Dispatch from the War about Women
“For at least 10,000 years or so virtually every political system, economic system and religion has been designed by men for men. There is no natural or divine law that requires any of these structures to be designed in the way that they have been. During those same 10,000 years, every justification of those structures has been developed by men to benefit men.”
We often hear the slogan “The War on Women,” bandied about by those, on one side or the other, seeking political advantage. In fact, this war on women has been going on for over 5000 years. What we have now in United States politics and going on in the Near and Middle East is not so much a “War On Women” but a “War About Women.” Like it or not, those that continue to oppose the march of women to equality and more are faced with resisting one of the great turning points of human history.
About 10,000 years or so ago the Neolithic agricultural revolution got under weigh. This new culture was unusual because it centered on women. Women tilled the crops while men engaged in perfunctory hunting and caring for the few domestic animals available. The economic system, social system and the intellectual system based on production of crops and children (workers) were considered under women’s control. This culture as far as we know was relatively peaceful. Derived from Mesolithic gatherers, it lacked a tradition of masculine violence and the need for war. These societies lasted for about 6000 years.
Eventually, new technologies (e.g., the plow and animal husbandry) reduced the economic and social dominance of women and more warlike masculine hunting cultures ultimately moved in. Finally by about 3000 B.C, they had reduced women to the status of more or less chattel. A status that has lasted almost until the dawn of this century.
During the 1950’s or so, due to their greater longevity, wealth (not income) fell into the hands of women such that by some measures women held a greater overall percentage of the nation’s wealth than men. This did not help women much because that wealth was usually managed by men. Only a very few women had been able secure income and social status independent of male largesse.
Since then, technology, ideology, and society have changed so that women have been able to challenge the dominance of men and begin to amass their own power and wealth as well as develop their own ideology. For example: in the conduct of war, because of computerization of many weapons systems, women have become as good as men in the science of killing and often better. In Kobane for example, the co-commander of the Kurdish forces defending the town from the forces of ISIS is a woman. Should they succeed in defeating the besiegers they may change the face of Near and Middle East society forever.
Also, in schools women are excelling and graduating in ever larger majorities. Even in such occupations that revel in male aggressiveness like derivative fund management, studies have shown that women run derivative funds substantially outperformed male run ones. To describe women as more risk averse than men as some studies do is unfair. It would be more accurate to say that they are simply less prone to periods insane irresponsibility than men.
Thus, about two decades ago after steady advancement of women since the 1940’s, the “War About Women” began in earnest. For example, I believe women’s excelling in school and scholarship encouraged, in part, the attack on schooling by the male-dominated traditional religious denominations and conservative organizations.
In the Near and Middle East, it was not simply replacement of burka’s with Western dress, but the realization that these free and educated women inevitably would move into positions of economic independence and ultimately seek political power similar to what they began to assume in the West that drove the reactionary mullah’s into a frenzy.
What is happening in the US and in the Near and Middle East is all about women and their destiny. Women stand at the threshold of real power, economic, social and intellectual and many men are afraid.