I had an interesting back and forth with a student in class last night. Men and women have been sold such a sorry bill of goods about how they are the same or how they are different in history that discussing what has changed in the relationships between the sexes has become mostly a collection of agitprop phrases, repeated at various volumes with fervency and obedience. I have spent most of my time in historical study trying to avoid picking the easy fruit of feminism where the rotten pears of men are bad women are victims lay on the low branches of self-righteousness and certainty. Whenever you start talking about the advantages of a more feminized world you open yourself to the oft-repeated “men and women are the same” phrases of happy thinking. We are not the same, and thank goodness for that.
What went well in class was I managed to fairly describe gender as a continuum of masculinity and femininity that does not adhere directly with our genitals. And over the centuries we have witnessed a shift in the amount of femininity that has entered our culture, politics, and society. The historian Ann Douglass calls it “The Feminization of American Culture.” I won’t go and try to defend American Culture as a progressive phenomenon of ultimate transcendence. We very well may find ourselves at the bottom of a dark pit of despair if we continue doing dumb as we so clearly have been doing for decades now. But if something does wake us up and leave us with a future with having and a society worth lauding, I’m going to bet that it has something to do with the fact that year over year women and their subjectivity strengthens the Republic. But no way in heck am I voting for Hilary.