Saturday, February 28, 2009

Ladies, It's Up to Us!

In an effort to reduce newpaper cutting clutter in my house I shall henceforth post interesting newspaper articles on my blog.

Here's the first article to be featured on my online library. It's taken from Sunday Star dated 22 February 2009.

The words in red are the relevant bits for the benefit of those who are too lazy, or busy, to read the whole article.

It’s in your hands, ladies

Stray Thoughts

Women have more power than they think, and can do something to put us guys in our place.

ONE of the most interesting and inspiring aspects of the Star Trek universe is how nice everybody is.

They’re so politically correct, it’s almost painful to watch. By the 23rd century, we’re told, there would be no prejudice against colour, class, creed, or gender. Respect for human (or alien) rights would be an ingrained part of society. Thanks to replicator technology, greed for material possession will be a thing of the past. No more tyranny of need.

True, this vision was not consistent throughout the various series and movies – Captain Kirk’s adventures had a Midshipman Hornblower feel to them, things were a lot grittier on the Deep Space 9 station, and Janeway’s voice had an irritating nasal twang that challenged the tolerance levels of even the most accepting of liberals. Fans are still split over how true-to-its-source Star Trek: Enterprise was, but at least it had the sexy Vulcan T’Pol (Jolene Blalock), so who’s complaining.

The Star Trek future is one of hope, when humans have become highly “evolved”. I use the word in quotation marks because, in terms of everyday discourse, it is being used correctly (and Mind Our English editor Kee Thuan Chye won’t be forced to correct me, so there!).

“Evolution” here is used to mean change, and to imply “better”. Even science fiction writers do this – their “highly evolved” beings of the future or from any advanced galactic civilisation don’t kill except in absolute need, have finely attuned aesthetic tastes (they all listen to classical music, not P.J. Harvey), and are into poetry.

However, the scientific meaning of the word is more restricted. In biology, the definition is the “change in the gene pool (or inherited traits) of a population from generation to generation by such processes as natural selection and genetic drift”,

Evolution does not necessarily lead to “better” or “more sophisticated” beings. It’s just that these organisms (people included) change from generation to generation, and the traits that are best for survival in a certain environment tend to get passed on. The reason for this, as Charles Darwin explained, is because individuals with advantageous traits are more likely to survive and reproduce.

When it comes to social animals like humans, the “environment” here is more than just our natural surroundings. It’s our communities and cultures, our aspirations as a society, and much more: survival of the fittest, where fitness isn’t physical any more.

We’ve created a society where strength comes from wealth and power (usually political), not the human traits that we say, or like to believe, we value more. Caring, compassionate, ethical and principled people operate at a disadvantage in our society. There is a yawning chasm between our ideals and what our society actually nurtures. We’re a species at odds with ourselves.

How do we transform society to treasure and nurture these higher principles? How can we, when the rules of society are written by the wealthy and powerful who have no desire to see their advantages dissolve in the throes of transformation?

How about we write them out of the gene pool? That’s right, why don’t we make sure these “helpful traits” are not passed down to yet another generation.

And that’s where women come in. You have the power of reproduction and motherhood. You propagate the species. You can also play a big role in ensuring it’s a progressive propagation.

Yeah, I know how wealth and power are aphrodisiacs to some ladies, but perhaps if the people who crave these things were not rewarded with the love of a good woman, they might change their priorities.

Don’t let nice guys finish last. If you have a choice between that tycoon’s son who can whisk you off to a dirty weekend in Paris, or the one who’s asking you to feed his fish while he joins a Mercy Malaysia mission, go for the latter.

The doctor who boasts of his new BMW and exclusive golf club membership, or the one who will be posted to Africa for a couple of years as part of a United Nations effort? You know which relationship you should nurse.

The charming bad boy or the fumbling dork who is too nervous to ask you out? Do you even have to ask? (Don’t worry, I am not a nice person, so this is not a subtle pitch.)

And no matter how exciting and articulate they may be, always watch out for the type who is capable of betraying your trust. You know, the ones who take pictures of you while you’re asleep or in an compromising position, saying “Don’t worry, it’s just for my personal collection”.

Yeah, right. Remember, if hell hath no fury as a woman scorned, the gutter has nothing as slimy as a man who can’t get his way.

A. Asohan, New Media Editor at The Star, hopes Thuan Chye won’t scold him for using his name in vain.

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