The Female Mind Exists, After All

Feminism is stuck in a rut. We seem to have settled for joining the world, rather than changing it.

Sore Back

I’m just exhausted from carrying it on my shoulders!

In seeking equal treatment, we have slowly conceded our identity, piece by piece. We’ve taken on masculine affectation to fit in. Our attempts to avoid being framed as needy and demanding have played into our critics’ hands, and we’ve abandoned most of our ideas for change. 

We don’t have equal pay, political parity, or even workplace day care. Neither do we have our own spheres of unique experience and expertise. In not sticking up for ourselves moment-to-moment, we affirm the general message that we are not important.

We love to crow that motherhood doesn’t make a woman, but it does make us different. We recite that biology isn’t destiny, ignoring that it is our origin. Biology is what makes us women, our hypothetical motherhood is the foundation of our oppression.

All this forms the basis of a life experience different from men, synthesizing an identifiably specific psychology. Whether we like to admit it, or not.

“Relatively small differences across multiple traits can add up to substantial differences when considered as a whole profile … Data suggest the probability a randomly picked individual will be correctly classified as male or female based on knowledge of their global personality profile is 85%.

Female Psychology Is Real

Men are the ones who taught us to categorize everything by Better or Worse. Being different from them means only that – We are different.

“There now exists four large-scale studies that … converge on the same basic finding: when looking at the overall gestalt of human personality, there is a truly striking difference between the typical male and female personality profiles.”

Told You So

Fuckin told you so!

Scott Barry Kaufman over at Scientific American takes parsing these differences more seriously than most women I know – “At the broad level, we have traits such as extraversion, neuroticism, and agreeableness.

“But when you look at the specific facets of each of these broad factors, you realize that there are some traits that males score higher on (on average), and some traits that females score higher on (on average), so the differences cancel each other out.

“This canceling out gives the appearance that sex differences in personality don’t exist when in reality they very much do exist.”

In my experience, this discussion is shut down hard by slinging accusations of internalized misogyny. But rejecting everything unique to women is to reject women! Evidence that femaleness leaves a mental mark is piling up, we just don’t want to see it.

I think this is because we have failed to deal with our collective trauma. Having been used and abused since before recorded history, we tried to escape by running toward modernity. Acknowledging that this legacy of abuse still afflicts us stirs up an avalanche of uncomfortable associations.

Our female brains have been used to justify stunting our education. But by pretending they don’t exist, we allow that owning one would be a handicap. Those who stubbornly insist on respect for their womanhood are cast as crazy. But maybe only a crazy woman would, since there’s a good chance she’d be making her stand alone.

The very idea of getting in touch with our primordial selves is a concept imported from male culture. Women’s primordial nature is tainted by terror, shame and betrayal. Ancient goddess myths hold few truths about who we are – They were probably written by men!


Don’t you like my hunting outfit??

We need to take inventory of who we are now. We need to acknowledge and unpack our historical trauma, and the terror it triggers in us. 

While each individual may not feel or embody each of these things, there’s about an 85% chance most of us relate to most of them. 85% is a huge number! Women exist, and it’s time we spoke up before we forget that we can.

Who Are Women?

Scott’s Scientific American article is very informative: “The existence of biological predispositions does not mean that sex differences are fixed and unchangeable after birth.” So, biology isn’t destiny. 

But practice makes perfect: “Some psychological sex differences are specially designed by evolution to arise developmentally and only after particular milestones. … Sex differences appear during puberty or other critical periods when genes become sensitive to activation by major maturational events.”

Many women say they have no maternal instinct. Here we have an explanation for this, and how it can be activated in certain circumstances. “Human psychology is highly sensitive to developmental and socioecological contexts.” This means mothering can be a choice, just like we always said.

However, feminine psychology is not the externally-imposed yoke some would have us believe. Scott shares some startling information gleaned from thousands of individuals around the world, “Surprisingly, several large cross-cultural studies have found … Whether scientists measure Big Five personality traits, such as neuroticism; Dark Triad traits, such as psychopathy; or self-esteem, subjective well-being, or depression, empirical evidence shows that most sex differences are conspicuously larger in cultures with more egalitarian gender roles – as in Scandinavia.” 

When given freedom of expression, we are more uniquely female, not less.


I hear my Mother calling!…

Interestingly, the psychological traits most prevalent in women are 

  • Empathy
  • Sexual disgust, and
  • Depression

We’re more likely to be disgusted by receiving a random dick pic, and then more likely to feel bad about it. Sexual disgust and depression look like echoes of our past as frustrated brood mares. 

Empathy is more interesting, first because it counterbalances the other two, less constructive tendencies. Awareness of others’ feelings will give you pause before lashing out in disgust or expressing your foul mood. 

It’s also the only way to communicate with an infant. Mothers who connect effectively give their children an early advantage. Generation after generation, they formed the aggregate that is our inheritance. 

So, we are loving, but isolated and sad. Sounds about right to me. 

Where Do We Go From Here?

We have taken our own identity for granted – Society could never just pretend we don’t exist! Except that’s exactly what’s happening, as we are legislated back to the Victorian era. 

We have leaned on the harsh material reality we claim to despise, neglecting to develop anything else of our own. Our material existence called into question, we find we have no other hard lines drawn.

But the border of womanhood turns out to be defended by something steadfastly sovereign. This invisible barrier prevents us from meeting male society’s expectations, though we spend our lives trying. Each of us can look inside ourselves and see dark, neglected corners of our psyche – Pieces of us that find no expression in our daily lives and languish, undeveloped.


Is that… vulnerability??

The time has come to invoke these hidden parts of ourselves, and to be uncompromising about it. Look to the parts of your psyche that make you squirm – Those are the parts you were taught to reject. Plunge through the barrier of unsettled feelings, and on the other side is unclaimed territory. 

For me, part of this has been attending to the sensory overload I’d been living with most of my life. What I thought were panic attacks faded away like fog in sunlight when I stopped trying to keep up and started listening to my body. 

Being uncompromising is really the hard part, and learning where to draw lines takes time. But the personal truly is political, each of us a point in the larger picture. Maybe being the change we want is a big ask, but we can begin it.

It begins with adopting the practice of listening to your intuition. Stereotypical, I know, but intuition is something all human beings possess. And it’s actually proven pretty reliable, even in a lab. 

A fun little piece called The Focused Leader has this to say: “Hearing your inner voice is a matter of paying careful attention to internal physiological signals. These subtle cues are monitored by the insula, which is tucked behind the frontal lobes of the brain. 

“Gut feelings are messages from the insula and the amygdala.”

According to Dr. Judith Orloff, who has made a career developing empathy“Intuition comes through as neutral, non-emotionally charged, and almost impersonal – just information. Fear, on the other hand, has a high emotional charge.” 

“Women’s intuition” has its roots in our empathic abilities, and important information is lost if we ignore it. I think a lot of women’s unhappiness comes from suppressing our own perspective, and no amount of success is going to fix it. We were miserable in the kitchen and now we’re miserable in the meeting, because we didn’t choose either of them. 

In order to choose our own path, we need to get to know ourselves.

Materially Speaking

Nothing threatens the power structure like women mobilizing. Which is probably why we can’t seem to get any real traction. 

Things in the US look pretty grim, Executive Orders from the Oval Office aren’t subject to a vote. Our Federal protections have been hollowed out with the stroke of a pen, and we’re still reeling from that as we try to take in what happened to women in Texas.

Mona Bird

Hey Leo, what about this pose??

We should be campaigning for equal participation in medical trials. 

We should be demanding recognition and compensation for the work of mothering and caretaking.

For now, we are looking at a fight for our basic legal status.  Collecting self-hating trauma victims isn’t easy but, if we can unite in our empathy, I think fighting these battles will begin us working through our trauma. We have to deal with it before it destroys us.

Next week, we will learn more about the history of women’s oppression, and see how it informs our current moment.