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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

(Straight To Your Heart) Like A Cannonball

My sister has a book in her room that was sent to her by our mother for Christmas. The book is called If Women Ruled the World. I admit that I have not read this book. In fact, I have not gotten nearer to it than the doorway to my sister's room, which is where I saw it sitting on the bed. I know nothing about the book, its author (or presumably, authoress), or its message. However, without knowing any of these things, and excepting a few possibilities, I feel confident in saying that there are a few things in it that I disagree with.

Now if the book is, in fact, full of information that is not deserving of its title, and is actually about the wild beasts of Africa, or a vegetarian cookbook, or a novel about a woman who is trying to get in on a man's world when world actually means coal-mining business and woman actually means Tanzanian midget, then all the statements I'm about to make about the book will likely be false. However, if the information in the book is indicative of its title, and it is truly a book that imagines what it would be like if women ruled the world, then I fully expect all my judgments will be absolutely correct.

There are three main discrepancies I have with this book:

1. It uses false premises to make its points.

- Likely Premise: Men rule the world, not women. It's definitely true that there are more men in positions of power than women, but I don't see how that's necessarily bad. I'm also not sure that the phrase "rule the world" accurately describes either sexes role in the world. Each sex (and each person) has the opportunity to create a change in the world, even if they think they don't rule the world.

- Likely Premise: Men are the reason there are so many troubles in the world. False: Men are not the reason there are so many troubles in the world, unless your trouble is that the world has too many men in it. Greed, jealousy, hatred, and basic human imperfection are reasons why there are so many troubles in the world, not either of the sexes.

- Likely Premise: Women have no control over the goings on in the world. False: Although it's probably true that there are more men in positions of power all over the world, it's also true that women are CEOs, Professors, Prime Ministers, Wives, Secretaries of State, Principals, Mothers, and Doctors, among other things. Women make important decisions every day; are those decisions not important enough to contribute to ruling the world?

- Likely Premise: If women ruled the world, then the world would be a much more loving, peaceful place that doesn't have the problems and difficulties of the icky male-dominated one. False: If women ruled the world, there would be plenty of problems--most likely the same major problems we have now (although it's possible a few issues would change), and a few additional ones added to the pile.

2. It is unrealistic.

- Women wouldn't rule the world. Admittedly, women have a higher emotional intelligence quotient than men, but men have a stronger knack for informational intelligence, and a strong desire for power. If women were in such a position to take power from the men, they wouldn't be called women anymore, they would be called men. Women are the way they are and in the place they are in, and men in their respective place because our genders are wired to be the way they are. Obviously, there are some women who are quite hungry for power, just as there are some men who are quite happy to work as homemakers (those are the opposites of the general stereotypes, are they not?).

- Let's pretend that the premises used by the creator of this book aren't completely false, and that the male-dominated world is a dirty rotten place where there are wars, pollution, traffic, cold sores, abuse, pedophilia, and rape. Now it's true that men are usually the propogators (although not always, not by a long shot) of these terrible things. Obviously that's because there are more men in positions of power than women, and men posess the characteristics for desiring such positions. This is indicative of my previous point: men are more power-hungry than women, and that being the case, how would women take power to begin with? If men were magically transformed into not being power-hungry anymore you'd have that list of traumas cut into a fraction of what it is now, and if that's the case, why don't we just wish for people to not be power-hungry?

- Let's do away with men all together and pretend that there are only women in the world, and they reproduce asexually. If that were the case, what would you have besides a lot of women getting into catfights over the last bon-bon or sale-priced blouse? You would have a world in which the more dominant women ruled, and most likely, a world with a lot of the same social problems, prejudices, abuses, and dramas. Men and women produce an interesting and effective check-and-balances system with each other, and if the roles were reversed, we would find many of the same situations.

- In order for women to "rule the world" that means that men would not be the same creatures they are now. There is one exception to this. Women could take over the world with men utilizing the same behavioral patterns that they have been for the last 50,000 years, but women would have to somehow evolve separately from the men in such a way that their behavior was conducive from wresting the power to rule from their hands. That seems unlikely, to say the least.

3. It is misguided in its aspirations.

What is this book trying to accomplish? My guess that this is a feel-good book about why the patriarchal society we live in has made such bad choices, and fondly imagines what a female-dominated one would be like. My guess for the authoress' prediction? The female oriented world is better! If this is in fact the point, then I have to ask: As long as we're fantasizing, why wouldn't you just fantasize about a better world, and not simply a world where women were making the decisions? Is the goal to create a better world? Or simply a place, regardless of outcome, where women are the rulers, because some women don't consider themselves to be at the moment? And while I'm at it, if the objective is a better world, then why write a book that highlights the differences and makes the assumption that the current demographic makeup isn't capable of more?