Originally written in November 2012
Over the last five posts I have tried to develop the basic framework of equality and justice from a scratch. In part 5, we came to the final equation of equality and justice in the society. Let’s apply the equation to one of the contemporary issues in equality and justice – that of gender equality – and see what picture is drawn.
The equation we arrived at in the previous post is as follows –
(a) Strength in the state of Nature – (b) Moral development = (c) Incentives in the society
The idea was this: In the simple two-person world, person A represented the physically weak, and person B represented the physically strong. In the state of nature B would prevail over A. In the society, if we were to prevent violence and chaos, B would have to be given incentives not to attack A while he can. These incentives would result in B enjoying overall more benefits in the society than A.
There is also a component of moral development. However, as we noted in the previous post, moral development is constrained by our innate animal nature, thus having a limit to it.
Now let’s consider the case of men and women.
Men are naturally physically stronger than women. Therefore, men are represented by person B of our example. Women on the other hand are represented by person A.
In the state of nature men can prevail over women because of their physical strength. They can enslave women, they can do whatever they wish with women. They wouldn’t necessarily hurt women in a way that would be disadvantageous to all including men, but at least we know for sure that men would have the upper hand over women.
That’s the reason in the society men enjoy overall more benefits than women in that most societies have been male-dominated. Those are incentives to men not to make women’s lives miserable for their own benefit while they can. To many this may seem like utter injustice to women. That’s because they have taken for granted the comforts the present state of the society affords without having a clue about what goes into creating these comforts.
As long as the equation holds the setting must be just.
It’s true that historically in many societies women have been treated literally like slaves and have been beaten up by men. Even though that would fit the equation, and thus be just (though uncivilized), we wouldn’t want to have that kind of a society.
Justice can exist with violence. As I said earlier in this series, the state of nature is by default a just state. There is no morality in the state of nature, but justice there is. It is justice through violence.
In the society we establish justice through 1) moral development and 2) incentives to the strong. These two components replace violence exerted by the strong in the state of nature and prevent chaos, thus fostering well-being.
If the weaker group (women) wanted to have a pleasant life then either they would have to accept domination of the stronger group (men) or wait for moral development to take place. Or both.
Or both, is what the society has gone through to find the new equilibrium in justice away from the state of nature. The society has always been dominated by men. And women are no more oppressed in most parts of the modern society, indicating that the society has certainly developed morally over time.
But now male domination is reducing in most of the world at a very rapid rate. Looking at the equation this means reduction in the component (c). To compensate it, if there is increase in the component (b) on left side of the equation, it is fine. Otherwise there is a problem as the society would be moving away from justice.
At this point I would like to talk about feminism. Feminism is a powerful movement of our times wherein women are demanding equal position as men in every sphere of the society.
Let me make this clear that I have no problem with women getting equal position per se. But my concern here is justice, and to see that the equation capturing justice holds.
Equal position to women would mean male domination would no more be. Higher benefits that men enjoy through domination are incentives for them to not make women’s lives miserable. Family system where women are housewives taking care of family and social ties instead of slaves treated like animals would be an example of what I am implying. This is the component (c) in the equation. The equation implies that if (c) is reduced and (b) remains unchanged then there will no more be justice. In that case, justice will be established the nature’s way (B attacking A).
Considering the level of sophistication and complexity of the present society men and women physically fighting is unlikely. What is quite likely is men’s natural strength finding different channels to the same end.
This, however, assumes that the component (b) remains unchanged. How do we know that it is not increasing? Maybe it is early to tell considering feminism is still a recent phenomenon in the history of society. But assuming that the component (b) remains unchanged while the component (c) reduces, the result should be decrease in the well-being of women if the equation of justice is to hold. Only then men would regain higher overall benefits/well-being.
Interestingly, that may be happening already. Early indications would be diminishing marriage rates. Love as we are used to seeing it is becoming a thing of the past. Men and women of the future will only use each other for sex. They will compete in corporations, in politics and in every other sphere of life. Men and women will no longer be companions but competitors at best, enemies at worst.
It stands to reason that if men and women hold the same and equal positions, there will be competition and animosity. And the fact remains that men are naturally stronger, making it easier for them to cope with the challenges. Women on the other hand, due to their weakness, will suffer in the long run. The loss of marriage and family is reducing the well-being of all (thanks to feminists), but women’s well-being will be additionally affected because of their natural weakness in facing the challenges of the world they are so keen on creating.
Feminists are not unaware of this. Hence, they are already making their future secure by demanding various legal provisions giving special treatments and rights to women over and above men – because women are weak. These rights through law would be designed to keep men’s nature in check. It would not be moral development (increase in the component (b)) but moral imposition (suppression of men’s nature). The equation of justice would not hold. Therefore, it would be unjust.
Not only that, these women-centric laws giving special rights to women and no corresponding responsibilities for their weakness create externalities in the society. Therefore, they are inherently flawed, harming the society in perverse ways.
This explains why modern feminist ideals are unjust and even pernicious.
[Please don’t comment with examples of the societies and cultures of the past that have been matriarchal or those where men and women had at least equal social status. The main point here is validity of the equation describing justice. If we factor in the peculiarities of a particular society or culture, the equation will hold.]