We have abandoned the ought to our existence. Click To Tweet
Film and social media celebrity George Takei recently shared an article entitled “9 Strangers Get Turned Into What They’ve Always Wanted To Be But Never Had The Courage” with the caption “Don’t Dream it–be it.” Don’t ask me why I even follow Takei or click on his links. Maybe it’s just a weird masochistic affinity for “highly affirmative” articles written with lots of exclamation marks, third-grade level eloquence, and the warm and fuzzy denial of reality.
But this post was especially troubling. Why? Meet Melanie.
“My name is Melanie and I’m 32. I’m being turned from a woman into a man. I’m doing this because I feel like men represent power and strength, and I’d really like women to feel powerful and strong, which is why I’m becoming a man for a day.”
Being the cynic that I am, I couldn’t help but appreciate the irony that the social activists who usually oppose gender stereotypes so adamantly would indulge such a stereotype. It seems particularly odd that a woman seeking to empower other women would adopt the strategy of assimilating the identity of a man to prove women can be strong and powerful. That seems completely counterintuitive to her point. She wanted to empower women… so she acted like a man.
I actually couldn’t help but feel indignant on behalf of all the strong and powerful women who Melanie just suggested adopted characteristics represented by men. This slap in the face to women does not fit with an agenda to prove that women are equal to men, so I couldn’t understand how Melanie’s example would make it into the warm and fuzzy social activist blogosphere.
But then it struck me.
Melanie is an example of how our culture has become so obsessed with the characteristics of the individual that we are forgetting universal virtues in which all humanity should participate.
What do I mean by that? We have become so obsessed with the roles and traits of various genders, sexualities, nationalities, cultures, ethnicities, etc. that we have become obsessed with the way things are in those various identities and bending them so we can always find the grass that is greener in an identity that is not our own.
Caught up in this obsession with our identity and how we can change it to take on the traits and characteristics of a different identity, we have abandoned the “ought” to our existence. We have forgotten that there are things we all ought to do.
Regardless of our gender, sexuality, nationality, ethnicity or whatever things we take to compose our identity there are certain universal virtues to which we should all aspire. Among these virtues are things like strength and power.
Virtues are universal. We should all aim for them. They are not exclusively possessed or even rightfully represented by a certain demographic as though some virtues are a defining characteristic of some groups and not others.
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