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And, as for the strictures imposed on women during menstruation, I think they were yet another set of rules, invented by us blokes to establish more dominance.
Try living in Afghanistan or Iraq and see what it looks like for women over there! I can think of few societies in which the men work harder or longer hours (including running the home) than women - whether you're talking hunter-gatherers or modern day Britain.You mention the Mother in law as having power - a little and very localised, possibly. That was only a way of getting more out of the subserviant women of the household.
If you choose to view Women's condition from the standpoint of the men who are 'justifying' it then you will see it from that perspective.
I think you are distancing yourself from the main issue of male dominance and just quoting a potted social history. Historians are well known for avoiding making judgements in case they 'cloud the issue'.
And 'issues' have a place.Imagine waking up in Afghanistan tomorrow morning. Would you rather wake up as a man or as a woman?That's my point.And, if you were a woman, tomorrow, you probably wouldn't be allowed to post a reply.
you did not ask there what the women's reason for creating the rules might be,
It is rather a rosy view if you believe that the average Afghan man has any substantial power.
But the real problem in Afghanistan is the struggle between what is seen as foreign influence, . . . an artificial concept, defined by what it is against rather than what it is for) versus outside influence.
And would be driven round the bend by one who couldn't keep up with my thought processes
Quoteyou did not ask there what the women's reason for creating the rules might be,That presupposes that everyone, to whom rules apply, has a say in making the rules. There are many instances to the contrary.
QuoteIt is rather a rosy view if you believe that the average Afghan man has any substantial power.Everything is relative. He can certainly beat his wife as much as he wants!
QuoteBut the real problem in Afghanistan is the struggle between what is seen as foreign influence, . . . an artificial concept, defined by what it is against rather than what it is for) versus outside influence.Are you implying that everything would be hunky dory for women in Afghanistan if it weren't for the fact they have been at war for a long time?
There really aren't any societies that have not been affected by war, in any case.
I don't think it is war that makes the difference; I think it is simple economics. and the ability of one group of people to have influence over another group.
Evolution has ensured that we have mechanisms to inhibit us from killing each other over minor issues but it has not stopped dominant humans from dominating other humans. You could say that it is the reason we have been so 'successful'. But, if you want to think of us as being, in any way, superior and as having something special abut us, then there are other issues to consider. Just because things have been that way for a long time, it doesn't mean that they are right or fair. Groups are very reluctant to give up any power that they have already established and will use all their efforts to maintain it - not least by reasoned arguments and laws. The easiest way to avoid doing anything about the situation of women is to argue that it is, in fact, a good situation and does not need changing. The same could be said about the 'working classes', slaves or third world factory workers. Convincing oneself that there is no problem is easy, when it is in one's interest to keep the status quo.
I think there is little question that men in many (most?) traditional societies have markedly more power than is necessarily good for anyone, but
1. On the question of strictures on women during menstruation. You may or may not have noticed, but it's an inherently pretty messy business. Frankly, that women did (and do) manage without the sanitary products now available strikes me as pretty impressive. I mean, I wouldn't *want* to go out and do stuff during my period if they weren't available to me. 2. That being the case, it would be quite difficult to sustain much of a role in public life when for a 4-7 day period each month you were shackled to mess, and washing cloths, and trying not to get too much blood on the furniture (and the idea of all women having regular, predicatable periods is a total myth.. so it would be difficult for many to ensure things are scheduled round it).
The whole thing is about spheres of influence. Women, often older women, may have dominance in the home (not sure how this applies in different cultures), especially where several generations live together, but if men have control over who leaves the home and when then they have a much more important form of power. For one thing, it leaves women under the matriarch in a position of total subservience.
The idea that this provides a significant amount of protection for women in general is laughable.
Whilst for those who have a family to protect them it may be OK, and whilst it may not be ideal they won't starve, for those who end up alone despite this the outlook is extraordinarily grim, because they will be total outcasts, beyond even the men who have nowhere to go (and indeed, to take a non-Afghan example, there was until not long enough ago an expectation that widows in some cultures throw themselves on their husbands' funeral pyres).
All legislation which differentiates between men and women is in my view insidious, the only binary difference between the sexes is the difference in roles in child bearing (note I say bearing not rearing). Beyond that, men are on average stronger, women are on average possesed of smaller hands and thus better at fiddly production line type tasks. More women may wish to stay home with the kids for a while, but some men who would also like to do so are currently, even in Britain, given odd looks outside the school gates if they are the principle carer.. it's certainly assumed that mum is not on the scene.If men hold the keys to education, to earning, to independence, then however it came about it's wrong, bad, and should be changed as fast as possible wherever possible. I don't acknowledge cultural tradition as an argument on this one. But on the other hand, trying to force the issue too fast will tend to lead to a backlash by those who currently have the power and are thus in a position of strength. Which ain't gonna help anyone.
Where have I made any argument for keeping the status quo, about anything?
how we should seek to solve the problems of tomorrow.
Reading your past comments, I seem to read that women's fortunes, both past and present, have not been all that bad. Indeed, your first comment involves the word 'myth'.
QuoteWhere have I made any argument for keeping the status quo, about anything?That seems, precisely what you have been doing; justifications and explanations with no comments as to the morality of the situation. A lot of the problems suffered by women are explicable in terms of social history - but are they excusable, from a modern standpoint? Is this not a forum to discuss morals?
Quotehow we should seek to solve the problems of tomorrow.OK, let's do just that.But the fate of women will still be a problem unless the situation is sorted out by our trying to solve the problems of today. We could start with the dowry problem, female infanticide and the obscene practice of 'honour killings'. Then there is 'rape as a form of ethnic cleansing'. . . .You might, at least, feel able to condemn such things rather than to explain them in terms of their history.
So is there any point in trying to change things?
don't judge others badly merely because they are not in your shoes, nor you in theirs
How about certain "religious" organisations where the man can have multiple wives, who benefits from this? The same religion, when the man is excommunicated his wives are either shared out amongst the other men or given to one single man, who benefits from that situation?
Quotedon't judge others badly merely because they are not in your shoes, nor you in theirsI don't have to be in the shoes of a woman, who has been set on fire by a husband because she has transgressed in some way, to know that the practice is just not right. Battered husbands is only a significant occurrence in disfunctional sectors of our own society, remember. Like male rape - it is nothing like as common as the other way round. and cannot be used as a counter argument. Male rape is 99.99% male-on-male, in any case.But, really, A-S, you are just kidding us.You really do have some empathy with the oppressed,You don't really excuse abuse on the grounds of tradition.Do you?
But that would imply that historic societies were 'broken' societies - and while all societies (including our own) are imperfect, it would not make sense to regard them as 'broken'.
oops, i did mean to add that some of the "extra" wives are between the ages of 11 and 17. Simply put it does not matter if the "wife" is a child. This does still happen, and is happening right now in places in the US.
No, don't think I said that. I think what I said was that it wasn't ideal. What I meant to imply was that, as with so many things, technology has now moved on and we ought to be able to do better.
I take your point about the difference between intention and outcome, but I would say that if we're going to compare systems at all it has to be the outcomes and not the intentions (in whatever woolly way we define intentions... whose intentions? those of the writers of the rules? those of the people implimenting the rules?)
And about independence vs responsibility... don't see how you can have one without the other...
The whole thing is about spheres of influence. Women, often older women, may have dominance in the home (not sure how this applies in different cultures), especially where several generations live together, but if men have control over who leaves the home and when then they have a much more important form of power.
But, really, A-S, you are just kidding us.You really do have some empathy with the oppressed,You don't really excuse abuse on the grounds of tradition.Do you?
it is in my view unjust to label huge swathes of them as evil oppressors
Quoteit is in my view unjust to label huge swathes of them as evil oppressorsIt may be taking 'justness' a bit far if one doesn't condemn what is clearly a cruel action on the grounds that it 'may' involve a judgement of the person carrying out the action. Whoever is setting fire to a woman, the experience of the woman, surely, deserves at least some sympathy. The man may be following accepted tradition but that takes none of the woman's pain away. There must be a stage where the analytical approach can be set aside and an emotional response is quite appropriate.Is it possible to visualise the above scenario without one's emotions telling you that is is just plain WRONG? I should have thought that it would not be too much to admit to.
setting light to people always has been, and remains, a tool of war
Quotesetting light to people always has been, and remains, a tool of warWhat has that got to do with the woman - the individual, in a bad situation? And how does your statement justify anything? How can you condone a culture where this is accepted as just? Do you have no absolutes in your life? Try imagining it was happening to you. Would you be quite as uninvolved? Would you excuse the act on the grounds that you couldn't really condemn your torturer as being a bad person? I don't think so.I can't continue this. Every time I introduce an idea based on personal suffering , you skate around the subject with abstract ideas and intellectual fencing.My point is that all this stuff should be taken very personally and, where possible, openly condemned - not just discussed like how many angels there are on a pinhead.When politicians and rulers can divorce themselves from what they are doing, they order many unspeakable things. Unspeakable in an absolutte sense - not just relatively unfortunate or not in the best interests of someone, they are actually bad things. Sometimes the unspeakable act represents the lesser of two evils but, in many social situations, the acts carried out against oppressed sections of society have no justification at all. A disinterested attitude is not justified, either. I cannot see how you can reduce every moral statement or question to simple logic. Isn't humanity part of your vocabulary?We will have to stick to dry, inanimate subjects like Physics - about which you have some very respectable views, A-S.