The Way Women Think is Not a Liability

The Way Women Think is Not a Liability January 4, 2017


As I said on the podcast this Monday, I was sort of hoping that on January first we would all begin to talk about something new and fresh and different, emphasis on the different. But as I flipped wildly through Twitter that morning, you know, in preparing my mind for church (that’s a little joke) I remembered that we are all the same people that we were the night before. The reason that 2017 will be the same as 2016 is because we’re all still in it.

And one of the things we all have to talk about again is the relationship between men and women, whether we want to or not.

Today we have a little blind leading the blind piece of drivel explaining  that until women can be freed from the burdens of their minds, presumably by giving them all to the men, they will never be truly free. Let me just quote a tiny portion.

“Walzer found that women do more of the intellectual, mental, and emotional work of childcare and household maintenance. They do more of the learning and information processing (like researching pediatricians).”

Ok, I guess I won’t quibble with this too much except to wonder how they did this measurement. What were the criteria used to define “information processing”? What kind of questions did they ask? Because I’m going to go ahead and say that this is not my experience.

Spoiler Alert, I’m going to bash this dead horse all the way through this sorry article. It shouldn’t be hard to understand but I know that it is. Ready? I’m going to talk slowly and loudly, like as if I’m writing something short on Facebook so that it sounds like I’m yelling.

Men and Women are diiiiifffffeeeeerrrrreeeeennnnnnttttttt.

This means that what I worry about is not the same as what my husband worries about. And, I don’t want to be a jerk, but really, this is a Good Thing. But let me go on.

“Today the amount of sheer hours that men and women spend in combined paid and unpaid work is pretty close to equal. But that doesn’t count the thinking.”

And truly, thank Heaven for that. It’s great that men participate in housework so much and that women can work at jobs that interest them, but for the love of all that is good and right, it would Not be a good thing if the kind of thinking they each did was exactly the same. Observe how the people who did this “study” (whoever they are), measured the kind of thinking that women do and then looked at the men and found that they Don’t Do that kind of thinking. But then, instead of wondering, hmmm, I wonder what kind of thinking men actually do? They made a moral judgement about men–all men everywhere–as being inferior and therefore oppressive to women. I call a foul here.

“Like much of the feminized work done more often by women than men, thinking, worrying, paying attention, and delegating is work that is largely invisible, gets almost no recognition, and involves no pay or benefits.”

I really wish that we could get past measuring things by pay and benefits. I don’t even like that video where they try to put a price on the work of a stay at home mom. You know, she’s a professional cook, an accountant, and early childhood specialist, a home decorator, her work is worth a Million Dollars, take that you poor sucker who sits in an office. The reason we have to do that is because we don’t have any societal values for anything without a price tag. We don’t think, hmmm, civilization itself might be an awesome thing to invest in, let’s bring up the children and have ordered and beautiful homes, hmm, I wonder if there’s anyone who would like to do that, and not kill themselves trying to justify their existence, and wow, look at all these lovely people who have time to visit the sick and build up the church, oh never mind. If you can’t put a price sticker on it it must not be worth anything.

We continue,
“We have come a long way toward giving women the freedom to build a life outside the home, but the last step may be an invisible one, happening mostly in our heads. It’s about housework, yes, but it extends to having to consider what neckline, hemline, height of heel, and lipstick shade is appropriate for that job interview, afternoon wedding, or somber funeral, instead of relying on an all-purpose suit; it’s about thinking carefully about how to ask for a raise in a way that sounds both assertive and nice; it’s about worrying whether it’s safe at night and how to get home; for some of us, it involves feeling compelled to learn feminist theory so as to understand our own lives and, then, to spend mental energy explaining to others that the revolution is unfinished. To truly be free, we need to free women’s minds. Of course, someone will always have to remember to buy toilet paper, but if that work were shared, women’s extra burdens would be lifted. Only then will women have as much lightness of mind as men.”

[Long pause for me to bang my head on my desk.] Let me just sum up, shall I? This person, whoever she is, thinks that women 1. Aren’t free now, which leads me to question what she thinks freedom is and if maybe she is completely mad. I would say that getting to write an article of this kind, however specious it may be, constitutes freedom. Is she in jail? Does she live in North Korea? Iran? Saudi Arabia? No? Ok, she is FREE. 2. I am offended by the insinuation that the way that women think constitutes some kind of oppression. The person she riffs off, who writes the poem about being the only one noticing when the household needs toilet paper, thinks this is a Good thing.

But see, you can only think that–that the way your mind works might be ok, might even be a gift from someone….hmmmm, who gives the intellect?….hmmmm. Can’t think of anyone–if you think that certain kinds of thinking are valuable because they might be a help to other people who think in different ways. Essentially, you can only rejoice in being who you are if you point yourself out and look at others, and maybe even God. Looking out, away from yourself, allows you to see the strength and dignity of people who don’t think and act like you. As you try to serve, to reach out, to love another, you get to see that they are not like you and that maybe you have a particular way to help them along in life, and they you.

It takes a special kind of selfishness to diminish the peculiar gifts of women by first thinking that they are a trial to be overcome and second that the only way to overcome them is for the men to take them away. Patriarchy much? Really? The way for women to be helped, to be freed, is for men to take over their way of thinking?

Oh wait, I see, she said “shared”. Men should share with women in their anxieties and multi tasking. Let’s set aside for a minute if we think that would be useful and think for just a minutes. Just a tiny minute. See, I know, because I’ve met some men, that they actually have their own burdens and anxieties. They may not notice that the toilet paper needs changing, but I happen to know that many of them lie awake, fully awake, at night, freaking out about the money continuing to flow in, worrying about the health and salvation of their children, fretting about whether they will have a job the next day that will allow everyone to eat, pondering how to relieve some of the physical burden of house work on their wives, being anxious about the tax bill that’s going to come in, calculating how to eek out a holiday or send the child to college, or, wow, even praying for the sick, the cast down, the oppressed. But because they maybe don’t flap and complain, or don’t remember the toilet paper, their thinking isn’t worth anything. Because it isn’t The Same it doesn’t count.

And really, how small minded do you have to be to think that way that men think, or the things that they think about are not important? Do we need to put a price tag on their worries, like we do ours, so that it can count for something? I happen to know that it’s really good that my husband is completely unlike me. He doesn’t notice what I notice because he is busy noticing different things that I hadn’t even considered. He carries around a mountain of anxiety just like I do, but it is not the Same, and that is a great gift, a blessing, a providential grace.

And now I will go calm myself by cleaning all the dirt in the kitchen that not a soul notices. I notice it, though, and I can point it out to some children so that they can notice it too. Pip pip.

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