The feminists I meant here are women writing today, both academics and social commentators, who know what Plato and Aristotle and Rousseau and Mediaval witch hunters and John Adams and 19th century doctors said about women as well as what women throughout history said. But it applies as well to the author of The Gospel of Mary and Julian of Norwich and Hildegard von Bingen and Christine de Pizan and Amelia Lanyer and Anna Maria von Schurman and Mary Wollstonecraft and the Sarah Grimké and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Virginia Woolf and Simone de Beauvoir and. . . . . . .
If you want a comprehensive reading list, see Gerda Lerner (first woman president of the American Historical Academy), THE CREATION OF FEMINIST CONSCIOUSNESS. It does not matter that until the late 19th century they did not use the word "feminist"; they made the same arguments and had the same visions of equality and humanity for all and in some cases were astonishingly radical, like the 16th century feminist Jane Anger.
So if you would like to know both sides, there are sources.
>>> Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> 07/20/07 10:49 PM >>>
First, I really want to make clear that this list has nothing to do with
any views of mine. I did not make it and I do not agree with any
parallels with gender. So to say I am right or not is not applicable.
These are binaries built into historical perceptions found throughout
all Western literature. (No doubt other literature, but I have not read
enough of it.)
So any statement about my being "right" or "wrong" in your message is
not really at stake in this in any way.
As for your specific points: Most men are physically stronger than most
women in the sense that they can lift bigger weights and fight with
greater power. They are less strong in other ways: women bear heat,
cold, and pain better, and have fewer genetic illnesses and defects like
color blindness, and they live longer. It clearly depends on what you
mean by "strong." Even given what you mean by "upper body strength," a
woman wrestler or marine would likely be dangerous to a large number of
ordinary men in a fight. The general statistics do not necessarily
apply to any given individual. And the term "superiority" is extremely
dubious since it has historically been used to confer rights. Gorillas
are "superior" to human males in upper body strength, but no one assumes
they should run the world because of it.
When you reject the "stereotypes" of active/passive and
rational/emotional and courageous/frightened, you simply make my point
over again. They do not apply. I especially like the last one since
women have always been the ones expected to care for and bear up under
illness, death, loss. That is a great courage. Obviously men have been
expected to run toward machine guns and bayonets and live madly in
frozen, lice and rat-filled trenches and go "over the top" to certain
and horrible death, and that is courage of another sort. But women went
to the front in war after war and now are in it directly. The courage
of both is a historic fact.
As for mind/body, it is simply there in literature for centuries despite
being false, as is nature/culture. The latter has nothing to do with
what one likes for entertainment; it is the way men and women have been
figured. There are whole books quoting and analysing it.
But this is really a pointless discussion unless both sides of it are
willing to read the now vast amount of feminist writing in all fields
because feminists have in fact read male texts for centuries and only
some male scholars read feminist texts, so the information, analysis,
theory, is simply not recognized, and only one group knows both sides of