The Wright Perspective: Conservatives are From Mars, Leftists are From Venus

Conservatives are From Mars, Leftists are From Venus

My latest is up at EveryJoe:

How angels arrange their affairs is unknown. We humans have only two approaches to the puzzles and battles of life: The first is from Mars and the second is from Venus.

It is Martian to confront a problem with blunt speech and unsparing honesty, and yet to welcome unsparing bluntness in return. It is Martian to attack the enemy at the strongest point of the line, and yet to treat a fallen foe with courtesy. It is Martian to command without backtalk, and to obey without complaint. The Mars approach is most useful when confronting problems that require courage, force, majesty, dispassionate intellect. Results matter; intentions don’t.

It is Venusian to negotiate around problems so as not to provoke a clash of wills. Venus seeks compromise, makes sacrifices and expects sympathy in return. Speech is indirect, diplomatic, because feelings are delicate, easily bruised. Venus avoids ultimatums, and uses speech to seek out secret motives. A Venusian does not call adversaries enemies, but patients, meant to be healed of their ignorance and fear.

The Venusian approach is never used between equals.

Read the whole thing.

20 Comments

  1. Comment by Mary:

    “Political Correctness attempts to soften hard truths and spare delicate feelings.”

    Well, that’s the declared purpose. Some actually believe it. Others have deluded themselves into believing it. OTOH —

    “In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is…in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.” ― Theodore Dalrymple

    • Comment by ConceptJunkie:

      Yes, I have to say the Dalrymple quote sums up political correctness very well. The insight I had many years ago is that PC is Orwell’s Newspeak, plain and simple, and exists for the same reasons.

      That doesn’t mean that everyone who uses PC language is trying to subvert society or control thought. Some people are genuinely trying not to recommit the sins of the past, even involuntarily, but to engage in PC is a slippery slope that leads the way towards deconstructionist thinking, moral relativism and opens the door to a lot of evil influences.

  2. Comment by Carbonel:

    As a one of the cadre of one-time horse-mad girls, let me be the first one to point out, that it’s gentling a horse. :-)

    Still noodling my way around the chivalry of women, but your essay may have helped sort it out further: All primary virtues (piety, courage, prudence, charity, etc.) are universal, many secondary virtues are, if not sex-specific, at least sex-related. Charity is universal, nurturing is a feminine virtue. Are women human? Pace Dorothy Sayers: yes. Are men and women very different? Also yes, so even the primary virtues are expressed in Martian and Venusian forms.

    So.. If we use “chivalry” like “gentleman” or “villain” it’s a no-brainer: Chivalry is what good knights do, and so unless a woman is a knight, she won’t be chivalrous. But we use the term now-a-days as a virtue that men who are not knights should aspire to.

    In that usage: Chivalry would seem to be the proper relation of strength-to-strength and especially strength-to-weakness. (Knight to lord; knight to knight; knight to women and children). This would seem to have universal application, both inside the garden (Venus), and on the wall (Mars). But any reasonable person, simply describing how they observe chivalrous behavior play out in the world would have to describe it as a masculine virtue. Men must be warriors, soldiers; but we in Christendom want them to be knights as well.

    Is chivalry be expressed differently by men and women? Perhaps so much so that it might be reasonable to observe, “men are chivalrous; women not,” or at any rate, “something else like chivalry, but with a different name?” Especially since the technological revolution has made the raw strength of the human body less of a determiner, as well as all the “strengths” that refer to relative virtues in character, endurance (the old joke that if men had to face childbirth, the human race would go extinct), etc. Is chivalry even meaningful taken from its traditional place outside the wall, where warriors go?

    That’s as far as I’ve gotten. Let me know if you don’t care to have this kind of noodling here, but prefer I keep it in my own journal.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      Don’t care? To the contrary! I was thinking of posting this as a guest editorial. I am impressed with the clarity and even poetry of the thoughts expressed.

      May I suggest that the feminine equivalent of Chivalry, the virtue of knights, is Gentleness, the virtue of ladies, but which is not meant kindness, but instead (in the older sense of grace) what is meant is graciousness to inferiors, courtesy to equals, deference without loss of dignity to superiors.

      As a side note, let me say that of the two virtues, grace is more divine virtue than chivalry. I would rather meet a Gracious God on Doomsday when He sits and judges nations than a Chivalrous God. If God hurls down the gauntlet, who can pick it up?

    • Comment by Stephen J.:

      Hmm. Thesis, excessively simplified for pithiness, and open to critique:

      “For men, chivalry usually means willingly abandoning one’s own advantages to ensure a contest is fair, so as to maximize the chance of a fair outcome. For women, chivalry usually means conceding the contest before fighting it, so as to minimize the chance of an unfair cost.”

      • Comment by John C Wright:

        Does that include Spartan women? I mean that “were his wounds in his back?” sort of Mom?

        • Comment by Stephen J.:

          Hmm. Probably not, but then I don’t think Spartan men were particularly chivalrous by Middle Ages standards, either — though I may well be wrong on that, so corrections welcomed.

          I was thinking more of a tendency I have generally seen in women, more so than men, in that if women treat something as worth fighting for at all, they tend to treat it as worth fighting for by any and all means possible; the flip side of this is that they tend to be very aware of the price of conflict for both winners and losers, and much more aware of the possibility of a victory being Pyrrhic. Thus a woman’s version of chivalry — i.e. consideration for an opponent’s disadvantages — tends to focus less on what she can do vs. what her opponent can do than on what she can afford to lose vs. what her opponent can afford to lose, and therefore when she chooses to behave chivalrously, she does so by conceding a conflict without enforcing the price that conflict would normally require of the opponent, if she determines that the engagement (won or lost) would cost her opponent more than the prize would be worth to her.

          One place I’ve noticed where this tendency does not hold true, interestingly, is straight-up athletic competition, where “good sportsmanship” is much more frequently taught as a basic part of participating at all. So it seems entirely feasible this tendency is cultural rather than innate. But criticism from actual women, who can tell me where I’m talking out my hat, will probably tailor this thesis somewhat.

          • Comment by John C Wright:

            I was thinking more of a tendency I have generally seen in women, more so than men, in that if women treat something as worth fighting for at all, they tend to treat it as worth fighting for by any and all means possible; the flip side of this is that they tend to be very aware of the price of conflict for both winners and losers, and much more aware of the possibility of a victory being Pyrrhic.

            I have noticed the same thing. Women either do not fight, or fight ‘total war’ to the last man. It may be a ‘Mother Bear’ thing, where only cornered women fight.

            But criticism from actual women, who can tell me where I’m talking out my hat, will probably tailor this thesis somewhat.

            Nonsense. Women do not understand women as well as men do. Likewise, women understand men better than men do. That is why one never plays poker with women: they read our ‘tells’ better.

            No woman should ever hold forth an opinion about what women are like for the same reason men should not hold forth an opinion about themselves without a woman present to correct him. You have it exactly backward.

            • Comment by Stephen J.:

              “Women do not understand women as well as men do. Likewise, women understand men better than men do. …No woman should ever hold forth an opinion about what women are like for the same reason men should not hold forth an opinion about themselves without a woman present to correct him.”

              You touch on a fundamental philosophical question which is actually, I think, core to many current arguments: Which type of datum is to be treated as more authoritative — the direct but biased subjective experience, or the impartial but incomplete objective observation? Especially when they produce different evaluations? Western pop culture has for a long time treated subjective experience as the trump card, and I think part of the clash between worldviews comes from the shock of encountering a philosophical tradition where subjectivity is treated as a mark against evidence rather than for it.

              (Addendum: One example of objective observation failing is noted in the latest entry at the Mad Genius Club blog (madgeniusclub.com, “From Teh Stoopid”), where native Australian Kate Paulk points out that the reason N.K. Jemisin, in her 2013 Continuum GoH speech, perceived Australian culture to be so “racist” was that she simply didn’t have enough actual personal experience with it to recognize that the behavioural signifiers she’d noted just didn’t mean what she thought they meant. Which is one reason, I think, the sexes sometimes object to each other’s characterization: they can have a tendency to unjustified extrapolation based on insufficient or skewed data sets.)

              For myself I have to admit I find whatever someone’s answer is to that question less telling than the tendency many people have to flip between answers, depending on which lends them more legitimacy at the moment.

  3. Comment by Heather:

    Mr. Wright, this column put something into perspective for me that began to solidify last night. It is possible that it is imaginative conjecture but I thought I would present it here.

    You have often stated that it is the male lot to endure war, not the female. It has long puzzled me, then what purpose the Almighty has of dragging women into the armed services. (I speak for no one but myself in other than the speculative. I enlisted after being subjected to a rigorous application of the divine clue-by-four.) I had observed that fewer women than men are physically suited for combat. (I grew up in a country town and had always been larger and stronger than most of the girls, which let me go toe to toe with the boys. It didn’t occur to me until later that this was not the norm.) Yet, always there seemed to be a collection of women who were impelled into the service.

    Last night I was given insight into a reason, and to why it might be well to encourage women to Serve. To use your analogy… women no longer understand the wall, though they claim to wish an equal share in manning it. In the olden days, when men marched to war, a woman understood what that meant. It meant a brother, a cousin, a father, a husband, a son, or some combination of men she deeply cared about would never come home again, the question was only who and how many she would loose. A man could come home from that wall, to the garden and the women in his life would understand the pain of loss for they would have felt it themselves. They did not loose brothers in arms, but they lost brothers. The women had borne the responsibilities when the men left, and knew what it was to have people live and die on their decisions whether the men were home or not… and what it was to loose people, no matter how hard you tried, because you could not be God and God said ‘no’. They understood the pain of living when others died, therefore they could offer comfort and both, male and female, deal with sorrow together.
    This is no longer so. We women are, by and large, too sheltered. We no longer risk loosing so much. In most cases our children are not in grave danger of dying in childhood despite all we can do. When war comes, it is not all men who are taken, only those who volunteer so there is no guarantee a woman has a soldier of any kind in her family. The men of the wall need the garden… but they need those of the garden to understand the wall. I have a very dear friend who turns to me because I am the only one since he got out, who understands the wall in his current circle. I was there. I also served. I also saw, though I was never infantry, I know the things he cannot say.

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