Feminism Revisited

I have never considered myself a feminist. On the contrary, my Texan, Republican-party, right-leaning upbringing certainly played a part in making me, at my core, potentially even anti-feminist.  At the age of 10 or 11, I even remember having a T-shirt printed which said in bold letters “Down with ERA”. I proudly wore it to school to antagonize the few left-wing girls in my class.

The ERA, or “equal rights amendment”, refers to a movement in the US which attempted to pass an amendment to the US constitution to give men and women equal rights. It never passed and at 10 years of age I doubt I really understood or cared to understand any of the real arguments for or against, but my parents were clearly against it. In hindsight, the T-shirt was likely more about me wanting to have the approval of my parents than of any real ideological belief.

Carina’s Breasts on Display

I caught up with budding artist/designer Carina Hardy recently in Thailand. Carina is the daughter of my friends John and Cynthia Hardy (of Green School and John Hardy Jewelry fame), and was in Thailand to display her “Back to the Breast” inflatable artwork at the Wonderfruit festival. As seen in the photo, it’s a reasonably provocative display of femininity and feminism.

Over a drink before dinner, Carina asked me very directly, “Are you a feminist?”. I staggered a bit and failed to give an comprehendible answer, knowing that I was in a tough place, but she then followed with “Do you believe that men and women should be treated equally?”  Tough to say no to that; and that, apparently, makes me a feminist. To double-check I consulted the dictionary. Merriam-Webster’s definition of feminism is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes”.

Carina with one of her breasts in Thailand.

Check out more photo’s on Carina’s Instagram page.

Putting aside cultural nuances of what the word brings to mind, which no doubt varies from country to country, I can actually honestly say that my personal worldview goes beyond feminism. So much beyond in fact that I would whole-heartedly support women running the world. In fact, I’ll be so bold as to say this will happen – likely not in my lifetime, but I believe it will happen. The pendulum has rightfully started to swing that way.

Cavemen Ruled

None of us were there, but I have the impression that ten thousand years ago men were the ones doing the heavy lifting. They had to fight off saber-tooth tigers and other men attacking their wives, who were nursing an endless supply of children, all needed to work the land and thus ensure at least a few survived. They were out scouring the land to determine where the food was and if/when the family had to move on. So if nothing else by sheer brute force this made me the dominant gender. This is in our DNA.

In the modern era, the need for physical protection and hunting, at least in most of the developed world, has gone away along with the saber-tooth tiger. Yet not much more than a generation ago the only jobs women, at least in the US, were able to secure widely were in nursing or teaching.  A modern iteration of caveman living.

The workplace has now changed and women are starting to fill jobs and roles, even at the top of organizations, and they have proved that women are no less competent than men. In fact, studies have shown that in some professions women do better, and boards are more functional and arguably make better decisions with women members. Women bring less testosterone and ego than men, while at the same time more compassion and feeling to the boardroom, which even I have seen be very effective in the making more balanced decisions. Better decisions. And this isn’t restricted to board rooms.

The More Complicated Gender

Men are simple creatures – easily motivated by food, sex, money and power.  Women are much more complex – I won’t say any more. But like a fine Swiss watch, the more complicated the better. That complexity will, in my opinion, in time allow women to rise above men in the social order and make the world a better place. Better decisions for humanity will be made. Sure, that might mean less people in the world  as women may choose not to marry and/or have fewer or no children at all (a trend already happening in parts of the world). But the world’s population is growing too fast to be able to responsibly sustain a population of 10+ billion. So in a way this might just be nature finding a way to save itself.

Over time, I have to believe that lower birth rates will be partially offset by lower deaths from wars. Women will look to solve conflict through dialog versus militarily. A world run by women would look a lot different. We are now, I believe, at the apex of men’s dominant rule.

Feminism, however one chooses to define it, will win in the long term and women will get their turn at running the show. The men have had their turn with arguably mixed results. Pity that I won’t be around to see it, but in the meantime I am happy to support Carina’s Breasts and help her show them to the world.

Happy 8th of March!

March 8th is International Women’s Day, a day set aside to honor women although it somehow only gets serious attention in Russia and former Soviet countries. Nonetheless, I’m pleased to wish all the women in my life a Happy Women’s Day next week!

Chris Saye
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Chris is a family office executive, coach and writer. He is a former partner with both Arthur Andersen and Ernst & Young, and currently manages MarcWhittaker, a network of family office advisors in Singapore. He is a fluent Russian-speaker, having spent 15 years living and working in Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. Chris has been married to his wife Galina for over 20 years and together they have three children and two grandchildren.

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