Misogyny & All Women

OpEd

Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. 1 Corinthians 14:34

I want to start this by sharing what I listened to while writing, it has taken me three days to form my thoughts around this subject so they were palatable for mixed company. While I worked through them I listened and sometimes watched as well.


 

I struggled with how I would approach the subject of women, society and culture. Of what it means to be a woman today nearly anywhere in the world. It would be easy to put my pragmatic hat on, pull out the statistics and studies, don’t worry I might still give you some of those, but at the end of it that doesn’t really speak to the truth. The truth is, being a woman of my age (56) means I have walked through a few fires simply to pay the price of being a woman. Why struggle with talking about this subject if we are going to talk statistics, better to talk from a position of authority, right?

For nearly as long as I have been conscious of being a woman, I have also been conscious it meant there were those who would always see me as one, if not more, of the following:

  • Weak
  • Victim
  • Stupid
  • Property
  • Of less value than themselves

There is not a single woman, not one single one of us who have not faced at least some form of gender based harassment, discrimination or bullying in our lifetime. As young girls we grow up being told we are ‘not enough’, it might not be the intent of the messenger to deliver this message it is though the message we receive. The message of ‘Not enough’ is delivered throughout a woman’s life, they go something like this, NOT ENOUGH:

  • To play sports, but YOU can cheer on the sidelines, if you are pretty enough.
  • For college funds to be set aside or made available based on your performance and competency, boys first there is only so much to go around.
  • To be protected from roaming hands, catcalls or sly whispers  in hallways and classrooms, Boys will be Boys.
  • For your aspirations beyond housewife, mother, secretary or assistant too some male, those aspirations are slightly ‘unnatural’.
  • For your labor to be valued at the same rate as your male counterpart, instead you will work longer hours for less.
  • To receive necessary health care at affordable costs, instead your body will be fought over as if it were an oasis in the Sahara to be confiscated by the fastest talking Bedouin every two to four years.
  • For your ‘No’ to be true no matter how or to whom you say it or for any person to question what you were wearing or what you might have done to ‘ask for it’.
  • To walk down the street at night and feel safe, even in your own neighborhood.

The list could go on, every woman could add to it from her own experience, these though are important and have been lately in the news:

  • Not Enough to be safe even when using a field in pairs because there is no other place to empty their bowel or bladder, they lost their lives after being gang raped.
  • Not Enough to be safe in their schools as the 276 young girls of Chibok, Nigeria would say as they were herded onto trucks and carried into the jungle to be sold in markets or to their kidnappers as ‘wives’.

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Women everywhere, no matter the nation they are born in or their circumstances all have one thing in common it seems, they are born NOT ENOUGH.

We might be born into the very best circumstances, wealth and privilege. We might receive the best of everything, education and opportunity throughout our lives. None of this will be enough to protect us from exploitation, catcalls on the street, domestic abuse or rape. What these circumstances will provide is the chance those who do us harm will pay the consequence of their actions.

If we are born without privilege, without money, without opportunity; if we are born anywhere in the world even here in this nation that takes pride in its ‘advanced’ views and civil rights, we are lost before we step foot out the door. Despite lip service, our bodies are the battle ground men fight ‘morality’ wars over decade after decade. Whether we have the same right to sexual freedom and the same right to protect our reproductive choice the fodder for nightly news segments, pulpit rants and Filibusters from both sides of the aisle. Our right to say NO clouded by what we might choose to wear or whether we have deigned to say YES to others previously, our history as women the only thing on trial if we are brave enough to report our victimization at all. The very meaning of RAPE subject to redefinition to narrow the scope from a Violent act against us to whether it was a Legitimate act of Violence or not.

There is no woman on the face of the earth, not anywhere in any nation who in her lifetime will not experience some form of harassment, bias or bullying simply because she is a woman. There is no woman, not one who will not suffer some form of bias, will not have her options limited in some manner specifically because she was born with Breasts, Vagina, Clitoris, Uterus, Cervix and Ovaries rather than being born with Penis and  Testicles.

Women around the World (Image)

Women around the World (Image)

While men continue to debate whether women should be paid equally, should have the right to body integrity, we as women seek simply to achieve equity in community and choice of how we live, how we love and who we love. Our struggle to reach equality, to be seen as whole and complete is tied to so many other movements toward equality we sometimes lose sight of our need as women to band together and lift each other up, we fail to reach across fences and work together for common cause.

Our gender creates a single unbroken chain across borders, faiths and race. As of 2013, out of 7,162,119,434 in the world we are 49.6% of the total and growing. We have enormous power in our hands and between our thighs. We are the mothers of the world, it is through us the next generation is born, it is with us the next generation learns their first words, takes their first steps and learns compassion, love and hope. We are the light of the world, without us there is nothing. Yet, six out of 10 of the world’s poorest people are women, 70% of the world’s poorest people are women, one in three American women live in poverty.

I struggled with how to approach this subject. I am reminded daily of what is wrong in this nation and worldwide, as women die simply because a man takes it in his head he is owed what is not his; a woman’s body the gift of sex or love, the gift of our gentleness, the gift of our hearts  and our compassion cannot be stolen through violence and cannot be hidden behind veils or high walls.

Before I close this let me say clearly, I do not believe all men are bad or evil, truthfully I love a man. In fact I believe most men are not misogynistic, most men are not rapists, most men do not wish to harm women. What I think is most men do not know by their inaction they enable. The chain women must form across all the boundaries we have today, whether of our making or of society and culture, that chain must include men who believe as we do, that we are ENOUGH just as we are, that we have equal value within society and our contributions as human beings are not just welcome but sought. Were all of us, men and women together to begin to form common cause, the subject of our equality would no longer be subject of debates it would instead be a History Lesson, as would many other Civil Rights issues which frankly require a woman’s voice and a woman’s touch.


 

Things of interest:

UN Women Should

Human Trafficking: The Polaris Project

Human Trafficking: The FBI Files

Do Something Campaign

PCI Global: Women’s Empowerment

Shriver Report

 

Comments

  1. Aye, aye, Val. I’ve spent a significant amount of my life trying to silence that “not good enough” recording deep within my head. In all honesty, it was triggered in my youth by someone who had no business being inside my head or anywhere else. In a way, it stole my true happiness from me, made me buy in to all those “not good enough” beliefs about myself. I’d like to say that at a similar age as you are now, I’ve overcome it, but the truth is it remains. Instead, I have used it to propel myself to do all those things that scare me to death. I will carry this recording to my deathbed, but I will not EVER let it drown out the ever-present whisper of my deeper truth. I AM ENOUGH, TODAY, AS IS, AND ALWAYS HAVE BEEN. I hope the whisper becomes a roar by the time I take my last breath.

    I love you, dear, and am strengthened by YOUR strength. May you always stand up for your beliefs and know your worth. You are beautiful and amazing, every last shy, feisty, simple, and complicated damn inch of you!

    Sue J

    • You my friend are the bomb. We are so alike in so many ways. I suspect, all of us have that voice in our head that needs to be silenced,that we will carry in our head. I wish I could kick the living shite out of the person who put it in my head, now I wish I could do the same to yours.

      I am becoming bold by my choice to live out loud to dare even across fear. Thank you, for believing in me and for propping me up as well.

      Val

  2. Val to say you did not know how you were going to approach this subject let me say you did the subject justice… You spoke what many feel, and said it so eloquently …. xxx

  3. Well said, Val. It is so frustrating and I applaud your efforts to shed light on this subject. I still clearly remember visiting the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles and learning that women are the number one victims of violence around the world. It is heartbreaking, and I feel for those hundreds of girls taken from their school. Have you heard this song from the UN called “One Woman?” I loved it so much I bought it on iTunes as the proceeds benefit the work the UN is doing on behalf of women. Here’s the link so you can see the video and hear the song on YouTube:

    • Thank you for the link, Monica, lovely. I haven’t been to the museum, but know we are indeed the #1. It is heartbreaking, it becomes more so when you think we are accidental victims but targets.

  4. It might have started in the caves – “I man, you woman.” Swing the club – “Clunk!” – Drag her in by her feet and impregnate her.

    Then marriage, to prevent multiple rapes and fights among the males – more for the latter than the former – we need to keep our clan strong and can’t have the men dying over women.

    Then, some a%$e holes came up with religions – and these jumped the chasm and got enshrined in secular laws.

    These laws have a great hold even now – changing them is one thing but altering millennia of prejudices soaked in our genes —- ?

    I believe we need to tackle the root of the problems – religions – pious pricks pontificating and dictating our lives while outwardly spewing love and peace.

    Statistics burn and crash against that wall called – Faith!

    • I couldn’t help but smile at the ‘pious pricks pontificating’. Yes, there certainly is some of that, but does it explain all of it? Oddly, if I read the old laws women could hold property, could inherit, could run their own business. The old laws (Judaism) were not hard on women. Most Pagan religions were not hard on women either, so it wasn’t until Christianity came along then we seem to make a shift. Oddly, original Muslim/Islamic law also says women can hold property, business, inherit as well, this mostly because they inherit much of their law from the Old Testament just as Christianity does. So again, what happened. I don’t think it was entirely religion, something else then?

      Certainly you PPP clan use Faith as the wall to keep all everyone corralled, but I suspect there is more. Eons of cultural bias that must be overcome. Honestly Eric, can you imagine what a world we could create if women and men who were of good intention came together and said no more.

      • You are right, Val,

        I stand corrected for putting most of it at the feet of religion. I was thinking of Christianity but chose the word ‘religion’ – certainly wrong of me to tar all religions. My apologies and thank you for pointing this out.

        I’ve always fought lone battles – including on behalf of women. Where best to start if not in one’s own home. If you have the time, see my reply to Catherine Hamrick in my blog post here > :http://wp.me/p1YE83-21i > Show, more than tell.

        The fight continues – different arenas perhaps – but it continues.

        Men are slowly warming to true equality (beyond lip service) – but it’s too slow, I reckon.

        Peace,
        Eric

  5. “You’ve come a long way baby.” Not.
    I absolutely agree the good men of this world must join in the quest.

    • Yes, but Tess it is all of us; men and women who see the problems and need to come together to solve them.

      • Yes, I totally agree, but with the men’s understanding and support, our sheer numbers and work have a better chance of success.

        You have an excellent way of sorting through the layers to find the approach to any problem it seems. 🙂

  6. I hate those old-fashioned attitudes and have never subscribed to them myself. I have always felt women are equals in every sense!

  7. I’ve been wanting to blog about this photo series, but haven’t had the time: http://jezebel.com/creepy-yet-gorgeous-portraits-of-purity-pledging-daught-1587155121

    I’m curious to know your impressions. The daughters pledge to remain “pure” until their fathers “give” them away to husbands. The fathers pledge to protect their daughter’s chastity. While I am sure these fathers love their daughters very much, I can’t help but think this is creepy and unhealthy. First of all, it reinforces the idea that men “own” women and their sexuality, and secondly it takes away the girls’ autonomy over their own bodies. It also reinforces the notion that a woman who has given away their virginity before marriage is less worthy and damaged. It gives all the power to men. A man can give her away or can take away her worth. It really makes me sick, how men bestow so much power upon themselves and their penises.

    • Amaya, it isn’t just you many of us find it weird and creepy. It is a offshoot of the old debutante balls, where young women were introduced to society. If you do some research into these there were two types of them, three really if you count Texas and the Hispanic influence. All of them are rather sick in their views of women.

      I think you should blog about it. If you are looking for more info on the deb balls, let me know I can point you to some good sources.

  8. The quotation from Corinthians reflects not God’s view on women. God created all souls with an equal amount of love and the subsequent stratification between the sexes arose out of the ignorance of limited, uncomprehending human hearts and minds. With God on our side on this issue we will overcome. In that I believe and for that I pray.

    Lots of love to you my friend.

    • I know El, it is why I specifically chose it. Because it is a reflection of historical perspective of man. Believe me, I know the difference.

      Love back

  9. Yes its time to be counted on this cultural issue. Men need to be educated not to tolerate giving women a second rate role and women need to be educated not to submit themselves to such a criminal cultural role. The original teaching of Judo Christianity was that women were created equal. This was the symbolic interpretation of the Book of Genesis where woman was taken from the side of man. Not to be above and not to be beneath. Woman was man’s second self and equal. The passage quoted from Paul was cultural at the time and not the intended essence of that belief system.

  10. A powerful post indeed.Interesting how each of us, (or at least most), don’t want to see others as equals deserving dignity and respect.

  11. 49.6% of population are women, you say… But this number would have been much closer to 50%, if not over 50%, if it were not for the practice of sex-selective abortion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex-selective_abortion) practiced in some countries like China or India, where parents abort a fetus when they learn it would be a girl, not a boy. Or, in other words, “not enough”. While that might not be a result of parents’ misogyny, it’s at least a partial outcome of misogynic traditions in a country.

    • Yes, ‘not enough’. It isn’t directly always tied to parents, it is tied to culture though, you are correct. The other reason women are below the 50% mark, we live below the poverty line and die of preventable disease. This was identified in a recent UN study, though I didn’t pull the statistics.

      As I said X, were all the women and men, to join across the ‘false’ barriers a great noise would be raised.

  12. Well said Valentine. And India possibly tops the list when it comes to crimes against women. The recent gang rapes though went beyond gender bias. That was caste based violence, a way of “putting them in their place”!!. There has to be something inherently rotten with a society that allows such things to take place routinely. Not sure how long this lawlessness can go on.

    • India is having a hard time right now. To me it is amazing that on the one hand your country has advanced in so many ways, education and high-tech is fueling much of your economy and women are within the high-tech industry in fairly large numbers. Yet there is still the caste system at work, still women at great risk both in your rural communities and cities.

  13. Very interesting: “I do not believe all men are bad or evil, truthfully I love a man.” ʚ(ˆ◡ˆ)ɞ

  14. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez says:

    “Less than” is putting it mildly. Great piece!

    • Thank you Jackie. Less Than or Not Enough, yes these are putting it mildly, as I said though I struggled with finding the words that would make it palatable in mixed company.

  15. Reblogged this on The ObamaCrat™.

  16. Always, always, always, we are summoning the strength, aren’t we? I love that you put into words the experiences we have in common which are often belittled as drama for entertainment purposes. This is the reality of being a woman.

    • And when we can reach across all the borders, all the barriers, all the chasms that keep us apart we will have an awakening Honie and we will sit no more on the sidelines and we will be silent no more.

  17. Powerful.))))
    This sentence struck me: “The message of ‘Not enough’ is delivered throughout a woman’s life,”
    This is true. I still feel it today: not thin enough, attractive enough, smart enough, successful enough, nice enough …….
    Where does this come from? Society?
    When we include EVERY woman to her full extent EVERYWHERE in the universe, this freaking world will EXPLODE with fabulousness, peace, & power. There will be no end to what we all can do together.
    Love you, Val. xx

    • Kim, thank you for thinking it is powerful. I wanted it to resonate with the women I love and respect. You are of course one of those women.

      Not enough, it is something we hear throughout our lives. I hear all those too. I have spent much of my life covered up and hiding because of not enough.

      You are so right, if we ever come together it will explode.

      Love you also

      XXX

  18. Powerful post, Valentine. I loved it. What you said here: “What I think is most men do not know by their inaction they enable” is so true. Only when men step up and point out the misogyny and discrimination can it change. I feel the same about women who parade their sexuality as if this is all they possess (for example, talented singers who wear next to nothing) or women who act like shopping and pretty clothes are all that matters. It’s okay to be proud of your sexuality, and it’s okay to like fashion, but if this is all women put out there, how can one be taken seriously?

    The issue used to infuriate me when I was younger. Now I’m more calm about it and realize that the best way I can enact change is to present myself as someone who’s every bit as capable and worthy as a man and to raise my sons to respect women and look beyond surfaces and stereotypes. Will they speak up for change in the future? I don’t know, but I hope they will at least respect all people equally within their own circles and thus role model the behavior for their own children.

    • Yep, we have to be all of the things we are given. My sons are wonderful, they love the women in their lives for their accomplishments, constantly bragging and lifting them up. I am not fooled for an instant though, they also think they are beautiful and sexy, I think it is a rare combination.

      I am absolutely a girly girl, always have been. This side of me doesn’t make me less competent and in truth does not come out in my work, by design. I am annoyed by women who use their ‘assets’ to distract and leap ahead. The problem though, sometimes it is the only way to get attention, especially when we work in environments that are so traditionally male dominated.

      Now though, I simply think if more women reach across the cultural and social barriers and start lifting each other up, helping and mentoring each other. Maybe we can start shifting these patterns. If more men start speaking up, maybe things will change.

  19. That song seems to me to be quite fitting to this intensity in the air that just won’t seem to break. Love, my sister and brother, it’s just a kiss away.

  20. Been wondering … how do you do the slide show thing? Need to learn … for the sidebar and the posts. Great idea … and looks real nice!! 🙂

  21. Beautiful… and sad post. Thank you!

  22. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Awesome, simply awesome, dearest friend! Reblog …. Hugs!!

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