The Gems of Celebration

Mad Men - Season 2, episode 201 Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson courtesy AMCBetween the ages of six and sixteen I actively avoided girls. To me these creatures appeared alien; far different to my sister, as for some reason she always appeared to be normal, well at least most of the time. I expect that having to grow up with four brothers certainly aided in relating to men. I always remember that she had many friends when I was growing up, a mix of both girls and boys, my eldest brother being a mere 3 years older, they would often mix in the same social circles. I also remember from a young age my post 2nd World War Grandmother, with her cemented early 20th century cultural opinions, would express a warning to both myself and my twin brother about how girls should be avoided, as they’re cruel spiteful creatures, that are both vengeful and selfish! Of course, growing up I learnt that such opinions for the most part was nonsense and perhaps even my Grandmother’s attempt to… Well, I actually have no idea what she was trying to do!? Girls will always remain a mystery to me, but with that mystery comes a fascination, as no matter how hard I try to understand them, all that happens is that more questions get raised. Of course, I could express this bug bear to any number of female friends, all of whom would think that I was being sarcastic for it is my automatic nature, or even cruelty, a second nature. But my questions don’t lie with the individual, they lay with the entire female race. My problem? Feminism.

 All animals are equal but only some are more equal than others George Orwell – Animal Farm

vintage-women-ads-1Since the beginning of time women and men have co-existed. But for reasons that are often argued at the various dinner parties of the last century, men have always taken a commanding role. We have been the hunters, the warriors, the forgers and the builders. Women on the otherhand; the mothers, the cleaners and the cooks. The main reason that is often portrayed as to why women have always taken a back seat in building society is to do with their oppression from the various western incarnations of Christianity and the responsibilities from the natural yearnings of motherhood. But it was only in the 1910′s that women had ever kicked up a fuss about the role they play, why did it take them so long, and how come there were no female uprisings when things were really bad for them? Sure, men have been gits to women, using their physical strength and quickness to anger in order to rule them. But, for how long have we had swords or gun powder? If women were so pissed off with their lot in life, why didn’t they take up arms sooner against men when the physical strength was no longer a factor? In a recent survey carried out by the society against domestic abuse 78% of women in a violent relationship admitted to hitting or attacking their partners first. What’s astonishing, is that less than 6% of men conducted in the same survey admitted to hitting them back. liars, perhaps, but nonetheless, women have had so many chances to gain equality in this so called mans world, yet never before in the 20th Century have they attempted to even claim it!

    Though the sex to which I belong is considered weak you will nevertheless  find me a rock that bends to no wind. Elizabeth I 

Queen_Elizabeth_I_from_NPG_(3)The virgin queen of England, is perhaps one of our countries most reared historical figure heads. if it wasn’t for her, most of the English speaking world would have adopted that ridiculous lisp! She defeated the Spanish King and murdered a vast many Catholics, she was considered to be strong and independent and perhaps one of the greatest Monarchs to grace the British throne. So why wasn’t she the first feminist? She had everything, the power of the throne, the position, the respect of her people and the will of God. If she stood up in court and claimed that women were as intelligent as men, surely our world history would have played out for the better? Perhaps I need to be re-educated in such historic affairs. However I am intelligent, and can use the power of reason and logic to come to my penultimate conclusion. I know that many women wont like this or agree with it, and I completely accept such accusations may be interpreted as being sexist. But please, as you read these final paragraphs, instead of allowing them to upset, consider my arguments.

I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that  differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute. Rebecca West 

women yeah!According to the national academics statistics of 2012 less than 20% of the UK’s professors were female. However, 38% of the UK’s doctors that graduated were female. In education, both sexes receive the same amount of resources, in fact, women have a distinct advantage as there are a number of female only scholarships’ that are open to women, for career paths that they are less interested in. The second to last word of that sentence is the basis for my entire conclusion. I personally think that the vast percentage of women, ie enough to have any kind of impact within a particular field, are not interested in discovery, philosophy and  problem solving. Ask yourself; how many girls do you know that enjoy space exploration, or meta physics? That actively subscribe to New Scientist Magazine or enjoy the calculations of strategy? But then, if I asked you how many girls do you know that are interested in fashion and celebrity culture, the answer will be far greater. Women often express that doors are more often than not, closed for them. However in the world of fashion, which was dominated by men up until 200 years ago, you cant escape the number of female designers that graduate from the worlds fashion schools each year. Women own fashion, its theirs and has been for the last 200 years. Based on the mass, women are the bosses of every industry that they statistically have the most amount of interest, and that leads me to my final point. The reason men have ruled over women for so long is because as a whole, they’re interested in a far greater number of subjects that the majority of women have no such interest, unfortunately for women, these subjects are often the ones that have aided us in our advancement as a species, so men are always taking the limelight for such discoveries. I have a vast number of female friends, but only a few of them are interested in politics, science and how the world works or came to be. These friends are considered gems to me. Not because they remind me of my male friends, as such a statement would be sexist! Its quite simply because, their rare and deserve to be celebrated.

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9 responses to “The Gems of Celebration

  1. ana

    You say women have been dominated since the begginings of times. First, this is not entirely true. At the hunther-gather periods, male and females roles where not everywhere as different than we think. In most tribes women did go hunt with men, and often they brought the big animal back and were the ones ‘preserving it’ on the spot. Plus women did hunt to some extent.
    And then, there were some matriarcal societies, like the oldest europeans tribes were found to be. But anyhow.
    What is certain is that in all ‘civilised’ societies until recently, females where indeed dominated. By civilised I refer to sedentary and populated areas where there were quite some merchants, etc., and where only a proportion but not all the population was producing the food.
    In those societies, women have always been dominated, but they were not the only ones. In those societies, a lot of other groups have always been dominated, until very recently. All the great civilisations had slaves (till christianism kind of forbidded it but there still were serfs, still very close to slaves), and the ‘regular subjects’ that were not aristocrats or warriors where completely submissive to the authority of a minority of hierarchichal dominators.

    Why was there such an oppressing hierarchy for such a long time? The reasons are manifold and complex. One of them is that the more rigid a hierarchy is, the easier it is to maintain. For example, if half the population (women) are submissive to their husbands, a king will only have to exert control upon half the people (men) to have complete authority. Then, if only 50 percent of those males are not slaves, the number of people he has to control for it to result in controlling everybody is even smaller. If of those free men only 10% are ‘noble’, and the others respect, defer, or have to obey them, he ends up having to controll only about 3% of the population, an easy task. This is how keeping people divided makes it easier to controll them.
    Another reason for this hierarchy to arise is that with civilisation and sedentarism people started to accumulate goods, and so theft between cities, war became more complicated to prevent. There was a need for a ‘warrior cast’ whose sole preoccuptaion was protecting the wheat reserves and the such, and for this cast of armed men controlling resources the opportunities for creating a hierarchy were obvious.

    Anyhow, it is unfair to assume like you do from the start that we have to search a more fundamental or important reason for women to have been dominated, then for why the MAJORITY of the people was (completely dominated and living in deep poverty in many cases). Why where there practically no revolutions till the french revolution? I think it is because, when a lot of people live together, as long as there is one army, it will be very hard for the others to uprise as long as they have no solid way of communicating, even if they are much more many and more powerful than the army if they would all act together. If 100 persons upraise in a village, they will all be eradicated very fast, and in a very simple way by the army, whose one of the specificity is the efficient ways of communication that it develops. So you have to have everybody upraising at once. This is hard if they cannot organize and communicate together. For women, it is even harder as they all live in the same homes where their ‘dominators’ are, in equal number. So not only would they have had to all communicate toghether, but also to communicate without their very home comanions know.
    To prevent this, women were mostly kept home and feminine ‘groups’ were suspect. There were only some rare female groups that were less suspect, those who met in the context of religious female work, but even them were closely watched, and suspect if they became too ‘independent, active, wanted too initiate too many things and went out of their humble place’. There is historical evidence of how suspect women with initiative, even small, were at all times. There was a lot of negative prejudice spread concerning those women, and among them stereotypes of the kind your grand mother used, saying : “women are vicous, they betray, dont trust them, they are cruel and spiteful’. Teaching women to stay divided makes it easier to control them, once again.

    (Why did women like queens were not pro feminist? To some extent, they were, and aristocratic women benefited from their help. They did not care much about the rest of the people. One queen once in a while is not powerful enough to change everything, and in many things leaders have their hands tied by culture. Besides, misoginy was so deeply ingrained in culture that even religion advised it, so those queens might have believed it was good that way, or would have had such a habit to see women in a bad way since birth that they would have sincerely shared those prejudices.)

    There are indeed (also we do not need to assume them) some obvious reasons specific to women that explain why everybody wanted and was able to keep women dominated.
    There also are political reasons to keep women dominated, that are : it makes them have more kids cause they have nothing else to do, and at times where there was a strong need for population growth against many horrible sicknesses and wars, the countries that subjugated their women more might have had more arms to work the farm and were richer, and exported their culture.
    There is also the fact that at some points in their lifes (when pregnant) women are in a very bad position to fight, very vulnerable. They also are a bit less strong in general, even if they train.

    Now, do we have to assume that lack of interest in technology, politics, and such is another causal factor of their domination? It seems to me we have to be very careful about that, because lack of interest also looks exactly as a very likely effect and not cause of being dominated for a long time.
    What are the consequences of being dominated? In social animals as well as humans, individuals that become low status produce less serotonine, and they produce double that low amount of serotonine (a neurotransmitter that makes you feel satisfied) if they become hight status.
    Low levels of serotonine are what characterizes depressed people (people feeling easily ashamed, far from ‘high status, respectable’).
    When people are depressed (aka do not feel satisfied) they feel like you feel when you are hungry or thirsty or need to go pee.
    There are also people that have low serotonine levels, but not low enough for us to call them depressed.

    What does this lack of serotonine of low status people do, in both humans and animals? It makes you feel weak, as though you do not have great chances to win fights, something that can increase your chances of survival if you are indeed weak, cause if you would have participated in the fight would have lost) It makes them less interested in achievment(they feel to helpless-insecure to win anyway) and especially in the kind of work that only gives result if you are competent after a certain time, like for humans strategy planning, trying to solve a complicated mathematical problem in a systematic way like mathematicians do.
    It makes them observe with a lot of attention any social cues and people’s expression or feelings especially negative (as they are low status they know they will be the scapegoat if something bad happen and will be too weak to fight, so they’re better predict it and try to avoid it)
    It makes them dependant of other’s approval (liking to be around others, not trusting themselves in a lonely project)

    This acts like a vicous circle, it is the effect of domination, but also work as a cause of further domination, as clearly a more depressed, fight-avoidant, less hopeful person will be more easily to further dominate. Also the fact that others notice this person became less avoidant, interiorized his low status, makes people despise this person and dominate him/her further.

    Today, women’s global serotonine level is on average half that of men! And the number of depressed women is twice that of men.
    This can very well explain why women are more interested into social things, where people like you and thank you, like people with lower serotonine levels sometimes are, then in strategy, politics, and things where you display your own personal competence.

    In subtle ways, women’ environment makes them know they are part of a less leading, lower status, less cool cast since they are childs. If you doubt there are ways in which womens are ‘repressed’ today, it is because repression can be subtle. For example, one does not need to tell you that walking with your left hand over your head is silly, you just feel it is cause nobody does it. Similarly, nobody tells women that occupying space, expressing themselves, desiring men, is silly, but you never see anybody do this, and it feels just he same. Those ‘values’ change slowly, for example it’s been a long time that we are sensibilisated at not despising mentally unhealthy or depressed people, but it reamains a shameful thing nobody likes to talk about.

    But I think you now see why your theory about women’s essential lack of interest in politics as a reason for their domination is ironic in a way.
    It is that the effects of domination and the fact people point them, also act like its causes! So the real CAUSE of this domination, is in fact simply that we didn’t brake this vicious circle.

    Maybe you also had in mind that it would be a good thing to change this cause, the lack of interest, but I just felt like pointing the irony of it being the effect of domination.

  2. ana

    the hopeful thing about this is that as soon as there are more ways to communicate, it becomes harder to dominate people. The french revolution happened not much after it became technologically possible and not too expensive to have newspapers and pamphlets massively distributed even to poor people.
    Now we see another less violent lol example of this with the project everydaysexism that makes people more aware of certain problems and more able to realize that there is something they are willing to do about it.

  3. ana

    *also, women are the bosses of no subject, not even of that where they have interest, like cooking, fashion, drawing, psychology. Those who lead those fields are mostly male, yes, surprising but true.
    Because as soon as it gets systematic, high level, it becomes a struggle to assert achieve your competence, and women are like I explained earlier, less interested in taking up this challenge cause too insecure (because they are not brought up to trust themselve and not feel dominated).

    • Well Ana, thank you kindly for your detailed comments. I especially found the part where you talk of my grandmothers inherent training to warm her grand children that girls are spiteful, she said this to my sister and my two female cousins, which I think highlights your point well. Thank you again for your excellent comments, they were very educational.

  4. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts. The issues you raise are complex and worth stretching our minds over. In the main, I agree with many of your points. That women are so concerned about appearance is not surprising, since one of their major functions is to attract. If they did not attract, they could not have children, which their maternal impulse drives them to. What I find the most interesting are the many different ways women use to attract.

  5. Yes, your problem is feminism! Good luck with that!
    I only wish this was a Women’s day article!

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