If there is any fundamental difference between men and women that I could vouch for, it is that men generally value actions, whereas women value influence; men believe that success involves performing actions properly so as to get the desired result, whereas women believe success involves influencing people so as to get the desired emotional attitude in them.
It’s easy to demonstrate this by looking at where women actually choose to work. According to the figures in France (released for 2011 by the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies; see table PSAL01), we find that 87.4% of technicians, 86.7% of foremen and 84.6% of laborers (including 90.4% of all qualified craftsmen), 78.4% of engineers and 90.8% of drivers, while 69.2% of teachers, 79.6% of health and social workers, 82.7% of admin workers (secretaries, people who work in the finance office etc), 87.5% of hotel and household staff and 87.5% of commercial sector workers (e.g. salespeople). Another blogger, JudgyBitch, has written about the figures in the US (source here). While acknowledging that substantial exceptions do exist in most of these fields, I can safely say that men tend to go into technical fields, in which they mainly interact with machinery, while women tend to go into teaching, sales and nursing, in which they mainly interact with people as part of their service to these people. Men certainly do interact with other people as part of their work, but more often to discuss plans of action than to alter these other people’s emotional states.
The problem with women’s desire to influence others rather than do things directly is that it inevitably leads them to throw men under the bus. If a man needs a woman’s permission to start a family, he will have to accept that he will handle most of the action, while the woman will have most of the influence. He may well have his own goals, but he will need to pursue these independently of the woman, as the woman will not act on his behalf, and all his attempts to influence her to do so will bring about her resentment. Women want to influence men, not do the hard work for them.
This is not something I would want to sign up for; indeed, I would not even want to be in the woman’s shoes. It would shame me tremendously to not take on my fair share of obligations. Would I want other people to do all the work and take all the risks for me? To let them put their lives at stake fighting off cave lions so I could have the luxury of hiding in a nice, safe treehouse somewhere? To ask them to climb to the top of a 1700-foot-tall relay tower every day, so I could enjoy living on benefits and partying every evening, doing no commensurate work? This sort of lifestyle would be out of the question.
It’s not surprising, however, that many women want to live like this; free of all responsibilities, which they can instead place on the shoulders of their husbands, their ex-husbands, or their government.
As such, women place expectations on men that the women themselves would never consider living up to. Women do not want to spend their lives fighting off cave lions or climbing up to the top of 1700-foot-tall relay towers; they will instead want to spend their lives influencing people, caring for babies, convincing others to buy products, doing nice and pleasant things. Someone, however, needs to do all the strenuous, risky work. So, women will do what they are naturally prone to do, which is influence men to do these things for them: to risk their lives against the beasts of the wild (or against their fellow men), to go into deep mine shafts and inhale factory soot, to run the ships and trains that bring women the things they like, to build great skyscrapers that women can then decorate as they please, and generally work hard, risking life and limb, so that women can have it all.
“Good” women will, of course, want to make sure that men keep some of the goodies for themselves; but if a man ever asks a woman to join him on the 1700-foot-tall climb, or to risk her life with him in some military enterprise, or even to pay for her own meal when they date, she will pout, sulk and tantrum, avoid him altogether, or ask him to “just be friends” rather than grant him the privilege of taking care of her. Heaven forbid that they had already been married and he suddenly decided to look after the children, leaving her to fend off the cave lions herself, because if he does that, she will not only pout as expected, but also divorce him.
Most women will not feel proud of being a hero, but will certainly feel proud of snagging, and therefore having influence over, an influential man. A man sees heroism in the courageous and dutiful deeds of another man; a woman sees it in the admiration he receives from others. The average woman will not respect a man who is less successful than she is (in terms of his prestige); if he succeeds to develop his physical, intellectual and moral qualities, in a society in which this is seen not as edgy, but contemptible, she will not want him as her partner, as he is most likely not her equal in terms of social status (well though he is most likely her indomitable superior in both strength and intellect, and his adherence to morality, unlike her own, is genuine).
It’s not surprising, then, that over the last 50 years of feminism, there have been so many sitcoms and commercials that disrespect men and give unfounded praise to women. In the world of women, prestige is “valuable” in and of itself, and when men have less of it, our value in the eyes of women “drops”, while their own value rises. When the second-wave feminists promised to usher a new world for women in the workplace, they did not mean to offer them an opportunity to labor for the benefit of men, but rather, a way to get the influence they crave without having to depend on (i.e. hijack) their husbands’ own influence. By making men look like bumbling fools on television, the feminists were really encouraging women to seek their prestige elsewhere – not as wives to these caricatures of men, but as the stunningly successful leaders of law firms, media companies and just about every other non-productive human enterprise imaginable. Heaven forbid, however, that they dirty their delicate hands by actually working for us, at our own request, for our own needs, as we have done for them since the dawn of mankind; if they are not getting any extra prestige from it, they are not going to do it.
Nevertheless, just as a woman evaluates men on her own terms, we can (and indeed should) judge women on our own terms; and if we were indeed to begin to judge women tomorrow, in the same way that we judge men, we would find that they fail to live up to masculine standards. One could certainly find a “good” woman that sought to inspire and support him, but what is good for women is merely average for men; after all, I can receive emotional support and inspiration from my male friends, but I can also count on them to not bail out on me if they happen to earning more than I am, or if I am starting to show emotional vulnerability; the vast majority of women, no matter how “good” they are, will still turn on me if I do not live up to or accept their double standard. I know that, if artificial wombs were to become available tomorrow, I could convince a few men to start a male clan with me, for whose sake we all labored diligently, without any of the problems that arise in an imbalanced relationship between someone who wants to do things and someone who wants to influence people. Neither of us would ever feel that we ought to betray the clan for the sake of a better deal, or that we should make demands on the rest of the clan that we were unwilling to reciprocate. It seems to me, then, that a woman’s willingness to influence and her unwillingness to act make her a liability for any family, and that to render her obsolete through new technology would be a boon to the family overall.