I thought this article and the comments that follow it were were so interesting that I wanted to comment on it. It was so involved, that I decided I wouldn't be able to and that I should just repost the whole thing and add my own comments later and see what kind of comments you would offer as well.
With today's "War On Women" being such a huge national topic, I was impressed to see it presented with this kind of all-inclusive, historical consideration.
As is often the case, the reader comments are as thought provoking as the article. Read them all, you won't regret it - and you likely will find yourself confused as to where you actually stand.
It certainly makes me question the depth, accuracy and legitimacy of my own perspective.
While women in the Middle East experience 'in your face' gender inequality, particularly in theocratic regimes like Iran - which one of your authors has direct experience of - the equivalent bias in the West has a flavor that is far more subtle and therefore far more dangerous. It's more difficult to discern the root of a problem when it is acting covertly in a way that few notice.
Unsurprisingly perhaps, how different countries respond to sexism is reflective of how their ruling elites conduct politics. A religious government in the Middle East, for example, rules with an iron fist and bluntly tells its citizens what the rules of the game are. It's overt and leaves no room for doubt as to where the authorities stand on ideology.
In the West, the situation is the opposite. The government's influence is subtle and manipulates its citizens into believing ideals (e.g. "equal rights"), all the while changing the rules to suit the purposes of those who own the government - to keep life more equal for some than others.
In countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia, sexism is clearly defined by laws stating that women must cover their hair. Curious about the origins of this custom and how it became iconic in Islam, we looked it up and found one source which claimed the following:
Although long seen as the most distinctive emblem of Islam, the veil is, surprisingly, not enjoined upon Muslim women anywhere in the Quran. The tradition of veiling and seclusion (known together as hijab) was introduced into Arabia long before Muhammad, primarily through Arab contacts with Syria and Iran, where the hijab was a sign of social status. After all, only a woman who need not work in the fields could afford to remain secluded and veiled.Hmmm, isn't that interesting?
In the Ummah, there was no tradition of veiling until around 627 C.E., when the so-called "verse of hijab" suddenly descended upon the community. That verse, however, was addressed not to women in general, but exclusively to Muhammad's wives:
"Believers, do not enter the Prophet's house...unless asked. And if you are invited...do not linger. And when you ask something from the Prophet's wives, do so from behind a hijab. This will assure the purity of your hearts as well as theirs" (33:53).This restriction makes perfect sense when one recalls that Muhammad's house was also the community's mosque: the center of religious and social life in the Ummah. People were constantly coming in and out of this compound at all hours of the day. When delegations from other tribes came to speak with Muhammad, they would set up their tents for days at a time inside the open courtyard, just a few feet away from the apartments in which Muhammad's wives slept. And new emigrants who arrived in Yathrib would often stay within the mosque's walls until they could find suitable homes.
When Muhammad was little more than a tribal Shaykh, this constant commotion could be tolerated. But by 627 C.E., when he had become the supremely powerful leader of an increasingly expanding community, some kind of segregation had to be enforced to maintain the inviolability of his wives. Thus, the tradition, borrowed from the upper classes of Iranian and Syrian women, of veiling and secluding the most important women in society from the peering eyes of everyone else.
That the veil applied solely to Muhammad's wives is further demonstrated by the fact that the term for donning the veil, darabat al-hijab, was used synonymously and interchangeably with "becoming Muhammad's wife." For this reason, during the Prophet's lifetime, no other women in the Ummah observed hijab. Of course, modesty was enjoined on all believers, and women in particular were instructed to
"draw their clothes around them a little to be recognized as believers and so that no harm will come to them" (33:60).More specifically, women should
"guard their private parts...and drape a cover (khamr) over their breasts" when in the presence of strange men (24:31-32).But, as Leila Ahmed observes, nowhere in the whole of the Quran is the term hijab applied to any woman other than the wives of Muhammad.
It is difficult to say with certainty when the veil was adopted by the rest of the Ummah, though it was most likely long after Muhammad's death. Muslim women probably began wearing the veil as a way to emulate the Prophet's wives, who were revered as "the Mothers of the Ummah." But the veil was neither compulsory, nor for that matter, widely adopted until generations after Muhammad's death, when a large body of male scriptural and legal scholars began using their religious and political authority to regain the dominance they had lost in society as a result of the Prophet's egalitarian reforms.
So according to the above, observing hijab was originally a fashion statement of upper class women from that period in Iran and Syria. It was also considered important for Muhammad's wives to be distinguished by doing likewise. Most importantly, we see those ever-present "male scriptural and legal scholars", the priestly caste in societies down through the ages who have sought to control the masses through scripture and fear-based politics. Today's psychopaths in power have a dazzling array of technology at their disposal, but are really just following in the footsteps of their predecessors with the same old dogmas.
Reading about hijab on Wikipedia, we learn:
The Qur'an instructs both Muslim men and women to dress in a modest way.The clearest verse on the requirement of the hijab is surah 24:30 - 31, asking women to draw their khimār over their bosoms.
And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their khimār over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband's fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. (Quran 24:31)In the following verse, Muslim women are asked to draw their jilbab over them (when they go out), as a measure to distinguish themselves from others, so that they are not harassed. Surah 33:59 reads:
Those who harass believing men and believing women undeservedly, bear (on themselves) a calumny and a grievous sin. O Prophet! Enjoin your wives, your daughters, and the wives of true believers that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): That is most convenient, that they may be distinguished and not be harassed. [...] (Quran 33:58 - 59)
Moving from one extreme to the next, Western countries, heavily opiated as they are by materialism, have a different misogynistic flavor. Here women are objectified from a very young age. Media pop-culture promotes images of what women 'should look like' (airbrushed, doll-like and plastic) and if they don't comply, they are deemed 'not sexy' and unworthy of merit. Men viewing these unrealistic ideals begin to objectify women. And who can blame them? Women objectify themselves and each other by modeling themselves after characters from Sex and the City. Many feel that if they don't subscribe to the psychopathic ideal, then there is something wrong with them.
hypersexualization and infantilisation), Rihanna (a victim of abuse who maintains contact with her abuser) and Kim Kardashian, whose claim to fame is supposedly a sex tape. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why children believe this is normal behavior and can be found modeling the behaviors and dress code of those in popular culture when they are toddlers. There are even reality shows featuring children that are little more than TV programs for pedophiles.
Somehow, this has all been fashioned into an image that is representative of what a woman is or should be - childlike and sexually available so as to not be threatening and, at the same time, aspiring to be more masculine by chasing after what men 'have'. It seems that women are just as clueless as men when it comes to discerning what it means to embrace femininity and true empowerment. In their quest to find themselves, many turn to ideological constructs devised by those who claim to have special knowledge. Unfortunately, it's often a case of the blind leading the lame.
Feminine Empowerment as a New Age Religion
Beware of disinformation. It diverts your attention away from reality thus leaving you open to capture and conquest and even possible destruction. - Adventures with Cassiopaea; Transcript 11-19-94An example of the insidious ways women are programmed to objectify themselves in the West comes courtesy of an 'exercise' program involving pole-dancing which supposedly "does wonders". It's called S Factor. We looked it up and were appalled by how misogynistic it seemed:
[I have to admit - I didn't find the video "misogynistic"? It looked like great exercise in appropriate attire and I wasn't sexually stimulated in the least by watching it. I wish I could do that kind of exercise! Maybe all gymnastics (male and female) are also misogynistic? Maybe I'm just a misogynist! - Doc]
From the site about the creator of 'S Factor', we read that:
Sheila Kelley is the global 'femme' leader, author, and originator of pole dance fitness and feminine movement for the empowerment of women. She is an esteemed actress, filmmaker, dancer, and a passionate voice for the advancement of women in the world.So Sheila Kelley, who has anointed herself "global femme leader" after starring in a movie about strippers, created a fitness program utilizing pole-dancing. Doesn't that seem a little messed up to anyone?
When Sheila starred in and produced the film, Dancing at the Blue Iguana, she needed to prepare for the role of "Stormy" by learning how to striptease and pole dance. As a result, her body became long, lean and fit. She decided to take her knowledge of ballet, exercise and exotic dancing, and combine them into the most effective fitness workout ever devised for and about women - S Factor.
"S Factor was born when I discovered my sensual power and the best body of my life while preparing for my role as an exotic dancer," says Sheila. "My life changed so profoundly just from moving in this organically feminine way, that I've dedicated myself to sharing this extraordinary journey with other women."
Sheila was a classically trained dancer and soloist with the Westmoreland Ballet Company at the age of fifteen. She attended New York University's famed Tisch School of Arts as a Dance major. She is the author of, The S Factor: Strip Workouts for Every Woman, and she has six S Factor exercise DVDs. Sheila's many television (including Gossip Girl, Lost, L.A. Law, Sisters, ER and The Sopranos) and film roles (including Singles, Matchstick Men, Nurse Betty and One Fine Day) have earned her great respect in Hollywood and around the world as an actress who is not afraid of embracing the power of her femininity. She is married to actor, Richard Schiff of The West Wing, and has two children, Gus and Ruby
How does someone who is a "passionate voice for advancement of women in the world" come up with such an idea? Doesn't she realize that women strip mainly for economic reasons because working at a fast food joint just doesn't pay the rent? Perhaps Kelley realized she was better off teaching women how to move "in this organically feminine way" and to embrace "the power of femininity" than to work in some dive or wait tables like many aspiring actresses. So while she glorifies the lifestyle, she's smart enough to know she doesn't want to live it.
The problem here is that stripping for men feeds into the West's socio-pathological notions of "counterfeit intimacy" and the illusion of power via an "egalitarian motif"(pdf) - the fallacy that stripping is a liberating experience. Kelley has taken the idea of stripping, a lifestyle that most people do not find glamorous, and is attempting to make it cool.
Calhoun, Fisher and Cannon (1998) found that there was an "egalitarian motif" in place in the stripping context. This means that the club is trying to make it appear as though the amateur strip contest is a liberating experience for men and women, but the reality is that it's "fun" for men and "alienating" and oppressive for women. Their analysis showed that these women competing in these contests are actually being manipulated by the male owners to gain profit for themselves.Subverting the Feminine
~ 'Motivations of Professional Strippers', Lisa Monchalin, 2006, p.10
The "Empowered" Whore Archetype Destroying the Feminine'. It's short, concise and touches on the crucial issue; psychopathic control that has turned society into its pathological offspring.
The "empowered whore archetype" is exactly what Sheila Kelley and the Western media propagate. We should be questioning, not praising, Shelia Kelley's claims to be a feminist concerned with the advancement of women. In reality, 'S Factor' is everything most true feminists detest. It's not a program that inspires women to "embrace their femininity". Rather, like so many others, it distorts the idea of what it IS to be a woman.
Unfortunately, Kelley is far from alone in her illusion. There are thousands of false prophets like her and an even greater number of desperate people latching onto their ideas. These disinformation programs run the gamut from fitness to reality TV shows to non-profit organizations, all promoted under the guise of women's liberation and equality.
Ultimately, the 'femme movement' contributes only to keeping women in their place. When did "getting in touch with one's feminine side" devolve into promoting seedy activities as positive acts of self-empowerment? Aren't hanging out at strip joints and paying women for sex both things that men are condemned for doing? Well, maybe once upon a time. Today there are male strip joints where women can go and act just as depraved as men do, objectifying men in the same manner they are subjected to.
Since when did degrading and making a spectacle of oneself in public become synonymous with self-respect? When did self-expression of the feminine and creative aspect of ourselves (whether male or female) become twisted, filled with contempt and seen as weak? Is this downward spiral masquerading as upward self-empowerment something that anyone really wants to be associated with? Why is it that qualities such as caring, nurturing, growth, creation and vulnerability - towards others as well as self - are seen as unworthy? It seems to us that a whole lot of people need a serious reality check!
Something is very wrong with this picture. When women refer to themselves as sl**s, b*****s and wh***s, what is it that's really going on? Some skewed misconception of 'taking back' the meaning of those words? We've known women who proudly carry these labels and then wonder why others think so little of themselves. Perhaps they believe they will feel less hurt if they insult themselves before someone else gets a chance to, but all it really accomplishes is a perpetuating cycle of self-abuse and signals to the rest of society that this is 'normal' and 'acceptable'. It's not. It's indicative of a serious social disease. People forget that their very thoughts and language are the seeds that influence their behavior and actions.
The True Power of the Feminine Divine and The Darkness that Shadows it
"It seems that there were ancient societies organized very differently from ours, and chief among the finds in such digs are the many images of the Deity as female. Thus we are better able to interpret the references to the Great Goddess in ancient art, myth and even historical writings.CNN noted that:
The chief idea of these people was that the Universe was an all-giving mother. Indeed, this idea has survived in our time. In China, the female deities Ma Tsu and Kuan Yin are still widely worshiped as beneficent and compassionate goddesses. Similarly, the veneration of Mary, the Mother of God, is widespread.
Even if in Catholic theology she is demoted to non-divine status, her divinity is implicitly recognized by her appellation "Mother of God", as well as by the prayers of millions who daily seek her compassionate protection and solace. In fact, the story of Jesus' birth, death and resurrection seems to be little more than a reworking of those earlier 'mystery cults' revolving around a Divine Mother and her son or, as in the worship of Demeter and Kore, her daughter.
It is of course, reasonable that the deepest understanding of divine power in human form should be female rather than male. After all, life emerges from the body of a woman, and if we are to understand the macrocosm by means of the microcosm, it is only natural to think of the Universe as an all giving Mother from whose womb all life emerges and to which, like the cycles of vegetation, it returns after death to be again reborn.
What's more important to us here is the idea that societies that view the universe as a Mother would also have very different social structures from our own. We might also conjecture that women in such a society would not be seen as subservient. Caring, nurturing, growth and creation would have been valued. At the same time, it does not make sense to think that such societies were "matriarchal" in the sense that women dominated men. They were, instead, by all the evidence, societies in which differences were valued and not equated as evidence of either superiority or inferiority."
~ Laura Knight-Jadczyk, The Secret History of the World, pages 492 - 493
NGOs estimate a woman is raped every 26 seconds in the country.That is a frightful number. Why are such things occurring on our planet at such a high rate? What will the future look like if things keep going the way they are?
Thinking about this further, it's as if the planet has been turned into a breeding ground for psychopaths. Let's say that women conceiving as a result of rape give birth to children born with psychopathic genes. That means more offspring of these 'loveless unions' will go on to father children who in turn are incapable of caring for their children, raised without fatherly guidance and most likely undesired and unloved by their mother. Even if the children don't inherit psychopathic genes, they are more susceptible to developing serious character flaws and will likely become sociopaths.
That is why abuse of sex is another 'tool' with which psychopaths shape society in their image, spiraling us towards devolution. Most of us as young children did not learn about sex in the context of healthy relationships. Bombarded with sexual imagery from a very young age, children growing up in the West today aren't just exposed to crass magazines and TV shows (although they don't help); they're exposed to hardcore pornography, which is extremely damaging, demeans sex, objectifies women and gives men a horrific image of women.
Whether in 'developed' or 'developing' countries, high rape statistics seem to go hand in hand with other forms of predatory violence. Is it any surprise, when you think of how we treat the planet and everyone on it that women and children are also being subjected to unbearable suffering in such high numbers? Together we have been raping the planet in every way imaginable, destroying oceans and rainforests. Entire cultures have been raped with 'shock and awe' and 'humanitarian war' by the same psychopaths on Wall Street raping us all economically.
Such is the 'natural' result of a ponerized society that has become so filled with hate towards the Feminine. We've all been seriously misled by a psychopathic elite, ruling us through our fears so that we'll do their bidding. One of men's greatest fears is to be perceived as anything even remotely feminine and to strive, by any means possible, to present themselves as the antithesis - even to their own detriment. Those that attempt to be themselves may quickly find they are without societal acceptance and the very valid need for love. Women, in their attempt to eke out some power in a power-hungry world, search outside of themselves, unaware that not only is the power they seek an illusion (because men never really had it themselves), they also fail to recognize their own innate gifts. Men and women seeking true empowerment would do well to heed the timeless wisdom given to Dorothy as she tried to find her way back home in The Wiz remake of the Wizard of Oz:
Glinda the Good: Hello, Dorothy.
Dorothy: Please, is there a way for me to get back home?
Glinda the Good: Well, Dorothy, you were wise and good enough to help your friends to come here and find what was inside them all the time. That's true for you, also.
Dorothy: Home? Inside of me? I don't understand.
Glinda the Good: Home is a place we all must find, child. It's not just a place where you eat or sleep. Home is knowing. Knowing your mind, knowing your heart, knowing your courage. If we know ourselves, we're always home, anywhere.
Unfortunately, in our world, the abiding sense of purpose that many individuals innately feel rarely finds healthy expression. Much of this is due to the centuries-long stranglehold of psychopathic influence, where a thirst for power over others stifles and distorts healthy reasoning. Through religious indoctrination and now the mainstream media, people are brainwashed into believing that materiality - particularly as it relates to one's physical appearance - is the standard bearer for what it is to be human, and so they remain incapable of rising above and beyond inequality in all its forms - between the sexes, between races and between classes.
Ultimately, whether you are struggling to cope with the influence of puritanical zealots or debauched social memes, people of both genders and all races are confined by the limits instilled in us by pathological types. In turn, we believe in the lies they tell us and enforce these same limits on ourselves. While speaking out for women oppressed by mad mullahs in faraway lands, women in the West should take a long hard look at what feminism has become over the years. Those who are sincere in their struggle for the right of women to be seen for who they truly are, and for what they can truly be, must understand that the movement has been co-opted by the Powers That Be. It's time to take a deeper look at what we've all become and place the blame where it truly lies. We've all had our role to play in this, so the problem isn't with men. It also isn't with women. The problem lies with our shared intraspecies predator - psychopaths, which are neither men nor women - who seek to control any and all manifestation of creative expression by dragging everything down with them to the lowest common denominator and into the depths of entropy. Only by disentangling ourselves from their hold on our beliefs can we begin to contemplate any restoration of the divine feminine.