Skip to main content

View Diary: This Week in the War on Women (18 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  the psychological mechanisms of privilege explain (0+ / 0-)

    why they still continue, probably.  once a person believes him/her/self entitled to privilege above any particular other individual or group, that's the point at which the moral and social constraints perceived to apply to the actions of those others are believed by the entitled/privileged to apply much more loosely if at all to themselves.  


         This is how women who ought to know better their own realistically perilous position will still contribute to oppressing less fortunate/privileged/entitled women and denying the latter rights (e.g., equal access to abortion, freedom from physical violence) that they fully arrogate to themselves.

         The socioeconomics of the u.s. [as so much of the world] divide us very distinctly by "class", where "class" is defined in terms of possession of/access to resources.  It's certainly true that enough women with higher levels of resource genuinely or apparently ally themselves with the feminist drive for equality that the socioeconomic divides appear to blur.  But one need only recall how the Phyllis Schlaflys, Anita Bryants, Carly Fiorinos, Sarah Palins, etc etc within most of our own living memory alone have exploited feminist advances solely for their own gain and don't scruple to use their profits to make matters worse for other females by espousing [love that word in this context] anti-feminist policies.

         High-profile women who operate this way are only the most visible nationally, or we wouldn't keep finding ourselves on the opposite ends of discussions of equal rights with other women in the vast majority of communities, congregations, workplaces, etc.  And their reasons should be understandable:  they have far more trust that they'll be accorded greater safety from being victims of violence and deprivation if they abide by the behavior conventionally expected of them than if they had the chutzpa to openly expect the same rights as men AND at the same time the right to be free from retaliation and pressure over that expectation.  They have more trust in the safety of conventionally subordinate behavior wherever they have remained more or less safe in it while seeing women engaging in non-subordinate behavior being subjected to physical and sexual assault, verbal assault, social isolaton, loss of friendships and support-circle, job loss, dissolution of marriage, loss of right to be with their children after divorce, loss of right to community property developed by the marriage partnership, ruin of reputation, ruin of ability or of opportunity to earn a living for self & loved ones...  the list goes on and on.  Many women realistically choose the safe privileges they get from conventional behavior rather than choose the risks of seeking to assert equal rights.  And many oppose the drive for equal rights out of fear of being made a target of retaliation by opposers of equal rights - retaliation physically, verbally, financially, etc, purely because they are women: they know retaliators do not necessarily make sure to attack only women driving for equal female freedom and rights.  No - retaliators often attack any female available to attack, not only because it makes gratification more readily convenient but because IT KEEPS ALL WOMEN IN LINE by keeping realistic fear in the equation.

    If, as in that example, women do not all act in full solidarity with those women and men actively engaged in the drive for equal rights and freedoms, it's not really surprising that most people continue to support convention for the sake of their own safety rather than risk the limited rights and freedoms they have.

    Twenty or more years ago, Alan Alda (i think it was) said he's a feminist because he's got three daughters and he wants them to have a world in which they get the same rights he gets.  (or words to that effect, as i recall).  That's a person (gender is actually irrelevant in the statement) stating, in effect, the belief that ONE'S OWN RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS ARE NOT ABRIDGED BY EVERYONE ELSE HAVING THE SAME RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS.

    I'd venture to suggest that just as most people don't really believe there is enough food, clothing, shelter, education and jobs to go around in their world, their nation or their community, most people also and consequently don't believe there are enough rights and freedoms to go around, that they themselves will lose rights and freedoms (e.g., the sports hero's privilege of prompt gratification of his desire for alcohol and sex) if more others get those rights and freedoms too.

    And, again, they're not wrong.  Or rather, they're not incorrect.  In a society in which an entitled person can freely express frustrations, angers, and appetites by kicking the holy sh*t out of subordinated individuals physically, financially, legally... that entitled person WILL lose profit when workers have the right to fair pay and fair benefits; that entitled person WILL lose the freedom of gratification of impulses and appetites when spouses and children and physically weaker individuals have legal effectiveness against battery, rape, financial abuse.

    And etc.

    And, of course, we all do understand that being too possessed by fear is a massive reason why so many still continue to oppose equal rights and freedoms.  

    They aren't the enemy.  They're the deadweight.  The enemy are those who don't feel empathy for the needs or the suffering of others, nor the soaring uplifting vision of a world of equal freedoms and rights for all.  I.E., sociopaths.  By current estimates, 10% of all humans are born sociopaths.  The malleability of human neurochemistry results in another unestimable percentage being made sociopathic.  Combined, unless their narcissism is channeled to satisfaction in the applause of others for doing good, they will gravitate to controlling others by fear and pain to satisfy their appetities and their narcissim.  The world of today rewards sociopathic tendencies hugely.  

    I would suggest that when their collective needs are threatened by national or global circumstances and a humanistic advance seems to them to serve those needs is the only scenario when they "allow" humanistic advance, e.g., american women's right to vote became law after WWI AND the international influenza pandemic decimated world population enough for women to be perceived as a group as potentially useful and permissible outside "the home".  (Grassroots history demonstrates that poor women have always worked "outside the home" in every era and culture back to neolithic; and in the modern era often could when poor men could find no work, 'tho the paid work women in those circumstances could get has often been pretty ugly stuff.)  Ditto Rosey-theRivetter, etc.

    When it benefits or protects the privileged, at whatever level, to allow more rights and freedoms to subordinate people, that's when they "let" us advance.  The historically most successful strategy of advance is to make "in their best interests" not to oppose us.

    The world is what it is.  By and large, humans change only when they really need to and really have to, and they are surprisingly willing to pay a hugely high price personally and communally to retain privileges that are really no advantage at all.  To sum up: fear, stupidity, and sociopathy are our enemies, and the constant changing of the larger circumstances make us have to keep changing our strategies and tactics, and that takes so much time and energy and other resources that we often get stalled out while we adjust.  The fact that we advance at all probably means we're more creative, innovative, flexible and open to new learning than are our enemies.  That's something, at least.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site