Men and Women

Genders

In 2018 there is much discussion about the lack of female representation in positions of leadership in both politics and the corporate world. The response from our political leaders, in particular, was embarrassing. The coalition government decided that the Prime Minister's department conduct a study into why women seem to be lagging behind in such opportunities. Only a men's club could possibly undertake this as a serious assignment.The answer to their question, which most women understand inherently, is that men and women are very much different human beings. Men need and crave power much more than women simply because they are less self-assured. Men are more insecure, afraid and defensive. Much of it, they say, is because, from the time they were born, their mothers were in complete control of their lives. That and simple genetics. And it is the ones who are most afraid, who have such a great need for power and control, that ultimately rise to the top because they put in the extra effort. This is seen as admirable and couched in terms such as “motivation” and “aspiration”. In reality, it is a rather sad and pathetic reflection upon the male of our species.

Men have long excluded women from traditional institutions. When I was growing up, women were required to sit in the “lounge” part of the pub and club, but they were certainly not encouraged to patronise the establishments. But going way back, women were seen as inferior. They were controlled by their husbands, and they were completely dependent on him. Women were often told what to do, what to wear, and how to act. They were seen as fragile and dainty and shown little respect. This suppression of women is portrayed in Kate Chopin's "Desiree's Baby" and Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Birthmark." The stories show two women who are controlled by their husbands. Both women are portrayed as delicate and frail, as women were seen in the past. Their husbands' needs for perfection and control contribute to the deaths of the women in the end.

In recent years I have personally observed gender discrimination. Women were excluded, for example, from full membership of both golf and bowls clubs. In the case of clubs of national and international standing, women were simply barred. Thankfully, I was involved in the establishment of the Jamberoo Golf Club, basically founded by a woman, Elsie Churchill. Soon after it's inauguration, women were made full members, with all the rights and privileges of the male members. I probably didn't appreciate the significance of this until I moved to to South Coast town of Tathra. The President of the golf club, Bruce Tate, would often proclaim that “women will never be full members of this club as long as I am involved”.Interestingly, Bruce had never prepared a meal, done any housework, or changed a nappy.

Academics have long been interested in the suppression of women. It is identified as widespread and pervasive over many cultures as long as human life existed. Women were overtly seen as inferior in the past. They were controlled by their husbands, and they were completely dependent on him. Women were often told what to do, what to wear, and how to act. They were seen as fragile and dainty and shown little respect.

Most women throughout history have been enslaved by men. Until recent times, women throughout Europe, Middle East and Asia were unable to have any influence over the political, religious or cultural lives of their societies. They couldn’t own property or inherit land and wealth, and were frequently treated as mere property themselves. Most gruesomely of all, some cultures practised what anthropologists have called ritual widow murder (or ritual widow suicide), when women would be killed (or kill themselves) shortly after the deaths of their husbands. This was common throughout India and China until the twentieth century, and there are still occasional cases nowadays. Even in the so-called 'enlightened' society of ancient Greece, where the concept of democracy supposedly originated, women had no property or political rights, and were forbidden to leave their homes after dark

There have been attempts to explain the oppression of women in biological terms. For example, the sociologist Stephen Goldberg suggested that men are naturally more competitive than women because of their high level of testosterone. This makes them aggressive and power-hungry, so that they inevitably take over the high status positions in a society, leaving women to the more subordinate roles. However, in my view the maltreatment of women has more deep-rooted psychological causes.

The oppression of women stems largely from men’s desire for power and control. The same need which, throughout history, has driven men to try to conquer and subjugate other groups or nations, and to oppress other classes or groups in their own society, drives them to dominate and oppress women. Since men feel the need to gain as much power and control as they can, they steal away power and control from women. They deny women the right to make decisions so that they can make them for them, leave women unable to direct their own lives so that they can direct their lives for them. Ultimately, they’re trying to increase their sense of significance and status, in an effort to offset the discontent and sense of lack created by humania. Women, in general, have a much lesser need for power and control, much more interested in nurchuring than mastering.

Our primary driving emotion is fear, and men are afraid of women because they posses the power to give birth and to set the terms of a physical relationship. Men, largely, resent the sexual power that women have over them. This is unfortunately encouraged by religions - that instincts and sensual desires are base and sinful. Men associated themselves with the “purity” of the mind, and women with the “corruption” of the body. They might be able to force women to cover their bodies and faces and make them live like slaves, but any woman is capable of arousing powerful and uncontrollable sexual impulses inside them at any moment. The last 6000 years of man’s inhumanity to woman can partly be seen as a revenge for this.

We can only be thankful that, in some parts of the world at least (including Australia), this antagonism, and the oppression that it leads to, has begun to fade away. But it obviously still has a long way to go.

Geoff Mooney.