A father and his son are in a car accident. The father dies at the scene but his son is rushed to hospital.
At the hospital the surgeon looks at the boy and says, “I can’t operate on this boy. He is my son.”
How can this be?
Such a riddle has been told many times before and sometimes in even more humorous senses but the sentiment and point has always remained the same. Yesterday HeForShe put it forward in one of their Instagram stories marking my first encounter with it. Shamefully I got it wrong.
The answer is simple; the surgeon is his mother.
Many of us, like myself, fall victim to our own biases ones that may not even be known to us. Biases born out of teachings, perceptions, media, up bringing etc. We are all products of time and media just like our parents and their parents before them, we are all always learning and hopefully trying to progress and improve ourselves. My failings aren’t in the fact that I believe a woman can’t be a surgeon or a doctor or a police officer but in the fact that sadly my subconscious mind for whatever multitude of reasons has created and appointed genders to all manner of things from jobs and objects to tools and feelings. I am happy and willing to own up to my failings and we shouldn’t be too ashamed to do so. If I don’t how will I ever alter or improve my outlook on the World and life. In the simplest form all progression is is the recognition of a mistake and the desire to improve upon it, not only for your self betterment but for the betterment of others.
HeForShe may only be into it’s third annum of campaigning for gender equality but it’s impact is vast and impressive. All of which I believe boils down to their approach and their use of positivity. HeForShe essentially stands for equality for all through the inclusive power of all. They triumph feminism and equality through the help of all races, ages and genders, no one, person or being is left out. Upon their initial conception they wanted to have the voices of a 100,000 males in their fight for gender equality a figure which they have far far exceeded. What HeForShe does so well, as previously mentioned, is to campaign, explain, share and teach positively. With their Instagram riddle they weren’t trying to trick you or catch you out in order to shame or belittle or cuss you out. They simply wanted to open your eyes through self discovery, to let you know you weren’t alone in your errors, that this was something invisible for many but there was a way to make it visible to ensure such errors would no longer be so common place. Its aim to offer you a new perspective, to give you understanding and knowledge. To enlighten you for your sake as much for anyone else’s.
These days it may seem like the World is hurtling backwards into a fiery darkness when in fact the World is becoming a far more positive place. Yes, while every headline you may read is all doom and gloom and negativity in other places there is a great sense of positivity. When I say positive I don’t mean all happy-go-lucky-sunshines-and-rainbows. I mean the way in which we talk and share, in the ways we teach and help it seems we are no longer trying to ram our agendas down one an others throats but instead to listen and to learn and to try. While tensions and violence is still rampant many of us are trying. We are trying to improve. We are trying to progress. We are trying to be positive.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine, the New York police precinct sit-com starring the talented likes of Andy Samberg, Melissa Fumero, Chelsea Peretti and Terry Crews, but to name a few, is a perfect cultural touchstone for this sense of positivity. For years sit-coms have been centred around a sarcastic knowing wit with a singular main protagonist. Filled with the constant butting of heads, of conflicts between friends and supporting cast, of bitting spiteful jabs. Nine-Nine prides itself on the fact that every single character cares for and loves the ones around them. They never want to see a team mate in pain, they never want crime to prevail but they also don’t want the criminals to come to harm either (perfectly exemplified by Peraltas and Doug Judys friendship in the show). There is an incredible and believable unity amongst them, there’s still drama and conflict but it doesn’t come from your stereotypically negative sources. Take Big Bang Theory as a counter point, a lot of its humour comes from, particularly in the earlier seasons, Sheldon’s particulars and the annoyances and conflicts that arise from them amongst the friendship group. With further humour coming from the groups disdain at Sheldon and the quips and exasperations that follow. Ones that make Sheldon recognise his oddities amongst the group. Nine-Nine makes a point of having the group always sticking together and overcoming the challenges they face from outside influences, they mine their humour from this, the in-jokes and their devotions to one another. The humour is always trying to be positive rather than cutting or harsh towards another character.
Right now my above points may seem rather minor and timid for me to have made such a bold claim as the World is a becoming a more positive place but I guess that just as helpfully serves my point. They may seem somewhat small but let’s not let them be that way. Lets look to them and learn from them and start to be positive about what they could and can do, what they mean and where they can take us. Take notes from HeForShe make the negatives small but the positives big, share the positives, discuss it but never forget the negatives that created them. I guess photographers have had the right idea all along.