Men, men and more men

I’ll preface this thought with a disclaimer – I’ve never thought of myself as a modern, rip off my bra kind of feminist.  I’m a traditionalist who would be quite content to marry, stay at home with the kids and cook the nightly meal – although I draw the line at doing the dishes…well one must take a stand somewhere.

Nevertheless something occurred to me in a class of 6-8 year olds that I was supervising for a month long summer camp.  The two boys in the class were so difficult.  They constantly picked fights with the girls and were disrespectful to me.  There was this perplexing need to repetitively assert dominance without reason or reward.  Where did it come from?

When I came home and was watching TV that night I realized a few things. For the most part music videos are full of strutting men being fawned over by scantily clothed women or by men who are feeling sad because of “some woman.”  Flip the channel.  The nightly news – some CEO is in hot water for sexual harassment.  Names aside – it is assumed to be a man because 99% of business leaders are men.  The woman will have her 15 minutes – TV interviews, lawyers fighting for a good settlement.  Then likely you’ll never hear of her again because no one wants to hire a trouble maker, even if she was indeed the innocent victim.

Flip the channel.  A preacher, again a man, is going to save my soul.  Religion is probably one of the most male dominated aspects of our society.  I clearly remember being in an orthodox synagogue.  The men were allowed to sing their hearts out in rapture praising god while the women were expected to stay silent on the segregated opposite side of the room.  I remember thinking, “is my voice not equal in value before god?”  In a church, I also remember all the women bowing and kissing the hand of a priest – who of course is a man.

Even the biblical canon which guides the vast majority of the “faithful” itself is full of things that give one pause.  Of course we all know about mischievous Eve.  Adam was too sensible to do such a silly thing.  Eve, being the lesser, was the cause for all calamity. Even poor Mary, she couldn’t fashion a miracle within her without a little help from a man.  (But of course she remained a virgin.)  One typically assumes god is a man or man-like.  I’ve never once in my life heard someone refer to god as “she” except in ultra feminist circles.

Flip the channel.  Police dramas, hospital dramas.  Full of butchered women (for the most part) and colleagues falling for each other.   The man almost exclusively being the wooer and the woman the willing, or in many cases unwilling yet won over, object.

Flip the channel.  The nightly news.  Almost exclusively the lead anchors are men, there to tell us what is what.  Do they think you just wouldn’t put as much trust in the words of a woman?  Would she not have the same commanding sense of justice, truth and authority to convey the state of the world?

As a woman I think sometimes I feel I am drowning in a sea of men.  It seems the days of worshipping women goddesses and pagan statues extolling the virtues of the feminine form are well behind us.   Yet we’re in the modern age and all has advanced exponentially…right?

More Questions Than Answers

From time to time you see articles exclaiming the erosion of traditional religion in the modern age.  The reasons given for It never seem to have much thought behind them.  It’s usually something along the lines of “people just aren’t into it anymore”, but they never really say why.

When you think back to the times when religion was a central, and in many cases all encompassing, aspect of people’s lives there is an element that many of these regions and eras in time have in common – singular authority.  Lands were often ruled by monarchs.  On a more local level, typically the most powerful person in town was the priest or other religious leader – often one of the only literate people around.  People were used to looking to a leader for all the answers.  They had the questions, which they could ask with varying degrees of freedom depending on the time and place, but most had little choice but to rely on central authority figures for what more often than not amounted to pre-scripted answers.

In the modern era with the proliferation of access to information, we have an unprecedented means to both obtain and interpret questions on an unprecedented level.  We no longer have to look to a singular figure to provide us with the answers – neither priests, nor kings, or even God himself.  The questions have not changed, but the answers are so wide ranging that the possibilities of interpretation have increased exponentially.  And yet, even with this explosion of individual initiative, unencumbered by traditional societal restraints and deference to centralized authority figures – both real and imagined, we are still as puzzled as ever as to why we are here and what happens when we expire.