Yes, it's happened again. I got in an awful facebook debate and you all get to be the beneficiaries. Here's where I get to really lay out my argument without being ignored, interrupted, or called a "simpleminded woman."
Yeah, okay, it really stung and that's why I'm writing this post. Sigh. I could have posted my SAT score and college GPA, but that seemed stupid and I had wasted enough of my life on the ridiculous person I was arguing with, who said that all modern problems are caused by men allowing women (who by nature are foolish, weak, and inclined to sin) to have rights.
And anyway, someone actually asked me once to elaborate my "radical" views on this topic, and I never did, so here you go.
Reasons to believe women are less rational than men:
1. St. Thomas Aquinas said so.
2. Women have been known to do stupid things, like get bikini waxes to impress men or stay with that guy that we all know is a jerk.
3. Women have written fewer immortal works of literature, won fewer Nobel Prizes, painted fewer well-known paintings, etc.
4. Women are more emotional.
5. Women's hormones make them irrational.
Answers to above reasons:
1. St. Thomas Aquinas spent most of his life in monasteries with only men. For all his theological genius, he was no expert on women.
2. Men have been known to do stupid things, like get chest waxes to impress women or stay with that girl that we all know is a gold-digger.
3. Considering that women have been considered the inferior sex throughout most of history, denied education, and kept at home, it is amazing that any women have achieved any of these things. But even despite these handicaps -- and the lack of respect given to the achievements of women -- there are famous female authors, scientists, theologians, painters, even from periods in history where women had almost none of the advantages men had. Yes, it's an exception. It takes exceptional talent and courage to overcome the pressures of the culture you are born into.
4. Men can be emotional, too. They often make bad decisions based on their emotions. But since they don't cry or admit that they are emotional, we tend not to notice. Still, a man who runs away from battle (and many do) does it because of the emotion of fear. A man who beats his wife does it because of the emotion of anger. Men make stupid emotional decisions all the time. In contrast, not all emotion is the enemy of reason. Sometimes, the emotion of love for one's family or distrust of a suspicious person helps us to make good decisions. Men and women can both be emotional, and in either case it can be either good or bad.
5. Some female hormones cause irrationality. Others -- I'm thinking particularly of prolactin -- make one calm and patient. (If that stuff could be bottled, somebody could make a fortune.) Testosterone is known to cause aggression and impaired decision-making. So I think we all have a good argument for thinking with our brains and not our hormones.
Reasons women are equally rational:
1. Men's and women's IQ averages out about the same, within a couple of points. (There's a great deal of ink spilled about those couple of points, depending on who is in the lead in the group we're looking at, but it's safe to say there is no massive difference here.)
2. Girls do better in school. Yes, this is because they try harder. But isn't that a rational choice to make? This holds true as well in college, where more of the instructors are male. It held true in my college, where almost all of the professors were male and many of them believed women were inferior to men. They couldn't ignore that the bunch of summa cum laudes every year was mostly female -- in my class, I believe it was 90% female.
3. Women succeed today in pretty much every field where they were previously told they never would. There are female professors, scientists, Nobel Prize winners, presidents, doctors, mathematicians, and astronauts. Now you can admit an unqualified woman into a physics program just out of affirmative action. But you can't make them discover radium, perform successful brain surgery, or operate a space shuttle. Women did that themselves.
4. If you admit we shouldn't just be talking about the outliers -- since most of us are neither an Albert Einstein nor a Marie Curie -- why not just think of the people you know? Well, there's a problem here, and that's that most women think the men they know are dumb (at least about some things) and most men think the women they know are dumb (at least about some things). Men can be oblivious to emotional cues (whether by nature or nurture is a debate for another day) and women sometimes aren't good at reading maps. (I am. I think it's because I knit.) If you're going to argue from these details to say that one gender is smarter than the other, that assumes two things: first, that it is nature and not nurture causing the difference; and second, that some kinds of intelligence are more important than others. Each would have to be proven to make any kind of claim.
5. That one person knows a lot about something, while another doesn't, proves nothing. John is rather ignorant about biochemistry, because he never took it. I don't know much about Austrian economics (besides what he told me) because I never read any. For us, this is something to admire about each other, not disdain or envy.
6. Men often appear more confident and dominant in intellectual conversations. However, this seems to boil down to men's culture vs. women's culture. When men hang out together, they try to outdo each other, interrupt, talk over each other, and appear to be experts on a topic. When women hang out together, it's often understood that we will wait our turn and not show off how much we know. Naturally if you get men and women together, and both stick with their familiar way of talking, the men will dominate the conversation. (This drives me nuts, but I understand it.)
7. Since both men and women are created in the image and likeness of God, which the philosophers agreed meant God's rationality, it seems we should both possess roughly equal amounts of it. Certainly there is nowhere in the Bible that says "in his image he created him, male and female he created them, but only the male was in his image." The Bible is full of women making decisions, good and bad ones just like the men do, and often prophesying or even in leadership positions (think Deborah). The stories where women appear in the Bible aren't noticeably "un-rational" or based merely on women's looks or even on her virtue. Women's wisdom is displayed. Wisdom itself is referred to as "she"!
8. Considering that most children are raised primarily by women, and many argue that it is God's plan that they should be, it would have been foolish for God to have neglected to give us fully-functional brains. Teaching the next generation is literally the most important job there is. How we could possibly do it without intelligence is beyond me.
Seriously, do I have to go on?
Sadly, I did not get this far in my internet debate. I asked for evidence, he gave me Thomas Aquinas, I said "No, I mean evidence," and he asked if I was even Catholic. Then he said he wasn't going to argue any more with a simple-minded woman. And, God love him, he didn't. Bless his little heart.
What do you think? I know this blog is mainly read by women. But if some brave soul, male or female, would like to argue my rationality is hampered by some defect due to sex, I would love to hear it. My combox is a civilized place, anyway.