The new female - male revolution.
Every generation needs to make a name for itself. When we think about it we can see why this should be the case.
The obvious reason is that each generation lacks its own experience as an entity in a society. Hence the need for a generation to have its own coat of arms, so to speak, is quite important. The generation that was conscripted to fight the second world war developed its own identity, usually in the form of baby boomers. In the sixties we find two distinct identities. The identity following the successes of the Liverpool four and the protest marches against the Vietnam war. This generation may be summed up as the come-back generation: they just cannot stop those compilation albums from appearing at a moment's notice.
However, what is group identity? In our case we are looking at the male and female groups. We are familiar with personal identity, even if we cannot articulate what it exactly, but does group identity follow the same principles? One attribute we ascribe to personal identity is uniqueness of character. In fact uniqueness of character is a must for personal identity.
If we are to have any revolutions for males and/or females we really must settle this little matter of identity. But the price we pay is of course an identity paradox. A female or male revolution presupposes a group made up of individual males and females. But if we accept the uniqueness principle for individual identity we either have to abuse the meaning of uniqueness or speak of a male or a female groups are just empty words.
Let me put it another way; are you prepared to say that as a person there is nothing to distinguish you from the rest of your gender population? Never mind your body, just think of the person.
So before we can have a revolution we need a movement, and before we have a movement we need a common cause between individuals. A male revolution and a female revolution still need to ask and answer the questions: Who are we revolting against? And what do we hope to achieve?
We are often told that women are revolting against the chauvinism and suppression of men against them. Of course there is always scope for improvement, but surely 'Margaret T' (as she was then) and 'Monica L' (as she still is) changed the complexion of the argument.
And what about men, what are they revolting against? In fact, do men have anything to revolt against? Of course, I must declare a personal interest here, so what follows might be biased; unintentional of course. Personally I would revolt against the 'numbers game' not to mention the high prices of weekend entertaining.
If by revolution we mean changing our lot or our circumstances then maybe we might get a better perspective on things. It is very common to equate changing our circumstances with an issue about rights.
So, if men want to have custody of their children, it is not a question of the modern male embarking on a new revolution, but modern men demanding what is rightfully theirs. If women want to have a career and lead an unattached life it is not a question of modern women embarking on a revolution, but a question of demanding what is rightfully theirs.
It is absurd to think that we have to organise a revolution to get our rights or to get what is a priori ours by the very nature of our existence. What we have to get rid of is the oppressive thinking that comes with the law of the jungle. Surely we have moved on from the top dog or lion king mentality of the jungle.
The new revolution must be aimed at the way we think, at how we think and the way we see the world around us. In other words, it in no one's favour to give us our rights. My rights are no less mine than my left hand is mine. It is absurd to talk of women having the right to reach the top of a Fortune 500 company. Or men having the right to stay at home looking after the family and their wives bring home the bacon.
If rights belong to no one or nothing to dispense off then why do we feel or have the need to fight for them? Suppression or plain bullying is responsible for the main reason. Conservative (with a small c) thinking is an other reason and is probably the result of suppression in the first place. There could, however, be an other reason. Lack of knowledge and skills. It's one thing not to be allowed to advance, but it's something really different if one does not have the skills to advance.
Maybe the new revolutions should not focus on giving us rights or new rights, which we already have anyway. Maybe the new revolutions ought to focus on opportunities. It is one thing to have the right to bring home the bacon and another to have eggs and bacon for breakfast.
This is where the problems start; the little matter of supply and demand have to be accounted for. Not everyone can become a mover and shaker in a Fortune 500 company. Limited resources really limit our opportunities.
In a way, a revolution must not address itself at giving rights, nor at the redistribution of existing resources, but a true revolution must deal with the creation of opportunities.
It is only when we have access to opportunities that we can really benefit from a revolution. But equal access to limited opportunities implies cooperation and consensus. The path to cooperation and consensus has so far taken from brut force, as in the hunter-gatherer eats saber tooth tiger for lunch, to suppression, i.e. the law of the jungle, to the empowering of the common man, through the establishment of the House of Commons, to group assertion, as in feminism.
Without any doubt the next and final revolution must be, the cooperation and consensus between males and females, as in respect of people as individuals and human beings.
Dec 16, 2004