From time to time, I encounter a lot of images with supposedly pithy quotes. Oddly enough, while many aren’t really accurate to what the individual “quoted” supposedly said, all are enlightening. They show us a glimpse into the mind of the person sharing the quote in the first place.
Also from time to time, I see some that cause me to roll my eyes in annoyance, kind of like this one:
This, of course, serves to remind folks that women can do anything and claiming otherwise makes you a hateful misogynist despite any arguments you make.
The irony here is that, on just the surface, this argument isn’t wholly incorrect. Traditional gender roles aren’t “biologically locked,” and were constructed by early societies until they became the tradition.
However, it is also a gross oversimplification of what happened back in the day.
You see, using a phrase like “biologically locked” implies that biology makes it so men can be mighty hunters and fantastic farmers, but are unable to raise young while women are amazing at cleaning but can’t hold a spear. The phrase is specifically chosen to elicit a visceral reaction in the reader.
Unfortunately, the phrase in question ignores the fact that those gender roles evolved because of biology.
I’ve previously pointed out how men are bigger, stronger, and faster than women on average. This creates a biological predisposition towards being hunters and warriors, but also towards doing massively labor intensive work. This is what most jobs actually were in the early days of what can loosely be called society.
In contrast, biology does lock women exclusively into one thing that men will never be able to do without some really weird scientific discoveries: childbirth.
Women are the only ones capable of producing young, and as a natural byproduct of that, women are designed to produce the food that young needs until it can eat actual food.
This is a biological fact.
As a result of this biological fact, women were given responsibility to take care of their young. In this proto-society, there were no breast pumps or refrigeration. Due to this fact, the women stayed with their young–children too young to be hauled out on hunts or to the fields–and as a result had to take more local tasks such as cooking and cleaning.
Additionally, due to a combination of a high infant mortality rate, the ease in which even healthy children past infancy could die, and the need for farm labor, women were charged with producing lots of children. This meant that women were required to stay close to home.
Since the women had to stay at the homestead anyway, someone figured they might as well take care of the cooking and cleaning. Otherwise, all they would do is serving as a baby factory.
Now, today’s society is nothing like those early days living in mud huts. Many of our tasks require a keen mind more than a strong back. Additionally, we have entire industries dedicated to making it easier for women to provide for their children. We have devices that pump milk, but we also have created substitutes for that milk. We have devices that can store that milk for prolonged periods.
In short, there’s little holding women back today.
But it’s also important to note that such wasn’t always the case. While feminists are eager to paint men as evil for the roles women were relegated to for much of history, they have failed to note that such roles evolved from a combination of biology and social construction.
It wasn’t just the “evil patriarchy” trying to keep women down but was instead derived from a place of genuine need. As previously mentioned, the traditional female roles were derived from biology coupled with the technology of the day.
However, let’s not pretend that men and women are completely equal either.
Recently, the United States military opened up all combat roles to women. The Marine Corps almost immediately balked. Could women carry wounded Marines to safety?
The compromise was that the Marines are not required to lower any standards for women seeking combat roles. They have to meet the same qualification as the men.
While some men wash out of the Marine Corps Infantry Officers Course, so far not a single woman out of the 30 or so who have attempted it has passed.
Now, that’s only a temporary situation. After all, women have managed to complete the Army’s elite Ranger school.
If gender roles have no biological component, as the meme implies, then the pass rates should be roughly equal, right? Why aren’t they?
The average feminist will no doubt blame sexism and the patriarchy for such a thing, but they’d be wrong. Oh, I have no doubt that some of the women who have sought out combat roles in the military have encountered sexism, these women tend not to be the special snowflake types to get their feathers ruffled over such things.
No, the rates aren’t equal because the women just aren’t given the biological tools necessary to complete these courses as a general rule. A handful–such as the handful to complete Ranger School–are at the top tier and can do so. They’re clearly the exception, not the rule, however.
Which, of course, raises the question of how many roles women currently fill where they may not be able to pass muster without gender norming the physical standards.
The meme seeks to argue that women can do anything and the only thing that has ever held them back is society. It’s a fun platitude that feminists like to tell themselves, but they forget a little something called reality.
While I agree that there are a myriad of possibilities for today’s women in the workforce, and I agree this is a good thing, let’s not pretend that society just willed gender roles into existence on a whim. They came into being for valid, biologically based reasons.