Tuesday, June 20, 2006

2150: Death of the Last Living Man

In a confusing yet fascinating reversal of...everything I have come to understand about gender and research since my university days (which wasn't that long ago, really...harrrumph), this researcher of gender-specific medicine is proposing that we are hyper-focusing on women's health to the detriment of men's health, and we're being really sexist against men, and men need us to focus more on them. The researcher's a woman.

But it doesn't end there.

The reason this matters, she says, is because males are actually a much weaker and more vulnerable class of humans than females. (Trying...to...stifle... snicker...Sorry, it's a reflex born in my women's studies class, circa 1992.)

Yes, that's right. Even from the safe confines of the womb itself, males' chance of survival is much lower than females'.

I think many of us have heard hints of this in the news, on science shows, etc., over the last few years. You know, like how females are more resistant to disease. Females are miscarried less often. Females don't drag-race drunk and naked down a two-lane highway at 3:00 in the morning. Females are less likely to develop autism and dyslexia. Females don't blow in dogs' faces until said dogs inevitably bite off said blowers' faces. Females have heart attacks a decade later than men. The list goes on and on.

My point isn't to say that females are superior. My point is that the researcher's editorial draws some really interesting conclusions.

Like the idea that the reason so many cultures value males so much more than females is that they're actually trying to ensure male survival, which is much less likely than female survival. Er, well...okay...I guess. Doesn't really explain the whole 'burning widows at the stake' craze of 1602 (or whenever) or that whole Chinese foot-binding racket. On second thought, maybe scientists aren't so good at the 'social theory' thing...

And she also suggests that we're seeing a big decline in the birth of males in industrialized society--and nobody knows why. But they think it's because we're waiting longer to have kids and your chances of conceiving a boy go down as you get older. Fascinating.

And then there's the issue of mental illness, like depression. She touches on the possibility that our stats, which suggest women are much more likely to suffer from these afflictions, are totally inaccurate and skewed by social norms preventing men from 'fessin up to feelin' down.

None of this is really news, but what's most interesting is the whole reversal of what has become status quo, seemingly back to what was status quo 40 years ago, and which led to the revolution which led to the new status quo, which focuses (apparently excessively) on women.

Let me confuse you more.

See, I think changes in social 'paradigms', or patterns of thinking, work like one of those old-fashioned scales--you know, the ones 'Justice' carries around with her all the time. You have an imbalance--like the fate of women in most cultures for, oh, the last 10,000 years. Something happens to address it--like the 20th century, with Suffragettes, women's lib--and extra weight gets thrown on the side of the underdog. But of course, when you throw something on a scale, it's going to over-balance before it corrects itself and perfect balance is achieved.

Wouldn't it be cool if this person's article reflects, right before our very eyes, the moment when that balance started to be corrected--the balance between men and women...or at least between our rights when it comes to health research? Because she doesn't say 'stop focusing on women and focus on men instead.' She says 'lets not exclude either gender from research...lets..treat the genders equally.' It's the first time I can remember reading something that tempered in a while.

Maybe articles like this one are the tipping point, and we're seeing it unfold. That would be pretty cool. Because then we could move beyond the battle of the sexes to whatever wonderful thing awaits us when we finally wake up and realize we're only fighting with ourselves.


Blogger angrycandy said...

"Perhaps the reason many societies offer boys nutritional, educational and vocational advantages over girls is not because of chauvinism, it's because we're trying to ensure their survival." Nice. ummm...i spent a couple of years in a culture that valued boys over girls to the extent that some grandparents wouldn't even bother learning the names of their girl grandchildren, they were simply called "girl". so, somehow, i don't think this researcher has spent much time in cultures that offer boys extra "vocational, nutritional and educational advantages over girls" or she wouldn't make such uhhh...dismissive/flippant remarks/conclusions. but, i do agree about the whole imbalance thing...and it would nice to see an “evening” of the scale but…well, this is something that so far is only happening in our north American or European culture. We still have cultures where women are killed for committing adultery (or being suspected of committing adultery) have their clitoris(es) removed and are covered head to foot for some reason that I’ve never been clear on…what do we do about that? Where’s the balance there? I think we’ve got another 10,000 years or so before any magazine reporter in those cultures is going to be writing about how we’re over focussing on women…but you know, and I’m probably gonna get some flack for this, but I was listening to the radio yesterday and there was this lesbian women’s issues writer on and she was really annoying and “focussed” and she seemed to have lost her sense of humour somewhere along the way and if ever there was an example of imbalance in the sexes, she was it. Not cause she was a lesbian, just cause of who she was. sometimes i just feel like saying "quit complaining, you still have your clitoris don't you?" Ummm…I’ll shut up now and get back to work...

10:04 AM  
Blogger whyioughtta said...

Oooo...you're starting a new category..."angry radical anti-angry-radical-feminist feminist"...cool.

More thoughts on that scale thing I mentioned:

Once the scales are balanced here in the West, might it not accelerate balancing in other regions, because people will learn how much weight to apply to the underdog, and how to apply it in a way that minimizes over-tipping? (Don't forget: I'm an EI...)

...It depends on whether social change is a step-by-step process that every culture inevitably has to go through, like...I dunno...puberty?

...Or a cumulative and exponential process where each addition of information makes the process more efficient, like, uh, MySpace...

If so, maybe it won't take another 10,000 years for equality to be the norm in those other cultures after all.

Either way, we're definitely seeing a weird worldwide trend towards more equality and connectedness between people on one hand (thank you, Internet), and more extremism and isolation on the other (damn you, Internet).

11:28 AM  
Blogger angrycandy said...

yeah, i can never seem to stick to one opinion...screw balance, i'm all about contradiction.

let's hope it's the my space version. although sometimes i think it's the myspace version of events that spawns the extremists as change happens too darned fast for them and they get all scardy cat and blow things up and become presidents of the US and try to amend the constitution to ban same sex marriages and stuff like that...

4:50 PM  
Blogger jackp said...

yikes...this is getting too aggressive for my wimpy male brain...

oh yeah...i forgot...i'm watchin 'so you think you can dance'....i am a woman

9:19 PM  
Blogger whyioughtta said...

For anyone who didn't already guess it, 'angrycandy' and jackp are siblings. And apparently they're taking over my blog with their sibling rivalry! Oh, and they're both rampant ERs...in case you didn't notice!

Let's keep it topical, people. Wind-bagness is *my* game.

9:41 AM  
Blogger angrycandy said...

fine. i'll try to keep my comments more succinct. see, i was gonna add more to this comment but now i'm not gonna cause i'm gonna keep it short...cause, really, who wants to read my poorly written thoughts and really, i should just post it on my own blog if i really want to say anything but you know, i'm just too lazy to think of my own topics and i don't have a computer at home although, in my defence, my blog entries, longwinded as they were, were also topical and further more blah blah blah, blah blah, blah blah blah ....
'doh' i did it again didn't i?

10:07 AM  
Blogger whyioughtta said...

Ah, now, I'm only jokin' around, you crazy kids. You just go right ahead and wind away...All thoughts are welcome on this blog.

12:01 PM  
Blogger jackp said...

allright...you guys are down into PC shit now...

'go ahead'...'sorry'


hey....we saw a mother and kid porcupine up at the top of our hill last night...chico chased them up a tree!!!

8:38 PM  

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