This blog contains material I wrote and posted on multiply.com between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).
Wednesday, 28 November 2012
Sleeping With The Enemy
Over the years I’ve encountered many amazing examples of male chauvinism and – more amazing than that – female acquiescence to the chauvinism. There are questions and questions that I’ve asked myself and some conclusions I reached, while some other answers remain hanging in the air.
I can only touch the surface of this in a blog post; there must be encyclopaedias written on the subject, I’m sure.
Of course, one might begin with wondering about where male chauvinism began and why it still exists. I’m sure I can’t go and give you a full account, but – at least in this country – men are systematically brainwashed from childhood into thinking they are superior to women. Some of it they learn by watching their own fathers and their mothers. Typically, the mothers will tremble at the words of their lords and masters, and the fathers…well, the fathers will treat the mothers like a piece of kitchen and housekeeping equipment that doubles up as a sex toy. That’s about it.
So, the kid who goes through childhood watching this daily routine of a mom who basically slaves all day just to feed her brood and who has no opinion on anything…or if she does she takes jolly good care to keep these opinions to herself. And he sees how mom isn’t even consulted on anything, in fact isn’t entitled to an opinion on what’s to be affecting her own life, and he decides, yes, that’s how it’s supposed to be. Women are inferior animals with no brains of their own.
Now I’ll emphasise that this is not automatically true for every society or at all times. Of course, now, animals like hyenas or elephants have always been led by females, but even among human societies, the matrilineal condition has been at least as common as patriarchy. This was despite the fact that endless pregnancies tended to keep women tied down to the hearth. However – by and large – the more a society develops mercantilism, the more women are relegated to an inferior position.
This I believe is because of the simple ability of males to use their larger physical size to inflict violence on each other and on women; and the male belief that he’s got a more analytical brain than his mate and accordingly deserves to rule her thinking.
You must understand that in chauvinism of any kind, facts don’t matter.
For instance, the sex of the child may be decided by what chromosome the father contributes; but if the mother keeps giving birth to daughters in a male centric society, do you think she’ll be allowed to get away with it?
For instance, a man can fall ill and demand that his woman forego food and sleep to wait on him hand and foot – but if she has the temerity to be ill, it’s because she’s trying to draw attention to herself. (Yes, I know one woman, an asthmatic, whose husband has repeatedly told her this in public when she gets attacks).
For instance, a woman will have to cook and clean and provide for the family – but if her husband neglects to give her any money to get all that done, it’s still her responsibility to do it all.
And then there is religion, of course. Just about all modern religions are aggressively anti-woman. The worst reputations are shared by Islam and Catholicism, but let me tell you – Orthodox Hinduism makes the Taliban look like ardent feminists. Among Orthodox Hindu goodies for women are –
Women are inferior to men; the purpose of women in life is to bear heirs for their men; women cannot worship many gods without male sanction and intercession; women cannot attend cremations; women cannot inherit property; menstruating women are ritually polluted; widowed women must spend the rest of their lives mourning for their husbands, who are literally their gods (pati parmeshwar); and more.
No wonder I find North Indian (especially, since antifemale discrimination is at its height in North India) women unable even to tell their own physicians their names or to answer questions like “where does it hurt”? They’ve been conditioned too – by their parents, by their religion, and by their milieu. They'll do anything, be starved, beaten, stripped of all dignity, even be burned alive, and they will take it as their lot in life. I used to see, when I was an intern in Lucknow, many women arrive badly burned in "kitchen fires" who would die after a few days stubbornly insisting they had accidentally caught on fire - and everyone knew what had happened. Brainwashed to the point of death.
Now we've arrived at the other side of the coin – female acquiescence. Frankly I find this at least as infuriating as male chauvinism. I’ve said this before: women are their own worst enemies, the worst enemies of feminism. If women didn’t gang up with men to insult, humiliate, and oppress women, how long could men last? A simple kitchen strike would have wiped them out! Sometimes the woman will for some unfathomable reason stay on and be abused rather than fight back. All too common. So common that I’ve stopped expecting anything else.
Damn. Time to stop for the night. This is getting me depressed.