Now, my previous article with the same title got much furore from some very arrogant and very emotional people. Apart from calling me names, and belittling me, they also very rudely suggested that i should do some reading before writing anything. The weird thing is that the previous writing was meant to be an observation, but these very arrogant people dont seem to get this. So i decided that i should write a more academic styled piece to meet their emotional outburst. I thought long about this matter, and i came to the conclusion that i would have to address the issue from the opposite side so to not trigger their irrational emotions.
The opposite of selfishness, is of course selflessness. In English, there is a more accurate word used for selflessness and its known as altruism. Now the main premise of altruism which is a form of morality by itself is that, doing something for one’s self is bad or at least nothing morally appraisable, whereas doing something for others is appraisable and perhaps even sacred. Selfishness is when it appears to an OBSERVER that the particular being or class of beings could have taken an action that may benefit others however they opted for the action that only benefits themselves. Moral theorist Peter Singer in his book Writings on an Ethical Life, has gone so far as to say that favoring one’s own children over other people’s children, such as by feeding them or giving them medical attention, when there are children who are going without these things is condemnably selfish.
Many people are caught up in this moral theory, especially the constructed view on women. The general population has a twisted view that women adhere to a certain set of selfless behavior. A logical fallacy is drawn up simply because people tend to think that women are caring. Many see women’s maternal instinct as being sacred and beyond any self sacrifice. Somehow many people believe that women have the inherent character to sacrifice themselves because they know what is the right thing to do. This is a very conservative form morality, which has been the reason for superficial assumptions that has groomed history for a long time. Men are selfish and women are selfless is the view that has been lingering since the early perception on this morality.
The willingness of a mother to attend to her baby, is seen as her own willingness to sacrifice. And so a theory developed, that women are naturally selfless. So what if they are not? Does this mean they are bad women? No, it simply means they have natural reasons to be selfish. Women today have submitted themselves to a constructed oppression, that because they are selfless beings (by being mothers, wives and what not) so they must be perceived in a special manner (the oppression) for if otherwise they would be bad people. From my previous write up, there were men and women who were furious simply because i rendered a view that was in contradiction with the constructed “sacred” notion of how women are to be perceived of their selflessness. Both gender being part of the social construct fiercely criticized not my writing but me as a person for attacking this status quo.
Melanie Beatty in Codependent No More, realized that what women in particular really need to be selfish, not to maintain the status quo or become less self-interested. Women and some men would never want to admit that selfishness could be a virtue, however they would not contest that many problems faced by women today is because women fail to attend to their own needs. It is okay to be selfish especially when you are a women, it is not belittling neither is it disrespectful. Ayn Rand in her novel Atlas Shrugged successfully put across the philosophy of Objectivism towards establishing selfishness as a moral virtue.
If women are unable to liberate themselves of the altruistic mentality that has hindered them from moving forward, then men are not free of it either and will have to suffer dissimilar but equally ill implications. Viewing women as naturally unselfish, or naturally more sacred then men not only contributes to their own oppression, but encourages and perpetuates the morality of altruism.
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