Monday, June 06, 2005In June 2003, the Economist published an article entitled Women - Be a Man. Someone sent me a copy of the article and I remember being disgusted by it. Was going through ancient e-mail, looking for something, and came across my response:
Why should we be like men? Economist, for all its good stuff is also a highly chauvanistic magazine. The outrageous title was followed by "Men compete harder than women. That is why they do better at work". OK!!!! Define "better". Who sets the benchmarks and the yardsticks? Men! Why should we accept them? I am not saying this just for the sake of being rebellious but look at the world we live in today - a world that has been shaped by men - it's a melting pot ruled by semi-evolved, macho bullies. The competitive streak that you strongly believe women should inherit, will lead to a fundamental change in what makes women, women. If the 21st century is the century of the woman, why must we play by your rules?
Any discussion about competition has to take into account Early Childhood Development (Age 0 - 8) and the gender biases that set in from the time a baby is born. Pink clothes and dolls for girls and blue clothes and guns for boys. Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles start creating the mess when they often unknowingly/inadvertently set children up against one another, getting them to compete for all sorts of things ranging from love to lollipops. It's pretty frightening.
Competition has infiltrated every aspect of our lives; school, family, sports, business ... success is inevitably achieved at the expense of another's failure. Of course women should demand what is due to them but this can be done in many ways. Our institutions need to be restructured in a way that competition is replaced by cooperation. According to the American dream - competition is the only normal and desirable way of life but actually, it is counterproductive - poisons relationships, fosters anxiety and takes the fun and magic out of work and play. It does not build character and self-esteem and in fact makes people highly insecure.
Here is a link to an unpublished article I wrote a couple of years ago:
Competition - The New Fanaticism ...