Wednesday, 14 March 2012

The truth slips out .... there is little evidence that women are our equals.....

As conversations continue the truth does out -  a comment regarding the lack of evidence for women as equals..... sigh ..... this is the sort of things they said in less enlightened times, and which was not uncommon in recent decades.  How far we have not come and how little has changed where religions are concerned.

For all the talk of how scripture 'raises' women or acknowledges their value, here we have the nub of it, slipping out unintended I am sure, that 'there is little evidence that women are our equals,......'

My Mormon friend said:

I would ask that you consider the context of the quote from Elder Scott: he was speaking to an all male audience and his purpose was not to flatter women but to convince men of women's equal worth. This is something we men have to take on faith because there is but little evidence that women are our equals in sports, business, chess and any of a number of other areas of achievement which are of interest to men.

I've been a student of classical music all my life and there aren't any female composers of the stature of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Shostakovich, Dvorak, Handel etc. It's nice when a big talent like Amy Beach comes along and shows what a woman can do but even she cannot draw the same audience responses year in and year out that the great masters do.

And I replied politely, not really cutting to the core of it because, after all, he is just a man and I am sure, a decent and enlightened person who is largely unaware of just how deep his prejudice has burrowed: 

It still suffers from the same problem - 'talking women up' when what we want is equality. If women are equal there is no need for them to be splendid or supreme - she just is. In the world in which I live, even most of the men I know, would be shocked that he thought such things even needed to be said - or that there was a need to make a case for the specialness of women.

As to women being equals - when you look at how hard it has been for women to get an education and to compete in the world what is remarkable is how many women have achieved so much.

In addition, the victor writes 'history' and there have been 'herstory' books written showing how much women have been written out of history along with their acheivements. How many female Bachs, Beethovens, Mozarts etc., lie in their coffins clutching their music and their genius to mouldered breasts?

Let's be honest with each other - at the time these men were achieving women were considered to be almost feeble-minded and unless they were very rich and very independent minded, were not considered either suitable nor capable of education!

More to the point, how many Bachs, Beethovens etc., would have been able to write their music and make their mark if they had been producing babies every two years; looking after house and children and husband and generally playing servant to their in-laws and parents? Not many. 

Who couldn't create if they had a wife to make a life for them; to do most if not all of the work and to ensure they had the time and solitude they required? Would Charles Darwin have ever written his famous book if Mrs Darwin had not been toiling in the background to make it possible for him to take the time he needed to do so? Not to mention nursing him (and their children) through numerous illnesses.

The famous line from Ginger Rogers comes to mind when talking about dancing with Fred Astaire:  I do everything he does I just do it in high heels and backwards!

The same applies to authors. Look at the women who did make their mark in the patriarchal past - mostly unmarried. How I, as a writer, would have loved a wife to run my home, my life, my family while I could write away the hours in solitary bliss.

Men have had it so easy for the past 5,000 years that one could ask the question: Why did it take so long for patriarchy to actually improve the lot of people? Perhaps if women had not been so repressed we would have dragged ourself out of the cosmic gutter centuries ago. It is certainly likely, that in a world of gender equality, there would have been a lot less murderous and destructive war although I do believe that women are as capable of violence and destruction as men are.

In fact, while male historians ignore it, armies of the past always included women as soldiers and not just as followers and women have always fought in wars - including your Civil War and war of Independence.

The achievements of men in the history that we know have been made on the 'backs of broken women' and I have absolutely no doubt that if patriarchy had not so repressed and subjugated women that there would have been all the female achievements and more in all the fields you cite.

Sport of course is so male dominated that the sports which men like are the ones deemed important. Women perform just as well as men do at sport but men like the sports and support and fund the sports which display male brute strength - the patriarchal glass ceiling is tougher over the realm of sport than even the business world.

We already know that women outperform men at long distance running, so who knows what they will achieve when we do live in a world of gender equality?

As to chess - well, let's wait until we have a world where gender equality is a reality before we judge what women can do. It is also a fact that girls consistently outperform boys academically but I doubt you would cite that as a sign of the greater academic ability of females and neither would I wish you to.

The reality is that even in the enlightened West women still have a very long way to go to achieve true gender equality - no-one gives up power lightly or easily and men are no different, fighting still, in more subtle ways to maintain their domination over the greater proportion of humanity - females.

And, in this male dominated world it is hardly surprising if everything is influenced by the way men have been thinking (and what they like) for the past few thousand years. Hardly a level playing field and I could almost sense in your comment a belief in the superiority of men when you say there is 'little evidence that women are our equals.....'

But the reality is that the 'differences' you cite were exactly the same sorts of arguments men put up in defence of refusing women the vote and refusing them admittance to universities. On that count, we clearly have come some way toward justice and equality.

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