On Feminine Solidarity or: Das Schwert in der Scheide [The Sword in the Sheath/Vagina]
A different view on emancipation: surprisingly it is often women who make other women's lives miserable.
"After a while I didn't think it was a terrible life, no, not really. After a while, I hurt so much I didn't feel any difference. What was happier than seeing everybody gobble down the shiny mushrooms and bamboo shoots I had helped to prepare that day? What was more satisfying than having Huang Taitai nod and pat my head when I had finished combing her hair one hundred strokes? How much happier could I be after seeing Tyan-Yu eat a whole bowl of noodles without once complaining about its taste or my looks..."
(From: "The Joy Luck Club" by Amy Tan, P. 51)
Who is the enemy?
Who is the enemy in the above text? Is it the "bad husband", or that "bad mother-in-law" that just happened to raise her son that way? It's a teaching from the Martial Arts that "the enemy is within" - perhaps an interesting starting point for any analyses regarding the situation of women today.
Many are complaining nowadays over the slow progress of all attempts to achieve equality between men and women. The masters of the orient tell us, first to localize the enemy in its actual position, and then to expect a successful war. As long as we can only assume its position, any expedition will be a potential fiasco.
All over the world the belief is that "men" are the enemies of feminine emancipation, and this is repeated over and over again. It is repeated, because it seems so obvious. But "obvious" doesn't necessarily mean "correct". Actually, regarding men as our "enemies" is nothing but a theory, an attempt to explain our current situation.
Admittedly, there are arguments that for a man an emancipated woman is quite inconvenient, for he wants to maintain a comfortable life. Nevertheless I never met a man in my life ever, who really would have requested me to cook his supper, or iron his shirts. The only one that ever prophesied me such a man was my grandmother who herself raised her son and grandson as men quite incapable regarding household chores.
Country of abused women
Not long ago I travelled to India, the "country of the abused women". This country is full of goddesses, and awards its living women highest honours if they commit Sati (i.e. if they follow their deceased husband onto the pyre), a country where in some regions on 100 little boys there are only 70 little girls, since some were aborted, and others murdered while still babies... etc., etc. Which is more horrifying for the newlywed Indian girl - her unknown husband or the hell of a life her new mother-in-law is going to give her?
The insanity of all this is, that this mother-in-law has just been in the very same situation when she had gotten married, some 30 years ago. She as well had had to suffer a lot - but why didn't she learn to treat her daughter-in-law in nicer ways now?
Too often it's us, women, that make life impossible for other women. This starts with our crediting any male physician with more professional competence than a female one. We prefer male dentists, gynecologists, lawyers, politicians... and should not be surprised at all when we see the econimic consequences of our choices. Women will never step up the ladder if we, their co-women, throw a club between the legs whenever possible.
Forgive the ones who did us harm
Perhaps we simply should stop lamenting, and look deep inside ourselves, and forgive women. The ones that did harm to us, (mothers, stepmothers, bad female teachers). And ourselves.
And then go out, and support other women. For a world with more justice. For a world with more chances for every one of us!