Repeating history: the sophistication of humans

Humans are the most interesting bit of the universe, according to the Telegraph’s assistant comment editor Tom Chivers*. I disagree with Chivers and made this clear to him in a Twitter debate earlier this week. Despite all the time we’ve spent on the earth, we are as barbaric, corrupt and violent as ever. Survival is the objective of each species, rendering our behaviours repetitive despite the evolution of our tactics. To my mind, humans are not nearly as “complex” as Chivers argues. We are aggressive, selfish and uncaring. Humanity is a fabrication. Perhaps it was designed to prevent us from causing our own immediate extinction. After all, religion was designed, among many other reasons, to teach us about kindness. Without that lesson, we may very well have ceased to exist centuries ago.

An urban irk

This week I was hobbling around London on a crutch. You’d think that would make me a priority for a seat on the Tube or at least less of a target for elbowing during rush hour. On the contrary. I was given ‘the evil eye’ when my partner asked a woman if I could take her seat. Walking to work, people almost toppled me over as they passed. A man got irate when my hobbling slowed his exit from the station. Another man almost knocked me over to get on the train first. During the course of my infirmity, three women offered me their seat. No men did.

Hatred of women

This brings me to my first point, which is that there appears to have been a major backlash against women recently. The likes of Katie Hopkins and Katie Roiphe exacerbate the situation significantly. They play on stereotypes and are essentially female misogynists. Caroline Criado-Perez received a wave of rape and death threats on Twitter after campaigning for Jane Austen to appear on UK banknotes. This sparked a tsunami of aggression towards female journalists, writers and politicians on the social networking site. Bomb threats were even handed to the likes of Grace Dent. Why? What is the problem with women wanting representation? I notice Bank of England governor Mark Carney got away unscathed when he said there needs to be a greater female influence in the Monetary Policy Committee. It is not imaginative to threaten women with death or rape if they strive for more than the kitchen sink. It is primitive behaviour and a case in point that humans have barely evolved.

Boycotting Russia

Secondly, Russia is the latest country to come under the spotlight for injustices against the LGBT community**. Neo-Nazis are openly luring gay teenagers to private homes on the ‘promise’ of dates only to be met by a squadron of men with baseball bats and video cameras. Beatings, humiliation and filming of the abuse are all part and parcel of the attack on the ‘unnatural’ condition. Let me put it as plainly as I can – if homosexuality is so unnatural, why in hell do men have prostate glands in their butts and women’s clitoris is on the outside of their genitals? There is nothing more natural than the human body. Gang rape is another tactic being used by Russian men to ‘cure’ women of lesbianism. And all with the co-operation of the police. That’s a giant step backwards for a country that decriminalised homosexuality, not for the first time, in the early 90s. Look Chivers – humans repeating their boring and debasing actions yet again.

More aggressive aggression

Thirdly, acid attacks. These seem to be the latest way to try to control women. I say women because apart from the attack on the artistic director of Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet, Sergei Filin, I haven’t heard about a case against men. Whether it is jealous boyfriends, as in the case of Katie Piper, or apparent religious-extremism, it is an abhorrent way to ruin someone’s life. Similarly, the Boston bombings sought to erode victims of one of their most valued activities – running. It’s not that women are any more concerned about their faces than men, but that society deems women superficial and vain, thereby validating acid attacks as the best form of punishment for ‘indecent’ behaviour. Nothing new here. Women are still on the receiving end of men’s brutality. The only change Chivers? Acid instead of burning at the stake.

What’s changed?

Humans would be a lot more interesting if our behaviours genuinely changed and improved over time but that simply isn’t the case. Governments are as obsessed as ever with pleasing the affluent and supressing the poor. We still form packs and attack each other. Rather than having tribe names, however, we use identities – whether that is via our gender, race, religion or sexuality. There is no reason to celebrate humans when we have merely developed more vicious ways to hurt one another. We will only become interesting when we stop repeating history.

*Tom Chivers’ article can be read on the Telegraph blog.

**Stephen Fry wrote a letter to the International Olympics Committee calling it to boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.


About natashabrowne

Natasha is a freelance journalist and aspiring economist.
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