R.           Correspondences with the President of an All-Woman’s College Regarding Sexual Differences

What follows are near-identical excerpts from two letters of mine to Debora Spar, the then President of Manhattan’s Barnard College, the all-female sister school of Columbia University (we were amid correspondences).

September 16, 2016

Greetings President Spar:

. . . Yesterday evening, I was on the Number 1 train, getting off at the Barnard stop (although not to go to Barnard). On board, I got into a conversation with two young women about our recollection of fairly recent, sociological studies that implied that mothers who berate their daughters for the sake of discipline do them no favors in that harsh criticism does not generally translate into such daughters being better raised. In fact, to daughters, strong criticism can be psychologically damaging. I, also, mentioned to these young women something that I had been taught about Moses’ differing method of teaching males and females: When Moses spoke to the men, he could be very harsh with his criticism. However, to the women, Moses spoke gently.

Later, to another young woman, I theorized about this difference: to appropriately accept criticism, any person being criticized must become thick-skinned. However, the insensitivity that overlaps with being thick-skinned conflicts with the sensitivity required by a successful mother. (Women, with greater sensitivity to the degree of having more nerve cells on areas of their skin, are, by means of their sensitivity, better vessels to bear and raise young because the young require very delicate care.)

As insensitivity opposes sensitivity, and thereby, conflicts with loving motherhood, women, biologically designed to be mothers, can have psychological trauma when being harshly judged because of being caught in a catch-22 whenever being judged. Namely, as women are more sensitive, criticism hurts a woman more; and, if women adapt to the criticism by becoming thick-skinned, they lose out on the greatest human emotion, love, which is partly based on sensitivity. In contrast, and as a complement to a woman, the more insensitive and shielded a man becomes, into greater realms he can safely forage for the material benefit of his family.

~

September 30, 2016

. . . it seems that even the crucial understanding that women are, by nature, more sensitive than men—down to having more nerve receptors—is lacking. Although when this tidbit is recognized, it clearly becomes cruel and unusual punishment for society to shepherd women into, say, construction work. After all, women, who are more sensitive, and who, thereby, get more headaches than men, would be in greater jeopardy in the headache-producing environment of construction than would a man. However, nowadays, it is [insanely] considered misogyny to claim that men but not women belong in construction. 

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