In “Summa Genderratica,” I argued that our gender system can ultimately be understood as two overlaid dichotomies; the subject-object dichotomy and the disposable-cherishable dichotomy. Men are understood as disposable subjects, valued only for the results of their actions, whilst women are understood as cherishable objects, inherently useful due to their biology yet fragile and thus both deserving of and in need of protection.
The only problem with this formulation is that it is rather unwieldy, and as such I have been working on a way to express it in a more simple manner.
The Instrumentalization-Infantilization Dichotomy is my ultimate answer.
“Instrumentalization” is a form of objectification (see Nussbaum’s “Objectification” for more, where she refers to this as “Instrumentality”) whereby an individual’s value is determined entirely by their usefulness/service to others. This encompasses both agency (one must be able to act in order to serve) and innate disposability and thus is the perfect encapsulator of the male condition.
“Infantilization” is also a form of objectification, specifically the denial of agency, yet it also implies the second element of the feminine condition; being considered innately special and precious. Our society’s package-dealing of women and children says it all – they are the future (or incubators thereof) and thus inherently special in and of themselves.
Thus, the Disposable-Cherishable dichotomy is combined with the Subject-Object dichotomy, resulting in the Instrumentalization-Infantilization dichotomy, which fully encapsulates all aspects of how both men and women are treated under the traditional gender system.
For more on the Infantilization of women, I recommend Ginkgo’s post on “Neoteny as a Feminine Gender Norm” (link: http://www.genderratic.com/p/2775/female-privilege-neoteny-as-a-feminine-gender-norm/) (in this post he also refers to the “maturity” aspect of the gender system and how it applies to males – a point I have stressed repeatedly as critical to understanding the male condition).
Apologies for my short post. I promise my next article will be much more substantial (and controversial!).