Saturday, June 15, 2019

Stop Limiting My Potential

From BBC news-
"A ban on adverts featuring "harmful gender stereotypes" or those which are likely to cause "serious or widespread offence" has come into force.
The ban covers scenarios such as a man with his feet up while a woman cleans, or a woman failing to park a car.

The UK's advertising watchdog introduced the ban because it found some portrayals could play a part in "limiting people's potential".

“Our evidence shows how harmful gender stereotypes in ads can contribute to inequality in society, with costs for all of us. Put simply, we found that some portrayals in ads can, over time, play a part in limiting people’s potential,” says Guy Parker, chief executive of the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority)."

At the risk of being stereotyped as an older, white, conservative male this seems to me to be just one more crazy attempt by progressives to brute force the round peg of equality into the square hole of reality.

People are different, genders are different. Why people are who they are is complicated and we still don’t fully understand it. But the scientific evidence for real differences between the sexes is undeniable. Gender matters. And there is substantial evidence that other factors matter, they matter a lot. Personality type matters. Where you grow up matters? Race matters. Money matters. Health matters. Education matters. Your decisions and the decisions of others matter. The weather matters. IQ matters. Physical appearance matters. Age matters. Like it or not, fair or not…differences matter.

To be clear, I am all for equal opportunity for everyone. But equal outcomes are not possible. Over the past 100 years most of the modern, industrialized world has made tremendous progress toward creating equal opportunity for all. Yet, we still see unequal outcomes among people of different genders, races, places of origin, etc.

Some of this will take time to work through. Ever since we started walking upright, discovered fire and began telling our stories on cave walls, human civilization hasn’t been all that big on equal opportunity. Rulers and subjects have been the norm. The fortunate few selected by the gods to run things. On the timeline of human history we are still new at this equal opportunity idea. We are very much a work in process. And, going forward things will get incrementally better for more people. But not for all and never the same for all. This is a hard pill to swallow for social scientists. So they spend their time and someone else’s grant money doing studies that show where and how society does these awful things to perpetuate inequality.

As I grow older, I resent the assumptions that many people have about aging and ability. I am still in good shape, the mind is sharp and I’m not all that different than I was 20 years ago. But, the reality is that I am different. My hearing isn’t as good as it used to be. I’m not as strong and don’t recover from a hard workout or heavy physical labor the way I used to. I tend to be more forgetful. I have to pee more frequently. I watch Blue Bloods and most of the music I listen to is from the last century. So I fit a lot of older adult stereotypes.

But I don’t want to watch catheter commercials. I don’t need a reverse mortgage. I’m not moving to an “active senior” community. I don’t much like seeing older people portrayed in movies and television as incompetent, sad and helpless.

All of this stereotyping could be limiting my potential. But, it’s not. If anything, it motivates me to keep going as well as I can for as long as I can. While I am not the man I used to be, in many ways that’s a good thing. I’m kinder and gentler and don’t take life as seriously. I have gained the perspective that comes with age. That is a difference and an advantage that I gladly embrace.

My potential is limited by many things. Now, most of all, by time. I don’t need a well-meaning social scientist to ban advertisements that I don’t like or want to watch. But, if they could come up with a Time Machine that actually worked, I’d take a spin.

"It would be interesting to find out what goes on in that moment when someone looks at you and draws all sorts of conclusions.”
― Malcolm Gladwell

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