Aesop’s Trial: Does Plodding Win The Race?

 Tekst: Øystein Vaglid 

 China’s One Child Policy was especially harmful to Chinese women due to a traditional preference for men. This failure enquires the necessity of traditions. 

For centuries human survival has relied on the transmission of practical values. First through storytelling, then vivid art and finally an explotion of more complex mediums. It served as an important method of ensuring that future generations refrained from repeating the mistakes of the past. In this genre the shadowy figure Aesop has been credited with several of the most famous fables in existence. With them he educated the youth with simple stories laced with lessons such as the futility of envy, the edifying ability of love, and how the slow but steady wins the race. At the time (which were turbulent times), the success of the plodding was unquestionable; a single reckless move like climbing a tree could easily lead to a scratched arm, then an untreated wound, and finally, obtaining a dangerous disease. But today, most of us are not preoccupied with survival. In fact we are so removed from this notion that an entire epoch was dedicated to living recklessly (I am, of course, referring to the infamous YOLO trend). We live in a society where innovation is rewarded, where we praise those who blaze like meteors, where hot dogs can be hats and our imagination may run free. In such an age, are Aesop’s fables and the tradition they attempt to convey necessary? Does the story of the plodding tortoise actually preach stagnation?

«[…] the lack of approximately 35 million Chinese women who never got a chance.»

Obviously it must be mentioned that such a question is highly subjective, open-ended and unlikely to yield a satisfactory response. Still, it provokes an essential debate concerning where we stand as a society and in that spirit I will simply spark contemplation by introducing the subject.

Let’s consider a “for instance”. Following China’s adoption of the One-Child policy, the rate of female infanticide multiplied; a study found that 90 percent of aborted fetuses proceeding the introduction of the One-Child policy were female. This trend stems from a deeply rooted, centuries old Chinese tradition of male preference and is the perfect example of traditions clashing with modern times. When the custom was first introduced it was done so under different conditions from what most Chinese families find themselves in; people lived off the land, making men more valuable due to their dominant physical fitness (as to the accuracy of such a claim I refuse to comment).

The Chinese gender inbalance has forced drastic measures to avoid female infanticide. Foto: Bart Everson/Flickr

The Chinese gender imbalance has forced drastic measures to avoid female infanticide. Foto: Bart Everson/Flickr

Today, only a small portion of the Chinese population occupy jobs requiring raw physical strength. Any logical individual would then conclude that the playing field has thusly been leveled. However, the shift has changed the dynamic further by placing the advantage with the women. Several rigorous studies (hotly debated and denied by sour men) conclude that females are, on average, more reliable and efficient employees, better suited for managing positions and more likely to work longer days. Left with such findings it seems illogical that men are still prioritized; if anything the Chinese population should prioritize females.

«Traditions´ failure to provide adequate and relevant schooling to new generations is the reason why they are losing footing in our society.»

Now, some brave souls claim that families prioritize men due to their inherent advantages within society (receiving higher pay and greater benefits). I will admit that this assumption provides an explanation for the mistakes prioritization apparent in Chinese society but it sprouts from false claims. It seems obvious that a child with higher financial gain is more likely to shed earnings to needy parents but in fact the difference lies in gender. Parents have more to gain by fostering daughters because they return home and care financially and emotionally at greater rates than men. Again the tradition proves to be inefficient, unintuitive and just plain harmful. In fact, it´s estimated impact is the lack of approximately 35 million Chinese women who never got a chance. Such a void has in turn doomed a large portion of Chinese men to isolation and to die alone, and has forced the Chinese government to prepare for increasing levels of social instability and sexual violence.

Traditionsfailure to provide adequate and relevant schooling to new generations is the reason why they are losing footing in our society. My generation is aware that change is everything. Finding new ways to live and achieve success is what defines this golden age of entrepreneurship. The bonds between families are weakened and people are embracing individualism. Many see this as worrisome, but maybe we should embrace it. One of the reasons why we are currently bombarded by revolutionary ideas and technologies is that we are confidently eliminating groupthink.

Currently, there are a myriad of sexual orientations capable of shattering traditions (trust me; I have doggedly, and in vain, attempted to explain transsexuality and polygamy to a friend´s grandmother, and was met with a swift denial and a slap on the head for suggesting such a ludicrous thought.) That means that millions of people are now able to live honestly and comfortably regarding their sexuality. All over the world traditions are fading, and maybe that´s a good thing.





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