In the International Health and Human Rights class I'm taking at Stanford, I'm having to confront some very uncomfortable issues. I knew "intellectually" about the oppression of women planet-wide, but that kept me safe at a distance from real harm or real emotion. Since joining the class, I've not just "learned" about how women all over the world "give up" their rights involuntarily at the hands of men, I have come to know some of those women. They have become real people to me because I can interact with them in real time. Imagine the stories that begin "in my country.." and that recount similar yet divergent ways in which women's sovereignty is violated.
How does this happen in the modern age? In the 21st century? Well, it's an old tradition the arises out of ignorance and a sense of "entitlement" on the part of men. Many men around the world believe it's a privilege of their gender to do whatever they wish to women in their culture. Incredulously, some of these same men complain about fascism, cast systems, domination and slavery.
Entitlement and domination come through economic suppression, illiteracy or lack of education, an accident of geography or birth, cultural traditions, religious doctrine, tribal and other rivalry, attempts at ethnic cleansing through forced procreation, war-making and just plain... opportunity.
What is it about human nature that welcomes superiority and an opportunity to wield "power over" another human being? Do we believe so little in our own intrinsic worth that we feel compelled and satisfied to diminish someone else's?
What's really striking about the practice of entitlement, superiority and domination over other beings is that as humans we are NOT hard-wired for barbarism. We are actually hard-wired for empathy and compassion. It's hard work to overcome one's natural inclinations so as to justify the submission of other humans in whatever form that takes. It's a practice of the ego, not of the human heart. We literally have to "harden our hearts" to accomplish violence, barbarism, terrorism and war.
Given the times in which we live and the urgencies that face us as a planet running out of resources, running out of tolerance for human consumption, waste and folly, and running out of time-- we might want to look at how to develop solidarity instead of creating differences artificially and acting out of illusion or delusions that there somehow is forever or endless capacity for human infantilism and egocentrism.
Newsflash: This is not the planet I signed up for:
Bully Women and You Risk the Planet: https://charterforcompassion.org/node/8403
(Article at the Charter for Compassion)
And neither did you.