matter, and then it makes a stop or two at the lavatory, stops to grab a carry-out at Applebee's, then hits the corpus callosum to zip over to the other side of the brain, because there's a really great shopping mall over there with a Bath and Body store — exfoliates and pedicure kits are Buy One, Get One Free. And since the male thinking pattern stays on the same side of the block, and we travel all about and to the other side, we don't need to stop and ask for directions. We know the way.
Putting the Pedal to the Metal While Wearing High Heels
When we look at ideas, and the radical thought processes that drive them, we observe those who are the catalysts and trailblazers in the world of ideas — academics, writers, bloggers, scholars, editors, philanthropists, and the like. Among this group of individuals is a sea of men amid a few women. Why is that so?
But wait, women are heavily involved in politics, aren't they? You see them at rallies, in their gray, tweed skirts and spray-glued hair, waving their banners and holding up signs that say "I'm a woman, and I vote." (That's supposed to be a big threat, warning a politician not to vote against anything that falls under the category of women's rights.) But clearly, involvement in Democratic or Republican politics is like playing adult tee-ball. It is not an intellectual pursuit. Party politics are easy to get involved with, don't take much knowledge or ability, and besides, the social events are alluring and think-free. The car washes and bakes sales are probably pretty good, too. And blowing up balloons and planting lawn signs is, like, so fun! In all honesty, reciting the implicit loyalty oath for some political faction that forms for the sake of employing its coercive tactics versus the schemes that come from other factions has its grounding in social relations. Most women prefer this as a basis for relationships as opposed to philosophical bindings. Party politics is all about taking sides for the sake of some subjectively-placed loyalty, usually formed on the basis of certain social relations and/or social pecking orders. This is not much different than rooting for the Yankees vs. the Mets. And I keep take my liberty far more seriously than my baseball. This is why I keep myself a safe distance from Big "L" libertarianism.
However, political philosophy is much more than the superficial loyalties and the traditional buttons and balloons offered up by the political party system.
Thus, women are notably absent from anything reflecting libertarianism because this is a new bird altogether. At its roots, the philosophy of libertarianism — and I don't mean the political party — is strictly dedicated to defined and immovable principles that drive our relationships, as individuals, to other individuals. To be libertarian-minded is to be rigorous in thought. Libertarianism is a political philosophy and not a moral theory. It allows for the individual to be free to make choices, whether moral or immoral. As regards libertarianism, there is a distinction made between an immoral means to an end and an act of physical aggression. The first is not violent; the other is. The non-aggression axiom has it that a state cannot initiate violence, or threaten to do so, any more than can an individual. In other words, this tends to allow for unhampered personal freedom and tolerance, along with a lack of unwelcome, authoritative oversight.
A problem is that women focus all too often on the means to an end, and they oftentimes seem to lack the ability to systemize and critically evaluate situations on an individual basis. Rather, they supercede these characteristics with empathy and emotion. While men view the human condition as autonomous and simplified, women see it in a more complex and, worse yet, collectivist perspective. This finds them tending toward seeing the world around them as a "society," not a place of interacting individuals. As Murray Rothbard stated in For a New Liberty, "society is sometimes treated as a superior or quasi-divine figure with overriding rights of its own." This type of thinking is directly opposite libertarianism.
Women welcome the "nurturing" from above — meaning chosen leaders or authoritative bodies deemed worthwhile to run the lives of individuals within society. This, they think, is essential for maintaining carefully-defined means (laws) toward just ends (desired outcomes). Women don't recognize the extreme violence of the fascist state or the tyranny of the nanny state. They seem to have no problem with the arbitrary use of power and government decree, as long as society — in the way they view it — is better off on the whole. In essence, they are communal utilitarians.
Dr Baron-Cohen suggests that innate preferences can be carried into adulthood, too. He studies autism and Asperger's syndrome, conditions that are far more common in boys than girls. His theory is that, from birth, female brains are hardwired for understanding emotions (empathising) and male brains for understanding and building systems (systemising). Hence the diverse preferences for toys. The notion is that autistic children — and autistic adults — have extremely male brains. In other words, they are especially good at systemising and especially bad at empathising.
...Another proposal to explain the lack of women professors of math and science is that even if there is little or no difference in average ability, there might be differences in the variation around this average, with more men found in the tails of the distribution curve and fewer in the middle. In other words, among males there are more idiots and more prodigies. One study of IQ, covering everyone born in Scotland in 1932, supports this idea. It showed that there were more women in the middle of the distribution, but more men at both of the extremes.
The bit about men holding up the tail ends of the distribution curve while women clutter toward the mean seems extremely plausible, if only thinking about my own everyday experiences with folks of both genders. I am always amazed at how women — even those with a large amount of "higher education" — can be so simple-minded and so unquestionably compliant when they are presented with something that is deemed "the answer," or the facts. In conversation, they sometimes talk in tones that are apathetic. Though women seem to be very much more common sense-oriented than men — the "clueless man" stereotype has its truths — they are more likely to shy away from intellectual rigor. They are less likely to pursue difficult answers or knowledge outside of their career field, and they shy away from challenging the status quo. Quite often, I find myself talking with a professional, female colleague who comes across as a box of rocks on topics dealing with anything newsworthy, worldly, philosophical, political, or historical. They can obtain an MBA — which is hardly remarkable — and manage 12 people, but they can't put the pedal to the metal intellectually? It baffles me.
We Gotta Do Something!
Perhaps all that I have mentioned is a start to answering the questions put forth by Justine Nicholas in regards to female libertarians. It is indeed frustrating to witness the lack of skepticism and sound thinking within our gender.
For instance, most women I know can't comprehend some of the most basic libertarian principles that would lead to such notions as no public education, lack of a police/security state, no welfare state, or the eradication of victimless crimes, etc. Women love laws. The more the better! And in fact, a favorite statement of women in general — parroted by Stevie Nicks in concert — is "We got to do something!" In other words, any action taken is effort well spent, 'cuz, we just gotta, you know, do something. That means, of course, that we didn't just sit and do nothing. Whatever that something is, they don't seem to care. Laws, after all, are evidence of "doing something." A fuzzy phrase like that is a case of Montezuma's revenge for the intellect.
Now of course much of the above is purely anecdotal and/or speculation, and ignores those women who are not as such, but everyday experience — at least on my part — seems to support the politically incorrect and general conclusions on the differences between males and females. Women, I think, are much too caught up in the small stuff, sweating out the day-to-day details in an emotive fashion. They aren't often enough interested in the big ideas that move mountains and provide for intellectual discovery. For some reason, so many women just seem to lack the intellectual ambition gene, and instead, and find solace in passivity and compliance. They are less inclined to be libertarian-minded, intellectual, mathematical, philosophical, or spatial. Is it because they are too cluttered about the mean, with too few outliers?
It's "For the Children": Free Lunch, Free Breakfast, Free Everything
Women, as you know, will be so wonderfully protective of their children, family, and those with whom they sustain emotional relationships. They will hover and guard and oftentimes over-protect the ones they love. This is the nurturing feature. Yet these same women will trust a bunch of unfamiliar, self-aggrandizing, control-freak, government bureaucrats to rear and nourish and sustain and educate their children? In the jailhouses known as public schools, we went from the school lunch trough to the freebie breakfast, and if that's not enough, we now have weekday and summer breakfasts, as well as after-school dinner spoils — all taxpayer funded. And the children are herded off to these meals with hardly a thought. If women can so easily come to believe that their child's nutritional life is not their responsibility, it's no wonder that so many women have no problem whatsoever with the overriding concept of cradle-to-grave, welfare-state status quo.
Heck, even most females in the animal world don't dare trust outsiders — humans or other critters — around their young. Try to approach a mother duck and her babies, and the reaction from Mom is predictably aggressive. Yet the compliant human being invites the critter known as the welfare state into her home, and onward it moves to all areas of the house, taking with it an entire generation of self-sufficient beings. Women have been taught — via the New Deal welfare mindset and modern left-feminism — that the State replaces the male head-of-household, thus leading them to the collective Big Daddy, the central planners. Hence, this is where they turn for the quick answer.
Likewise, there is no quick answer that can be supplied to the question, "Is it hopeless?" The route to the freedom philosophy, for women, can only be supplied by an intellectual education, and that starts at home, not at some public school awash in LCD (Lowest Common Denominator) syndrome, and surely not at some supposed "top-tier" university, in an outright asinine women's studies program. Rigorous education is a long road, and it's not paved with yellow bricks with a wizard that looks like Betty Friedan lying in wait.
In effect, women, who usually have nurturing tendencies from birth, take this blessed virtue outside of family and voluntary relationships, and turn it into a top-down cultivation wherein the state, through coercive and interventionist methods, breeds an entire generation of foster children. It is this twisted concept of love and nurturing that advances the state and lowers the boom on the development of family, philanthropy, and humanity.
August 11, 2006
Copyright © 2006 Karen De Coster