Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Once more on the WQ

I'm never really confident writing on the Woman Question, so take what follows as speculative thought on the issue.

One thing that can disappoint men is that women aren't very attracted to masculine virtue. A man can be honourable, courageous and upstanding - but this is not what is likely to attract a female partner. But the thought occurred to me that perhaps the same thing is true when it comes to male attraction.

What men find attractive in women is something that could be described as an outflow of warm feminine emotion - of love, care, kindness and concern. A man is likely to think that a woman who shows this feminine quality is "nice" or "sweet" - as opposed to the opposite ("bitchy") - and this can become a man's moral framework in judging women. In other words, the nice woman is considered to be morally good, the harsh one to be morally bad.

But maybe this is, in part at least, confusing attraction with morality. Just as a woman might confuse a dominant masculine man with the idea of a "good man" - so too might men confuse the warmly or sweetly feminine natured woman with a "good woman".

This doesn't mean that it's of no concern whether a woman is attractive in her femininity or not - obviously men will want the women of their society to be attractive (and feminine attraction might be connected to a woman's ability to bond to her children etc.) However, what I am suggesting is that there needs to be a moral framework for women that stands apart from attraction.

Let's say that we have a woman who already qualifies as being feminine and attractive in the sense I set out above. She still requires a moral framework separate to this in order for her to make the right choices in her life, to contribute to her family and community, to retain the integrity of her personhood and so on.

For instance, a woman can be emotionally "sweet" but in her adult life she will need beyond this a moral framework that includes patience, forgiveness, industry, loyalty, humility and service (without these she is unlikely to be successful in her family commitments). Therefore, it is right for women to be judged on their possession, or lack of possession, of these virtues.

It seems to be the case as well that women, even more so than men, require larger commitments in order to fully establish a moral framework. If a woman commits to her family (i.e. she is proud of her family lineage and tradition and wishes to uphold it); or to her church and her faith; or to her nation and people - then this brings out her more serious moral commitments (which are not activated in a society based on the individual pursuit of happiness).


  1. In an individualistic society the virtues which you describe are of secondary importance to the primary qualities which people seek in others in order to fulfil their own personal agendas. A woman who seeks a wealthy man may not give serious concern to whether the man is honest or honourable or trustworthy. Likewise a man who seeks a woman he finds attractive may become so entranced by her looks that he is unable to assess her integrity or other qualities.

    An additional factor is that the virtues you describe can be impersonated by people who wish to gain acceptance. Politicians do this all the time. Hence the assessment of these virtues in another requires knowledge of the back ground of the person and their conduct over many years and a degree of wisdom and experience in making that assessment. Wisdom and experience are not abundant in young people hence traditional societies have always maintained that young people lack the ability to make sound judgements about selection of marital partners. Due to their immaturity and lack of experience they are easily manipulated by others and are often so overwhelmed by physical attraction that they are unable to see the reality of the person's qualities.

    The moral framework is the religion of the society which can be upheld only if the elites and state are subject to its authority. Religions defines the family which is the basic institution of traditional society. However when the religion is relegated to a personal belief system and marriage a personal relationship, there is no consistent moral framework for society which is then composed of individuals seeking their own agendas and goals.

    1. Anon, good comment but a few rejoinders. First, I should have emphasised that I wasn't focusing on physical attractiveness - on a man being entranced by a woman's looks (though I agree this can happen) - but on the "feminine persona" that a man finds attractive, which I believe is a certain type of emotional flow, made up of kindness, care, warmth, concern and so on, which makes a man evaluate a woman positively as having feminine attractiveness (as opposed to a cold, mannish, uncaring, "bitchy" woman). But a woman being "nice" in this way, whilst highly attractive to men, is not a sufficient moral framework - not enough of a standard to hold women to - even though men are liable to equate feminine niceness with moral goodness. An attractive woman is not necessarily a sufficiently good woman - it's not enough, for instance, to make her a good wife or a good mother. A more robust moral framework is required.

      Second, I agree that in a more traditional society it is more likely that women might esteem masculine virtues in men. Even so, it is likely that the same distinction would apply, that women would primarily find men who have an aura of masculine dominance/power/status attractive rather than the masculine virtues being thought attractive. The same issue applies: women need to be reminded that an attractive man is not necessarily a good man - there is a distinction between these two things (the ideal would be for a man to be both attractive and also to embody the masculine virtues).

      I strongly agree with the next point you make, that virtues can be impersonated and that it helps to know the history of the person and for an experienced person to make the assessment. It is true that this is an argument in favour of elders having an input into the selection of marital partners (though this would require a return to a more serious attitude to such matters by parents - I think you would find that many parents today have a relatively shallow approach to this.)

      Finally, I have recently read an interesting account of how marriage partners were selected historically (which I will post on shortly). According to the author, in most places and times, marital partner selection was as you describe it. However, England seems to have been an anomaly, stretching back as far as the 1300s.

    2. However when the religion is relegated to a personal belief system and marriage a personal relationship, there is no consistent moral framework for society which is then composed of individuals seeking their own agendas and goals.

      Very much so. Excellent points.

  2. <>

    All of the feminine traits you describe can be mimicked and used to manipulate others for specific goals. On their own they mean nothing and have to be assessed in the context of a person's other credentials and behaviour patterns. There are many "nice, caring" nurses who have murdered their patients, and "nice, caring" people who have abused children. Warmth and kindness can mask evil and apparently cold, bitchy people can be sincerely kind.

    Essentially one cannot make assessments of a person based upon superficial qualities.

    1. I mostly agree with you on this, but I don't think it's easy for men to recognise it because for men the "nice" qualities of women are taken to indicate a good, moral female nature. The standard we hold women to has to be more than just the attractively feminine qualities of care, concern, kindness - as women can be attractive in this sense but still commit morally destructive acts. We should still hold women to standards of prudence, loyalty, industry, humility, service and so on - we should judge them to be good women or not according to these moral criteria, rather than to the basic criteria of feminine attractiveness.

    2. Except the standards you list have been destroyed by men in society so women are not going to adhere to these standards if the men do not provide and maintain the basic framework of values for which they are expected to aspire.

  3. https://www.linkedin.com/in/sandrakim1

    Her background leads me to believe that there is a Silicon Valley benefactor that underwrites this. Not one of the big dogs though, a major VC partner is likeliest.