I've been writing this week about an issue that isn't the issue. Ever since Stephen Harper decided he'd make a big deal out of the niqab in the run up to the election, to convince women he was all about women's rights, the topic that won't go away has arisen again. I believe that the power over, and manipulation of women is at the root of it all, whether those in power try to get them covered OR uncovered. The desire for the welfare of the woman may in some cases be sincere, but then it is misplaced, based on mistaken ideas. Her real needs are never taken into account all the time she doesn't get to choose, either way.
Men have long held power over women, but in the last century they have seen that gradually slipping away. Some men are intelligent enough to see that this is actually not a problem. That women with equal rights, and therefore equal educations, are perfectly good themselves in positions of power. Except.........
There are those who still fear the power of women, and I know why.
They dread our revenge.
I know this because I've asked. I managed to find men who were honest enough to say that intellectually they know equal rights are fair and sensible, but they're actually scared women will treat them the way that, traditionally men treated women. And still do.
"I have nothing against women but I don't want them taking over. That's scary."
I found them in all ages, all around the world. I've been asking the questions for years, and to my surprise, in most cases I was the first person to ask it.
We don't ask the right questions, most of the time. But if you ask a person what they are afraid of you get better answers because fear, not logic, not ethics, is at the bottom of most people's rationale.
Men are afraid that we will take away their choices, take away their freedoms. Take away their power. It doesn't matter how much we say "No, we just want equality, not superiority" they still fear losing power. Even men who feel powerless already fear more assaults on the culture that may just allow them some.
You hear it every time feminism is talked about. They say openly "I'm not against feminism, I'm against man-haters." Because they know what women-haters do, and that's scary.
In some daft way, I'm sympathetic. I love men and the last thing I want to do is make them feel helpless and impotent. That's a bad feeling. Plus, I really despise tit for tat, it's childish. "Ha! Now you know how it feels!" Effective, maybe, but not what sensible people do.
Sometimes I am able to find ways to explain things that allow men to think from another perspective, to help them understand how the system, even here in the west, is biased towards men. When you are in the position of privilege it can be difficult if not downright impossible to think outside that box.
One advantage of modern social media is that men and women are able to easily form platonic friendships and really TALK. I've always had male friends, but to talk in such depth as I do with male friends online, would have be be difficult in person, just from time restraints and geography.
Not only that, men are able to to talk to one another about these topics without the fears they might have of being overheard in the pub.
And ideas that people have, that they create as wonderful succinct quotes or "memes" get shared around and can be pretty powerful.
In all ways, it's becoming easier all the time.
Hence the backlash.
Those men who cling to inequality and power, and see any loss thereto as an attack on their manliness don't like what they are seeing. They are trying to wrest some power back.
This always happens, when change happens too fast for some (bearing in mind we are talking 100 years give or take since women got the vote in most places). Despite decades of it being quite normal for women to work outside the home, the men haven't really adjusted, so they still pay female employees less if they think they can get away with it. They still expect female office staff to clean the kitchen, and never do it themselves. They still have unequal dress codes and expectations. No, we have a long way to go.
Because of fear. They admit this if you question them. Their objections are all what ifs. None of them make sense. Fear is irrational.
The exact same situation can be found in the racist mindset. Again, you can get them to admit it. Just ask the right questions and it all comes tumbling out.
"I have nothing against non-white people but I don't want them taking over. That's scary."
Loss of power is a real fear. Let's not pretend otherwise.
And so they resort to name-calling. Treat her as "lesser". Insult her no matter what she does. You know how it goes. If the male boss comes on to her and gets rejected, she's frigid, she's no fun, she's the ice queen. But if she thinks "well, this could be to my advantage", then she's just sleeping her way to the top. In other words if she behaves like a man.
Ah yes, slut-shaming. We'll do that one tomorrow.