Anything that has the potential to topple the established social order as we know is always viewed as scary and a threat to society, at least at the outset. You can often judge how close to the mark a cause hits home by assessing how many are strongly opposed to it, hark back to the pre-civil rights area to see just how many felt threatened by people of colour gaining equal status, at least under law.
As well, women’s full, true liberation directly threatens men’s assumed superiority, jeopardizes their pleasure, dissolves their control, and shatters the natural advantage they have by sheer dint of just being born biologically male.
A society that doesn’t look down on women, or view them as inferior to men, a society run by women, or at least one where women have a dominant say, just as men do now is extremely terrifying to anyone that currently stands to benefit from the status quo.
Guess who that is?
It’s more puzzling why so many women rush to support the current social order but the matter becomes clearer when you scratch the surface. Women want male approval because they love men. They have not yet learned that men don’t like them back very much, at least not when they demand to be treated with equal respect.
This has not as much to do with actual sexual attraction as some people think it does. Often an argument given as to why women don’t support feminist causes goes thus – women want to be sexually desirable to men and dominance in women is a turn off for most men.
It’s not as simple as that.
It’s a plain fact that if we were living in a matriarchy, if we had never heard of male dominance, men would still be sexually attracted to women and the reverse would be equally as true. There is plentiful evidence of this in the matriarchal and matrilineal cultures that flourish today, including in Nagovisi, New Guinea and Umoja, Kenya.
Even a misogynist wouldn’t bother to argue that you can fight who you’re attracted to.
It’s also a near certainty that if we were living in that kind of society, it wouldn’t be a stigma at all for women to be ambitious, to be dominant, to be educated, to be aspirational.
Neither would women have the low status they do now, because in that kind of society, such viewpoints simply wouldn’t be tolerated.
Why did it wind up the other way around?
Not because of male excellence, though that’s what the misogynists would like to suggest but something else.
Violence is the one area where biological males truly excel and they have a natural advantage too, in their strength and in their size. Look back in history and you’ll generally find that the winners nearly always had stronger armies, better equipment, were more militarily skilled, or had the police or other enforcement officers of the law on their side.
This meant the winner rulers history remembers were not the best candidates for the job by a long shot, but did have the most muscle. Even as recently as 1970, women who were demanding access to institutions that had long been male bastions, were being arrested and brutalized.
Violence, or the threat of it, does pay, at least it has worked out that way for men.
This is the bottom line and the biggest reason why, for so many centuries, women have kept quiet, in fear of their lives. If you are scared witless of losing your life or your freedom, of having your children taken away from you, or of being raped or brutalized, I’d say that’s a fairly effective deterrent wouldn’t you?
Even so, there have always been brave outliers, women who would oppose and defy the system, whether overtly, as the suffragettes did, or covertly, as George Elliot did when she published under a male name and defied the strict dress code of the time by wearing pants.
However nowadays, at least in Western countries, things are a changing. It’s no longer so publicly acceptable, at least in some people’s minds, to beat a protester, or lock them up, when they have done nothing except suggest a revolutionary idea.
Women can use this to their advantage, as an effective tool to raise consciousness, though it won’t win them the war.
Because there is also now another spanner in the works and this one’s a lot more sneaky than violence. Capitalism has now harnessed the earning power of modern women, and as well as selling their bodies for profit, as it always has done, it’s now selling things for their bodies direct to them by manufacturing discontent. In a 2016 Dove survey, only 20% of UK women and girls expressed any positive feelings about their appearance.
The backlash against feminism’s gains, has been remarkably effective.
It uses several tools to control women and keep them unhappy, in their own bodies, and therefore easy to subjugate and sideline. The beauty industry and the cultural “beauty norms” it promotes are the strongest tool of the patriarchy in Western culture, now women in increasing numbers are entering the professions, and excelling in their chosen career.
The myth of the happy housewife, has been shattered, but a new, perhaps even more oppressive female stereotype has taken her place – the uber-sexualized, hyper-feminized barbie doll.
This cultural archetype is created and sustained by promoting ever narrower cultural beauty ideals, and demanding women achieve them. It is perpetuated upon women by bombarding them with media images of impossible, inhuman, retouched perfection that they can never achieve, and most effectively of all, by using society as a tool to heap ridicule, social ostracization, and humiliation on any woman who refuses to conform to the beauty norms.
I’ve written a previous blog post all about this, but the beauty, diet, and fashion industries, much as they pretend to be friends to women, are anything but.
So much so, the women they send down the catwalk are starved of all femaleness, to promote clothes made off the backs of Third World women paid a pittance for their hard labor.
Because of the humongous pressure to accept the doctrines of the beauty and fashion industries that have now seeped into society and are infecting cultural norms, women’s energy is being scattered, as they rush to escape the wrath of a society that judges them ever more harshly.
Even as direct violence against women grows somewhat less acceptable in Western culture, our society is becoming evermore superficial, and justifying its obsession with women’s bodies in the name of female empowerment. Now women are encouraged to demand their own oppression, and are primed to do the work of the beauty and fashion industries for them, by claiming, yes, women can have it all, it is possible to look like a perfect Barbie doll and have a high powered job.
But by doing so women sell their personhood, ensuring they are chained to the mandate of staying young and wrinkle free forever, lest they be cast out of society. And unknowingly, they are brainwashed into enslaving other women too, women who can never live up to this impossible standard, or have no wish to.
Women together must unite and reject the impossible cultural demands that are placed on us to fit within the narrow beauty ideal. We must too, support other women who are doing so and we must do it consistently, if we ever want personhood.
That’s just the start, there is much more to be done.