|Issue 4 - April 1972|
|There is a
strong feeling growing amongst women that, somewhere along the line
to our current emancipation, we have been conned. Groups calling for
the liberation of women are springing up rapidly, all over the country.
The general reaction to these groups seems to be amazement. What are
they on about? They've got the vote, the mini-skirt, and the pill.
They already have equality!
But have we? In Britain alone there are over sixteen million housewives, working from twelve to eighteen hours a day, seven days a week. They are doing a variety of jobs, amongst them cooking, cleaning, washing and child-minding (and apart from the last, who would voluntarily take on any of these tasks!), while having no time off for sickness or pregnancy. They have signed a contract for life which can only be annulled to their disadvantage - the divorce and alimony laws were written and passed by men. If they opt out and leave their homes - and who could blame them - then they have few prospects. A dismal prospect between living on state charity with the social stigma of unsupported mother, or taking a badly paid job with the resulting deprivations for their children, or of signing on for life again with a different master (husband).
A man left with his children does not have these problems. He receives help from the state to employ a woman to care for his children, he is already working, probably at a better paid job than a woman could get, and, perhaps most important of all, he has the unqualified support and sympathy of his friends and neighbours. A woman who leaves her husband and children can only be "callous" - and probably immoral - a man who does the same has been "driven to it".
All the attitudes of mind that are fostered in women from birth, render us unfit to look after ourselves. Women are expected and taught to be the ineffectual things we usually become. We "should" (according to society) care more about our appearance than our minds; after all, that is what men notice. We "should" be incapable of anything that requires a modicum of strength and skill - so we can ask a man to do it for us and reinforce his ego. We "should" get married - so that every man has an unpaid slave and bedmate, to provide home comforts and sex on demand. We "should" bear children - so that men, whose names the children bear, are assured of posterity. This at a time when the overpopulation of the world is one of our greatest problems.
The education we receive, nominally the same that is offered to males, reinforces these myths. Boys are encouraged to take further education, technical training, or apprenticeships. They know that they will have to keep themselves on leaving school, and probably a wife and children too. They are geared towards independence. But few women are prepared for supporting themselves. Although, hopefully, the position will be slightly improved with the increase in comprehensive schools, most girls' schools offer an "education" with a view to improving our chances of securing a mate. We are taught that we should have a basic knowledge of half a dozen subjects s that we can converse reasonably well and attract male notice. Specialisation is discouraged as a woman who shows too much knowledge is liable to frighten off prospective husbands. Physical education was once explained to me as being helpful in preparing the body for future childbirth. Unfortunately, although this is an excellent education if your highest ambition is to achieve the life of a captive housewife dependent in every way on a being who has been taught from birth that he is superior to you, it tends to fail badly for those of us who want to live our lives in our own right. The myth of equal education for women is a bad joke.
Those women who do defy the marriage convention, and take up a career - and even more so the married women who have to work as well as coping with their traditional role within the family, suffer too. This is inevitable in a society that persists in thinking, against all evidence, that woman is capable only of menial and low grade work. Even when doing identical jobs to men, we receive not only less money, but fewer opportunities for overtime and less chance of promotion. Those manmade laws designed to "protect" women by limiting hours worked and night work etc, in fact merely restrict women. We are as capable as men at working out the hours that best suit ourselves - a woman with small children will doubtless refuse overtime anyway - and there is no excuse for preventing those who can, and who want to fit it into their lives from doing so.
The new bill to give equal pay for equal work is another of the government's jokes at our expense. The original wording stated "equal pay for work of equal value". This has been altered (to fit in with a common-market resolution) to read "equal pay for identical work" which means that merely by changing the name of the job the employers can still give us lower wages whilst remaining within the law.
Probably the most harmful example of man's domination over women, is his belief in his ownership of the body of "his" woman. Many people can see the hypocrisy of society's double standard towards premarital sex. Men are merely "having a good time"; women are "promiscuous". But few people consider that it is equally hypocritical when practised within marriage. Masters and Johnson's research showed that, of the men they interviewed, approximately 31% had extra marital sex during their wife's first pregnancy, and 28% agreed that they continued having it from then on. None of them suspected their wives of any "infidelity".
There is, of course, no reason why men should not have extra - or pre-marital sex whether at times when their usual partners' desires tend to be waning, as in pregnancy, or at any other time. It shows no lessening of regard for their partners, as they still choose to live together and spend a lot of their time together, whether in or out of bed is really incidental. But, the important thing is, it goes for the female partner too.
It has been suggested that the major cause for the attempts to enforce female marital fidelity was to ensure that the offspring produced were the husband's. After all, it is still really only the women who actually know who fathers their children. But modern birth control techniques can ensure that a woman only conceives when she chooses to, which, while it still does not guarantee fatherhood to the husband, does lessen the possibility of mistakes. Added to the fact that both male and female sexual desires do wax and wane, and there is no reason why two people should always feel the same desires at the same time, plus the fact that sheer boredom with unaltering techniques can kill desire as completely as it can any other vicarious enjoyment, there is a lot to be said for having various sexual friendships going at the same time throughout your life. A lot of men have discovered this, few women dare even contemplate the idea.
Women are, in fact, denied control of their own bodies as much as possible. Although the pill and diaphragm have given us a chance to regulate our own pregnancies (and neither of them are perfect) without having to rely on men, manmade laws still deny us the right to obtain these through the welfare state. And if we cannot afford to buy them, the abortion laws deny us the right to terminate the unwanted pregnancies, unless we meet certain strict requirements. (It might be irrelevant, but I find it strange that to many people abortion is murder whereas war is not.)
A frightening aspect of this constant repression of woman who is no-one unless she is a wife and mother, is the fact that because she has been assigned the household, she is also assigned the care of children. A person who has been restricted all her life, and prevented from fulfilling herself in any way except as an extension of a man, is in no position to be the constant and only companion of growing people. Children, much more than adults, are constantly exploring, learning, finding out what the world is all about. If their first five years are limited to one house, and one underdeveloped person, then they have little chance of realising their full potential. If there is only one person to do all the things that their size, their strength and their lack of knowledge prevents them from doing for themselves, then they must necessarily relate directly to her, and her tiny world. They have no opportunity to explore further.
The father extends his domination to his children firstly because he already 'owns' the mother, she does not exist apart from him, and secondly because both mother and children are economically dependent on him - a major consideration in this society.
Not unnaturally, the children grow from their identification with their mother to feel that the father's role is the more attractive one. Boys are allowed to follow this path, girls are gently but effectively weaned away from it, into believing that the mother's role is their natural state. Neither of the sexes are given any hint that there might be other family structures, other sexual roles. It is only a few who can step outside of their conditioning and see the system for what it is, and to think of answers for some of the more desperate problems. So the status quo is maintained and each generation's horizons are as narrow as their parents'.
It is this society that believes women have achieved emancipation! Any woman who has escaped the total brainwashing aimed at her knows differently.
But few women would claim that total equality with men is an end in itself. We not only intend to be more free than we are now, we are going to be completely free. To achieve that, the whole of society, men, women, and children must join together to release themselves from their exploitation. But it is certain that whilst there is still a secondary class (i.e. women) amongst us, who are still oppressed, we can do nothing. Until men accept that women not only can, but will fight on the same terms as themselves then they are doomed to failure.
We can no longer afford to allow fifty per cent of our community to be permanently restricted by economic dependence, by having sole care of society's children, and worst of all, by being given a totally false idea of their potential ability and their needs. We must liberate ourselves ...
This article is just one view of the situation ... it is in no way complete. If you sympathise with any or all of it, and feel that you can achieve more with a group than as an individual, please contact address on graffiti page ...