7 Explanations as to Why Women Have Ever Been Considered Inferior
You know when you feel like someone else is operating the train that is your life and the conductor is bent on running it at warp-speed right smack into Procrastination Junction?!? Well, lovelies, let me introduce you to how it feels to be a teacher with three days left until Thanksgiving and four whole days of freedom and an innate need to avoid anything having to do with grading papers.
Now, in the midst of my looming “should I just throw this assignment away and forget about it, or should I just give them all participation credit and call it graded?” conundrum, I am also compelled to arbitrarily question society’s views of women.
Nothing like muddying the waters of one issue with the even more murky waters of another.
Again, I can’t make this shit up.
And for some reason (my age, my post-divorce independence, my anxiety – probably any one, or all, of these), I’m obsessed with the social development of women throughout time. I love when my brain gloms on to such a heavy subject during the school year. Wouldn’t it have been easier to question the very foundation of women in society at a more convenient time – like, say, perhaps the 10 weeks of summer?!?
Anyway, in order to placate my insatiable quest to understand why society is the way it is, I’ve spent the better part of this week in a feminism research fog. It’s a good kind of fog, though.
If you’re at all like me, then this election (debacle) has you wondering what the hell is happening to the women in this country*. And dammit, you want answers. I got you. Here are seven sources that have offered me some sort of revelation in my “why were women ever considered to be inferior anyway” investigation:
- Analyzing the Persistence of Gender Inequality: How to Think about the Origins excerpt from chapter two of Down So Long …: The Puzzling Persistence of Gender Inequality, Robert Max Jackson, 2016
“Once gender inequality becomes established, permeating society’s institutions, it develops its own momentum. It causes the maintenance and expansion of female subordination under many social conditions, even as the biological differences between the sexes lose all significance for social organization. And this allows the degree of inequality to grow well beyond that evoked as a complex result of biological differences in rudimentary societies.”
- Women’s Oppression and Class Society from Women and the Struggle for Socialism, Norah Carlin, 1985
“History shows that there have been as many ways of keeping women down as there have been class societies, and that the position of women has always been different for different classes in the same society. This is important because it helps us to understand the particular ways in which capitalist society oppresses women today and the reasons why. History shows that there is no one ‘natural’ role for women.”
- The Myth of Women’s Inferiority by Evelyn Reed, 1954
“It is not nature, but class society, which lowered women and elevated men. Men won their social supremacy in struggle against and conquest over the women. But this sexual struggle was part and parcel of a great social struggle – the overturn of primitive society and the institution of class society. Women’s inferiority is the product of a social system which has produced and fostered innumerable other inequalities, inferiorities, discriminations and degradations. But this social history has been concealed behind the myth that women are naturally inferior to man.”
- Are Women Really Inferior and Unclean? by Allen Francis, 2016
“Women and men were pretty much equal during the hunting and gathering phase of our existence, but female status dropped dramatically once we switched to agriculture.”
- Are Women the Inferior Sex? by Ashley Montagu, UNESCO Courier, 1955
On Human Right’s Day in 1955, the UNESCO Courier devoted an entire issue of their magazine to discuss the progress of women’s rights. The entire magazine is available in .pdf form at the link above.
“The intelligence that the world stands in most need of at the present time — indeed at any time — is the intelligence with which women are most abundantly equipped. It is the kind of intelligence which ensures and conserves life and renders life more abundantly possible.”
- Is Religion Afraid of Women? by Angela Davis
“Could this [lack of control of sexual urges] be the reason why almost all major religions appear to be almost [misogynistic]? Perhaps men are subconsciously aware of their Achilles’ heel, and since all religious texts were written by men, what could be easier than blaming women for this weakness?”
- 20 Gloria Steinem Quotes to Get You Feeling Feminist AF, 2016
Gloria Steinem may not be providing an explanation, per say, but she definitely has a way of putting things into perspective.
“Women have always been an equal part of the past. We just haven’t been a part of history.”
And just because my students consistently entertain and amaze me, I have to include this conversation I had with a couple of of them on Wednesday:
Boy: Ms. B, did you vote?
Me: Did I vote? Are you serious?
Boy: Did you?
Me: There are women that marched for my right to vote. There are women that died before ever being granted the right to vote. There are women that had to vote according to their husband’s preference because they didn’t own any land themselves. There are women in this world that are only allowed to cast their vote by signing an X or dropping a stone into a bucket. What do you —
Boy (interrupting me): …yeah, you voted for Hillary.
Me: Why do you use her first name and yet you refer to Trump by his last?
Girl (sitting next to the boy): Wait, why is it like that?
Me: That would make a great question for a research project.
Another girl (in a perfect radio announcer voice): And, folks, what you’re witnessing here is the birth of a brand-new feminist…
Right?!? Couldn’t make this up if I tried.
Now it’s your turn: is there anything you’ve found that has come close to explaining why women have been marked as inferior in society?
*Yes, I know that the issue has an enormity beyond that of just women. I’m currently only capable of questioning and addressing the women one, though.