Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

Always Transcend


I’ve had a lightbulb moment! Maybe I am just very tired, but someone has said something in the men/women, Mars/Venus debate that has resonated with me more than anything else I’ve read in a long time. Before I tell you what it is, here’s a small bit of background:

There’s been a great discussion about men, women, how we all think and how we all act going on over at What We Said. In Litlove’s post on Good Intentions, she talks about how, in her experience – and she quotes her experience in depth which is what makes it all so interesting – she believes women think more about what other people think of them than men do. That is, that women are more aware. This has provoked all kinds of comment, including one from Mandarine (he blogs here) who says he believes nothing is hard-wired into our biology.

Then, there was a comment from Oanh (she blogs here), where she says this, amongst other things:

My two cents on the biology / environment debate is that: whatever it comes down to, we won’t really know whether it is our genes or our environment that structure who we are and why we behave the way we do. The point is that we can and should transcend our biology and our environment to behave as better women and men, and not use either as reasons to excuse inappropriate behaviour or miscommunication or wars or whatever.

This is a shard of pure wisdom, even if it only cost two cents. So what if it is our genes or our environment that make us behave in a certain way – men behaving badly, women behaving sadly – the point is BEHAVE BETTER. Don’t use either (“I’m so manly, I’ve just got to have sex, even if you, dear lady, don’t fancy it right now” or “You ball-breaker, you have emasculated me, I’m just off to find sex somewhere else”) as an excuse for bad behaviour. Having trashed men, just for fun, mind, let me do the same for my own lovely sex: women using their genes (“I’m so hormonal right now, let me spike with you my little kitten claws and watch your entrails uncurl”) or environment (“Yawn. It’s so dull. Must we?”) also constitutes bad behaviour.

Oanh’s message – say what you think, behave with integrity, don’t start wars – is key to better understanding between not only the sexes, but races, religions, countries too. Prevarication, dissembling, lying, pulling the wool, all these are acts of hiding behind the structures that genes and environment provide. We can all, consciously, be better, without having to take refuge in bland but deceptively dangerous gender stereotypes or excuses about how our parents forced us to go to private schools, or eat brocoli and or have tattoos.

Expect only the bare, naked truth from me from now on. I ain’t going to be playing the little lady any more.

Thus endeth the lesson.


Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

7 thoughts on “Always Transcend

  1. Hooray! Charlotte this is indeed a wonderful lightbulb moment. I salute you from my rainy day office (it’s pouring here for some reason) and vow, from this day forward, to hide no longer behind the veil of hormones but to remember that the point of behaving as a person is to Behave Well.

  2. What an interesting post! It really got me thinking too, about how much we hide behind our gender and use it as an excuse for our behaviour. But, having said that, I do believe that certain characteristics are hard-wired into us. That doesn’t mean we can’t improve though. It’s like saying that just because I’m genetically programmed to procreate, I’m unable to do anything to stop having babies. So it is with most other areas of our pre-programmed sexuality. I shall try to use gender as an excuse less often now (except when done with humour, of course).

  3. Thanks, BlogLily. I think to Behave Well is a good ideal for life generally. However, there is also space for humour, as Sharon suggests, and I think some irony too! I wrote this late at night after talking for a long time to someone who’s significant other has been Behaving Badly and I was feeling angry. While anger helps with insight sometimes, it’s also good to find things to laugh about.

  4. I loved Oanh’s comment and I love what you’ve done with it, Charlotte. I think ‘always transcend’ could well become a personal motto of mine now!

  5. This is spot on. My lightulb moment right now is that mankind is probably the one animal species which specializes in altering whatever Nature had in store for it (inventing tools, clothes, language, agriculture, writing, central heating, n-dimensional vector spaces, and feminism). Transcending biology is probably what defines humanity. No reason to stop short of transcending machism (especially when I believe machistic biological hardwiring is close to zero, or at least vestigial).

  6. Thanks, Charlotte Otter. I really like how you have interpreted my words.

    Always transcend, with a little humour, and anger when it’s appropriate 😉

  7. I agree 100%. I’m sick of so many people making excuses for themselves: “I get to behave however I want, without consequence because (insert “handicap” of choice here).” Every single person on earth has sh*t to deal with; everyone has their own load to carry, not to mention how many folks are helping shoulder the burdens of others; to those people I take the attitude of: “You’re not special. Quit your whinning, suck it up, and move on!” 🙂

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