Essentialism and Constructivism - How Feminism Confuses the Issues
How about a summary of the salient points? Here goes.
Essentialism (or "bio-essentialism" if you prefer) is the idea that men and women are essentially different in non-physical ways which cultural training cannot fully explain. Remember that we are not talking about differences of anatomy. Anatomy merely signalizes underlying bio-psychic traits of a more profound order, which explains the formulation that "anatomy is destiny". This saying informs us that anatomy is a kind of badge or pointer to a much deeper something which the word "destiny" references. So, while it is not true to say that anatomy literally IS destiny, we are made to understand that anatomy serves as a signpost of destiny. Individual feminists are often keen to refute essentialism as a standpoint, but the feminist "borg" (so to speak) leans markedly in the direction of essentialistic thinking. In the end, feminism is intellectually opportunistic.
Constructivism is the idea that men and women are different in nothing beyond anatomy, and that behavior differences emerge from how people are culturally programmed to behave from early childhood onward. This may be defined as the orthodox belief of liberal or mainstream feminism, and is loosely echoed in other feminisms across the board. This, however, is a deceiving appearance - and it manifests chiefly as rhetoric.
What feminism overall strives for, is whatever will maximize female advantage. Thus far, it has been most useful to adhere to the constructivist line because this provides the strongest philosophical rationale for any power grab, on behalf of women, which might be contemplated. However, feminism confronts a practical difficulty given that the objective state of the world is constantly evolving in unexpected ways. So it often comes about that female advantage can be most effectively maximized if one assumes that essentialism, rather than constructivism, is the real truth of things.
Hence, there is an inherent tension within feminist thinking because the prime directive to maximize female advantage often clashes with the discipline of being either a strict constructivist or a strict essentialist. These two theories cannot both be true, and yet each offers political advantages which the other does not. So it becomes necessary for some feminists to act like one of these theories is correct, and for other feminists to act like the other one is correct, and for any number of feminists to act like one of them is correct some of the time, and the other is correct the rest of the time.
As time goes on and women gain more and more power in every form, constructivism will become "mined out" as a source of philosophical justification for continued power grabs. It will then be necessary to make a massive paradigm shift by elevating essentialism to the position of orthodoxy, as opposed to the strong intellectual undercurrent position which it presently occupies.
That is one reason why the arrow of feminism's future points always toward radical feminism. Essentialist feminism is the most radical form that feminism can ever take, and it is the ONLY future that feminism can expect if it means to have any future at all. All feminism is evolving toward a form in which women are considered not just essentially "different" from men, but essentially better.
Stated simply, the future of all feminism is essentialist and female supremacist.
However, we are pretty sure that hell will break loose before things get to that stage. Granted, this sounds like a "good news-bad news" joke. Good news: it cannot continue. Bad news: it will end hellishly. So if we wish to throw more weight onto the good news side, we need to make plans and formulate policies. Hence, our governing purpose shall be, to keep the bad stuff to a minimum.
Yes. Let us keep the bad stuff to a minimum!