The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Friday, April 25, 2008

On the previous controvery about my attitudes..

Regarding men and women: the exact same gate that bars any conclusion that whites are intrinsically evil for slavery and racism bars a conclusion that men are intrinsically evil for sexism and violence toward women. I just don't see human beings that way. I look for basic tendencies that manifest differently in different circumstances. I see advantages and disadvantages for both groups, different styles of power and manipulation and control in both groups. But male and female is a complementary whole, not a separate group--the rules are very different.

I have more reason to think whites are evil or lesser than that men are. And if they're not, then it makes sense of my contention that what's really going on here is a gigantic cooperative clusterfuck clouding the minds and hearts of both men and women in the service of producing maximum children. Insisting that men get more out of life than women, when women themselves seem to indicate this is not true (by life satisfaction index) implies to me that there is important wiring here that is protected by guilt, blame, and shame. And that nature doesn't want us to look at it. Which makes it all the more important that anyone seeking to surpass their basic programming MUST look at it.

Anyway, that's genuinely what goes through my mind. To more specifically relate this to slavery, I think that men and women, blacks and whites, are equal spirits. It took black people 400 years to move from total slavery to a situation where the gap is one of tricky statistics, and one of us is the front-runner for President. Women have been working at this for a thousand times as long. To believe that they couldn't have found a way to level the field more than some of you seem to think would imply actual incompetance and incapacity...and if I genuinely think women are equal, the advantage of physical strength alone doesn't cut it. Anyone willing to die can equalize that in a heartbeat--its the advantage that every oppressed people has always had. I can't disbelieve the women who say that their lives are as satisfying, or look at the grotesque damage to men connected to violence and aggression and not conclude that the things that drive us as a species takes about equal toll on either side...but the damage and goodies are different. If you make the mistake of buying into either the male or female world views, it will look like the other side is either lesser or greater. I say they're just different, and complementary.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

" Insisting that men get more out of life than women, when women themselves seem to indicate this is not true (by life satisfaction index) implies to me that there is important wiring here that is protected by guilt, blame, and shame."

...and protected by sucking at set theory! Not all men get the same amount of benefit out of life as each other, not all women get the same as each other, etc.

suzanne said...

great comment, anon!

I just can't get my womanly mind
around all these dichotomies
no doubt the fault of my large
corpus callosum. . .

Anonymous said...

I don't understand this whole discussion at all. I think the whole who has it better men or women discussion is bogus. A lot of the discussion results from looking at the lives of men and women in other places and times in terms of current values in western culture and particularly U.S. culture. If I just go back as far as my parents generation the values and roles and contentedness in those roles seem much different. My mother stayed home, cooked, cleaned, washed clothes and of course took care of raising the kids. She always seemed happy in this role. My father ran a luncheonette. He spent 60 to 70 hours a week working in that luncheonette. He cooked the food, cleaned up after customers, and served the customers. He spent another 12 hours a week commuting to this luncheonette on the train. He always seemed happy with this work.

Marty S

Steven Barnes said...

Of course I agree it's bogus--and distracts us from the real work of evolving as beings and as a society. When we look at each other pointing (or shaking) fingers rather than turning inward, or concentrating on the path ahead, the monsters win...and there are plenty of monsters, including our own wounded egos. The real question is: how shall we best transform ourselves? I think that there are enough good people that we can let the bigots and sexists of all races and both genders argue while we built something beautiful...starting with our own souls.

suzanne said...

ever curious, Steve...

just what exactly is a "soul"?

Anonymous said...

suzanne:
When you look at young children playing and smile. When you feel compassion for someone with a serious illness. When you view one of nature's wonders and feel awe. That's your soul at work. Where it comes from or how it works I don't know, but I think its what makes us all human.

Marty S

suzanne said...

When you look at young children playing and smile. When you feel compassion for someone with a serious illness. When you view one of nature's wonders and feel awe. That's your soul at work. Where it comes from or how it works I don't know, but I think its what makes us all human.

I'm huge
on Wonder, Marty
I call that "spirit"
and I'm not ccretain it's
anything other than my essence/persona/personality
what I've made of myself
from experience/thought/imagination/dream/memory

sometimes I do wonder though
what will happen to all this Mindfull
and filled
with SO MUCH
reading/living/writing.mind meandering
when I shuck this body

seems a waste for it all just
to vanish
except in the memories of me
others have
and in what I've written doen

still all in all
it does look like
thats the Way of things

we are all
after all
neurons modules
in the Mind of the cosmos

we come and go

Steven Barnes said...

I would be happy to go with the general cultural images of the soul as an aspect of humanity that transcends earthly experience. No definition is really going to work perfectly, because language doesn't quite go there. But the general feeling corresponds with what I'm trying to say.

suzanne said...

so then, Steve
have I got this right?
you think there is some ineffable part
of an individual that
inhabits the body
sorta like a hermit crab
but which goes on
after the body stops?

Anonymous said...

Suzanne:
If your more comfortable calling it spirit than soul that's fine. I make no claim that it is something that survives one's death. I have no idea whether there is a divine being who gave us this spirit/soul or whether we somehow evolved it as either a survival trait or as an outgrowth of survival traits. It doesn't matter. Its still a part of what we are.

Marty S

suzanne said...

Marty___

if it is not ineffable
i.e., doesn;t survive death
then I think my noion
of it being the essence of the
individual as it evolves over one's lifetime
is okay with me

I have known since I was four
that at my core
I am a Lover
and that for me
is the defining characteristic
of my spirit

Steven Barnes said...

Suzanne: I think that yes, there is something more permanent than our bodies, a deeper truth to who and what we are than the "Life and Death" dichotomy suggests.
That to the degree it inhabits the human dimension, it plays the "game" of male and female, black and white or whatever--and then ultimately sheds that and returns to its original form. I think that that would pretty much express that aspect of this soul-thingie, that is sometimes called "the Jowk" in Africa. It is partially because I look at things that way that I don't think there is something unusually good or bad about white people, and I don't believe male human beings are in control of this game. I believe that the game is in control of the human dimension, and that the illusion is that any of us are in control at all.

Steven Barnes said...

Because I don't think there is a "me" I question any human games. I think that matter and energy can't be created or destroyed, only changed in form. Through that lens, there is something that definitely goes on, but since there was never really a "me" to begin with, I can't very well hope "I" survive "my" death. Language starts breaking down, as does logic. The closest I can come is something like a hermit crab--if when you peeled the shell away, there was nothing there. The pattern of the shell, and the energy interference patterns that created it...the message in the form, in other words, is what is. A ripple in the ether, a knot in the overall web.

suzanne said...

so Steve
there is no "you" when you go out
to pitch a story?

or when you do your damndest
to live as long as possible?

I don;t believe the
"there is no me" thingie
gets you very far through
living within that hermit crab husk!

I prefer the "there is a me
but it's a mere mote in the
cosmos' eye"
the me
not to be taken all that seriously
as to its meaning or import