Modern day feminism baffles my wife the same way it baffles me: “I don’t want to be your equal! I just want us both to be considerate of each-other and to do our respective ‘bests’ towards our common goal: for our entire family to be as happy as possible, as long as possible!”
To me ‘equality’ is indeed important but I never forget it is nothing but an idea that needs people to put it into practice and I always remember that the results of its implementation rely heavily on the individuals involved in the process.
On the other hand ‘justice’ has a very powerful practical side. “Fiat justitia ruat caelum” is supposed to mean “let justice be done though the heavens fall”. I strongly disagree with this interpretation. Romans were extremely practical people and I’m sure they meant “let justice be done OR the heavens will fall”.
Back to feminism. My first real problem with it arose when I kept the door open for a lady (?!?) in New York and she hissed at me: ‘Move or I’ll scratch your eye-balls, you misogynistic perv!’ (Please note that I am a Romanian living in Bucharest and even if communism has done a lot to improve the status of women relative to that of men – while lowering both – we didn’t give up common courtesy).
So are women equal to men? Some say yes – I somewhat tend to agree, at least with their intentions – while others deny it vehemently citing, among others, differences in size, stamina, etc…and sometimes even differences in how our brains work or how we respond to what is happening to us. I find this arguments to be very flimsy. If anything women should be considered superior to men because they need only a small amount of sperm to give life to another human being while all we man can do about this, after donating the sperm, is to help them in raising the offspring. So yes, we work a lot better in tandem but if push comes to shove a single woman is able to fend for herself (and for her children) a lot better than a single man would be.
The hard reality is that we function differently and we do this for a very good, if overlooked, reason: we are wired differently. Having different sexes means a lot more than being programed for different reproductive roles, it means that we transmit differently genetic information to the next generation and I’m not speaking exclusively about the genes that determine the sex of the child.
There are chances that you have already heard about ‘mitochondrial DNA’ (If not this is about some genetic information that regulates not only the way the human cells generate energy by oxidizing glucose but also other important processes). Now the funny thing about this is that even if we men believe ourselves to be the ‘more energetic gender’ we inherit the ‘software’ that determines how we generate and use energy exclusively from our mothers. Weird, heh? So men, contrary to the widespread belief that they contribute with half the genes of their offspring, have in reality nothing to do with an essential part of the metabolism of their children while women pass along this kind of information to both genders alike.
But wait, there is some more. Some people would jump to say there is a similar situation with the Y chromosome, the one that differentiates man from woman and which comes directly from the man, right? Well… not so fast. Having a Y chromosome helps but does not guarantee maleness while having two X chromosomes does not always insure feminity. It seems that each and everyone of us are not only wired differently but also our fate is heavily in debt to the particular environmental conditions that surrounded our development.
Now that we reached the subject of the ‘environment’ lets see how it has evolved in the last 100 000 years or so.
No, don’t worry, I’m not going to ramble about the global warming, this is about the social environment. You see, by the time we are born there are about 1.06 boys for each girl, when we get near to the 20 years mark the numbers are roughly equal while as we get older the sex ratio is skewed in the favor of women. And the fact that “the percentage of men aged 65 and up grew faster than the percentage of women aged 65 and up, according to the 2010 census” suggests that there is nothing wrong, biologically, with men only they tended to live more riskier than the women.
So humankind evolved while the norm was for two generations – parents and children – to be present at the dinner table at one particular time while a third generation, the grandparents, was a rare exception and it was not uncommon for a widow to raise its offspring, maybe with some help from the relatives or from the older children. The proportion of single women rising children tended to rise shortly after major wars.
And these things are not without consequences. Social change is, in general, slow but increases its pace after great wars. Yes, probably the driving force behind the change may have been people’s dissatisfaction with what had just happened but i’m convinced that the change was facilitated by the fact that the single mother who had to provide for her family had less time to interact with its children so she had less time to pass over to them the ‘values’ and customs valid for those times. And so it was easier for the young generation to effect change because they were less imprinted with the ‘good old ways’. Another thing. Who were the most conservative sections of the society? The better off-s? Surely because the status quo was beneficial for them! Yes, probably this was the driving force but the fact that wealthy people had a tendency to live long enough to meet their nephews was also helpful: the grand parents contributed to the imprinting of the younger generation.
So what am I driving at? That women should stay at home and raise the kids in the shadows of their almighty husbands? Not at all, no way Jose. Restricting half the population to domestic chores only cripples a society, it is a waste to stifle the creative capacity of so many people.
I just propose for us to understand that even if we are able to survive, to a degree, separately it would be better to work as a team. Also we should accept that our innate abilities are different, even if they overlap considerably, and therefore we should not insist as much on ‘equality’ but rather on mutual respect and cooperation.
Also that we should teach our children to use their heads for thinking autonomously instead of memorizing like a parrot our already ‘old’ ideas. It is better for them to be able to discern what worked and why than to try to remember which is the pertinent ‘tradition’ for every problem they encounter. This way revolutions that happened because the society became stuck will eventually give way to peaceful and continuous fine tuning – evolution that is.
And one other, and last – at least for now, thing. We should never stop defending our freedom. Subordination has nothing to do with cooperation. (I am speaking now about the cooperation between genders, sometimes subordination works in other areas of human interaction)