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January 30, 2012

Random Gender-Related Links

A while back it seemed that everyone had something to say about the behavior of the men on that sinking Italian cruise ship. Depending on the agenda of the writer, the failure to adhere to "women and children first" was heralded as the fault of evil feminists, the beginning of the end of western civilization, or simply human nature.

At the time I wondered whether we'd see a similar analysis of the behavior of the female passengers and crew. This is only a single data point:

The body of Peruvian ship’s waitress Erika Soria has been recovered from the wreck of the Concordia. It has been revealed that as the ship went down, and Captain Schettino was busy being one of the first off the ship, the young Peruvian waitress, working on her third cruise, stayed back to help dozens of passengers into the lifeboats. The last time rescued passengers saw her, she was giving her lifejacket to an elderly man.

Three cheers for decency, no matter where it is found.

On a somewhat related note, I was intrigued by this article about a culture where women have the upper hand in most things and men are fighting for equal rights under the law:

Mr Pariat, who ignored age-old customs by taking his father's surname is adamant that matriliny is breeding generations of Khasi men who fall short of their inherent potential, citing alcoholism and drug abuse among its negative side-effects.

"If you want to know how much the Khasis favour women just take a trip to the labour ward at the hospital," he says.

"If it's a girl, there will be great cheers from the family outside. If it's a boy, you will hear them mutter politely that, 'Whatever God gives us is quite all right.'"

Mr Pariat cites numerous examples of how his fellow brethren are being demoralised. These include a fascinating theory involving the way that gender in the local Khasi language reflects these basic cultural assumptions.

"A tree is masculine, but when it is turned into wood, it becomes feminine," he begins.

"The same is true of many of the nouns in our language. When something becomes useful, its gender becomes female.

"Matriliny breeds a culture of men who feel useless."

I talk to Patricia Mukkum, the well-respected editor of Shillong's daily newspaper. She assures me that her heritage is only one of the reasons why she has risen to the level she has and points out that the tradition of excluding women from the political decision making process is still very strong in their culture.

As a mother of children by three different Khasi fathers however, she is the first to admit that their societal anomaly has afforded her ample opportunities to be both a mother and a successful career woman.

Making reference to the routine problems facing women just over the border in West Bengal, Miss Mukkum is resolute.

"Our culture offers a very safe sanctuary for women," she declares.

I found the second bolded portion of the article particularly interesting as apparently, excluding women from the political sphere has not guaranteed equal treatment for men. As a side note, it would also appear that a society run by women is not the egalitarian utopia it is so often conjectured to be.

A lot of people's smug assumptions are confounded here.

Finally, not gender related (except in the sense that I suspect my amusement is somewhat enhanced by having two x chromosomes):

I'm a rational anarchist.
I'm a market anarchist.
I'm an anarcho-capitalist.
I'm a crypto-anarchic small-L left libertarian Republican.
Really, I just like blowing stuff up.

Posted by Cassandra at January 30, 2012 08:26 AM

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The other way in which Meghalaya's system is different is that it is not the eldest son who inherits, but the youngest daughter. You can imagine how much that encourages infanticide on the behalf of previously-youngest daughter siblings; at least the 'eldest' system doesn't make it advantageous for the stronger older sibling to dispose of the weaker, younger one!

The Picts also passed inheritance to daughters; it seems to be the reason they no longer exist. The system can work in an isolated culture, but if it interbreeds with another culture the system fails. When they give daughters to sons of the other culture, their property goes with the daughters; but when their sons marry daughters from that culture, no property flows in. On the other side, the son inherits his father's property and his wife's, concentrating wealth and power. When one of the daughters goes to marry a son, nothing flows out with her.

The effect is similar (though slightly weaker) in cases of intermarriage with a culture where inheritance is divided, as in our culture. That Meghalaya's tribal system has survived in this way means that it is highly inbred, an effect which will either continue until it can't (in which case the culture will die); or will be obviated by intermarriage (in which case the culture will die).

That seems to be another case of natural law at work.

Posted by: Grim at January 30, 2012 02:17 PM

I will admit, one of the hardest parts of being a libertarian is having to listen to other libertarians. Or people who think they're libertarians (like the anarchists). Or people that OTHER people think are libertarians (like the anarchists).

Posted by: MikeD at January 31, 2012 01:28 PM