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Author Topic: Men and Women
DevilDreamt
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Profanity warning.

Here are two quotes, from John Lennon and Yoko Ono, respectively. I apologize if they are slightly misquoted.

“Mother is the word for God on the lips of children everywhere.”

“Woman is the nigger of the world.”

I feel that both statements are true when taken from a global perspective and that both are true far into the past and remain true to this day.

But the fact that both statements are true perplexes me. What is it about the relationship between men and women that would warrant such a dramatic change in their relationship over time? When a man is young, he reveres his mother, relies on her for his very life. When a child cries for help, in desperation, they will often cry for their mother, not for God, not even for their father (although some do). But how can that same child, later in life, accept the common idea presented in patriarchal societies, that women are little more than slaves, property to be owned?

I know that these statements are not true for everyone, and after the suffrage movement here in America, women have been given more rights and the severity of the second statement is decreasing, but the overlying theme remains the same. Men seem to go from worshiping women to treating them like sub-humans. Why does this happen?

I am not a psychologist, but I have theories about this. I think the change might start to take place when the child becomes autonomous, and begins to realize that their parents are not divine, perfect beings. But how could that love turn to hate? Do children feel disillusioned and betrayed when they discover their parents are not Gods? Do they simply learn from their environments (i.e. the way their father treats their mother, the way men treat women in general), and simply fail to realize the gap in their logic? Perhaps it’s a combination of those things (one being an internal motivator, the other an external), plus other factors I’m not seeing.

I’m very interested to hear the thoughts of others on this topic. I feel that I’m not able to see it from all perspectives (being male myself, and being a male that still reveres women highly).

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Tatiana
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I think that men like the illusion that they are powerful and totally free, and the fact that they would not have lived one day without their mother's nurturing and sustenance offends the natural man, and he would prefer to forget that fact, so if he makes women into nothing in his mind he can keep that pretense up. All of us are part natural man, so this tendency presents itself to us more or less powerfully according to our natures.

When he grows up and becomes attracted to women sexually and spiritually, they have another sort of power over him. I think the natural man wants to have all power to himself so he wants to subjugate women so that he's the one in control and not them.

But these things are true for both men and women, I think it's more or less an accident of history that the societies we came from were patriarchial instead of matriarchial. Both have existed in history.

I think the perfect ideal society is neither one, but men and women work together as equal partners in everything.

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Phanto
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I don't really think reverence of anyone should hinge upon their gender but rather on their innate qualities.

There is much to be said, however, about the culture of masculinazation that requires a significant push away from the mother figure. Whereas a female is culturally allowed to remain attached to her mother, a boy must break away to prove himself a man, and thus create a sort of distance.

quote:

But these things are true for both men and women, I think it's more or less an accident of history that the societies we came from were patriarchial instead of matriarchial. Both have existed in history.

I disagree. Testosterone levels -- which are objectively higher in men than women -- cause higher levels of violence -- as shown in many studies -- and men are much more violent than women. Men ruled because they did not refrain from using force and violence and because they were naturally stronger physically.
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Omega M.
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So how have any matriarchal societies survived into the present? I think some African and Pacific Islander tribes are still matriarchal. Perhaps the men of these tribes still see the ability of women to get pregnant and bear children, and thereby ensure the tribe's survival, as magical, and so don't dare to anger them?
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Qaz
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I am leery of speculating what someone else's reasons are, especially strangers. It would just be a story I tell myself about something I can't know directly, since it isn't me.

I do not personally know anyone who thinks of women as subhuman (!) and don't see how it is possible.

If I had to speculate, I would remember a former friend of mine. His first wife cheated on him extensively. His second wife cheated on him the first week. So he got his revenge by cheating on his third extensively. Maybe it translates to power too. A man may still unconsciously be creeped out by the fact that when he was very small an adult woman controlled him, so now he eases his mind by controlling another adult woman.

But that speculation is worth exactly what you paid for it.

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IanO
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The Navajo tribes are still very much matriarchal. This is not necessarily evident in the tribal government, per se (which is just pretty much figurehead), but rather completely on a societal level. Women run everything, make all the decisions, raise the children, and generally are the primary breadwinners (though this is also due to the large numbers of single parent families, though not limited to that).

At least, that was my experience for 7 years.

Now, how that survived? It's just always been that way. Male and female roles. But the male roles have disappeared, primarily due to dramatic cultural changes, while female roles remained relatively static. Simplistic. But a start, I think.

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Scott R
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I just want to point out that it's very nice seeing IanO around.
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IanO
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Thanks, Scott. I mostly hang out in star trek, dune, smallville, wheel of time or star wars threads.
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DevilDreamt
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I used the word subhuman, because it was the only word I could think of. Here are some examples: How many women signed the Declaration of Independence? How many women actively participated in writing the Constitution? The Bill of Rights? How long did it take before women had the right to vote? How long did it take for the police to stop turning a blind eye to spousal abuse (the figures I know point at a dramatic shift in policy during the 1970's)? How many registered voters today would not vote for a woman simply based on her gender? How about in the 1930's? or 1950's?

And that's just here, in America. Maybe the word second-class citizen would have been more appropriate. Maybe the phrase "weaker sex" would have been better. But to me, all of those things point to subhuman, treating women as less than equal.

I'm glad you don't see how it's possible Qaz, but that attitude absolutely exists. And I won't even bother going into detail about the abuse women face in third-world countries, it's an easy enough topic to research.

Thank you for your post, Tatiana, I thought it was insightful. As a follower of the Tao, I often forget that others need a sense of control, and that others desire power. Since I try to live in harmony with the world and impact it as little as possible, power and control don't appeal to me. I disagree with your usage of "natural man." I think it's sad that our society defines what it means to be male as needing power and control. I believe that being able to let go of such illusions and live at peace with the world takes more courage than holding on to those illusions of power and control. I don't think Taoism changed my "natural self," it helped to reveal a part of my nature that had been there all along, it had just been hidden by the societal norms I had been taught.

I understand what you're saying, Phanto, about testosterone, but if that's true, it seems like most hunter/gatherer society would be patriarchal (which is not the case), and it seems that as we industrialize, the role of women would become more important. At least in my mind, women can be just as wise as men, just as intelligent as men, with just as much willpower. And since survival in our society depends much less on violence and physical strength than ever before, it seems like the testosterone levels will make less and less of a difference.

Unless, of course, men still have a strong pull for power and being in control. Even if violence doesn't pay off as well as it did in the past, that desire for power and control can manifest itself in other ways.

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beverly
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Devil, you make some interesting points! Perhaps in hunter-gatherer societies where the obvious advantage in strength had vital purpose, the men felt valued. They had a very real sense of purpose tied up in their gender identity. Maybe men in an industrialized society feel the need to artificially create a purpose for themselves?

As Porter and I have moved out to the country to "live on the land," the need for manly strength has come home to my mind and heart in ways that I could not have understood with intellect alone before experiencing it. I think it has given Porter fulfillment that his physical abilities are so important to me, to us, to our family now. (And that much harder for him with his back injury.)

Similarly, when I became a mother, I felt that suddenly womanhood made complete sense. I felt in my heart that without motherhood, womanhood wasn't complete, and that that couldn't fully be appreciated unless experienced. Women in an industrialized society can still experience the complete fulfillment that being female offers, but often men can't. I think they need to gain power in other ways to make up for that.

Aside: I don't think that we can use fatherhood for men in quite the same way as motherhood for women. I am talking about the pregnancy, bearing, and nursing of an infant. There is a reproductive, physical, spiritual involvement there that is the property of the female alone. But physical strength is a sex-linked trait men have just as pregnancy and nursing are for women.

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Noemon
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quote:
Originally posted by beverly:
Perhaps in hunter-gatherer societies where the obvious advantage in strength had vital purpose, the men felt valued. They had a very real sense of purpose tied up in their gender identity. Maybe men in an industrialized society feel the need to artificially create a purpose for themselves?

That's an interesting thought, but it seems to be using as its foundation the idea that patriarchy came about as a result of industrialization, which of course it didn't. The vast, vast majority of agrarian societies have had patriarchal power structures.
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MightyCow
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I think the child rearing may play an important role. Men have all sorts of time on their hands to fight each other for power, while women are physically tied to their children, historically often from a young age and then nearly non-stop.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
But physical strength is a sex-linked trait men have just as pregnancy and nursing are for women.
God help wimpy men.
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guinevererobin
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quote:
When a man is young, he reveres his mother, relies on her for his very life. When a child cries for help, in desperation, they will often cry for their mother, not for God, not even for their father (although some do). But how can that same child, later in life, accept the common idea presented in patriarchal societies, that women are little more than slaves, property to be owned?
Alright, I can buy this view in terms of certain societies in, say, the Middle East at present, and in terms of many societies in the past (and I have many questions about that as well, like how the concept of love and marriage can possibly function in a culture where women are deeply devalued).

However, I don't feel like the "property to be owned" thing is common in, say, our own society. I do believe it rears its ugly head sometimes. The number of girls I knew who were raped in college give me that impression - some guys felt they had a right to their bodies. But it's not commonly accepted, which I think would be the hallmark of a truly patriarchal and misogynist society.

Now, a woman in Afghanistan being gang raped before she's put to death to ensure she doesn't die a virgin... that's a patriarchal and misogynist society. but as much as some rap lyrics or the nasty joke some frat boy tells may bother me, it's not commonly acceptable behavior and therefore, isn't representative of society in my book. Can you clarify why you feel Yoko Ono's quote is applicable across the world, without differentiating between various cultures?

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Megan
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
But physical strength is a sex-linked trait men have just as pregnancy and nursing are for women.
God help wimpy men.
Along the same lines, women who can't have children.
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Phanto
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Ah, but those aren't true men and women. They aren't actualized or happy. They may feel they are, but they aren't. [Smile]
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Synesthesia
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Folks put a bit too much store in gender I think and the concept of masculinity and feminity.
I just don't understand what those things are... They seem to be a bit negative and incomplete.

Taoism on the other hand sounds COOL.

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
God help wimpy men.

Tom, I know you believe in the concept of sanctity as little as you believe in God, but it really bothers me when you invoke God in that mocking/ironic way of yours.
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DevilDreamt
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quote:
Originally posted by Phanto:
Ah, but those aren't true men and women. They aren't actualized or happy. They may feel they are, but they aren't. [Smile]

I'm not sure who you're talking about. And if you feel happy and actualized, what difference does it make if that's the truth or a lie? If they feel it strong enough, how can you say it's not true? are you joking? I'm so confused....
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Tatiana
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DevilDreamt, I used "natural" man in the LDS sense, as the opposite of the "spiritual" man, (or human being), even though our spiritual selves are just as much a natural part of us as our physical or animal selves. The tao as I understand it would be a state in which the physical human was perfectly enfolded by the spiritual human so that it was completely natural to act as one's highest self. I'm still describing some duality or higher/lower relationship that I don't quite mean. When a taoist is able to act as a perfect expression of the tao, it's the same thing (the way I picture it) as a Latter-Day Saint putting off the natural man.
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Threads
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
God help wimpy men.

Tom, I know you believe in the concept of sanctity as little as you believe in God, but it really bothers me when you invoke God in that mocking/ironic way of yours.
I really should get out of the habit of speaking for other people, however I don't think TomDavidson's post was mean to mock God or use God in a mocking fashion. Phrases such as "God help ...", "Oh my god", "Go to hell", and even "god damnit" have become idiomatic English and no longer have any significant religious meaning to many people.
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DevilDreamt
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*Off Topic*

God help monkeys shot into space. Those poor monkeys.

*On Topic*

Tatiana - That makes sense. I understand how hard it is to describe the conflicted nature of humans. You speak of a duality that you don't exactly mean. I think part of the problem is that we are led to believe our nature IS conflicted. I don't believe in a separation of the "physical self" and the "spiritual self." I feel they are meant to be in harmony, and that this harmony is the natural state.

Everything follows the Tao, more or less. As we follow the Tao more, it brings a way of understanding how everything works together. Following the Tao is easy, and only gets easier. But in many of the stoic religious sects, there seems to be a problem. Separating yourself into two halves and trying to repress the other half only gets more difficult over time.

As an example, I believe humans are meant to live at peace with the environment. As we separate ourselves from mother nature, attempt to control it and abuse it, force ourselves to think of it as "Man versus Nature," our struggle will only become harder and harder. However, allowing nature to exist as it is, and trying to interfere with it as little as possible is easy. It results in a type of harmony that preserves both parties, allowing both to follow the Tao in their own way.

I think the same is true of our inner-selves. We create conflict where there should not be conflict.

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Earendil18
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quote:
Originally posted by DevilDreamt:
*Off Topic*

God help monkeys shot into space. Those poor monkeys.

*On Topic*

Tatiana - That makes sense. I understand how hard it is to describe the conflicted nature of humans. You speak of a duality that you don't exactly mean. I think part of the problem is that we are led to believe our nature IS conflicted. I don't believe in a separation of the "physical self" and the "spiritual self." I feel they are meant to be in harmony, and that this harmony is the natural state.

Everything follows the Tao, more or less. As we follow the Tao more, it brings a way of understanding how everything works together. Following the Tao is easy, and only gets easier. But in many of the stoic religious sects, there seems to be a problem. Separating yourself into two halves and trying to repress the other half only gets more difficult over time.

As an example, I believe humans are meant to live at peace with the environment. As we separate ourselves from mother nature, attempt to control it and abuse it, force ourselves to think of it as "Man versus Nature," our struggle will only become harder and harder. However, allowing nature to exist as it is, and trying to interfere with it as little as possible is easy. It results in a type of harmony that preserves both parties, allowing both to follow the Tao in their own way.

I think the same is true of our inner-selves. We create conflict where there should not be conflict.

I love everything about what you just said, including the monkeys, and the use of the word "stoic".

It seems kind of like what I was thinking...that we don't seem to like parts of ourselves. Our nature, etc. and we go to rather large extremes to deal with it.

Ok, yeah, I didn't contribute anything to this thread. Move along...move along...

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TomDavidson
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quote:
However, allowing nature to exist as it is, and trying to interfere with it as little as possible is easy. It results in a type of harmony that preserves both parties, allowing both to follow the Tao in their own way.
The bear that eats you is the Tao.
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beverly
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quote:
The vast, vast majority of agrarian societies have had patriarchal power structures.
Recently it was pointed out to me that agrarian societies cannot exist without civilization with a some kind of centralized government. When people plow the land, they are extremely vulnerable to the extortion. There is a great need for people "above" to be in power, who don't work the land but are supported by others. They make the rules, and they don't experience the fulfillment of working the land.

That is why I specifically mentioned hunter-gatherer societies--they didn't have the same need for government. While Porter and I are not hunter-gatherers, we experience what the "lower classes" would have in an agrarian society, the ones who didn't make the rules. Might they have had more respect for their women?

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beverly
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quote:
God help wimpy men.
And barren women? [Wink] (Megan beat me to it.)
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steven
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"The bear that eats you is the Tao."

Like they say, "Some days, you eat the bear. Some days, the bear eats you..."

It's hard to feel bad about killing and eating something that would kill and eat you if it felt like it, like in the Treadwell tragedy.

Here's a link about Treadwell.

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beverly
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But seriously, Tom, I think you completely missed my point. In society, it is generally not PC to chalk differences in men and women up to nature. Any differences in personality, likes and dislikes, intelligence, etc., that is due to culture and society only. It is generally unPC to consider that "manhood" or "womanhood" are meaningful terms, since men and women are essentially the same.

But upon experiencing pregnancy, birth, etc., I felt very much a sense of "womanhood" apart from "manhood." I was suggesting that when it comes to needs of brute strength, men may feel the same, since most men have the advantage there. In our society, we don't have so much need for brute strength in our everyday lives--except maybe to open that pesky mayonaise jar. [Wink]

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Synesthesia
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These sort of conversations make me feel like a mutant.
Or a mental hermaphrodite.

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Omega M.
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Unfortunately for us men's feelings of uniqueness, unless a man is extremely strong there exist some women who are just as strong as he is; but there are no men who get pregnant and give birth as women do.
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dkw
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I don't find your theory particularly convincing, bev, because while pregnancy is an absolute "woman only" experience, men are only on average stronger than women. There are women who are stronger than the average man and for any given man who is not an olympic level athlete there likely exists a woman who has more physical strength than he does.
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beverly
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Maybe the lack of a unique "manhood" trait has led to men seeking authority over women?

We have the idea presented here that hunter-gatherer societies don't suffer from the men/women inequality that more "advanced" societies do. Maybe the fact that everyone in a hunter-gatherer society is in touch with and is dependent on the mercies and rhythms of the natural world makes a difference. (No centralized government of non-hunter-gatherers needed or wanted, since it is difficult to generate enough food for non-producers.)

It is interesting to note that in more "advanced" societies with an upper class, even the women are separated from their biological reproductive role. Women may bear children, but those children are often raised by wet-nurses and other servants.

I was hypothesising that men having a specific use for their strength might have something to do with that. If men and women both work hard for their lives, testosterone will nearly always give men the advantage. We live in a society that doesn't make the most of that because we don't *need* to be physically fit. My understanding is that when both a man and a woman apply themselves physically, because of the effects of testosterone, men will put on more muscle and have more upper body strength. In order for that to be different, a man or woman has to have an unusual hormonal balance or sensitivity.

I have more upper body strength now than I have ever had in my life. I imagine I will slowly gain more over time, but I don't expect it to be much. I am sadly aware that all but the most wimpy of men under the same circumstances would excell beyond me. It is a reality I deal with every day.

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Synesthesia
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I guess...
But there is fatherhood to consider...
Not just helping children to be concieved, but taking an active role with the children.

Stuff like that is sexy and awesome as hell, a guy holding and comforting a baby. *hearts*
Male shouldn't just be about hunting or killing things..
Roles for me are just too... too simple. Motherhood is one thing, that particular role, but one wouldn't want men to feel isolated when it comes to the mother/child relationship.
I think more emphasis should be put on the individual than on definitive male and female traits, or seeing men and women as these alien opposites in between a canyon, when really, in some ways, some of us are just...
intertwined...

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by beverly:
Maybe the lack of a unique "manhood" trait has led to men seeking authority over women?

We have the idea presented here that hunter-gatherer societies don't suffer from the men/women inequality that more "advanced" societies do. Maybe the fact that everyone in a hunter-gatherer society is in touch with and is dependent on the mercies and rhythms of the natural world makes a difference. (No centralized government of non-hunter-gatherers needed or wanted, since it is difficult to generate enough food for non-producers.)

That last line hints at a much simpler solution.
The movement away from hunter-gathering and to agriculture allows for more food. More food allows for more specialization which is required to support people whose job is to oppress other groups to take advantage of them. Since men would tend to be better at that job, if only due to their aforementioned greater average strength, the other groups that would get oppressed would eventually tend toward groups that include less men, i.e. women.

Simpler and no need to psychoanalyze "a lack of a unique manhood trait" [Wink]

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beverly
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I am a big proponent of the idea that fatherhood *is* unique, and deeply important. But it is also nebulous and difficult to define.

I also agree that we should always take into account individuality and the uniqueness from one person to the next. I just feel that understanding the male and female tendancies can help us to understand them when they do have influence over people and lives. Like in this discussion. If men have treated and still do treat women as second class citizens but revere their mothers as divine, what is going on here? What does it mean?

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beverly
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Mucus, that makes a lot of sense. [Smile]
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Synesthesia
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Probably means they should start having that same respect for their wives,
Not putting them on pedestals per say, but treating them like equal human beings and not like slaves or baby receptacles for lack of a better word
Or like pieces of meat to oggle over...
Also I hate the notion of female submission. Yuck. Submission...

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Earendil18
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quote:
Originally posted by beverly:
If men have treated and still do treat women as second class citizens but revere their mothers as divine, what is going on here? What does it mean?

Could this be linked to why many men cannot show affection to each other?
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
But physical strength is a sex-linked trait men have just as pregnancy and nursing are for women.
God help wimpy men.
And infertile women.
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Ikemook
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[Edited to add: Apologies in advance for what must be numerous spelling errors. And to remove unnecessary comments.]

Thoughts on Initial Post:

1) The "common idea" that women are little more than slaves:
  • Doesn't hold for all patriarchal societies,
  • To the best of my knowledge, is not a natural aspect of patriarchal societies (though don't hold me to that), and most importantly
  • Isn't seen that way by all patriarchal societies.


What I mean by this is that while the net effect of certain cultural practices in patriarchal societies may seem to lower their status--in terms of our liberal Western values*--it might not be seen as such within those societies. A number of people, including those in our Western culture, see it less as a matter of men being better or less suited to slavery than women, and more as a matter of natural order. Women are naturally good at doing Things A, B, and C, and men are naturally good at doing Things D, E, and F. It seems to me that this can easily lead to feelings of superiority over women, though I'd hesitate to say that such superiority is natural to this society. It certainly happened in the West, but that doesn't necessarily mean it happened in every other culture. Back to the main point, though: it's important to note that within these societies, this isn't necessarily seen as slavery.

In point of fact, the notion that this is slavery is a liberal Western one, and has its basis in liberal Western values of equality. To those of us who hold to liberal Western values, not only should a women be able to do any job she wants, she is ABLE to do so. It is just as NATURAL for her to do so as it would be for her to do a "traditional" task.

This view isn't held by everyone, and those that hold dissimilar views don't see it as slavery.

So there's your first problem. You're trying to figure out how people can "enslave" their women. The first reply to your question is that they might not see it that way.

*I use the term liberal Western not to characterize the entire West as liberal, but to distinguish one particular Western viewpoint from others.

2) Love and a desire for another person to be "free" are not synonymous. You can love another person, and not necessarily want them to experience the liberal Western "freedom" as we see it.

This point is similar to Point 1. Those that see women as having a specific, natural place in society (side note: they usually see men as having a specific, natural place as well) may and do love their partners, mothers, etc, and still see them as having their proper place.

The association with love and freedom is a Western one. It doesn't necessarily hold for other cultures.

3) Love isn't the driving force behind all human relationships. Love, especially romantic love, is seen as a primary component of relationships and marriage in Western culture. The same doesn't necessarily hold true for other cultures. That's not so say the emotion is unimportant in those cultures. But male-female relations are governed by more than just love.

4) Finally, in line with what I've said above, there isn't necessarily any "transformation" that goes on with a child as they grow older. As children move into their gender roles, they may naturally come to accept the social differences between men and women. Remember, this is what they've grown up with, what they've grown up knowing. There is no "love turning to hate" involved in this. A young boy may love his mother dearly, and still see her as being confined to a certain number of social tasks. He may grow up believing this, and continue the practice with his wife (who, I might add, could very well believe the same thing).

My point? Men don't move from worshiping women to mistreating them. If they're mistreating them, they're usually taught pretty much from birth to do so. And this is bearing in mind that the men and women in question might not see it as mistreatment.

More Thoughts:

MightyCow,

quote:
I think the child rearing may play an important role. Men have all sorts of time on their hands to fight each other for power, while women are physically tied to their children, historically often from a young age and then nearly non-stop.
This might hold for Western societies. It doesn't necessarily hold for others. Child rearing and enculturation can and is handled by a wide variety of means, including other relatives and even the whole society itself.

beverly,

quote:
We have the idea presented here that hunter-gatherer societies don't suffer from the men/women inequality that more "advanced" societies do. Maybe the fact that everyone in a hunter-gatherer society is in touch with and is dependent on the mercies and rhythms of the natural world makes a difference. (No centralized government of non-hunter-gatherers needed or wanted, since it is difficult to generate enough food for non-producers.)
"Hunter-gatherer" societies are generally not much more egalitarian than any other society. They can and are just as prone to the inequalities as any other human society. If I remember correctly, most, if not all, modern day "egalitarian" HG societies are that way due to colonialist influences. Basically, European (and American and probably mid-Asian, though to a lesser extent in the area I'm thinking of) mucking about in their cultures, conquering them, etc. This forced these cultures to adopt an egalitarian lifestyle simply to survive.

Also, pretty much any level of society is going to be "in touch with" and dependent on the natural rythyms of the world. Farmers and other outdoors-persons are commonly very knowledgable about the seasons, plants, and various animals in the areas they dwell. Even in state level societies, knowledge of the natural world and natural rythyms is common. If memory serves, the farmers and animal handlers in the Incan Empire would plan their cultivating around constellations, and the grazing and movement of their livestock around dark constellations (areas of the sky with no stars). Heck, the Inca could tell when and El Nino event was coming because it was always preceeded by a hazy shrouding of the sky that made opaque a certain star (can't remember the name). The El Nino effect actually does something to the atmosphere to make stars in the Southern Hemisphere more difficult to see (at least from South America).

If you want more examples, look at time-reckoning. Look at how often we tell time not by our clocks, but by the seasons, or environmental changes. Look at how we, and especially other (non-clock obsessed) cultures reckon time, and you'll get a good example of "paying attention to natural rythyms."

Also, bear in mind that the kinds of male aggression and social inequalities you're describing are not niquely human traits. I'm fairly certain they're present in many primate species (though not all). So if there is some underlying cause for it, I imagine it must have some biological component.

Finally, hunting and gathering can produce a significant amount of food, and often does (with surplus). It's easy to generate food for non-producers. HG groups as far back as the neanderthals are well-known for supporting the infirm and the sick, carrying them about despite the fact that they are not food producers.

quote:
Recently it was pointed out to me that agrarian societies cannot exist without civilization with a some kind of centralized government. When people plow the land, they are extremely vulnerable to the extortion. There is a great need for people "above" to be in power, who don't work the land but are supported by others. They make the rules, and they don't experience the fulfillment of working the land.
Out of curiosity, what makes you think that working the land is somehow "more fulfilling" than being in charge? I imagine people who work the land all their lives might have a wide variety of responses, from "fullfilling" to absolute hatred of it.

quote:
That is why I specifically mentioned hunter-gatherer societies--they didn't have the same need for government
You mean nation-state-esque government, right? Because hunter-gatherer societies are perfectly capable of the kind of complex organization that governments can cover. They are themselves complex, political entities, and the relations among individuals in a hunter-gatherer society can be just as complex as those in any other society.

[ September 19, 2007, 12:27 AM: Message edited by: Ikemook ]

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DevilDreamt
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Is perspective really that important?

Some African communities, to this day, practice circumcision of the clitoris. They use traditional methods still, and it’s extremely painful, and often results in infection. They do it because they do not believe women should feel pleasure during sex. To put it in simple Western terms, they believe it’s “sin.”

So, from their perspective, they are preventing sin. They don't feel it's mutilation, they don't feel it's abusive, is that enough to make the practice "right?" The men and women view it as part of the natural order, and the practice isn’t questioned. Sometimes it is; Amnesty International estimates that over 2 million involuntary female circumcisions are being performed every year, mainly in African countries. At what point does a practice like this become abusive? From the tribal perspective, all women should undergo this procedure. At what point do practices like this start to point toward a mistreatment of women on a large scale?

From the perspective of most modern cultures, castration of the clitoris appears to be sexual mutilation. I would go so far as to say that it is sexual mutilation, regardless of what you call it, or what motives you have behind the practice.

The same can be said about denying women the right to vote. Sure, men felt that it wasn’t a woman’s place in society, and women may have agreed for a time. Their perspective doesn’t change the fact that, from an outside viewpoint, it appears women aren’t treated as full citizens.

In how many societies was it legal for men to beat their wives? What about equal treatment for women in the eyes of the law? Why were women who became pregnant outside of wedlock treated so harshly, but the man who got her pregnant often wasn’t? This is a “double standard” that continues to this day. Somehow, a young woman getting pregnant outside of wedlock is a terrible thing, but it’s understood and accepted that boys “will be boys,” and are going to lose their virginity before they’re married. Even in my community, a girl “sleeping around” became labeled as a “whore” or “slut” very quickly, but men who had just as many or more sexual partners weren’t labeled anything at all (that isn’t exactly true, I had no problem calling them whores, but I was certainly the exception, not the norm. I ended up not getting along well with most guys in high-school and college, because I was never interested in hearing about their latest “sexual conquest,” and I wasn’t afraid to tell them exactly what I thought of their behavior). You see, being able to get more women was something to brag about. The actions are the same, but one group, people think less of, the other, they don’t, and it’s based purely on gender and the accepted gender roles in our society.

Let’s talk about the value of daughters. In China and many other cultures, sons are more desirable than daughters. This has a lot to do with life-style, and the fact that boys are considered a greater benefit for purposes of labor and earning a living. This mindset has existed and still exists in many places. Just because there’s an immediate survival benefit in having a son doesn’t justify devaluing daughters. Female infanticide, globally, is more common than male infanticide. Still think women are treated fairly?

You’re right, of course, that marriage wasn’t always based on love. Marriage frequently was based on economic and political reasons, and had little to do with how well the couple actually liked each other. Dowries offer a good example of this. Dowries were used for women to attract husbands. If a woman was somehow denied her dowry, it was common practice for an engagement to be canceled. To me, this widespread practice, especially in European culture, points to a woman being valued more for her parents’ wealth, and not for who she is, as a person. There are counter-examples, of course, of women attracting rich and handsome husbands when their family is dirt poor. These examples are called “Fairytales.”

I cringe at the idea of “proper places” based on gender. This is such a common defense for mistreatment of women. Some cultural norms (proper places, if you will) are based on survival, but some are based on nothing more than superstition (and later tradition). In any case, I feel that when a woman’s “proper place” results in unfair treatment, there’s a problem.

I wonder what you think? Do you feel women are valued more for their beauty than who they are? Do you feel that a criminal action against a man has always been considered a crime when committed against a woman, and that the penalties were equal, regardless of the victim? How do you feel about the fact the term double-standard exists, and is so often used to describe the difference between men and women? What do you think of the feminist movement? Is it unnecessary, because women have never been treated as slaves? Is it an example of women “not knowing their place?”

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Do you feel women are valued more for their beauty than who they are? Do you feel that a criminal action against a man has always been considered a crime when committed against a woman, and that the penalties were equal, regardless of the victim? How do you feel about the fact the term double-standard exists, and is so often used to describe the difference between men and women? What do you think of the feminist movement? Is it unnecessary, because women have never been treated as slaves? Is it an example of women “not knowing their place?”
These questions, although all very important, would take hours to discuss, without neccesarily producing anything of value.

I certainly see where you are coming from DD and God knows most of what you say is true, (at least the historical bits) but try to keep an eye open to many of the things in world history that celebrate the feminine.

In China the most worshipped Taoist diety is Pu Sa or Guan Shi Yin Pu Sa a woman, she stands right next to the Buddha and yet often times she is worshipped exclusively. Anywhere a Catholic church exists there is a place for the holy virgin. We refer to our cars, airplanes, ships, even the world as, "She." I have more to say but I really need to run to class; til next I log on then.

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Ikemook
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quote:
Is perspective really that important?
Well, you did ask. You wanted to know how a person could come to "devalue" women, as you put it. Setting aside for the moment that it's not technically "devaluing" a woman, but valuing her differently and for different reasons, you asked the question.

Your solution? Men must learn somewhere to "hate" women. My point? They don't. It's not a matter of a "gap in their logic," as that implies that they share the same fundamental premises concerning women as you. I'm saying that's not necessarily true.

That explains why "they" don't see it as abuse.

Look, if you think perspective isn't that important, then don't ask a question that involves it. And if you want an answer, turn to studies about other cultures, rather than pop psychology.

Both emic and etic viewpoints are important in understanding others. Part of this is because they influence one another. The other part is that YOUR viewpoint is just that--a viewpoint--and it might not necessarily be the right one. If you want to understand another group or person, you need to engage more than just your perspective of them.

Concerning female circumcision,

quote:
The men and women view it as part of the natural order, and the practice isn’t questioned. Sometimes it is; Amnesty International estimates that over 2 million involuntary female circumcisions are being performed every year, mainly in African countries.
Do you oppose the practice where women value it? A number of women who have undergone this procedure say that it is a very meaningful one for them, that they don't feel like a woman if they don't have it done. Do you want to deny them that meaning in their lives?

As for the estimate of the involuntary ones, if that's true, then I agree, it is a problem. The solution? Not sure. Frankly, though, I'm not too trusting of that number, not yet. Activist organizations, in my experience, have a poor history of accurately handling this female circumcision issue.

quote:
From the tribal perspective, all women should undergo this procedure.
No, from the perspective of a certain group of African cultures, and each culture has different procedures with varying degrees of physical damage done. Not from the "tribal" perspective, whatever that is.

Everything else,

quote:
The same can be said about denying women the right to vote. Sure, men felt that it wasn’t a woman’s place in society, and women may have agreed for a time. Their perspective doesn’t change the fact that, from an outside viewpoint, it appears women aren’t treated as full citizens.
*rolls eyes* Oh for Pete's sake, "citizenship" isn't defined by the West. Citizenship in a country is defined by that country. And we're not even talking individual nation-states here, we're talking cultures. If those women saw the treatment as being fair, then there is no issue. If they didn't, then there is. What YOU think of those women's decisions or the culture they live in is irrelevant if they (the women) don't have any issue with it.

quote:
I would go so far as to say that it is sexual mutilation, regardless of what you call it, or what motives you have behind the practice.
Well, if you define that as sexual mutilation, then sure, it is. However, the negative connotations of "sexual mutilation" hardly make the term an accurate description of how it's actually practiced and seen within any given culture. It's a poor definition.

quote:
Still think women are treated fairly?
Straw man arguments don't help your position. I have never claimed that women are or have been treated fairly. I wouldn't claim that all women have or are being treated anything.

quote:
In any case, I feel that when a woman’s “proper place” results in unfair treatment, there’s a problem.
My point here: is it your definition of fair that matters, or the definition of the women you claim are being mistreated?

[Edited: Removed the sarcasm, because it's pointless.]

--David

[ September 22, 2007, 12:03 PM: Message edited by: Ikemook ]

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Shigosei
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Syria is currently re-examining its ideas and laws on honor killings in light of the murder of a young woman: A Dishonorable Affair.

Most honor killings are done by families. Do you think that these men love the daughters and sisters that they kill? Does the fact that it's a traditional part of their society excuse it?

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Ikemook
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quote:
Most honor killings are done by families. Do you think that these men love the daughters and sisters that they kill? Does the fact that it's a traditional part of their society excuse it?
1. Maybe, maybe not. I don't know, as I haven't researched those instances much. I'm not going to rule it out simply based on my own feelings on the matter, since those feelings are influenced by my own history and culture.

Do you think it's correct and accurate to apply that one, extreme case to all examples of male-female relations? How reasonable is it to take the worst cases of any given example of female-male relations and apply it liberally to all cases? We condemn political conservatives and liberals when they take the worst examples of each other and apply it to all their opponents. How does that not apply here?

2. Seriously, am I trying to excuse behavior here? Am I saying that being "traditional" automatically makes a certain behavior OK? No, and no.

People derive meaning from a number of sources. In some cases, these sources seem strange or even offensive to our Western eyes. Suppressing these sources of meaning simply because it offends us, or violates what we see (and not necessarily what the "victims" see) as human rights amounts to colonialism, and a particularly insidious form of it at that.

At the very least, even if we are correct, our "opponents" WILL and DO see it as colonialism. And the label of colonialism, especially white European colonialism, is a powerful one in non-European countries. It's an easy way to emotionally rally people who, had we been a little bit more nuanced and appreciative in our approach, might very well have been on our side.

In all this discussion, no one has actually bothered to ask what the women in these "tribal" societies think of the matter. No one has bothered to suggest that we include in this dialog those viewpoints. And yet several people are ready to pass judgment, and possibly even support policies, against these people and their practices.

This relates to my point above, which I will repeat:

quote:
quote:
In any case, I feel that when a woman’s “proper place” results in unfair treatment, there’s a problem.
My point here: is it your definition of fair that matters, or the definition of the women you claim are being mistreated?
Do those women being killed see it as unfair? Do they see it as just, or as meaningful in their lives? I honestly doubt it (which, admittedly, doesn't make it impossible). Which would put it in a different category than most female circumcisions, now wouldn't it? In those cases, evidence points to some women disliking them, some women feeling more "womanly" by them and finding meaning in them.

Which makes that situation (of female rights) and others like it more complicated than a simple one of "women being oppressed." The women involved have differing views on the matter.

Again, I've made two points concerning the issue of women's rights, as it's been discussed on this thread. Point 1 is that DevilDreamt's original post, which asks the question of how men can come to oppress women and still love them, is one that necessarily involves multiple perspectives. I was pointing out that if one believes said actions to be the proper way to treat women, then one can still love them. One can even believe that committing said and discussed actions is a form of love.

Structurally, it's very similar, if not exactly similar, to how we express love. It's the content that differs.

Point 2 is that the situation is more than the simplistic one exemplified in the statement "women are being oppressed." In some cases, we have evidence that some, perhaps many, women see these actions taken against them as meaningful, whereas others obviously don't. In other cases, we have no evidence either way, though the fact that women in the aforementioned cases do see them as meaningful suggests that women in these cases might have done so as well (apologies for the crappy sentence, I can't think of another way to say it).

It's. More. Complicated. Than. It. Is. Being. Made. Out. To. Be.

Gotta go. Meeting some friends tonight.

[Edited to add the second point, which obviously is rather important ^_~]

--David

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Tatiana
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Some slaves think slavery is what they deserve, too. That doesn't make it true.

Suicidally depressed people think they should just die and cease encumbering the world with their presence. Again, this doesn't make it a good idea.

Many many abused people think they deserve it and their abusers are being patient and good to put up with them the way they do and only beat them up some of the time. It doesn't make it true.

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DevilDreamt
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This is an interesting topic to me, and I’m pleased with all of the interesting ideas being tossed around. I wrote some of my initial thoughts to those quotes, and everyone’s been very insightful, and it’s given me a lot to think about concerning gender roles.

David, you may recall a string of questions I asked at the end of my last post. “Do you still think women are treated fairly?” although not with those questions, was a serious one. At that point in my typing, I had wondered about the opinions of the people who doubted there being truth in Yoko’s statement. Perhaps you weren’t one of those people; I thought you were. You’re right that much hinges on perspective here, and much hinges on a definition of fairness.

There were and still are people in America who will argue tooth and nail for slavery, saying that it’s the natural and correct role for certain people to live in, based on race alone. They will argue that slaves can be treated fairly. They’ll still be slaves, of course, but fair treatment of a slave is different from fair treatment of a non-slave. And there are slaves that would agree with this. Were those slaves taught their natural place in the world from the day they were born? Absolutely. If a slave believes it is his role in life to be a slave, does that make it okay? Does the fact that he’s never known any other life and has been taught from a very early age that he is inferior to whites matter when trying to judge his situation from a moral standpoint?

Let me try to illuminate this more: I have a problem with slavery. It’s easy for me to imagine a person having a different ethnic background, and when I see someone treated poorly just because of the color of their skin, I think, “Wow, that’s not fair.”

Women may agree with their role in society, but does that make it okay? Should we try to show a woman or a slave that there are other roles in life they can play, that there are other ways of thinking?

Thank you for the link, Shigosei. I will use that situation as my example. Please read at least the first page of the story, if you’re not familiar with it. If we alter only Zahra’s gender, what is the end result? She would not have been killed by her older brother. I do not feel she was treated fairly.

I know a large part of the problem is that I view all human life as being equally valuable (there are strong examples of this belief in both Eastern and Western philosophy, and there are strong counter-examples in both). I know that not everyone agrees with me on this point.

A lot of this has to do with who you are, as a person. When confronted with a moral or ethical dilemma, do you use your own moral code to judge the situation, or do you use the moral codes of the people around you? I use my own moral code.

I don’t think this makes me close minded (although I could be wrong). I am capable of understanding the way another person sees a situation, but being able to understand why they believe a certain thing is different from allowing their actions to continue, especially when those actions are harmful to another person.

quote:
Originally posted by Ikemook:
*rolls eyes* Oh for Pete's sake, "citizenship" isn't defined by the West. Citizenship in a country is defined by that country. And we're not even talking individual nation-states here, we're talking cultures. If those women saw the treatment as being fair, then there is no issue. If they didn't, then there is. What YOU think of those women's decisions or the culture they live in is irrelevant if they (the women) don't have any issue with it.


What if only 25% of the women feel they should have the right to vote? How about 48%? Do we wait until 51% of the women feel they are being mistreated before we do anything? What if only 5% feel that way? What if, in that 5%, one of them was your daughter, or sister, or wife, or hell, what if it was you? Do you simply bow to the rest of society and continue to get trampled on, or do you try to fight against society? What if fighting against societal norms alienates you from your family and friends and may even get you killed?

Of course what I think doesn’t matter. I’m just one person, in a society obsessed with democracy, majority rule, and statistics in general, I’m all too aware of how insignificant my opinions are. Doesn’t mean I can’t talk about it. Doesn’t mean that when I personally see someone being treated as less than human (according, of course, to my definition of human, the one that values all life equally) that I can’t try to help them at my own risk.

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Synesthesia
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quote:
My point here: is it your definition of fair that matters, or the definition of the women you claim are being mistreated?
Not this cultural relatism thing. It's really REALLY beginning to aggravate me.
You can't just state, "Oh, this is their way of life, they are happy this way." When it's totally not the case.
When it comes to abuse, FGM, honour killings, accepting a lower place in society, it's so engrained into a person they don't consider questioning it. Perhaps religion can play a role in it, teaching people that it's god's will that they live like this, and that one day they will be rewarded in heaven for their suffering on Earth, especially in the case of Fundamentalist Islam.
A handful of women at risk to their lives will try to defy the culture they came from. Does that mean that the rest are happy with their lives? With having husbands that are abusive, and sex that is anything but pleasant due to having a tiny hole instead of a functioning sex organ?
It's not like that for all women in the middle east, in parts of Africa, but quite a few of them endure this all the time. It's hard to tell them, "You don't have to put up with this, you can live a better life" if this is all they know, if the whole entire culture and religion supports this sort of thing.
It wasn't too long ago when things were like this in the US, when not all women were in abusive relationships, but quite a few were. How many of them had an escape route? How many of them had help before sometime in the 70s or something?
If a person is in an abusive situation you can't say something as stupid as "They like living like that." because you don't understand and chances are, they don't. They hate it, but oppression keeps them from doing anything about it. And it just gets passed on to their childrena nd their children's children until people decide they don't want to put up with it anymore.

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Ikemook
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Tatiana,

quote:
Some slaves think slavery is what they deserve, too. That doesn't make it true.
Do they find meaning in their slavery? Is it what they desire? If the answer to those questions is "yes," then what's the issue? Granted, I doubt there are many who desire this. But would you stand in the way of someone who did?

quote:
Suicidally depressed people think they should just die and cease encumbering the world with their presence. Again, this doesn't make it a good idea.
Methinks that is irrelevant. Suicidally depressed people are suffering either social psychological issues or have a genetic tendency towards depression that happens to be expressing itself. It doesn't have the cultural importance that some of the other examples listed have or had.

quote:
Many many abused people think they deserve it and their abusers are being patient and good to put up with them the way they do and only beat them up some of the time. It doesn't make it true.
Admittedly, this is a tricky one. If the abuse isn't a cultural standard, then it's a problem. If it isn't, then I'm at an impasse. I'll have to think about that one some more.

The key thing is to judge these against their cultural context. Simply listing off decontextualized examples is pointless; in our society, all of these would be unacceptable. In another society, it might be different, and only by understanding as much as possible the full meaning of these activities within those other societies can we make reasonable, informed decisions as to how to act.

--David

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Ikemook
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DevilDreamt,

quote:
David, you may recall a string of questions I asked at the end of my last post. “Do you still think women are treated fairly?” although not with those questions, was a serious one. At that point in my typing, I had wondered about the opinions of the people who doubted there being truth in Yoko’s statement. Perhaps you weren’t one of those people; I thought you were. You’re right that much hinges on perspective here, and much hinges on a definition of fairness.
I agree with Yoko's statement, and I can think of many practices in other cultures that I find abhorrent. But without understanding how those actions are given meaning within the context of those cultures, I cannot make an informed decision about them. Because no matter what I believe, what matters most is those individual human lives. If I believe that they are being abused and dehumanised, but they don't see it that way, and I can't convince them otherwise through rational discourse, at equal levels of power (IE, individual to individual), then I have no right to interfere in their life. It isn't a matter of what I desire; it's a matter of the kind of power I can reasonable and justifiably employ in achieving my desire (my desire being to help them be more free, in the context of what I see as freedom).

Rights, be they women's rights or men's rights or human rights, are of instrumental value. They serve humanity. If an individual human doesn't agree with me that their rights are being violated, I'm powerless.

Note that I'm talking on the level of individuals. I'm not over-generalized all individual women as "women." I'm trying to point out that there are differences in how different women in the same cultural context see actions. Those women who desire not to be a part of those actions shouldn't be a part of them. Those women who desire to be a part of those actions should be allowed to do so. We have to take care, however, to remember that these actions are often social as well as individual in nature and meaning, and that part of the value attached by individuals is the cultural value, which is transmitted socially. In other words, those individuals who want to take part in that cultural meaning have to have some sort of social network. Eradicate that social network, and you eradicate the means of transmitting that meaning; in doing so, you have essentially trampled on those individuals lives.

To use a different example: some people believe in a big guy in the sky. This big guy, who created the world and created them, sometimes punishes them. They feel this punishment is justified, because this big buy isn't just any big buy--he's THE big guy. These people derive strong meaning not only from their believe in this guy's existence, but from his punishment as well--they see it as help, as a sort of harsh love that helps save them from making even greater mistakes in the future.

I think this is very odd. I find the reliance on this big guy for one's meaning in life to be close to, if not actually, irresponsible: one's meaning in one's life should come from the content of one's life and is one's own responsibility. It should not be ceded to some big dude in the heavens. I find the appreciation of this punishment he gives ridiculous.

Do I, however, have any right to outlaw this? Don't these people deserve to believe what they believe, and have the kinds of social institutions that can transmit this belief?

They most certainly do. Those who disagree, can chose not to be a part of those social structures. Might it suck for them? Yeah, sure, it might. Might enough leave that the structures change, and become something else, perhaps something less silly to me? Yeah, sure, and that's great. But I'm not going to force them, by legislation or threat, to do so. I might try to demonstrate rationally, through discourse on equal levels of power, that these beliefs aren't a good thing. But that's the limit of my power.

quote:
There were and still are people in America who will argue tooth and nail for slavery, saying that it’s the natural and correct role for certain people to live in, based on race alone. They will argue that slaves can be treated fairly. They’ll still be slaves, of course, but fair treatment of a slave is different from fair treatment of a non-slave. And there are slaves that would agree with this. Were those slaves taught their natural place in the world from the day they were born? Absolutely. If a slave believes it is his role in life to be a slave, does that make it okay?
1. We need to recognize that there are many forms of slavery, and the slavery of Africans in America was a particularly nasty kind.

2. It's safe to say, given historical evidence, that most slaves desired to be free. Heck, they practically built a religion around it.

3. Those slaves that desire to be slaves, and create structures that transmit this, should be allowed to do so. How many slaves would do so? Who knows, but I'm willing to bet money that, in the case of African American slavery, there wouldn't be many.

4. The fact that some white dude argues that slavery is fine, and that slaves should be treated fairly, is irrelevant. Honestly, I thought this was rather obvious, as I've said it many times. What matters is what the supposedly oppressed individual feels. If they don't like it, then we have a problem. If they find it meaningful, if they don't see it as oppression, then there's not much that can be done.

quote:
Does the fact that he’s never known any other life and has been taught from a very early age that he is inferior to whites matter when trying to judge his situation from a moral standpoint?
Have you ever been a slave? Have you ever been a roman gladiator? Have you ever been a hunter-gatherer? The fact that one individual can only lead one life, and might not know of alternatives, is a given. Now, if you want to try to explain to him that this is a problem, sure, go ahead. If you want to show him alternatives, and he'll consent, be my guest.

There's a difference between rational discourse between individuals and bludgeoning with state power. Understandably, I might not have made this point clear in my earlier posts. Hopefully this post, especially the portion immediately above, makes this more understandable.

quote:
Women may agree with their role in society, but does that make it okay? Should we try to show a woman or a slave that there are other roles in life they can play, that there are other ways of thinking?
If you want to show them, fine, show them. But don't show them through force (which is traditionally how people have "shown" others the error of their ways). Activist groups (not all, but some) against female circumcision often tried, especially in the early days, to get pressure put against the countries where culture groups that practiced one of the techniques existed. They almost always ignored the variation in the practice, instead presuming that the worst--infibulation (I believe it's called), which only comprises about 15% of female circumcision--is what happened everywhere. And so, under pressure from western governments, African governments tried to outlaw this.

The result?

The practitioners of it became even more stubborn about the practice, and cried out "Colonialism" in outrage. And understandable response, given the fact that they were never actually engaged in a discussion as to why they practiced this, or what the women undergoing it felt about it.

quote:
A lot of this has to do with who you are, as a person. When confronted with a moral or ethical dilemma, do you use your own moral code to judge the situation, or do you use the moral codes of the people around you? I use my own moral code.
1. One can view all human life as equally valuable and still recognize that humans create value in their life in different ways, and that this is their right to do so.

2. You could always, you know, try to examine the other person's moral code. You could try to understand it, to gain a better, more nuanced idea of the situation.

And let us all please be honest with ourselves: we are NOT in a moral or ethical dilemma. We are not being immediately confronted, right now next to our computers, with some little girl about to undergo a female circumcision technique. We are discussing this at a distance, and we can afford to be more open to alternative explanations and belief systems. We can afford to expand our ethical and moral systems to include a bit more nuance than previously, yes?

quote:
What if only 25% of the women feel they should have the right to vote? How about 48%? Do we wait until 51% of the women feel they are being mistreated before we do anything? What if only 5% feel that way? What if, in that 5%, one of them was your daughter, or sister, or wife, or hell, what if it was you?
The right to vote is a slightly different scenario. Since it is rather critical in any given representative democracy, and it's both ideologically and logistically pointless to try and give some women who want to vote the option, and the rest who don't leave alone, it's best just to give all women the right to vote, and allow them to choose.

Rights of any kind are going to trample over somebody's feet, to a certain extent, and rights of any kind are going to involve cultural change. In order for rights to work, people have to believe in them; they have to be a part of a society, structurally, and passed down like any other cultural attribute. So, any imposition of any rights--cultural, individual, historic, what have you--will involve some sort of culture change. They key is to make this as fair as possible to all parties, to make sure the cultural change is as compatible with individual cultures' wishes as possible, and to recognize the circumstantial nature of much of this, which is mostly due to the great diversity in cultural practice.

There are probably other key elements too that I've forgotten, but I'm kinda tired (didn't get much sleep), so if I remember them I'll repost.

quote:
Do you simply bow to the rest of society and continue to get trampled on, or do you try to fight against society?
That's up to you.

quote:
What if fighting against societal norms alienates you from your family and friends and may even get you killed?
Then that's the risk you take. You can't complain, however honestly, about someone else's belief system or practices and then honestly expect them to be all love and kisses towards you.

quote:
Of course what I think doesn’t matter. I’m just one person, in a society obsessed with democracy, majority rule, and statistics in general, I’m all too aware of how insignificant my opinions are. Doesn’t mean I can’t talk about it. Doesn’t mean that when I personally see someone being treated as less than human (according, of course, to my definition of human, the one that values all life equally) that I can’t try to help them at my own risk.
Fair enough. But until the point comes that you have to help them at your own risk, it doesn't hurt to try and understand the situation you're getting into, and to see if you might be wrong.

Not saying that you're not doing that now; "you" here refers to people in general, not you, DevilDreamt, in particular.

--David

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