Gender Essentialism

Anything to do with gender and the status of women and men.

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henry quirk
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Logically, everybody's got to pick a side.

Post by henry quirk »

just pick 'chauvinist pig' like I did
FlashDangerpants
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Re: Gender Essentialism

Post by FlashDangerpants »

Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Nov 02, 2019 11:10 pm
FlashDangerpants wrote: Sat Nov 02, 2019 11:08 pm I gave you your on topic answer.
Sort of. But you dodged the logic of the issue, and tried to say "both," which logically doesn't work at all.

So it wasn't really an answer. It was a kind of misunderstanding on your side...or maybe just a failure of logic...or perhaps evasion. I can't say. But there really is no getting away from the dichotomy of "Gender Essentialism" versus "no Gender Essentialism." Logically, everybody's got to pick a side.
Well if what you wrote must be true and are the only options, then what I wrote must fall within their scope. Otherwise you made the mistake of assuming a false dichotomy.

Given that I used the phrase " I see no reason why any particular one or any specific set would qualify as some sort of essence of womanhood" you should have no problem working out which of your two options I fit into. If you haven't described that option in a way that can encapsulate what I gave you, then there is a problem with your set up. But I have no idea where you get the absurd notion I went for BOTH.

If, however, what I wrote does fit into your exceptionally vague position 1 ... then your dichotomy is intact and the only problem lies with the argument you were hoping to entail from it.
Scott Mayers
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Re: Gender Essentialism

Post by Scott Mayers »

Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Nov 02, 2019 11:08 pm
Scott Mayers wrote: Sat Nov 02, 2019 10:53 pm I assure you that as a 'skeptic' who participates in many groups, my own arguments are extremely unwelcomed because the vast majority of the women in these groups are strong feminists who DO believe that you should 'ghost' those who disagree.
This is interesting to me.

Since many, maybe even most people use pseudonyms, are you thinking that there is a distinctively "feminine" style of argumentation? That would argue in favour of some kind of essentialism, it would seem, if true.
It's sad for me to note this because I was one of those 'equal' feminists growning up. I've changed given today's change in HOW feminists are advocating with strictness.

The qualities that is treated as 'feminine' or 'effeminate' are only descriptive of the averages in cultrual beliefs about what men and women are by default of traditional stereotypes. Thus, 'crying', would be an effeminate behavior because men, ...even by the standards of many feminists, should NOT do this. I believe these qualities are not about actual sex differences by individual basis but about literal factors as individuals regardless of sex. So anyone can use 'silence' as a weapon. But the quality of stereotypes that FAVOR women, like ignoring (ghosting), are accepted by these feminists as appropriate behavior that should not be dropped,....just as they believe women who prefer to dress how they like regardless of the social message they are conveying upon those stereotypes are also dismissed.
Given that the very general stereotype of the female's major 'weapon' is itself to be SILENT, their choice NOT to come here is itself a stereotypical female/feminine tactic that has been working in their favor.
So, one characteristic you would identify with the "female" style of argumentation would be "being silent," and another would be "ghosting." Have I got you correct? What else would you suggest?
Being silent IS 'ghosting'. But the term ghosting is also about enticing ALL others to agree to the ignoring and thus isolating those individuals that compete against their goals. They are taking their present Machivelian approach as a necessary evil as they believe they have no other choice to BE that strict in order to overthrow those in power they believe are keeping the negative stereotypes fixed. They are revolting in Marxian style. He was one who believed that at some moments in history, regardless of which ideal govenment takes power, they devolve to become abusive and there comes a point in which no change is actually possible without complete and utter advocacy without apology.....a "revolution" by force to overthrow the old system and start from scratch. This is what the feminists are doing today.

The men who agree, are usually those who both represent the stereotypical benefactors of the patriarchy women were against but support feminism because it actually redirects the associated guilt off them by distributing the loss upon the whole class, males, since they wouldn't actually have to pay the penalties themselves. It is thus in their interest to also go along with the 'ghosting' since it isolates them from those males who are now burdened to sacrifice (.....or rather, scapegoated).
Nick_A
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Re: Gender Essentialism

Post by Nick_A »

“A beautiful woman looking at her image in the mirror may very well believe the image is herself. An ugly woman knows it is not.”
― Simone Weil, Waiting for God


A woman can look at herself and see a woman. A feminist cannot. They see an image defined by temporary societal values which must be reacted to. A woman can be part of the potential for the essence of woman and at the same time exhibit the talents normal for evolved woman. A woman as opposed to a reacting feminist is simultaneously capable of experiencing the essence of woman, how it has been lost in the world, and working towards what is necessary for those desiring to be women.
Before concluding these excerpts, and my Simone Weil site, with the poem with which The Red Virgin: A Poem of Simone Weil itself concludes I will quote a couple of paragraphs from Stephanie Strickland's evocative prose introduction to Simone Weil.

"Weil came to her philosophical and religious ideas by a path that included elite university training, factory work, potato digging, harvest in the vineyards, teaching philosophy to adolescent women, partisanship in trade unions, anarchistic Socialism, pacifism, rejection of pacifism, a conversion experience that did not lead her to joining ... a religion, exile in New York City, and employment by De Gaulle's government-in-exile in London.

Weil used her body as a tool as well as a weapon. She threw herself under the wheels of the same issues women are starving for answers to today: issues of hunger, violence, exclusion, betrayl of the the body, inability to be heard, and self-hate. ...

"Weil, our shrewdest political observer since Machiavelli, was never deceived by the glamor of power, and she committed herself to resisting force in whatever guise. More 'prophet' than 'saint,' more 'wise woman' than either, she bore a particular kind of bodily knowledge that the Western tradition cannot absorb. Simone Weil belongs to a world culture, still to be formed, where the voices of multiple classes, castes, races, genders, ethnicities, nationalities, and religions, can be respected. To achieve this culture is an impossible task, but, as Weil would remind us, not on that account to be forsaken.

Today we look to Weil for hope, for meditation, for the bridge a body makes. She knew that the truth had been 'taken captive,' and that we must 'seek at greater depth our own source,' because power destroys the past, the past with its treasures of alternative ideals that stand in judgment on the present."
The question for feminism on this thread is the choice between equality and uniqueness defined by politics and social standards. Simone writes of women who are sensitive to the universal essence of woman but knows how its unique nature can be expressed through their acquired personality. She helps women to remember they can give hope for the future as opposed to living as indoctrinated representatives of the world limited to the cycles of fashionable social values.

Of course she must be hated. She neither flatters the feminists or those locked into beliefs. There is no better reason to be hated. These people disturb the peace and as we have learned, it is intolerable.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Gender Essentialism

Post by Immanuel Can »

FlashDangerpants wrote: Sat Nov 02, 2019 11:40 pm Well if what you wrote must be true and are the only options, then what I wrote must fall within their scope. Otherwise you made the mistake of assuming a false dichotomy.
Exist -- not exist is the very purest example of a true dichotomy. There's no middle state called, "kind-of-existing."
Given that I used the phrase " I see no reason why any particular one or any specific set would qualify as some sort of essence of womanhood" you should have no problem working out which of your two options I fit into.
It's equivocal in wording. The fact that you "see no reason" for any "particular one or specific set" strikes me as rather vague. You stop well short of saying you're certain. But I guess you were indirectly trying to opt for Egalitarian Feminism's account of things? Maybe?
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Gender Essentialism

Post by Immanuel Can »

Scott Mayers wrote: Sat Nov 02, 2019 11:43 pm It's sad for me to note this because I was one of those 'equal' feminists growning up. I've changed given today's change in HOW feminists are advocating with strictness.

The qualities that is treated as 'feminine' or 'effeminate' are only descriptive of the averages in cultrual beliefs about what men and women are by default of traditional stereotypes. Thus, 'crying', would be an effeminate behavior because men, ...even by the standards of many feminists, should NOT do this. I believe these qualities are not about actual sex differences by individual basis but about literal factors as individuals regardless of sex. So anyone can use 'silence' as a weapon. But the quality of stereotypes that FAVOR women, like ignoring (ghosting), are accepted by these feminists as appropriate behavior that should not be dropped,....just as they believe women who prefer to dress how they like regardless of the social message they are conveying upon those stereotypes are also dismissed.
That's really interesting.

I find myself agreeing. I've often been half way through a discussion and then thought, "Ah, I guess I'm talking to a female," even when the pseudonym was not gendered. On an intuitive level, it does seem to make a difference. But I've had difficulty identifying the specific criteria that produce that insight.

One does seem to be an overly-quick resort to ad hominems. I've observed that this tactic is very common among women, but not perhaps absent as well from some unremarkable males.
Given that the very general stereotype of the female's major 'weapon' is itself to be SILENT, their choice NOT to come here is itself a stereotypical female/feminine tactic that has been working in their favor.
So, one characteristic you would identify with the "female" style of argumentation would be "being silent," and another would be "ghosting." Have I got you correct? What else would you suggest?
Being silent IS 'ghosting'.
Oh. I thought you meant just abandoning the discussion outright. But you mean something like hovering silently.
But the term ghosting is also about enticing ALL others to agree to the ignoring and thus isolating those individuals that compete against their goals.
Ah. So it's a kind of "rabble-rousing" too, a way of stirring up "the masses" of others to support a case that may have questionable integrity when considered in its own rights, and to do it by collectively "deplatforming" the offending person.
They are taking their present Machivelian approach as a necessary evil as they believe they have no other choice to BE that strict in order to overthrow those in power they believe are keeping the negative stereotypes fixed. They are revolting in Marxian style. He was one who believed that at some moments in history, regardless of which ideal govenment takes power, they devolve to become abusive and there comes a point in which no change is actually possible without complete and utter advocacy without apology.....a "revolution" by force to overthrow the old system and start from scratch. This is what the feminists are doing today.
This is standard neo-Marxist Feminism, for sure. I've run into it quite a few times. The theorists they tend to admire tend to quote less from Machiavelli, and more from Nietzsche about everything really being about power, and Foucault about knowledge not really being about knowledge but about power...and then seek to circumnavigate both reasoning and knowledge in order to get some power.
The men who agree, are usually those who both represent the stereotypical benefactors of the patriarchy women were against but support feminism because it actually redirects the associated guilt off them by distributing the loss upon the whole class, males, since they wouldn't actually have to pay the penalties themselves. It is thus in their interest to also go along with the 'ghosting' since it isolates them from those males who are now burdened to sacrifice (.....or rather, scapegoated).
Ah, the phenomenon of the low-testosterone Benedict Arnold gamma-male.

Yes, I have run into these as well. I've also noticed that their sycophantry toward feminists does not end up endearing them to women in the way they'd hoped. They're usually unlikeable by their male peers, and greeted by contempt from the women they patronize. Quite understandably.
FlashDangerpants
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Re: Gender Essentialism

Post by FlashDangerpants »

Immanuel Can wrote: Sun Nov 03, 2019 2:52 am
FlashDangerpants wrote: Sat Nov 02, 2019 11:40 pm Well if what you wrote must be true and are the only options, then what I wrote must fall within their scope. Otherwise you made the mistake of assuming a false dichotomy.
Exist -- not exist is the very purest example of a true dichotomy. There's no middle state called, "kind-of-existing."
Given that I used the phrase " I see no reason why any particular one or any specific set would qualify as some sort of essence of womanhood" you should have no problem working out which of your two options I fit into.
It's equivocal in wording. The fact that you "see no reason" for any "particular one or specific set" strikes me as rather vague. You stop well short of saying you're certain. But I guess you were indirectly trying to opt for Egalitarian Feminism's account of things? Maybe?
No. I explained clearly enough that I have not researched, and neither am I willing to research the arguments in support of these varying cases, so I used my usual non committal language for such circumstances. If that's all then I will restate my case with less of that.

Either way, obviously the categories of male and female are used because they are useful, and this implies there is a difference. There is clearly a mix of biological and social differences, no particular one or any specific set would qualify as any sort of essence of womanhood.

In other words .... there is no reason to suppose sexes are undifferentiated merely because nothing counts as the essence of a sex.
Age
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Re: Gender Essentialism

Post by Age »

Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Nov 02, 2019 2:52 pm Okay, now. I've left it long enough for people to weigh in if they want to.

There are a lot of points that need to be made here. The first, and most important, is to realize that the Equality Feminist explanation and the Uniqueness Feminist explanation are rationally totally mutually-excluding, totally mutually contradictory.

This can be seen because if there is ANY feature that is essential in women that is not also present in men, then it is not true that there is NO such feature. There is no alternate view rationally possible. One or the other is true; not both, and not neither.

So far, so good?

Now, this obviously has massive implications for Feminism itself, and for sex-roles in society. But I don't want to bark up that tree right now, and will let others do it if they wish.

My real question is about transsexualism, not Feminism.

It seems to me that this realization makes clear that transsexualism cannot be made rational.

Let's start out by identifying the two polarities of transsexualism. There is the base gender (BG) and the target gender (TG). The transsexual has been born or raised in the BG, but claims he/she needs to become the TG.

But if the "equality of genders" hypothesis is true, then this is wrong. There IS no TG. And there IS no BG. All there is, is two "false" genders, which hide the deep fact that men and women are not essentially different, all apparent differences have been socially constructed, resulting in oppression and false thinking. So what we all ought to be is unisex, undifferentiated by gender, or commonly just "human."

In that case, the best advice to an allegedly transgender person is to forget gender altogether, and become unisex. There would be no merit in encouraging him/her to leave his/her BG, which is an illusion anyway, and make the effort to take on the TG, which is also another illusion. Mental health would lie in the direction of everyone being unisex.

That's argument 1, consistent with Equality Feminism.

On the other hand, let us suppose that gender essentialism is correct.

If this is so, the transgender person CANNOT move from the BG to the TG, because some set of completely unobtainable features, from the BG starting point, will inhere in the TG. The BG will have essential qualities. So will the TG. And someone with the essential qualities of the BG will simply find it impossible to reach the TG.

In that case, mental health lies in the direction of encouraging the allegedly transgendering person to recognize that he/she is mentally ill or deluded in some way. Only when he/she gives up the aspiration to have the essence of what he/she simply can never have will he/she be able to be healthy.

That's argument 2, consistent with Uniqueness Feminism, and with Gender Essentialism, which seems to be the view that the majority here thinks is also right.

Conclusion
So either way -- whether we believe in Gender Essentialism or refuse to believe in it, the rationally compassionate decision regarding transpeople is to help them to see that it's not rational or healthy for them to continue to attempt to become the TG -- for Equality Feminism says it's a false goal, and Uniqueness Feminism says it's impossible.
Instead of trying to make "others" see and believe what you just think and believe is right, why not just say if men and women are essentially the same, or different?

If they are different, then besides the sexual organs what else makes them different?

If logical and reasonable examples can be given, then 'you', human beings, will have the Answer.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Gender Essentialism

Post by Immanuel Can »

FlashDangerpants wrote: Sun Nov 03, 2019 3:38 am No. I explained clearly enough that I have not researched, and neither am I willing to research the arguments in support of these varying cases, so I used my usual non committal language for such circumstances.
It is not "research" that is involved here. You might need "research" to decide precisely WHICH gender characteristic is essential. You won't need any to know THAT if some is, then Equality Feminism is wrong. So any one essential you just happen to know will constitute a thorough refutation of the Equality Feminist view.

But even if you don't know even one, you will be able to know conclusively, by reason alone, that BOTH are utterly impossible. One or the other must be true. And any arguments premised on both are going to be irrational.
Either way, obviously the categories of male and female are used because they are useful, and this implies there is a difference. There is clearly a mix of biological and social differences, no particular one or any specific set would qualify as any sort of essence of womanhood.

Then you're a Gender Essentialist, a "Uniqueness Feminism" person.
In other words .... there is no reason to suppose sexes are undifferentiated merely because nothing counts as the essence of a sex.
There would be, if, as you say, there is "nothing that counts as...essence" there. If not trait, or combination of traits, amounts to an essence of femininity, then there IS none. But if even one such trait, or any combination of traits does, then there is.

It's a perfect dichotomy. If such a trait exists, it does; if none at all does, it doesn't. And that's logic, at its most basic and obvious level.
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Re: Gender Essentialism

Post by FlashDangerpants »

Immanuel Can wrote: Sun Nov 03, 2019 2:09 pm It's a perfect dichotomy. If such a trait exists, it does; if none at all does, it doesn't. And that's logic, at its most basic and obvious level.
Then that is the entire contents of the dichotomy. It is that there are either zero "essential" properties of gender, or a non-zero quantity.

The extra bits you added to try and claim that if there are zero such properties then gender is a false category are logically outside of the dichotomy, and you you would need to provide some new argument if you want to keep them.

That is why there is nothing wrong with me disputing the existence of such essences without having to subscribe to the view that you think that entails.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Gender Essentialism

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Age wrote: Sun Nov 03, 2019 12:29 pm Instead of trying to make "others" see and believe what you just think and believe is right, why not just say if men and women are essentially the same, or different?
Well, for two very good reasons: one, to give people the opportunity to say what they want to, what they think is the truth, without telling them they have to believe one thing or the other; and two, to point out that whichever thing they happen to believe it renders transgender ideology incoherent.
If they are different, then besides the sexual organs what else makes them different?
There are indeed obvious differences. The physiological ones are non-trivial, for sure, because the impact the whole way any creature is able to address the world. Down to the cellular level, there are differences between men and women. Normative chromosomal patterns of XX and XY are just the starting point, and it builds up from there...reproduction, size, strength, lifespan and so on. Where it becomes more debated is in cognitive areas, like nurturance, aptitude for particular social roles, types and patterns of thinking, social skills, intelligence, and so on. Anyone who proposes specific differences in these areas is likely going to get some kind of fight from somebody.

But I think nobody really doubts that being a woman is a difference that makes a difference. WHAT difference it makes differs, as a belief, among 3rd wave Feminists; but it's a conviction they actually share with Gender Essentialists of either gender. The idea that every woman is just a weak, small and aspiring "man" is not a good one, I would say. Wouldn't you?

So I think there's no longer a case for the suppositional basis of Equality Feminism of the Billy Jean King era, Feminism wave 2. I don't think any reasonable person can any longer believe that men and women are devoid of any essential differences. But I am not inclined to impose that view on anyone for purposes of the present debate, because it really doesn't change anything to the problem of transgender ideology's incoherence, as I have suggested earlier.

The important point is only this: whatever is the truth, the ideology of transgenderism cannot be made to make sense. I think that's worth knowing, before anyone weighs in on transgenderism; don't you?
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Gender Essentialism

Post by Immanuel Can »

FlashDangerpants wrote: Sun Nov 03, 2019 2:18 pm
Immanuel Can wrote: Sun Nov 03, 2019 2:09 pm It's a perfect dichotomy. If such a trait exists, it does; if none at all does, it doesn't. And that's logic, at its most basic and obvious level.
Then that is the entire contents of the dichotomy. It is that there are either zero "essential" properties of gender, or a non-zero quantity.
Well, that's the starting point. But it's not going to be the end of the issue, because the question that follows is so very obvious, once the first one is answered: and that is, "What difference?" I do think we owe people some answer to that, too, if we're pursuing that issue.

However, I was simply interested in the impact of EITHER view, because both render transgender ideology incoherent.
The extra bits you added to try and claim that if there are zero such properties then gender is a false category are logically outside of the dichotomy, and you you would need to provide some new argument if you want to keep them.
Not at all. If there are zero essential traits of women, then it is inevitable logically that "gender" is a false construct, because it has to refer to zero real things, then.

And again, that's really just basic logic.
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Re: Gender Essentialism

Post by FlashDangerpants »

Immanuel Can wrote: Sun Nov 03, 2019 2:26 pm
FlashDangerpants wrote: Sun Nov 03, 2019 2:18 pm
Immanuel Can wrote: Sun Nov 03, 2019 2:09 pm It's a perfect dichotomy. If such a trait exists, it does; if none at all does, it doesn't. And that's logic, at its most basic and obvious level.
Then that is the entire contents of the dichotomy. It is that there are either zero "essential" properties of gender, or a non-zero quantity.
Well, that's the starting point. But it's not going to be the end of the issue, because the question that follows is so very obvious, once the first one is answered: and that is, "What difference?" I do think we owe people some answer to that, too, if we're pursuing that issue.

However, I was simply interested in the impact of EITHER view, because both render transgender ideology incoherent.
Well I have no opinion on pursuing subsidiary questions. As I said, that there is the limit of your dichotomy and nothing else is inside of it.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sun Nov 03, 2019 2:26 pm
The extra bits you added to try and claim that if there are zero such properties then gender is a false category are logically outside of the dichotomy, and you you would need to provide some new argument if you want to keep them.
Not at all. If there are zero essential traits of women, then it is inevitable logically that "gender" is a false construct, because it has to refer to zero real things, then.

And again, that's really just basic logic.
That's just something you are assuming. Where is the argument to establish it? Why does every category of object have to have some unique "essence" that no other category can generate?

Can you provide a unique essence for some simpler category than gender as an example to help us understand. What for instance is the unique thing that makes tables and chairs different - the thing that makes it impossible for a table to turn into a chair, or a chair to turn into a table?
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Gender Essentialism

Post by Immanuel Can »

FlashDangerpants wrote: Sun Nov 03, 2019 3:17 pm
Immanuel Can wrote: Sun Nov 03, 2019 2:26 pm
The extra bits you added to try and claim that if there are zero such properties then gender is a false category are logically outside of the dichotomy, and you you would need to provide some new argument if you want to keep them.
Not at all. If there are zero essential traits of women, then it is inevitable logically that "gender" is a false construct, because it has to refer to zero real things, then.

And again, that's really just basic logic.
That's just something you are assuming. Where is the argument to establish it?
Ummm...right above. :shock:
Why does every category of object have to have some unique "essence" that no other category can generate?

Because something is necessary in order for us to be able to distinguish an "object" from others. If there is no such feature, then everything is the same.

So, for example, if the axiom, "Women are not men" is true, it can only be because women are something essential that men quite simply are not. And if there is absolutely no such essential distinction, then women are just small men.

But all this is secondary, because it doesn't matter which definition -- Essentialist or Non-Essentialist -- one takes. Transgender ideology still won't make sense, in either case. And that's my point at the moment.
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Re: Gender Essentialism

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Immanuel Can wrote: Tue Oct 29, 2019 3:01 pm I notice that a lot of gender theory talks two different ways. So I'd like to know which of the following two positions is to be considered genuinely "Feminist".

1. There is something unique and special to being female, something that cannot be generated by males...(What would it be? A kind of cognition? A kind of perception? A kind of intuition? A natural propensity? A domestic possibility? A set of values? A perspective?...etc. It varies among Feminist writers) -- this is a kind of 3rd Wave claim.

2. There is nothing unique to being female: any current differences that appear to exist between men and women are socially constructed, not essential. This is a kind of 2nd Wave, Billie Jean King kind of position.

One thing we can see for sure: these claims are absolutely exclusive of one another. If there is even one thing that corresponds to #1, then #2 is obviously not true. If #2 is true, then there is no way that even one item can be true under #1.

And this is but the start of the question. There is a stage 2 when we have sorted out the right answer.

So we can all see it has to be #1 or #2. Which do you think it is, and why?
They are both true. But position 2 applies to more, and more significant cases than 1.
And the trouble with people like you, is that you are immoral in that you wish to prejudice your views by insisting that 1 is more important than 2.
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