A man and a woman find themselves stranded on a desert island. In order to survive, one must go fishing, the other collect wood and start a fire.
On the first day, the man goes fishing and the woman collects wood for the fire. After a fruitful cooperation and a good meal, the man lays down, kicks his heels up, grabs a newspaper and a beer and asks the woman to clean up the fire camp and give him a massage.
The woman is outraged and asks « why should I be the one to do that, didn’t we both contribute to today’s dinner ? »
The man smirks dismissively : « While I was swimming like a dolphin, avoiding sharks, catching fishes with my bare hands, you were taking a pleasant stroll in the jungle, picking up twigs. »
The woman reluctantly obliges, cleans up the camp fire and gives the man a relaxing massage.
On the second day, the woman says : « today, I will go fishing, and you will go pick up the wood for the fire ».
« Sure thing ! » says the man.
In the evening, after another successful dinner, the man once again lays down, opens his newspaper, and pops a beer can asking for a foot massage.
The woman says : « You must be fucking kidding me ! This time, I went fishing ! Why should I be the one to do the cleanup again ! »
The man replies : « Hey, while you were chilling in the water, grabbing a few fish as they swam by, I was fighting my way through the jungle, sweating my ass off hauling heavy logs, battling wild animals and insects ! »
The woman clenches her teeth, but does as she is told, determined this is the last time she falls for this trap.
The next day, the woman asks the man : « What do you want to do today ? » The man says : « I’m going to collect wood again. » « Okay » says the woman, « I’m going with you ».
At the end of the day, the woman and man built a huge fire, which spread to the rest of the jungle. In the morning, both were found dead, burned by their failure to work together in a mutually beneficial and complementary way.
The morality of this story should shed some light on the current battle for gender equality, and a part of the feminist movement’s political demands. In a sense, feminists and many women have fallen into the men’s trap. Far from defending the importance of the role that women play today in our societies, women chase after the jobs which enjoy a certain social recognition and appreciation (as defined by the standards and norms of our current societies, which have been set by men) both in terms of salary and status. No feminist asks for quotas in jobs such as brick layers or garbage collectors. It’s all about parity in the most prestigious and valued jobs.
The story above is meant to see beyond the complex social constructs and layers that we placed over what should be a very simple principle: men and women are meant to cooperate in mutually beneficial ways.
One might ask why men have initiated a power grab for controlling society and defining societal norms and values which disproportionately benefit them and their activities. Behind every “genius”, there was a woman who nurtured that genius. Einstein’s ass didn’t wipe itself. But for some reason, women’s nurturing qualities, empathy, and other social skills are disregarded in our societies, in the same dismissive way as in the story above. Of course, this applies to men as well: men’s empathy, nurturing skills have also been disregarded and men suffer just as much from the current norms of what is important, such as being ostracized or mocked for having feelings or wanting to spend more time with their family!
So the answer as to why men have initiated a power grab over defining what is important, to the point of hurting themselves probably lies in the men’s existential fear of being useless. Indeed, if you look at nature, men are basically glorified body guards and gladiators, designed solely to defend women against predators, sacrifice their lives in case of an attack from predators, and fighting between each other to determine which male deserves to reproduce. Women, on the other hand, are extremely precious and valued by nature. They are naturally more resistant than men to diseases, they do not have an inherent biological urge for taking risks,… When it comes to the survival of a species, in a scenario where a single male survives for 100 women, the species may still survive. In a scenario where 100 males survive for a single female, the species is doomed.
Perhaps in a far distant past, our early societies were matriarchal, and women at the time perverted biologically determined roles and treated men like slave body guards/gladiators, which were allowed to reproduce to perpetuate the species, only to go back to their cage in a society controlled and dominated by women. Examining patriarchy, its description looks like the above in reverse: putting women in the sole role of mothers whose only role is to look after children and stay in their “cage” (the household).
In today’s world, however, it is time to achieve balance and stop the pendulum from swinging back and forth, pointlessly. What we need is not the kind of equality where more women simply blindly mimic what men think is important and should be valued, but where women are valued for what they think is important. For instance, paying nurses and teachers more, and paying traders and CEOs less. But that’s just a gross simplification of the deep reforms that are needed in completely revamping and rethinking the norms and values in our societies. The entire economic, financial, monetary and political systems are in crisis and will require very deep transformations in the coming decades.
True freedom, for both women and men, comes from the inside, not any outside proof or condition. So long as your sense of freedom is determined by external conditions, you are not free, you are a slave to that which you condition your freedom upon. The same goes for self-worth. So long as men will feel “manly” enough only on the condition that they dominate women and so long as women will feel “free” enough only on the condition that they are not dominated by men, both will be enslaved to each other, doomed at repeating an endless boring repetitive dramatic theater play between a perpetrator and a victim, in a codependent relationship. A break out from this situation can only come when both men and women embrace a change from within: where both women and men do not need to oppress anyone else to feel worthy enough, or fall for the erroneous belief that status or wealth define your self-worth.
A simple way to think of the end result of a fruitful relationship between women and men is to examine how our own body functions. Each cell contributes to the best of it’s ability to the whole, and especially, each cell receives the amount of energy (money) necessary to fulfill whatever function they have to fulfill, no more, no less. No cell’s actions are deemed less “worthy” or important than any other, as they function as a collective global organism and preventing one set of cells from doing what they do best can cascade into threatening the survival of the entire organism. This is the ultimate goal that we should reach in our societies. It is not about achieving any set outcome where 50% of women and 50% of men are doctors, or engineers, or house wives/husbands. It is simply allowing each human being, regardless of their gender, to contribute to society to the best of their ability, and receiving in the process, the exact amount of energy necessary to do so without any impediments.
Some may oppose the above recommendation as being essentialist, which it absolutely is. Indeed, for those familiar with my other writings, I firmly believe that humans are one part in a global collective organism, and the entire story of humanity has been to try to uncover the rules, values and norms which allow for a harmonious interaction between all humans. What are religions if not primitive attempts at “normalizing” human behaviour? What are human rights and democracy if not a modern attempt at achieving harmony and peace? What could be more just than a society where each human (regardless of gender, race or any other characteristic) is allowed to thrive, grow, expand their talents and share those to the benefit of society as a whole? In the end, given my beliefs and convictions, I am certain that this end result is inescapable, inevitable. The only question is whether we will take the easy road, or the hard one: whether we will need to experience an all out war between two extreme polarities (extreme feminism vs. extreme masculinism) or whether we choose to transcend these two extremes right here, right now.