Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Again, Humans Have It Backward

A number of romance writers with whom I have a common link (we have, or have had, the same editor) have been posting pictures of the “real” them on their blogs. Good for them. I previously posted pics of myself on this blog.

This was started, to my knowledge, by Amarinda Jones and spread quickly. Now I don’t always agree with AJ, but in this case I do. If you’ll allow me to paraphrase, she said on her blog that we should be embracing ourselves for exactly who we are, no matter what we look like, no matter how it fits with society’s ideals or our own. We should be happy and proud to the real us.

This course of action got me to thinking. You almost never see a man with these sorts of insecurities about how he looks. I can’t remember who originated the quote and had no luck finding it on the web, but it has stuck with me. “Men and women will never be equal until a woman can walk down the street bald headed and with a beer gut and still believe she’s beautiful.”

But in most of nature, humans stand out as the only species where the majority of its social groupings work backwards from the bulk of nature. In many species the appearances of the genders may differentiate based on size, such as in many dogs, marine and land mammals, etc. In most bird species and among many fish species it is the male who preens and tries to gain the attention of the female. But in all species that I’ve heard of, it is still the male who seeks to win over the females. He seeks to prove he is the most beautiful, most perfect specimen of manhood to mate with her. You see this very clearly with creatures like lions, cattle, fish and birds. The lion’s mane provides protection for his neck during territorial battles but also acts as a way of showing off his gloriousness to the females he is trying to woo. Bulls grow horns for much the same reason.

Ever seen a female beta fish? No, none of those gorgeous fantailed beauties is a girl. Those are the males. Mrs. Beta is much more subdued.

Bees, ants, other hive animals –all dependent upon the queen taking their notice.

Perhaps it is clearest, however with birds. The male peacock clearly is out to impress. The magnificent tail, which the female does not have, not only startles predators, but is used to strut his stuff for his lady love. Cardinals, those gorgeous red birds, are only gorgeous in the male of the species. Female cardinals are quite dull. Robins also, that bright red breast is the sign of a male, while the female is a duller brown.

But for humans, sadly, we have outsmarted ourselves. We have created complex societies that have destroyed the female sense of self. Perhaps it’s time we took back the power we’ve given over to others for so long. Perhaps it’s time that we as women stopped letting ourselves believe that the “real” us is somehow less than wonderful.

There is hope, you know. Just take a look at the Massai of Africa. The women appreciate beauty and wear bright colors and jewels, but nothing compared to the men.

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