Chauvinism and responsibility

When did it start? This idea that women, not men, are responsible for their actions. What’s the basic idea behind this societal belief that’s been ingrained in most cultures for the last millennia?

Male chauvinism is observed in different cultures in the Western world and elsewhere, such as Islam. Although Hindu religion and Indian cultural practice does not strictly dictate the status of women, many conservative leaders and gurus continue to hold and espouse deeply misogynistic views publicly. Rape of women is blamed on the woman. Are Muslim men so lacking in self-control that they don’t need to be responsible?

The dictionary defines a chauvinist as one who has excessive or prejudiced loyalty or support for ones own cause, group, or gender. (French - chauvinisme - after Nicolas Chauvin, legendary French soldier under Napoleon, noted for his vociferous and unthinking patriotism.)

Women in Mesopotamian society had a lower status in a hunter/gatherer world because of their role as primary agricultural producers and childcare. Few women historically had the “right” to extramarital lovers or numerous husbands. As more women accumulate power and wealth, this may change.

The Bible, written primarily by men, established early on that Eve came from Adam and was to be subservient to him. Certain religions prohibit women priests. This persists, too, in many Muslim countries where women are forbidden to drive cars, leave the house unless accompanied by a male relative or own property. Premarital sex and prostitution are always blamed on the women. Men are not held responsible for their actions. The right to marry whom they choose is only granted to men.

Times and science advance. Women are now able to control their bodies. Childbirth can be a matter of choice. Every year has witnessed women numbers increasing in sport (Title Nine) – and all erstwhile male professions. Nurses make less than one half the salaries of what a MD/GP or specialist earn. Many professions are already over 50 percent female. Seventy-five percent of students in Veterinary school are female. When’s the last time you saw a male pharmacist?

John W. Merrick

Newnan



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