If men had to go through pregnancy and labor, there would be less wars in the world. I have often jokingly said this to my friends while secretly wondering if this could be true.
Let me start by saying that I am not a sexist. I do not go around bashing men and extolling the virtues of women. I believe that each sex has its strengths and weaknesses, and that the mix of both has allowed us to survive and prosper on this planet so far, for the past 200,000 years. Ok, so we haven’t done such a great job for the planet, especially in the last 200 years; but then again, is it because most world leaders have been men during this time?
During the Cold War era, psychologist Carol Gilligan’s 1982 book “In a Different Voice” stated that female ethical thinking stemmed from compassion and connection to others, while males were more concerned with abstract justice, and self-assertion. This book was lauded by feminists as a strong argument against a male world leadership that brought us to the brink of nuclear annihilation. Peace activist, Dr. Helen Caldicott, went as far as declaring that the nuclear arms race was a by-product of the male psyche, with its “my-missiles-are-bigger-than-yours” mindset.
While this question has been studied by many a social scientist, I do not need research to know that in group play boys usually distinguish themselves by a higher level of physical activity and the need to be the leaders. On the other hand, girls tend to engage in calmer and more cooperative play. Boys usually resolve their differences by competing or fighting, while girls do so by talking and compromising.
This begs the question: If more women were in positions of power, would there be less wars and bloody conflicts? Would there be more dialogue? I am not just talking about a scattering of women here and there, like we have today. Envision a world where the majority of the U.S. Congress, the President, and the majority of her White House, the CEO’s of the Fortune 500 companies, and the leaders of the developing world and their cabinets were all women. How would women in key posts, surrounded and supported by other women in top leadership positions, behave? Would they be more compassionate and diplomatic, or would they still feel pressured to “act like a man,” as so often happens when women today reach traditionally male positions?
Clearly we will not know the answers to these questions anytime soon. But, this much I can say, we have tried it one way, and it’s not working. It seems obvious we need to start seriously considering the alternative; as Golda Meir once said:
“Whether women are better than men, I cannot say–but I can say they are certainly no worse.”