Detail of "A Mermaid" by English Pre-Raphaelite painter John William Waterhouse. (Oil on canvas 1901, Royal Academy of Arts, London)
Boys will be boys, and we have no quarrel with Stacy McCain's forthcoming frolicking "National Offend a Feminist Week 2010." Once the Gramscian march through the institutions co-opted the public face of feminism with that whining, male-bashing, soul-deadening, identity-politics odd duck dubbed "Women's Lib" in the Sixties and Seventies last century, we were out of there. But still, like Robert Frost's Yankee individualist yearning to breathe free, there's something there is in this feminine heart that doesn't love a wall:
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, "Good fences make good neighbors."
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
"Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down!"
"Well women, of course are delightful persons, and I hear a strange and strident voice that I think is attempting to stop some of this progress being made in behalf of woman. That's the braless bubblehead, I call them," Sen. Jennings Randolph (D WV) unwittingly presciently told a reporter back in August of 1970 as Women's Liberation, the second wave of Amercan feminism, took center stage in the national debate through promotion of an ill-fated Equal Rights Amendment.
Some insight here from Stuart Shneiderman's essay "Why can't a man be more like a woman?" that may give a little scientific heft to the point we're trying to make regarding why women can't "detatch their emotions from intimate relationships as easily as men" — tear down this wall, Mr. Wonderful! — and vive la différence:
I have occasionally suggested that when teachers and therapists try to make men more sensitive, more empathic, and more deeply feeling beings, they are effectively refusing to accept boys and men for what they are. They are trying, through psychological and other means, to make men more like women…
All of which is to say that I was shocked to read yesterday about experiments in Germany and the United Kingdom where men were treated with a nasal spray containing the hormone oxytocin.
What is oxytocin? It is a hormone that men and women possess, but that women possess in larger quantities. According to the article, it triggers labor pains, helps mothers to bond with their babies, and produces enhanced sensitivity and empathy.
We delved into the earth-shaking implications of the presence or absence of that hormone in early development in our July 2004 post "Oxytocin dearest." But back to Shneiderman:
The article fails to mention that when a woman has a sexual experience her body produces extra oxytocin, thereby drawing her closer to her lover. Researchers call oxytocin the "cuddle hormone."
Oxytocin is one of the primary reasons why women who make a habit of hooking up cannot detach their emotions from their sexual experience as easily as men can.
Forget about making a habit of hooking up. It's part of what it is to be a woman. Or so we think. It's why on some important level we don't quite get the men we love, and they don't quite get us. Or so we think.
Not unrelated: "Do conservative women prefer macho men?"
Update: Stacy McCain puts in a kind word:
… the eloquent Sissy Willis …
See further debating points in our comment #5 at The Real McCain.