My last post dealt at a very general level with the woman question. I argued that it falls mostly to men to create the frame in society, rather than this role being split evenly between men and women. My argument was that women are tasked with embodying the softer virtues, but that a woman's softness paradoxically makes it difficult for her to embody these virtues: she needs a frame that she cannot easily uphold herself in order to reach her true purposes.
What sounds neat and tidy at the general level, quickly becomes more complex when you look in a more detailed way at how women vary. I want to look in particular at how women differ when it comes to the attainment of feminine virtue; and at differences amongst women when it comes to reason governing feeling.
I argued in my last post that many women are influenced by the feelings that descend on them, and that a passive "recipient" mentality can lead women to certain characteristic vices, such as a lack of constancy and accountability.
However, it should be said that some women are so well-natured that their positive feelings/emotions are strong enough to conquer the negative ones. Therefore, they do not rely as much as other women on a social frame in order to reach toward their higher qualities as women.
In other words, you could chart a line with women who are strong in "natural virtue" at one end of the line and women who are most dependent on "learned virtue" at the other end.
There are at least some women who are strong enough in natural virtue that they do not need an outside frame - but they are a small minority of women. They are not sufficient in number to override the general argument I made regarding the necessity for men to lead in creating a frame for society.
And for those women most dependent on learned virtue? This is where the frame is most important. This is not the place for a complete treatment of what is required for the frame to work. But to give some idea of the issues raised, here are a few things that were once considered important in traditional societies.
a) Protecting the ability of young women to pair bond. If women are more influenced by feeling than by commitments of will, then it is paramount that they reach marriage with the pair bonding instinct as intact as possible. There are many factors that can strengthen or weaken this instinct. Being raised as a girl in a home with a strong family culture, in which the parents love each other, can strengthen her desire to have what she has observed her parents to have enjoyed. Being encouraged to protect the sense of reserve or modesty in not giving away her feelings too easily (i.e. not being "promiscuous" in the giving of herself to men) whilst unmarried is another psychologically protective factor. Not delaying marriage until too late in life might also help.
b) Practising doing for others, as a way of overcoming entitlement and ingratitude. In traditional societies young unmarried women might be expected to practise works of charity, or to help look after other members of the household. It is possible for fathers to enable vices in their daughters by cossetting them too much and providing them with the opportunity to live a shallow, party girl lifestyle. Men do want to create a protected space for women, but there is a danger that this space becomes a hedonistic, materialistic, status seeking, self-entitled one.
The public lives of some young modern women may not be like this: they may live under considerable pressure to succeed at school and at work. They may have to develop the ability to discipline themselves to rules and hierarchies. This may help to counteract some of the "entitlement princess" mentality, but it is not necessarily transferred into what is left of the private sphere of these women, i.e. how they conduct themselves in their leisure time and relationships with men.
c) Men's double standards. In traditional societies men were not as rough and coarse in the company of women as they were in male company. If graciousness and delicacy are female virtues, then this double standard has a logic to it: men instinctively felt that they were damaging or degrading something in women by acting too roughly and coarsely in their presence.
Another point I'd make is that motherhood can draw out some of the finer and more mature qualities in women, perhaps because it is less possible for women to adopt the passive recipient mentality when caring for their children. Mothers become the active, responsible agents in this relationship. It may not help, therefore, when women spend so long in party girl mode before finally becoming mothers relatively late in life. It is also, I believe, more of a test of a woman's virtue how she treats her husband, rather than her children, as this is the relationship where she is more vulnerable to expressing her vices.
In my last post I repeated the claim made throughout history that women are less able than men to govern their feelings/emotions with their reason/intellect. But this is obviously a generalisation. When you look at a range of individual women, then you see a significant degree of variation.
I believe there are two factors that influence how much a woman is able to govern her feelings with her reason. The first is her level of intelligence, or, more specifically, her intellect. The less intellect there is, the less likely it is to come into play. Second, there is another line you can draw, with "male mind" at one end and "female mind" at the other. Some women have a strikingly female mind, a small number are at the opposite end of the line and have something closer to a male type mind.
What this means is that a woman can be highly intelligent but yet still have a strikingly female mind, one in which the influence of floating emotions (and emotional insecurities) is still highly visible.
There are all kinds of possible mixes here.
This does complicate the attempt to apply a frame to society. For instance, there are some women who are relatively able and competent to aim at masculine standards and ideals rather than feminine ones. These women may have internalised the idea that the masculine ideals are the superior ones and the feminine inferior. And so they move into a kind of rebellion against their own created nature as women - a rebellion which is often accompanied by an existential rancour and rage.
Such women tend to form the dominant strain within feminism: the strain which wants to maintain the male frame, but with women running it (these women have an animus against men - they want to take men down).
So what should be the male attitude to such women? First, the danger has to be recognised. These women are not the true allies of men, they are not trying to serve the larger good. Second, as many of these women as possible should be encouraged to see the feminine more positively, even if they are capable of achieving along more masculine lines. The rage and the rancour is connected to a rebellion not just against society, but against created reality, so the solution is not to change society but to encourage these women to identify more positively with creation itself (including their own role as women within it).
Another group of women have nothing like a male mind; nor do they accept the imposition of a male social frame. From the ranks of these women is drawn the lesser strand of feminism, i.e. the strand which openly wants to assert a female, feelings-based frame on society. This type of feminism is more accepting of sex differences, but it is still hostile to men and it does not recognise the need to bring the female mind to virtue.
But there are also women who do identify positively as women; who are able to look at the good of society as a whole; and who are able to defend the good in a reasonable way. My own view is that it would be wise of men to draw these women into positions in which they can influence society in a positive way (but with men still taking ultimate responsibility for the maintenance of the social frame).
I'll finish on this note. There are now many men who are critical of women, in particular Western women. But it is inevitable that women would lose respect in a culture that, in a sense, abandons them not only to the best but also to the worst of their own natures. There is an underestimation of what is required to get the best out of people, of what traditional cultures did to try and achieve this. The culture, the social structures, the frame have been dismantled (for the purposes of "liberation") and whilst this remains the case, then how could we expect a better outcome?