As can be clearly seen by the topics in some of my latest posts, I have been reflecting a lot about gender equality. And so, it comes to no surprise that the following passage, taken from the book “The Lost Art of Gratitude” by Alexander McCall Smith, captured my attention:
Lettuce smiled. “It’s as well that you said that, not me. These days it seems impermissible for men to make general remarks about women. Not the other way round, of course. You women can say what you like about men.”
Isabel had to admit that this was true, although she did not like hearing it from Professor Lettuce. She had noticed that the constraints on such remarks seemed to apply only to men. Women could say, quite freely, that men could not multi-task, for instance, but men could not say that women could not reverse cars as well as males could. Or if they said that they would inevitably be accused of condescension, or sexism, or some other unforgivable -ism. It was contextual, she realised; it is not just what is said that is judged, it is what was said before. So what men say now is taken in the context of what they used to say – and what they used to do, too, which as often as not was to put women down and makes jokes about how women reversed cars. Whereas the words of women, who rarely put men down – except in some Amazonian fantasy – were free of this contextual baggage. So the motives behind a man’s words were not evaluated in the light of what men used commonly to think. Yet that surely, was as wrong as saying that a person with a criminal record is likely to have committed the offence with which he is charged. There were rules of evidence that were designed to stop exactly that conclusion, in the name of simple justice. So Professor Lettuce was right about this; it was unfair…
2 thoughts on “Extract from “The Lost Art of Gratitude” by Alexander McCall Smith”
Sahar, I am so tickled that you chose to quote from Alexander
McCall Smith. I have read most of his books and love the way he integrates all kinds of wisdoms and thoughts about morality, society, customs and human behaviour in general. He is so perceptive and insightful…just like you.
I love reading your blog but am not always able to comment. Keep it up!
Nahed jan! I’m glad to find another McCall Smith fan! His writing is quite unique in a calming, amusing, solid way, if that makes sense. It is quite a compliment that you find me perceptive and insightful like him – or perhaps it’s because you, my dear, are able to gain insight into anything you read 😉 Hope to see you again soon <3