Stockholm Syndrome for ideas: Why environmental and social debates are dripping with hostility

We’re all prisoners of Plato’s Cave.

To give the most brief explanation of Plato’s cave; we’re born unaware and as we reach adult years, we have developed a kind of Stockholm syndrome towards the conclusions we have reached over our lifetime, however poorly informed they may be. And, we will violently protect these conclusions as well.

I disagree with Plato on one point – no-one is ever entirely free from the cave.

For instance, I believe that I endeavour to learn daily from science, literature and history. But I know I remain ignorant to a great many subjects. Learning one subject comes at the cost of the ignorance of others and there are other subjects – such as gender / racial discrimination – which I never fully understand, given my gender and race.

I, we, everyone, remains a prisoner.

Realising this has helped me to adjust my interpretation of how many respond to the environmental and social problems we face.

On topics such a climate change, vaccination, gender / racial / marriage equality, we’ve all witnessed the vicious nature of opponents. It’s not really maliciousness aimed at us, but hostility towards ‘images’ that challenge their ‘shadows’.

I’ll give you an example case, primarily regarding progressive gender equality.

Loss of advantage

Recently, I saw an article appear in my news feed of Gavin McInnes resorting to fairly juvenile name calling in response to Waleed Aly’s comments.

McInnes makes clear his world views with his constant comments around masculinity, chauvinism, feminism / the social status of women and how the actions of the daughter reflect her father.

Further, his noted experience being around wealthy men has clearly exposed him to just one tiny group of people: women who look past men and to their wallets and men who look past women’s minds and to their bodies.

The insults used by McInnes demonstrate all of this in how they hark back to the puffed chest, member measuring masculinity of yesteryear.

Like me, you might find his views abhorrent, but they deserve greater attention.

Stepping back a few generations, being born a white male in the West instantly meant that your chances of success were above average, when compared to all women and other ethnic and racial groups.

Women expected unwanted attention and were taught to tolerate it. Domestic violence wasn’t spoken of and women found it hard to leave a relationship.

Basically, everything was in its place for white men to conclude that he was the master of his destiny.

Social reform over the twentieth century has progressively chiselled away at this pedestal.

Don’t get me wrong, it still exists. However it is not so lofty that, say a man of darker skin or a woman would be excluded from becoming a US president.

Privilege is no longer guaranteed for one subgroup.

This fall from grace is so great that the leveling of privilege feels like disadvantage to some.

The anger too over “political correctness” is very much the same: It’s not actually about what can legally be said, but that our moral values have shifted so much that some, once common points of view, are now deemed offensive. It’s not political correctness, but moral decency. The complaints come from resenting being on the wrongside.

Politically, what we’re experiencing across the west is, in part, a revolt against progressive modernity, where race and gender mean less in success.

The shadows of yesterday were more comforting than the images of today…. for some.

What now?


Remember, we’re all prisoners of Plato’s Cave.

For me, I hope that McInnes eventually meets enough genuine people who respect him for who he is and not for badges of success. Eventually, it may illuminate more light on how superficial the relationships he seems to glorify actually are.

An anti-vaxxer is often a scared parent who wants to protect their children. The misinformation they have been imprisoned by is terrifying. There is nobility to be found in their actions, even if misguided.

And with climate change, the shadows paint a story that human condition is only improved through growth, carbon emissions and industry. You hear it in the refuting argument; “they want to send us back to the stone age!”

We are on the edge of a new frontier. Our climate, industry and societies will necessarily be different from what we are familiar with. Change is difficult. Any loss, or perceived loss, leads to grieving. A loss of ignorance often means a loss of perceived comfort.

If we can remain mindful of Plato’s Cave, hopefully, we develop productive strategies to help bring everyone along to the new frontier: the Anthropocene.

The End of Men: Working Against a Fundamental Cause

It’s funny how streaks occur. Anyone with a little experience with statistics isn’t so quick to find some deeper meaning to streaks. However they remain interesting. Recently, within my own life, online and in the media, I have been hearing the same message time and time again which I fear does any hope for equality a grave injustice. I suspect it may be somewhat orchestrated, to further popularise a new book that was brought to my attention on this afternoon’s Hack program as I returned home from work.

The book in question is Hanna Rosin’s, The End of Men and the Rise of Women.

While the author herself tended towards a mild approach – pointing out how well women are doing in general, both professionally and academically, compared to their male counterparts – the discussion on Hack, much like that I have had elsewhere of late, danced dangerously close to misandry.

I very much doubt that there is significant variation between the male and female capacity for critical analysis, ambition and knowledge acquisition.  I am certain that individual differences among a gender will vary more than any genuine gender bias.

Moreover, I suspect such variations highlighted by Hanna and others are exponentially more likely due to social factors. With the recent liberation and empowerment of women, there is a real drive to succeed and prove oneself academically and professionally. Conversely, historical factors have offered young men a socially acceptable alternative to cultivating the mind or wall street; a trade (much of which are, unfortunately, in decline).

And then there is the social pressure to be cool, which is obvious in young adult media, that tends to favour the idiotic young man, making stupid mistakes for which his aspiring girlfriend can berate him for at length with astute powers of reasoning.

I’m not saying that these points are entirely to blame, only that it is far more likely that social influences are providing this bias over any true gender differences. Furthermore, inflating this evidence, arguably through confirmation bias by groups whom have long been fighting for equality provides no benefit to humanity as a whole.

I mean, come on; does anyone really believe, all of a sudden, in the reality of the “mere male” in contrast to the all-powerful female? Do we, all of a sudden, cross out the names of Einstein, Newton, Galileo, Darwin, Hawking… solely because they have the wrong gender?

Mary Wollstonecraft, in her amazing (and still progressive by today’s standards) essay, The vindication of the rights of women, provided what is, at its heart, a simple (and moving) message; if women had equal rights to knowledge and training in critical reasoning, surely they would become better mothers, wives, friends and contributors to society. If, as many commentators of the time suggested, a woman was inherently lacking in someway, well it would soon become obvious and require no male commentator to justify to subjugation of half of our species.

Her essay alone proved exactly her point. She deserves to be remembered as a genius.

Yet, the reality in her vision has taken a sour note. No doubt, if she were here today and up-to-date with pop-culture, Mary would be compelled to facepalm.

It is becoming commonplace to hear the success of females in recent years, both professionally and academically, to be the definitive sign of gender bias in favour of a superior female. Coupled with it are derogatory jokes, referring to men as mere sperm and the such.

It is behaviour that fails the flip-side test; it has been proven disrespectful to suggest the opposite.

Fundamentally, it is damaging. There is no gender bias that out matches differences within a given gender. Taking a like attitude to their former antagonists these individuals threaten to be seen in the same way. Ultimately, they detract any of their supporters, most importantly men who otherwise stand for equality.

We mustn’t allow such discriminations to slide, even if apparently harmless or meant in jest. They fail to improve the well-being of our species, but threaten to undo so much good. For instance, income has not matched the noted successes of females professionally and academically; here we have a clear case where discrimination is still occurring. How does belittling the other half of our species help to improve equality on this matter?



Sexism, the Economy and Inhumane GDP: To Fit Them All in One Post

Admittedly, I did have some preconceptions when I read the blurb for Rana Dajani’s recent article in Nature, How women scientists fare in the Arab world. Many secular individuals tend to expect, arguably with good reason, that gender equality is a pipe dream wherever religious fever is high – especially where the Abrahamic faiths are the dominant ideologies.

However, Rana’s article was far from what I had initially taken it for and, more importantly, makes a number of valuable points that relate to Western countries just as much as well as a continual argument I refer to on New Anthro regarding neo-liberal market economies.

Firstly, I have a slight criticism in that Rana makes the point that, for mothers as scientists, they cannot spend the additional time networking and taking part in mentoring programs outside business hours as they place family first – even if the father is with the children, this is no compensation to being there herself.

This might be the case for many women, the world over, for all I know. I think it says more about the men they marry. I know with great certainty that my own wife would disagree. I am as doting and involved as herself – with the only deficit being that I cannot feed our baby girl at this phase of life. We are committed to caring for our baby for the first few years of life (rather than childcare) and, when my wife is ready to return to work, we will juggle our shared commitments.

That said, Rana makes some valuable points regarding sexism that has permeated gender equality,

“The feminist movement was a good thing, but it was too focused on equality with men and failed to enable us to respect ourselves as women and to be proud of who we are.

“Our productivity, for instance, is measured on a male scale.”

Gender equality does not mean that both genders compete against one another in the Olympics for very good reasons. This is not to say that there are some jobs either sex is better enabled for or that a woman cannot follow a career path equal to a man (or, as it stands, have the right to do so), but only that she also has the right to adjust her career to have a family also (which, by sheer luck of nature does create a few “obstacles” to ones career, more so for her, at the very least around the pregnancy and birth, than it does for a male).

It is not sexist to point this fact out, but it is sexist to treat gender dependent biological factors as an excuse to discriminate unfairly through uneven weighting. In the modern information age, there is no reason why an individual should be unable to pursue their career and family obligations however they choose as long as they are able to meet their stated tasks. We should empower individuals, male or female, to be the best professional and parent they can be.

One should not exclude the other and yet, motherhood is a prevalent form of sexism that exists today.

Another point Rana made was brilliant;

“The years we spend taking care of children are not calculated as part of the gross domestic product of a country. What is more important — to build physical things or to nurture a human being?”

It is a point I have returned to again and again. I even quoted Andrew Mason, from the University of Southern Queensland, in The Human Island (revised version of which will be released within the week);

“The normal measure of an economy, which looks at Gross Domestic Product [GPD]… doesn’t really measure our lives, it just measure economic things. So if you go and buy some veggies from the supermarket, that contributes to GPD, so it looks good on the economy. But if you grow veggies in your own backyard, it doesn’t contribute to GPD. So things like car crashes contribute to GPD because, you know, people are employed fixing cars and looking after things and you know the people that go to hospital to be treated; all that contributes to GPD. Whereas going for a walk in the park doesn’t. So they’re trying to work out how to model economics that will more accurately reflect a happy society.”

Gross domestic product is a poor indicator of human flourishing and yet remains the grand messiah of the free world markets. The post-Global Financial Crisis stimulus packages aimed to get the economy rolling again, by urging consumers to buy material goods rather than reduce personal debt or increase personal savings. They were to help out a sick (and entirely dysfunctional) economy with the only benefit to the community expected to be, perhaps watching the next season of Big Brother in higher definition.

As Rana asks, what is more important, material goods or human well-being, or to use Andrew’s examples, the fitness and family time in going to the park or a busy hospital or mortuary with the results of a car crash?

In my personal opinion, the problems of disparity addressed by Wilkinson and Pickett in The Spirit Level or on The Equality Trust, protested against within the Occupy Movement and the continual rejection of all environmental degradation by certain groups of the community all come back to confidence that spawns from a modern day “prosperity” which has effectively removed human indicators from its internal regulation processes.

More consumers are needed. The quality of those consumers are not important. Hence the urge to work, to keep up with the Jones’s, the anxiety, the disconnection… Why we all too often wonder why we spend so much time doing what we are doing when we would rather be enjoying time with friends and family or undertaking hobbies or self-improvement opportunities.

The humanity is removed from our species primary productivity, which seems so absurd the more one thinks about it. I doubt many of us really appreciate such principles.

The Gender Discrimination Of Climate Change

By Imogen Reed,

So we’ve got the Vote, we’ve got the Pill, we’ve got the Sex Discrimination Act, I reminded myself this International Women’s Day. We’ve come a long way. But in the face of climate change, women the world over are likely to find that gender is once again an issue.

A comprehensive new report by the Women’s Environmental Network (WEN) -“Gender and the Climate Change Agenda” – finds that women contribute less to climate change, are impacted more by it, and have less say in decisions relating to it. As a result, WEN is campaigning for gender and climate justice.

Detrimental effects of climate change can be short and sharp, such as floods, hurricanes and landslides, and can also happen more gradually, such as soil erosion and drought. Whilst these events affect many aspects of life adversely, in terms of access to water, food, transport, industry and transport, women are more vulnerable to their effects than men.

The main reason for this is that women constitute the majority of the world’s poor. Furthermore, their livelihoods depend more upon natural resources which are under threat from climate change. In terms of being able to cope with, or have power to combat, the effects of the sudden or gradual degradation of the environment, women across the world face social, economic and political barriers.

As we already know, the rural population in developing countries is particularly vulnerable due to their high dependency on natural resources for their livelihood. Typically it is the women’s responsibility to find water, food and fuel for cooking and heating, and so women face the greatest challenges.

As women and girls in the developing world are tasked with sourcing and fetching water, they are more likely to pay the price in terms of health for poor sanitation, water scarcity and contamination. In addition, floods, which are becoming more common both rurally and in urban areas, are likely to increase the prevalence of water and vector-borne diseases, such as malaria, and diarrhoea. This is likely to aggravate women’s care-giving of family and community members who are taken ill.

The connections between climate change, energy supplies and gender roles are strongest in countries with low availability of basic electricity and modern fuels, as well as high dependence on biomass fuels for cooking, heating and lighting. Around two billion people in the developing world come under this category, and their cultural traditions make women responsible for gathering fuel and providing food, even when this involves long hours performing heavy physical tasks or walking substantial distances. The impact of climate change on these societies is likely to be that women will have to spend even longer hours fetching firewood, drawing water and working the land.

WEN points out that, given these numerous responsibilities and tasks, women in developing countries should be actively engaged in national energy decision-making. Not only do existing energy supplies need to be managed more effectively and productively in the face of climate change, but also an alternative to the dependence on biomass fuels needs to be found. Any solution put forward must be workable for the women of the community, as they are the ones who shoulder the responsibility on a day-to-day basis.

Many women experience limited mobility, both literally and figuratively. They have an unequal access to resources, often including education, and are excluded from decision-making processes, and they are unlikely to have access to transport. This leaves women more likely to be stuck in rural areas, and “discriminated against” by climate change. Of course, internal and cross-border migration can and does occur as a survival response to climate change, but this in itself further exacerbates loss of eco-systems and biodiversity.

While it is easy to take technology for granted as we browse the internet on our laptop, lying on an organic mattress and sipping Fair Trade green tea, in many developing countries, the access of girls and women to information and communication technology is seriously constrained. We still see some social and cultural bias against technological subjects in our schools today. In the developing world this is compounded by an inadequate technological infrastructure in rural areas, women’s lower educations levels (especially in the fields of science and technology) and the suspicion of, or indifference, to technology. Further, if women are able to access and utilise technology services, they lack the disposable income to purchase them.

WEN reminds us, however, that women are not only vulnerable to climate change but they are also “effective actors or agents of change in relation to both mitigation and adaptation”. Women often have a strong body of collective knowledge and individual expertise that can be used successfully in, disaster reduction, climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. Snce for the majority of the world’s women, our place is still “in the home”, our role as stewards of natural and domestic resources and care-givers in the family and community, means that the world can no longer afford to ignore our contributions to environmental strategy.

The Vatican is against 4 million extra people?

Catching up on my reader this morning, Jerry Coyne, of Why Evolution is True, had a post relating to an article on BBC News (Ken Perrott, of  Open Parachute, also has an excellent write up). In short, apparently Vatican has criticised the recent awarding of the Nobel Prize for Medicine to Robert Edwards for his work in IVF.

The case the Vatican puts forward is that there a many fertilised eggs that never make it, due to being unneeded or the process not working.

So let me get this straight; the Vatican criticises birth control as it denies the existence of potential people yet equally criticises the process that has allowed an extra 4 million people to exists, in just over 30 years, that would otherwise been unable to live because of “the will of God”? How loony does this bunch want to get?

I cannot believe that any women would choose to be Christian if she looked seriously at the religion. Apart from a long history of reducing women to a status closer to livestock than to men, Catholicism would return them to slavery of sexuality (in years gone by, women were seen as mothers of mistresses and birth in either case was a shackle – read Mary Wollstonecraft’s, The Vindication of the Rights of Women).

I’ll put it this way; the murder of the “messiah” did not free women from painful birth or menstruation and God doesn’t make conception easy or guaranteed. Catholicism does not empower women or provide protection from STD’s. Yet science and reason have improved on all of this and much much more.

Strict adherence of the scripture could go as far condemning a women for her menstruation as it leads to another lost of a potential person, but of course, this is nonsensical – as is much in the scripture.

Without assistance, I would not have had my beautiful nephew to pull strange faces at me (for some reason, he doesn’t like facial hair). That a few eggs, sperm and brilliant minds were used to lead to having him in my life is a true miracle. Not all natural births lead to a healthy offspring, but because of the work of people such as Robert Edwards, people like my sister are now able to have not only a family, but also the assurance that it’s a healthy one – the church, it seems, would deny increasing the avenues to potential life, hypocritically.

The Vatican simply proves how out of touch it is in the modern world. In a time where the holy words are retreating to mere fairytale, such ridiculous criticisms of the work of scientists to improve the lives of millions around the world is nothing short of shooting oneself in the foot.

The Greatest Danger of the 21st Century: Gullibility

Surely, at least partial blame for the resurgence in unfounded lack of confidence of scientific evidence must be reserved for the notion of other ways of knowing.

This cocky statement, which is held as close at heart by many as certain religious idols, makes an absurd leap of faith and not only undermines scientific methodology, but clearly demonstrates ignorance of what science is. The best way to explain this is to use an example debate, which should represent probably the oldest argument between God and science; the impact of the spiritual realm on the physical (ie. connection to God, miracles, angel and ghost interference of the natural world etc.)

Scientist: If God(s) and/or spirits exist, then it should, eventually become testable.

Theist: Aha! This is you’re fundamental weakness, my friend, for it doesn’t work like that. For all your mathematics, chemicals and strange assortment of equipment, you may be able to measure, test and understand the physical world around you, yet this is not the same as with the esoteric side of existence. This requires other ways of knowing.

But, of course, this shouldn’t be the end of the argument.

Scientist: But you claim to feel the presence of God. You can He preforms miracles. You have also suggest as to why you believe there to be a benign ghost living within your house.

Theist: Indeed I do.

Science: Well, we should ultimately be able to test some physiological response that cannot be explained by endorphins or some other chemical or impulse release when you say that you feel the presence of God. We should be able to test the validity of miracle where they apparently defying the natural laws of the physical universe in a way that cannot be explained (and this does not include word-of-mouth miracles). We should be able to find definable and otherwise unexplainable phenomena within your house. If the spiritual interact in anyway with the physical, there must be a change in the physical universe that cannot otherwise be explained.

This does not, but the way, refute the heart of religious belief – even when no evidence can be found, it simply concludes that nothing spiritual has noticeable impact on the universe.*

We all know the theist reply to this however: God works in mysterious ways.

This reply is as slippery and nonsensical other ways of knowing. Alas, by and large we accept both as reasonable justifications in lieu of evidence. By conceding on such terms, reason basically hands over a skeleton key to irrationality. When science provides an answer that unsettles belief, the “mystery of God’s ways” or the “other ways” of knowing lead to speculation aimed to accommodate evidence and belief, or outright reject the science.

Another aspect is an unquestionable basic human right to most (if not all) secular science-orientated individuals: the very necessary right for the freedom of speech. Most intelligent people find it difficult to ignore others – I often find myself going to great lengths to discuss the same flawed climate denial arguments over and over again, sometimes writing over a thousand words in a single response, simply because the right to think and say what you feel is so important to me.

Yet, you find by this point, if the other has such a skeleton key in hand or promotes this (rightfully) unguarded side of science to push baseless conspiracies, evidence was left somewhere back down the line and is no longer useful

This is quite clearly what propagators of ideology consider to be the toothless tiger of scientific methodology. It also leads the more benign individuals to question the credibility of science and the more entrepreneurial to exploit with pseudo-science, such as many untested natural therapies.

The only real way forward, as I see it, is a very long and difficult path, which would face incredible resistance.

And to the point

We need to look carefully at exactly how we teach our children. I was lucky, not only to have been brought up in a relaxed Christian household, but also to have had parents that encouraged me to question. It was a frequent occurrence that I got in trouble because I refused to read fiction. One of the most vivid memories that remains with me to this day is once being forced by a teach to remain back in the library while all the other children went out for break-time until I read aloud to her, Possum Magic. It was so much an effort that I remember the pressure building up in me, I remember sweating and wanting to scream – the level of frustration that I felt was unlike anything I had felt up until that point. Yet, I could read many pages on space, rockets, robots, dinosaurs or the environment with easy.

My parents faced this criticism with the reply, “At least he’s reading.” and to this day, they still give me various non-fiction literature as a present every year – some where even useful to me as a uni student.

Of course, some readers will be itching at this point to argue that to talk of education of children, I am in fact applying the same tools as ideology, but this couldn’t be more wrong. In an age of ever increasing availability of information, coupled with the exploited aspect of science coupled above, it must be overwhelmingly obvious that what we largely overlook in schooling is critical analysis of data. Children are naturally sponges for information, but they instinctively lack discrimination of quality – a bullshit meter if you will. This short gain greater focus. From their primary schooling years, ideas should be put forward to them, with the expectation that they will debate over what it means and it’s validity.

In an age where children can type earlier than they write in cursive, where almost any word placed into a search engine can draw contradictory arguments, the real gift is an abundance of information, but the danger is continuing a tradition of varying capacity for critical evaluation.

I may have been the only one chuckling to myself at a spiritual fare at a stand which promises to rid your house of ALL unwanted radiation, but what will the future be like for the coming generations, truly immersed from their birth in the Information Age, if we do not address this deficit in reasoning? Questioning is liberating and expanding as critical awareness is strengthening and empowering. By encouraging this development, we could foster, not only better scientists, but ever more creative and experimental artists. By ignoring it, we risk undermining all the work the enlightenment has done to shift us out of obscurity and into an age where we can think and speak for ourselves. We tend to overlook it, but the enlightenment has done more than provide us technology. It gave us radical thinkers like Mary Wollstonecraft, Abraham Lincoln, David Hume, Albert Einstein and many more who improved the lives and rights of many people since.

It’s clearly an injustice to reason, to ignore all work done to improve clarity and to accept that water retains memory of other molecules that they may have once come into contact with, that a woman should be veiled from head to toe because a male cannot help himself (learn some self control), or that you can “smell yourself better”. The new obscurity is unlimited access to unverified information. We owe our children to provide them with an open mind and a fully functioning bullshit meter.


*I fear that, as there are no clear and definable impressions of a spiritual existence outside the physical universe, that it is highly improbable that there is any. Even if there is, it clearly demonstrates a total disregard for the physical universe which leads me to conclude that one’s short time as they are in life is likely to be wasted if spent largely in devotion to the unknown. If God wished for such devotion, a clear path to such religious enlightenment would be obvious and we wouldn’t have such diverse and mutually intolerant religions. Science wouldn’t continually knock on the doors of belief and ask to have a look around. Some way conclude that the confusion is due to the devil or something similar. However, if one is to believe any doctrine, the devil was created by God. How is it that the devil has been so successful at creating confusion, while God seems to sit back and allow it all to just happen? Surely God would be greater, thus such an entities effect should be further reaching. I know that if I was provided undeniable proof of the existence of God, I would, without flinting, fall into line.

This does not occur, so I must conclude that even if there is anything spiritual, it ignores the physical universe and thus I should instead focus on enjoying my life, understanding it as best I can, being a good friend, teacher to my children and appreciating the gift that is life – my life and the lives of those around me. I am a very moral person; based on my empathy, lust for life, passion for understanding and a deep concern for the well being of my species and the beautiful ecology to which we are tied.

Julia Gillard has no religion… so what

Anyone with half a brain could have foreseen the increased media attention regarding Australia’s 27th PM – simply due to the fact that she is not only a woman, but unmarried and, what was revealed early this week, non-religious.

Firstly, I have serious doubts as to whether one’s reproductive organs have any baring as to how well they are able to run a country (haven’t we come beyond such childish sexism?) and I can certainly see positives in being less bogged down in a relationship when leading a country (the wrath one can face missing an anniversary dinner – even if it was due to a drawn out meeting regarding national security! *being light-hearted here), but the noise I’ve heard in response to her lack of religion is mind blowing.

Some of the best political years where the agnostic Hawke era. I personally commend Gillard for her honesty and obviously strong moral system that was developed not on flock mentality regarding a series of absurd fables, but on reason and intelligence. It is, after all, only through ideology that one is capable of rationalising the most horrid of human behaviours and today is exemplified in the greatest intolerance towards other races, beliefs and sexual preferences. You want to find prejudice, hatred and intolerance, you just need to look up your local dogmatic institution – such things cannot be rationalised within informed and educated discussions.

I would like to hope that such a move towards reasonable thought also shows up through practical governance of landscapes, city development and in addressing climate change and peaking oil. The opposition is the Liberals radical right-winger, Tony Abbott, who has already told a group of students in Adelaide that is was warmer when Jesus was alive.

I think this coming election will make a clear point of which direction Australia is going and I’m not talking left or right, but forward or back.

A Contemplation in the Sight of Cougars

It seems to me that we are still a long way from any true form balance between the genders. I would not at all be surprised if revolutionary thinkers, such as Mary Wollstonecraft, would shake their heads in disbelief at many elements of the modern woman especially the recent arrival of the “Cougar”.

I believe that I personally had a fairly fortunate childhood where I grew in a community surrounded by racial and religious diversity and was also tolerant of homosexuality. It was not until my teens that I became aware of discrimination based on such minor differences and also of gender difference. I feel lucky to have kept that sense of disbelief I first felt when I heard such narrow-minded bigotry. As I grew into an adult, that disbelief developed further on a foundation of evidence; indeed a human is a human – the basic needs and desires are ageless, genderless, and free from religion and race.

Trying to understand this gender difference, I became interested in the feminist movement as a teen and over time became more and more aware of a wide range of hypocrisies in the modern western world regarding women. The cougar has compelled me to write this piece as it is for me, the final straw.

Now, personally I’d rather not take the cliché approach of, “if a woman/man did it…” which has been done to death and thus now most often falls on deaf ears. Unfortunately those who used this approach are now making a mockery of the whole gender argument and one must retort in similar debate if only to illustrate the sheer stupidity that threatens the power of the modern woman.

As an example of one such hypocrisy; as a young man, I have been to many festivals and have failed to attend one where females refrained from making use of the male toilets. I can certainly sympathise with the long lines that they must endure at these events, however, I feel sure that if the reverse were to occur, the male would be snapped up by security before he could wash his hands. Now, if female toilets were even more grotesque – requiring them to stand in a line with their genitals exposed to all, in a communal act of urination – I could only imagine that the situation would be even more so offensive if a male was to enter the scene. Couple this with the revolting remarks these tipsy females say as they intrude with the disgusting responses from the more brutish thugs standing by the urinals and you have a situation that tickles at the gag reflex. Even in an age of Enlightenment and liberation of the individual such a scene would not occur – no, it is crude in the rawest sense of the word and does nothing productive to develop of more intelligent and tolerant world.

The same can be stated about “sexual liberation” (I use this term lightly, because I believe my definition is not what is demonstrated in the name of liberation at large). It is often argued that a male is celebrated by the number of women he sleeps with, while a woman is labelled a slut for being so “liberated”. I would argue that this is not truly liberated, but rather a reflection of a lack of self-respect and with so many STD’s floating around in the modern world, it makes the act even more idiotic. To share one’s body around like a piece of meat cannot, surely, been seen as believing it to be one’s temple.

To carry this on further, studies have shown that women are more attracted to a male who is surrounded by attractive women, or indeed women in general over a man alone (if required, I can look up the evidence, but at this point I won’t bother). It can be argued whether this is the result of nature or nurture or some other reason (it would make an interesting read, I’d imagine), however that is irrelevant to this piece. This only goes to further create that divide between a male’s and female’s sexuality. It could thus be argued that women complain about a situation that they largely create (even if it’s unconsciously). If they were more attracted to the solitary male or the less sexually inclined male (let’s face it, the male surrounding himself with attractive females is very likely to be very sexually motivated – strong feminists should be the first to argue that point) rather than the “bad-boys” and smooth talkers, it would logically lead to a shift away from big-noting such behaviour and towards greater monogamy.

Sure, sex is great; don’t get me wrong for a moment, but how many bodies must these people roll off from before they start to wonder if they can achieve a greater connection with another person? As another note; if you think men are sexual pigs today and it’s a woman’s inherent right to sleep around in a matching manner, please read A Vindication of the Rights of Women – Mary lived in the world of the true male chauvinist and quite frankly there’s nothing empowering of attractive in sinking into such self-indulgent and pigheaded promiscuity to mirror the ruling gender of yesteryear. Dancing with the devil doesn’t make you his equal; it only makes you as regrettable.

To finally venture back to the regrettable cougar that could be stalking any given young male at any given time, it shocks me that there is this emergence and encouragement of a new pop-culture that should be just as heavily mocked as the male equivalent chasing women half his age.

The current cougar is the daughter generation of the feminist movement in the 60’s. There is no doubt that the winds were changing then; a woman was no longer beneath her man; it was not man and (his) wife. She could create a career and spend her money as she saw fit. The bra represented her “prettying” up her breasts for men and was burnt in response. If she didn’t want to fall pregnant, she had the pill, she had the right to demand other forms of contraceptives – her body was her vessel – and yes she had the right to choose sex if she wanted it! Woman was no longer the mother to a man’s children nor was she his mistress, his toy for cheap thrills to be tossed aside when grew out of the first flush of youth – she was human! No doubt mum felt the energy and the choices building in the air and she gave this to her daughters. You are your own person! Don’t let a man hold you down. Don’t let someone tell you that you can’t do something because you are a woman. Stand proud and make your life your own!

Some of these children grew up to be cougars…

In the wake of this initial liberation there has been a level of muting, mostly via political correctness. That is to say, if one is to argue against some manifestation of this liberation, that person is backwards or a male chauvinist. The masses largely remain quiet and allow all forms of stupidity to develop – and even celebrate it – rather than argue its justification. It’s similar to the politically correct Christmas phenomena seen around Australia where companies will decorate in public for the season, yet refrain from anything biblical out of fear of offending someone. That’s simply madness and without conviction, your point is lost! Be something or don’t be something. A grey world is a boring place!

That said, I wish to make the point that I am one person who thinks this cougar development is disrespectful of women – the ideology of the cougar is little more than a sexual predator looking for nothing of substance, but rather a good hard root; it trivializes feminism – being a mature (and in many cases a successful and intelligent) woman down to the level of a sleazy middle-aged man; and above all else it sends a horrible message to younger generations of women trying to develop a generational and individual image – that the body is cheap, sex is easy and the anonymous lay is more rewarding than working on a life-long relationship.

Sure, one’s body is their own, to be done with as they see fit. However, doesn’t it deserve more than to be handed around to whoever wants a ride? Isn’t the other person taking part more than a biological dildo designed for your gratification? I know that neither party is being forced and it is obvious that both are quite happy to take part, but what are we doing other than encouraging the same form of objectification of others, yet under a new guise?

Liberation of any group should not mean that they in response act as poorly as their original suppressors. If we are truly developing as a species and as a western culture, shouldn’t we be learning from past ignorance and aspiring to become more aware and meaningful? Such behaviour does little but highlight we are not taking forward steps, merely dancing on the spot and it completely ridicules of the few enlighten people who have stood up above the mess to fought for a freer and more balanced society.