Monday, March 7, 2011

From Woman Borne, Persecute Her No Longer

What woman has not brought a life into the world, of her choosing, and not been happy to care for it, raise it, and send it out into the world? There are some who, in circumstances we cannot fully comprehend, become a mother and are not so enamored of it; the vast majority are certainly not in that camp, or so we should hope. A mother raises a child to the best of her ability, and hopes to turn out a stellar example of humanity, trying though that path might be.

Still, it begs the question: why are so many male offspring of human mothers so hateful toward the female gender? One could imagine it if every boy were maltreated by a mother ill-equipped to handle the strain, but even some of the better-educated, intellectually-forward, well-raised men in our nation, seem predisposed to a venom and bile against women that they scarcely deign to hide it. Nowhere is this seen in greater profusion that in the halls of legislation, State and Federal, where male-dominated legislatures seek to impose heinous penalties and outrageous restrictions on women who merely seek to live their life as they see fit.

So, where and when is the seed of this contempt planted? What drives them to see all women, not as extensions of a nurturing mother, but as pitiable harpies who are unable to control their own affairs? It boggles the mind to believe that men who appear of decent upbringing, men of the church, men of supposedly good conscience, would conspire to reduce women to the chattel they were throughout history, even though we have so many wonderful examples of strong women who made contributions to human society throughout the ages. One might expect such treatment of Jeanne D'Arc (Joan of Arc) in the Middle Ages, but why would such be applied to women now?

The penchant for men to move beyond the concern for the welfare of women is troubling, no doubt, but more so for the incongruity of it, for each and every man, those living and those who have died, owes their existence to a woman. They were borne into this world in great pain and tribulation, often under circumstances which could not be said to be the best. They were raised, more often than not, by those self-same mothers, to move out into the world and make their fortune, or make a difference, often at the expense of female siblings, who were not encouraged to pursue their desires. Only within the last two centuries have women moved from set dressing to partners in human society, though the steps have been halting, fraught with disagreement and dishonor, and are still not complete. A woman of today has a much better chance of living a life according to her wishes than at any time in history.

Even so, to live that life is not a path strewn with flowers and the sweet fragrance of fruit, for women have had to scratch and claw for every yard of ground, and though they have made it from the beach   inland, forces are marshaling against them, threatening to throw them back into the sea. The enemy – and one wishes the term were not so apt – has not been decimated and continues to maintain its grip on power doggedly. Even as we see women move to the highest levels of power in our nation, they are but the tip of the spear, and there are far too few, still, to punch their way through the resistance of the men entrenched their. If it seems odd to fall back on the metaphors of war, it should not be, because this is what the fight of the feminist is equivalent to: a series of battles to wrest power from the hands of those who would continue to deny and enslave them.

Women, fountains of reason and compassion, are locked in a mortal struggle with their gender counterparts, for reasons which do not appear any clearer now than they did fifty or a hundred years ago. It cannot be said that any series of events has formed a tide of sentiment against women, and yet that is exactly how it feels, as if they were “given their chance” and did nothing with it. It is this moral and social ambiguity that seems to be at the heart of so much of the power struggle, the idea that somehow women, bearers of children, makers of homes, scholars and teachers, fully formed and able beings, are somehow incapable of serving alongside men in positions of power and importance by their very nature. It is a bigotry older than just about any other, from the time even before The Bible. Women have only become strong throughout the centuries, and it is unfair to continue to judge them by outmoded standards and unjustifiable dogmas, and yet here men sit, on the seats of power, working fastidiously to hold back the tide of female progress toward their rightful place as equal partners in the human milieu.

What can be done about it? What will it take, for the men in power now to see the error of their ways, to be bathed in the light of reason and logic. But perhaps that is too much to ask – perhaps it is best for us to consider that the intractable scourge of male dominance is not easily worn away by sheer determination and the continued inch-by-inch advance of women through society's halls. No, it is up to all of us who see this injustice for what it is, man and woman alike, to force the issue, and remove those who would not yield to the persuasion of the age, clinging to their patriarchy and misogyny as if they were Heaven sent. We can no longer accept the judgment of those who would deny a women the right to be her own person, to do what she deems best for her, without the constant interference of society. If the attitude of all men is to be aligned properly, then examples need to be made of those who will not budge from their position. The day of the patriarchy must conclude, and that ending must begin now.

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