Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Are "Men always this way...." and "Women always that way..." a deeper perspective....

I have always recognized that gender roles and archetypes are not fixed, as much as our society likes to believe that they are, there is much to be learned from myriad times, places and peoples. Here's an excerpt from a book calle"The Great Cosmic Mother - Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth"  which  points to the history of different ways we live together as men and women in society:

"In Truth, Western Christianity's stereotypes of 'weak femininity' and 'strong masculinity' are among the most extreme in history. Many of these sex-role traits originated among the privileged classes - the only people who could afford passive and dependent women, and for whom a bored and indulgent lifestyle made sex-role playing 'an amusement.' Bound feet among the wives of wealthy Chinese men of the past served the same 'aesthetic' and entertainment function, and were a sign of privilege. In the modern West, with its relative economic abundance, many strict sex-role traits once indigenous to the wealthy have been passed on, via the media, to the 'masses.' So we see female office workers tottering to the job on spiky high-heeled shoes; such shoes were worn only by royalty, by 'courtiers and their ladies' - and were originally devised to be worn by sacred priests, to keep their mana from escaping into the ground. Once thing 'democracy' does is spread the silliness around. Unfortunately, with many of the sillier sex-roles, people tend to forget their origin in culture and class, and believe they come directly 'from nature,' or 'from God' - and so we see the silliest of customs enforced with humorless severity, and sometimes the most punitive laws." 

"Extremely sex-biased roles are the product of rigid heterosexuality, intellectual dualism, and a labor-exploitive culture. They didn't exist in early societies. And many of the sex customs that did exist were just the reverse of 'ours.' For example, among the hunting-and-gathering people worldwide, the 'home' is not only the property of the woman, but is built by her - and, if portable, carried around on her back when she moves. Among the traditional Chinese the women wore pants, men wore skirts. Among the people with couvade the women usually give birth in relative ease, while their husbands writhe and howl and grind their teeth. And, among the still-pagan twelfth century Irish (to the horror of their chronicler...), that it was the females who pissed standing up, while the males squatted-! With sex-roles and customs, it is very hard to make an absolute statement- 'women always do this,' 'men always do that' -without having it immediately contradicted by some culture, some place, at some time."