Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Misogyny In the East and the West and Middle East

Dr. Sanity today highlights the barbaric sexual exploitation (sanctioned, mind you) by the Taliban and Middle Eastern Arab Muslim adherents. This practice is long-standing and reinforced because of the misogynistic culture creating sexual frustration, fear of women and the need to protect a dominating masculinity.

Rule No. 19 obviously indicates that the sexual abuse of young boys is a prevalent and institutionalized phenomenon among the Taliban and that, for one reason or another, its widespread practice has become a problem.

The fact that Taliban militants’ spare time involves sodomizing young boys should by no means be any kind of surprise or eyebrow raiser. That a mass pathology such as this occurs in a culture which demonizes the female and her sexuality -- and puts her out of mind and sight -- is only to be expected. To be sure, it is a simple given that the religious male fanatic who flies into a violent rage even at the thought of an exposed woman’s ankle will also be, in some other dysfunctional and dark secret compartment of his fractured life, the person who leads some poor helpless young boy into his private chambers.
To some extent, such behavior has been seen in all cultures that debase or oppress women. In misogynistic cultures (and individuals) there is usually both the revulsion of the "whore" combined with a perverse obsession with, attraction to, and idealization of "perfection" in a woman (the "madonna" complex). In order to be idealized, women must be stripped of any hint of sexuality.

As a culture, the Arab-Islamic world has perfected this "stripping" to a nightmarish art form of shapeless, individualess, blank nothingness.

Misogyny is also prevalent amongst the women. I noticed this phenomenon among Indian families with their girls. As babies, the children would be indulged. And then, the child would reach a certain age and she would be cast in a servile role to her brothers and father. Dr. Sanity points out why this might be so:
There are also multiple reasons why women might hate other women on both an individual and societal level, and thus are often complicit in their own subjugation in misogynistic societies.

Many women hate or envy other women whose existence lowers their own status with men, i.e., other women who are more attractive than they are either in looks or accomplishment, depending on the culture expectations. For example, in one culture a woman might attract men because of her beauty; in another because of her purity or religious devotion. A corollary to this is that the aging woman will increasingly become aware of her diminishing attraction to men or usefulness to a society that only values her reproductive capability. This sets up a dynamic tension between old and young women. In all cultures where female genital mutilation occurs, while it is the male-dominated society that mandates it, the operation itself is perfermed by older women on younger women; and has the direct effect of decreasing the sexual capabilities/responsiveness of the younger--thus "leveling the playing field" by some accounts. Older--"useless" women--can become socetal heroes only by embracing the violence and rage of the sexually frutstrated and fearful men.

And misogyny is alive and well in the West. Dr. Helen, in her aptly titled "Fight the Matriarchy" post points out that female bosses are far more likely to discriminate against women than male bosses. To anyone with a woman boss, this is no surprise. My experience before going back to school for Chiropractic bears this out.

The women who "worked like men" tended to resent the other women who married, had children and needed flexibility. The men, in contrast, whether fathers or not, cut women (and men) needing time with family more slack. Women who made it to the top often chose career over relationship and family. One executive I work with has two female bosses. Neither one married or had kids. There isn't much compassion for anyone desiring work-life balance from these women.

Here's a bit from the Time's article:
Nicola Horlick, the City financier nicknamed “Superwoman” for combining a demanding job with a large family, said some women looked on other women as a threat and preferred to surround themselves with men.

“It is called the ‘queen bee syndrome’,” she said. “I have seen women in managerial positions discriminating against other women, possibly because they like to be the only female manager or woman in the workplace.”

That's the lovely thing about misogyny. It is often bred into boys and girls by women themselves. I have written about this in the past--the mass murder in India by women who abort their girl babies seeking a boy. And no, most of them are not doing this out of fear for disappointing their husbands. These women want a boy, not a girl, too.

I have encountered female baby bias, here, in the good old US of A, too. A family member actually told me that it was preferable to have a boy baby first. And it still amazes me how many couples "hope for a boy" in preference to a girl. While the incidence of misogyny in the USA is positively mild compared to the gender hatred of the Middle East and East, the consequences are negative even so.

Dr. Sanity believes that U.S. policy should strongly promote women's rights. She says:
In "Where Have All The Mothers Gone?" I commented about a study which demonstrated the power of "good" mothers --i.e., normal, healthy, functioning and unoppressed by their culture-- in overcoming aggression or "bad" behavior in children. Researchers discovered that "good" mothering was able to prevent aggressive and self-destructive behavior in at-risk monkeys. In human terms, "Good" mothering provides a child with respect, love, and security-- the basic aspects of "nurture" that are essential for normal development.

The findings of this and other landmark research clearly suggest that without an early mothering influence children were much more likely to grow up to be aggressive and antisocial.

From a psychological perspective then, the freedom and empowerment of women in society are absolutely critical because they are responsible for the earliest environmental influences on children--influences that will impact the child throughout his or her life. If the society has little respect for women and regularly demonizes, debases or humiliates them, it will have a profound generational impact. This is why encouraging women's rights around the world should be a high priority in US Foreign Policy.
I would add that in a society (ours) that diminishes the importance of mothering and nurturing in general, long-term socialization is a problem. There is an unarticulated belief that mothering, nurturing, and a secure environment for children is unnecessary for proper human development. Many American children are raised in a "Lord of the Flies" environment promoting competition, aggression and other male traits for survival--all the while being in environments controlled by women. The weaker children go passive and end up abused. The dominant children survive by might.

Honoring nurturing in both men and women while honoring merit in both men and women creates a social order where hypermasculinization and hyperfeminization cease to be necessary. Whoever does the best job, gets the job at home and at work. Ultimately, the healthy society honors both the female and the male. Rather than push for an end to traditionally female or male tendencies, they are embraced by all.