I and Thou

Close Relationships
  • Feminism

    Feminism can be defined as the alliance of women to end gender-based oppression and to achieve social justice. The heart of feminism is to liberate women from the grip of possessive men and to end discrimination based on gender. In an ideal world, discrimination yields to the principle of equality - each person is a human being with equal rights above and beyond any feature that distinguishes and separates him or her from others. This principle must be learned, practiced and supported in social policy and law since innate tendencies will restore discrimination at a moment's notice.

    Feminism cannot argue that females are made of sugar and spice and everything nice. Women are not necessarily nice and, given the opportunity, women will create social structures that discriminate against men and other women. Females come in different colors, shapes and sizes and can be fiercely competitive.

    Women tend to have subordinate roles to men and have suffered more social injustice based on gender than have men. This claim minimizes the male tendency to discriminate against other men, abuse and harm other men as often as they harm women. Fighting, harming and killing each other are human problems not just a gender problem. In the best case, men control their aggression and killing. Men tend protect and spare women and children, but not always.

    Feminism is not a new phenomenon, but the persistent and often aggressive political activity of women to secure equal opportunity and rights is a perfectly modern and unique expression of feminism. Simone de Beauvoir’s famous book “The Second Sex” [i] was my first encounter with feminism and can be considered one of the early Bibles of the movement. Simone de Beauvoir claimed that “one is not born a women but rather becomes a women.” This argument, of course, is the antithesis of my truth that women are born female and that a society will reflect and often exploit innate feminism, but no society invents the female mind. This contradiction does not, however, invalidate de Beauvoir’s appreciation of the special qualities of the female psyche and her description of women’s struggle for dignity, freedom and equality.

    By learning skills of self-presentation – hairdressing, makeup, costumes, perfumery and the art of seduction – women do practice the art of expressing the feminine. What they learn is to enhance, even perfect the expression of innate tendencies. Feminism, based on nurture arguments, can advance the cause of women but will flounder inevitably because innate behaviors are at the root of gender problems. The tendencies that feminists address are not going away, no matter how many books or laws are written or how many conferences are held. As the feminist movement advanced in the second half of the 20th century, many factions developed with conflicting dogmas that are characteristic of every human endeavor.

    Radical feminism sought to change the world. A "women’s liberation" movement emerged with an anti-feminist platform. In Canada, feminists tended to be more moderate, recognizing that there are at least two sexes with differences and focusing on achievable goals such as equal opportunity in education and employment, equal pay, child support, protection from abuse and better representation in the political process at all levels of government. Lesbian feminists emerged in distinct advocacy groups with their own interests and agendas.

    In contrast, in many if not most countries of the world, gender inequality continues as before. In Africa and Arab countries, for example, women have inferior status and are still treated as chattels. A news report, for example, [ii] described the plight of a woman in the Kalanga tribe of western Zimbabwe.

    A wife was given an 18-month sentence for burning down her father-in-law’s house. Her objection was to the father-in-law’s insistence that he had sexual rights to her. It is Kalanga custom that the groom’s family pays for the bride and the groom’s father gets to have sexual intercourse with the bride first to check the goods. When his son was working way from home, the father-in-law continued to sleep with the young wife and declared that is was his “… responsibility to look after my son’s possessions until he returns from Johannesburg.”

    Although women’s rights are enshrined in the Zimbabwe constitution of 1980, their male Supreme Court judges ruled in 1999 that “it is in the nature of African society that women are not equal to men. Women should never be considered adults within the family but only as a junior male or teenager.”

    Women Ascend

    While women in the third world struggle with archaic male oppression, women in Europe, USA and Canada are doing better. They have exceeded 50% of the enrollment in many faculties of the university including medicine and law. There are no female quarterbacks in the NFL, but women have competed with men in almost every other male preserve. Women are now carpenters, electricians, engineers, soldiers, fighter pilots, astronauts, wrestlers, stock brokers, bankers, computer programmers. Women are making deep inroads into management positions in business and industry. Income inequality became more of a public spectacle as woman of stature demanded income equality with men. In the USA of 2017 more women emerged with stories of sexual harassment and abuse. Female entrepreneurs and women in technology spoke to The Times. Ten of them named the investors involved, often providing corroborating messages and emails. [3] As their numbers increased with much publicity of negative male behavior, institutions responded with shifts in attitudes and policies. [4] In 2017, Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood producer, was fired from his company after multiple women came forward to accuse him of rape and sexual assault. In what appears to be a seismic shift in what behavior is tolerated in the workplace, a cascade of high-profile men, many in the entertainment and news media industries have since been fired or forced to resign after accusations of sexual misconduct that ranged from inappropriate comments to rape.

    A poll conducted by Management Today suggested that men "will have to learn to behave more like women in the 21st century. Women are better with customers, more efficient, more trustworthy, more generous and more understanding with colleagues than male counterparts. Peter Baker 5] suggested: "Feminine skills meet the key needs of modern, lean, fast-changing, customer-driven organizations. They require employees who can work well in teams rather than hierarchies, manage and motivate others by persuasion rather than formal commands, communicate well, quickly adapt to new opportunities and take responsibility for their own career development."

    [i] de Beauvoir, Simone,. The Second Sex 1953 (first published in French 1949)

    [ii] Manthorpe, J. Women Lose fight for equal rights in Zimbabwe. Vancouver Sun. May 22 1999. 1-2.

    [iii] Katie Benner Women in Tech Speak Frankly on Culture of Harassment. NYT June 2017

    [iv] Sarah Almukhtar, Michael Gold, Larry Buchanan. Misconduct and Their Fall From Power NYT Updated Jan. 11, 2018

    [v] Baker P. The modern office: where men are more like women. London Observer, reprinted in Financial Post Nov 1 1999 Pg C14

    • The book, I and Thou, focuses on intimate relationships. Innate tendencies are hard at work when people meet, become lovers and end with arguments and fighting. The same tendencies determine how family members interact and explain why so many families are “dysfunctional.” When lovers form an enduring pair bond, they often become parents and everything changes. Humans seek bonding with others and are distressed when they become isolated. Humans bond to each other in several ways. The most enduring bonds are kin-related, based on closely shared genes. The deepest bonding occurs when mother and infant are together continuously from birth and mother breast-feeds the infant. Bonds among family members are the most enduring. Bonds to friends, lovers and spouses are the next most significant. Bonds to colleagues, neighbors and even strangers that are admired from a distance are next. Friendships are often temporary bonds, based on the need to affiliate with others for protection, social status, feeding, sex and fun.
    • I  and Thou is available in a print and an eBook edition for download.  199 Pages.

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