A few weeks ago I read an article that struck a very disturbing chord with me,
because it rang true and is so horrific, really. It's about the silencing of women
over all time (and most places) from ancient times til now. Worse, the case made in the article has been reinforced recently, again and again, with present-day examples. But, first, let me share examples from the article.
The article tells of this silencing in ancient Rome:
One earnest Roman anthologist of the first century AD was able to rake up just three examples of ‘women whose natural condition did not manage to keep them silent in the forum’. His descriptions are revealing. The first, a woman called Maesia, successfully defended herself in the courts and ‘because she really had a man’s nature behind the appearance of a woman was called the “androgyne”’. The second, Afrania, used to initiate legal cases herself and was ‘impudent’ enough to plead in person, so that everyone became tired out with her ‘barking’ or ‘yapping’ (she still isn’t allowed human ‘speech’). We are told that she died in 48 BC, because ‘with unnatural freaks like this it’s more important to record when they died than when they were born.’
Nothing is said about the third - history has (for us) silenced her completely. It goes on:
There are only two main exceptions in the classical world to this abomination of women’s public speaking. First, women are allowed to speak out as victims and as martyrs – usually to preface their own death. ...
The second exception is more familiar. Occasionally women could legitimately rise up to speak – to defend their homes, their children, their husbands or the interests of other women. ...Women, in other words, may in extreme circumstances publicly defend their own sectional interests, but not speak for men or the community as a whole. In general, as one second-century AD guru put it, ‘a woman should as modestly guard against exposing her voice to outsiders as she would guard against stripping off her clothes.’
Modern Western societies have made progress on race but sometimes seem to have gone backwards, or at least gone nowhere, on the sexes. In Britain, there is still Woman's Hour on BBC radio
- one hour for women's issues, 23 for men's. Women are not silenced in Britain, they are encouraged to speak about "woman's issues," their own sectional interests--such as caring for children and elderly relatives, which should be of no interest to men. Why would men, even those with children, need to know about raising children? It's clearly a women's issue - that is not an issue that should concern fathers, but should for some reason concern women who are not mothers -
women who don't have children should listen since it's their role and duty and surely they all care about it. Also, women's rights are only important to women so they belong in this one hour a day where only women will be expected to listen. Of course women are also allowed and even expected to join in the public conversation in Britain, they are not silenced but
the idea of an hour for women's issues, which includes those topics, is a way of keeping women "in their place" -- their historical place of silence.
It seems that while we might overcome issues of race, sexism is built into our social system and is going nowhere. We do not even acknowledge it, for example, few people realise - or at least remember or discuss - that black men had the vote well before women of any colour, let alone the extent to which women are still today, as across all time, being silenced.
Anyway, as I said, I have recently seen the silencing discussed in the article: in the past three days I seem to have run into as many cases of it:
When women have spoken out about perceived sexism in the video game industry they were silenced with threats of violence
: "misogynistic culture of video games, a culture that exists both in the sexist portrayal of women in video games and in the violent threats that have been made against women who have criticized this culture." (Here
Speaking out about a convicted rapist being welcomed back into the spotlight, to be a role model for young boys and men earns you rape threats
: "Olympic gold medalist Jessica Ennis-Hill and campaigner Jean Hatchet who have both received rape threats following statements they made condemning Sheffield United FC's decision to allow their player, Ched Evans, a convicted rapist, to train with the team." (found on facebook, articles on it here
; and here
Finally, we've been hearing a lot about Uber, the new alternative to taxi cabs, lately, and apparently they are silencing women who make allegations about Uber's drivers
--but these women deserve it, how dare they accuse a driver of attacking them while wearing a skirt! That is like patting your head rubbing your tummy at the same time, or driving while black! A Fin 24 Tech article tells us that, along with a culture of sexism: "We've seen it in the company's PR team discrediting female passengers who accuse drivers of attacking them by whispering that they were 'drunk' or 'dressed provocatively'."
In some cases, with the "ever-worsening frat culture" and "smearing and objectification," this would be against the law, no? Obstruction of justice, intimidation of witness - or victim
, in this case. There has been some public outcries about Uber's idea for silencing of journalists too
: "Not Cool: Uber Executive Suggests Smearing Female Journalist Who Criticized Company."
It is shocking. Several decades have passed since the show Cagney and Lacey was on the air, with episodes such as "Date Rape"
dealing with issues such as the sexist attitude born out of patriarchal culture in which men are given a pass for raping a woman while the woman is blamed for dressing "provocatively," and yet so many men seem still not to get it at all
(read all the way down), despite how f&*king obvious the basic concept is
. Instead, people want to be cavemen and try their best to find a way to blame evolutionary psychology.
That appears to be why feminists are so afraid of the science, but it's time to remind folks that when it comes to evolutionary psychology, explanation is not justification
! Once we recognize this, we can learn from it, better understanding how our patriarchy came to be
, and perhaps then can finally defeat it, as we defeat our immoral barbaric roots and caveman mentality.
Buss (1996) advanced a hypothesis about the origins of one component of patriarchy. Specifically, he suggested that the co-evolution of women’s evolved mate preferences for men with resources and men’s co-evolved mate competition strategies to embody what women want created gender differences in the motivational priority attached to resource acquisition. Men who failed to obtain resources that were part of what ancestral women sought in mates often failed to succeed in mate competition. Men did not place an analogous selection pressure on women. Iterated over time and across cultures, men’s strategies of mate competition led them to vie with other men to acquire the resources needed to render themselves attractive to women.
This is not about blame (of which there would be enough to go around, and it would certainly be shared) or justification (of which there is none, for any of the above), but is just a possible way that the evolution of culture and society brought us to the first violent, patriarchal social order.
OK, I'll shut up now!
(I don't want to be accused of going on about women's issues again, and of course the only audience would be women, and women don't belong on the internet, especially on an economics blog!)
P.S. There has been one victory. This schmuck
, whose very existence - his character and his popularity - is a sign of how bad things are, was successfully banned from entering the U.K.
Also, it could be argued that the fact that people need to learn his methods is sort of a good sign too -- in another culture the men may not need lessons to be that sexist and misogynistic...
Labels: culture, discrimination, sexism