In the current political situation where we find ourselves confronted with a viable female candidate for the presidency, questions about women’s real status in the United States have bubbled to the surface. On first glance, criticisms about Hillary Clinton seem substantial. The beleaguered emails, for example. That she doesn’t verbalize her ‘message’ as well as Bernie. But while conservatives and Bernie fans alike point to this and other purported deficiencies, there’s little comparable discussion of male candidates’ shortcomings.
Despite the advances in women’s rights, the fact remains that many take a dim view of women who dare to step out of their traditional roles as supplicants, mothers, and helpmates. If she speaks loudly, she’s shrill and aggressive. If she presents her life experience, she’s bragging or exaggerating. But my topic isn’t Hillary or the fact that she’s the most qualified candidate in the field and that she is, without doubt, experiencing a pernicious assault.
It’s my view that the impetus behind this assault is that she is a woman. My topic is the status of women in our culture today.
Women assume they want respect, equal pay, and an independent, self-confident lifestyle. But if you look around, you see women appearing in public as giddy waifs. Hairstyles blind them. Skirts hobble them. Shoes produce a helpless stagger. I’m not the first to weigh in on the regular absurdities of women’s fashion and I readily agree that not all women buy into the fashion parade. It’s largely younger women eager to emphasize sexual allure in competition for male attention. But it’s also largely younger women who despise Hillary Clinton for reasons they can’t fully explain.
For women not comfortable with themselves or with their confused role in our culture, Hillary is a threat. As women have invaded the workplace and other venues previously occupied by males, many are driven by a need to demonstrate submissiveness. Hillary isn’t submissive.
Uneasy with the gender dynamic, women dress in crippling shoes while peering through the hair in their eyes to say, “Okay, I’m working here beside you, but I’m a helpless little thing.” <giggle>
Recently I read an article arguing that we live in a pedophile culture. The author angrily postulated that the ongoing incidence of pedophilia is perpetuated by male demands that women look like little girls in order to be sexually attractive. In other words, men really want pubescent girls and reward females who fill those expectations. To meet the demand, women starve themselves and remove body hair in order to satisfy male expectation.
This attitude is part of the problem. Men are not in control of what we wear or whether we shave our legs.
I’ll just quickly point out that until a hundred years ago, men were expected to marry much younger females because (a) until at least age thirty, men had not established enough of a livelihood or home base to support a wife and inevitable family, and (b) by age fifteen (onset of puberty), women were considered ripe for marriage and their parents were eager to marry them off.
This tradition of the much older man pairing with a much younger woman goes back at least to Greece and Rome where a fifteen to twenty year difference in age between the bride and groom was the norm. I could argue that this longstanding cultural pattern has created a behavior bias sublimated in countless subtle social clues and which contributes to the tendency for women to emphasize their youthful appearance and for men to desire women who appear young.
Underlying this long-established pattern is the assumption that the youthful female is a virgin, thus assuring the male that any offspring are unquestionably his.
Well, hello. We have birth control. We have genetic testing to determine paternity. The population of our ‘tribe’ isn’t suffering, so women are no longer valued as brood mares tasked with producing a team of farm workers or warriors. In theory, our increasingly sophisticated culture places more value on qualities of men and women besides their ability to produce offspring.
The author of that article mistakenly assumes that men’s desires determine how women present themselves. I disagree. Are men excited by women peering through locks of hair? Does a female staggering in four inch heels trigger male lust? Can’t men become sexually aroused by women devoid of all the mascara, push-up bras, and pencil skirts?
Fashions are adopted and sustained by women. Yes, we might agree that men expect it. But I’d be willing to wager that men won’t stop wanting sex no matter how women look. After all, some men have sex with blow-up dolls, less-than-lovely prostitutes, and even the random sheep.
It’s the competition among females that creates this false world of absurd fashion. Tighter skirts and higher heels allow a woman to say “Look at me, not that homely bitch over there.”
It’s a pedophile culture if women make it that way. If they identify with images like the Enchanted Dolls created by Bychkova or even with the more developed waif doll Barbie.
One would think that as the female has gained the right to vote, own property, become educated, participate in the business world, and yes, run for president, she has also realized that hooking up with a man doesn’t have to be her only role in life. But there are two big stumbling blocks to that realization. One is that many women have no ambition but to have babies and be a housewife. I’ll go out on a limb here and postulate that this particular point of view is shared by more than half the female population. Maybe they’re hewing to the course embraced by their mothers and grandmothers. Maybe they see great importance in creating family.
Maybe they’re selectively evolved to do little but breed.
The other stumbling block to women’s real independence is that men have become less empowered. It’s as if without women in subjugation, men don’t quite know how to act. Women who exhibit the logical end stages of independence (i.e. Hillary) create too much cognitive dissonance for large segments of the population. Rushing into the void is an onslaught of scandals, ‘lies,’ and mistrust to help explain an otherwise illogical revulsion.
Confusion incited by these shifts in surface gender norms leads to interesting activities. Not only are women unwittingly compromising their independence through restrictive fashions, they are fantasizing about the good old days. For example, consider the wildly popular “Fifty Shades of Gray” in which a simpering virgin claims a perverse billionaire’s heart by accepting his need to dominate her. That he eventually backs off the whips and chains to a lesser degree of domination undercuts the point. He’s the power figure. Their relationship works because she accepts his need for control and because he loves her so much he’s willing to give up something he enjoys. Kind of.
Probably aside from the author’s intent, the story serves as a metaphor for the conflicted state of male-female relations in our modern age. Is it the Darwinian fate of the sexes that women will always crave the powerful male who slams her against the wall and has his way with her? Are women hardwired to look for warrior males because at one time such men were her only protection?
If the lucrative romance literature market serves as any measure of what women want, the answer is a resounding ‘yes.’
Beneath that thriving fictional world, however, is the reality that women today often share with their male partner the responsibility for child care, house care, and earning income. They may initiate sex or take a dominant role in sex play. Those pesky surface gender norms require they be partners in a complex relationship that is both rewarding and exhausting.
What a relief then to pick up a novel that wipes away all the modern obligations and allows her to cavort, however fantastically, in a highly charged romance where all responsibility has been removed, where the perfect male anticipates her every need and forces her to accept what is best for her. Where she is perpetually a teary-eyed, childishly innocent creature in need of male support.
It’s worth remembering that marriage is still considered the greatest accomplishment in a woman’s life.
These undercurrents that drive women to take on submissive appearance and to flock to entertainment that enshrines submission may in fact tell us something about the unliberated psyche of today’s women. It bears consideration that many women may remain hardwired to a primal pattern of submission that doesn’t go away just because of birth control pills and the right to vote.
The behaviors exhibited by a powerful woman like Hillary strike many of us as foreign and even unnatural. Women who are able to move beyond instinctive gender roles and compete with men for the most powerful positions of business and politics trigger suspicion and dislike. In the hearts and minds of many who have yet to recognize their own inner biases, she is not to be trusted.