I have always tried to grasp why it is that women are regarded as somehow lesser than men in our culture. It never made any sense to me. Even now, some people seem to feel it’s okay to disregard my opinion on everything from science to politics to warfare, simply because I was born with a different set of plumbing. Men and women both feel comfortable with patronizing me in ways they do not seem to dare to do with my male peers.
As a result I struggled with my gender identity. Was I perhaps, more of a boy than a girl? Surely something must have gone wrong, since I loathed dresses as physically restrictive, wanted to play hockey and join Cub Scouts rather than ringette and Girl Guides (not an option when I was of an age to do so), and would rather win the bread than raise the babies.
In my young womanhood I participated in Women’s Spirituality groups trying to find an answer. I came to accept myself as a girl, but decided that the rest of the world was f*cked up. And I believed the answer they gave me because it was the only thing that made sense; the double-standards were about restricting women’s sexuality and thus their fertility. Because motherhood is a provable fact, while fatherhood is an opinion. At least, without DNA testing.
But my world-view changed again as a result of long conversations with my partner. I tend to pair up with strong men and women, not because I’m looking for an alpha to dominate me (sorry, men’s rights guys, you are wrong) but because I have always been a very strong person and I do not want to be with someone I have to carry; I want to be with someone who will be my partner. I have broken people in my relationships. I don’t mean to, and I don’t like it.
In the course of these discussions, my partner brought up examples of cultures in which the traditional roles of dominance based on gender were different. His theory was that it was based on economics.
In order to assure the control of property, society sets up “rules” that delineate haves and have-nots. They are arbitrary and serve to protect whatever the existing power structure is — in our case, traditional patriarchy; which, by the way, is a system where only rich older men benefit, and everyone, even younger men, lose.
This similarly creates a lot of the issues of intersectionality we currently see in the world, such as racism, sexism, classism, ableism, and transphobia. The haves want to keep what they’ve got. It’s why white women are often racist in their feminism, and I think it’s probably why we have gay Republicans. It’s why it’s the grandmothers who force sexist abuses on their granddaughters in their respective cultures, covering everything from why your mother-in-law always glares at you when the house is messy even when you work full-time and your husband doesn’t, to female circumcision. They have to believe that what they’ve been taught to accept is proper behaviour for women, or everything they have suffered will have been for nothing.
It’s why women only call women of a different social class than themselves a “slut.” (There are studies. Look it up.)
Anything that challenges the carefully delineated lines that separate the haves and the have-nots is a specific target for abuse and wrath. It’s why cultures tend to frown on interracial marriages and why those who do not fit the gender binary are the recipients of so much abuse. It’s why there was such opposition to gay marriage. And ultimately, it’s why there is a constant, self-enforcing double standard regarding female sexuality, even in the age of the Pill.
Applying Occam’s Razor, I came to realize that this made much more sense than theories of assured genetic heritage. So now, while I work to fight against all inequalities, I am especially concerned with economic inequality.
The wealthy controllers who own everything have managed to convince us all that if we are poor, we must deserve it. We are lazy, we don’t work hard enough, we have a defect of character; something. And we believe it because either we don’t want to admit that being poor could happen to us and it’s all a matter of luck, or because we would rather believe that *we are at fault* than believing that the deck is stacked against us. Because that, at least, gives us hope.
But it’s not true. It’s not any more true than eating all the right foods or being a good person will save you from Death. Death is coming for all of us, and mostly it’s entirely outside of our control, and nothing can be done about it other than to use your wits and do the best to maximize what the gods gave you.
I have come to believe, as a result of debate and discussion, that only by combating on all of the fronts at once can we change this. Only by confronting intersectional issues and the social attitudes that form them while we are confronting the stacked decks that create economic inequality, can we achieve the goal of the best quality of life for the most people.
Maybe you don’t agree with me. That’s okay. Let’s have a debate about it. Give me your logical reasons. Don’t waste my time by insulting me or calling me stupid or ignorant. Prove me wrong with intelligent debate.
People have done so before.
PS: I have also changed my view of gender, and I would now describe myself as “demi-gender”; mostly I’m a girl, but sometimes, parts of me are not. But that’s another story.
Tell me about a time when a good debate or reasoned discussion made you change your world view!