The Mind has no gender

Written by Martin Lucas

‘The mind has no gender’ In 1780, the philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft said this.

“Let women share the rights and she will emulate the virtues of man”. This is what Mary believed; like many celebrated philosophers she could see beyond the knowledge and perception of the day.

It doesn’t feel that long ago that we didn’t have equality in the world. Looking across the eons that humans have roamed this planet, it really isn’t; change has only happened like a sprinting slug in the overall timeline of humanity.

The suffragette movement only found true success 90 years ago when all women over 21 years old were allowed to vote.

The civil rights change in the United States was a mere 54 years ago.

Consider how many generations we have actually had in both cases to adapt from previous behaviours. That is not to say that everyone back then was sexist or was prejudicial against another race, creed, colour or gender but the ethics of the day are the masters of our actions.

If you are told that you eat in a separate location to other people, then you do as you are told. If you are told that someone cannot vote because they are not smart enough to vote, then you accept this as everyone else does. If you are told you are superior to another, then you will believe it. Repetition is what breeds behaviours, making them become habitual and that turns into ethics and ultimately all of it manifests in the actions that everyone follows. The brain is built to judge others, to understand its place in life, which is true for the persecuted as much as it is for the persecutor. For example, we didn’t judge Germans for the soldiers they were, we judged the leaders; we punished those who created the ethics, not those who followed them. Today we know that Hitler was a nut job. We believe women have equal status and can vote. We also know that black people have equality when it comes to opportunity. The challenge with this is that it is a perception based on a rule; it is not yet based on ethics of behaviour across the whole of humanity. I snuck in that last line as everyone reading this will say, ‘I am no racist’ and ‘I am no sexist’. Yet what we say is not the same as what we do and what we do is not the same as what we think and that is where the systemic build and structural engineering of the brain creates a challenge.

Generating Systemic Problems

The reference to ‘systemic’ in the previous paragraph was not by chance. The brain is systemic; it needs repetition to know how to create patterns of thinking and ways to behave. If you give the brain enough inputs, then the brain gives you the outputs. Tying your laces is no different from thinking negatively about another race in terms of how the brain treats it. Just like tying your shoes, if you hear, see and are told another race is bad, it has the same effect as ‘left, over right, over middle’; the brain takes it in, understands the behaviours and then locks it in as a habit and boom - now you are a racist. Where this problem becomes systemic is when it is not just one person and not just one group but a town, a county, a state or a nation. If we all believe something, then we simply reinforce it to one another through what we perceive, say and do. You can be hiding deep prejudice while at home but use it at work and get further validation to use it by your colleagues’ actions. That’s where the systemic accusation of racism occurs in certain areas of the USA against the police.

Watch this to learn how pretty people get a better chance at justice than anyone else. We humans are functional machines. Our behaviours are formed through the many inputs into our system when we are young, including judgement and treatment of others. Over time, these behaviours are enforced by our own brain; we hunt it, which is mad but it’s the practical side of the brain’s build. Consider, have you ever been annoyed by someone not listening to you? What happens after that moment? You look for other examples of it to either positively or negatively enforce that feeling. The same is true for your preferences of other people; if you think X is bad/stupid/inferior then you will hunt and even make up examples in order to validate it to yourself. It is a cluster bomb we leave ticking from generation to generation. Whilst I’d love to say that the #metoo social movement will change the game forever, sadly, it won’t, but it is a major door opener to take an existing societal behaviour and to replace it with a new, better one and fight towards the level that brings change - an ethic. How do we do it? Well, first of all we need to accept that change takes perseverance and time. The majority of people over the age of 35 have a limited chance of completely changing; they could follow new rules but systemic change en masse is too hard. Too hard purely because the behaviours are so deeply entwined with these individuals that they wouldn’t be able to self-medicate to cleanse themselves of such behaviours. We are better to focus on the minds that still have the most leverage to change and - even better - those whose minds have not yet been poisoned. Before we do that, let’s play a game. The mind has no gender When we are born, the brain has no gender. Consider that you are not born knowing what to wear, how to walk, what makeup (if any) to wear, what toys to play with and so on. Mary Wollstonecraft was correct: the mind has no gender, not when born anyway. What Mary lacked was the scientific proof and lots of other people to validate her point. Let’s help her - get your game face on.

The game is simple. Next time you are out and about I want you to conduct an experiment in three simple steps:

Step 1: Look at a female stranger and imagine her with no makeup (if wearing any) and take away her hair so it’s just her plain face.

Step 2: Does she look like a man or a woman?

Step 3: Repeat for 5 men and 4 more women. This is an open theory but only around 2-5% of men and women actually look particularly feminine or masculine. The vast majority do not look particularly male or female, we just look like a human. It’s not just the brain that is agnostic when born but so is the look of most humans. The 2-5% are judged as the best examples of their gender mainly because of bone structure, cheeks, lips and jaw which exemplify particular gender traits.

Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie

Of course not all of the 2-5% ultimately stay together, but they are the pinnacle of society as a perception of male and female ‘beauty’. The 2-5% are the outliers of humanity but neither they nor the remaining masses were born thinking as man or woman. Gender is conditioned into our system based on what we are told to do and not to do. It manifests in our behaviours, which become habits,  which become the ethics that we pass on from generation to generation. What we are discussing here is a model of human behaviour that makes up all kinds of assumptions that we have built society upon - some good, some bad, some neither good nor bad. We come to our individual beliefs and behaviours that we hold right at this moment because of the conditioning we experience in our lives. You have millions of behaviours, most you have either forgotten (as they become habitual) or, for a sizeable chunk, you have never been aware of them in the first place. We can start by understanding how a behaviour comes to be: You hear something about a particular type of person from a parent.

You hear it again from the same parent.

You hear it again from another family member.

You hear it again from a sibling, a family member and a friend.

You see a parent change their tone when speaking to that type of person.

You see your friend say a mean thing to this type of person.

You read the same websites as your friend and it repeats this same opinion. That could be over the course of, say, 48 hours when you are 10 years old and boom! You have a conditioned behaviour; in this case, one that creates a negative point of view against a group of people - a group you don’t know but now you fear and reject and judge. Once it’s locked in, that has become your behaviour too. Sometimes habits are things like tying your shoes and other functional tasks and sometimes habits are your preferences for or against other people. The brain has no good or bad, it just follows the data sets given to it, which create patterns of behaviours, which get locked in.

When born...

...Mind has no gender

...Mind has no race

...Mind has no colour

...Mind has no bias

...Mind has no behaviour

...Mind has no habit

...Mind has no ethics We can change anything we want as new generations of humans are born into society’s system of behaviours, habits and ethics. We have a choice as to what we put into their clean and unbiased minds and if we follow new ethics then we can systematically bring about a more equal and fairer society. It is all practical science. What's your ethic? People follow what you show them. Systemic change happens in baby steps, in this case a very literally meaning. If we show our children what behaviours we expect then the rest becomes a conscious armada for positive change.

Repetition breeds positive change.

When born...

...Mind has no gender

...Mind has no race

...Mind has no colour

...Mind has no bias

...Mind has no behaviour

...Mind has no habit

...Mind has no ethics The mind has no gender, it becomes what you show it, go show people the behaviours you want to create the ethics of tomorrow.