November 29, 2002

IS IT SEXIST TO WISH FOR A WORLD WITH FEWER MEN? My earlier post on feminist scholar Mary Daly’s expressed desire for a world where only one person in ten was male (which one reader called Strangelovian) has inspired Eugene Volokh to wonder whether such sentiments are sexist or not. I don’t know: Would wishing for a world with fewer black people be racist?

Megan McArdle is less charitable to Daly:

I am not under the impression that all feminists, or even professors of Women’s Studies, believe this sort of nonsense. But I’ve spent enough time around the movement to know that the majority don’t challenge the people saying it, which is almost as bad. . . .

I’m also aware that the reason they say things like that is that no one pays attention to them. But if you’re going to propose genocide with the offhand arrogance of a high school essayist, you can’t really complain that no one takes you seriously.

Well, it’s not exactly genocide, but I take her point. And if, say, Andrew Sullivan expressed the wish for a world that was 90% male, I feel sure he’d be accused of something along those lines.

UPDATE: Reader John Beckwith writes:

Just a thought but maybe, deep down, Ms Daly anticipates the eventual imposition of Sharia.

In this case it actually makes sense to limit the number of men. Islamic law allows men to take up to 4 (and, in some interpretations, more) wives. This feature of Sharia often leads to undesirable consequences like 9 year old girls getting married and legions of sexually deprived young men hanging around the mosque with little entertainment beyond waging suicidal jihad. Ms Daly’s proposal would perfect Osama’s version of heaven on earth by rightsizing the ratio of breeding stock in the human popluation.

Paving the way for a better Sharia is odd agenda for a feminist, to be sure, but at least it would unshackle Ms Daly and her sisters from the oppression of Western patriarchy.

Yes, it does seem to be the Western variety of patriarchy that Daly and her ilk find troubling.

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh thinks that my analogy to racism, above, is overdrawn. Hmm. Maybe. Maybe not. Some people who emailed me found rather disturbing overtones in Daly’s language. So did some commenters on Megan McArdle’s page.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Brian Carnell is puzzled by Eugene’s stance.