Saturday, August 13, 2016

Never discuss equality with me

(Nothing says equality quite like a man's fist)

The feminists I know are not mentioning equality when discussing the Olympics. Or, if they are then they are generally missing the point and don't quite seem to understand what equality is. They may be complaining about conditions or this or that, but they never mention that women are winning *world records.

I can win the *world record for my apartment any day that I wish. No true feminists that I know would question my world record. How could they? It's the world record of my apartment. They are winning the *world record for their gender, or sex.

Stick with this.... I'll try to turn it around. I'm off to a bit of a bad start. 

I saw one Tweet in which a woman was decrying the comparison of Katie Ledecky with Michael Phelps. Why shouldn't that comparison be made? They are both great swimmers. If there was such a thing as equality then they would be able to compete together. Or, at the very least Katie would be able to beat Michael while swimming in the same race, once her handicap had been calculated into her time. 

It is a technical term in sports, a handicap. Why does no one argue for handicapped times? Instead, they accept two separate races and two separate world champions. There is only the difference between these two victories when one considers the actual meaning of equality. One disallows it, the other emphasizes it. 

There is a percentile difference between men and women in swimming speeds and ability. That's right, men and women are different. Women, I believe, are faster than men in longer distances if I remember correctly, or perhaps the differences become more equal at increased lengths, as women enjoy a greater constitutional vitality. It is part of why they live longer, among other advantages. 

Wanting equality only when and how it benefits you is not equality, it is the usurpation of advantage - which is fine by me, and perhaps should have already happened in most every possible way, except wealth - but let's be more honest about it. We bracket the uncomfortable in an attempt to avoid it or make it somehow less bothersome. It's impolite to even mention it, so I must. I must. The only people who do not wish the world to be more flat are those living on the hills. Little matter that they may have struggled to arrive there, or if they were born there. Insisting upon equality forces the conversation to address the idea, something that most people do not want. Just try, you'll see. 

There is only one way to feel about the idea and that is being "for it," even though it can hardly be defined or agreed upon. The evil is to be against equality, which I am not, at all. I am for understanding what is meant by the idea, most of all. 

The same people who look aghast upon the idea of "separate but equal" cheer it on crazily every four years. Or, every time they bother noticing. The Olympics are both internationally celebrated and yet deeply sexist. The competition is arranged and divided almost entirely upon the lines of sex. Anyone that can not see that, or refuses to acknowledge it, doesn't understand what equality is. It is a very simple mathematical concept and represented well with a single icon: =. 

It is a symbolic expression, even when used in this capacity. Equality exists mostly as an abstraction.  

To wit, if men = women (or women = men if you prefer) then let's let that be that as an understanding of equality. If men ≠ women, or women ≈ men, or if any other concept of equality can replace the actual agreed upon one then let's admit that equality is not quite what it pretends to be and use different terms, because the actual meaning of the concept has been lost then, or obscured, for reasons that might also be worth noticing if we care about the idea at all. 

Say this out loud anywhere, I dare you: Michael Phelps would have won twice as many gold medals if he was allowed in all of the races. His gender prevents him from competing in about half of the competitions.

Or say this out loud anywhere: Katie Ledecky did not set a world record and never has. 

You'll see. She actually does not hold any world records. Those are all held by men. Or rather, man. 

Read most any newspaper. They will all mention her world records in an unqualified way. I'll say it again, Katie Ledecky does not hold a world record in swimming. Compare her times to the best times ever achieved and the discrepancy becomes very clear. I hope that I'm right on this. I clearly didn't bother checking this piece for errors, nor running it by my copy editor before going to press. 

Let's have Caitlyn weigh in on these troubling facts. She seems to possess the requisite courage and experience to address the world's many athletic gender concerns. My question is very simple: why are some people prevented from competing based on gender? Once asked, then other questions will need to follow. Why do we give out world records for sub-par times, based on gender? The answer is simple to derive, though very difficult to accept.

That doesn't mean that the questions should not be asked. Most people already have their accepted answers and will guard them with whatever hostility their gender can muster. This is why the continued asking of questions is as important as the conclusions that have already been agreed upon: to reduce the hostility with which ideas are met, as hostility does not defeat an idea, only a better idea can do that. 

The same indignation which has fueled the well justified fight for equality ignores the concept which it ostensibly advances when it is convenient or necessary to do so. That is why I love to argue with those who profess a deep and abiding belief in equality. Most people do not, at all, actually believe in the value and worth of equality. No true lover of ideas would wince from the subject. 

People are taught to be ashamed to admit their preferences, so they embrace equality as a concept, yet still they tend to only fall in love with those that they prefer. A true believer in equality might consider taking up a battle against romantic love, as all that does is herald one person of equal value over others with the same equal value. Silly, right? Then, why do we accept the same argument elsewhere. If we are allowed to express preference then what does that do to equality. Or, where does the boundary occur between them. It is there, in every person, so why don't we have better language for it.

Or, Why don't I? would perhaps be the more apropos question. Perhaps there are those who have dedicated their lives to separating the act of preference from the idea equality, and I am just a rube that has been out of school for far too long. 

I've said it all before, and have received the expected disdain for having done so. I'm very much for watching people compete and have no problems with categories. I don't even mind, at all, that the competition is generally divided between male and female where it makes sense to do so, which is where women generally can not beat men. Perhaps that is the wrong phrase: where women can not effectively compete with men. That is a much better description for what is happening. I find the raised male fist in the image above a very silly symbol for what it purports to advance. 

None of this is an attack on women. Quite the opposite. I very much want a world where females grow up and strive to become great. The very best. I want them to have goals and heroes that they can relate to. I know that I did, and I would wish it for anyone else. I also want them to grow up into a world where honesty flourishes and unpleasant observations are brought out into the light, not hidden from conversation. If we accept, codify, and celebrate differences between the genders then let's not also deny those differences where it is merely advantageous to do so.  

There are a number of examples of how we mainly ignore the concept of equality when it is convenient. We'll see if America soon has young women register for selective service. That is yet another area that people, even the best that I know, waffle and hem and haw when confronted with how they feel and then what they believe to be "right." The idea of both sexes registering for conscription is receiving wide support among both democrats and republicans. Women can now enjoy the federal benefits, so why should they be exempt from the same responsibility that men have for those same advantages. You see, it is easy to understand, yet there is something that troubles even the most mathematically inclined of hearts. It is perhaps a beneficial form of sexism, or at least, a form that nobody minds very much. 

It is only those among the odd-Christian-right that seem to be against it. If you want to know where you stand on the issue then just remember this: Ted Cruz opposes it.

It seems clear enough: Equality is not quite the noble idea that we pretend it to be. Not when defined by terms that can be used to easily define such a complex concept. Men and women may not be equal in all talents, though they are equal in worth and value and should be afforded the same opportunities and rights, as well as pride in status and accomplishment, both shared and otherwise. To deny this means something else altogether. 

If you think that I am now somehow disagreeing with what I have said above then perhaps I have not explained myself clearly enough, or you may be understanding only what you wish to understand, and hearing in what I have said something other than what is there. Sports presents a problem in the idea of equality. That does not mean that we should do away with sports any more than we should do away with competition that excludes one gender, which it does not appear that we are prepared to do. It only means that we should acknowledge what is happening as it affects how we understand ourselves and others. 

Which brings me to my conclusion: Mens' bodies and Womens' bodies are different. 

I will leave the other considerations of difference to each of you, to draw your own conclusions based on your own observations. Start with comparative longevity and then work your way around to the data concerning how many males die in spontaneous abortion. You will find that men and women neither start nor end on purely equal footing. The race between the genders seems to supersede the very lives we live, and the ones we don't. 

Let me see if I can find a passage from one of my favorite social critics, Jacques Barzun. 

I'll be right back...

Here it is, transcribed from the book From Dawn to Decadence, by me, just now. You can see how much I steal from him by comparing what I wrote above with what he wrote below. I was merely trying to equalize us. A true believer in equality would insist upon plagiarism as a rule of law. 

     In arithmetic equality is a simple idea; once grasped never unsure. In society it is complex and elusive. Thinkers who argue from the state of nature find it easy to say that all are born free and equal; but that is only because in that imagined state there are no standards to measure people by and at birth no talents to compare. The equality of souls in the sight of god also depends on a judgement to which we have no access. From these abstractions, the mind moves next to equality in rights, implying "equality before the law," that is, the same procedures for like cases. These can be made visible up to a point. Beyond it come human decisions - as by a jury and a sentencing judge, where equality again is untestable.
     At the third level - equality in social life, business, and politics - the principle is both in force and missing. There are so many facets to the human will and the civilized world that as many good minds have argued for as against the truth, the worth, and the meaning of equality. It was for equality of opportunity that the French revolutionists decreed public instruction. But does schooling provide it? The answer at once shifts to the question of individual ability: "human beings are not equal: see the test scores." To which the rejoinder is that schoolwork is only one measure and a vague one. There follows a list of great figures who were dunces in class. Besides, consider the illiterate guide in the Canadian woods: is he not in his domain the superior of Churchill and Einstein? Finally, if merit is measured by ability and it gives unequal results, is it iniquitous? The sans-culottes discovered this and their radical wing demanded "equality of enjoyments" (jouissances). Today the complaint is that the meritocracy forms an elite: it is aristocracy under another name; social justice demands equality of conditions. Logically, this should mean equal wages for all, but these have rarely been argued for.
     So difficult is it to define equality and nail down its conditions that in dictatorships where it is proclaimed and enforced in dozens of ways, the needs of government and daily life re-introduce distinctions; as Philip Guedalla observed early in the Soviet regime, "some are more equal than others." The paradox reminds us that in international law has no option but to assume, in the teeth of the evidence, that all sovereign nations are equal.
     There is but one conclusion: humans beings are unmeasurable. It follows that equality is a social assumption independent of fact. It is made for the sake of civil peace, of approximating justice, and of bolstering self-respect. It prevents servility, lessens arrogant oppression, and reduces envy - just a little. Equality begins at home, where members of the family enjoy the same privileges and guests receive equal hospitality without taking a test or showing credentials. Business, government, and the professions assume equality for identical reasons: all junior clerks, all second lieutenants, earn so much. In other situations, as in sports and the rearing of children, equivalence based on age, weight, handicap, or other standard, is computed so as to equalize chances. That is as far as the principle can stretch.