In exploring the blogisphere, I recently stumbled upon an interesting member by the name of Liz Henry. I’d like to say that I discovered her work by casual means, but in truth I was following a lead on an interesting contest that HP is sponsoring. But in doing so, I found someone I will likely continue reading as well as a 10-year-old speech about programming languages that was surprisingly undated (see the related post here).
Liz’s blog is an interesting collage of thoughts on technology, poetry and feminism of which at least the first and last are expressly important to me (I used to be more into poetry, but I’m happy to find time to read my emails these days). “Why is feminism important to you?” some may ask me. In truth it always has – in my life I have almost always made it a point to treat all people with equal respect without prejudgment, or in the least the respect that they earn for themselves. Now having kids – especially having a daughter – I hope that I can set a better example for them than they may see in the world.
I’m already finding myself facing gender definition issues with my daughter – she recently picked up from her older male cousin that girls that are really cute are referred to as “hot”. And to be honest, I sometimes worry that my wife’s own body image issues may rub off on her. So there are battles even here at home.
The root question is “what differentiates men and women?” When asked by my male friends how to better understand women (as if I have a firm grasp on the matter), I often find myself saying lightly imagine going through life without a penis. While this is obviously a simplistic and crude explanation, it seems to be effective for men because, frankly, a lot of how we spend our time is influenced by the fact that we have one. So to take a moment to think about what one would do without it is hard enough for most men (at least the ones I know).
I remember back in high school when learning about genetics how the difference between men and women at that level is miniscule – the presence (or absence) of a single, small chromosome. I remember thinking at the time that by that measure, the female gender is actually the baseline and the male gender is essentially a genetic defect. It is oddly not that far fetched to think of men as defective women (though part of that defect may often trigger rationalities about that defect being an improvement or urges to compare these Y chromosomes to each other in length and girth). So thinking about that side of things, I hope that I may also do right in raising my other child as well – so that both he and she will learn respect for all without prejudice regarding any trait.
Thanks again to Liz for inspiring me to think about a few things in a different light. I hope that others may be similarly inspired – I like to think that change can be contageous. Only time will tell.