February 22, 2010
Sage McLaughlin writes:
The notion that women have been deprived of the opportunity to express genius, and that this is the reason for the near total absence of female genius in the arts, is a long-standing meme among modern feminists. It runs up against the little problem that there’s no real evidence for it, and that it is based at an emotional level upon envy, as you say, and on an intellectual level of the facially absurd assumption that men and women are not very different. No self-respecting endocrinologist or neurologist would tell you that men and women are essentially alike in their mental and behavioral makeup. In short, despite their strong implications to the contrary, modern thinkers and scientists have provided precisely zero evidence for this idea of latent female genius, long-suppressed.
It is simply not the case that at some point in the modern era, some grand discovery was made that showed men and women to have more or less equal instances of extreme intelligence, drive, and artistic talent (or, for that matter, extreme sloth, stupidity, and incompetence). I really believe most people think there has been some discovery, or set of discoveries, that has proved all the old assumptions about men and women false, when in reality more or less the opposite has occurred. The evidence—scientific, anecdotal, historical—points decisively in the other direction. One can rest assured than any really hard evidence for the feminist position would be blared from the rooftops on a daily basis, if it existed. Instead, whenever the cold light of reason is actually bent onto the question (think Larry Summers suggesting that studies showing different proclivities in men and women may account for some of the difference between their numbers in the sciences) the response on the part of the contemporary feminist is to take to her smelling salts and demand the offender’s ejection from polite society. They have no real answer, only an anti-empirical theory the assertion of which supposedly proves the speaker wise.
But here’s the thing—even their historical case is absurd, because the raw materials required for producing great poetry (for example) are quite inexpensive and commonplace, and have been for a very long time in the West. Moreover, literacy among men and women in the West has been roughly equal for much longer than is commonly supposed, and let’s face it, thousands of years is a long time even under the most oppressive of circumstances to produce such a paucity of genius-level works of poetry, literature, and mathematics. And as you say, the emancipation of women has actually coincided more or less perfectly with the utter demolition of our culture and the arts that are so critical to sustaining it. Indeed, technical skill and ability are no longer the principal subject of homosexual- and female-dominated schools for the arts, having given way instead to a solipsistic, anti-civilizational Vandalism in which the actual works of genius and of beauty that are the Western heritage are relentlessly profaned and degraded. If the feminist case were correct, whether or not it was based on envy and hatred, we should be living through the greatest flowering of high art ever recorded. Instead, we see only an unforgiving contempt for the works of the great men of our culture, and their replacement by a thousand mediocrities and charlatans of this literal-minded contemporary generation.