The most effective confidence trick in the history of the world was when man convinced woman to fear her own power, effectively making her her own jailor.
Let’s be clear – there are always exceptions to the rule, and there will always be women that have been able to get wise to the illusion, forge ahead and break through socially constructed barriers. Just as there will always be men that do not consciously or subconsciously contribute to the repression of women. But, viewing the struggle in the most general of terms – what about the rest of us?
Consider woman. Just woman. No particular woman – just the broadest concept of a woman, and everything that she is and is capable of.
Everything begins with her. She is the gatekeeper to procreation. She generates life within her person, and delivers it to the world. She experiences her emotions and allows them to inform her decisions and choices. She can undertake many of the most difficult and challenging tasks simultaneously, all the while being aware of her surroundings and other people. She pays as much attention to the periphery as the centre. She can make a family and provide a home for it. She is a creator.
Man can do things too, but not so many, nor all at once. He has the tunnel-visioned approach of the hunter. The single-minded competitiveness, and the testosterone-fuelled desire to succeed. This creates the big difference between generalised woman and man. Woman has power and is busy being the engine room of society. Meanwhile, man steams ahead and takes the helm.
Thus, men have the upper-hand. From their position in the wheelhouse, they can create such circumstance as to keep women in the engine room – down in the dark – convincing them to be happy simply to be propelling others, while never feeling the breeze on their own face. Men stay at the top, calling the shots and setting the rules – all of which are designed to make women deny and repress themselves – being distrustful of their own sexuality. Divide and conquer is a most effective strategy when the subject is convinced to create the division within themselves.
In every aspect of society, women are denigrated. In many of the world’s religions, women are responsible for terrible undoings. Some view women as nothing more than possessions to be hidden away, and though Christ is borne of woman, it is a ‘virgin birth’ devoid of female sexuality.
In education, and through the media, women are subtly programmed to repress their sexuality in fear of the predatory male, perpetuating the myth that women are responsible for men’s worst acts. If a woman is so bold as to express her femininity, she is ‘asking for it’. Being a woman, is to be ‘temptation’.
In health, decisions about guidelines and policies about the female body have too often been made by men in leadership positions in healthcare and in Westminster – and are geared toward making women powerless, but solely responsible. The social attitudes ingrained in us from the start are never clearer than in this area. How many forms of contraception are available to women, but have horrid side-effects and risk factors (creating further health problems that require treatment and care)? When children are not desired, how often do women go through the repeated invasive procedures of coil placements or hormone implants, simply so men can avoid the single procedure of a vasectomy – because men can interfere with women’s reproductive systems as much as they like, but the Vas Deferens is sacred. And if a woman should forget to take her contraceptive pill and become pregnant, that is entirely the responsibility of her, and not the man, who refused to wear a condom because it is ‘less convenient’.
Don’t get me wrong, women have made great strides in the last century, for which we must be ever grateful – getting the right to vote, getting into the workplace, getting into government. But despite this progress, the decks are still stacked, and the results are still skewed. Women are led to believe that society is less male-dominated than it once was, but that is simply not the case. There have been obvious wins, but the manipulation has just become more insidious.
All the time women are made to feel they must fit an idealised image projected through male-dominated media in order to be attractive, they are repressed. All the time women are programmed to think of themselves as the victim of potential male aggression, they are repressed. All the time women are made to bear all of the responsibility, while men bear none, they are repressed. All the time women allow themselves to be manipulated into denying themselves, they are repressed.
There is a reason men stack the decks against women. In the west it is subtle, but in other cultures it is overt. A repressed woman is a woman divorced from her power. This has always been the case. Today, we are boxed in and bound up with internal conflict and social barriers. In the past we were boxed in and bound up by fear of being drowned or burned at the stake.
Allow a woman to connect with her femininity, and she becomes the most powerful creature on the planet. The fight for women’s rights is not a fight against men to have what they have, it is a fight to exit his rigged game altogether.
The fight is to de-programme ourselves – to re-connect with our womanhood without hesitation or apology, because then all things are possible.