I was reading a post on a new favorite blog by a female writer I’m growing to respect a lot, and she posited the idea that women lack empathy. Well now, that is bass ackwards from what I’ve been saying isn’t it, but she had two things going for her, she is female, I’m not. And she backed up her supposition with a couple of sentences of reasoned support. I think I back up my suppositions about women and empathy with reasoned support as well. I have to since I’m actually labeling the very nature of the primal stew from which feminism crawled as empathy in a pit.
What I’d like best is that her and I both be right. That’s not because I’m a wishy washy win win seeker always looking for the good in every opinion; I think lots of opinions suck. That cuts both ways, and I don’t care if someone thinks my opinions suck as well. I’d rather that than indulge in the feminine process of segregating an opinion into pieces smaller than a Higgs Boson, then finding one particle in each persons opinion that looks similar under a billion magnification and saying “SEE, we mostly agree, yeah, kumbaya, love ya, see ya round BFF”
Good news,hers and mine are not mutually exclusive, and share way more than an electron microscopic similarity. Her claim that women MAY lack empathy is backed by her rhetorically asking why is it that women take information and process it as if it is all about them. Its a good question, leading to another implied question, how the heck can someone be so self centered and yet be the gender that forms humanities empathy center of gravity? Selfishness and narcissism, its all about me, these easily go together with not caring a wit about other people. Indeed it likely describes a number of men and women each of us know. Lets set those shallow thinkers that are just walkin ego aside, kind of likwe we do when we encounter them in life…and go a little deeper.
It gets really murky and complicated.
What drives the narcissist? What makes a person selfish, and what is the reward for being selfish? Lots of answers come to mind, the simplest I can come up with would be attention, they crave attention.
Go deeper, more confusion…
Why do they crave attention? With few exceptions, its ego (this is starting to sound like I have a keen sense of the obvious, I know)
How does it manifest in men and women generally? For men its pretty simple, he wants it to be true his crap don’t stick, he’s got the biggest swingin’ pud in the locker room, stuff like that. But what animates the women that are narcissists? Maybe some are similar to them men and the shit stink, and well, not the pud, but you get what I mean. Again, these are easy to identify and avoid, the shallow narcissist.
What animates the rest is still the desire for empathy. How would you describe the pinnacle of perceived achievement by a woman? Her career? Her family? Her looks? Her wealth? Her taste? Maybe some or all of these? But more basically isn’t it the very bestest and biggest to have it all so to speak, AND to have overcome victim status to get it all? There is no greater introduction for a woman than to list her title, VP or whatever, list her accumulated letters…Ph.D. WSOWT (PhD Womens Studies and Other Wastes of Time) and finally to form the empathetic furrow of the brow. lessen the inflection and describe the horrors of her divorce or abuse or sexual crimes perpetrated against her.This is easy when being introduced, but if she had to wait for her empathy fix to be provided only when introduced, or if she isn’t a woman of letters and accomplishment as such, she may never get her fair share of empathy.
To achieve credible victim status she needs to be an empathy monger, she needs to create empathy in situations where she isn’t even an “extra” in the scene, where she is at great remove, a bystander, at best one of many participants. She does that by making things about her.
Try and discuss sex or divorce or abuse or rape of a host of things in a conceptual manner, general trends, social costs, etc., what is accomplished by making it about her? It affords her license to empathize and be empathized with in the midst of a topic that, as a concept may include some level of sympathetic thought, but sympathy is foreplay, and empathy the full monty. Her pathological drive to achieve empathy can bend reality so that she is the leading lady in an empathetic role play of what was being discussed as a concept. That means that if a discussion was occurring about rape statistics globally, the topic is to be clinical and nonthreatening either way, she gets no more from that then she did from doing her numbers good in algebra class. She could not make numbers about her, that’s why she didn’t go to engineering school. But she can make any and all human situational things about her. Its simple. Just use an anecdote, “my sister did xyz”. “Ive known lots of women, none/all have been xyz” “that cant be true because its not true about my neighbor”….BAM! She is in the midst of it, any attempt to bring whatever topic back around to its clinical intent will be met with how insensitive the person trying is, and suddenly the sisters are pouring empathy by the gallon, lined up for seconds and thirds, drinking deeply and basking in the effects.
She has used the self centered, narcissistic tendency to foist herself into a scenario, thereby taking the dry clinical discussion into the realm of the personal, and she has established empathy.
She does this not only with regard to conceptual topics, but also topics that flirt with the notion of men as victims. By refuting male victimhood with the same silly tricks and anecdotes, she gets the topic personal, about her, then she cleverly switches places with the hypothetical male victim, and she is now the victim, deserving and getting empathy from every other woman in the discussion while half the men surround her defensively daring anyone to call her on her behavior. Ahhhh, empathy and a dose of chivalry, makes her shiver.
The blogger is correct, women do make everything about themselves. They do so however not because they lack empathy, but because they crave it.