Thursday, November 24, 2005

Women and In-Depth Learning

I had another conversation (related to the post below) about women learning Gemara. I contended that, given how women have reached the highest levels in all the other fields, that I see no reason why they couldn't become talmudic scholars. I'm not taking a position on whether they should, just that they could.

Basically his thesis was that men and women think differently. Our minds work differently. Men think more rationally, women think more "artsy" (not sure what he meant by that). Since Gemara is very rational, men can understand it, while women can't.

One of my arguments was that women do just fine in law school. I've met some pretty smart women, and I have no reason to believe if they were given years of proper training in Torah that they could be on the same level as any regular Yeshiva guy. As noted below, he argued that the level of difficulty is very different and that while women can think rationally on the basic level needed for law school, they cannot go beyond the surface and think deeper.

Obviously I disagree. There are some pretty deep rational fields (philosophy for example) where women do just fine. But that wasn't my problem with his argument. If someone wants to say that men and women think differently, fine. If he argues that men are better engineers because their minds work that way, and women better social workers because their brains are wired like that, OK. I might not agree, but I can see the argument.

But to contend that women can think rationally only on a lower level is just a fancier way of saying they are dumb. One key element of intelligence is the ability to think deeply. If women can't do that, they are just not as smart as men. Law school is not easy. In most cases it requires rational thought. To say that women can accomplish that, but can't think on a higher level is just to say they aren't intelligent enough to think on that level. I've seen no evidence of that.

No comments: