The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Gender Fluidity: Are Men Still From Mars?

Throughout time, men and women have collaborated in making men and women what they are. We have created each other, and our roles have always had both advantages and limitations. This article, thankfully, doesn't try to suggest that men have been in control of this--as if they WANTED to do the violent, dangerous jobs, die younger, and have less contact with their families. Men have programmed women to be more yielding and "feminine" and women have programmed men to be more aggressive and "masculine." As each becomes more conscious, the awareness that these were roles designed to increase certain aspects of cultural efficiency--and therefore produce the largest number of surviving, reproducing children--spreads among those capable of seeing beyond the surface. And we can choose to live our lives differently, more authentically, and more long as we feel safe and secure. If society ever collapsed, however, we'd be right back in Tarzan-Jane territory. Just one of the reasons why our web of social contracts and protections is so precious.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost


Marty S said...

I followed the link to the article. After reading the article, what I found most interesting was the eight buttons at the top you can use to express your opinion of the article.
The buttons were

inspiring | enlightening | crazy | scary | helpful | amazing | innovative | important

Notice first of all that the selection is biased six to two on the favorable side. But more importantly the negatives are both extreme(crazy,scary). There are no choices like "incomplete"
which allows for agreeing with some points and disagreeing with others or feeling some issues were left out. This seems typical with the current attitude in our society that anyone who disagrees with us "crazy,scary" and can't have some valid points.

Nancy Lebovitz said...

I suggest that you can tell which gender has the better deal by looking at how territorial it is about its expected roles and indicators.

Male resistance to women in combat implies that combat is perceived worth it-- that the (perceived?) gain in status is more valuable than getting more people on your side by permitting women soldiers.

Marty S said...

Nancy: I think historically the military being a male bastion had more to do with the perceived value of women to the tribe then the worth of the job. One man and five women can produce five babies to replenish the tribe after a war, but one woman and five men can only produce one baby.

Nancy Lebovitz said...

Marty S, I'm pretty sure it doesn't work like that, though more historical examples would be handy.

From what I've heard after WWI, in which a very high proportion of men were killed, women who couldn't get husbands pretty much didn't have children.

The Heinleinian notion that wombs are the bottleneck for reproduction misses that human children generally need the help of more than one adult to grow up, and the lower the tech, the more obvious that need is.

Marty S said...

Nancy: I'm sure your right about after world war II. But you are talking about very recent times and in a country where polygamy is outlawed. This is not representative of most of human history.

Anonymous said...

Male resistance to women in combat implies that combat is perceived worth it-- that the (perceived?) gain in status is more valuable than getting more people on your side by permitting women soldiers.

I think this statement would leave most vets shaking their heads. Ask a male vet of any conflict how they would feel about their wife or daughter serving on the front line and you would probably get a really negative response!

Having personally served with women in the military most jobs they do fine, no big deal, they are soldiers just like anyone else.

Women grunts?(regular infantry) the only problem that notion is that women are simply less physically suited to it. In the field women suffer more. UTIs, stress fractures, extremes of temperature. During my time in the Army that was the problem with females in a straight combat role. conditions were simply tougher on them.

T.M. said...

"If society ever collapsed, we'd be right back in Tarzan-Jane territory"

As a crafter in fiction, you deserve to be teased about this.

You have just said that we'd be "right back" in a model of gender relations as envisioned by a Victorian English male fantasist with no serious grounding in either anthropology or evolution.

Of course we wouldn't be right back there; we were never there in the first place.

You've evoked the fantasy, not the history.

Historically and evolutionarily, the key primary relationship is not Tarzan - Jane, it is mother - child. And generally speaking, when things collapse, mothers do not get scared, mothers get scary. And so do fathers.

I'm not at all certain that our men who care are this new ultra-civilized thing rather than the long-delayed re-emergence of a natural pattern rooted in millions of years of fathers, mentors, and masters teaching their children to work along side them, a pattern interrupted only a historical eyeblink ago by the Industrial Revolution.

Marty S said...

T.M: I can really buy into your father mentoring son scenario. Some of the happiest times I had with my father were the two summers I worked in his luncheonette and he tried to teach me the business. I will never forget the time he pointed to a piece of apple pie and said that it was getting too old and he had to sell it today or throw it out. He then said he would sell it in the next fifteen minutes and I should watch how he did it. I watched and he sold it to the very next customer. I definitely learned something about selling and people that day.