Archive for March, 2007
There is a new phenomenon that is very disturbing. In fact, this new development even has the Arabic news station Al Jazeera scratching its head since we are suppose to be a leader in gender equality. I am talking about the latest trend called Purity Balls.
A Purity Ball has all the ingredients of any nicely prepared formal ball. There are flowing gowns and black tuxes, practiced dancing to lively music and white candles sparkling throughout the ballroom. This is all very lovely.
Those attending a Purity Ball are young women with their fathers as their dates, and as they swirl about on the dance floor, it is no doubt a sight that would warm even the coldest of hearts. At first glance, it would appear that this event is simply an opportunity for dads to have some quality time with their little girls and perhaps get to know them a little better…
When I talk about issues that effect women, 99 percent of the time my focus is rightly on how the current patriarchal system has twisted reality to the point that both men and women often mistakenly believe that females are less valuable to society than males.
However, this time I want to touch on an issue that is very harmful to women worldwide and that – although it is still a by-product of patriarchal rule – is perpetuated by women. I am speaking of women who willingly chose to enter into a relationship with a married man even when she knows he has a wife and family.
The mistress role is one of the most degrading relationships in which a woman can choose to become involved, yet every day millions of women do it willingly and in the process hurt the cause of women severely…
I just read about this interesting turn of events in the UK:
Hundreds of thousands of men working in the the public sector are facing salary cuts of up to £15,000 a year as equal pay agreements take effect, The Times has learnt.
Compensation claims for up to 1.5 million workers could cost the taxpayer more than £10 billion and mean that male staff lose up to 40 per cent of their salary.
Up to 700,000 female council workers, a similar number of NHS workers and tens of thousands of teaching assistants and Ministry of Defence staff are now eligible for equal pay settlements stretching back over six years.
This is very interesting. It struck me that this type of move will only make men even more resistant to equal pay for women when it touches their own wallets. I expected this to come a different way. I most certainly didn’t expect it to seem like the men are being punished so that the women can have equal pay, which is what this new settlement will do.
While I am ruthless when it comes to fighting for equal pay, I just don’t think this just is smart move at all.
I wish I could take ownership of the phrase, “sexism can be cured” since it is absolutely genius. However, I only just saw it for the first time last month when browsing an antique store with my mother-in-law and stumbled upon a green field jacket with several appliqués strategically placed on it.
I am a sucker for historical items, especially if that item seems to reflect my personal taste. As I was admiring the field jacket, the proprietor of the shop approached and told me the jacket belonged to a woman who had previously served in the military.
As I checked over the jacket for quality and defects, I noticed the tags in the well made pockets said it had been made in 1951, which sparked my interest even more. However, I would have never given this jacket a second glance had it not been for the appliqués.
There were a couple unassuming patches, one was a small apple and the other appeared to be a medical symbol, which made me think the previous owner was a military nurse. However, my supposed nurse converted her jacket into a fighter’s garb with the statements covering the rest of the jacket.
On the upper part of the right arm, one red-stenciled statement simply said, “Woman Power.” On top of the back, across the shoulder blade, another red-stenciled statement said, “Equal Rights For Women.”
The left arm of the jacket had a patched that appeared to be military related, but easily fit the general aura of the strong woman’s jacket. It read, “Hell On Wheels.” All of these statements alone made this jacket extremely interesting to me, but it was the declaration stenciled in big fading black letters across the bottom of the back that truly transformed it into an item that spoke to me.
The statement read, “Sexism Can Be Cured.”
This single statement said so much. It implied that sexism is a sickness and something that is not good for society. It inferred that it was not normal to be a sexist. It also explicitly said there was cure for this sickness.
I was sold and although I did not want to fork out the cost of the jacket, my husband insisted that I buy it. I haggled with the shop’s owner and talked her into a more reasonable price and proudly walked out with my new vintage military jacket.
I do not know the real story of the jacket, but in my imagination, the previous owner was a military woman who returned to the states after her overseas tour during the mid-century and became an activist for women’s rights, thus transforming her field jacket into a militant statement for all women.
After I bought the jacket, I had been thinking about the ways sexism can be cured when I read a front-page story of the Guyana Chronicle, one of three national newspapers in Guyana, a small South American country. The article was entitled, “Death sentence for butcher who butchered wife.”
After a jury of his peers unanimously found him guilty following a brief two-hour deliberation, the article said, “Demerara Assize Court Judge Yonette Cummings-Edwards yesterday sentenced Buxton Side Line Dam butcher, Vaughn Barth, 41, to death for butchering his 38-year old wife Ronin Chester-Barth.”
This is one of the many ways sexism can be cured. When men begin to realize that society will not allow them to kill, rape and abuse women, those who suffer from the sickness of sexism will find healing.
When women realize that society will indeed defend them, they too will finally begin to heal from millennia of sexism and victimization. Judge Cummings-Edwards’ court made a strong statement by finding this killer guilty and giving him such a severe sentence. This is a huge step for Guyana, a country where women still suffer from overt sexism on a daily basis.
This is one time Guyana has stood up for the women instead of submissively dismissing their plight. It is my hope that these types of incidents become more frequent until they are the norm; replacing the current norm of turning a blind eye when a woman is harassed, beaten, raped or killed by a man.
I’ve made a conscience effort to truly contemplate and study the story of women this month since it is nationally recognized as Women’s History Month. I expanded my studies beyond just the recent feminist history, which in my opinion is a definite highlight of our history to this point, to include our history since the start of written record.
However, this was not as easy as it would seem since the vast majority of surviving records are his-story and are very short on the details of her-story. In an attempt to keep women “in their place,” those who have followed the Judeo-Christian religions destroyed most records of the significance of women in early history. This is clearly seen in the Bible when numerous times the Jews are told to “completely destroy the nations” who worshiped these other gods, of which many were actually goddesses.
It’s significant, I think, that at one point in history females shared the title of divinity with males – and at times reigned as the sole divinity. This part of our history shows woman in all her glory, not as the fallen creature of the Bible who must forever submit to a subservient position to the man because she supposedly ate a forbidden fruit and coerced him to do the same.
It’s time the truth was known. Not the presupposed “truth” garnered from what we have always been told is reality. That reality is severely lacking in the other half of the story. We see reality as we have always been taught to see it. If someone teaches me from young that a certain color is blue, and subsequently others then reinforce that teaching in my family, community, church, government, school, etc. – then I will believe the color is actually blue.
But what if they are all wrong? What if blue is really yellow but no one wants to challenge the errant teaching because the one who said it was blue in the first place claimed to be speaking on behalf of God? In the end though, just because everyone believes this color to blue does not make it indeed blue. In fact, it is still yellow.
That is exactly what has happened in feminine history. Only this teaching has gone so long without being challenged, for fear of being ostracized or even at times killed, that it is now accepted as truth. In the process the real truth has been lost.
What is the real truth? What is reality? The truth is that “in the beginning” woman was indeed equal to man. She was just as intelligent. She was just as capable of dealing with life’s hardships. She was man’s partner, not his property or his slave. It wasn’t until she was denied basic human rights that she was demoted from equality and it wasn’t until she was denied an equal education that her intelligence was called into question.
What is the truth? The truth is that we have been taught that yellow is actually blue. We have been force fed a lie to the point we have hung our heads in original-sin guilt and accepted our plight as second rate citizens – as long as men have granted us at least that much. However, if that is all the fight we have left in us, our future will look much like our past.
We are at a significant point in history. For the last century, women in America have paved the road for us to work outside the house, vote, and even have equal legal rights with a man in the court system. Don’t take this for granted ladies, these are rights we did not have just a few short decades ago. And just as quickly as these rights emerged after thousands of years of degradation, they can slip back into oblivion with just a few court decisions.
Men have always been the ones to govern, but now we have that privilege too. Yes, at this point it is still a privilege we have been granted and can loose if we don’t take advantage of it by being active in governance and the voting process.
Our history is veiled and our present is fragile at best. Let’s make our future and our daughter’s future strong. Let’s equip them with a history worth telling and a mentality of true equality by finally standing against that old lie and teaching them the real truth.
To women all over the world,
We’ve come a long way, baby, but we still have a long way to go. As we continue to fight for true gender equality all around the world, may each and every one of you realize your fullest potential. May you know the thrill of rejecting the societal constraints placed on women and rise far above the minimal expectations shackling women to poverty and low self-esteem.
Happy International Women’s Day!
Whether or not feminism is the reason the traditional family concept is quickly becoming obsolete is questionable. I think there were several factors working together that ushered in a new type of family framework for the 21st century American family.
The industrial age, with its long working hours, certainly didn’t help the traditional family. In fact, this era seems to be the beginning of the end for the concept of a working father with a housewife and good little kiddies at home.
The sexual revolution helped everyone shake their prudish ways and realise there was more to life than a single monogamous relationship. Men have known this for thousands of years, but the sexual revolution opened the door for women to futher explore their sexuality.
Of course, feminism did introduce women into the work force en mass, which reshaped the family life at the end of a long work day. Equal education and equal opportunity programs opened a whole new world to the long deprived female who could now spread her intellectual and creative wings…