It has been years since I entered a discussion that centred on the premise that women are equal to men. Not because I do not think that we are, I simply do not see the point in wasting my breath to try to convince someone of this, to me, the most obvious of truths. It has been a challenge sticking to this habit while living in this country, and in the past few years it has only gotten harder.
When in the past, male friends and strangers alike would state, with sometimes smug certainty, that men are better suited to make major decisions regarding home life, business and politics, I would smile a little and say I disagreed and left it at that.
Since the first wave of the revolution, however, these sentiments have been loudly declaimed in political discussions when the possibility of allowing female politicians to take high-ranking positions in government came up. It was much harder to stay silent in the face of this, and many times I had to bite my tongue to keep from jumping into the discussion.
The few times I lost that battle, my arguments regarding why female participation was not only justified, but absolutely necessary, were marred by the slurry speech that resulted from the swelling caused by molar imprints.
A society’s culture has a lot to do with how the different genders are viewed and far be it from me to declare one way as better than the other. As long as opinions do not cross into the realm of misogyny and resulting actions do not cause physical or psychological harm, I try not to speak my mind.
However, all this mature, balanced behaviour flies out the window when stupidity joins the equation. It is the one personality trait that will make me froth at the mouth, and boy was I baited recently.
The idiosyncrasies of some minds when it comes to justifying male domination based on nothing but a physical difference has long been a source of entertainment to me; but when reasoning reaches a high level of absurdity in men of high standing in a society, the fun turns into dysfunction.
Trying to finally put the ever-growing discussion and attention to the no-driving rule for women in Saudi Arabia to rest, once and for all, a well-known cleric declared the ban was designed to prevent bodily harm. Not in case of accidents caused by the hazards any driver confronts on the roads, freak flash floods or sandstorms, in case you were wondering. No, this paragon of medical ingenuity decided it was time to stop walking on eggs, ha, and finally shared the decently covered truth with the world. The act of driving a car physically alters a woman’s ovaries.
Many chose to simply dismiss the ludicrous statement based on geography; as most of the world has joined the game of dismissiveness, tempered by a healthy dose of racism, when it comes to the Arab world, it is perhaps a mistake that can be expected. They would be wrong though.
Case in point is one of the hopefuls in the last presidential election in the US, who stirred up quite a controversy when he defended his firm stance against abortion, even of pregnancies resulting from rape. This commander-in-chief wannabe based his convictions on his unwavering faith, as was his right, but this was not what got him into trouble.
It was the good news he had for those who expressed grave concern that the trauma of survivors of a sexual assault could be augmented by the torturous possibility of having to give birth to a child fathered by the very person who perpetrated the rape. Not to worry, he imparted to the world, when a woman was legally raped, her body would respond in a way to ensure no pregnancy could take place.
It made me wonder why these men, who want to be leaders of their communities, think their backward inanities hold any truth. Do they honestly believe that female bodies alter their functionalities to serve their purposes? That anatomy follows male beliefs rather than nature?
Alternating between insuppressible laughter, spitting anger and hopeless dismay, I kept wondering about the underlying reasoning and suddenly I had a flash of insight that finally explained the desperate grip with which males the world over hold on to the notion that they are destined to be in charge.
If they truly believe that the way physicality functions is influenced by religious or political opinions, it suddenly becomes absolutely obvious why they resist the participation of women in society on equal footing.
Freud said it years ago, when he referred to our supposed envy. Feisty women are often referred to as breakers of prized male parts, and men seem to fear that all the little blue pills in the world will not save them from what they perceive will be the direct result of women in power.
It is time to play the game by their rules, and I suggest women change their tactics. Instead of proving we possess the equivalent in intellect, I suggest we start sending a clear message that we are a lot less impressed and concerned with the part of the male anatomy men cherish so.
Because until we do, the struggle for equality will likely continue.