Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Femiphobia = Womb Envy?


When Mike Munger of Mungovitz' End linked to one of my most recent posts about Liberalism in Academia, I almost took offence that he characterized it as "fairly balanced". Being balanced in blogosphere is s uicidal.

One is supposed to write what one thinks with conviction. No mealy-mouthing. No ifs, ands or buts. If I am, on my blog, constructing my theory of society, and Mike is constructing his, his and my blog will together provide balance.

Multipl y that with millions of blogs out there. Only about one in five bloggers actually writes blogs - the rest are readers. Both writers and readers go around the blogs and read everything. Most people read what they find most ideologically palatable, but s ome blogs specialize in reporting "from the other side" and everyone has on occasion read stuff from the blogs subscribing to an opposite (or different) political and ideological viewpoint.

Building one's theory of society on one's blog is similar to bui lding a scientific theory. One starts with a few pieces of information and builds a tentative theory/hypothesis. As new data come in, one modifies the construct. If the theory is generally sound, thus predictive, every new piece of information that com es out tends to strengthen the theory further. If every new piece of information forces one to seriously revise the theory, this is an indication that something is deeply flawed with it.

As readers go around the blogs, they watch how the theories change over time, which ones strengthen over time, and which are constantly revised in light of new evidence. The readers also have at their fingertips all the new information - some blogger somewhere is bound to point to it - and will see who foolhardily avoi ds mentioning information that is damning to one's theory in order to preserve it. One's reputation on the Web depends on intellectual honesty. Powerline has been pronounced dead over the last couple of days due to exactly that kind of dishonesty.

Afte r a while, when dust settles, the result will not be some murky middle ground. No, one theory is going to be accepted as much better and much more consistent with ALL the available information than all the competing theories. Those defeated theories die, or linger on blogs of lost reputation.

So, I never did, and never will attempt to appease readers by being moderate. I write what I believe and push it strongly. Let the others show me wrong. But I have been more and more confident in my model (let's not call it a theory in scientific sense yet), as more and more information comes in that appears to strengthen it.

From the very first post on this blog and in several other early posts, I have felt that gender relations are the key component of one's ideology. The social progress can be measured by the progr ess in women's equality. That is why women join revolutionary movements (see the post below on the Babe Theory): those movements replace more conservative governments with more liberal governments.

As time went on, I discovered Stephen Ducat's book "The Wimp Factor", which greatly strengthened my model (see, for instance these posts:

Femiphobia
Holiday Reading List: American Politics
Femiphobia Again
All About S ex
Teen Sex, Hooking Up, Femiphobia
Hooked On Hooking Up
Enslaving Women - Not Just Fundies
Money, Time and Sex
Rent Wars, It's Sex, Stupid
Hypocrisy Or Natural Order Of Things

and especially these two:

Conservative Manly Men, What Are They Afraid Of
Conse rvatives Are Crazy And Dangerous)

Now, this post on Pharyngula adds another piece of data. It's all about sex.

A commenter on that thread mentioned Karen Horney and the notion of Womb Envy. A lightbulb turned on above my head. I know I have some Horney (pronounced Horn-Eye) books in here. While my wife was trying to find them in this mess (we do have almost 5000 books that, in the last move, got disorga nized), I turned to the internets and here is a glimpse of what I found:

Karen Horney

On Womb Envy:

"Horney often criticized the work of Sigmund Freud. For instance, she opposed Freu d's notion of penis envy, claiming that
what Freud was really detecting was women's justified envy of men's power in the world. While penis envy might occur
occasionally in neurotic women, she said, womb envy occurs just as much in men. Horney felt that men were envious of a
woman's ability to bear children. The degree to which men are driven to succeed and to have their names live on, she said, is
mere compensation for their inability to more directly extend themselves into the future by means of carryin g, nurturing, and
bearing children. She did not understand why psychologists found the need to place much emphasis on men's sexual
apparatus. Furthermore, Horney desexualized Freud's oedipal complex, claiming that the clinging to one parent and jealousy
of the other was simply the result of anxiety caused by a disturbance in the parent-child relationship.

While debatable, many agree that Horney's theory of neurosis is the best that exists today. She looked at neurosis in a
different light, saying that i t was much more continuous with normal life than other theorists believed. Furthermore, she saw
neurosis as an attempt to make life bearable, as an interpersonal controlling and coping technique."


And this:
"Horney thought it a mistake to think that neuroses in adults is caused by abuse or neglect in one's childhood. She, instead,
named parental indifference the true culprit behind neurosis. The key to understanding this phenomenon is the child's
perception, rather than the paren t's intentions, she said. A child may feel a lack of warmth and affection if a parent, who is
otherwise occupied or neurotic themselves, makes fun of their child's thinking or neglects to fulfill promises, for example. "
- sounds to me like "Strict Father" parenting style of James Dobson, as described by Lakoff in "Moral Politics".

So, send me data that really challenge my model and will force me to make major revisions. If you can..

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