Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sexual Egalitarianism in Collectivistic Societies

In section 3.6 of Natural Moralities, “Community-Centered Moralities and the Problem of Hierarchy”, Wong provides examples to argue for the possibility of a communal ground for egalitarianism. Especially, he argues that sexism is not an inevitable piece of a collectivistic/communitarian society. Individualism and an ethics of individual autonomy is not the only way to argue for egalitarianism.

“[O]ne could forcefully argue from within the tradition that the subordination of women unnecessarily restricts the ways in which women can make a contribution to the common moral ends of the community and deprives them of the dignity that would come from making such a contribution.” (90)

Wong refers to the retelling of the traditional Chinese ballad of a young woman taking her aged father’s place when he is called to the army, in the story “White Tigers” by Maxine Hong Kingston. This story juxtaposes the traditional Chinese values of filial piety (that is, respect for parents) and communal identity with a critique of sexism in traditional Chinese society, demanding that women be given fully equal opportunity to realize these traditional communitarian values. 

Wong also gives the example of the community of Ammouliani in Greece. In this traditional society, “the primary fulfillment of the individual is found in the family and tied to the socially desirable goals of marriage, childbearing, and the building of a future for one’s children” (91). Women are valued in this society for their financial and managerial skill, and take an equal (or in some cases, greater) role with their husbands in the economic independence of their household. “And yet this unusual status for women is not achieved through recognition of rights that women have against the family or their husbands. Rather, it is through recognition of the ability of women to contribute to the enterprise that is the primary fulfillment of both men and women” (91).

No comments:

Post a Comment