I have very little respect for evo/psych theories, what I often call “pseudo science,” beyond fodder for some entertaining satire and comedy, but this piece did make me laugh and has sparked some good conversations, “Are Women Naturally Amoral?”
There are some elements of truth revealed in this bit of fiction, as in women can certainly be more opportunistic, more morally flexible, certainly more mercenary when it comes to survival and the survival of our children. There’s an age old bit of woodsy wisdom, “never come between a mother and her cubs.” Or as Kipling once penned, The Female of the Species…….
All in good humor here, but if you’ve ever tangled with a woman hell bent on winning, it can quickly lead one to wryly observe, So it seems as if honor really is a male social construct after all…
We sometimes say things like, “you fight like a girl,” often meant as derision and mockery, thought to imply weakness, but it also implies something else, dishonorable, underhanded, below the belt tricks and deceit. Socialization accounts for a great deal of this, women often being less powerful, smaller, weaker, have simply had to become more uh, “resourceful.” To be able to fight fair is actually a privilege and a symptom of civilization, of cultural morality. Socialization however, does not tell the whole entire story, biology probably plays a role too. Maternal instincts, when one is already at a disadvantage, do call for some over kill, for some short term memory loss when it comes to restraints like “ethics and honor.” Once again, “never come between a mother and her cubs.”
Or as Kipling plainly said:
“But the Woman that God gave him, every fibre of her frame
Proves her launched for one sole issue, armed and engined for the same; And to serve that single issue, lest the generations fail, The female of the species must be deadlier than the male..”
So yes, these are all valid arguments and I certainly see them reflected in the culture at large. Women can also have a tendency to be short sighted, our focus more narrow, as in many things simply pass through a filter called, “so how will this impact me and my young?” If it’s beneficial to us and our tiny budding tribe, it is automatically judged moral. If it is in any way harmful or even inconvenient, it is now deemed “immoral and bad.” It is not that we are wrong, it is just that our perspective and our perceptions can be more narrowly focused and often hinge more on things like emotions and interpersonal relationships.
However, as I am often forced to try to remind people, we humans do possess higher selves. We are not prisoners of our biology anymore than we are hostages to our socialization. All these little quirks and tendencies are just that, tendencies, the direction we lean in. I had a powerful urge the other day to simply whack someone over the head and steal their banana nut muffin, because I was getting hungry and hunger is pretty much related to survival, so from an evolutionary perspective such an act would be more than justified. After all, I am only doing what my DNA has programmed me to do. It’s somewhat funny, but the fact that I was forced to attempt to rationalize my banana nut muffin cravings, indicate something else is going on, something beyond biology, socialization, or evolutionary programming. It seems as if we actually do possess higher selves.
So, no, women as a species are not amoral, anymore than men as a species are amoral. We are simply different, which means that ideally men and women would become one another’s extra set of eyes, able to perceive issues and problems in different ways, complementary view points, even.
We are living in a culture however, that at the moment tends to not place much value on men and their perspective, a culture that is pretty much challenging anything related to both morality or tradition. From that perspective, I think there is some value in discussing the innate differences between men and women and even some of the, uh, “resourceful” and more “flexible” moral positions women often bring to the table. Yes indeed, some women can be downright amoral, some unintentionally amoral, and some simply unable to see the nature of themselves at all. This idea that women are somehow more more moral, more virtuous, is actually as silly and false as the other extreme that just suggests women are perpetually immoral and forever cursed by Eve.