Author's Note: the subject that follows is one that has sparked intense, and sometimes hostile disagreements between myself and others- even others whom I otherwise got along well with, liked, and respected. It is a subject upon which my thoughts and opinions are in the overwhelming minority. All of that said, it is not now and has never been my desire or intent to offend or provoke; these are nothing more (or less) than my thoughts on a rather touchy subject.
The primary and most fundamental external difference between human beings is gender. I don't think anyone will dispute that fact. Obviously, some ethnic groups have characteristics which set them apart, such as skin color, eye shape, and hair texture, but there is no difference more profound or more evident than gender.
Anyone who knows me even a little will know that I consider the previous paragraph to be complete and utter crap.
What is the difference between a human male and a human female? At a genetic level, it's nothing more complicated than the pairing of a pair of chromosomes, labled by early geneticists as X and Y. Human females have double X chromosomes; human males have XY chromosomes. For those who are interested, more information can be found here.
I'm not going to make any friends saying so, but the differences begin and end there.
I can hear the arguments to the contrary piling up, and since, A, I lack the science to actually argue the point scientifically, and B, the points I want to make here are spiritual and cultural, I won't bother lining them up; rather, I'll just proceed along and make my points.
Much ado has been made in the national and, indeed, global press in recent years about gay marriage. (I'll make it relevant, I promise.) Those against it make arguments ranging from quoting Bible passages to flatly (and erroneously) declaring homosexuality "unnatural." Those for it cite things like overpopulation, and want it explained to them why it is that any given pair of people who love one another are different in any significant way from any other.
In the very same vein, I submit that the same questions can be asked of those who believe that men and women are so wildly different. I recognize the fact that there are certain structural differences between the two, but they are, in my view, cosmetic, and little else. The idea that there are significant functional differences between men and women are the result of centuries of social conditioning. People in power wanted things a certain way, so they schemed to make it so, and they had the power and resources to reinforce their ideas, generation after generation. There are thousands of examples of this kind of conditioning, all over our world, right now, today- every single person reading this right now has been conditioned in some way to believe something that may not even be true. The individuals who are aware of this enough to even question their conditioning are rare indeed.
Why, then, are people so ready to accept that men and women are so wildly different?
Is there anyone among you who would deliberately treat an African-American person differently than a Caucasian person because of their race? Anyone among you who would think less of someone for being Asian? Or Hispanic? I hope not. Why then is it that so many otherwise open minded people (of which I know a heartbreaking number) who will cheerfully make a mockery of one group or another based on their gender? People who wouldn't dream of saying the word "Nigger" have no problem at all saying that "men are pigs." People who would be horrified by terms like "Chink" or "Kike" wouldn't flinch away at all from saying that "women are bitches."
It's conditioning. We were trained, as a species, a very long time ago, to perceive a difference. So we do.
We've overcome the idea that certain ethnic groups are equal, rather than lesser, because we made an effort to do so. We saw an error, say even a lie, in our thinking, and we corrected it. (Note Well: I am not so naive as to believe that racism is no longer an issue; allow me my hyberbole, here, to make a point.) Why, then, do we live in a world where there are still places where women are treated like cattle (or worse) and have less rights than a house cat?
Why do we live in a world where the package that someone is born in has even a small effect on the consideration they receive from other people, good or bad?
It is my earnest, heartfelt belief that People are People, and the only differences that exist are the ones we create. I'm not laying out some tired, trite "eveyone is an individual" schlock. I'm saying that to take any one characteristic of another person (or group of people), and using it to define them... well, there's no polite way to say it: it's fucking stupid. It's no way to think, no way to live, and no way to get along. If the way someone lives or acts gets up your nose... try to remember it's them that's bothering you, not everyone who is the same color, the same shape, or the same Whatever. It's one person.
Remember, too: All is One. So that Lady that's bitching at you? That Man who's being a "pig"? They're part of the same Whole that you are.
Allow them their hyperbole, too.