[This discussion is a continuation of Chapter 9-I]
Him speak with forked tongue
Despite the lip service that’s been given to addressing the problem of the prevalence of rape, very little has been done by those who possess the power and the means to follow-up with meaningful solutions. Laws are passed to punish rapists in a show of faux political resolve that serves merely to place a bandage on the gaping psychological wounds of those who have already been ravaged. And even with such laws in place, recognition of the paucity of convictions that result from credibly reported instances of rape must surely have a doubly chilling effect upon those brave souls who might so much as think of coming forth to seek justice in the wake of their victimization.
Although it’s not a lawmaking entity, one would think the United Nations Human Development Programme to have some measure of meaningful influence with regard to such an issue: rape impinges upon human development more ubiquitously than any other. In somewhat a preamble to the organization’s actual mission statement, we are informed on the About Human Development webpage:
The past decades have seen substantial progress in many aspects of human development. Most people today are healthier, live longer, are more educated and have more access to goods and services. Even in countries facing adverse economic conditions, people’s health and education have greatly improved. And there has been progress not only in improving health and education and raising income, but also in expanding people’s power to select leaders, influence public decisions and share knowledge.
The organization’s actual mission statement reads as follows:
The mission of the Human Development Report Office (HDRO) is to advance human development. The goal is to contribute towards the expansion of opportunities, choice and freedom. The office works towards this goal by promoting innovative new ideas, advocating practical policy changes, and constructively challenging policies and approaches that constrain human development. The office works with others to achieve change through writing and research, data analysis and presentation, support to national and regional analysis and outreach and advocacy work.
With such a noble statement of purpose, one would think the endemic worldwide rape of women to be an issue in which such an organization would have at least a passing interest. However, when one searches the library of reports filed by the organization, using “rape” as a keyword, a link to just one solitary report (Gender and Violence in Namibia, 2000/2001) is returned. Subsequent searches, using the keywords “female genital mutilation” and “circumcision”, both yielded no matching entries. Yet, a search initiated with “HIV” as a keyword returned five pages of matching articles, totaling fifty-five distinct references. One might think there to be at least a chance connection between rape and the spread of HIV that’s been curiously overlooked in these reports.
Then there’s the UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict (UN Action), whose aim is to end the use of rape as a tool of war. Among this project’s member organizations are such laudable efforts as the UN World Health Organization (WHO), Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), and UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The UN Human Development Programme is also a partner in this effort. Nevertheless, as one finds only a single marginally meaningful mention of the word “rape” in their library of reports, one might question not just the Programme’s commitment to this partnership, but also the overall effectiveness of the UN Action project itself.
In a recent interview published in National Geographic, Rachel Jewkes (Director of the South African Medical Research Council Gender & Health Research Unit) was asked about the immediate worries of health officials when they see a high prevalence of rape. Also the lead technical advisor of a UN study on men and violence in Asia and the Pacific, she concluded the following:
A very high proportion of women who are raped develop mental health consequences. Some research suggests that nearly all of them develop some symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at some stage. PTSD is very debilitating because it severely interferes with social relationships. Mothers with PTSD are much less able to look after their children, and they’re much less able to keep a job.
In circumstances where you see lots of non-partner sexual violence, you are also likely to see a lot of child abuse that needs to be addressed and lots of other violence used in other ways in the society. It really is a big job trying to program ways to reduce exposure to violence overall in society.
Karestan C. Koenen, Ph.D., now an associate professor of epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York, is also the survivor of a brutal rape that occurred in Niger, West Africa, during her service there as a Peace Corps volunteer. Having also experienced sexual abuse at the age of six, her first-hand knowledge of the effects of PTSD provided her with uncommon insight:
Population-based studies in the Archives of General Psychiatry and the American Journal of Psychiatry have repeatedly shown that people who report sexualized violence are at higher risk of PTSD than those who report other types of traumatic events such as exposure to disasters, sudden unexpected death of a loved one, or even combat. The high prevalence of PTSD, as well as other mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal behavior among survivors of sexualized violence has been documented throughout the world — including in Liberia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Croatia, Bangladesh, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Recognizing the above-mentioned connections between rape and PTSD, and bringing the issue a little closer to home, one might also imagine that a significant number of rape victims in the United States eventually find themselves among the ranks of the homeless population. It has been documented that one third of the homeless population is comprised of people with untreated psychiatric illnesses. When women become part of the homeless population, as an indirect result of mental illness precipitated by sexual victimization, both their individual challenges (through the increased potential for their sexual re-victimization) and their negative impact upon the broader society increase. As Mental Illness Policy Org reports:
Rape also exposes these women to deadly infection with the HIV virus that causes AIDS, especially since most of the men committing the rapes are drug addicts among whom HIV infection is common. No study has been done to date of the HIV infection rate among homeless women who have a severe mental illness. A 1993 study of HIV infection among psychiatrically ill men in a New York City shelter, however, found that 19 percent of them were HIV positive. Clinical AIDS will, therefore, become an increasing problem in the near future among the homeless psychiatrically ill.
While as many as 2.3 to 3.5 million people per year experience homelessness, in the United States — with Amnesty International reporting that vacant houses outnumber homeless people by a ratio of five-to-one — it’s evident that certain problems are of only passing concern to those who we choose to lead us.
Money versus Human Rights
Human rights issues of all types depend upon a singular factor for their resolution: a significant change in the hearts and minds of those who act to deprive the members of the affected group of their liberties. Laws might be passed to combat the problem. Money and material resources might well be apportioned by authorities, in an effort to uplift those who are negatively impacted. However, until there is a prevailing attitude of inclusion, the human rights issue will remain in force.
In 1972, through the release of a very controversial recording, John Lennon and Yoko Ono proclaimed loudly that “Woman is the Nigger of the World.” In short order, the National Organization for Women (NOW) praised Lennon and Ono for the “strong pro-feminist statement” forwarded by the song. Noting the apparent success of the liberation struggles of Black Americans, which culminated in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which also included a clause protecting women from sex discrimination) and subsequent legislative acts that specifically addressed social dynamics motivated by racism, the move seems a deft attempt to provide the Women’s Liberation Movement with momentum from those earlier victories.
Well into the twenty-first century, women continue to struggle toward the attainment of a secure hold upon self-determination — arguably, with their having gained little ground since the days of the more coherent Women’s Liberation Movement. Given the parallels between women’s current state of deprivation of their liberties and the continued social oppression of Black Americans (despite voluminous acts of legislation), women might benefit from examining an insider’s take on how those earlier successes of Black Americans’ liberation struggles served to actually undermine subsequent progress toward true social parity.
Laws don’t change people; people change people. It’s an issue of hearts and minds.
The Civil Rights Movement – waiting to overcome
The election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States might be seen by some to be the realization of the dream held by those who fought for the freedom from oppression of Black Americans in what became known as the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s; however, in many key respects, the actual movement itself was an abject failure. Even the president himself has to wrestle with intense opposition to his policies that’s motivated primarily by racist posturing against his identification as a Black American. In spite of illusory political gains, Black Americans as a group have not been able to achieve any real degree of social parity, nor for long maintain any meaningful trend of gains. Rates of unemployment and personal indebtedness remain significantly higher for blacks than they are for whites – while the income gap between Black Americans and White Americans continues to widen. The long-term effects of the Affordable Care Act upon the previously flagging level of health care insurance coverage for Black Americans remain to be seen.
The reason for the failure of the Civil Rights Movement is simple: changes in the law had no net effect upon the oppressive treatment of Black Americans in everyday society. Behavior cannot be legislated. Instead, legislation can only provide for relief and correction, once laws have been transgressed. Also, if those who would enforce such laws do so while maintaining at best only half-hearted agreement with them (in other words, if their hearts aren’t in their jobs), then lack of spirited enforcement serves to effectively nullify those laws.
When the groundswell of the Black Americans’ actions that were focused upon the attainment of their freedom from oppression reached a point at which the leaders of the land could no longer ignore it, the governments (federal, state and local) did what they do best — they acceded — passing a few laws and throwing a bit of money at the Negro Problem. By shifting the focus of the problem from a human rights issue to one that is more about economics, those who controlled the resources (the flow of money, the flow of information about the status of the problem, etc.) were successful at obscuring the fact that there was not much they could do to address the root causes. The hearts and minds of a privileged class of society were vested in the continued oppression of Black Americans.
At the same time, and perhaps most importantly, the seeming change of attitude adopted by the formerly oppressive regime (i.e., the government) induced Black Americans to slowly become lax in maintaining the spirit that infused their initially successful surge. Mistaking a single victory in battle for the peace that follows the close of a war, increasing numbers of individuals within the Black American community began to celebrate its legislative success by devaluing and taking for granted previously prohibited (or restricted) rights: the right to equal education, the right to vote, etc. Leaving behind the virtuous ideals that were the true beginning of self-determination, younger members of the Black American community — having no visceral understanding of the extent of the suffering previously endured by their parents and predecessors — began to value luxury, consumerism, and the ability to waste (time, resources, etc.) with seeming impunity.
However, the government leaders also understood that money always eventually flows back to the well from which it springs — and in that manner, what the government did most effectively was to buy itself a little time. One must appreciate the nature of representative governments: they are comprised of individuals who must be seen to provide solutions to the problems of the day. Whether a particular solution has a lasting effect is not of as much importance (to a politician) as is the perception that a momentarily successful solution is associated with one’s time in office. Thus, if the solution to any given problem actually depends solely upon a monetary investment by those who are mostly disinterested in the problem itself (because they suffer no direct impact from it), it’s just a matter of time before the same problem resurfaces anew…often with a vengeance.
In actuality, even the use of the name The Civil Rights Movement proves to be somewhat confusing to those young Black Americans who did not live through the era. The popular movement was not at all about civil rights, as much as it was about freedom from oppression and the right to individual self-determination — these are basic human rights! And there was no coherent group of individuals who called themselves The Civil Rights Movement. Instead, a grassroots movement of individuals organized themselves (under several distinct platforms) to protest the treatment of Black Americans. They worked to uplift the hearts and minds of their people, employing the concepts of discipline and integrity so that their protests might be credible ones. With Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X being among the most iconic, the leaders spoke only in terms of “freedom”…seeking to secure the freedom from systematized oppression for the descendants of former slaves. While the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 served to codify the government’s response to these powerful and righteous protests, it also provided a name for the urgent social movement that brought about its instantiation.
Returning our focus to the present day, in an article dated August 14, 2014, author Emily Bazelon, a “Slate [magazine] senior editor and the Truman Capote Fellow at Yale Law School,” offered an objective opinion of the oppressive climate encountered by Black Americans in everyday life:
I’ve been thinking about something related but different: Why writing about legal issues for twenty years has taught me that black people are at risk from the police in a way that the rest of us are not — and how that shapes my own choices.
Maybe the unfairness I’m talking about is obvious to you, whatever your race. There is plenty of evidence that black men, in particular, bear the brunt of arrests, convictions, and long sentences, out of proportion to their crime rate. The divide opens early in life: Black kids are far more likely to be suspended, expelled, and funneled into the juvenile justice system than nonblack kids. Again, the disparity can’t be explained by their behavior: It reflects the heavy hand of systemic bias. There are incredibly depressing studies suggesting that “racial bias also factors into officers’ split-second decision to shoot a suspect,” as Rebecca Leber lays out in the New Republic. It does not help that police officers tend to be white more than the communities they serve (especially outside of large cities). In Ferguson, for example, two-thirds of the residents are black, and fifty of fifty-three police officers are white.
Ms. Bazelon’s mention of “Ferguson” was in fact a reference to a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, where, on the night of August 9, 2014, police shot and killed an unarmed eighteen-year-old named Michael Brown — under highly questionable circumstances. This incident occurred as one of a spate of police-involved killings of Black males during the summer of 2014.
Two generations beyond the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, with numerous laws on the books to protect Black Americans from institutional racism, now it seems that the enforcers (of those laws) themselves have begun to exact revenge. Blacks in America are still waiting — with an ever-decreasing patience — to overcome. The climate is not a good one.
Women’s Rights — avoiding the old one-two
Of all the various ways in which women find themselves oppressed, it can be easily argued that the threat of rape represents the primary insult. Unfortunately, and much like racism, it cannot be legislated away. Even in those countries and localities where the crime is clearly set forth in law, the practical delineation of those sets of circumstances that might actually result in a sexual encounter being considered a rape is often difficult to arrive upon. In The Economist, an article about the numerous factors that come into play during the determination of whether an instance of sex might be considered to be rape contains the following quizzical anecdote:
Views and laws vary hugely between countries and cultures. In South Africa, where four out of ten women say their first sexual experience was rape, the polygamous president, Jacob Zuma, believes “you cannot just leave a woman if she is ready.” To deny such a woman sex, would be “tantamount to rape”, he told the judge in his 2006 rape trial (he was acquitted).
In a four-part series about rape, in The Hindu, writer Janaki Lenin arrives at the following conclusion:
To sum up this complex story, biologically, men are geared to spread their seed around and can use their larger size and strength to advantage. If it were purely a function of biology, the “I couldn’t help myself” kind, rape ought to be more prevalent across cultures. But, instead, it appears to be more common in societies that denigrate women.
Biology merely provides men with the tools, but culture determines how they use them.
Assessing the value of cultural determinants is a tricky thing when the issues at hand have a direct impact upon people’s overall well-being. In a 2012 survey, covered in an article in The Huffington Post, two of the top five countries (Finland and Sweden) listed as being the most favorable to women are also distinguished elsewhere as being among those having the most troubling records in Europe with respect to rape.
Actually conducted and published by the World Economic Forum (with key contributors hailing from Harvard University and the University of California, Berkeley), the study completely ignores rape as being a factor that impinges upon any of the key indicators used to measure the gender gap characteristics of the 135 nations surveyed. Even though women were the sole focus of this study, neither rape nor the threat of sexual abuse was mentioned as a factor in assessments of women’s health and survival profiles.
Not only is the topic of rape a little dirty, but it’s also subtly relegated to as secret a status as possible in general political and economic discourse. Somewhat surprisingly, in that survey, the United States (number twenty-two in the list) ranked well behind countries such as South Africa, Cuba and even Nicaragua.
With the unacceptably large number of women who are subjected to rape, a clear case can be made for its being a public health issue of major proportion. How is it possible that significant issues such as rape, teenage pregnancy, and other such challenges that disproportionately affect women could be disregarded in a survey that considers women’s wellness across 135 countries? With the steadily increasing numbers of women in the ranks of the Fortune 500 and various highly influential political offices, why do those who continue to violate our young women in the most egregious fashion continue to feel emboldened to do so?
Reflecting upon the earlier discussion about the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, Black Americans’ efforts to pull themselves up by their bootstraps were a major factor in bringing the politicians to the table to begin the discussions of legislation to support their upward societal mobility. Black Americans’ demonstrated self-determination left the oppressive governmental system no choice — as the government desired to maintain an image that didn’t suffer from the glare of hypocrisy. Through disciplined and orderly protests, an ethos that valued education and the development of critical thinking skills, and respect for family values (even despite the ravages to the black family structures that were vestiges of slavery), the Black American collective honed itself into a force to be reckoned with. However, once the government assented to the collective’s position, the collective lost its sense of direction — and it allowed its new course to be defined by the very entity that had oppressed it for so long. The Black American community allowed itself to be bought out of its bid for self-determination as it was in the process of actually attaining it.
In a similar fashion, women’s bid for self-determination is constantly at risk of being co-opted. Notice that even in countries determined to be among the most accommodating places for women’s upward societal movement, the threat of rape looms as an unspeakable force that must be accepted as an inescapable part of life. Legislation and economic empowerment will not remove this threat. Instead, those trappings serve merely as co-opting distractions that actually perpetuate a status quo that finds women in a less-than-complementary position. If societies are to begin to evolve, to appreciate women, then women must assume their rightful position of their own accord — and not seek to have it granted to them by the very system that has oppressed them. History has shown that no oppressed group has ever been granted the right to self-determination by virtue of a spontaneous change-of-heart on the part of the oppressor. The heart (and mind) simply does not operate in such a fashion. It must be penetrated. Slowly.
One needs no clearer evidence of this dynamic than to harken back to the beginning of the twentieth century, when the Women’s Suffrage Movement (which actually began to take root in 1848) prevailed, through the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Although women have had the right of vote for almost 100 years, since the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, they still find themselves wrangling over legislative issues that concern their basic biological functions (such as a woman’s right to abortion, particularly following an instance of rape) in twenty-first century political discourse.
One has the right to…
At issue here is a common misunderstanding of the nature of laws and rights. One must first appreciate the reality that the society has dominion over the individual. No matter the degree to which the individual’s ambitions and works transcend the state of the society, one remains indebted to it. The society owns the individual, and the individual always owes the society — even in spite of one’s pretensions.
Since the society actually commands the power of life and death over the individual, it should be clear that any conception that confers upon one a license to act at one’s liberty without the obligation of accountability to one’s fellows is mere fantasy. Yet, for some reason, we are often wont to believe that society might respect such a license — and further, that society might even consider there to be a certain inalienability that the individual enjoys in the pursuit thereof. The truth is that although we each might avoid accountability to some extent, for some period, sooner or later the bill comes due.
Throughout the history of the United States, various people’s movements sought to secure liberties of a certain type. Invariably, they petitioned the government for rights that, even when granted, did not result in any true extension of their liberties. Rights have nothing to do with liberties; instead, through the passage of the laws in which they’re codified, they define limits on how far the boundaries of the existing system will be extended. Liberties, on the other hand, represent the abolishment of external constraint.
Understood in this light, rights granted in response to contests to an unjust regime are merely the result of self-preserving compromise on the part of the governing body. Such acts of capitulation by those in power have the effect of assimilating the spirit of credibility that fueled the success of a contesting movement back into the formerly oppressive program of limits — by extending its boundaries ever so gingerly. Once assimilated, that spirit is later dissipated — and the movement thwarted. The hallmark of the credible (and thus, usually successful) people’s movement is the demonstrated ability of its constituents to exercise disciplined command while enjoying those liberties for which legal recognition is sought. Only after witnessing such a demonstration might a governing authority even begin to consider its credo to be vulnerable…and thus amenable to extension.
Laws, and the rights conferred through them, serve to define that which is permissible within the context of the society. However, liberties can only be defined in terms of that which is correct or incorrect…and they actually transcend any given societal context. The enjoyment of liberties requires of the individual (or larger body) the strictest exercise of discipline and integrity — concomitant with accountability within the societal context. Only then might correctness in one’s responses to challenge be attained. Only through correctness can one successfully stand behind one’s position when it is otherwise seen as being wrong in the eyes of society.
Usually, a movement’s bid for a grant of rights will undermine its process of developing and refining within itself the tools for liberty.
Nevertheless, such a bid serves a worthwhile purpose, despite the danger it poses to the furtherance of one’s true cause. The successful attainment of rights serves to distract the granting system from its oppressive posturing…but, only momentarily. Undoubtedly, it will resume its oppressions in short order.
The individuals who comprise the movement must assiduously maintain a course of disciplined correctness despite the promise of easement that is suggested through an external grant of rights. If such a demonstration of correctness has the power to wrest compromise from an oppressor, then it has the power to change the hearts and minds of those who benefit from the oppressive regime. Oppressors know this — and they are also aware that the odds are against individuals’ long-term maintenance of discipline in a climate of permissiveness. For the oppressed to not act to thwart these odds is for them to instead slowly welcome the oppressor into their own hearts.
An Evolutionary Issue
For the time being, women must come to terms with the likelihood that — no matter what laws might be passed, no matter what rights they might secure — as a group, they will continue to suffer oppression. Women will continue to be abused. Women will continue to be raped.
Why should things be otherwise? Women are not alone. Men (and boys) are also oppressed. Men (and boys) are also raped…and in numbers that might prove quite alarming to the unawares.
However, it’s the manner in which we all (and women, in particular) come to terms with this situation that might provide us with the keys to a solution. We must cease and desist from thinking in terms of the possibility that a quick fix might provide us with relief. To continue to do so is akin to one attempting to contain the bleeding of a partially severed limb by means of applying a band-aid. Nor can we allow depressive resignation to fool us into thinking that it’s solely a matter that’s intrinsic to human nature. In fact, it’s a matter of our evolution…and we’re now at the point where we can begin to fix this.
Out from the darkness
First and foremost, the initiation of an act of rape is an expression of one’s violent rage. That one would express such rage in a sexual fashion speaks to the high intensity and primal nature of the perpetrator’s inner disturbance. In a popular phrase, we are reminded that “[h]urt people hurt people,” oftentimes as a device to aid the recovery process of victims who have been devastated by violent acts. The aphorism is offered as an acknowledgement that there must have been something wrong with the offender (instead of the victim) , and that defect caused him or her to do such violence to another. More often than not, this assessment proves to be correct. There is a well-documented connection between a person’s inclination towards violence and his or her feelings of shame, powerlessness and fear. Quoting James Gilligan, a noted psychiatrist and expert on violence, writer Gerry Vassar (president and CEO of Lakeside Educational Network, a support network for young people in crisis) stated in his article A Matter of Self-Respect: Shame, Fear and Violence:
He further states:
“The purpose of violence is to force respect from other people. The less self-respect people feel, the more they are dependent on respect from others; for without a certain minimal amount of respect, from others of the self, the self begins to feel dead inside, numb and empty.
…When people lack self-respect, and feel they are incapable of eliciting respect from others in the form of admiration for their achievements or their personalities, they may see no way to get respect except in the form of fear, an ersatz, substitute for admiration; and violence does elicit fear, as it is intended to.”
Essentially, violence is borne in the weak of spirit. Those who possess strength of spirit and character are aware that the wielding of violent and dissipative force is done not without cost to the self. While weakness should always be understood to be that which is inclined toward the negative — toward disintegration (and it is thus, undirected) — strength is the result of the welcomed imposition of discipline upon that which is integral. Strength has direction.
The reason that the weak so readily employ violence as their tool of preference is because, although they too seek strength, they are unwilling to invest the patience that is required to correctly derive strength from disciplined processes. The weak are fearful that time will not honor their travail. By disrupting that which is well-formed and integral — yet vulnerable — at the moment of disruption, the weak becomes like the strongest. This is the great appeal of ceaseless violence for the weak…as their strength is maintained only through continued disruption of that which embodies the promise of legitimate strength and integrity.
Even when weakness presents itself in the guise of strength, it can be easily recognized by how tall it stands amidst all the promises that it has broken. By its very nature, weakness is devoid of integrity.
When one’s integrity is threatened by assault and violence, it behooves one to seek to immediately reintegrate oneself. Although one might appeal to those who appear to be strong, it must be recognized that because of cultural bias, people sometimes respond in a uniformly negative way to one who has been weakened by violation — particularly that which is sexual. However, even if one must exist in a state of imposed weakness due to one’s having been violated, one must avoid the error of propagating that weakness through to those who are one’s subjects. This is accomplished by internally reorienting oneself toward that which is strength.
And into the light…
Following an instance of one’s violation, the process of reorienting oneself toward a course of correctness constitutes the first step of a most necessary form of transmutation. From an evolutionary perspective, it might even be strangely advantageous that such unfortunate challenges occur — primarily because they serve to test the true measure of one’s resolve. There should be recognized a distinction between those who are weak because they fear becoming strong and those who, despite their strength, find themselves in a weak position as a result of their having suffered violation. The legitimately strong never seek to initiate (nor instigate) violence: They are aware that violence is anathema to strength.
Some are fortunate enough, during their developmental stages, to enjoy inwardly directed strength from external sources; and the odds are high that, in time, one will accumulate an inner strength. When such an individual faces the challenges posed by invasive weakness, because one has known the ways of strength, one is better able to reconstitute oneself.
Conversely, in the case of those individuals who suffer only inwardly projected weakness from without, their inner accumulation of this burdensome energy either collapses them outright…or it later explodes forth from them in displays of violence. Up until this point in the evolution of humanity, it is this second type of individual who seems to predominate in our world.
If we are ever to enjoy the glow of peace in our world, we must commence upon the process of building stronger men! The process is a simple one. We must avoid the unnecessary projection of weakening influences upon our young — remaining particularly mindful that during their developmental stages, they witness (and attempt to emulate) everything that is presented to them. Let not our actions toward them — nor our words to them — contain even the hint of a violation of their sense of liberty.
As the agents of manifestation of the human species, women must bear some measure of responsibility for our plight. Just as we spoke of how men must come to terms with their fears, so as to strengthen themselves, so too must women come to terms with theirs. Perhaps it might be the case that women’s work in this regard is of even greater importance. Woman’s role is not limited to the function of actually bearing the physical human beings: rather, because woman is the principal figure in a new person’s life, she becomes accountable for one’s fundamental conditioning — by default.
In fact, it is women who initiate new humans into the mysteries of social interactions in our world. Women provide the framework upon which the initiate will begin to build his or her unique perspective. Thus, it is woman who has the unique ability to infuse a sense of power, independence, and humility into the mental make-up of the human being who springs forth through her loins. This is particularly necessary in the case of the male child, whose real work at the independent cultivation of character doesn’t begin until well beyond the point of his physical maturity.
If the male child begins his life by shouldering the psychological load of his mother’s fears, particularly those that are irresolvable (as a result of her having been violated and subsequently lacking in vindication), he will grow to be plagued with irresolution — weak and fearful. He will be violent — and he will violate. Even if he reserves the expressions of his violence to himself, here his life represents a wasted opportunity for our species: as his self-destructiveness will render him evolutionarily impotent. In the case of one who instead projects his negativity upon others, he becomes an abomination. Such an individual is actually evolutionarily regressive, due to his potential for derailing others who might otherwise be on a path toward making significant contributions to society.
As societies and as individuals, we suffer from a misconception about that which truly constitutes strength. While we busily go about exercising our bodies, building our images, we often forget that the maintenance of character is an ongoing and continuous process. A solid character is not only that which might motivate us in our exercises and endeavors, but in fact it is the true seat of strength. True strength must be projected from within: it cannot be borrowed from external sources.
Surely, if we are ever to know peace, we must begin to cultivate it within ourselves. Peace proceeds from strength. Although strong men are present in our societies, the weak forces remain in power — as they have been for thousands of years. Peace will not be granted to us by those who oppress us. They have not the ability to conceive of what peace might feel like.
There are moments when women gather en masse to seek relief from various forms of oppression; there are others at which individuals wrest such relief by any means necessary. In any event, it must be understood that the only real solution to the problem of their oppression (and all of ours) rests in there being a preponderance of men who are in possession of inner strength. The creation of such men requires an effort that must remain focused across multiple generations: It is an evolutionary process – and one in which women are the deciding factor. This is the transmutative formula for the changing of hearts and minds.
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