Having grown up on a farm where we stored a winter’s worth of food in the root cellar of our basement, I rest easier when my larder is well stocked. My children have always enjoyed chicken soup so I thought little of buying a full case of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup. Of course, they refuse to eat it. This is nothing like mom’s chicken soup. Clearly, my children have never experienced hunger.
In a zombie apocalypse, they will of course eat what they are given, but it sort of annoys me that I am wasting shelf space with what turns out to be essentially calorie and nutrient free food. What to do with the 23 remaining cans of soup? Welcome to the school Christmas food drive!
My kids were quite excited about the 23 cans of soup, so I began questioning them on what precisely was motivating their happiness. Were they happy to be taking care of poor people? Did they imagine the people were adults, or children? Why are some people poor? The differences between my daughter and my son could not have been more stark. My 8 year old daughter is saving children who are hungry through no fault of their own and kindness is an intrinsically worthy virtue that justifies itself. It is important to her that she is kind and that others know she is kind. She wants to win the contest because then everyone will know how kind the Grade Three class is to others in need.
My son? He’s trying to win the pizza party reward that goes to the class that collects the most canned goods? What’s in the cans? He could care less. Starving children? Not his problem. Do people need to see him as kind and considerate? Nope. He doesn’t care. He wants to win the pizza. Pizza is the intrinsically valuable thing to him.
I think the differences between how my son and daughter think are fairly typical for their respective genders. Feminist philosopher Carol Gilligan outlines the ways that women understand morality in her book In a Different Voice, Susan J. Hekman looks at how women construct ontologies (what they know) and epistemologies (how they know what they know) in Gender and Knowledge¸ and Jane Flax considers how human traits are influenced by gender relations, concluding that gender is a binary (p.99). Yes really. That was Flax’s highly critically acclaimed insight into men and women: they’re different from each other.
Through gender relations, two types of persons are created: man and woman. Man and woman are posited as exclusionary categories. One can be only one gender, never the other or both.
No word on how Flax reads the 40+ gender options of Facebook. Surely Flax is a pariah amongst feminists these days? Gosh, I almost feel nostalgic for the simple-minded feminists of my college days. They seem almost sane…..
My daughter’s concern for the appearance of kindness is very typical for women and girls. We do care about kindness in a way that men tend not to, or at least not to the same extent or degree. It’s not hard to construct an evolutionary argument for that: neotony suggests that women are biologically designed to prompt kind treatment from men and surely the best way to prompt that treatment is to emulate it? Kindness is a harm reduction strategy for women.
Let’s leave aside for the moment the distinction between the appearance of kindness and actual kindness. Kindness for women is likely strategic, even if it doesn’t feel that way. Women also typically have a tendency to accept feelings as evidence for rightness (Gillgan’s thesis), such that if a woman feels she is acting kindly, she must be acting kindly. Clearly, women will immediately run into problems if they start evaluating men in terms of kindness or the appearance of kindness.
Men will fail that test.
Let’s be clear: I am not suggesting that men are not capable of kindness, do not value kindness, or do not recognize kindness as a virtue of inherent value. Of course they do. But men filter that understanding through a universalizing lens that considers the consequences and implications of kindness. Kindness does not exist in a vacuum. Charity is not always kindness. I trust men to understand that with greater ease and less consternation than women. That is a possible explanation for the gender gap in charitable giving. Women give more to charity, because the act of giving makes them feel they have been kind, which is taken as the exact same thing as being kind.
Men don’t. They don’t really care about feeling good about themselves. They want the charity to serve their own interests or to maintain the status quo, which is seen to maximize good across the population.
…our research has found that women tend to be more altruistic and empathetic than men, partly because of the way men and women are socialized regarding caring, self-sacrifice and the well-being of others. Research also suggests that men tend to make charitable gifts when an appeal frames the donation as being in the man’s self-interest or as a way of maintaining the status quo, while women tend to give to promote social change or help others who are less fortunate.
I heartily disagree with that first line. Women are not more empathetic and altruistic than men. I would say they are precisely the opposite: women prioritize their own feelings of empathy and altruism, regardless of the actual impact of their charitable giving. It’s pure selfishness. Men at least give some thought to the people their charity is ostensibly helping.
This morning my son gave little thought to the people he is helping with the soup cans. He really doesn’t care. He is motivated to give, and give lots, by the pizza reward. My daughter wants to feel she has saved the starving children of the world, even if she hasn’t. It’s Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup. Crap food she won’t even eat herself. She doesn’t care, at heart, any more than her brother does. The difference is that men are willing to say it.
This matters, because when little boys wash up dead on distant shores, women respond by taking actions that make them feel like they have done something to help. Women don’t care that the something they have done is leading to the utter destruction of Western civilization. One little boy is the catalyst for catastrophic change, and women don’t care, because they feel good about themselves. Men are more circumspect, and I imagine most men looked at that little boy and asked themselves “Who fucking decided to put that baby in a boat and cross the Mediterranean in rough seas? That’s the person responsible for this boy’s death.”
And I agree. Who killed Alain Kurdy?
I will not give up my culture and civilization because one man decided his child was worth the sacrifice. Because he knew bleeding heart women would throw open their doors to the chaos and destruction of migrants flooding Europe and the West.
Congress recently announced women will not face the draft. Women will not pay for the hell they have wrought. I’m fine with that. But women shouldn’t vote, either. My son can vote. He understands, even at the tender age of 11, that charity is not a universal good and that how he feels isn’t the primary consideration. My daughter should never vote. It will take very little time for the poor children of the world to starve to death on the food she donates, which is food she herself refuses to eat. “Here, have this crap.” Yet, she will feel smug, complacent and superior for her acts of altruism that amount to little more than ‘let them eat cake’ selfishness. Actually, she won’t, because I will teach her to think better, but you understand my point, I trust.
Sugar and spice and everything nice. Yeah, right.
The kids stuck eating shitty soup for a week may beg to differ.
Lots of love,