The older I get and the more I look at unjust societies (which is practically every society) it occurs to me that oppression is based on nothing at all. The ways in which women were held to be inferior were myriad: from the size of our brains to the predominance of our hormones, no matter which way we turned reasons were advanced as to why we must advance no further.
But suppose a woman did show evidence of superior intellect; suppose one or more women demonstrated their ability to keep a cool head under pressure, what then? Would the men admit they were wrong? Of course not! The women would be demonised, labelled as ‘not proper women.’ Because women can’t do these things. Why can’t they? Because they can’t – and if they can, they’re not real women. So there. QED.
Someone recently told me about a car journey they’d taken with a male driver, someone they didn’t know very well. He got lost, so she dug out the road atlas. ‘Women can’t read maps,’ he said. He kept on saying it with the frequency of little white lines in the road. ‘Women can’t read maps. Women can’t read maps.’ She persisted in reading the map and got them to their destination, folding the map in triumph as they pulled in. ‘Well, you mustn’t be a woman,’ he said.
There you have it, in a nutshell – and that was only a few years ago.
The absurdity of these ‘arguments’ is so clear from a distance, you wonder how anyone could possibly be taken in by them. But the oppressors don’t just rely on argument: the status quo is maintained by force or the threat of force. This can be physical but often it’s mental (I won’t list the ways and means because they’ve been covered thoroughly in recent decades.) The trump card in this scenario, however, is religion. Why wouldn’t it be? If you can claim that you rule by divine right it doesn’t matter whether you’re a monarch or a husband or a white man or a priest, you hold the trump card now and for eternity.
It doesn’t matter whether the landscape is gender or race or sexuality or something else, the game’s the same. 1. Things are the way they are because they’re the way they are. 2. If they weren’t the way they were they’d be wrong. 3. This is the right way for things to be and 4. if you want further proof read the Bible. Or Koran. Or whatever.
So there. We’re here because we’re here and there’s nothing you can do about it.