Thursday, December 30, 2010

It's A Man's World

WOW...we definitely had a white Christmas in WV and enjoyed it. I did some reading while I was sitting by the fire and watching the snow fall. I have so many thoughts bouncing around inside my skull that I am going to have to take some time to sort it all out into some semblance of order. In addition to Rohan McEnor's excellent story, I read a bit in "The Purity Myth: How America's Obsession With Virginity Is Hurting Young Women," by Jessica Valenti. Meant as a feminist publication, it reaches into the heart of the reasons behind the way single and/or poor mothers are treated and have been treated in this society.

Simply and concisely, we were punished, NOT for being sexually active, but for being sexually active and daring to be fertile with no husband. It is a system by, for and in deference to the patriarchy. MEN decided the mores, the codes and creeds and women were indoctrinated and controlled by them. They have even managed to disrupt the sisterhood of women so that we prey on each other. Cat fights over boyfriends have become commonplace. A woman stalks another woman to procure a child and will have no compunctions about the pain she is bringing to one of her own kind.

All that stands between the Natural Mother and respectability is the absence of a thin membrane, the hymen, and the lack of a wedding ring on that fourth finger, left hand. Someone, somewhere decided that these things were vital to the worth of a woman and that someone was male. No, I don't think all men are chauvinist pigs. I am privileged to know many fine men who respect a woman based on who and what she is rather than her sexual activity, past and present. But, don't you ever wonder why there is no corresponding insult for the other gender to compare with "slut?"

It can be said that we have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. I find it amusing that, while the fundies berate the Roman Catholic church, many of them are just as adamant that women are to be seen and not heard from in the pulpit. If they are, it is as a "helpmate" to their more acceptable husband. We are the only so-called "modern" nation in this world not to have had a woman either in high national office such as the vice presidency or even as head of state. Secretary of State seems to be the political glass ceiling. We are goods, consumables, products that produce and we had better do it King James' way or watch out.

I wonder what might have happened had the rulers of Judea been women? The Judeo-Christian system would be very different. Or what if there had been no religion at all and each person was valued for their contribution to life and society regardless of age, race, gender or ethnicity? John Lennon had it right even if he didn't know 100% of the reason why.

The fact is that many of us lost our infants to adoption, especially during the BSE, because some 2000+ years-old group of greybeards decided that we were not fit to do anything unless we were joined to a man as his chattel.  Ms. Valenti didn't tell me anything in her book that I didn't really already know. She just put it into a very coherent and readable book. She addresses the current movement of abstinence and virginity importance in her book and has some very good thoughts about the whys and wherefores of all this. She states....."I'm more than a little suspicious of those who see women's advancement as a bad thing....The regressive message the virginity movement pushes through...books and media is clue enough about what it really wants from women: not independence and adulthood but submissiveness, 'modesty' and adherence to traditional gender roles. Focusing on our sexuality is just one piece, and a tool, of the larger agenda. After all, there's a reason why the assumed role of women in virginity-movement screeds is marriage and motherhood. The movement believes that's the only things women are good for."

This also leaves the field wide open for old-style shame and blame baby-taking. The only good motherhood is male-approved motherhood. All else must be engineered to suit the patriarchy and their world view.

People often wonder why I profess no connection to organized, Christian religion. They think that I blame the  loss of my infants on a few prudes but it goes deeper than that. Following this model lauded by the patriarchy did away with my most precious possession next to my children...myself. That creed of shame and the unrealistic expectations placed on young, healthy women raped me of my autonomy, my self-worth and left me feeling, for a long time, that I did not, indeed, deserve the right to raise my two oldest children.

So I pay heed to Valenti's words and the message of her book. If we don't fight this anti-woman insanity and teach our young women about self-protection and self-worth, we are condemning another generation of our daughters and granddaughters to this same emotional rape, grief and despair. As long as we sit back and accept the idea that "it's a man's world," and let it be, then we are setting up more young mothers for the worst kind of pain.

And the bitch of it is that women will be doing it to each other.

1 comment:

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