Needs, needs, needs - phooey

Voice Card  -  Volume 5  -  Larry Card Number 5  -  Sun, Feb 19, 1989 1:17 PM

This is a response to volume 4, John Card Number 11 ("Point Counterpoint")...

I will grant you, John, that, in order for the race of Homo Sapiens to survive -- for the present time anyway -- both men and women are required. But is this a human need?

By the way, what are needs? Our body gets hungry and tells us to eat. We need to eat. Our brain tells us to breathe, and we suck air. We need oxygen. Our body (and mind) gets tired and tells us to sleep. We need sleep. (Although, while waiting in line at the supermarket, I read an article in some respected journal like that National Enquirer about a guy who claims he never sleeps.)

Our body becomes sexually aroused and tells us what? -- that we need to procreate to preserve the human race? I don't think that being fruitful and multiplying is a physical need like food, air, and sleep. After all, how could homosexuals and other individuals who choose never to bear children survive when this need is not fulfilled?

Okay, procreation is not a physical need -- but we know it's necessary for the survival of the human race. Of course, we have to ignore the story of Adam and Eve and assume that we can't take a rib and create another human being (I'll return to religion in a little while). What kind of need is procreation then? Is it an emotional need or an intellectual need?

I vote both, and here's why. Consider the lowly oxen. Do oxen mate because they want to preserve their species or because of physical urges? I would guess that it's just a physical urge. Humans, on the other hand, mate because of physical urges, desires to show affection, and the importance of perserving the species. Because of the human capacity for intellect and emotion, mating becomes much more complex than simply satisfying physical urges.

Let's step back for a minute and see where we are before we go on. John says that men and women need each other in order to ensure the survival of the human race. Larry says sure, but this need is really a contingency based upon the human capacity for intellect and, possibly, emotion. An individual human being will not cease to survive if he or she does not meet a member of the opposite sex and bear children.

On the other hand, there are so very many other emotional and intellectual "needs." The human race has always had the "need" to explain its origins and where it's going. That's why religion, in its many forms, exists. Surely, the songs written, the crimes committed, the sacrifices made in the name of religion equal those made in the name of love. Do we also have a "need" for social structure?

Throughout history and still today, certain racial, ethnic, and economic groups have been enslaved, relegated to untouchable classes, scorned, and killed because of their membership in these groups. Does the human species have a "need" to stratify people? Similar agruements can be made for the "need" for government, politics, money, and material goods.

Men and women need each other for a variety or reasons -- among them to preserve the species. Humans, in general, also appear to need religion, social structure, and a range of other things. Do you think we can we really separate the "need" men and women have for each other simply because it has a more foreseeable consequence. How can we say what will happen if humans were denied religion completely, or prohibited from stratifying humans. Perhaps if these sorts of things were taken away, the human race would also cease to exist. Can you say for sure?

In short, John, what I'm saying is that the needs that men and women have for each other are simply intellectual and emotional needs that are really no different than other other intellectual and emotional needs. You said when referring to men and women, that "in countless ways we shape each other and look to each other for meaning and definition"- and I won't argue that point. But I firmly believe that the same comment also applies to everyone we meet.

NOW -- On to the worlds of men and women. You wanted us to be more specific about what worlds we mean.You are talking about the worlds of adolescence and dating and relationships. I don't believe that it matters what corners that we are trying to explain. My contention is that, no matter "world" we are talking about, the man is expected to be in control. If we look at adolescence and dating, who is generally expected to ask for the date, whose car do they go in, who does the driving, if only one person pays, who generally pays for the date? Things are improving, but for the most part the control still resides with male.

The days of the fifties are not gone nor are they fading fast. They are fading, I will grant you, but they are still with us. Although considerable more women are in the workforce now, a lot of that has to do with economic neccesities. There are still vast differences, just as there were in the fifties. Salaries for women do not even closely approximate men's salaries. Women are still primary child care givers. Are fifty percent of our state governors women? Do we have 50% female representation in the Congress? How mant female presidents, vice-presidents, cabinent members, etc. have we had this decade. What about business CEOs, presidents, and vice-presidents? Does equal representation exist there? Close your eyes and visual a nurse, a maid, a secretary, a preschool teacher. What do you see? How about a doctor, a janitor, a truckdriver, an airplane pilot. Strong sexual stereotypes still exist, even in those of us who would like to deny otherwise.

I cannot agree that most interaction between men and women takes place in a neutral world. Unfortunately, it's still a man's world out there -- at least the rules and laws have been and are primarily developed by men. Perhaps it seems as if it is changing more rapidly because of the circles of friends and acquaintances in which we (those followers of Archipelago) mingle. However, even the times are a changin', they aren't changing fast enough for us to see real differences in our lifetimes.