Month: November 2017

“#Me Too”, AI and Singularity – a Woman’s Musings

Every woman who has ever been presented with a career/sex quid pro quo in the entertainment industry should come forward and simply say, “Me, too.” Alissa Milano

“#Me Too”, the 2006 dormant  hashtag explodes in October 15th, 2017, to 4.6 million tweets and uses, Facebook posts and shares – in just one day . In just one month it spreas to 86 countries. Is this the first time ever that we hear about widespread sexual misconduct? 

Fr – balanceTon Pork  Can-MoiAussi Ar -أنا_كمان  Chin– #我也是   Sp- YoTambién   Viet-TôiCũngVậy      It -QuellaVoltaChe

 

It’s been barely one month since The New York Times’ article containing allegations of sexual misconduct by film producer Harvey Weinstein, and women – men, too – reacted like never before to a social issue. A tsunami of denunciations of all sorts of blamable acts performed by men against women (with some exceptions) brought to our awareness all levels of unhealthy and demeaning attitudes. The open truth hit us all with the force of a tidal wave, and high-placed, important heads have been pulled out from their previous place of power like bad teeth.

    But why this reaction, and why now? We used to be quite familiar with the way things were, we were OK with bosses pinching women’s derriere inside the meeting room. Nobody was as naive as to imagine that in the case of Clinton and his internship Monica Lewinsky it was she who begged him on her knees, as nobody was naive to believe that those accusations made against Trump before the elections were unfounded. There has been also the  2011 DSK (Dominique Strauss-Kahn) scandal. For having sexually assaulted a hotel maid in New York, the man payed it heavily, he’d lost his position of manager director of the IMF and an almost certain nomination at the French presidency, lost in favor of Francois Hollande in the coming year.

However, none of these pushed, like now, millions of women to stop hiding and come forward with their suffered experiences. What caused it this time? It could be that women are feeling more liberated now in 2017 than they have ever been in their lifetime – in any case, less exposed to shaming and to criticism than they used to.

As a woman, I acknowledge that I have been confronted to all sorts of “manly” attentions, from the mild level and up to the hard one, when I had to ask my husband to intervene. Was I provoking it – their attention, I mean? No, not in the least – I have never thought of myself as someone fatally attractive and irresistible to men. At best, when I didn’t feel insulted by the pressure after saying my stern “no”, I felt mildly satisfied: “Oh, I am turning heads, too.” We are all men and women after all, and there are ways of manifest admiration while still remaining in that respectful zone. I find it natural that a man looks at a woman with certain admiration or gallantry. Women do it too, these days, or am I wrong??

By saying this I’m not justifying men’s abuse of position, power and influence to illicit needs or pleasures – by all means, women should feel free to invite or reject the man or the behavior that they consider unsolicited.

At the same time I would also caution women against using this sudden window, or platform, against incriminating for the sake of incriminating – we wouldn’t want to be transforming our legitimate ailments into wizard hunts, and neither should we abuse this opportunity to settle old accounts with someone who’d hurt us, or caused us some damage in ways unrelated to sexual misconduct – let’s keep things in their separate boxes. If just one or two things like these would happen, it is enough to throw the whole legitimacy of the cause down the gutter – beware of the ill-intended intruders and of political manipulators.

Women have their own part of responsibility for the way things are; in as much as it is true that women ARE being forced to suffer unsolicited attentions, there are also women who  are using their charms in plays of power, in all awareness, to easily climb a hierarchy, to get specific favors, to satisfy specific interests. And this is why I’m not sure that this “me too” meme is all about men abusers and women victims; what about the women in power, also found on the lists of abusers?

An other issue would be that society has always been overly permissive to certain attitudes, deemed totally appropriate and fit for an overt patriarchal context. After all, we have inherited millennia-old patterns of culturally accepted behavior with inflamed gods chasing and impregnating unwilling goddesses . And who dares to go back and watch those old, once endeared movies in any culture, American, French or Italian cinema, with favorite male actors engaged in actions and attitudes that sparked our grandmothers’ admiration, but which would make a girl these days go straight to the police section? How much right do we have now to judge and hit back at actions that were socially appropriate only thirty, or even ten years ago (except, of course, rape and violence that were not, for sure)? Therefore, I find it the more amazing that this something that we even didn’t dare dream to achieve, this sudden awareness to misconduct, we are achieving it, right now.

I believe all this is mostly a social awakening. We need to clarify what can and what cannot be appropriate, to draw the red line between what is acceptable and what isn’t. We need to get rid of this concept of short-cuts to pleasure, in men’s case, or of short-cuts to ascension, in women’s case, we need to start building a culture of fair-play. We should all climb the stairs of prominence and find social empowerment not through “stealing” others’ dignity, not through selling or buying pleasures at the office and inside institutions with destinations other than the designated facilities for that.

But I can see even a bit further. Misogyny and men’s misconduct against women may seem pale issues in confronts to other burning ones like pedophilia, forced prostitution, slavery and warfare, malnutrition and endemic poverty, irresponsible use of science in the detriment of Nature and natural. I see these issues as shameful enough not to be compatible with the ambitions of a society ready for the upcoming, “robotic” era, now that the take over of the artificial intelligence is imminent – oh, yes, this is the kind of intelligent beings that we are: we keep on focusing on one burning issue while disregarding all other burning issues, incapable of beholding the larger scale of things. Fact is that while we are still sorting out our dirty laundry, AI is forcing its way into our society at an exponential speed, on the pretext that we have become so blind, so dumb and vile, compared to its Superiority, that only Its Highness, a higher than human intelligence could put an end to all our ailments. And some guys who know their stuff, guys like Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking or Bill Gates keep warning us against it, together with being “inevitable.” Wouldn’t this be way scarier than any man/woman/child/nature/religious/human-right abuse?

And this is why any victory against our shadow nature, any rise in consciousness at the level of our society is a giant victory. But are we awakening at the necessary speed, before things get totally out of control?

To Be Read by Parents Over Fifty, Under Adult Children’s Strict Supervision

I’ve never cried while out or driving; not even with my eldest daughter’s divorce two years ago, when she dropped the bombshell on us, four years into a marriage based on a love story. Not even when my daughter is being invited over to her son’s school, to meet a whole team of teachers, psychologist and councilor because her five-year-old son is misbehaving again. And I know why: he feels deeply hurt because his loving dad isn’t living with him and his mom, but in a different country. He keeps on talking about “crushing” or destroying stuff, from a toy to planes or even the world.

But today I couldn’t hold it and I kept crying… behind a pair of sunglasses, true, but this didn’t stop people who’d cross my way from eyeing me strangely. It’s my second daughter who made me cry. Because she herself has been crying for the past two days. Because her father and I demanded that she stops seeing the guy she’s been in love with for the past two years.

No,we aren’t that kind of mean parents – we aren’t any Capulets. But we did it because we are afraid for her, and we are trying to protect her – or, maybe, ourselves? Or, maybe, because of our first daughter’s failed marriage?

Fact is, we always had a vulnerable spot regarding our second daughter, now 26, more fragile, in our eyes, than her eldest. And we wanted to avoid her what was, in our eyes, a relationship destined to sure failure.

We had no preconceived, bad intentions before meeting the guy. I even bought myself a dress and tried on accessories that would go fine with it for the engagement. I even made efforts and lost weight. Not that the guy is a terrible one; he seems nice, polite and polished. But what we saw in him was below our standards for her, in terms of personal merits, self assurance, confidence; he gave us all (including the rest of the family) the impression of lacking grounding and centeredness. She said that he’s full of promises, but we didn’t judge him with the same indulgence. At 31, a young man should have already some base, other than the job he recently got after many changes. And now, maybe she hates us. And maybe she’s right.

“It’s her business whether she wants or not to be with him, if she likes him,” some people would argue, or would strongly advise: “Don’t interfere into the lives of your adult children!” I know, I always did that to others, but it’s always easier to shower advice on others.

We aren’t the kind of parents to interfere in their children’s major life decisions. We didn’t interfere with our first daughter’s marriage. We didn’t interfere with all our children’s choices of career; we didn’t either with their choice to go study, work and leave abroad. But this time we felt we had to; our accumulated life experience, our understanding of people’s personalities pushed us to assume this kind of responsibility.

And now I feel lost… I always put my personal interests aside to live vicariously, in accordance to the victories and failures, the comings and goings of my children. I always wanted to be there for them, because my own parents were not always there for me when I badly needed.

I wrote a book on family relationships which I deem important for everyone and relevant in as much as a culmination of a lifetime of focus and from my years of experience;  one cannot but build one’s own my philosophy of life, and I deem mine comprehensive, rich and consistent. I believe that living a fruitful life, giving out the product of your accumulated wisdom is the utmost meaning of this brief existence.          However, I didn’t do anything to bring this book, this other child of mine into the world, because every time when I would push for it, my children would need me. But this wouldn’t stop me from feeling frustrated and failing myself.

And now, for the first time in her life, my daughter is not that willing to talk to us as she used to. She wants to be left alone. I don’t think she trusts our judgment… she’d rather listen to the voice of her heart. And I wonder… is this voice ALWAYS right??

This is the moment when you realize that you should have left them alone, make their own choices. Even at the price of you living with hurts and sleepless nights caring, worrying for them… or driving and crying.

This is the moment when you realize that no, you needn’t see yourself smarter than your parents. By now you stop seeing how they’ve  done a terrible job at shaping and upbringing you and begin to understand their reasons. By making those mistakes they may have given you the right model… or the wrong one?? Here I am, the result of my parents’ upbringing, they, in turn, the result of theirs… and so on. Who knows which way is right? To care, or not to care? To interfere, or not to interfere? To suffer, or not to suffer?… as if we had any choice.