Female intellectual superiority and male dignity

I propose the following observation:  a society which is not based on manual labor is a society in which men are held in contempt.  Allow me to explain.  By “based on manual labor”, I mean that the majority of people make their livelihood by physical labor, rather than the service or information manipulation professions.  By “men are held in contempt”, I mean that masculine virtues are not honored by popular opinion or culture, and the majority of men are regarded as losers.

Why do I claim this?  It’s biology.  Men and women have different attributes; the average woman has much different qualifications than the average man.  (See, for example, Taking Sex Differences Seriously by Rhoads, The Essential Difference by Baron-Cohen, and Male, Female by Geary on the innate cognitive differences between the sexes.)  The differences may be summed up as follows:  men are physically superior to women, but women are mentally superior to men.

Only an ideological nut would deny that men are on average far stronger than women.  If a job involves cutting down trees with an axe or digging holes with a shovel, it’s a safe bet to say that men will be better at it.  Natural selection has had a different influence on the female.  Historically and pre-historically, her primary task has been the rearing and education of children.  I would argue that this is a more intellectually challenging task than the man’s prehistoric job of hunting.  Hunting takes some cleverness, certainly, but all carnivorous animals manage to do it without human-level intelligence, even those that hunt in packs.  The job of training an offspring for a decade and imparting to it the accumulated wisdom of the race is something entirely new, seen in no other animal.  It requires exceptional skills in communication, with all of the intelligence, empathy, and creativity that communication involves.  Just think of the remarkable achievement of teaching another human being to speak.  Therefore, we should not be surprised when studies find that women exceed men on average in their ability to communicate and empathize.  These are the most complicated skills humans possess.  In fact, the only mental skills at which men exceed women are the simpler fields, like geometry and engineering, what lack the element of intersubjectivity, of I-thou interplay.  Women are, by and large, intellectually superior to men.  It is not surprising that they now dominate the universities, and we should expect them to soon dominate the professions.

Well, if women are smarter, then shouldn’t they dominate?  There are problems with this.  First of all, there is the opportunity cost.  Child rearing is still society’s most crucial task, and it still requires energy and creativity of its most intelligent and empathic members, who are mostly women.  Now, however, our women squander their childbearing years doing paperwork, running businesses, and other traditionally masculine tasks.  One of our greatest resources is underutilized.  This wouldn’t be a problem in an economy where most of the jobs rely on simple skills coupled with physical labor.  Here the man would have a place to excel.  In our economy, this is no longer the case.  In a high-skill and service economy, intelligence and social skills are the only things that help a person get ahead, and here women hold all the high cards.  The man can’t take the mother’s central place in the home, but now he also can’t compete with his wife in earning ability.  Men have become useless.  Their wives know it and secretly despise their husbands for it; men know it and despise themselves.  Women are still attracted to men who earn more than they do, meaning that there are now a very few men who are desired by a large number of women.  The rest of the men have essentially nothing to offer. 

We’ve created a country where most men are thought of as losers.  The other half of it is the loss of respect for distinctly masculine virtues.  The first half is the fault of capitalism; the second half is the fault of liberalism.  From what I’ve said above, it might seem that being a man is, from a mental point of view, nothing but a disability.  While it is true that men tend to lack the mental qualities of women, they have adapted to this in ways that have a beauty of their own, so much so that it would actually be a grave loss if men were to acquire the mental acuity of women.

One aspect of this is hierarchy.  Studies confirm that relationships among groups of men tend to be more hierarchical and goal-oriented than those among groups of women.  Hierarchy can be seen as a response to the lack of social skills among men—we need a clear and unambiguous structure of who has to obey whom.  Women have less need of this; while groups of women may establish “pecking orders” of social status, these can be less explicit, less functional than male authority structures.  However, hierarchical authority is not a mere instrumental good for the socially dull, even if that is what triggered its formation.  Authority has an ability to symbolize the moral law, in its absolute and categorical character, which isn’t possible for less formal structures.   The moral sense of men—and women—has been heightened and clarified.  Needless to say, this asset to mankind and concession to male needs has been under relentless attack from the egalitarian liberals, who demand that we create an entirely unstructured (“equal”) society and are totally indifferent to the inability of men to navigate such a society.

Another traditionally masculine quality is group loyalty:  “me and my brother against the world,”  “my country, right or wrong,” etc.  All little boys want a group to belong to as well as elder heroes to admire and emulate.  No doubt this desire can be abused, e.g. by street gangs, but one should not be blind to the moral beauty of it.  Perhaps it is related to men’s limited ability for compassion, but the cosmopolitan liberals who attack it would only replace a real but limited compassion with something more abstract and less real.  The men who defend our country in battle are driven by group loyalty.

Finally, there is the virtue, humble but real, of physical endurance.  I mean the willingness of a worker or athlete to push his body to perform in the face of pain and exhaustion.  An aspect of fortitude, it’s the virtue we admire in, for example, long distance runners.  It’s not the highest expression of fortitude (that would be courage in the face of death), but the sum of human excellence would be greatly diminished without it.  In this case, what we see is not an ideological attack on this virtue, but just a loss of interest in it.  Among people who live by manual labor, its value is obvious.  Among an intelligence-driven people, the idea of a man driving himself to exhaustion is more often associated with stupidity—he wasn’t smart enough to figure out how to get the job done with less effort, say by inventing a machine to do it for him.

I say it again:  a society which is not based on manual labor is a society in which men are held in contempt.

5 Responses

  1. Holy crap are you serious about this? History is replete with examples of men inventing/discovering/formulating all kinds of awesome stuff for the advancement of the human race. Maybe you should read about how men lean more towards the extremes of extremely superior/inferior intellect and how women lean more to being just of average intellect.

  2. Hello John,

    Thank you for the comment. I don’t deny that there are very intelligent men out on the right end of the bell curve. I do think that culture and public policy should concern themselves more with the average man, who is best suited to manual labor and whose social status is therefore tied to that of physical work.

    Since you bring it up–and it is an interestng point–I will concede that women’s current overall superiority as students has more to do with personality factors than average raw IQ. Boys tend to find it more difficult to sit still all day, and they have less desire to please their teachers. The demoralization of men by liberal indoctrination might also play a role. While this last element is iniquitous, the first two are just human nature: most boys and men find intellectual work less gratifying than physical work.

  3. […] I note that I anticipated this issue several months ago in my essay “Female intellectual superiority and male dignity“.  In this essay, I take a position similar to Donovan’s:  men will only be respected […]

  4. Michelet remarks somewhere that one of the principle effects of the French Revolution was to end the rule of women.

    Now, as schoolboy, I knew an old gentleman who had been the British Resident in several of the semi-independent Princely States in India. His wife, a short, stout, motherly type, was a remarkable linguist, with a fluent command of Begali, Urdu and Persian. She could gain access to the women’s quarters of the palace and she assured me that, in most states, the real rulers were the Prince’s mother, his favourite wife and the Chief Eunuch, usually in close collaboration. A grateful government obviously recognized her talents, for I discovered, at her funeral, that she was a Dame Grand Cross of the Star of India and a Dame Commander of the Indian Empire.

    When I first encountered Michelet’s remark, I recalled Mrs F-. I wonder whether the French court was so very different?

  5. You seem to forget that women aren’t the only people who raised children. They raised babies, but the raising of children throughout ancient history was a shared task between men and women, and an entire tribe of people were also involved in this process. Gender roles even in tribal life were a lot more complicated than ‘men hunt animals, woman raise children.’. Raising children was not the only thing that humans brought to a new level, men invented new weapons to hunt and battle with and had to lead tribes (why do you think engineers, a very intellectual and creative proffesion, is occupied almost totally by men?). Not to mention men having to outsmart other men in battle. Intellect is also multidimensional and the sexes would evolve to have intellectual components appropriate to the tasks that they were most involved in, and any scale of importance is abstract. Basically, your inference that women are smarter is completely stupid. It’s impossible to say one sex is ‘smarter’ because we are better in different areas. In my experience, women have better social and linguistic skills whilst men are better at maths and invention. You claim that women are better at running businesses, so why are billionaires almost exclusively men? You never explain why a heirarchical social structure is counter intuitive to functionality. I could keep going on, but I think you get the picture. Yeah, I think you need to have a think about your views…

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