History: His-story and Her-story

HistoryHerstoryThe dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present … As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew.
In Lincoln’s address to Congress in December 1862

Those who have read even a couple of Simple Reality essays must have learned the importance of the distinction between the story we call illusion (P-B) and the story we call Simple Reality (P-A). To understand the “Big Picture” of the human condition through time, the story is all-important. One of the most tragic and disturbing stories in human history is “her-story.” Women got off to an inauspicious beginning with Eve’s insubordination or “immorality” and have suffered the slings and arrows of myth ever since. We needn’t slog through history to analyze and prepare to make amends for the treatment of women, we just need the courage to look at reality today and “fix it.”

In fact, all of “his-story” and “her-story” is present today and staring us in the face. Neither men nor women are going to escape relating to each other in a dysfunctional way without a deeper understanding of how we are all profoundly alike, facing the same basic identity which is the origin of all our suffering.

How can a species survive without women and children? And yet, women and children today around the world are the least respected, the least protected, and receive less compassion from the men who control our societies than those men show to each other. Sounds outrageous, and yet we must keep our attention focused—remember—the courage to look at reality.

One of the largest groups receiving projections as the other today makes up half the populations of India, Egypt, Norway and the U.S. Notice how the differences in the four cultural stories or contexts influences the treatment of women in these four societies.

Men project their fear on women as the other. Yes, many men are afraid of women virtually everywhere but you don’t have to accept that observation to appreciate that in these next four stories “his-story” is linked to “her-story” and the narrative is causing them both unnecessary suffering.

Perhaps you think we might be overstating the case in, say, western societies today (2014). But in fact, we might even go further by saying that certain animals are treated better than women. “The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was founded in 1824, nine years before the British Empire abolished slavery. Today a donkey sanctuary in Devon attracts more donations per year than the three most prominent British Charities dealing with violence against women combined.” Apparently, an ass beating an ass would attract more censors than an ass beating a woman. More about the asses in question in a moment.

When it comes to expressing the power energy center of the false self, it seems that women have not been able to acquire the degree of control over the political and economic systems that men have.  Even when those women are advocating for children, the American male does not seem too concerned.

Could it be that women follow the lead of the men rather than their own self-interest? “Congress has been debating early education programs for more than 40 years and it has hardly made a dent. A great many of our employers don’t bother to make jobs more family-friendly; they don’t even bother to make modest arrangements to accommodate their pregnant workers. Everybody thinks this is extremely unfortunate [oh really], but almost nobody does anything about it because there is not a lot of political or financial reward for siding with working mothers.” Political or financial reward for whom? Ahhhh, now you’re catching on.

Speaking of women in the workplace, “her-storically” a recent phenomenon, a personal story illustrates that workers are equal, but some are more equal than others and we can guess which those are. Jessica Stensrud has been dealing with those barnyard pigs who think they are “better than” for some time in the workplace. “I graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in biological sciences (pre-med program) and was a violin student of Itzhak Perlman. I have always had to fight like hell to be taken as an equal either in music or in I.T. Now that I am almost 65, there are still more battles—age and sex discrimination—clearly present at my current job.”

Women have a right to equality in the workplace and also support in providing our society with the incomparable blessing of children. They have no such luck on either score. Remember, discrimination against women is a power issue no matter where it occurs and it is the men who feel threatened. Do we mean that the hairy-chested guy in the buffalo skin with the 40-pound club protecting the cave entrance is frightened? Yep! That’s him.

Peggy Young, a driver for UPS, had an accident that limited her ability to lift heavy packages and probably would have been assigned “light duty” or another type of work but then she became pregnant and was told by her doctor not to lift packages over 20 pounds. UPS put her on unpaid medical leave. Alas, she was cursed with wanting to bring a child into the world.

As we all have heard in recent times, women are finding discrimination in the work place and also are bumping up against it in their religions. There is plenty of evidence that women in the early Roman Catholic Church enjoyed greater equality than they do today 2000 years later. We thought some good news would be refreshing at this point. “The Church of England overturned centuries of tradition on Monday (December 2014) with a final vote allowing women to become bishops, with the first appointment possible by Christmas.”

This same measure was defeated in 2012. “But Archbishop Welby, the spiritual leader of the church and the global Anglican Communion, who supported the vote from the start, had warned fellow church leaders this year that the public would find the exclusion of women ‘almost incomprehensible.’”  Speaking of the incomprehensible, let us continue.

Let’s move on to some other aspects of “her-story” that we find hard to believe. We mentioned earlier that Britain abolished slavery in the first half of the 19th century. Unfortunately, abolishing slavery was not the same as ending it. The current statistics are heart-rending and involve a predominance of females, both women and children.

The 2014 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons revealed that most victims are female and that one in three trafficking victims is a child. “While sexual exploitation remains the predominant reason for trafficking, victims are also increasingly being used for forced labor …”  Slavery is still found in every part of the world and perpetrators seldom suffer consequences for this most heinous crime.

It is perhaps shocking for those who think the forward movement of history involves progress to learn of the increase in slavery in the 21st century. The next abusive treatment of girls that will merit our outrage is as difficult to believe as selling them into slavery. “UNICEF estimates that of the 125 million women worldwide who have undergone genital cutting in the 29 countries where it is most prevalent—mostly in Africa and the Middle East—one in five lives in Egypt.”

What is genital cutting or genital mutilation? “According to the World Health Organization, it ‘comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for nonmedical reasons.’ The procedure has no health benefits. We hack away at perfectly healthy parts of our girls’ genitals because we’re obsessed with female virginity and because women’s sexuality is a taboo.” The “we” here is the fear-driven male in a culture wherein he seeks power and control over the women in that society.

The male power structure in these societies is not conscious of the underlying motive of power and control and has other “rationales” for this egregious sexual abuse. “This cutting is believed to reduce a girl’s sex drive. And families believe their daughters are unmarriageable unless they are cut.”  We know that the story or paradigm involving beliefs, attitudes and values drives the behavior in a given society and it is the males that “write” that narrative.

The story in question triumphs over so-called historical progress as the statistics on slavery suggest. So it is with genital mutilation. Even though laws were passed in Egypt outlawing the practice it has continued to increase. “‘Medicalized’ cutting is at 77 percent—up from 55 percent 20 years ago. When I [journalist Mona Eltahawy] interviewed a 53-year-old survivor of the practice in Cairo for a BBC radio documentary about women in the Middle East, she told me, ‘It must be carried out, because that’s the way to maintain the purity of girls, to make sure that the girl is not out of control. We don’t care if it’s against the law or if they’re trying to stop it. We know doctors who are willing to continue and have done so.’”  As we have often said, the story is all-powerful in determining identity and driving behavior.

We in the U.S. might say that males in nations using genital mutilation to assuage their fears of out-of-control females is abhorrent. We have our own Christian religious conservatives who have similar fears and they think that keeping young men and women ignorant gives them the control that they want. “Medicaid spends an average of $12,770 for a birth. Yet we spend only $8 per teenage girl on programs to avoid pregnancy. In financial terms, that’s nuts. In human terms, it’s a tragedy.”  We agree with Nicholas Kristof and as we are seeing in this essay, life is suffering in both “his-story” and “her-story” and we are not yet finished.

Children should not be brought into the world by accident. It is no exaggeration to say that the global village will overpopulate itself out of existence. The planet’s males should fear out-of-control population growth more than the threat of young women having children that many don’t want in the first place. LARCs or long-acting reversible contraceptives provided for girls and women who want them will save the nation money and reduce the population of unwanted children who weaken the social fabric. “A study in St. Louis offered free birth control, including LARCs, to sexually active teenagers and found that pregnancy rates for them plunged by more than three-quarters. Abortions fell by a similar rate.”  The irony is that if foes of abortion want to reduce them, they should support birth control for women. No-brainers are often beyond the grasp of those scared into a fight or flight (denial) reaction.

Comparing America’s “story” in this regard to that of our more enlightened cousins abroad we can see that the U.S. is lagging in “historical progress.”

  • American teenagers become pregnant at a rate of about one a minute.
  • Eighty-two percent of births to teenagers in the U.S. are unplanned.
  • American and European teenagers seem to be sexually active at roughly similar rates, although Americans may start a bit earlier. But the American teenage birthrate is three times Spain’s rate and five times France’s, and 15 times Switzerland’s.
  • Young Americans show a lack of understanding of where babies come from. Among teenagers who unintentionally became pregnant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the most cited reason for not using contraception was “I didn’t think I could become pregnant.”

The old saw “Keep them barefoot and pregnant” would seem to be the strategy of the American male in controlling the women who threaten them. An exaggeration? No in fact it should read “Keep them barefoot, pregnant, poor and ignorant” because an unplanned pregnancy can block a woman’s education plans, lower her earning potential, reduce her employability, and limit her family to a life of poverty. It’s almost as if the American male was conducting war on American women and children.

What about the overpopulation threat? How are the paranoid males dealing with that in a nation where that problem is at a crisis level? What if the males in the government started a sterilization program to benefit the poor? Beware of the male in medical garb who puts on an act of compassion. Check his bank account. Our continuing saga takes us to India where, believe it or not, the male is more terrified of women than the American male.

The structure of the program will quickly reveal its true intention. Women were paid 1400 rupees ($23) for the surgeries. “A ‘motivator,’ usually a local public health worker, was paid 200 rupees, or about $3.25, to bring a woman to the camp.”  Those of us in America who invented the assembly line and mass production immediately see the problem here. The more units produced, the higher the profit. Women are not “units,” however, and shouldn’t be treated as such but try telling that to a greedy surgeon.

“It was not my fault—the administration pressured me to meet targets.”  What Dr. R. K. Gupta said appears to be true. In much of India, authorities (male of course) aggressively pursue targets and threaten health workers with salary cuts and dismissals. This means that the workers in turn pressure women to undergo sterilization treatments without being provided information on complications or irreversibility. Dr. Gupta, working at breakneck speed, performed 83 surgeries in six hours. Dr. Gupta was arrested in mid-November and charged with culpable homicide when 13 women died after he performed a large number of tubal ligations. Gupta’s hubris got the better of him and probably didn’t help his case when he bragged, “‘These were only 83 operations,’ he said, ‘I have done 300 on a single day many years ago.’”

Of all the sterilization operations performed in the world, 37 percent are done in India, too fast, as we have seen, with many in unsanitary, assembly-line conditions. “In the 12 months ended in March 2013, 4.6 million Indians were sterilized. Between 2009 and 2012, India’s government paid compensation for 568 women who died as a result of the procedures.”

Now we return to the U.S. What do a prestigious state university, the U.S. military and one of the most successful American comedians have in common? They have all become embroiled in the alleged crime of rape. These incidents have all come to light in November 2014 but started years, probably many years, ago.

The alleged rape of a coed at a fraternity party at the University of Virginia, the allegations of more than a dozen women that they were drugged and raped by Bill Cosby and the sexual assault charges brought by a 59-year-old Marine Corps veteran are but the latest of a never-ending pattern deeply imbedded in our American culture. Rape is how the male false self seeks to dominate both males and females.

“The fact that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way our society treats women is a proposition on which there is now general agreement.”  If there were general agreement wouldn’t something be done about this widespread tragedy? Is that cultural change, that shift in the American narrative, finally taking place? Don’t hold your breath. In fact it’s past time for a series of deep breaths just to keep from avoiding despair.

“For all the talk of ‘zero tolerance’ on campuses, in the military and in the White House of sexual assault, extensive legislation on Capitol Hill has yet to move forward and President Obama has largely stayed out of the fray on the issue.”

“Critics note that a two-decade-old federal law requiring colleges and universities to disclose information about crime on and around their campuses, including sexual offenses, is rarely enforced.”  In other words, if women in the U.S. want a change in how they are treated by American males, they will have to become much more pro-active than they have been thus far.

Before behavior will change, values have to change. Which values for example? The University of Virginia was an all-male bastion of privilege until it began to admit women in 1970. The values and behavior of those earlier decades hangs on. The fight song “From Rugby Road to Vinegar Hill has lyrics that “celebrate drunken excess, sex and, by some accounts sexual assault.”

The most frightened males will engage in the most outrageous behavior—blaming the victim. “For decades, officials at Bob Jones University told sexual assault victims that they were to blame for their abuse, and to not report it to the police because doing so would damage their families, churches and the university, according to a long-awaited independent report released Thursday [December 11, 2014].”  Like the Catholic Church, fundamentalist Protestant institutions still see the concupiscent Eve when looking at women.

Looking more closely at the American narrative and its history, we see, in a sense that the henhouse and its inhabitants (the females) are being guarded by the fox (the males) and, being hungry, what do we expect the foxes to do? As Nicholas Kristof says, “We are still too passive about sexual violence in our midst, too willing to make excuses, too inclined to perceive shame in being raped. These are attitudes that facilitate violence by creating a protective blanket of silence and impunity. In that sense, we are all enablers.”  In our society, it’s O.K. if a few chickens get eaten.

So far we have seen the words values and attitudes crop up in our text. If we add the word belief, we will have the definition of worldview, our story. How do our young men come to believe that it is O.K. to sexually assault the daughters, sister, and mothers, of their community (not to mention the sons, brothers and fathers)? “Too often boys are socialized [taught the worldview of P-B] to see women and girls as baubles, as playthings. The upshot is that rapists can be stunningly clueless, somehow unaware that they have committed a crime or even a faux pas.”  Incredible, but we must believe this is happening if there is any chance for behavioral change.

Nowadays women are entering the U.S. military in ever larger numbers. How is it going for them in that most macho of environments? Common sense would say that the military is probably not the best place for a woman to receive training and employment. First of all, women forego the protection of the U.S. Constitution and enter the legal paradigm of the Uniform Code of Military Justice where commanding officers can exercise the role of jury, judge and executioner. Justice in the military wears a blindfold alright, one that doesn’t enable “her” to see the female soldier as deserving of impartial treatment.

Even our elected representatives are finding that the military may have too much political support among male politicians to be reformed. In other words when criticized about their behavior, the males in the military close ranks. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand pointed out that the last gender-relations survey from 2012 indicated there had been 26,000 cases of sexual assault, rape and unwanted sexual contact in a year’s time. Only one in eight or 3,300 of them were actually reported.

Senator Gillibrand, among other outraged female representatives are trying to uncover the facts. “And so when you speak to the survivors, they’ll tell you they won’t report because they don’t believe the chain of command will do anything or fear witness retaliation. Of the brave souls that did report these crimes, 62 percent were retaliated against. So you have a culture where rapists go free, there’s no accountability for sexual assault, there’s a climate where everything is shoved under the rug and people are actually punished for reporting sexual assault.”

In a rational society economic policies would be designed to benefit both men, women and children. The American economic paradigm reveals a fundamental belief that many people are lazy and cannot be trusted. “It is a simple idea supported by both economic theory and most people’s intuition: If welfare benefits are generous and taxes high, fewer people will work. Why bother being industrious, after all, if you can receive a check from the government for sitting around—and if your choice to work means that much of your income will end up in the tax collectors coffers?”  Notice how a large and growing segment of the American population becomes the other in this narrative.

The beliefs, attitudes and values in Scandinavian countries flow from not only a different narrative but a more compassionate and trusting one. The resulting economic policies also support fathers, mothers and children and the other is harder to identify in these societies.

“In Scandinavian countries, working parents have the option of heavily subsidized child care. Leave policies make it easy for parents to take off work to care for a sick child. Heavily subsidized public transportation may make it easier for a person in a low-wage job to get to and from work. And free or inexpensive education may make it easier to get the training to move from the unemployment rolls to a job.”  We could, of course find misogyny in the Scandinavian countries because the male false self is expressing itself there but maybe the move toward more humanitarian governmental policies indicates an awakening of the True self. We can only hope so.

In our brief excursion around the planet looking at the current behavior of men and women in contrasting cultures, we can see how “his-story” and “her-story” have led to varying outcomes in behavior. Planet earth is a part of the totality of all Creation.  Regrettably, there is one thing that all of the cultures on our planet have in common.  One part of Creation (the human male) self-destructs by making war on another part of Creation (the human female), of which he is an inseparable and mutually dependent part. This behavior is a good definition of insanity.  One thing that history can tell us, even very recent history, is that something needs to change my dear reader.


References and notes are available for this essay.
Find a much more in-depth discussion in the Simple Reality books:
Where Am I? Story – The First Great Question
Who Am I? Identity – The Second Great Question
Why Am I Here? Behavior – The Third Great Question
Science & Philosophy: The Failure of Reason in the Human Community


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