A Word Missing from the Language

A Word Missing from the Language:

So there's this video.

I want to talk about it in a moment, but first, there is something more important.

I looked up the definition for "sexism" today, and I find that it is defined as "the sense that one sex is inferior to, or more valuable than, the other." We have a number of ways of expressing the same concept: "male chauvanism" or "female chauvanism," "misogyny," and so forth.

What we don't appear to have is a way of expressing a concept that recognizes the real differences between the sexes in a way that honors them. As far as I know, there is no word in the language for a "a sense that though the sexes are genuinely different, both are necessary and valuable." That is to say, we have a lot of ways of describing a problem, but we have no way of talking about the solution.

I've tried to use the term "chivalry" in this context -- that men should regard women, though different, as wonderful and valuable, and should take care to listen to their concerns and help make a world in which they feel welcome.

Two things happened when I did that, which point up the severity of the problem. The first is that it was pointed out to me, by a well-meaning and kind-hearted woman, that I was offering good advice to men, but nothing for women. If "chivalry" is right for men, what is the female version of recognizing the differences between themselves and men, honoring men, and trying to make a world in which we also feel welcome and valued? I have no answer to that question: there is no word I know of that applies.

The other thing that happened was that certain feminists received my use of "chivalry" as a sort of code-word for male chauvanism. I'm afraid the word has been tarnished by a combination of genuine bad acting by some men, by feminist unisexuals who want to pretend there are no differences, and by miscommunication between men and women who mean well, but talk past each other.

Cassandra and I have had far too many examples of this: I don't think you could easily find a more honest, or more kindly-intentioned, discussion of sex differences in America than the debates we have had over the years. They have often been hot, but never motivated by what the terms "sexism" or "misogyny" or "chauvanism" intend to imply -- nor their female equivalents.

It is not merely personal high regard that keeps the bad sentiments out, though she and I are good friends, and I think the world of her. Cassandra loves men in general, just as we are, though she finds us -- and indeed, me -- incredibly frustrating at times. I love women, and want them involved in my life and to be happy, but sometimes I just can't seem to convey what I mean to them -- though men reading the discussion immediately relate to what I'm saying. Cassandra and I, and some of you who have joined us, have tried as hard as anyone has to clarify the problems, and not wholly without success. It's difficult work, though I think it is also noble work.

Still, the very difficulty of the discussions underlines for me the importance of defining a concept of the sort I described above. It is clear that men and women have vastly different brains, and experience the world in such remarkably different ways that only through lengthy discussion can we even recognize that a difference exists. Over and over, we come down to, "I can't understand why you keep saying that," which is the literal truth. It is a starting point, for tying to understand, but it is also clear evidence of a real and deep division.

We need a word for people who recognize that the differences are real, but assert them only as a starting point for understanding and honoring the other sex. We need to divide this behavior, which is good and noble behavior, from "sexism" or "chauvanism."

I intend to revive the term "chivalry" for this purpose, at least as it applies to men. I don't know what the right term for women would be, and others may prefer a different word from "chivalry" even for men.

Such a term is necessary, though, in order to have an honest and respectful discussion about the role sex plays in our conceptions.

Now -- a less important matter -- the video.

One of the interesting features of the video is that then First Lady Clinton's speech to the Beijing Women's Conference is the underlay. If you listen to what she is saying, you can get a clear sense of why at least some people oppose her candidacy.

When she points to how "the market doesn't value" the choices of millions of women worldwide, she is pointing to something that is true: the market doesn't. For Senator Clinton, today, that is a problem to be solved through government intervention. The market should be tampered with to ensure it places value on the things we wish it would value.

For others, the market's values are without moral content. The market values what it does because those things produce wealth. For women who choose to do things that the market doesn't value in order to pursue things that they personally value, that is part of their choice.

Government meddling in the marketplace, because it restricts the market's natural choices, reduces the creation of wealth for the whole society. Any society is tied together -- a point Clinton is glad to raise when it suits her, but which remains true even when it does not. The rich do not prey on the poor; they are their customers.

If that is so, reducing the generation of wealth across society hurts us all, in order to favor the few that the policy is meant to aid -- so that certain women, in this case, who make unmarketable choices should also be able to be rich.

I've made some unmarketable choices in my own life. I spent a year cowboying. It was great, but there's no money in it.

I imagine that a great many men would love to have society restructured so that we can do things we find personally fulfilling -- like training horses -- without suffering financially. Probably all men would like that. I imagine all women would love to be able to do something they enjoy and find fulfilling, and also get rich.

The problem is that the world doesn't work that way. An attempt to make the world work that way for a certain class of women will hurt everyone else, to benefit the special class.

Again and again, the Left's solutions point that way: to benefit a class of people, at a cost to the whole society.

In defending the interests of those classes, though, she dishonestly adopts universal language: "Womens' rights are human rights," as if she were merely advocating that all people be treated equally, instead of some people receiving special consideration. She uses this basic dishonesty about her position to appear to be operating from a morally perfect place, and to tarnish those who disagree with her suggested policies. They don't deserve that, as it is certainly not less moral to believe that the wealth of the whole society is more important than the comfort of a special class.

That's really the core problem I have with Hillary Clinton. I think I was able to express it without unfairness, either to her or to her fellow women.

The images that play over the speech contrast very poorly.

What we're seeing from the Obama campaign is in fact sexism -- the use of negative female stereotypes, either in place of or to augment actual arguments. Had Sen. Clinton succeeded to the Democratic nomination, I don't doubt we would have seen it increasingly from Republicans as well.

A gentleman should not speak ill of ladies, even if he must sometimes criticize a lady. We may be different, even very deeply and subtly different, but that need not make us enemies.

Chivalry is not dead. Indeed, I belive it is time for it to reconquer.

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