When one considers the aphorism, “It’s a man’s world,” one should realize that world lies within a female order. We fly through space at 1.3 million miles per hour within a galaxy of billions of stars known as the Milky Way, after the nurturing female secretion.
The nearest body orbiting the sun with us is our moon, luna, a female in many ancient religions, including the Chinese and Greek. Bygone civilizations believed the moon was female by its 28 day cycle, the same as the menstrual cycle of a woman.
Our planet has been known in various cultures for thousands of years as Mother Earth. We know the earliest deities worshipped by ancient peoples were likely female. Long before the classical Greek gods or Norse gods there were earth goddesses. Ancient peoples probably thought the creator must have been female because males do not give birth (creation).
Gender equality has fluctuated throughout the ages in many cultures. The classical Greek religion’s most powerful 12 gods were half female–Artemis, Demeter, Athena, Hestia, Aphrodite, and Hera. To cite one example of this equality in female power from the classics, Demeter stopped the sun from shining when Zeus, king of the gods, refused to help bring her daughter Persephone back from the underworld, where Hades had kidnapped and raped her. Zeus could only beg her to end this, as humans began to stop worshipping him, and Zeus derived his power from worship. Finally Zeus and his brother Hades had to bargain with Demeter in order to get her to allow the sun to shine again.
The historical Buddha was said to have had females in his audience, unlike the Jesus who came five centuries later and spoke only to male audiences, primarily Jews. Attitudes toward females appear to fluctuate over time. In our time, gods widely-worshipped on the planet are male.
Mothers are seen pretty much as goddesses by their toddlers, who expect mom to be capable of anything. Mom can fix thirst, hunger, or seemingly any problem at all. If one skins one’s knee mom can “kiss it all better” and make the terrible problem vanish.
I was born in a man’s world during the Second World War. Because most of the able-bodied men were off fighting the Axis Powers, women moved into factory jobs they could never have held under normal circumstances. When the war ended, the men came home and the jobs were taken away from the women.
Women then were housewives for the most part. Women didn’t complain, most never had a reason to expect anything else. And it was a step up from the lives they’d had before as farm wives on the frontier.
At the turn of the twentieth century most Americans were farmers, some 98%. Half a century later it had dropped to 2%. My mother grew up in North Dakota on a prairie farm with no running water or electricity. In her typical family of the time, the men would go out to the fields and plow from the time the sun rose to the time the sun set. Then they could rest.
The women did everything else and were not allowed rest. Women fed the livestock. They maintained the vegetable garden. They canned food for the winter. They washed clothes without a washing machine. They sewed all the clothing for the family. For light, they made the candles. On the prairie, where there was no wood, they gathered cow patties for fireplace fuel. They treated sick family members with herbs they gathered from the fields.
I have heard all my life, often from women, that women are too emotional to be elected to high office. Watching men in high office scream for war so often, I find the charge that it is woman who is too emotional to be ridiculous. This past election, with more than a hundred women elected to Congress, mainstream media have made it sound as though we have equality, but we should not accept that until fully half or more of the Congress are female, and we have a long way to go for that.
I have asked women all my life if they would prefer to have been a man, and have never had one reply she’d rather be a man. Freud’s theory of penis envy, therefore, it seems to me, is ridiculous. In fact about 1 in 30,000 transsexuals is male-to-female, but only 1 in 100,000 transsexuals is female-to-male. Apparently more males want to be female than the other way around.
I was inspired to write this by a young female who responded to a question about why she couldn’t do something with, “Because I’m only a girl.” I’d been desirous that girls had left such a lack of confidence behind in this changing world. I hope she grows up to believe that a woman can do anything. We need to motivate girls, “If you can dream it, you can do it,” and never accept, “I’m only a girl.”
Jack Balkwill has been published from the little read Rectangle, magazine of the English Honor Society, to the (then) millions of readers USA Today and many progressive publications/web sites such as Z Magazine, In These Times, Counterpunch, This Can’t Be Happening, Intrepid Report, and Dissident Voice. He is author of “An Attack on the National Security State,” about peace activists in prison.