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Brain Vs. Brawn: A Struggle for equality

September 2, 2013

I realize male chauvinism, gender discrimination and certainly veiled misogyny are present in almost all societies. However, to what extent may depend on factors attributable to culture, education, economic development and most certainly religious indoctrination.   This attempt is my personal thought on the basis and the history of gender discrimination.

So, it makes me wonder if females are condemned for ever by nature, culture and religion to a subservient role to males based purely on his physical strength.  And that the recent attempts of certain cultures to reverse old chauvinistic practices are a cosmetic approach to a natural problem?  Despite, best efforts and a free flow of ideas between people and cultures to either change or influence hard-core cultural and religious indoctrination the problem of gender bias persists.

It seems what evolution proposed God endorsed.  Religion has such hold on humanity that traditional education does little to change most people’s mindset.  Then, the academic world is busy spewing all sorts of nonsense that op-ed writers use to mis-educate the unwary. For example a recent op-ed appearing in an internet based newspaper seems to tie in misogyny to agricultural practices particularly soil tilling tools a civilization adopted.

Interestingly, gender dominance is a practice common across both the human and animal world. So you might think well it’s a natural phenomenon that nature endorses.  However, the animal World also re-enforces the evolutionary concept that while size matter but gender does not. To further illustrate the point consider the following two examples.  First, among the lions where the male due to its size dominates, controls and protects the pride from external threats.  It is in fact the female lioness’s that are responsible for pride sustenance as primary hunters.  In the second, example size still matters however, domination is not gender specific. In Hyena clans the alpha role belongs to the female specie based on the female hyena size being larger than that of a male and males are subservient to the hierarchy established by the female head of the clan.  One thing is for sure that in both the case of the Lions as well as the Hyena the dominant role is based purely on size but not gender specific.

So, what makes us humans sort of unique in our interpretation and execution of roles that may have been determined by evolution just as in the case of many of the others in the animal world? The question is a tad more complicated than pure physique and size.  All living beings are endowed with physical and mental abilities suited to their environment, lifestyle and evolutionary development.  Evolution of a certain being it seems remains a determining factor of the stage and the nature of the development of both the Brain and the Brawn.  In other words the mental and physical attributes are determined purely by nature and evolution.

In the case of the human being evolutionary development is dictated not so much by the physical strength or development but also the metal prowess that was endowed with the ability to grow and develop according to the changing conditions. In modern times we may attribute this to the simple concept of ‘change’.  This ability to bring about ‘change’ is where the story of human development and gender debate sets itself apart from other beings.  The ability to think and rationalize enables the human beings to not only bring about a change but also to then question their own actions.  I am not entirely sure whether nature endows all being with certain physical and mental attributes and then it is up to the individual being to adapt to its environment given the constraints nature may have imposed as limitations or conversely individual being conform their abilities to the environment they find themselves in.   In the case of humans it seems while nature may have imposed certain physical constraints however, the human brain has been given limitless ability to grow or retract leaving the choice to the humans themselves.

This then is really a tale of two living systems; Brain vs. Brawn. Two complimentary and mutually dependent systems that could not be more different than each other in the just about everything and in the process creating a struggle for power, prowess and dominance.

As we look back in time through our evolutionary development Brain it seems was the slower of the two to develop and grow both in size and functionality. Brawn on the other hand developed early well before our bipedal upright ancestors walked out of Africa some 3 to 5 million years ago.  Brawn power favored the male of the specie and in the process it sealed the fate of the female specie to a subservient role and the female relented in the interest of self-preservation.  It was the beginning of the Brawn age and the male exercised his role as a protector/provider to the consenting female.   Essentially both Brawn and Brain were simply acting out the roles evolution had set for them. However, in accepting her role at that moment the female specie was giving acceptance and in the process unwittingly giving rise to a problem that would catch up with us humans millions of years later. Or at least that is what it had us believe.  In simple terms this I believe was the origin of gender bias, chauvinism and even misogyny.   Before we get too emotional about this issue consider the adage “it takes two to tango” the female was an equal participant in this arrangement by the willing and necessary acceptance in the interest of self-preservation.

Through history and all of its different ages from stone, Bronze, copper and Iron past the agricultural into the industrial age Brawn continued to dictate the terms of engagement of the two sexes.  Introduction of religion generally and the Abrahamic faiths in particular and their many forms and manifestations, suppositions and superstitions, edicts and verdicts sanctified the male superiority over the female gender.  Religion took what evolution prescribed and placed a stamp of authority and blessed it.   What started as a matter of necessity was reaffirmed by religious indoctrination that sadly still prevails well into the beginning of the 21st century.

However, as we all know nature works in mysterious ways.  So, while, nature had dealt the female specie a tough blow but she also endowed her with tremendous patience and as the adage goes “patience is a virtue possess it if you can; mostly found in women but never in a man”.  Bit of a stretch in my opinion but then call it patience, call it cunning or call it smarts; call it what you may. However, the brain it seems had a plan and unbeknownst to Brawn she set in motion an evolutionary change to correct a problem born of necessity over millions of years of evolution.   It was a spectacular plan, a paradigm shift and a coup d’état that would eventually if not erase but correct  many of the problems that evolved from Brawn’s almost absolute control through the male specie for example prejudice and gender bias that has taken millions of years to evolve.

All through time Brawn played the lead role while the Brain stayed behind the scenes developing ever so little and providing new ideas that Brawn could claim and carry out.  However, nature was introducing glimpses of the brain power throughout evolution.  As our world moved from an agrarian to industrial to a postindustrial and now the information age society the plan Brain had initiated first began bearing fruit.  A new thinking and a Modus operandi is changing attitudes where power and dominance are not dictated purely by Brawn and muscle.  With the start of the industrial age; machination the brain child of the brain had arrived and, raw power that I spoke of earlier was now being exerted not by muscle but machination.  Machines of all kinds were now replacing Brawn to do all the dirty work except cheaper and faster.  Brawn was watching some of its powers diminishing as machines of all kinds and machination of processes was enabling a leveled playing field for both sexes.

Brain had now put processes in motion that could not be stopped.  The onset of the postindustrial and the beginning of information age brought the full powers of the brain to the fore.   Information age is enabling the Brain to truly show her powers as old myths of Brawn based powers begin to crumble.   The leveled playing field I alluded to earlier is a reality of information age.  Dominance may still be a derivative of provider/protector except it is not driven anymore by Brawn alone.   Brain, is driving the decision using its own abilities as well as learning to delegate to Brawn.  Now, Brawn is doing the same work or part of the work without claiming all the credit for it.  Brain power at its best!

Brain used its cunning and used Brawn when she needed him for protection and sustenance and quietly and with patience withstood the Brawn enabled inequities working behind the scenes letting Brawn take the credit for every achievement of humanity and gracefully accepting her role.  In all fairness dictates at hat we acknowledge the fact that she really did not have a choice in the matter and for all practical purposes she could not survive without Brawn’s muscle power and raw strength.  We may never know if unbeknownst to man this was a deal both systems secretly worked on without so much as inkling to the World at large.  Whatever it is its sheer brilliance.

Old habits die-hard a fact most know rather well.  Alas as humanity we are not there yet. Brain has a lot of work left to do.   A lot now depends on people to include both sexes to recognize the change and accept the responsibility that has been thrust upon them.  All this crucial work that the brain has done over millennia now rests on the gentle shoulders of the female specie to accept the new responsibility and also to show a willingness to break the yoke of social, cultural and religious dogmas

If not for the sake of good moral/ethical sense than certainly necessity would have us all work towards a just and equal society.  While evolutionary scientists may remind us of the differences in the male female genetics and makeup to include differences in the brain.  Common sense then should tell us the Brain revolution has brought the female specie at par with the male.  The rainbow that looked incomplete, the puzzle that remained and the life’s promise that seemed impossible may now head to fruition.  The fact is life is not complete without the full and equal participation of our female species.

What remains to be seen is if unlike Brawn; brain, would wish to take over the role of dominance for either specie or better to level the playing field for both; a just and egalitarian system that embodies kindness, benevolence and generosity towards both sexes.

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