What does it mean to say inequality is natural?

 

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”
                                                                        – Madame Curie 

“Hola! we dem boyz!”

Did you know that pink was once associated with boys and blue with girls? I read that in the 19th century, little boys wore pink because they were considered little men and since the older men wore red, pink seemed like a lower version of red. In truth, one of the earliest references to this original color scheme appeared in a June of 1918 edition of the trade publication Earnshaw’s Infants’ Department:

“The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink , being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.”

 However, before the 20th century, these colours were hardly gendered, so what the fuss happened? Was there an apocalyptic awakening by “the creator?” Did someone receive a tablet that commanded that we use colour to separate women from men?

Unfortunately not.

TIME cover: November 1927

In 1927, Time magazine printed a chart highlighting gender-appropriate colors for girls and boys according to leading U.S. retailers. And why does one of my favorite political magazines care about colour scheming? Apparently, many retail stores advertised this idea in order to push consumers to buy new wardrobes for their kids instead of reusing the older clothes passed down from earlier births. Can you believe that your so-called natural affiliation to pink (if you’re a girl) and blue (if a boy) is actually a ploy to get your parents to spend their hard earned income so that they fit right into society… just so that none of you suffers from the shame? Actually, what really happened was that the owners of production (aka those who run the world) brainwashed society to inscribe this sort of shame into their mindsets and then convinced them that their behaviors are rational and reasonable not because they are right…BUT because everybody is doing it. It’s like TIME and all other retailers took a shit on Mandela’s grave right there. “Hey Mandela, I know you said integrity is about doing what’s right and hard but AINT NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT” #spraymethemoney #moneymoneymoney #lifestyle

 

“(gibberish)..MA LIFESTYLE!” #bandzamakehimdance

 

Even though profit was the obvious objective here, many people seem satisfied with the explanation that blue is just for boys and pink is just for girls. In the comments of the article about colour scheming, a fellow human was quick to say that he thought pink was for women because it is the color of the vagina (sigh).

 

I'm emotionally and physically unable to can with humans. It's things like this that make me want to be a plant in my next life
I’m emotionally and physically unable to can with humans. It’s things like this that make me want to be a plant in my next life

Sadly, many people I know  fall to similar teleological arguments about life. “Teleology” refers to the explanation of phenomena by the purpose they serve rather than by postulated causes. For example, if I ask Bisi, “Bisi, why do pigs like mud?” and Bisi says “because pigs are dirty”. Bisi is being teleological. Because I took biology, I would say “No Bisi, that is an error because what you have done is projected your interpretation of pigs and understanding of mud as the reason why pigs roll in mud.” Pigs actually use the mud for temperature regulation: they have only a few sweat glands that work and because mud is cool (even cooler than air conditioning and cool water), they “wallow in mud” to lower their temperature or scrape off parasites. Probably, Bisi has only learned that pigs are dirty and she constantly hears pigs used to symbolize filth. So, Bisi, although pigs and mud correlate, uncleanliness is not the cause of their relationship. If some people did not take the initiative to find out, I’m sure pigs might have been killed off for being so dirty. Poor pigs.

 

 

We will never progress if we keep substituting correlation of events for the causation of a specific phenomenon. The people who usually do that are either too lazy to search for the hard truths or too ignorant to understand that faith based arguments don’t always help improve relationships because people have different faiths. I truly believe that this God that we use to justify the limits of our creativity and imagination made humans with brains for a reason. I mean, when parents raise a child, they provide all the emotional and physical resources that the child may use to make well informed decisions when going out alone, into our cold world. My parents understand they will not follow me around, but they trust I will use my sensibilities to make smart choices. Yes? So, why is it that people justify every single human interaction as a result of divine intervention? Are we using spirituality to escape our responsibilities to other humans?

 

As a Nigerian, I meet lots of people who look away from the present state of affairs in the name of working towards inhabiting the heavens in the future. But if everyone is created in the image and likeness of “The Creator,” why do we disregard the carefully constructed reflections of “the Creator?” (i.e our neigbours). Honestly, I think our societies choose to prioritize which parts of the scripture they want to interpret as figurative and those that they believe should be followed literally. I recently discovered a great discussion on how religious extremism exists not because values are born out of religion, but because people bring their values into religion. I have many unending questions on religion, but I should explain where this outburst is coming from and roadmap where I am trying to get to.

Recently, my friend put up a facebook status saying:

 “ I am all for female empowerment but shall women and men ever be socially equal? Nah, I don’t think that was ever the creator’s plan”

I immediately recognized this as one of the teleological arguments that surround my Nigerian existence.  If we believe “The Creator” designed the whole world, who do we think we are to understand what goes on in the mind of the forces that created and designed the landscapes around us? I always love going back to Spinoza’s observation where he calls out humans for our egotistical self-aggrandizement. Too many times, we go on to proclaim that we have found the essence of a thing because we understand ONE attribute of that thing. And then, we label that thing with the function we prioritize and claim that it exists only for that function. Who says the heart is only for pumping blood because that is what we have discovered? In that same light, how can we say something is never meant to be because you have only existed in a world where people are chastised for trying to live differently?It’s not simply about a status; it’s about the mindset that makes people substitute equal for same/similar and difference for inequality. Although my friend later changed “equal” to “same,” the premise of my argument is that she groups certain behaviors not to individual differences but to gender binaries.

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3 thoughts on “What does it mean to say inequality is natural?

  1. As someone who subscribes to the Christian Faith, I can agree with you. There are a lot of things; attitudes, justifications, behaviours, sayings and mantras, that are perpetrated by people of the faith in the name of Jesus Christ. What bother me is that honestly, Jesus was a social outcast- he was a maverick, a misfit. He broke the rules of religion. He hung out with the “sinners” and pretty much broke all the laws in the book. One thing that he did though at I see a lot of Christians fail to do is to lead a life dictated by love. It may sound simplistic, but love doesn’t hate…and yet this is a basic concept that most in the church can’t seem to grasp.
    I think living a life of love entails that you live a life of responsibility to your brothers, whatever faith or non-faith they exist in. It validates all forms of existence, and allows others their space to exercise their being.
    I could go on and on, but in short- yes. Those of us who believe there is a God need to make it more of a point to seek that God and grow with him in love for those around us. To allow ourselves to journey even with reason, and have the openness to accept where that journey will take us. We learn hard truths along the way. We learn to cast of certain mind sets that we have adopted in a singsongy manner with the rest of society. We learn that maybe there are some ways that we have been wrong. Many more than we would like to admit. And those of us who subscribe to no faith should journey likewise.

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