Women Have No Right to Self-Determination …

… even when it comes to such trivial matters as wanting to play middle school sports in a pair of shorts that aren’t so short and tight that a girl has to spend half her time pulling them out of her various crevices.

War-women Deutsch: Kriegsfrauen - Öl über Temp...

War-women Deutsch: Kriegsfrauen - Öl über Tempera auf Leinwand - 124x247 cm - Museum Schloß Bruck, Lienz (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But that’s yesterday’s news already.

It’s not been a good year for women. In the United States, Republican lawmakers, with the aid of religious zealots, have re-launched vicious attacks on our right to birth control and to not be forced to submit to all manner of vaginal indignity when we seek to exercise our presumed right to decide all matters related to our health for ourselves.

In Afghanistan, women are jailed for running away from physically abusive husbands and in New York City, cops can now legally rape women at gunpoint and expect to go free if there is a man on the jury bloody minded enough to force his fellow jurors to vote for acquittal.

Sigh.  We are decades and decades into this fight for equality and, essentially, unless you are white and live in an industrial nation with a solid hold on what passes for a democratic government, we gained inches worth of ground – if that.

Men in my neck of the planet will argue that this simply isn’t true, but deep down, they know it is. They argue because it’s in the interests of their penis-granted privilege to appear to be in favor of the advance of gender equality while at the same time they know that as long as they don’t admit to the lack of progress, this grants them even more time in the driver’s seat.

How did this happen? Arriving in a new century and still battling sexism? Male dominion over nearly every aspect of our existence?

Erica Jong, in a recent defense of feminism to Hannan Rosin, brings up a very valid – though somewhat taboo – point about the collaborators of our gender. From the famous like Phyllis Schlafly to the Facebook friend of a friend who upbraided me for expressing my doubt about the necessity of skin-tight short shorts that my Facebook friend’s pre-teen daughter is expected to wear if she wants to participate in a sport she loves, women themselves are the greatest ally that male domination has needed in order to perpetuate over the span of human history. We are quite willing to rather meekly submit to all manner of controls, or make sure that others of our gender do, and the reality of this has stranded me in a crossroad without any clear idea of where I should go next.

Canada is hardly an equity utopia.  Ism’s of all sorts abide north of the lower 48 and a few are even more unsettling than those I left in the land of my birth. However, the manual labouring sector aside, women make strides here in all manner of this and that, and our basic right to physical autonomy appears – among the born and bred Canadian if not so much the immigrant classes – to be on sounder footing. The Neanderthal set may be ubiquitous the world over, but they aren’t suffered here to the extent they are in the United States.  I could simply mind the greenery on my side of the fence.  Settle in the pasture, so to speak.

But it nags at me that the gains that seemed to grow up along side of me over the past not quite fifty years are being swept away by male and female alike down there, and the social media feminist excepted, no one is all that upset by it, if they notice it at all.

Speaking up is running the risk of ridicule. Shame baiting stuff intended to call up emotions from days of yore when a woman was still literally a girl and more easily controlled by externals because she hadn’t lived enough life to know them for the shackles that they are.

I might yet live long enough to see women in the United States covering themselves like Hutterite women and be grateful for an eighth grade education. Too many these days would call that progress.

About these ads

7 responses to “Women Have No Right to Self-Determination …

  1. Wayne,
    Russia is about the last place I would use as a happiness measure given the politic unrest and the general fed up attitude of the ppl with status quo.

    And religion is a fair field of play b/c I don’t notice non-religious ppl quibbling with a woman’s right to self-determination. The center of the arguments being put forth against it are faith centered in general and whether it motivates you personally or not doesn’t count in the grander scheme. But I wonder at your opening lines. I am off base to attribute faith based reasoning to you and yet you freely ascribe the “social experiment” to me as though I had anything to do with it. That’s a bit disingenuous. If you want to play cute word games, you have your own blog for that.

    Equality is equality. It exists or it doesn’t. Conditions based on race or gender just shouldn’t be. When you’ve lived your life female then you can feel free to school me on what it is or isn’t like or whether it does or doesn’t match up to my grandmother’s supposed utopia.

    Many of my high school students were from Eastern European countries and though they would wax nostalgic about the pace of the lifestyle, it was only the boys who talked about going back. The girls saw far more advantage in living in the West in terms of education and personal freedoms. Ukraine, by the way, is not part of Russia and Ukrainians would be offended by the comparison, and Ukrainians make up a large ethnic enclave in the part of Canada where I live. They are not, in my experience, particularly interested in returning because they are allowed a great deal more freedom for family, God and country than when they were there.

  2. Wonderful post — some of us in the southern 48 are also appalled at what is happening in our backwards march to cave-dwelling. It is important to keep speaking out about it, no matter where your body resides…

  3. I appreciate your reaching out to my blog. Thank you.

    I think we see things quite differently. So, to be clear on what I believe.

    I do not see all women as oppressed.

    I see some women as oppressed. And I see some men as oppressed.

    And I see Jesus Christ as the true liberator of any person who is oppressed.

    Again, thank you for reaching out to my blog.

    Wayne

    • I think the oppression has degrees. Certainly to be white and in North America, the UK, The Commonwealth and most of Europe is to enjoy a higher level of freedoms. But women are not now and have never been truly equal to men in the eyes of men, the law or religion. Women know this b/c we live it. Men have varying degrees of understanding.

      In terms of Jesus, there is much evidence supporting the fact that the 1st century version of Christians (they wouldn’t have called themselves Christian at this point) believed in and practiced equality of the genders. It wasn’t until the sect began to establish itself as a mainstream religion that it adopted the patriarchal attitudes of society/govt that have prevailed on the planet. It’s too bad that such a promising beginning allowed itself to be corrupted by secularism.

      Appreciate your commenting.

      • Ann,

        Again, I disagree.

        My grandmother and I talked about this often before she passed.

        The average woman lived a better standard of living 50 years ago. This is statistically the interesting crime done to women in the name of:

        progressive equality.

        And the tragic victims? Children. 50% of whom now need government food subsidies.

        Because a small number were abused (*), our cultural engineers have overseen a tripling of abuse in the USA ….

        If I were a progressive, I would not be proud of my history. Nor would I be proud of Margaret Sanger. I am still not proud of your progressive history or what it has done to America and our culture.

        Wayne

        (*) We have seen wife abuse move from about 2 to 3% of our population to about 6 to 8%. Child abuse has also gone up.

        Save the children if you do not care about the women.

        • You are confusing the rights women have gained since the mid part of the last century with the steady decrease in wages that has plagued the middle and working classes since the 1970′s. They aren’t linked.

          Abuse is tied to economic distress, lower levels of education, the pernicious effects of racism on ethnic groups and the rise in couples not marrying. The last of which is also tied to the fact that the working poor tend not to marry in greater numbers when economically stressed.

          None of this has anything to do with women’s rights.

          Personally, I chafed enough under the rigid gender rules of my childhood back in the 70′s to not buy into the notion that the even more stifling restrictions of the decades before would have made me happier.

          My mother, who is nearly 80, and her older sister, who has never married, would not agree that being a woman 50 years ago was better than being one today.

          As to Sanger, I have my issues with many of her beliefs, but her observation that perpetual pregnancy was not physically, emotionally or economically good for women was spot on, and her work to bring a woman’s reproductive capabilities under the control of the woman is something I applaud.

          I support a woman’s right to marry when she finds the right person and not because she has to in order to be economically secure. I believe that a woman has the right to never marry at all and should be able to get the education she needs in order to pursue a career that allows her to take care of herself.

          Women have the right to autonomy over their persons and the right to chose whether or not to be a parent – the same as men do and have for a lot longer than women have.

          If this means contraception and even abortion, so be it. People who exist are more important than potential people. Perhaps if we were more concerned about those in the world rather than those who might actually not even be meant to be (how really are we to know if our purpose isn’t fulfilled by mere existence as an unrealized future being?) than the world might actually be a better place for all who live on the planet as opposed to the tiny population of souls lucky enough to be born on the more privileged parts of the planet,

          I can appreciate that your religious beliefs motivate your opinions, but I am pragmatic and I am not attached to the material aspects of the world, which I think is where many religious go astray. Christians in particular seem to have gone off into the weeds in terms of their attachment to this life, which I think would have puzzled those who founded the faith.

        • Ann,

          I am even more pragmatic. My faith does not motivate this, although that was a good try.

          Your social experiment is failing.

          I just got back from Ukraine (Russia). The people there are much happier. Median income is not enough to break the poverty level here, and barely enough to break the poverty level there.

          But, they have family, God, and country. They are happy. They would like to come here to get rich and then return home.
          ;)

          Wayne