Because equality is a key concept in this book, let me start by giving my definition of it and how I think it applies to the sexes.
Equal doesn't mean identical.
For two things to be equal, one must not be more nor less than the other in an identified respect. For example, I can’t be more or less of a human being than you (nor you than I) whether you‘re a man or a woman, because being members of the same species both of us possess its biologically determined attributes. But equal doesn’t mean identical or ‘the same,’ as is often alleged, since we--unlike almost all other species--are individuals. To quote philosopher Mortimer J. Adler: while behavior is similar in each animal species, in man the similitude consists not in behavior but in potentialities, which can manifest in a variety of ways. For instance, there may be thousands of languages, but the potential for learning any human language is the same in all infants.
I base my argument about the innate equality of the sexes on the premise that male and female are complementary forces of nature--just like other polar opposites in the universe (particle and wave, matter and energy, organic and inorganic). A premise based in turn on the picture of the world that emerges from modern physics, where polar opposites are two sides of the same thing and both are required for a complete understanding of reality.
Equality by law of nature versus by human law.
Now since male and female are two sides of one and the same physical phenomenon, homo sapiens, I propose - and make it my working assumption - that sexual equality is a natural law. As such it’s also inflexible, by which I mean that it applies regardless of outer circumstances. Whether women enjoy equal rights with men or not (which is a matter of jurisdiction) has no bearing on this law, because, being a natural phenomenon, female power can neither disappear nor diminish. If barred from expressing itself openly, it only goes into hiding where it invariably redresses its equilibrium with male power.
But since this isn’t a commonly held view, let me put it differently:
(thesis) The sexes have equal power.
(antithesis) Women’s power is unequal to men’s on all levels of society.
(synthesis) Women’s societal powerlessness is counterbalanced by a hidden power that, though different in kind, is as dominant in the inner workings of society as male power is in the outer.
Or, as Einstein said when postulating that the universe is simmering with a kind of invisible, ‘dark’ energy, “Beware of empty space! It may have created the world.”
(Einstein’s groundbreaking discovery that empty space is not empty but contains infinite energy parallels the view of the Void in Eastern mysticism. In Hinduism, Buddhism and Daoism ultimate reality is said to be formless, empty, void, but that doesn’t mean it’s a nonentity; on the contrary, it’s the essence of all phenomena, an infinitely creative potential and the origin of all forms.)
When did we lose sight of nature?
I think time has come for us to disabuse ourselves of the illusion that the sexes have unequal power and realize that society is as much a creation by women as by men; i.e., women are as responsible as men for its sexist bias. Or else we’ll never find out what played havoc with men’s mating instincts, which is the problem at the heart of sexism.
In saying this I don’t imply that women chose to live at the mercy of men, restricted in all areas of life by laws men invented and enforced. What I do maintain is that they chose to concur with this system, because it allowed them to create a shadow society in the home where they in turn, as wives and mothers of boys, could victimize men by practicing a ‘reverse sexism.’
Today, luckily, men and women are becoming more aware of their inherent equality and are more willing, at least in some parts of the world, to make it visible. But unless we journey far back in time and do some real deep-digging I suspect we’re only scratching the surface of a nut as hard to crack as the delusion that one sex is either more or less than the other.
To cut the first sod, see next post.
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