Concerning Female Sainthood

July 12th, 2009 by Pelle Billing

If you were brought up with feminism and a well-meaning mother, you may have gotten the impression that women are frail, honest and moral creatures. No, let me rephrase that (because this blog is not about attacking women). If you were brought up with feminism and a well-meaning mother, you very likely got the impression that women are more frail, more honest and more moral than men are.

Roy F. Baumeister, professor of social psychology, summarized the phenomenon of idealizing women the following way:

Eagly’s research has compiled mountains of data on the stereotypes people have about men and women, which the researchers summarized as “The WAW effect.” WAW stands for “Women Are Wonderful.” Both men and women hold much more favorable views of women than of men. Almost everybody likes women better than men. I certainly do.

Societal stereotypes would thus have us believe that women are better or at least preferable to men. In a post-feminist world, where criticism of women is considered to be sexist, and criticism of men is considered to be politically correct, it can useful to take a look at research that shows us that women are just as human as men.

In a large UK survey about women and lying, some very interesting results were obtained:

HALF of all women would lie to their husbands or partners to keep their relationship going if they became pregnant by another man

They also said four out of ten (42%) would lie about contraception in order to get pregnant, in spite of the wishes of their partner.

The new survey of women’s attitudes to truth, relationships, and behaviour, said the overwhelming majority (96%) admit to lying

Eight out of ten women (83%) admit to telling “big, life-changing lies”

Partners (70%) are most likely to be lied to by women

Half (49%) would “kiss and tell” to the media for ’25,000 if they had a one-night stand with a celebrity, and 38% say they would marry purely for money.

An alarming 31% of all women say they would not tell a future partner if they had a sexual disease. This rises for 65% for single women

A fifth of women with a long-term partner (19%) say they have cheated on him by having an affair, while 30% of all women have had an affair with a married man.

These are some pretty serious results, and they are hardly encouraging for a man looking for a committed relationship.

Does this mean that men are more honest than women? Probably not, my guess is that if the same survey had been done on men, the results would have been no more flattering. However, this survey shatters the stereotype that claims that women are wonderful, or at least more moral than men are.

Women are no more moral than men are, and the sooner we all realize that the sooner we can have true equality between the sexes.

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14 Responses to “Concerning Female Sainthood”

  1. elementary_watson Says:

    Well, any comparison with men is pretty moot without having the numbers for men. Also, there are quite a few feminists who always say that no, women are not morally superior to men.

    It’s when individual/concrete cases are discussed that excuses for female behaviour start appearing.

  2. Jane McGillivray Says:

    Well, if that is the picture for women, and if for men it is no more promising, I’d say big deal about ‘equality’…..we all have a lot of individual work to do before most people regardless of gender are prepared to show up for any kind of honest, real, authentic relationship…. oh, such a pity!…back to therapy…or back to the jungle….or back to the drawing board…. whadabunch of phonies we’ve all turned out to be in this human race so far…….. blech!
    Jane

  3. Pelle Billing Says:

    I agree Jane. The more I probe into gender issues, the more I realize that many of the solutions have nothing to do with gender.

  4. Jim Says:

    “back to therapy….”

    You say that like it’s a bad thing. If it takes therapy to undo our programming, that’s just what it takes.

    “whadabunch of phonies we’ve all turned out to be in this human race so far…….. blech!”

    Getting rid of the big, big pay-off for phoniness would be a good start. Crime pays.

  5. Jane McGillivray Says:

    naw, not a bad thing! I have been doing piles for ages…..

  6. Katie Heikkinen Says:

    A survey for That’s Life magazine? I wouldn’t trust it. Magazine surveys, regardless of sample size, tend to be pretty useless. Seriously, the questions could have been phrased in a completely leading way. I don’t trust a survey unless it’s published in a peer reviewed journal.

  7. Pelle Billing Says:

    Sure, I wouldn’t trust the survey for any details. But there are other surveys too, for example by Richard Wiseman (Professor of Psychology) who wrote Quirkology:

    “A few years ago I carried out a national survey into lying, focusing on adults. Only 8% of respondents claimed never to have lied. Other work has invited people to keep a detailed diary of every conversation that they have, and of all of the lies that they tell, over a two-week period. The results suggest that most people tell about two important lies each day, that a third of conversations involve some form of deception, that four in five lies remain undetected, that more than 80% of people have lied to secure a job, and that more than 60% of the population have cheated on their partners at least once.”

  8. Jim Says:

    “naw, not a bad thing! I have been doing piles for ages…..”

    When it’s good. very good. When it’s bad, it’s horrid.

  9. Jim Says:

    Here’s an anecdote:

    When I got off active duty from the Army, I eventually went into teaching. I taught at the high school level. (My army experience was a huge help with teenagers. They respond like slightly younger soldiers to the same things – respect, acknowdledgement of their tribulations, encouragement that they are tougher than their tribulations, the insistence on empowerment, etc) One thing I was absolute about was cheating or lying. (It’s an officer thing) I told them that it was a very big deal for me, that I would go to almost any length to avoid calling someone a cheat or a liar, because once I did, it was over – they might keep coming to class, and they might still take advantage of the instruction, and I would grade their tests for them, but as far as any professional relationship between teacher and student, there would be none at all.

    Quite a number of students liked this from the outset, but there were always plenty of kids who many thought I was coming from another planet, and it always amazed me how many there were. I told them gently that I didn’t think less of them for that, many of them came from families who were in business (sales especially) and different occupations have different dharmas. But this was mine, and it applied to education too, so that was that.

    So the point of that was that there are lots of people in the world who see nothing really wrong with lying, and probably do a lot of it to get by.

  10. Jane McGillivray Says:

    JIm wrote: “naw, not a bad thing! I have been doing piles for ages…..”
    When it’s good. very good. When it’s bad, it’s horrid.

    Jim what is your point here?

  11. Jim Says:

    I just mean that it’s a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a bad therapist. On the other hand a good therapist can virtually give your life back to you.

  12. Deva Ariza Says:

    Speaking anecdotally here, it appears to me that the WAW phenomenon stems from the possibility that people like *idealized* femininity more than *idealized* masculinity. When looking at “ideal” gender stereotypes, we see women as beautiful, caring, nurturing, selfless, giving, soft, gentle, kind, etc. and men as strong, hard, unemotional, protective, violent, aggressive, loud, competitive etc. The stereotypes may be more what people conjure than the reality — which is that we are all capable of all of the above.

    Just a guess.

  13. Pelle Billing Says:

    Well Deva, I think you unintentionally demonstrated the dynamic :)

    When you listed the female characteristics, you choose attractive ones, but when you listed the male characteristics, you used several unattracted ones. This leads to WAW (women are wonderful).

    A more accurate description of an idealized male stereotype would be strong, fearless, risking own life to protect or help others, rational, wise, etc

  14. Deva Ariza Says:

    That’s precisely my point, that many people hold the same stereotypes I listed above, “women as beautiful, caring, nurturing, selfless, giving, soft, gentle, kind, etc. and men as strong, hard, unemotional, protective, violent, aggressive, loud, competitive etc.”

    I’m wondering what any of this has to do with feminism. Are you prepared to show how feminism created the stereotypes above, or has it rather tried to shatter them?


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