THE COMMENTS HERE ARE DIRECTED AT THE CANADIAN REALITY
IT IS MORE TRUE - CLEARLY - IN OTHER JURISDICTIONS
& TRUE OF ALL RELIGIONS
The transition from chattel to sovereign being has been long coming and well deserved for women. From 1959 when my mother needed permission of a group of clergymen to have her tubes tied, to now when my daughters are absent any ostensible obstruction to the highest office; this is truly a great step forward for “man”kind. It is a relief, as a father of two women, to have witnessed this progress. In society at large, young girls strut more boldly now, less constrained by conditioning and they are well educated. It is difficult to know what to attribute the progress to in the past fifty years, whether it was the feminist movement finally gaining critical mass or the advent of a pill that put pregnancy in the hands of women as opposed to the whims of nature, or perhaps the awareness of the enlightenment spreading into the western canon. Whatever might be the cause, the future for my daughters is brighter as a result.
The blemish on this progress is the incessant presence of violence against women (VAW). One wonders what is at the core of the challenge, what fuels the barbarism. Perhaps it is that in reality we are mammals, that because someone has the capacity to subdue and sexually assault someone with blatant disregard for the “other” – they do. For the vast majority of human evolution we simply did what we wanted, when we wanted, based on individual strength or alliance, the humanitarian imperative was absent – I am unsure that we really have evolved that much. Instead of a femur bone of a large ungulate as weapon, we have adopted more sophisticated means – the result however is the same.
When people engage in consensual sexual relations, we call that love making, when people engage in sexual relations absent consent, we call that rape. So what is at stake here, what is the atrocity, I submit it is the disempowerment of another human being. This document is directed toward VAW, men do get raped too it is worth noting. The harm is rarely physical, the crux of the harm is psychological – it is a spirit breaking event to be overpowered, add to that sexual elements and the affected incur extreme pain. If this theory is true, what is true by extension is that RAPE takes many forms – the systematized suppression of women is in effect societal rape – a violation of spirit, a disempowerment.
So what is the cause of VAW, why is it continuing and what is the cure. Part of the challenge in dealing with VAW is that it is normally sexually related, we still, in varying degrees, live in a world where sex is brushed under the carpet. People fail to speak about healthy sex honestly for the most part, how then, can they manage unhealthy sex. The generalized suppression of sexual discourse of any kind is the problem; it stifles progress along the path to solution. When you put a thumb on the forehead of natural human inclination, something ugly always squirts out the side. Humans are biological creatures first, that is our reality, we need to manage ourselves from that perspective. Morality should have as a base premise, the presence or absence of harm; from there we can bring a rational mind to the challenge.
We, hitherto, have lived in a male dominated society – I suppose through history there are examples of female dominated societies – they are few. When might was right, men had the upper hand. As the social complex became more developed, women still had the vulnerability of childbearing – men have never been barefoot and pregnant; which gave men the upper hand. We know this is true, because this reality is omnipresent in contemporary society – women still carry the largest share of domestic concern. Until now, men have had the upper hand, and as we know, power corrupts, corrupts in a multitude of ways; VAW is such a corruption.
Western males are conditioned under the fusion of Christian theology and stoicism. This fusion in conjunction with male biology is a very conflicted place. The Christian discourse around sexuality, what there is of it, is inherently conflicted – sex tends to be demonized or sullied to a degree here. Stoicism is largely misinterpreted as control over emotions; control over emotions often results in suppression of emotion and by extension, fear of emotions. Add to this male biology – primal inclinations – the deep seated desire to spread genes and the resulting tacit support from peers, even mother’s in this regard, and you have cauldron of human interface that is unhealthy and often unfair.
Often as a male, the most treasured facet of society is femininity, often treasurer tacitly - treasured nonetheless. Living life as a male, the female occupies our mind and drives many of our decisions. Women nurture us and then they let us go, only to occupy our minds 24/7 as their biology becomes a point of fascination (young men talk about women). Their presence in our psyche holds sway over us, there is a powerful paradox in our development, where we are immersed in our dependence on women and then societal conditioning requires us to take different stance, as both the dominant moral complex and the stoic imperative for emotional independence come into play. There have been historical requirements of men that preclude the luxury of acquiescing to the comforts women provided as nurturers. The nagging inclination toward the comforts of that nurturing, in the context of our requirements as men, creates a conflict. Out of that male internalized conflict emerged the patriarchal society. Once the investment is made in a woman, males tend to want to secure that association for a host of reasons. The liberation of females challenges this inclination, which is why society became structured the way it was during the age of patriarch.
Violence is born of three things in large part, the desire to dominate, the desire to prevent domination and fear. Domination is a freighting space; the western male’s conditioning is a product of argumentative thought; we are taught to be oppositional, to deploy tactics and win the day. Intellectual confrontations often extend to physical confrontations. A culture with the impetrative to hold domain over ourselves, or to dominate has emerged - dominate or be dominated. The innate desire to have a women’s appreciation linked to maternal bonding is powerful, it redirects us away the tradition precepts of strength and independence and threatens self- domain, FEAR, plays a role here; paradoxically a woman’s affections can occupy the mind as a threat. This may in part be the be birthplace of misogyny, this may be the place where the Montreal Massacre came from, or less extreme, or perhaps causal, this may have been the place where Paul’s letter to the Corinthians came from.
So again, hear the conflict, firstly men want to spread genes, secondly we want fidelity – the only assurance that genes are getting spread is fidelity, so fidelity trumps all – hence the moral complex around western sexual relations and fidelity. So in developing the patriarchal society, men, have had an aim at play, fidelity. Fidelity, the accurate copy is innately important to men – men want to know “our” children are our own; innate one would imagine at the most base level, it would be a biological desire. There is no biological imperative for monogamy; monogamy is a cultural means to ensure every man gets his own and or to prevent conflict. In fact, monogamy gets in the way of spreading our genes. So here too the liberation of female falls a fowl with male desires, or at least potentially so, or perhaps more likely so.
The introduction of Greek philosophy in Abrahamic morality is a source of consternation for men in the contemporary setting. Plato’s ideal of “being above the senses” precluded him from enjoying female company, some still hold celibacy as an ideal to be aspired to – and encounter self-loathing when they fall short. This is of course a perversion of human discourse that has caused perversion of human sexuality and resulted in perverse outcomes.
The Christian narrative around sexuality is complex, conflicted, sullies sexual relations and generates an inappropriate physiological space around virtue. There is at once a requirement for women to be virtuous and a lover, a circumstance that has a woman becoming somehow less acceptable having been a woman. The language that one encounters around sexual relations in Church is often derogatory – “sins of the flesh” and the like; this puts in place a conflict with virtuosity and sexual relations. The exaltation of virginity imposes a diminished state on those who have chosen to engage in sexual relations.
By way of example Original Sin, is a doctrine developed by a very conflicted man in and about 400 AD, Original Sin is in no way the word of Christ. The Original Sin doctrine proposes that by our nature we are sinners and that the pleasure derived from sexual relations is sinful. Original Sin besmirched our humanity and fowls sexual relations. Original Sin is more of a Platonic ideal than one that Christ would have propagated. Christ embraced love; Original Sin is a misplaced in Christianity.
The generalized SUPPRESSION of sexuality by Christianity has sexuality “erupting” in inappropriate ways, violent ways. Perhaps in part, VAW finds some cause here. It certainly raises its head in religious institutions, as has come to light since the sexual revolution has permitted victims of sexual abuse to speak of the incursions on their person. It seems often, where people with suppressed sexuality gain power over others, sexuality is actuated in painful ways, in forms of abuse – residential schools for example.
The violence the emanates from sexual suppression is evident in so many ways in Christian institutions, in the pre-sexual revolution era women who became pregnant out of wedlock incurred violent rebuke and marginalization from the Church. Our policies around prostitution that leave the most vulnerable in often the most deplorable of conditions, is an act of violence that emanates from the Christian moral complex. When people exist affected by suppression, in the case of sexual suppression and other forms of suppression, that is to say, they are in effect fighting to contain an inclination, their response to that inclinations enactment is often violent. You could say that the greater the degree of desire, the higher the degree of suppression, the greater the degree of violence that is elicited in response.
From Eve who betrayed men to the Virgin Mary as an ideal, the ostensible foundation of Christian morality as it relates to sexuality, lands on the male psyche in ways that affects our interface with women negatively. It may be posited that in our secular society that most young men are unaware of biblical teachings and Eve and Mary hold no sway with them, the truth however, is that these concepts amplify as they enter and are distributed through the narrative.
It is my assertion that the tacit double sexual standard that exalts men in sexual conquest and sullies women in sexual participation (thankfully diminished in contemporary society) emanates from the Christian ideals of femininity and the biological inclinations of men, in conjunction with the male desire for fidelity. It maybe, the more generalized double standards between men and women in society finds some cause here as well.
The Abrahamic moral complex, in fact the entire human moral complex, as it relates to human sexuality came into being thousands of years ago. It was developed to generate a harmonious society, to reduce male conflict, to create the family unit, to satiate the male desire for fidelity and to manage the negative externalities that flow from human sexuality. It was developed at time when the consequences of sexual interface were dire for people – especially young women, so the rhetoric and response to sexual interface had to be extreme and strict. The moral complex that has arisen from these times is still being projected throughout human discourse, some is a help, and some is a hindrance. As this arcane and archaic moral complex finds expression in society, in the form of government policy and actions, and in the general human endeavor, it effects VAW, and confounds an equitable and loving interface between men and women. As morals come to us with our mother’s milk, we fail in many cases to examine them; in the west we need to examine the Abrahamic moral complex and keep the good, and dispose of the bad - keep the family, dispose of inequity.
With a clean moral slate, we can build a narrative that is anti-violent and is free of suppressive language. We can construct a human interface that is liberated, that allows us to teach young people that sexual relations are a beautiful and can occur healthfully as a part of their general life course. When human sexuality is seen as it is, as beautiful and worthy, humanity will do with it what humanity does with all things it values, it will protect it and by extension protect those involved in it – this is the thing we call progress. In contemplating a new moral complex, let’s begin with the end in mind - a society of love and tolerance, with happy children, the one Christ started his revolution for. The beauty in Christ’s message has survived 2000 years of the institutional perversions that came from of philosophical warfare, actual warfare and power mongering, because it is liberating and recognizes the innate beauty in humanity.