It’s funny how a seemingly trivial event can touch off a train of thought that ends up quite far from its original trajectory! That’s exactly what happened to me on the week-end when our next door neigbour mistakenly greeted me as Dorothy (my wife) across the fence. I was in the middle of hanging washing on the line and obviously, she had not looked closely and therefore assumed that it was indeed my wife and not myself. For some reason, I was mildly peturbed by this understandable error. Indeed, her own husband is surely not the type to do this and most often, it is Dorothy who does hang out the majority of the laundry because she likes the ‘fresh-air’ smell and feel. Personally, although I realize that it makes sense and saves money, the environment etc., I would still use the dryer at the least excuse.
It was the automatic assumption that the neighbour made that really got me thinking. Things have certainly changed in recent times! As I was growing up as a child, my father would never have hung out washing unless he were specifically asked, something that my mother was not likely to do. In today’s world as we inch toward ‘total equality’ of the sexes, a larger percentage of men are likely to be seen doing ‘women’s work’. Men now routinely stay at home and look after the children while the mother brings home the bacon.
It is the concept ‘equality’ that was really causing me grief! After considerable thought and consideration, I have come to the conclusion that I am not a fan of nor believer in equality. All men (and women) are NOT born equal. We all have different faculties, physical attributes and future potential. Try as we may, very few of us will become astronauts, country presidents or famous actors. First, we need the aptitude and secondly the opportunity. In neither case are we, as members of the human race, equal. Some will have more skill or aptitude and yet others will have more opportunity. The lucky ones amongst us will be able to have the two coincide and will succeed where others will fail.
It seems to me that we really need to change our focus away from the concept of equality towards one of tolerance and encouragement. We should accept that whether we like it or not, there are trends and norms that exist in society. Furthermore, it is completely normal and indeed important that we recognize and except them, provided that they are to the benefit of the majority. A perfect example is that of sexual orientation. Like it or not, the majority of the population is heterosexual. Always has been, always will be. Therefore, it is normal that our governmental and societal structures reflect that fact. This is not to say that there is anything wrong with either homosexuality or bisexuality or any other variant thereof. Live and let live should be the watchword, but let’s not have the tail wagging the dog!
The same thing applies to racial profiling. If I am a law enforcement officer and am investigating a crime where 90% of all recent break-ins was carried out by a one-legged albino, most people would consider me derelict in my duty if I did not stop and question ANY one-legged albino I encountered. Now, my sympathies go out to all the one-legged albinos that are inconvenienced, but them’s the breaks!
Although I may seem to be digressing slightly, the basic point is men and women will never be equal! We are physically and mentally different (thank goodness)! So why do we need this pretence of equality. Since women physically bear the offspring and are more apt to nurture them than we men, why should we not recognize this? I am not saying that we should put any roadblocks in the way of men who wish to perform these functions (except the actual gestation) but let’s accept the fact that, for the majority of couples, it will be the mother who chooses to forgo some part of her career to bring up the childrem. And if neither of them do, that’s okay too, but I don’t believe that it is in society’s interest as a whole that we actively encourage deviation from the norm. Live and let live by all means, but why must we insist on denying the basics of who and what we are.
I am not wanting to start a discussion of Darwinian principles, but it seems obvious, to me at least, that Mother Nature, over the millenia, intended that the men should hunt and gather while the women tend to the offspring. Must it be this way? No, but is there necessarily anything wrong with it either? Only if we FORCE either man or woman to conform against their will.
Diversity is a critical and beneficial component of our society. However, once we start promoting it to the detriment of the majority, anarchy will never be far away.
So, as you can see, one chance greeting over the fence took me on quite a philosophical journey. It ended with me coming to the conclusion that if we could only replace the quest for equality with enhanced respect for all our differences, we would be taking a step in the right direction.