Violent men and nurturing women?

I will never forget one of the first things we had to read in the first feminism class I took. It was an argument claiming that women should do all the childcare, because men are too selfish and warlike to look after children. Just one of the daft things people have said to explain why we shouldn’t be allowed to work or leave the house. But the picture of men as violent meat-heads, and women as nurturing and peaceful is firmly lodged in many heads. The recent news that women were more greatly involved in the Nazi holocaust than previously thought, has thus come as a surprise to many. You can read more about it here – but be warned: as one might expect, it’s not a happy read.

EDITED TO ADD: It occurred to me that this post might need a bit more commentary. Especially in light of some of the research on domestic violence statistics that has been linked to by commentators. The idea that men are violent and women are nurturing abounds in the minds of many people – feminists, anti-feminists, and feminist-neutral types alike. (It’s not just feminist doctrine, as many writers discussing the issue would have us believe.) My hunch is that we should reject this view, since (i) it’s not at all clear that it’s true, and (ii) it leads to various types of gender injustice, affecting both men and women (and no doubt also those who identify as neither). As I implied at the beginning of this post, it’s been used to justify restricting women’s role to childcarer, and by extension, homemaker. Whilst I’ll fight for women to be able to choose to take up these roles, I’ll also fight for women to have more choices available to them. Correlatively, it’s been used to deny men – or at the very least make it more difficult – the choice of being childcarer and/or homemaker. And I’ll fight for men to have these choices available to them too. It also makes it more dificult for the victims of female domestic violence – whether these be men, lesbian partners, children, and so on. Clearly, these people need to receive the same support as victims of male domestic violence. And we can recognise this without in any way belittling the abuse suffered by the female partners of violent men. So you see, the myth – for I think it is one – of violent men and nurturing women – is harmful to all of us. I posted this in the spirit of dismantling the myth.

Some good news

The number of non-emerita women on the Editorial Board of Political Theory just quintupled, from 1 (Elshtain) to 5 (adding Benhabib, Mansbridge, Rosenblum, Pateman).

The journal’s editor Mary G. Dietz writes: “On behalf of the Editors and Executive Editorial Committee,
I happily announce the appointment of four new members to the journal’s
Editorial Board. In recognition of their distinguished scholarship and influential
contributions to the fields of political theory, politics, and political philosophy,
the journal honors Professors Seyla Benhabib (Yale University), Jane
Mansbridge (Harvard University), Nancy Rosenblum (Harvard University),
and Carole Pateman (University of California Los Angeles). We look forward
to working with them to further the success of Political Theory and offer
them a warm welcome to the Editorial Board.”

The announcement is here.