Kaimi has a new post on women at T&S. Like many of Kaimi’s posts, this one harps on issues of women bloggers being somehow more inclined towards topical group blogs. Kaimi is a smart guy, and so his post sounds somewhat reasoned and interesting.
Why are people so interested in issues of essential differences between genders? Why do some church members constantly test the nature of gender?
Let me posit a few theories, and you tell me whether any of them are plausible:
- Gender essentialists are messed up. They are obsessed with the topic because of some childhood difficulties, and just can’t let go of the issues. Their posts should be viewed as social aberrations. It just so happens that some of them are mormon bloggers.
- Gender essentialists have their pulse on the nation. We are still experiencing the sexual revolution, and it’s only natural (in a society as concerned with the rights of women as ours) to explore how gender affects our lives, and whether it does so in a consistent way.
- Gender essentialists are superior mormons. Our religion seeks to show God’s plan for men and women, and since gender is divinely instituted (see the Proclamation to the Family), it behooves us to search out the meaning of gender. Put otherwise, one could say: mormons are obsessed with gender; we need to figure out some kind of essential roles for women in order to justify a patriarchal priesthood.
- Gender essentialists have hidden agendas. A variation on #1, people who posit that men and women have fundamental differences are putting forth their positions in order to justify some sort of behavior or to further some sort of goal. A skeptic could suggest that men who insist on gender differences (such as, "women are naturally more nuturing") do so in order to reinforce subjugation of women. Alternatively, a man could insist on gender differences in order to try and isolate more effective pedagogical methods, or to help form public policy towards working families, etc.
Am I a gender essentialist? I dunno. Sometimes I think I’ve noticed ways that women are different from men, but then a woman comes along that breaks the pattern. I believe that it is difficult, if not impossible, to identify or quantify the differences between men and women, and that it is accordingly dangerous stuff. This may explain why so many of Kaimi’s posts get deleted. In any event, when we are drawn to discuss gender differences we could do ourselves a favor and examine the rhetorical motivation for the discussion. When we unveil our motivations and try to understand our own minds on these issues, I think we can begin to see eye to eye.