Because man said so.
Decisions made as humanity progressed socially have often been assessed and decided by men. From the conquistadors to the ancient empires, it was men who were the ultimate judges and instigators. From what laws were proposed to what colors of skin were accepted – men made the rules. Even as I grew up, I remember the token phrase, ” Well what did your father say?”.
After analyzing The Coffee-House Philosophical Society’s “All People May Here Be Seen” newsletter from 2005, I’m taken back to the 18th century opinions of a few infamous writers and philosopher about the belief systems on men and women’s rightful places. Emmanuel Kant once wrote that a woman should not study geometry or mechanics or the like, for in that regard she may as well have a beard. To contrast these all-but-subtle sexist remarks, Mary Astell once wrote a satirical piece on the accomplishments of men by cleverly touching on how man involves itself with every aspect of life, from overthrowing civilizations to the study of nature and its systems. She finishes her mockery by noting that learning has become man’s forte, and that they’ve made great improvements. However, her tone is clearly one of parody.
These opinions and differences are reflected and highlighted throughout the newsletter. Marquis de Corcet (1790) argued that women deserve all the equal rights similar to men. David Hume (1748) boldly claims that blacks are inferior to all other species of mankind, while William Cowper (1788) defies David’s notion and pities the African men and the tribulations that white men had forced upon them. Some of the common themes of these pieces of literature are words such as superiority, governance, laws, and God.
The call upon gods in the creation of laws is ingrained in history. The cynic in me assumes that a large majority of religions worldwide hold men above the women; even almost all gods are considered men. I often wonder…if man is born from the woman, then who birthed God, or Allah? Why are most gods illustrated as white men? These may be futile thoughts indeed. However, I believe that since scriptures and gospels are a part of most people’s upbringings in modern times and the millenniums past, it’s only logical that many men grow up thinking that they are more superior to women in that they are men, just as God is. Laws and the educational systems in place in antiquity through the 18th century also possibly reinforced these notions. In the book of Ephesians, we’re told that wives must submit to their husbands, for they are the head of the house. These simple credos found throughout religious texts resonate, and I believe may be at the core of the superiority complex that countless men revere over women.
Unfortunately, gender discrimination and racism are still prevalent today and are even playing quite a role in the 2016 election process. However, it should be noted that the world has evolved positively overall on race and gender issues.
What an interesting world we live in.
Another cup of Joe please.