- A transcript from The Hour of Judgment radio series -
Copyright © 1995 Kevin Solway & David Quinn
Date: 15th October, 1995
- Patricia Peterson - member of staff at the Department of Philosophy at University of Queensland, and expert on sexual fantasy.
- Gil Burgh - member of staff at the Department of Philosophy at the University of Queensland, and President of the Queensland Philosophy for Children Association.
- Suzanne Hindmarsh - Female thinker.
Host: Kevin Solway
Kevin: Hello, I'm Kevin Solway, and welcome once again to The Hour of Judgment - probably the only radio program in the world for thinking people. David Quinn is taking a back-seat this evening after having selflessly given up his chair in the studio to make room for our, not two, but three guests tonight. I'm here rather than David because I've particularly devoted my life to educating people about the vast differences between men and women, and about the superiority of men - or I should say the superiority of masculine psychology. And tonight we'll be talking specifically about the psychological differences between men and women, and what those differences mean in terms of the relative value of each sex. Now the only way to understand a person's psychology is to understand what they value, and I've discovered that a most fruitful way of discovering what a person values is to look at the nature of their fantasies, and especially their sexual fantasies. Certainly, our sexual fantasies, since they pertain to mating and reproduction, are deeply programmed into us. Alongside me this evening is Suzanne Hindmarsh, who has been a guest on this program once before. Our regular listeners would remember that Sue describes herself as the world's only female feminist. She believes there are a number of male feminists, like David and myself, but she's the only female feminist that she knows of. Also in the studio tonight we have Patricia Peterson. She's from the philosophy department at the University of Queensland and is an expert in sexual fantasy. Opposite her, we have Gil Burgh who is a tutor at the philosophy department and is the President of the Queensland Philosophy for Children Association, and who also takes an interest in sexual fantasies. Perhaps I could begin with you, Patricia. Could you tell us exactly what is your interest in sexual fantasy, and why are you interested in this area?
Patricia: Well, I guess I'm interested in three things, really. I'm interested in sexual fantasies generally; I'm interested in masturbation; and I'm also interested in the role of the clitoris. So I guess if I can talk about my interest in sexual fantasies first: I guess I agree with you, that if we have a look at the types of fantasies that women engage in - women in particular - we can see, or at least have displayed to us, or we can somehow be exposed to, what's really going on in women's minds.
Kevin: Right, and can you tell us a bit of what is going on in women's minds?
Patricia: Well, there are a few things. In your introductory statement, you said something about reproduction. I think somewhere in the program we'll deal with that issue a bit later on. I tend to think that there isn't so much difference between men and women. Or it appears to me as though there's not as much difference between men and women as I think you believe there is.
Kevin: Well, perhaps we should talk about rape fantasies.
Patricia: Okay. Great.
Kevin: Surely, there are differences between men and women regarding rape fantasies, and the ideas that go on during these fantasies?
Patricia: In terms of rape fantasies, it's interesting that in the seventies women were reporting that they were engaging in rape fantasies, but what those fantasies tended to involve was a woman perhaps fantasizing about a faceless figure entering the woman's home, overpowering her either in a physical and/or mental sense, and her being submissive, passive, waiting to be penetrated, being penetrated, and then her more or less saying, or at least experiencing the idea or the concept, that, "Okay, I'm still a nice girl. I've been overpowered. I'm a bad girl deep down. But hey, hang on, I couldn't do anything to resist this." Whereas nowadays I think women are certainly still engaging in rape fantasies, but what they'll be more inclined to do is turn that type of scenario into a situation where the woman overpowers the man. Sure, she's just about to be penetrated, but then maybe the guy is thrown on a bed, tied up, handcuffed, whatever, and she jumps on top of him, and she doesn't position herself in a submissive or subservient role.
Kevin: Has there been very much research done on this to show that perhaps women are becoming a bit more dominant in their ideas and in their fantasies?
Patricia: Well, actually, Nancy Friday is an interesting woman. She has written two books: one earlier book called My Secret Garden lists the fantasies of women fairly much from the seventies, who engaged in sexual fantasies, particularly rape fantasies and the like, or at least fantasies that involved submission, humiliation and so on. But she wrote a more recent book, which came out in about 1994, called Women on Top, and in this book we can see that the fantasies have certainly changed. Now I remember reading in the introduction of her book that she went to Yale University and all over the place to try to read about male and female sexual fantasies, but really there was nothing in the literature.
Patricia: So it's very difficult to find stuff.
Kevin: Yes, it's difficult to speak about rape fantasies because there's not enough data. I think that's fair to say. So let's move on to what we do know a bit more about, and that's women's infatuation with romance. From my reading, a lot of women's sexual fantasies are about romance - not necessarily the physical act of sex, but everything that precedes it and everything that is around it. Have you taken much interest in this area as well?
Patricia: Actually, I have. I don't think it's the case that women aren't fantasizing about romantic scenarios. I think women are still doing this. But I think women feel as though they have more choice now.
Kevin: Well, women are certainly doing it judging by the sales of Mills and Boon books, and all of the women's magazines, and so on.
Patricia: Sure, even though that is the case . . . as I say, I don't think women aren't engaging in romantic fantasies, or getting a lot of sexual excitement, or getting a lot of sexual desire that involves these romantic situations . . . but I think what they're doing is they're recognizing that there are more options available to them. They're not only engaging in romantic scenarios, or romantic fantasies that involve these types of scenarios, but they're fantasizing about finding some man, taking off his shirt, his pants, slipping their fingers, perhaps, into his jocks and seducing him. I mean, they're having a lot of control. They're being active rather than merely passive.
Kevin: Have you noticed this yourself, Gil? Not only in your personal life, but do you see in the literature that women are becoming more active and taking control?
Gil: I think it depends on how we start defining "active", "passive", "in control", "overpowering". I have problems using these dichotomies. As I think Pat was saying, I think if you read a lot of Mills and Boon novels, and these days Mills and Boon is slightly changed, with the X-rated stuff - the more highly explicit Mills and Boon stuff, anyway - it doesn't mean I read it, but I've read a lot about it - but in those scenarios you have there, we tend to call them romance, but if you look at Mills and Boon in terms of female pornography and then look at male pornography--
Kevin: Well, I actually call "romance" female pornography. It is actually sex. It's about the excitement that arises between the sexes, therefore it's part of sex.
Gil: Well, if you look at it in that way I'd still want to argue that what we tend to call romance . . . you can still look at it Pat's way and say that they're still fantasizing about some things, and it usually is with Mills and Boon that the man overpowers the woman - that's usually what happens in the end . . . The only difference is that the woman in this sense sees herself as the object of male desire, whereas if you look at male pornography it's the male who uses the woman as the object of his desire.
Kevin: Well, surely, this is a generalization - a true generalization. We can say there's a major difference between the sexes. Women tend to view themselves as the object of desire - the goal is to get married, whereas male sexual fantasies don't involve weddings - they involve control and involve numbers of women. Female fantasies involve just several people whom they're well acquainted with, whom they're good friends with, and whom they love. So these are big differences between men and women - if they are true. What do you think about this, Patricia?
Patricia: Well, even though I think women may indeed fantasize about their wedding day and being seduced, perhaps, in white gowns, by their husband to be, or whatever, I don't think that's as common nowadays - from looking at Nancy Friday's stuff, in particular. I mean, what women tend to fantasize about are scenarios which just aren't romantic in tone. The bulk of their fantasies involve them often being quite powerful - I mean, perhaps, having lesbian relationships, even having sex with dogs, cats - all sorts of things. What I mean is that they're moving away from the bridal gown and the white picket fence, I feel.
Kevin: Yes, but I think that, if we can go by the sort of literature women read, and what's in women's magazines, romance definitely plays a very large part in the female psyche. So I would include these romantic ideas and thoughts under the category of sexual fantasy. I'm not thinking purely about physical sex here. So if we include all of those romantic ideas as sexual fantasies then we can start to draw very large distinctions, because men don't have many of these romantic fantasies - not to the same degree.
Patricia: Okay, so there's a distinction to be drawn between what women fantasize about, and what that perhaps says about their psychology, and what is naturally their psychology. I'd like to suggest that even though women may fantasize about romantic scenarios, that certainly doesn't mean that they're naturally romantic or that they're naturally inclined to dream about hooking-up to a man and becoming dependent on him for nurturing comfort, protection and so on.
Kevin: Okay, Sue, what do you think about this idea of a natural tendency to be romantic? Do you think it's right to say women are naturally romantic, or what?
Sue: Yes, definitely. They're very romantic in the sense that every wakeful moment and every sleeping moment of their entire lives is spent in this very mode of mind. There's no change. We were talking before about the literature women read - everything from The Woman's Weekly to The Cosmopolitan to all the magazines on the shelves, you know, Bride, Mother - there's heaps and heaps. Within each of those magazines, from the front cover to the back cover, every page is full of just this: getting your man, how you're going to get him, what you're going to wear, and what colour shade of lipstick--
Kevin: Maybe things are different in the cloisters of the University, but out there in the suburbs this is the case, isn't it?
Patricia: I tend to agree with you that a lot of women still go for the bridal magazines, that they'll still pursue this romantic kind of ideal. But there's a huge leap, I think, from saying that women enjoy reading these glossy magazines, where women are represented as being dependent on men and appearing as though they want to be protected and nurtured, to saying this is what women naturally are. I mean, the media has a lot to answer for. The media is very powerful.
Sue: So Pat, can I ask you: is this only an appearance, then? You're saying that it's all an appearance, that women really don't want to get married, and that women aren't buying these magazines to help themselves towards this goal of theirs. So we've all been mistaken, and all those magazines on the shelves are--
Kevin: Have all the women been duped into it?
Patricia: Yes. Yes, in a certain sense, yes.
Sue: By whom?
Patricia: By the media. Women are socialized to believe they need a man to survive. They haven't separated themselves from mother. They haven't learned to masturbate themselves. They haven't learned that they're responsible for their own sexuality. They haven't learned that they can cope on their own. You see, women can pay their own rent, go to work from nine to five, be incredibly responsible, but when it comes to sexuality they just miss the boat. They don't realize that they can put their hand down their own pants and do what fairly much a man can do.
Kevin: So what do you think, Gil? Do you think women have been totally conditioned by society and the media? Or how much of it do you think is genetic, for example, or hormonal?
Gil: I'd like to extend even beyond women, in the sense that gender itself is constructed - and even further, sexuality is constructed.
Kevin: Constructed by what?
Gil: Constructed by our language, which is embedded in our culture. Language is culture and vice versa.
Kevin: Well, if we didn't have any language at all then none of these things would exist. That's fairly obvious. But we do have language, so things exist, and so we have the sexes.
Gil: But we have to try to differentiate between the society we're in at this present moment, and what you're maybe talking about, which is presuming there's this state of Nature beyond language, beyond this constructed culture. What would you have? Well, of course, there'd be obvious differences, because we have different bodies. I mean, I have a penis and Pat has a vagina. We're looking at two different bodies which get the information and look at the information differently and turns out viewing sexuality differently, but--
Kevin: And we have different values as well, don't we?
Gil: Yes, this is all true, but I think there's a difference between arguing that, just because this may be the case, obviously one would be nurturing and the other one wouldn't. I mean, depending on what sort of culture we're in, and what sort of values we're brought up with, what sort of society we have, what sort of language is in place, the sexes will be different. And in this case I would say a lot of it is that women don't have the same opportunities as men have in terms of being able to express their sexuality. Women are always being seen in terms through the male, rather than as individuals.
Kevin: Let's look a things a little bit from the biological perspective. I'm not sure what relevance this is going to have to the discussion but we might be able to make it fit in. Now, the human child is different to a lot of other animals on our planet in that it takes a long time to develop - to be able to learn language, and to be able to stand on its own two feet and live by itself. So it needs nurturing and it needs a lot of work done, presumably by more than one parent. So it's in the interests of the mother to find somebody or something which is going to support her in the rearing of the child through this long period of time. Whereas the man doesn't so much have this concern. The more he can spread his seed around the place, the more he passes on his genes. So romance is a means of woman capturing a man, tricking him, or by any means possible getting him into that wedding. On the Internet, the most popular discussion group for women is "Weddings"! It seems to me that the whole of a woman's life centres around the wedding. With all the soapies, the ratings shoot up whenever they have a wedding on one of their episodes. Men aren't interested in weddings.
Gil: But we've constructed romance. I mean, where's the romance in the other cultures? Let's look at aboriginal culture and ask where is their view of romance? Their view of romance will be different from what our view of romance is. It's just that we look at male sexuality and the way it is-
Kevin: Well, aboriginals may have no need of romance, but certainly--
Gil: I wasn't saying they didn't have romance, I'm saying why aren't we saying that they do in fact have romance? Just because they don't read Mills and Boon and wear white veils . . .
Gil: So what I'm saying is: in our culture, we're just saying that what women are doing is romantic and men aren't. I surely think I'm romantic!
Kevin: Yes, romance for men is a lot different. Take the Marquis de Sade, for example - seeing as we are talking about sexual fantasy. I would describe him as a very romantic man, in the sense that he had an ideal and he pursued it relentlessly and with great consistency. So this is a form of male romance. It's very different to the female form of romance, which always is about capturing a man into a relationship to support her. What do you think about this issue, from the biological point of view? You would expect there to be large differences in our psychology and our fantasies, wouldn't you?
Patricia: I wouldn't mind getting clear on what you're saying. Are you suggesting that biologically, or naturally, or whatever you'd like to call it, men tend to be inclined to not want to be hooked, but women want to hook.
Kevin: Yes. I get that impression that is the case.
Patricia: Okay. Well, actually, thirty or forty years ago it was in women's best interests to hook-up with a man, because in terms of employment opportunities and so on there wasn't terribly much on offer for women. So to find a man who could provide for her, to help her raise her children, was a fairly sensible option. Nowadays, that's changing. I mean, we still have a fair way to go in terms of equal opportunity and so on, but times have changed, and I think women now are not as inclined to feel that that's the only option they have. A lot more women now are choosing not to get married. They're choosing perhaps to be single parents. They'd prefer to be with a good man rather than any man.
Kevin: What do you think, Sue? Do you think women are changing gradually?
Sue: No, not at all. In the sense that Patricia was saying there about women becoming single parents, and being prepared to wait for that special man to come along instead of just grabbing anyone off the queue, you can see that the government - especially in this country - has taken the place of the husband, and provides and protects and supports women, and is seemingly doing a mighty fine job for the amount of single parents there are around. Now does this mean that she has changed? That is, has she really become more independent? Has she changed the basis of her psychology, which is, to my mind, submission. I say no, obviously. If you have a look at her, she's still not striving for anything. She goes on her merry way every day, wishing and dreaming the same dreams that she's dreamed for eternity, and she definitely isn't evolving into an independent, single-minded, self-reliant creature.
Kevin: I think we have to remember that, genetically, women are the ones who are supposed to have babies. So there is something in women other than culture. We can't pretend to ourselves now. It's been found that even when women in their twenties are very interested in their career, once they reach their thirties and they still haven't had a family, their interest in their career declines very rapidly and they become a lot more interested in having a family. And this is one reason why a lot of employers are not that interested in employing women - because they know that the odds are that this is going to happen. So all these points tend to indicate that there's something much deeper than culture which is creating these different values and different ideas and different fantasies.
Gil: I think we should still try to make a distinction here. I mean, if you want to talk about it in terms of biology and evolution, the female of the species are the ones who have babies. Well, if we don't deny that, and I guess none of us here want to deny that, we can still look at how many ways women can have babies - depending on the support networks that we have for women. Sue just said we have governments who support women in this case. Then it automatically follows that, if you go on supporting them in this way, then obviously they're going to remain wanting to be supported. But if you look at different programs - and I don't want to get into that at the moment - but maybe different ways that women can support each other, well, then their values will be different. Okay, men and women might value differently - I agree with that - and that may be a biological thing that we can never get past - I don't know. But even if we assume this, just because they value differently, there's a difference between that and how they value differently. So in our society, the way they value differently manifests in a certain way; in another culture, it might be another way. But to work out which is the fundamental part that is biological - well, I wouldn't like to say that it's passivity. Just because they have a baby doesn't necessarily mean they're passive.
Kevin: Well, it has been found that testosterone makes people more aggressive. It gives people more of a tendency to want to control - which is closely linked with aggressiveness. If men are caused to want to be aggressive, to want to control, then it's in women's interests at least to play a role of being passive.
Kevin: Because in that way they can manipulate the man. If they can't compete with him on pure aggression; if they can't defeat him at his own game, they can at least defeat him by means of looking attractive.
Gil: You're looking at it in a very Hobbesean way here - in terms the competition between individuals. If it's true that men want to dominate - and I guess a lot of feminists have said it, and I guess most people say that men want to dominate Nature and therefore they want to dominate women - so they want to dominate anything around them--
Kevin: This is undeniable, I think - in every culture.
Gil: Okay, but we've got to look at how domination can also appear. We've got the word "domination", we've got the word "aggression", but we can display aggression in different ways. And when it comes to the role of men and women, you're assuming that because the males are dominant the females have to figure some way to trap the males or--
Kevin: Get her own way.
Gil: But, surely, there's complementary parts of it? The male and female can complement each other. It doesn't have to be a struggle between them where one entraps the other.
Kevin: Well, I think men and women do complement each other in the sense that men are dominant and women are submissive. Wouldn't you say, Sue?
Sue: Yes, that's the dynamic there. If women aren't submissive then men can't get their pleasure, their sense of themselves through woman. So what's the good of woman if she's not submissive, and vice versa? This is the dynamic between men and women.
Patricia: But that almost sounds as though testosterone is a given. Men are aggressive because they have all this testosterone running about in their bodies, therefore women should be passive! You can almost say that an implication of this is that women, if they're exposed to a threatening situation with a man, like rape, should just lie back and think of England.
Kevin: We're not saying that women should be passive but that women--
Patricia: But you're sort of implying that women should somehow curtail their behaviour, their attitudes, their psychology, the way they just "be" in the world, to accommodate men! I mean, I'm wondering why one would think that?
Kevin: Well, I think women should be given testosterone. But we're going to have a bit of music now, and we'll come back and continue on this very subject.
Gil: Well, we've first got to look at why we value and what we value. If you're looking at the type of society we're living in, and the way society has been constructed, and ask, "What do you think would better this world?", and if you're looking at it these days, I think it would be very much the case that dominance is not something we'd want to value. In fact, I don't think that what you've been calling passivity should be valued either. So when we look at values, we should look at the way the world is. And if we look at the way the world is - women through their lived bodies, men through their lived bodies - and if males are dominant and females aren't, well, we should look at it as difference, and say that, once we have this difference, can we value this difference? And then, how do we approach ethics through difference rather than valuing one over the other and saying, "Well, let's equalize that either way"?
Kevin: But what about you, personally? What do you value above all else?
Gil: . . . um . . . apart from myself . . . there's two things I value. And one of those things is that if people could trust a little bit more. And the other one is--
Kevin: Does trusting involve intelligence or understanding or knowledge? Or is it a blind faith?
Gil: Well, that's a bit of a hairy one, but I look at trust as an intuitive thing. When we have trust, it goes upon how we interact with other people.
Kevin: What about the followers of David Koresh, who trusted David Koresh? Obviously, you don't think this kind of trust is wise?
Gil: As it turns out, it wasn't. When you look at trust, you've got to look at it in terms of the community where the trust is coming from. The community you're talking about was an isolated community.
Kevin: Well, there's a lot of communities which are very similar!
Gil: I agree with that, but that's the nature of our society. But we've got to look at our society differently in terms of how society is set up.
Kevin: Okay, so we've got to change society so that it's trustworthy, and once we've created a trustworthy society and we know that it's trustworthy--
Gil: Yes, change the structure of society so that it allows more trust.
Kevin: So, we only trust things which we know to be trustworthy?
Gil: Yes, I guess we do.
Kevin: So it doesn't take an awful lot of trust there, does it? . . . because here we're totally confident that we're doing the right thing.
Gil: That was just one value I was talking about. The other one is that we should be seeking solutions in terms of cooperation rather than in terms of competitiveness.
Kevin: Okay, but surely all these solutions involve some kind of knowledge, a knowledge of truth, some sort of escape from ignorance. Now this is what, I think, involves aggression. That is, the desire to be free from ignorance, the desire to be free from complete unconsciousness. I argue that most people alive today are really unconscious, even though we speak of people as being conscious, because they're just drifting along, victims of the forces operating on them. They don't take any conscious control of their lives as individuals. And this desire to consciously take control as an individual is a masculine thing. And generally speaking, the more testosterone a person has, probably, the more they have this desire to individually conquer and individually control. A lot of this controlling takes very bad forms, I admit. But if a man wants to conquer everything, then one of the things he wants to conquer is his own ignorance, because he feels like a darned fool if he's wrong. Consistency is very important to men. And the only way you can be truly consistent is if you have a complete knowledge of Truth. So if a person has this aggressive urge, then there's a chance that he will become a truly great philosopher - a Socrates, a Weininger, a Nietzsche, a Buddha. Whereas if you don't have this desire to achieve and to conquer - and I'm thinking of women and womanish men - there'll be no knowledge and no wisdom. So I'm saying that wisdom is the thing we should value, and only when we have a wise society can we have things like trust - because I wouldn't trust anybody who wasn't wise.
Gil: But I guess there your definition of "truth" and "wisdom" is very much from a masculine paradigm. I'm sure Pat will have a lot to say about that.
Kevin: What do you think, Patricia? Do you think there's a difference between truth for men and truth for women?
Patricia: Well, perhaps. Because, as Gil pointed out earlier, we have different bodies, and because we speak through our bodies I think the sort of information we have access to may be in a certain sense a bit different - but I don't want to make too much of that. But there was one thing which you said - a very solid point you made, I feel, though I disagree with it, but it was a very strong point - you were saying something like: because of this testosterone running around in men's bodies, they have this aggressive urge or desire to seek the truth or to seek knowledge. I mean, to me, a lot of testosterone running about in men's bodies leads to a lot of car smashes; it leads to a lot of loss of control; it leads to fighting in nightclubs. I mean, it leads to destruction. It doesn't lead to control; it leads to the lack of it.
Kevin: Well, there's certainly a price to pay isn't there.
Patricia: A big price to pay, I feel. I think we should control the aggression itself. I don't think that it's just men who are aggressive, of course. It's women as well. So in that sense if you want to say it's a desire to control which somehow acts as a catalyst for a person pursuing truth, knowledge, beauty, or whatever it is, fine, but I don't think it's testosterone.
Kevin: Well, testosterone makes a person dissatisfied. For example, research has shown that once a man reaches the age of about fifty or sixty his testosterone falls off and he becomes physically more feminine - more feminine in his mind and more feminine in his thoughts - because he simply doesn't have that testosterone coursing through his veins. Men at that age report that they become a lot happier and a lot more satisfied with life--
Kevin: More contented. Whereas throughout their earlier life they always felt as though they we're lacking something - they didn't know who they were. I mean, if you ask a girl of the age of eighteen how they feel about themselves, they know who they are. They're fully developed and complete in themselves. A man of twenty-nine has no idea who he is or where he's going; and it's testosterone which does it. And because a man is not content, probably because of his hormones . . . I'm not saying that he's always going to search for Truth - it happens very, very rarely - but there's always a small chance that he might fluke upon getting pleasure from Truth, and then we have the first step towards our great philosophers and our great wise men - which, surely, are the most valuable things in the Universe.
Gil: I disagree with that because it depends on the notion of truth. If you take me, for instance, and say that, because of my natural "manness", I follow or pursue this certain path . . . . now my upbringing suggests already that depending on how I get taught to use my testosterone . . . In other words, in a different culture I might be a different person. If you want to put that aside, there's still the fact that I'm looking for a different thing. It's definitely got something to do with my lived body, my sexual experience, me, who I am, and therefore I might be searching for truth, but Patricia would be searching for a truth as well through her body. But our society has valued my opinion over Pat's.
Kevin: Let's talk about these different truths. Now I know women value their feelings an awful lot. Probably the only thing women value are feelings. In women's sexual fantasies, feelings play a very large role. That's why when women are asked how they would feel having sexual relations with friends, they say they would enjoy it. But if it's with complete strangers, they don't enjoy it, because there's no real feeling there. But with men, it doesn't matter that the woman he's fantasizing about is someone he's never met before, because I would argue that the enjoyment is a more abstract thing. It's not just feeling.
Sue: It's a separate part of his life, isn't it.
Kevin: It's to do with domination, it's to do with control - it's more abstract. So if Truth is closely linked with feelings, well then, yes, women have the Truth. But if Truth is linked with reason and logic, well then, the Truth is in the domain of men.
Gil: Well, it would depend on what truth was. I mean, I would want to reject any absolute notion of truth. I would look more towards the American pragmatist tradition if I was going to look at truth. Truth comes from community. It might be a dynamic thing, and what's true today isn't true tomorrow.
Kevin: Okay, but is this true?
Gil: Well, under that definition it would have to be!
[ General laughter ]
Gil: It depends on how you look at it. Because if you want to look at some kind of correspondence theory of truth - you assume that truth corresponds to some facts - who is going to define these facts? Well, I guess the people in power are going to define these particular facts as true. So we're going to look at a masculine society where truth is valued through rationality, through reason, and it has been for two and a half thousand years. Women can't get an inroad into it because they're constantly having to put up with the way males have defined this truth, and haven't been able to speak from their bodies in order to make it valuable.
Kevin: Well, no, there are absolute truths, and these truths are based on definitions. For example, if we define a certain colour to be black, and another colour to be white, then we can say it's an absolute truth that black and white are different colours.
Gil: Yes, okay.
Kevin: So these truths, based on definitions, are really the only absolute truths there can be, because anything based on perceptions is fallible. So it's only these abstract truths which are absolutely true.
Gil: Alright, yes.
Kevin: So, straight off, it's a fallacy that there are no absolute truths.
Gil: But they're not the truths that would tell me anything useful about the world.
Kevin: They do tell you about Reality - not so much about perceptions, but about Reality. This abstract thinking is very difficult for women, and it's partly because of their brain structure. Now there has been quite a lot of work done on the different brain structures of men and women, and through brain scans and so on they have discovered that men are able to localize thoughts within their minds and are able to focus on particular ideas a lot better than women, whose ideas are a lot more scattered and who are getting information from many sources. So women have a wider spectrum of perceptions, but men are able to focus on things a lot better, and as a result of this men are able to penetrate ideas more successfully, without distractions.
Gil: That's a nice masculine term "penetrating" - but anyway, go on.
Kevin: You thought of it, not me.
Patricia: Are these comparisons done on adult brains?
Patricia: I'm wondering if there've been studies done on brains of infants? Because one could be a bit sceptical of those studies, for all sorts of reasons.
Sue: I don't think there would be a great deal of difference between the brains of infants. I don't think there's a real change occurring until adolescence. My theory is this: the beginning of puberty is a few years earlier for girls than it is for boys, and it happens at about the same time that kids begin to think better than they ever did before. They're able to reason better; their ideas get sharper; they're better able to concentrate on their ideals. Now, with girls having puberty earlier, the hormones are rushing, their lives get filled with menstruation and beauty and fashion, and everything gets twirled-up into their lives, and they're pushed along immediately into the life of womanhood. They're a woman the moment they start to bleed. But with boys, they don't really go into puberty until a couple of years later, so they've actually had a couple of years to settle-in to thinking about things. So they've got a head start on women already.
Kevin: Not only that, but it's been found that if you simply give a person a shot of testosterone they become better at abstract reasoning.
Gil: Can I just add to that bit? Carol Giligan has done some studies on this notion of abstract reasoning. She describes men as looking at things through terms of justice and women as looking at things through terms as caring. And she uses a really nice illustration. I don't know if anyone's seen those ambiguous drawings, where you've got either a fish and a rabbit, or the vase and the two faces. She says that at only one time can you see the vase - if you're looking directly at the white - or you can look at the faces. And she says that if you take looking at the faces as being what men do, and looking at the vase as what women are doing . . . okay, one might see one of them better than the other. So men may be able to see the black faces better than women, but who says that this type of reasoning and this type of judgment has to be better?
Gil: Because we have valued reason in the past, we find better answers in reason now; but if we explore emotions we might find that eventually it will give us better answers.
Gil: But reason hasn't made it better anyway, so I mean--
Kevin: Well, there's not many very rational men in the world today. But those men who are extremely rational - and again I'm thinking of people like the Buddha and Nietzsche and so on - have achieved an awful lot! What do you think, Sue?
Sue: Yes, this is it. We're talking here about this difference, and it strikes me as very important that women speak of wanting "equality", but they want equality with difference. And I tell you that you've got to have a standard. A standard has to be set. I'm all for women becoming liberated. I think I'm the only female, as was said earlier, who wants this. But what this means is that women have to become more masculine; they have to become men. Why, you may ask? Why should women change this pleasurable life they have, and have to struggle and strive and work hard and become self-reliant just for, let's say, the survival of the planet would be a good example; why should women change from their nice, happy, one-dimensional life, into this multi-structured, complex, striving human being? Well, if we don't have a whole--
Sue: Yes, consciousness, then you're not considering the consequences of your actions. If you're not conscious, you don't consider the consequences, and I tell you that women aren't conscious. They do not consider the consequences of any of their actions. Whereas men are conscious creatures, and therefore they can consider the consequences; then they can make changes. They can actually reason out what's necessary and what's to be done. They are self-reliant in the sense that they don't depend on everybody else to keep them bouyant - they'll go and do things by themselves. They'll have an ideal, they'll have a goal, they'll change the world, and they'll give their whole life over to it. And, as I say, men do this. Women can't do this. It's not in them to do it. I always say this: there's only one woman, and she's just got many faces. Because, as I've said before, she's not conscious, she's one dimensional, and her whole life is just this one-dimensional sort of "same thing" . . .
Kevin: Camille Paglia says that if women were running the world, we'd still be living in caves. What do you think of this idea? Do you think it's good to live in caves, or what?
Patricia: Actually, Camille Paglia . . . she's an interesting case.
Kevin: She is that!
Patricia: There have been a lot of things said, but one major thing which was pointed out a bit earlier was that women are feeling oriented, supposedly, and men are rational - they're more drawn to reason, to logic, and so on. I think what you were really saying about women is not so much that they're drawn to feelings, but that they're - at least what I'd hope to think you were saying - was more that they're negotiators or communicators. In the playground, little girls will become upset, not so much if their little friends aren't following the rules, but because they're not liked, or they're thrown out of the sand-pit. They need to be liked. They're told that they have to be liked, because otherwise they're not okay. So they tend to be communicators. They grow up communicating. On the other hand, boys, in the playground, learn to wipe their tears away, and keep a stiff upper lip, but they will also become aggressive if their other male friends don't follow the rules. Now if you consider the political arena . . . I mean, if we're trying to work out how we ought to live, not so much what the truth is; whether women are feeling oriented, and men are reason and logic oriented, not so much where the truth really sits - but how we ought to live. I mean, can you imagine what our political situation would be like, our global political situation, perhaps, if the parliamentary representation of women changed? I mean, if more women entered politics? I doubt very much that there'd be the screaming matches, the pathetic jokes about Paul Keating's bald patch, and so on. Women would take their communication skills into that context and I think a lot of wonderful things could come of that. I don't see that women should become men, whatever that means, and according to your definition it means becoming logical. I don't see not being able to communicate, and being aggressive and confrontational, as logical. They are two different things.
Gil: If communication was valued more - well, maybe, not more, but equally - and that's Giligan's point - why don't we look at both sides of the diagram and let's value communication as much as we do rules. Communication might be a way out of a problem situation, rather than discovering the truth, because that is the rule-based way of looking at things.
Sue: Well, Gil - yes, firstly, I value Truth. I think that this is the most important thing. Now, secondly, you can't have change unless you take risks. And you were saying there, Patricia, about Paul and his fellows in parliament there having battles. Well, okay, these battles might seem trivial, but they're extremely important. This is men at their best--
Patricia: My God, if that's--
Sue: --in the sense that they're taking risks, and they're striving to battle out what is true. It may seem petty, especially to women, because women don't value truth, and they don't value risks, and they don't value the things that men value - not at all. But what's important is just this: this battling it out. And this is where, as Kevin was saying before, there'll be those individuals come through that will strive to discover Truth.
Kevin: Yes, your Paul Keatings and so on are not sages. They're not wise men. But they have some sort of ideals. They have some sort of absolutes, some sort of principles, however small they may be. And they battle and they suffer and they internalize things, and they don't cry all that often, and they're pretty tough. And you need that toughness in order to pursue the truth.
Gil: But they're speaking for women. Women are left out of that notion of truth, because women won't be allowed to speak about the truth - they can't speak about it in the way men do. Men have to speak for women, and I think there's the part that I want to reject about that theory.
Kevin: I think when women can compete on male terms, which means on logical grounds--
Gil: Which you value above everything else.
Kevin: Which I value above everything else, then they'll be respected for what they are--
Gil: Which is what?
Kevin: Reasoning people. They'll be treated as reasoning people. You know, the fact that all women are treated as inferiors is not just by chance! Now, Sue here, who we've invited back onto the program for a second time, is a rational woman, so David and I, and everybody I know, treat Sue as a man. This is what the word "man" means to me.
Gil: Why not put irrational women on your show then, if you want to use that word?
Kevin: We do!
Patricia: Instead of being treated as a man, why not treat her as a rational woman? I mean, it can go the other way too.
Kevin: Well, I don't like to judge people purely on their physical form - that would be sexist - but I will judge them on their minds. Well, we've got to close up now, it's almost eleven o clock. But be sure to tune-in next week because we'll have a group of people here talking about Ultimate Reality and Nature and the Infinite, and wonderful things like that. If anyone wants to write to us, they can write to PO Box 207, St Lucia, 4067. We'll see you next week.
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