Robert A. Heinlein: The Man Who Loved Women

I was married and in the States by the first time I heard that Robert A. Heinlein was supposed to be misogynistic.

This surprised me more than a little because I’d read the man, and I thought he was, if anything, too idealistic and viewed women through rose-colored glasses.

Take his quote: Once a month, some women act like men act all the time.

By the time I read Heinlein, I had been exposed to that “once a month” thing, both by myself and by attending an all-girls school, and I thought his view was unwarrantedly rosy.  If men were like women are once a month, there would be no civilization.  At least, not any civilization that didn’t involve bursting into tears and punching holes in walls.

But in that quote is the reason that my female friends in the U.S.  had become convinced he was “misogynistic”: he dared mention the ways in which women are different, the basic chains of our biology.  By the eighties, the female “thought leaders” had decided that women were special because they were exactly like men but more oppressed.

I’m not now, and have never been, absolutely sure how this “we are exactly alike, and women have been held back for centuries and are therefore superior” is supposed to work.

For me, the unarguable biological difference between men and women starts in the womb, with the hormones that shape brain and body differently.  Which doesn’t mean we are superior or inferior.  It just means we are different.  Tools suited for different tasks if you wish. My friends in medicine assure me that testosterone allows you to think faster, in straight pathways, and progesterone makes your thinking patterns deeper, more connected.

I understand that this is all in a continuum and that women at one extreme might be more similar to the median in men and vice versa.  However, women Olympians would have trouble winning over men high school athletes.

On the other hand, women can endure more pain and discomfort than men.

But for daring to claim men and women are different, Heinlein has been condemned as “misogynist.”

I’m gratified that Heinlein foresaw this a long time before:

Whenever women have insisted on absolute equality with men, they have invariably wound up with the dirty end of the stick. What they are and what they can do makes them superior to men, and their proper tactic is to demand special privileges, all the traffic will bear. They should never settle merely for equality. For women, "equality" is a disaster.

I have been on panels in science fiction conventions, where women complain that women in Heinlein’s books want to have children and families, or that women wear aprons.