I noticed a neat essay in titivillus‘s journal: Is There Anything Good About Men? It makes some interesting points about potential cultural and evolutionary reasons for the existence of a patriarchy. It also makes the good point that while many of our leaders are male, a sizable chunk of our criminals are as well.
I think it’s a interesting article to read and contemplate. I don’t really like the dichotomizing that seems to underlie the whole thing. Gender has been a big issue for me for a while. It started because I was detached and unemotional to the point of feeling dead in my life. As I started trying to understand ways to be more connected in my life and relationships I kept bumping into the stereotype that the things I wanted weren’t part of being a real man. It really took me down for a while. Remember that it wasn’t that I was having these feelings and was looking to deal with them; I felt completely broken away from my life and I felt at times that people were telling me that there was nothing I could do about it because I have a Y chromosome.
My response to gender at this point is there may be certain cultural or genetic predispositions, but their strength and prevalence is so variable that it’s completely useless as a measure of anything about an individual — about like race. So I could be reading an article about how slavery and selective breeding affected the genetic characteristics of Africans in America. It would be interesting and the statistics would be interesting to consider, but I would not let the information affect how I deal with a random black person I meet on the street.
I was thinking about that example. I, and I think most people, have a little voice in my head that actively chastises me if there are any racial stereotypes in my head when I’m talking to someone new. (Though I spent about two hours last night learning to be aware of race — I was watching Chappelle’s Show.) I’ve got a definite socialization against being racist. So far as gender though and making assumptions about a person based on their gender, I dislike it, but it’s mostly from my own thinking. Socially I’ve got some little voices about the value of women’s rights, but things about a person’s emotionality, aggressiveness, or interests are all fair game.
The bit that I distinctly disliked was the last paragraph. I read it as essentially, “There are many critics of how our society operates. There are a variety of reasons that things have progressed this way and the fitness of this type of society is why it has won out. We should think twice before screwing up something that works.”
The “this is the way we’ve been doing things and it works” is a horrible argument and one neednt look any farther than the pyramids to see accomplishing amazing things is not the only criteria for judging a system. I really do believe that the human animal has a capacity for amazing complexity that most people never even get near because they’re too busy chasing the brass ring or pleasing their parents or their church or just playing out some random drama. I don’t expect to live in a world that encourages anything else within my lifetime, but I think so far as a goal, it’s a good one.