sexual relationship with a female; achievement takes priority over
intimacy until mid-life when suddenly males realize what they have
been missing. Males identify themselves and their success by their
accomplishments; females identify themselves by their relationships.
To females, relationships are (or can be) more like a network of safety
and care among equals; they want to be in the center of the network
and fear getting too far out on the edge (like being caught outside the
camp in hostile territory). Women recognize more openly their
interdependence on others and see the powerful person as being able
and willing to help and nurture others. Men see power as the ability to
control others. To males "being responsible" in a relationship means
not doing what you want to do out of consideration of others. To
females "being responsible" means doing what others are counting on
you to do, regardless of what you want to do. There is a difference.
Surely the male concern with individual rights and the female
concern with caring for others are both important. Each sex has
important contributions to make to moral reasoning, certainly neither
sex has a monopoly on morals. The concept of rights is based on the
notion of fairness and equal opportunities. This kind of justice is vital.
The concept of responsibility for helping others is based on a
compassionate understanding of human needs. Loving one another is
also vital. Perhaps a combination of (1) respecting everyone's rights
(including one's own), (2) personal integrity (being true to one's
beliefs), and (3) assuming responsibility for helping others may define
moral maturity for all of us--men and women. Justice tells us that
everyone should be treated the same; personal caring tells us to do
more than just not hurt anyone--we must help everyone who needs it.
Women, giving us a different moral perspective from males, can help
all of us be more caring, more responsible, and less aggressive. Thus,
we all need to "learn to think like a woman" as well as like a man (see
straight thinking in chapter 14). Think of the changes that might occur
if world leaders were committed to justice and to responsible caring,
rather than just to defending our rights and possessions with weapons.
Selecting your guiding principles
Moral dilemmas, like the dying wife vs. the profit-seeking druggist,
are often discussed in schools and groups in order to "clarify values."
There are also exercises in which a group must decide which three
people out of six will be allowed to stay in the lifeboat. These activities
are supposedly for "moral education." However, the participant's task
is to select one value over another (when both are quite important)
and then glibly argue for your point of view. These are good verbal
exercises or games but, as Etzioni (1993) points out, they, in most
cases, do not teach us great moral truths. A true moral truth should be
obvious and undeniable, not a topic of serious debate. What are
examples? Honesty. Fairness. Caring (as in the Golden Rule). Using
your talents to help others.
Etzioni argues for teaching a variety of "accepted values" in
schools. But this must be done through meaningful experiences, not