I like reading the blog The Thinking Housewife. Even when you disagree, the spicy insights into human nature and how far modern liberal society has gone off-track are worth the read.
There’s a downside to it. Like many conservative thinkers, the authoress feels backed into a corner because it seems like all but a few people in society are headed in the opposite direction. This feeling is normal; conservatives had to abandon the “follow us, or you won’t succeed” the instant the first rock star became a millionaire, so now they often fall into dogma and retaliation.
On a recent topic, I feel the authoress is off-base, and wanted to clarify my position here because I think we can all learn from the debate. With luck, and if we’re really lucky civility, others will join in and we can get a lively debate going — modernity outside of its technology will end up being a blip on the radar of history, and conservative ideas will prevail, but in the meantime it helps us to achieve clarity in the details of our beliefs.
This is a letter to The Thinking Housewife from a young woman:
I have recently discovered both the “manosphere” and the small number of anti-feminist blogs. While I disagree with some of the writings at both types of blogs, most of what is written has forced me to confront and deepen my conception of human nature, and I am glad of it. I have come to realize more (although I was already aware to some extent) the differences between men and women, and the general strengths and weaknesses that each sex possesses. However, I encounter some confusion when I try to apply these principles to myself. In your recent post, “Men are Slow to Ripen,” you wrote:
I used to be baffled by why men seem so much slower at housework. I now think this is a major reason. They are trying to figure out a system, like a boy building a castle with Legos. They are architects, not housekeepers. Most women, even those who are extremely neat, don’t create abstract plans as they work. If they were domestic strategists, the world would fall apart within a matter of hours. Similar disaster would ensue from the failure of men to conceptualize.
You see, I am (and always have been) a very conceptual thinker. Ever since I was a teenager, I have tested an INTP (nicknamed The Architect) in the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator; I am a “systems thinker,” very spatially oriented, and am always trying to discover the underlying plan behind any activity or way of thinking. I also have trouble with housework–I’m too caught up in the “abstract plan.”
I have been trying to cultivate a feminine attitude in myself, especially as I learn the toxicity of feminism, but am somewhat unable to reconcile this with my supposedly masculine way of thinking. I try not to think of it as “wrong” because my brain is God-given, and I could not stop myself from analyzing and abstracting any more than I could stop myself from breathing. Sometimes I am unsure of how to act or think because my experience as a woman does not match up to many of the generalizations I read here and on other blogs.
I guess my questions for you are these: If someone does not fit under the ideal woman, does that make her less feminine, or somehow inadequate for womanly tasks? (I have a hard time thinking so, as God made me a woman and not a man, but it’s hard for me to reconcile that fact with how women are supposed to act and think.) How far can these generalizations go? And what can or should be done when people don’t fit completely under them? – TTHW, “The Thinking Woman’s Dilemma”
I think femininity and masculinity are misunderstood here. When we say they are complementary roles, we are talking about the mental organization and strengths of each supporting the other.
Men approach the world from a contractual, ends-over-means, casual and architectural state of mind.
Women approach the world from an adaptive, stabilizing, context-derived and atmospheric state of mind.
The former requires less elaboration than the latter, because the latter translates less well to language. However, a good starting point is the difference between inductive and deductive reasoning.
Men are deductive: if all of the premises are true, the conclusion must be true. (All crows are black; this bird is a crow; therefore, it is black.)
Women are inductive: if all of the premises are true, the conclusion is not necessarily true. (All the crows I’ve seen are black; therefore, crows are black.)
These are valuable complementary intelligences. Deductive reasoning empowers choices, while inductive reasoning empowers adaptation when insufficient data exists.
Both contain the other, by the way. The idea that deductive reasoning always works requires an inductive leap of faith; the idea that inductive reasoning is valuable requires us to deductively assess the likelihood of us having perfect data. Even more, deductive reasoning is excellent for finding membership and categories and so manipulating those membes, but inductive reasoning works best when exploring either (a) a situation where the conclusion or goal is known but the methods remain a mystery or (b) a situation where nothing is known.
Further, both forms include emotional intelligence. Man emotions tend to fall into the lines of finding that which is out of its category, and setting things right; female emotions tend to involve finding what is important or beautiful in a situation, and pulling that out.
These are anecdotal observations but until our brains are fully debugged by science to the point where we can create an emulator for any given individual, and have it make the same decisions they would given identical stimulus, we’re not going to have any data either way except the anecdotal.
In my view, Enna’s thought process is not unfeminine. She seems highly intelligent, and at the higher end of the intelligence curve, people tend to be “androgynous” in regards to these divisions of approach. They are aware enough of what they are doing with their minds to program themselves, and so to adopt new behaviors; this is a degree of complexity removed from what most people can do.
In addition, as an identified INTP, she is acting as her personality type mandates.
Her logical approach is not unfeminine because complementary gender roles do not dictate how an individual thinks, or what an ideal is, but describe a generalization based on that gender and its emotional/personality approach to processing stimulus. The actual thought process can vary greatly within that categorical division.
To my mind, femininity is an acceptance of and expression of the feminine principle, which is induction and the ability to tolerate ambiguity that would break masculine thinking machines. On the flip side, masculinity is the acceptance of and expression of the masculine principle, which is deduction and forward-looking planning. Each exists optimally with the other, much like the cycle of winter/summer renews on either end what was depleted in the other.
Intelligent women exist and require an outlet for their thinking, and this is entirely independent of their acceptance of traditional roles. In ancient times, women were expected to have minds, think, and even fight when called upon — these behaviors, or means, did not change their approach to life and mentation, or ends.
These observations are entirely coherent with the philosophy of parallelism that I espouse, which includes several tenets:
What concerns us most is the first point: men and women are complementary factors in the situation of life, and where they coincide in decision is likely the right course in any complex decision. In the creation of a home, the two work together and by balancing each other, are able to tackle any decision. On inductive decisions, the woman leads; on deductive ones, the man leads. Then the other contributes balance and the decision is smoothed out through a process like natural selection, where together they test their ideas against their environment and arrive at a refined idea.
Laura Wood hits on this in some important ways:
Men and women have general tendencies, with men given more toward the abstract and impersonal. But there are so many exceptions and differences within the sexes, with some women possessing a more masculine type of intelligence, that it would be wrong to say that women are “supposed to” think in a certain way. And no matter how masculine in thinking a woman may be, no woman is physically or spiritually a man.
Some women do have a special calling to do something other than marry and raise children, but even they possess the strong inborn drive to meet these feminine obligations, and the ones who are happy are those who are involved in work that allows them to achieve this feminine form of love in some way.
The women who are categorically unsuited to traditional feminine tasks are not those who are lousy housekeepers or who don’t enjoy festooning their homes with stencilled flowers or who think like architects or who have been influenced by feminist thinking all their lives, but the women who are selfish or unable to connect with other people because of some serious weakness or handicap.
The first paragraph makes sense where it talks about spiritual femininity and masculinity. You must identify with and accept your gender, and learn to love it, in order to grow into it; further, you must be able to make sense of the inductive/deductive principle as it pertains to you.
From the second paragraph quoted above, I get the somewhat genderless truth of life: if you are not able to find meaning in a biological role, you will starve your soul. Symbolically, rejection of the biological role of parenthood is rejection of your own parents and the culture that produced you. It is hatred. Parenthood does not need to be your only goal, but without it in your list of goals, you are missing out.
Her last paragraph rings true despite gender roles: selfishness is a subset of solipsism, or being unaware of the world outside of one’s self. Those who cannot connect to the world become abusive and crass.
However, I think she’s off-base with this:
Women who are more masculine by nature may have an especially difficult time being feminine. They may have to consciously cultivate the habits of thought and being that make it possible for them to live well as women.
Perhaps if you could devise a cure for lung cancer, a cure that no one else could invent, it would be more important than loving and serving others as a woman, but this is not likely. There is nothing of more value or significance than fulfilling this common spiritual role.
Women who are more masculine by nature may have an especially difficult time being feminine. They have to consciously cultivate in themselves the habits of thought and being that make it possible for them to be happy as women. The most important of these ends is to love and serve.
I suggest that instead of thinking linearly, or in OR states (if any condition is true, the assessment is true), we think in parallelist terms, or in AND states (all conditions must be true): women can be many things at once, but denying any one of these things is fatal. What unites the many parallel strands of woman-ness is femininity, or appreciation of and expression of the feminine principle.
When you read an older book and think about the women in it, you see an inner network to society run entirely by women. They knew music, sciences, literature and art; they communicated extensively by letters, and often were the supporters of ideas that others forgot because they could not justify them with the data at hand. They educated their children and instilled in them creative desires and an urge to seek the mysteries of life. These were educated, intelligent people who ran not only their households, but often their communities, in the parts of those tasks to which the feminine principle applies.
We cannot force women into femininity by making yes/no lists of activities. We need to celebrate instead what makes femininity unique, and by accepting it as complementary to masculinity and equally as vital, empower women in the only real meaning of that word which is to give them space to grow and discover themselves. Otherwise, we make the mistake that feminists make, but in reverse, by creating an adversarial relationship where none need exist.