Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Feminism and Freedom

Thomas Carlyle has ascribed the insights of genius to "cooperation with the tendency of the world."

“It is time to leave the question of the role of women in society up to Mother Nature--a difficult lady to fool. You have only to give women the same opportunities as men, and you will soon find out what is or is not in their nature. What is in women's nature to do they will do, and you won't be able to stop them. But you will also find, and so will they, that what is not in their nature, even if they are given every opportunity, they will not do, and you won't be able to make them do it.”

-Clare Boothe Luce, a conservative feminist who in her heyday in the 1940s was a popular playwright and a member of the U.S. Congress,

We know from common observation that women are markedly more nurturing and empathetic than men. The female tendency to be empathic and caring shows up very early in life. Female infants, for example, show greater distress and concern than male infants over the plight of others; this difference persists into adulthood. Women do not merely say they want to help others; they enter the helping and caring professions in great numbers. Even today, in an era when equal rights feminism is dominant in education, the media, and the women's movement, women continue to be vastly overrepresented in fields like nursing, social work, pediatrics, veterinary medicine, and early childhood education. The great nineteenth-century psychologist William James said that for men "the world is a theater for heroism." That may be an overstatement, but it finds a lot of support in modern social science--and evidence from everyday life. Women are numerically dominant in the helping professions; men prevail in the saving and rescuing vocations such as policemen, firefighters, and soldiers.

-Christine Hoff Sommers
Excerpted from Feminism and Freedom
AEI Online

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