This comment was from NickMostly on the post Patriarchy Shmatriarchy
I recall someone once making the argument that boys are rougher and girls are gentler and this was just nature. And then I read a study where researchers observed the way people handled newborns, being qualitatively more physical with infant boys and more cuddly with infant girls.
When the US invaded Iraq stories came back from soldiers about Iraqi men walking hand in hand through the streets. This was seen as aberrant by the US soldiers, and they told the Iraqis they should refrain from the practice.
Then there is the Canadian couple who chose to keep their child’s genitals secret for the first five years of their life. There was a great outcry when the story was publicized, with much hatred, including death threats, leveled at the couple.
There is much that we do that appears to come naturally. The fact is that we are largely incapable of determining what is natural and what is not, because our existence is steeped in gender roles from the moment of our birth. Literally from the day we are born, our genital configuration determines how we are treated which in turn normalizes the stereotypes with which we are raised. What appears to be natural to us may in fact not represent some innate characteristic but instead a social more we’ve observed and adopted as an unassailable truth.
Let us speak no more of what is “natural” because it only serves to divide us. Instead we should focus on identifying and reducing suffering in this world, whether it is the suffering of men or women, and whether or not that suffering is of our own creation. I believe we can strive for equality while also celebrating our differences, but only if we abandon this quest to see ourselves as the more oppressed and in so doing, demonize the other as our oppressor.
photo: selesnick / flickr