Thursday, December 29, 2005

The gym, Vox Day, freedom and voting, and women in general.

Joined a gym yesterday. I was feeling pretty out of shape. Dude, I had no idea.

Pre-Katrina, I was running about three miles a day. If I wasn't in the best shape of my life, I wasn't far off. In the month following, I lost a ton of weight. I've slowly started gaining it back, but in my belly, not my chest and arms.

Hence the gym membership. I walked a quarter mile, bumped it up to a full run, made it one mile, and had to go back to walking. Talk about sad. On the other hand, it IS definitely incentive to try very hard to get back in shape.

I emailed Anna saying I was coming into town, and actually got a full-length email from her in response. Good thing I'm getting back into shape - the shock alone had to have put a strain on my heart.

I know, I exaggerate. It's only been a year (okay, 11 months) since I got a email from her that's more than a sentence or two saying she's too busy to write.

I've been reading the online Blog of a guy named Vox Day. He claims to be a Christian Libertarian. He's a very arrogant, self-centered misogynist. And very intelligent and logical, and even persuasive in many of his views. At the very least, it's entertaining to read. He did bring up an interesting point, though. He said any society that truly wants freedom cannot give women the right to vote, because historically speaking, women as a group have ALWAYS voted for security over freedom.

At first, I found this incredibly offensive; how can you obtain freedom by denying half the populace of their freedom? Then the more I thought about it, the more I realized that almost all of my female friends would back up his perception. Even the ones that claim to be Libertarian are more Socialist when you get down to specifics.

Then I pursued the thought further, to try to figure out where the contradiction was. And I think I might have found it. The right to vote has nothing to do with personal freedom. In a direct democracy, the vote is used to exert control of the masses over the individual - in other words, it's a way to specify where your freedoms will be limited.

We of course, do not live in a direct democracy; we live in a republic that uses a representational form of democracy. Our vote really means very little; we're given very few real choices in who will represent us, and even those are minimalized by the electoral college. Our only guarantee of freedom is the three-branch system (theoretically based on the Constitution) with its checks and balances that are supposed to limit the power that government has over us.

In my opinion, we're already far down the path from freedom to totalitarianism. Not there, still a ways to go, but a long way back up the path to get back to the republic originally envisioned. Regardless - our vote doesn't give us the ability to achieve our freedoms. It only would if we all agreed on being free. Our vote is in fact used to limit our freedoms.

So in this case, Vox was right. If our only purpose is freedom, we should deny women the right to vote. And Communists. And Socialists. And any Democrats and Republicans who actually believe their official party lines.

Alas, much as I wish American ideals were about freedom, they're not. And it's no more right to force freedom upon those who do not wish it than to deny freedom to those who long for it.

Of course, the other intriguing question is about the differences between men and women. We all know there are many, many differences. And I think we'll all acknowledge that some are genetic. The tough question is - which ones? Many of the things just assumed to be feminine a hundred years ago we'd consider absurd now. The swooning and fainting fits - not about being female after all, but about wearing corsets that mess up your blood circulation. IF you picked up an etiquette guide for women publish a hundred years ago - or even 50 - you'd be astounded and either horrified or amused at what they took for granted was the woman's role. And some things I was raised to believe were innate (maternal instinct, reliance on emotion rather than logic, female subservience) seem to be more a common guideline than a rule.

I read an article about women converting to Islam in mass numbers. Here's a quote:
"A lot of women are reacting to the moral uncertainties of Western society," says Dr. Jawad. "They like the sense of belonging and caring and sharing that Islam offers."
( http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20051227/wl_csm/oconverts;_ylt=AmN42mkO.pzh3kmMkHp0zX9n.3QA;_ylu=X3oDMTA4NTMzazIyBHNlYwMxNjk2 )

Of course, now there's the huge backlash, as women in some respects want to be treated exactly like men, and in others, not at all. And many men are sick and tired of the tap-dance that they have to do. And women are tired of men complaining about it. And men are tired of women bitching about their complaining.

My personal belief is that we're going to have to wait at least another five or ten generations to figure out what differences are truly innate, and which were cultural.

But in the meantime, there's a real simple solution to it all. It's one that seems obvious to me, but I seem to be alone in this thought process. Don't assume. Don't stereotype. Take each person, and judge them by what they do, not what kind of genitalia they have. If she's an emotional girl, don't expect her to be logical, and don't get mad when she's not. And if you're her boss, don't put her in a position where she'd have to be something she's not, no more than you would if she were a guy that relies on emotion rather than logic. If she's logical and analytical, don't condescend to her about her emotions.

If she's traditional, be chivalrous. If she's not, then don't be. If she wants to be a homemaker, judge her as a homemaker, not as a future CEO. And if she wants to be a CEO someday, judge her on her abilities, not on whether you think a woman should be in that position. In other words, figure out who she is before you try put her in a category.

I often hear girls talk about how much better the world would be if women ran it. Bullshit. The drive, ambition, and ruthlessness necessary to get to the top are the same regardless of gender. We will have a woman president someday. And she'll be just as terrible as the males ones we've had.

My first job, I worked for a lady named June Talley. She didn't run the business like a woman. She didn't run it like a man. She ran it like June Talley. She partnered up with a man named Bob Hurley. The aspects of it he ran weren't manly or girly - they were Bobly (sorry for doing that to your name, Bob!).

We used to have books and books published about the differences between black men and white men. Turns out almost all our conceptions were bunk. Black men can be quarterbacks. They're not more primitive in their thought processes. They're not inclined to servitude. They're not larger in their genitalia (look it up - the only studies that say they are say it's by one tenth of an inch). About the main differences I can see are that they clap on the backbeat (beats 2 and 4) where white guys clap on the downbeat (beats 1 and 3), they're better dancers than white guys (that's not saying much), and have slight advantages in boxing (thicker skin splits less, bleeds less).

But it took a long time to get there, and even after a hundred years, not everybody's convinced. And I've met black guys with no sense of rhythm. And interesting article I read quoted Morgan Freeman as saying "I am going to stop calling you a white man and I'm going to ask you to stop calling me a black man."

( http://apnews.excite.com/article/20051216/D8EH3HCO9.html )

Black, white, male, female... Labels, categories.

So are women from Venus and men from Mars? Who the hell cares? We're all here on Earth right now. And I don't want girls assuming that I'm going to think something just 'cause I'm a guy. I fit into many of the male stereotypes - but not all. I guarantee if you read a self-help book about how to relate to men, you're going to be confused as hell by me. So I'm going to repay the favor, and not try to fit any girls into stereotypes until I know for sure which ones are a good fit for her.

So that's my thoughts for this morning. What do you think? You can always email me, of course, but I also enabled the "comments section" on my blog, so feel free to blast me if you think I'm wrong.

Talk to you all later,
Jess

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