12 July 2007

Egalitarianism and the female image

While I think that fundamentally what has been against me all my life has been the modern ideology of egalitarianism, with its hatred of innate ability, precocity, and individual autonomy in every form, it is certainly the case that being female and hence at the mercy of female teachers, tutors, headmistresses, college Principals and (at the SPR) Rosalind Heywood, has always made everything as bad as it could possibly be.

Women on the whole are unsympathetic to drive and ambition, especially in other women, and from the age of 14, if not earlier, I have always had at least one woman — and usually two — networking energetically against me.

A friend was saying recently how much this must have increased the opposition against me. ‘Well’, I said, ‘I thought the way was open. There had been one or two women scientists, Marie Curie and Lise Meitner. I did not realise there was anything against ambition. I had read about the lives of a lot of people and it was not illegal to want to work and use one’s ability to get into the right sort of position in life. If anything, it was approved of.’

‘But all the people in the past who had risen in the world by hard work were men. Were there any other women among the figures of the past that you had read about?’ I had to admit that there were not.

As my friend pointed out, women even more than men are expected to demonstrate uncritical submission to, and acceptance of, social evaluations. Although I did nothing to draw attention to it, I was radically sceptical and open-minded in all contexts, expecting it to be sufficient that I behaved as a respectable person in line to become a pillar of society as my parents were, although I would need to aim at a more prestigious level of society than that in which they had been forced to live out their lives as members of socially displaced high-IQ families.

I had not, at 12 or 13, acquired the belief in society that most people have, and I had never identified with the female image. I read boys’ books predominantly, thinking that reading books for girls was exposing one to becoming identified with pernicious psychological influences, even if it was difficult to work out what they were.

I suppose that my lack of identification with the female image also aroused hostility (as did my precocity and drive) although I do not know how it came across to people. I was wearing the same school uniform as the other girls and got on with doing the required work as well as possible. So what was wrong with that?