The Myth of Women’s Oppression
Sunday, November 29, 2009
By Paul Elam
Forty some odd years ago, feminists bellowed their way into mainstream attention, launching a major offensive on what they called a patriarchal system that had oppressed women for centuries.
Painting women as downtrodden and powerless, they railed against men with the missionary zeal of abolitionists and with largely the same message.
In short, women were slaves and men were their masters. They demanded liberation and have been making demands every since.
They did a magnificent job of pitching all this. That could be a testament to the inherent truth in their ideas. Or it might be something else, like the fact that they already had so much power that few were willing to question anything they said in the first place.
You can put your money on the latter, because even a remotely objective examination of the facts leads to a far more reasonable conclusion.
Women were never oppressed to begin with. Not even close.
I’m no historian, but I did attend some history classes before I finished middle school. So, by the time I was 13, I knew what oppression was. And lucky for me I was 13 in a time when people still knew what it wasn’t.
Oppression has some pretty obvious tell tale signs. Like torture and death; like bullwhips and chains; gas chambers and death camps. Oppression is a roadmap of scars on the back of a field hand that was purchased at an auction. It is the rope that gets strung over a tree branch in broad daylight and used to choke the life out of someone convicted of being the wrong color.
It is an indelible stain on humanity, void of compassion, dehumanizing both the oppressed and the oppressor. And the evidence of it is so offensive to modern sensibilities that we preserve proof of it as lessons for the coming generations.
Now, when we compare those things to the historical world of women, which was largely one of being protected and provided for, we get an entirely different picture. It is a portrait not of the oppressed, but of the privileged. And it begs a good many questions that need to be answered.
For instance, how many times in history did we have slaves with the first rights to a seat in the lifeboat? Which slave masters were compelled to go off to war to protect the lives of their slaves? How many oppressors tore their own bodies down with brutal labor so that they could provide food and shelter for those they oppressed?
Zero sounds like a good answer.
It also makes one wonder, or should, how many slave masters had to get on their knees before their prospective slaves, bearing gold and jewels to ask permission to be their master? How many slaves could say “no