Monday, July 16, 2012

Women and morality

July 16, 2012-Concepts of self and morality.
            When asked to define morality, Gilligan shows that women once again provided answers that were consistent with their desire to promote relationships and to defy hurting others. Women often stated that they wished to resolve conflicts where no one was hurt. Repeatedly she noticed that women took stands on controversial issues that seemed to re-enforce their desire to avoid causing pain to anyone. What realistically happens is that women are so concerned about the by-product of their stand on issues, that they tend to take weak stands or no stand at all.
Gilligan (1998) stated that, “{t}he essence of moral decision is the exercise of choice and the willingness to accept responsibility for that choice. To the extent that women perceive themselves as having no choice, they correspondingly excuse themselves from the responsibility that decision entails. Childlike in the vulnerability of their dependence and consequent fear of abandonment, they claim to wish only to please , but in return for their goodness they expect to be loved and cared for.” (p. 67). So once again, it appears that relationships are primary.
Gilligan spends much of this chapter writing about an abortion study. She seems to think that the ability for women to have abortions actually moves them out of the  realm of  being shrinking violets and more into arena of being less passive and more intellectual with their decisions.
Gilligan muses that when a woman contemplates ending a pregnancy she is forced to examine her notion of morality and come to terms with the balance of her needs versus the needs of others. Beyond even this moral issue is the ethical issue of hurting. In effect she has to consider not only the life she will be hurting, her life, the expectations of others and even societies view of right and wrong.
Gilligan notes that women’s voice in regards to major moral dilemmas contains the essence of the very words that are involved in the decision. For instance, to abort a life, the woman considers that fact that selfishness and responsibility is bantered about by members of society both male and female. “The inflicting of hurt is considered selfish and immoral in its reflection of unconcern, while the expression of care is seen as the fulfillment of moral responsibility.” (Gilligan 1998, p. 73). Once again, women become so bogged down in the rhetoric, they have difficulty actually making a decision.
Women use specific language when they consider making a moral decision. They use words such as; “should, ought, better, right, good and bad,” (Gilligan 1998, p. 75). Gilligan spends much of this chapter in the text writing about the results of the interviews that she did with women who participated in this abortion study. What is striking is how often the idea of relationship and care is repeated.
How is the male language different? For this study she did not ask males to participate, so one doesn’t have an alternative sex to compare the two different ways of speaking. She does mention though that, “[f}or men, the moral imperative appears rather as an injunction to respect the rights of others and thus to protect from interference the rights to life and self-fulfillment.” (Gilligan, 1998, p. 100). It is obvious that this language is much broader and more expansive than women’s perspective with seems to be much more introspective.

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