The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Women and Men round Two: duck and cover

Ah, things are heating up.  I love it.  Time to make my attitude clear enough for folks to attack me for what I really mean, rather than what they THINK I meant.
1)  women are not superior to men.  When I said that the world could use more feminine energy, it's not that I'd like there to be more feminine than masculine energy.  It's that I think we're a little out of balance in the direction of the male. I also think this was inevitable, and a consequence of the type of organizational structure necessary to get through the Industrial Revolution--so far as I know, every society that made that leap organized itself in a more or less heirarchical, patriarchal form.  I love the line in "The Chalice and the Blade"--Matriarchies are the best places to live in times of peace.  and the worst to live in times of war.  Because I believe wars are caused by the "zero sum" mentality that most men and women have, the increase in population naturally causes people to come into conflict over philosophies and resources. 
2) Like everyone out there, I have the right to an opinion about men and women.  If we don't know each other, we must be walking through life with our eyes closed.  It's a fact: I've probably spent more time around women than the average heterosexual woman. I was raised by my mother and my sister, have lived with one of three different women my entire adult life, and have an 18 year old daughter.  I've spent WAY more time around women than men, and would have to be a moron not to have an informed opinion.
3) I tend to consider groups equal, and then modify the opinion from there.  I've found that this works lots better than considering them wildly different, and then searching for similarities.  Men and women have different types of strength, but both are strong.  Ultramarathon events?  That would definitely shade toward women, who are physiologically set for a "big painful push" lasting several hours.  On the other hand, watching men and women suffering similar injuries, they seem to bitch and wail and moan about equally.  I think people are more impressed by a woman not losing her cool under such circumstances because of cultural b.s., and more contemptuous of, say, a big bad football player wailing his woe because of similar cultural expectations.
4)  Men and women have horrific capacities for cruelty, and similar capacities for kindness.  I think the enlightened human being is a blend of the male and female, and that if you tilt too far in either direction you get something monstrous.  But women tend to excuse their own brand of monstrousness--or suggest that these are not "true" feminine characteristics.  Men do the same.  We have blind spots for our own group's particular brand of evil.  Men TEND to do their evil more directly, women TEND to do their evil more indirectly, by manipulation.  But you know what?  In situations where women have a physical advantage of size over men or other women?  They act just about as directly as men. 
I tend to think that an example of "out of balance" was the current Bush White house, the most ultra-male I've seen in my lifetime. Colin Powell seemed to me the most "feminine" voice of the bunch, with Condoleza Rice clearly considering herself a mated pair to Bush (her famous gaff about "my husband" surprised me not even a little.)  With such a testosterone-heavy bunch, it was logical for them to look at the American military, the most fearsome death machine ever created, and be incapable of believing that this blunt tool could not fix any problem.  You know what?  You can't fix a television set with a hammer.  But they eschewed a more "feminine", non-heirarchical approach (namely, get more of the world in cooperation.  Understand what motivations the terrorists have, and do what is honorable to remove any rational motivations.  Simultaneously, of course, you use the more masculine approach of killing each and every son of a bitch responsible for 9/11, and grinding their organization into dust.  A nice, balanced approach) in favor of attacking Iraq.  There may well be many good reasons for attacking Iraq, but there are also some damned fine arguments why it was a freaking world-class cock-up as well.
So--As with all the themes on this blog, the question is balance.  I think that we are headed into an era of greater feminine influence, and I'm all for that.  But if the women ever gained total control, we'd be in just as much sewage as we are when the men have it.  Of course,  that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.


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