The shortcut is the most popular trip in the world.
Everyone — driving a car, reading the news, or doing an assignment — looks for the shortcut. Anything to make it easier and quicker. And what better way, I ask you, than the ever-popular caption? Some slick few adjectives that can oh-so-conveniently nail the situation. For instance: A woman is conveniently either sensuous or dowdy; a man strong or vacillating; a problem anywhere from self-inflicted to epic; a government program either Capitalist or Socialist. See…?
One swift swoop of a pungent caption and by God we’ve tagged our subject without the need for any further hard work. A hasty habit that may help explain why the world has ended up with so many failed marriages, lousy government policies and outright wars. Nobody has time to do their homework and get the real facts.
Now someone has. Miriam Forman-Brunell has just written ‘Babysitter: An American History’ in which she takes on the universal American habit of captioning females as “better in the home than males.” The lady rightly protests this is more cultural conditioning then human biology. She points out that just as more men now cook meals, it would be no less natural for them to parent children. She sums it this way: “Maybe the future of feminism is less about women learning how to have-it-all than about training a generation of men to help us do it.”
I’ll leave it to your own cultural conditioning to react to her claim. However, there is one claim that needs little defense. It’s the stubborn way the pre-conditioned, pre-disposed human mind will always look for the shortcut between problem and solution. One disastrous example throughout history keeps coming to mind –the automatic, knee-jerk way in which we react to whatever confronts us. The quickie way we label the person or problem so we now have a handy, homework-free shortcut to a solution. Be it about husbands or history.
This way, if I’m dealing with the other gender, the other race, the other religion, the other nationality, the other party, the other side of town….well, now I know just exactly how to respond to you, you dumb bastard!
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