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Banbury Cross

a pillow for lost thoughts...

Archives for: August 2014

Das Ewig Weibliche Zieht Uns Hinan

"You kick like a girl", shouted out one of my teammates during our co-ed soccer game on Tuesday. Some of the present ladies frowned and a passionate debate ensued over the waterbreak.

I personally think we should celebrate and embrace our differences rather than try to artificially suppress them. The sexes are different in most biological and psychological aspects and pretending it is not so won't solve any of the related problems. Imagine we insisted that knives and forks should be used equally for cutting and piercing. What a mess that would be. They are not functionally indistinguishable. They simply have complementary strengths, much like men and women.

What should be fought for is equal rights, which includes the notorious "equal pay for equal work" as a special case. In addition to that we should recognize motherhood as a socially beneficial and truly exceptional role and should make sure that mothers are fully supported in this calling (for instance the current length of maternity leave in the US is utterly insufficient by the developed world standards). But we should not throw the baby out with bathwater. Our differences still make the world a more colorful place. To use a poetic license - men are rivers, women are lakes. Men are prying arrows of volatility, women are soothing anchors of stability.

In short, men and women are like magnets with opposite poles. If we neutralize the charges, will we still get the same dynamos? I doubt so. We'll get two listless, odorless, colorless chunks of matter. The French knew how important women are to the machinations of this world - "Cherchez la famme". But what if "la famme" will have become just a guy with softer body features - what will turn our world around its axis then? The question, of course, remains whether we can maintain sufficient differences without regressing to past stereotypes? After all, women have the same right to contribute to progress as men.

Goethe ends his Faust on a similar note: "Das Ewig Weibliche Zieht Uns Hinan" (the eternal womanhood draws us higher). In the postmodern unisex world, women will have to find a rather subtle and fleeting balance between retaining enough of their femininity to inspire men while spending enough energy to inspire themselves? Where exactly that balance lies is the $64000 question.

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