Every time I see a woman being disregarded, talked over, ignored, corrected, abused and objectified I ask myself why.
Why are women a sub-species in so many parts of the world? How did we sink so low or have we always been the last in line behind husbands, male co-workers and children? And if so, why?
I have been watching a fascinating series of Saudi Arabian movies on the World Movie Channel. Each movie has focused on the lot of women in what I can only assume are “normal” households. The wife is everybody’s servant and punching bag. She suffers the neglect and abuse of her husband, the contempt of her children, the judgement of her female neighbours and the domination of her mother-in-law and whilst this culture is at the high end of patriarchal dominance I witnessed similar treatment and placement of women in Evangelistic America when I was married to a Born-Again Christian musician who insisted on entitlement as his God-given right. He ruled our household with a fractured rod of iron.
In the end I bought a one-way ticket back to Australia.
But I was lucky. I could escape. Not all women can or want to.
So whose fault is it that women are dominated and oppressed? Men’s? Or theirs?
What surprised me in America was just how many women were complicate in their lot. I spoke to women in the church group I was forced to attend every Wednesday and was amazed to hear them justify their husband’s dominant role in the home. These self-appointed tyrants were answerable to no-one except another male, God. The women couldn’t see the rod they were making for their own backs. If your only hold over a man is a sexual one be assured ladies that fades with age and what exactly is left? A pattern of abuse established in the first weeks of courting. One very pleasant and highly accomplished young woman I had befriended invited me and my then-husband out to the lake house she and her husband owned for a weekend getaway. All weekend she waited on us hand and foot and generally acted like a servant. Her behaviour embarrassed me and I wrongly believed she was being dominated by her husband until it came to after-dinner coffee on Saturday night and she had to select one brand out of a dazzling array of choices. She asked her husband to choose and he sighed and asked her to please make the decision by herself. For the remainder of the weekend I observed that every time he tried to do something she rushed in and did it for him…and me…and my husband. I realised then that her victimhood was in fact a form of sugar-coated control.
By refusing to allow anybody else to do anything and by forcing her husband to “decide” on every little detail she was in fact making sure he remained bound to her. She created the illusion of helplessness. Only he could be trusted to make the right decision. Is that because Eve chose to sample forbidden fruit? Should she have checked in with Adam first? Who can trust shrew-eating snakes after all?
By the end of that weekend I despised her and the stupid religion that ran her thinking or should I say, absence of thinking?
Which brings me back to WHY do some women willingly accept domination?
Short answer: because it keeps them in the picture.
Long answer: because the dynamic of dominance creates the sexual tension they are addicted to. Their men are trained to pursue until the quarry is caught and then boredom sets in unless there is a way to trick that chase into a long-term relationship. And one of the primary factors necessary to ensure continued tension and excitement is to make sure the quarry is forever unknown i.e. a stranger. People in these marriages/relationships are rarely friends. How can they be? They don’t know each other. They play gender roles and maintain the separation necessary for sexual tension. These people catch and run and catch and run for years. It’s exhausting for onlookers and participants alike but they are willing to sacrifice friendship, support, self-respect, responsibility and equality for sex.
In every society there are women and men who are tired of this lack of balance and would rather have the healthy competition of a fully functioning woman than the half-life of a victimised stranger.
Then there is another aspect. There is only so much room at the top and do men really want 50% of society competing with them for top jobs? No. Keeping women barefoot and pregnant assures men of having first, middle and last bite of the cherry. It also means they can under-perform and still get paid top dollar for their efforts. Women, used to working hard for little or nothing, are stiff competition in an even field. Women don’t expect privilege and so they will work harder than their male counterparts who expect preferential treatment by virtue of their gender.
There is an emerging class of male who are refreshingly eager to befriend women and give them a chance to shine. I have met some incredible men since my book, Catch the Moon, Mary was published in 2015 and in fact some of the most extraordinary reviews I’ve received have been from men who genuinely celebrate my talent. These marvellous men have taken me at my WORD and for my words.
So, winding back to the atmosphere of hatred and oppression abounding in societies run by patriarchal religions. Women are viewed through the lens of Eden and original sin. Woman as temptress and seducer. Tempted by naughty, beguiling Eve, Adam bit the apple and what did it awaken in him? His delicious sexual appetite. In some faiths it’s important for men to maintain the illusion that they are lying with the devil when they have sex with a woman. They want the dark side of their natures to find sanction and apparently war isn’t reliable enough or happening often enough to sate that appetite for dominance. The evolved man and woman want friendship based on equality and respect but it means taking the route of self-reliance and self-development and accepting the genius of a friend.
There’s the rub. Genius is such a hard-won prize and has, for centuries, been the provenance of men only. How much more unattainable will the mantle of genius become if hardworking talented women enter the field and raise the bar? But this is the only authentic pathway out of the imbalance between the sexes. Encourage women to be the best version of themselves they can be and celebrate the genuine diversity of accomplishment.
I despair at the state of the world right now with so many tired old white men and nasty youngish brown ones fumbling the reigns of power. They are inept and sub-standard and so obviously stupid they can only maintain their delusional self-image with the sanction of women content to sublimate their own potential in order to maintain control of men they choose to worship as proxy-Gods.
Because these same women are too damned lazy to walk their own paths.
They would rather bask in the flickering light of deified nobodies.