Monday, June 25, 2012

A Universal Problem

For thousands of years, in nearly every culture and tradition in the world, women have been devalued and therefore mistreated in some way. What accounts for this outlook? Why is this problem so universal? The fact that the devaluing of women is so widespread across the globe points to a cause that goes much deeper than mere culture or tradition.

One of the reasons that plight of the woman has been such a difficult issue to remedy is that it's not easy to change a man's mind about a woman's place in the world. The idea that this is a man's world is very deeply entrenched. Even though legislation might be passed or public policy might change, you can't easily change a man's mindset. This internalized  devaluing of women is the reason why women generally continue to be discounted and exploited in almost every society in the  world, regardless of certain social and political advances. In industrial nations as well as developing nations, the plight of the female is still very real. Is it tragic to have to admit this is true in our modern society.

In the neighborhood where I grew up, it was common for me to hear men saying, "Woman, do you know who I am? I'm the one who wears the pants around here!" That statement was supposed to imply who was in charge. These days, both men and women wear the pants, so who is that statement talking about now? This spirit of male dominance, this attitude of, "Stay in your place. You have no say in this; you have no contribution to make. You have no sense, anyway," has pervaded our societies for thousands of years, and it is a spirit that still has a hold on many nations.

This prevailing attitude is the reason why the social and political advances of women which on the surface seem to be victories can become burdens to women because they are in reality only one-sided victories. For example, women can declare that they are equal with men, and society can try to enforce this equality, but the attitudes of men (and also other women) may not necessary be in agreement with this change in status. This can cause perplexity, stress, and conflict. Thus, much confusion about the role of the woman still exists today.

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