Thursday, February 16, 2012

Back to the Dark Ages

Okay, maybe the Dark Ages is too much of an exaggeration, but I don’t believe the 1800’s is. You are no doubt aware of the House Oversight and Government Reform Hearing, chaired by Darrell Issa, that consisted of mostly, almost exclusively, White males. This was a hearing about contraception and religious freedom, no women were allowed. Indeed, one woman who was there and waiting to testify was denied her right to do so on the grounds that it was a meeting about religious freedom and therefore she was irrelevant. Now you have to think carefully about this. It was supposedly a meeting about religious freedom, having to do with contraception. You might think a woman would have something to say about contraception, but not according to Darrell Issa. Apparently women have no interest in the question of religious freedom either. This farcical meeting I think is perfectly symbolic of the broader question of male/female relations that continues on now into the 21st century even though it should have been settled long ago.

You will notice, first of all, that the objection to contraception is coming from the Catholic Bishops. The Catholic Bishops organization consists of a number of mostly White old men who dress in medieval robes, funny hats, and carry elaborate staffs, who, while presumably celibate themselves, preside over an organization importantly guilty of pedophilia and its protection. Women are not allowed into this Church hierarchy. The fact that Issa would convene a committee of old men and no women to discuss the problem of contraception and religious freedom is itself a throwback to some previous social condition, indicating an arrogance and outdated view of the position of women in the modern world, laughable, pathetic, stupid, thoughtless, an ultimately politically suicidal. That older White males should presume to decide what women should do with their bodies and their lives in the 21st century is revealing. It reveals that hundreds, even thousands of years of experience have yet to penetrate the brains of men.

But this travesty is only a small part of the apparent Republican desire to return us to the 18th century. Rick Santorum, the current leader of the Republican candidates, believes contraception should be illegal, or at least should be left up to the states to decide. Santorum apparently believes that contraception leads to runaway sexual activity that is intrinsically “bad.” His multi-million dollar supporter has suggested that all women have to do to avoid unwanted pregnancies is to hold an aspirin between their knees (as I guess he thinks they used to do). He is concerned with our seeming obsession with sex and I gather thinks this is because of the availability of contraception. Never mind the overwhelming concern with sex on the news, television programs, print media, and elsewhere, directly related to the capitalistic exploitation of sex for purely commercial, purely profit-oriented, goals. Sex sells, as is perfectly obvious. As fully 99% of American women use contraception at one time or another, and for health reasons over and above the fear of pregnancy, their desire to do away with it would appear to be foolish even beyond belief. Santorum would have some kind of sex police in our bedrooms. I suspect that in a Santorum Presidency chastity belts would make a strong comeback (a potentially profit making enterprise in the right hands).

It is not only in the realm of sexuality that Republicans, especially Santorum, would have us retreat to the 18th century. He now says he wants to do away with government sponsored education, even state government sponsored education, leaving it up to local parents. This is an idea so transparently insane as to guarantee his flavor of the month status will quickly dissipate, as it should. But it is an idea perfectly consistent with other Republican gems that would do away with government altogether. Like, who needs government, when the private sector has proven to be so successful? Ron Paul is perhaps the most important purveyor of this non-government nonsense. He would like us to return to the gold standard, and the joys of the frontier when men were men and women were nothing, there were no homosexuals, Black people were “in their place,” and business was free to pollute and destroy the environment as they saw fit.

Actually, all of this is basically trivial, the underlying problems of female sexuality and male dominance are not much different now than they were during the Dark Ages. There is a universal fear of female sexuality on the part of males. This can be seen in every culture in the world, from our own problems with female suffrage, contraception, laws about loss of consortium, and the legal position of women, to the Middle East with their insistence on the burkha, to cultures in New Guinea where women are considered polluting, to foot binding in China, chastity belts in the middle ages, clitoridectomies in Africa, harems, polygamy, and universal male dominance (at least publicly) everywhere. Even in matrilineal societies women must defer to their brothers, in polyandrous societies they are simply brood mares with no other status, and so on and on. Women are universally considered dangerous, capable of coming between brothers and even fathers and sons, to say nothing of potentially disruptive of social life in general. This was true long before there was effective contraception, and doing away with it will not even touch the basic problem. W. Somerset Maugham’s marvelous short story, “Rain,” is, I believe, testimony to this remarkable power.

I listen to feminists and all these radical gals - most of them are failures. They've blown it. Some of them have been married, but they married some Casper Milquetoast who asked permission to go to the bathroom. These women just need a man in the house. That's all they need. Most of the feminists need a man to tell them what time of day it is and to lead them home. And they blew it and they're mad at all men. Feminists hate men. They're sexist. They hate men - that's their problem.

Jerry Falwell

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