Tuesday, April 5, 2016


I like quirky things, nonstandard things, outliers. A lot of intellectuals (and pseudo-intellectuals) do. I've been reading science fiction for about sixty years now, and of course that's a genre based on quirkiness. And, you know, there's a long tradition of fascination with quirkiness in Western Civilization. Other, more static civilizations, maybe not so much.

This has taken the form of questioning norms, and speculating about how it might be if we did things differently — another specialty of science fiction, of course —and, indeed, such thinking often leads to changing such norms, and can lead to progress and a steady improvement in human life. This is clearly the case with much technology, but the record is more mixed when it comes to trying new social ideas. Sometimes social changes, like the transition from feudalism to capitalism, have led to net improvements. Others, like the transition from capitalism to communism here and there, have been net failures.

Right now we're being told that we need to try a new quirky idea, the notion that "sex" and/or "gender" are social constructs and can and should be changed to something more formless and ad hoc, if you will.  Eli Harman writes:

Say there are two groups of people. One group maintains that men are men, and women are women, and makes a sensible division of labor to take advantage of their usual strengths/weaknesses and socialize their children into those identities and roles, according to their sex.
The other group fetishizes uniqueness and individualism for their own sake, encourages attention-seeking deviancy, leaves everything up in the air, tells people they have to define their own identities according to whatever whim and fancy takes them, and permits, nay, encourages, boys to pretend to be girls and girls to pretend to be boys, even to the extent of seeking surgery, making their substantial investment in child-rearing, in those cases (and many others) non reproductive. 
Now, fast forward 100 years? Which group is doing better?
Quibcag: Yes, you're right. The Quibcag doesn't relate very closely to the post. But it's a good one, so here it it. Illustrated by Sera Masumi not being compassionate toward the Kaito Kid, both from Detective Conan, AKA Meitantei Conan (名探偵コナン)

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