January 18, 2012 7:00 AM   Subscribe

A few years ago I attended a talk on women's wellness in which the speaker referred to the idea that in our male-dominated society, work quality/style is considered superior when the work is cranked out regularly (in the way that men produce sperm all day long), whereas a feminine perspective would be more cyclical (as in the menstrual cycle), with production of work involving periods of contemplation/incubation and rest and less volume of production. Does anyone know the origin or source for this concept? I don't think it was the speaker's original idea.

I may be botching the details of how the idea worked, but I think it's basically what I described above. I'm wondering if a book or author or someone came up with this idea and expanded on it. Not sure if I should be looking into feminists thinkers, business concept people, or something from a health perspective. Thanks in advance, everyone!
posted by pupstocks to Religion & Philosophy (4 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Well, that sounds like a lot of hooey to me, but there may be a grain of an actual reference in there. Unfortuanately,I can't dig it up because I am just not having search-term magic today, but sometime over the last 3-4 years I heard an author interviewed on the radio talking about a book she had just finished which drew on lots of aggregate career studies. It may well have been this. One of the things she mentioned was that it can be useful for women to think of their career paths like "waves," intensifying at times and moving forward rapidly, then settling back at times as other priorities take hold for a few years at a time, in phases - childrearing, family care, etc. She contrasted this with the classic career trajectory of straight up the ladder as fast as you can with no pauses, which she characterized as being made possible for men in the past and to some degree the present by the free and/or paid labor of women at home. So the "wave vs. straight-line" thing has come up before. But this connection with sperm? I mean, please.
posted by Miko at 8:45 AM on January 18, 2012

Not sure how deep you want to go with this, but the keyword you likely want is something like "patriarchy studies". Some of this goes all the way back to Levi-Strauss, but there's a critical essay by Heidi Hartmann that lays the groundwork for what your speaker was possibly talking about: Capitalism, Patriarchy and Job Segregation by Sex [free pdf] However, it doesn't mention reproductive systems except generally.
posted by dhartung at 3:20 PM on January 18, 2012

Response by poster: Just to clarify... it wasn't as direct a connection as you're implying, Miko. It wasn't like "oh, women can't produce quality work on a daily basis because they have periods." I apologize for not explaining it well. Unfortunately my memory's a little fuzzy on it, which is why I was hoping someone here would have heard of the idea and have a reference!

It was a little woo-ish in the sense that she (the speaker) was talking about masculine vs feminine energies or something along those lines, but it was part of a larger point about how women change hormonally throughout the cycle, and so it's natural for women not to feel the same every day (to be more tired or more energetic on certain days), unlike men, who have relatively consistent hormonal levels throughout a given month.
posted by pupstocks at 7:13 PM on January 18, 2012

Well, no the theory in the book I linked to has nothing about monthly cycles, which still sounds like nonsense. It's more about the broader pattern of a lifetime and the unequal burden of family care which still falls disproportionately on women.
posted by Miko at 1:38 PM on January 20, 2012

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