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Choice: the Triumph of the Will

By Diogenes (bio - articles ) | May 17, 2004

Writing in the LA Times, über-feminist Barbara Ehrenreich admits that the role of women at Abu Ghraib taught her she had oversimplified her biology.

But it's not just the theory of this naive feminism that was wrong. So was its strategy and vision for change. That strategy and vision rested on the assumption, implicit or stated outright, that women were morally superior to men. We had a lot of debates over whether it was biology or conditioning that gave women the moral edge -- or simply the experience of being a woman in a sexist culture. But the assumption of superiority, or at least a lesser inclination toward cruelty and violence, was more or less beyond debate. After all, women do most of the caring work in our culture, and in polls are consistently less inclined toward war than men.

It may seem incredible, but Ehrenreich's not joshing. She really did assume the moral ascendancy of women. The most famous exponents of a biological basis for moral inferiority and superiority were the Nazi race-theorists -- a fact which, paradoxically, failed to discredit the gender-supremacists of the Left.

But Ehrenreich is quite as willing as Eichmann to kill in pursuit of her ideological goals. Like Eichmann, she hid the moral opprobrium of homicide from herself by denying the humanity of the victims. I've preserved this gem from a New York Times Sunday Magazine essay Ehrenreich penned in the late 1980s:

The one regret I have about my own abortions is that they cost money that might otherwise have been spent on something more pleasurable, like taking the kids to movies and theme parks.

Thanks, mom.

"Women do most of the caring work in our culture," says Ehrenreich. True. She's also no doubt right that women are less inclined (temperamentally) to cruelty and violence. Yet by telling herself the Big Lie -- that these humans are not fully human and therfore not objects of compassion -- she not only blinds herself to her spectacularly un-feminine violence, but cheerfully permits it to her sisters as well. The only mystery is why she's mystified at Abu Ghraib.

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  • Posted by: - May. 17, 2004 9:42 PM ET USA

    As a high school teacher, I've seen two kinds of fights--the first, where two guys have it out and the winner knows he's won and the loser knows he's lost and both combatants are alive when it's over with some respect for each other. The second where two girls get to the point of fighting and don't believe that it will ever be over until the other one is dead. Of course, it follows on a lot of emotional and psychological viciousness.

  • Posted by: - May. 17, 2004 8:56 PM ET USA

    Women more caring and less prone to cruelty? Where's she BEEN? In many of the Native American tribes, captives were handed over to the women, because the ladies were so much more ingenious at torture than the stodgy old warriors. What a sap! Things like cruelty can be cultivated in women to a fine point: witness her murder of her unborn children.

  • Posted by: AveMaria580 - May. 17, 2004 3:20 PM ET USA

    Why is physical violence worse that emotional or psychological violence? I've heard this prejudice about men being more cruel and violent far too often. It is a stereotype that needs challenging. First, women have had less opportunity in the positions that breed violence. They were just as violent in the Nazi death camps. Second, women can be masters of emotional and psychological abuse which sometimes can damage more profoundly than physical violence. Yes women can be caring but so can men.

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