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GKC on gender in WWttW

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GKC is very good -- because he is observant!

However, sometimes that's not enough to be altogether right. Gender and sex roles is an instance. His observations on generalism and specialism are quite penetrating, and quite illuminating, esp. w/ respect to education, and shed some light on the effects of sex roles in hallowing the distinctions and making them useful. (I am always inclined to solutions which do not require aeons of irrational actors to make them viable.)

But, GKC's keen looking at gender roles in his day has limited his vision -- to say that the generalist and specialist map so very much to the female and male roles is an overstatement. He himself remarks on the reconciliations of things, IIRC, which belong to our task as imago dei. I suspect that those aspects are also things to be reconciled in our life together.

To commit analogy, the roles/aspects he has described aren't just for one or the other -- GKC seems to me like a man who insists on hopping everywhere on his right leg at all times, and then defends this practice by complaining of the feebleness of his left leg...

The man is correct about a good many things, and I do not subscribe to the notion that men and women are the same, but the rather concretized and divided distinctions he makes are more than I think real, necessary, or right. That the home is a sphere of generalization, quite true, but that it is alone the woman's to preserve it such, not so; that certain levels of specialization narrow one in ways, true, but that half of humanity should be banished from its calling, is folly. An all-consuming specialist society has its banes, as we are beginning to see in a serious way at present, but the ideal GKC sees does not seem all that ideal to me. The old gender roles might actually be one of those few ideas which have indeed been tried and found wanting, unlike so many others, as the man himself so rightly observed.

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