President Macron, his older wife, sexism, ageism and equality

Emmanuel Macron is the youngest ever President of France at the age of 39, and has been in the newspapers for being married to Brigitte Macron who is 24 years older than him.

Let’s take away the President part for now and just focus on the relationship.  Is it strange that a 39 year old man is married to a significantly older woman?  At first glance, I’d say yes – because it’s not something you see everyday.  But is it still strange if you take the time to digest and analyse the situation?  I’d say no.

If your concept of marriage is to marry young, have children and be together forever, then sure, this set up probably won’t work for you.  If your concept of marriage is to be with the person you love for the rest of your life, then who cares about age, gender, finances or any of the other things that are normally associated with marriage?  Two people who love each other have chosen to commit to each other, and for me, that is a perfectly acceptable basis for marriage.

 

Sexism and Ageism:  If the ages were the other way around, would anyone give two hoots about the relationship?  Probably not, or at least significantly less hoots.  It has become socially acceptable for men to marry significantly younger women, but not for women to marry significantly younger men.  This makes sense (biologically) if you are considering the traditional ‘having children’ set up – older man with many resources has young fertile wife to produce many children, spread his genes and raise them well thanks to his many resources.  And marriage ensures the man will stick around to help raise the children, who compared to other animal babies (like gazelles, who can run as soon as they are born) need many years of care and attention to raise.

Biologically speaking, it doesn’t make much sense for a man to marry a woman who is significantly older, particularly if she is not of a child bearing age…

But why are so many social norms based on biological-spreading-genes logic if that is not the intention of the individuals involved?  Remove the concept of marrying to breed and produce children, and it suddenly doesn’t matter who you marry, as long as you love them and want to spend your life with them.

Equality:  Right now, gay marriages probably raise fewer eyebrows than a young man-older woman marriage.  Neither of them make sense in the biological need-to-breed logic, which is what centuries of tradition has always leaned towards.  Nowadays, I don’t think the ‘need-to-breed’ should be a priority.  Mankind has come along far enough and there are enough people on this planet that we don’t need to only accept relationships that will produce children.  This also applies to straight couples who choose not to have children.  It’s not all about spreading genes to the next generation.  Sometimes, marriage is just about love.

Add back the President factor:  Many years ago, gay marriages seemed unacceptable, and now they have become socially acceptable.  Largely thanks to people making a stand for their love and challenging the social and legal norms.

I think marriages based on genuine love are great.  And I think it’s great that an international public figure is bringing this ‘different’ relationship to our attention so we have the opportunity to think it through after our initial surprise at seeing something different.

Although as a modern society we have come a long way in combating sexism, ageism, homophobia and many other prejudices, I think we still have some way to go.  It’s not always easy to identify existing prejudice, but the first step in combatting it is to be aware that it is there in the first place.

Humans are wise… but cruel

Humans are a cut above all the other animals on the planet.  We have bigger brains, opposable thumbs and the ability to create medicines and perform surgery to heal each other.  We are able to ponder how life exists, perform experiments and dissect bodies to understand how ‘life’ works.

Humans, Homo sapiens, are a species of animal just like every other animal.  Rats, cats, dogs, wolves, pangolins, zebras, bears, orang-utans, gorillas, humans.  Sometimes it’s difficult to think of us as animals.  Our lives and mental capacities are so different to ‘theirs’.  We are the ones who were able to take over and populate most of the land on earth with our amazing ability to communicate with each other, work together and take away the need to hunt or gather food.

We build machines like washing machines and cars to make our lives easier, and televisions and games consoles to entertain ourselves.  We build amazing homes and skyscrapers, and planes that fly across the world.  I can’t imagine any other animal capable of doing even a fraction of what us intelligent humans have achieved.

However, we use and abuse the animals around us without a second thought.  We don’t think of raising battery hens and milking cows as use or abuse… but I think it is.

It’s one thing if your hens and cows live happy lives in the green fields and you occasionally take eggs and some milk.  This is mutually beneficial for the hens and cows to some extent – they have space to run around, food, safety and good lives for the price of some of their eggs or milk.

It’s another thing when those chickens and cows have no quality of life.  Chickens raised in battery farms have their beaks cut off, don’t have space to move, never see sunlight, have their eggs taken away and are then killed for us to eat.  The male chicks that hatch are killed straightaway.  Cows are often raised in small pens, artificially impregnated so they become pregnant to produce milk, give birth and have their babies taken away so we can then steal their milk continuously.  We pump cows full of chemicals to make them produce unnatural volumes of milk so we can have more.

There is no quality of life for these animals.  I doubt this is a deal that any animal would agree to, be it a chicken, cow or human.  There is no mutual benefit.  Only the humans benefit from the lives of these animals, who get nothing good from the deal.

When did it become ok to take babies away from their mothers?  Why is it so normal for humans to drink the milk of another animal when most people would baulk at the thought of drinking human breast milk?  I assume the cruelty came about as the demand for eggs, milk and meat at a low price increased.  The logical solution was to mass produce using the smallest amount of space, and it turns out you can’t have chickens or cows mass produced in factories for less like you can with smart phones or clothes.

But cows and chickens are not plastic gadgets to be mass produced.  They are live animals with eyes, hearts, instincts and pain receptors … the same characteristics as humans.

There are some things that we have been doing for so long that it becomes absolutely normal in our minds and we forget to look at things objectively.

Admittedly, every hen will die one day, just like every cow and human.

But just because humans will die one day doesn’t mean we sit in a prison all of our lives awaiting death.  We go out and live rich and fulfilling lives as much as we can.  A right that the animals we use don’t get.  They are confined to prison with horrible conditions until we are ready to eat them.

I have a lot of respect for vegetarians and vegans who choose not to eat meat.  Personally, I think it’s ok to eat meat.  Humans are omnivores so eating meat is natural for us.  I would never hate a cheetah for catching and eating its prey.

But for our ‘prey’, aka chickens, cows, pigs, sheep… I think they still deserve a life worth living without cruelty before their untimely deaths.

I think humans like to think that animals are dumb and stupid, so that gives us the right to control them and do as we please.  We are ‘detached’ from animals, they are not like ‘us’ so we don’t need to care about their lives and we can kill them as we please…

It scares me how humans act so psychopathically towards these other living beings.

‘Other’ animals may not be AS intelligent as us, but they have many characteristics similar to humans and are intelligent enough to survive without humans.  I’m sure the earth would be teeming with wild animals without humans to interfere, particularly the ones that we have pushed to the brink of extinction because they got in our way or might have killed us.  Or we wanted to kill them for their ivory or beautiful fur coats, which we believe are ours to take.

There’s no denying that humans are the most intelligent and successful species on earth, but I wish we would use our intelligence AND let all animals enjoy a good life. Not just the animals we choose to keep as pets and pamper in our own homes.

It shouldn’t be us vs. them.  We are all on this planet together.

 

Here is a link to BBC’s ‘Carnage’, a comedy documentary by Simon Amstell that raises a lot of interesting points about how animals are treated in the food industry:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p04sh6zg/simon-amstell-carnage

Religions are like trees

I believe that religions are like trees.

People miss the forest for the trees.

Everyone focuses on which type of tree is the best and disliking all the other trees.

There’s no point in favouring one type of tree over another, it shouldn’t be divisive. They are all part of the same forest and share things in common.

It’s the forest I believe in.