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Vectors, Orientations and Dimensions

Which building is bigger?

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Interesting question, isn’t it? Our immediate reaction is to see the tall building as bigger. But if we take a moment to think about it, we have to say we really don’t know. We're seeing only two dimensions here. And what is meant by big? Do we mean tall? Or most spacious? It turns out that the seven-level Pentagon has three times the office space of the 102-story Empire State building.

Suppose we were to ask which building is more powerful. Again, it’s hard to say just by looking at two dimensions. We’d need to know what’s going on and who is inside each. And then we’d have to get clear about what we mean by powerful.

Male power is often conceived as a hierarchy, a pyramid. Our eyes are inexorably drawn to the top. “Look at how high it goes! It’s mostly men at the top where the big dollar sign is. And look at how poor and powerless women are inside their lowly pink wall. It’s not fair.”

Go ahead and play the video. (It includes audio.)

Hmmmm… Maybe there’s more to male power and female powerlessness, more to male privilege and female oppression than meets the unsophisticated, elementary eye.


We’ll talk more about this idea of multi-dimensionality a little later in the course.

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