Who Needs Whom Again?

Woman holding pieRiffing on this line in a comment at Sunshine Mary’s blog:

[O]ther than childbearing…men can do everything better than a woman.

I’ve run across that claim a few times in the manosphere, and the first time I saw it, my knee-jerk reaction was to say that it went too far.  Yes, the feminist claim that “everything a man can do a woman can do better” was ridiculous and false, but surely to say the opposite would be false too.  Surely the truth is somewhere in the middle, that men are better at some things and women are better at others.

But as I thought about it, I realized I couldn’t refute it.  Yes, I am better than women at everything I’ve cared enough to learn how to do.  I’m a better cook than most women I know.  I’m better at cleaning things.  I’m better at teaching kids, getting them to behave, or sitting down with a troubled child and getting him or her to talk.  I’m confident that if I decided to learn to sew, or knit, or any other traditionally female occupation, I could handle that just fine too.

And that’s not to say I’m so great; I think it’s generally true.  Look at any endeavor that’s normally thought of as female-dominated, and see who rises to the top.  In day-to-day life, women do most of the cooking and sewing, are far more interested in fashion than men, and do most of the singing in church.  But who are the top cooks, tailors, fashion designers, and classical singers?  Mostly men.  When men take an interest in an activity, they excel at it.  So if women dominate at something, that means men just don’t care to.

Which brings me back to myself:  I certainly can clean my house as well as any woman.  I can wash dishes, mop floors, and sweep cobwebs as well as anyone; those tasks aren’t exactly complicated.  I can even take a certain amount of pride in it.  But I can’t enjoy it.  And that’s what I think women have that we men are missing — the ability to be content with such work.  The women I know who have embraced their femininity and the traditional role of wife, mother, and homemaker, really do seem to enjoy it.  That’s not to say washing dishes excites them, or that they never look at a pile of laundry and want to cuss.  But I see them put on an apron and tackle homemaking jobs with a smile — sometimes even a song — that men can’t duplicate.  Not this man, anyway.

That’s why those roles are so important, and why egalitarianism sucks so hard.  If women go off to be half our CEOs, lawyers, and soldiers, lowering productivity and causing havoc in those areas, maybe men can make up the difference by doing a better job than those women would have done in the home.  I doubt that, but even if it were true, it still wouldn’t be acceptable, because neither would be content.  Both would be working against their own natures, making themselves discontented without even knowing why.

Then you get effeminate men who fantasize about Tough Chicks because their supplications don’t get any and they’re hoping one will come along and “take” them.  On the other side you get career girls who ride the carousel looking for the meaning in their life that a husband and children would have provided.  That’s egalitarianism for you: the worst of both worlds.

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13 thoughts on “Who Needs Whom Again?

  1. Yes, I think you’re right that men can do the tasks but won’t enjoy them. Personally I’m quite content to cook and clean, but that isn’t where I find my deepest satisfaction in being a housewife; for me, it’s knowing that I am available to my husband and children whenever they need me. I remember before I had children, when I still worked full time, how distressing it was for my female colleagues when their children would be sick. They couldn’t just drop every and run out the door.

  2. I’ll offer the hypothesis that what you are seeing is that the standard deviation of performance (around a give mean) is higher for men than for women. I think the psychologist Judith Kleinfeld said you see this with regard to tests of general intelligence and other metrics. Put graphically, you have comparatively fewer men near the median and more in the tails of the proverbial bell curve, hence the ranks of elite performers and thoroughgoing failures will be predominantly male.

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  4. Good observation. Like you say, I don’t generally look at the pile of laundry and go “Yipee, I get to do laundry today!!” but there is a certain amount of satisfaction and contentment I get from laundry folded and put away, floors mopped, a well prepared meal, and shiny clean dishes. I guess, in the end, the knowledge that I am doing good work, making life easier and more pleasant for those I love and who love me, and taking stress off my husband makes homemaking my career of choice.

  5. I find cleaning to be boring and repetitive and a part of my life that must be endured before moving on to more interesting things. I guess I am a defective woman?

  6. In the movie Zero Dark Thirty, the female CIA agent turns out to be better than any man at keeping track of who is related to whom in giant Arab extended families, which struck me as eminently plausible. I think there are a number of tasks that women tend to be better at — e.g., running a salon, casting a TV show, keeping an extended family connected, and matchmaking — some of which are extremely important.

  7. Yes, that relates to a comment I just made on another thread: women are more focused on people and the relationships between them than men are, so it makes sense that they would be better at keeping track of a family tree. It amazes me sometimes to hear my female relatives talk: “Oh yeah, so-and-so is your third cousin once-removed; you’re related to him through your great-grandma’s brother Herman, you remember him.” And I’m doing good if I can list off all my first cousins.

  8. Cail,

    It is true that men probably can do anything women do better, if only because, even assuming intelligence is uniformly distributed across the sexes (the literature begs to differ), men have an overwhelming physical superiority. To the extent that this superiority benefits almost every human endeavor to at least some degree, all but the dumbest and weakest men are likely to perform better on any human task than women. This certainly applies to domestic chores.

    Put in economc terms, men have an absolute advantage over women in almost every sphere of life. Women should probably do the traditional women’s work in most households because the man should be funcioning in the roles where he has the greatest comparative advantage. Typically this involves the manly stuff around the house and probably still for most means primary breadwinner.

    There is one sphere of life where women possess a significant advantage over men – physical attractiveness to other men. This is probably generally a flaw and not a feature. Women quickly learn to manipulate men in any number of contexts by using their attractiveness and tend to overestimate the degree to which their success is truly merit-based. Yes, it is true that there are very competent women in many endeavors, but sheer physical attractiveness goes a long way and covers a lot of sins.

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  12. I know I’m late to the conversation here – I’m following a link from SSM’s most recent post.

    Still, I want to suggest one thing that hasn’t yet come up. I’ve noticed that men tend to specialize, where women are usually more generalized (with regards to skill sets). So, what a man is good at, he’s very good at, even exceptional, but usually the better he is in one area, the more everything else lacks. Where as women don’t seem to specialize as much, but instead have many skills, most of which they are a fair hand at, but nothing stand out. Of course, there are a few things which men are simply naturally better suited for, and a few things women are better suited for (much less than “common knowledge” suggests, to be sure, but a few, such as tracking relationships, as mentioned upthread). Essentially, I posit that men and women have similar “raw ability” but the difference is a matter of how the ability is allocated (specialized vs. generalized) as well as different ROIs based on playing to your strengths.

    This is pretty much purely anecdotal, but perhaps others have seen it also.

  13. This is not original – but – the only people obsessed with who might be better, as between men and women, seem to be certain women e.g. Hanna Roisin. No man ever troubles his head about the matter, for even if it were true that women were better at absolutely everything, no man would care because it would not make the slightest difference whether that fact were true or false, probably because whether clever or stupid the dominant characteristic (that sticks out a mile) is how infuriating women can be. Their emotions so often override everything else such that whether they are clever or dim their performance suffers; when men act in that manner, we call them ‘old women’.

    Occasionally (and doubtless in exasperation) certain philosophers have put the boot in (Schopenhauer, Stove) though it is considered somewhat bad form to do so – the equivalent of hitting a girl – and to prove that I am not of that sort may I say I am surprised by your assertion that men are better classical singers than women – certainly not when it come to singing Soprano or Contralto – and women refuse to sing Tenor or Bass – thus making judgement on the point rather tricky. I was wondering not so much who you had in mind, but what made you think that to be the case. I say that having heard (live) Birgit Nilsson sing Electra, opposite Gwyneth Jones as Clytemnestra and Rita Hunter (more than once) as Brunhilde – I do not care to believe that greater singing can exists anywhere, at least in this Universe.

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