There’s a global suppression of women and girls, and if we are to live in a civilized world, it has to stop. It’s found everywhere from Pakistani tribal areas, where a father felt free to bury his daughter alive because some boys looked at her, to the highest levels of some prestigious colleges and corporations, where all leaders are male, and women are considered not capable of responsibility.
Females are nearly universally considered less important, less valuable. Both the Bible and the Koran say that a woman is worth half what a man is worth.
Both the Bible and the Koran say that
a woman is worth half what a man is worth.
The recent case of public rape and murder by four young men in India caused worldwide outrage that continued even after they were tried and sentenced to death. It indicates that the treatment of women everywhere is far from enlightened. It is clear that men, some men, in all parts of the world assume that any woman is theirs for the taking, a disposable commodity. Where do these young men come from? Why do they develop this barbaric attitude toward females?
The pickup-truck culture, ubiquitous in our South and other rural parts of the US, recently gave rise to a popular decal for the tailgate depicting a bound and gagged woman who appears to be held captive on the bed of the truck. Unfortunately, this is not even original. There have been numerous such decals, all of them depicting bound and gagged women, sometimes with a smirking male looking back at them. The clear message is that women are equivalent to livestock, to be forcibly controlled and used or abused as wanted.
One clear message is that women
are equivalent to livestock.
Involuntary prostitution is far too prominent, and poverty is a common cause. A third world father sells a daughter into prostitution, believing her earnings will help his bad situation. Young women are tricked into believing they will have legitimate jobs overseas. Runaway teens are trapped by bad choices. Women become addicted and trapped. We see these kinds of cases even here in San Francisco.
Globally, girl babies are often seen as an unwanted burden, while boys are desirable and pampered. Authorities in a number of countries have outlawed fetal sex selection, and in some cases have made sex-determining ultrasound illegal. This has not entirely stopped either practice, and a generation of Chinese boys has come of age with no available marriage partners, sometimes solved by shady operations that kidnap women for these men to purchase them.
Because of the preference for males,
a generation of Chinese boys has come of age
with no available marriage partners.
Cultures in several parts of the world manage girls like farm animals or beasts of burden. They are kept out of school and given heavy workloads from an early age. Muslim radicals have thrown acid on girls who have dared to go to school. Women performing humanitarian tasks or teaching have been murdered by men, as have female professionals.
Honor killings are not uncommon, even in the US, although they are illegal everywhere. In many such cases, a woman is the victim of rape. This is assumed to be her fault, in spite of the obvious stupidity of such a view, and a male member of her family is assigned to murder her in order to restore family honor. In India, “bride burning” is illegal, but occurs anyway. A newly wed woman displeases the husband’s family, usually for some bogus reason regarding money. The males of her new family arrange for a kitchen fire in which she perishes. Suttee, the involuntary burning of a wife on her husband’s funeral pyre, is also illegal, but happens.
Family murder of women and girls persists.
Forced marriage of very young girls persists.
Clitorectomy continues to be practiced, for reasons that make no sense, and sexually cripples young girls for the rest of their lives. More than a few lives are lost to infections. In a few places, doctors have curtailed the practice by performing a minimal cutting under hospital conditions that seems to satisfy social requirements. It beats a brutal butchering with a dirty knife, but doesn’t change the underlying attitudes and practices.
The practice of forced marriage continues. In a recent case a very young girl was sold into marriage to a man six times her age, who killed her by seizing his “marriage rights”. Fortunately, the trend is toward laws establishing a marriageable age for girls, which also is sometimes ignored.
However, an arranged marriage for a young couple can be benevolent if it is not coerced and they are of marriageable age. It should be practiced more often by modern Americans. Dating, love, and marriage tends to be a hit or miss enterprise in the US. Couples find themselves stuck together by accident, too often with regrettable results. Cooler heads are often better able to consider the virtues of potential mates, who are then introduced to each other, and nature allowed to take its course, whatever that course might be. In a country where over half of marriages end in divorce, this surely would be an improvement.
A well-funded social program
can halt fetal injury and child abuse
in the next generation.
In the west we like to flatter ourselves that we are better than such barbarisms as the “morals police” in Iran, male gangs that roam around looking for women to beat up because a strand of hair is showing, or any made-up excuse. But we have our equivalents in abuse of females, of wives, girlfriends, mothers, and children by men whose anger is out of control, or who believe that it is their right to hit females. There is a great need for safe houses for women everywhere.
Some of this abusive behavior could be permanently ended by well-funded social programs that teach pregnant women about the terrible consequences of drugs and alcohol on their babies, and teach young parents how to deal with the difficulties that arise with a new baby in the house, and how to rear and avoid abusing their children. If this were the case, the payoff would arrive only when that baby became a healthy, normal adult who treats others with respect. This person’s development might otherwise have been retarded from serious fetal injury, then child abuse and failure in school, which most often leads to a life of crime and abusive behavior. This lengthy correction for the sake of all future generations is known to be effective, and certainly cost-effective, and trying to change an adult who was seriously injured in the womb is not.
In some places, particularly poor places where public education is not free, families cannot afford to send all their children to school, so they choose one child, almost always the oldest male. He may be a lazy dolt, and his sister the ambition and brains of the family, but he is always the one chosen. Even in the West, people often limit education for the girls of the family on the grounds that they are to become wives and mothers and won’t need it. A 2013 pamphlet and website for the Catholic church advises that women should not be sent to college for that reason, an attitude often echoed by fundamentalist Protestant preachers. Keep ’em barefoot and pregnant, the old “joke” goes.
The recent circus of ill-educated
sexist Republican congressional men
leads me to wonder why there are
any Republican women at all.
Another worldwide tragedy that has been inadequately addressed is deaths from childbirth, which is partially a result of devaluing women and their needs. There are 800 such deaths daily, almost all in Third World nations where hospitals are poorly equipped and far away. Even in the US and UK, however, maternal deaths have increased sharply in the past decade. When the mother survives in Third World settings, it is sometimes with injury such as fistula, which, without surgery, causes her to leak body waste, turning her into a social outcast.
The recent circus of ill-educated sexist Republican congressional men with medieval, barbaric attitudes toward women and almost no understanding of basic reproduction and the needs of women—let alone science—leads me to wonder why there are any Republican women at all. At the very least, these men could use a good junior high sex education course, and preferably an extensive period of attitude adjustment taught by knowledgeable women who aren’t about to take any crap.
It’s not that the world has made no progress toward respecting the lives of females. We have (see this report), and in many cases it’s very significant. But there are also continuously arriving cohorts of newly adult male yahoos who have somehow failed to understand that women are also part of humankind, and are not put on Earth for their amusement and abuse. The job of teaching these young males acceptable behavior will never end.
All of the ill treatment of females is the product of stupidity and cultural barbarism. Too many males, and even some females, assume an inferiority of females that is obviously not true. Women are smaller than men on average, but are no less intelligent or capable of achievement. Moreover, most of the problems of the world are caused by men, hardly a mark of success or superiority.