We have been hearing, especially lately, so much about the destructive attitude towards and treatment of women in the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Africa . . . among other places. We have been learning about the inhumane treatment and the torture of women in these places . . . and more. They are treated like possessions of the men in their lives and in their society. They are sold into marriage by family. They are not allowed to divorce. In effect, they are trapped. They are tortured if they disobey — anywhere from acid thrown at them, being stoned or killed some other way, or raped and beaten at home. Some even have their clitoris destroyed (female genital mutilation) to deprive them of pleasure and their right to pleasure! And to show them “who has the power.” We have been told, even in the news, how poorly treated women abroad are.
But who’s telling us of the destructive attitude towards and treatment of women right here in the United States of America? Who’s telling us of the inhumane treatment of women right here at home? Who’s aware of the torture women experience in our “civilized” country already, with attempts to expand that torturous experience?
- There have been escalating attempts to deprive women of the right to choose what happens to them – physically, emotionally, financially, and health-wise – under the guise of protecting life. *
- There was recently an attempt in our House of Representatives to redefine rape – limiting it to forcible rape and excluding date rape, statutory rape, the rape of a woman who has been drugged, the rape of a mentally incompetent woman, the rape of a woman who “gives in” in order to avoid being killed by her attacker, and the cases of incest who are not minors . . . under the twin guises of protecting life and our economy.
- And now a bill was just passed in the House (and will go to the Senate) that does not allow government funds to be used for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or when a woman’s life is in danger. But . . . small businesses and individual women who themselves buy insurance that covers abortions will have imposed on them tax penalties. Perhaps the worst penalty for women who survive rape and incest and seek abortion care will be that they have to provide proof to IRS investigators of their assault. It’s not torturous enough to be assaulted the first time. It’s not traumatic enough to have to relive the assault when reporting it to the police and going through a court proceeding. There is no excuse for adding the inhumane torture of having to live through it a third time with an IRS investigator. This, once again, under the guise of protecting life and our economy.
What is really happening is that there is a backlash in our country against the empowerment of women that has been growing for decades. Certainly at least since 1919 when the 19th amendment was passed legalizing women’s right to vote; and then growing still in 1973 when Roe v Wade was decided, giving women the right to make choices about their own bodies in a new way. This backlash is an extreme misuse of power by those scared of the power of women. And believe it or not, those scared of the power of women are not only men; they include women themselves. **
How could this be?
I invite you to honestly look at yourself. If you are a man, do you prefer to have the power, rather than share it equally with a woman? Do you have unresolved, unconscious feelings of powerlessness from early, primal experience with the first woman in your life, your mother? Feelings that beneath your awareness feed your wanting to be the powerful one in relation to women? If you’re a woman, are you somehow, out of your early wounds, stuck idealizing men who have power over you? Or ceding your rightful power to them? If you are a woman, do you know in the marrow of your bones and the substance of your soul the experience of being devalued, disempowered, objectified, belittled, and more in a society that is still struggling with its relationship with women and the feminine? Do you take for granted the rights you and other women fought so hard for? Do you disconnect from your innate power as technology seems to offer you a gift – to use a pill to avoid going through the monthly cycle of menstruation? Have you lost all touch with the true power of that time?
Who is going to help women now? What are we going to do about this? We women who feel the agony of it? And the men who support women and women’s causes, who have watched their mothers and sisters and wives and daughters suffer, and who have come to understand?
Look within for your own growth and healing. Look within for the future of women. Look within for the future of our society and our world! For without women being equal, empowered partners in our world, the future is at risk. And then take actions – inside and out – that help to heal us all.
© Judith Barr, 2011
* Although I do use words such as abortion and pro life in this post, that is not what this post is about. This post is about the destructive treatment of women not only abroad but also here in America, both out in the open and also under the guise of other things!
** To learn more about my work with Women’s Mysteries, click here.
Osama Bin Laden was killed by the U.S. Navy Seals in Pakistan Sunday night. Many see the responses of U.S. citizens as natural.
Celebrations. Relief. Hatred fulfilled. Claims of justice.
Political concerns aside. Safety concerns aside. . .
A mixture of many responses.
Most media people I’ve heard have claimed it was justice.
Some have acknowledged their rage.
Some have called him the most hated man on the face of the earth.
Although he needed to be stopped . . .
although there may have been no other way to stop him . . .
although there may have been no other way to capture him . . .
sometimes, sadly, killing is the only option for protecting ourselves.
When animals in the wild kill for protection,
they have no negative intention accompanying their action.
But . . . we humans too often do.
Even though sometimes people aren’t satisfied until a ‘wrong-doer” is killed,
killing is never a matter of justice.
What kind of justice is it to kill someone?
What does it say about us if we call “justice”?
what is really revenge, getting someone back, getting even, avenging?
What does it say about us individually and culturally?
What does it say about our need to grow and develop ourselves into something more?
Into something more matured?
What does it say about our need to discover what justice really means?
How did you feel when you heard the news?
And what can you learn about yourself from how you felt?
© Judith Barr, 2011
As of Thursday, April 16, 2009, Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan, has responded to demonstrations in his own land and criticism from Western leaders against the bill which he recently signed into law, including a provision which essentially legalizes the rape of womenwithin marriage. Karzai claimed that he was not aware of the provision in the law, and told CNN:
“Now I have instructed, in consultation with clergy of the country, that the law be revised and any article that is not in keeping with the Afghan constitution and Islamic Sharia must be removed from this law.”
We have cause to celebrate all those who took action. We have cause to celebrate that President Karzai did respond. But this does not sound like a clear and solid commitment to remove the article from the law. We cannot stop here. We must continue to keep our eyes, ears, hearts and voices on this issue in Afghanistan until it is resolved in favor of a woman’s right to say ‘no’ to her husband’s request (or demand) for sexual contact.
And we cannot stop here. We cannot limit our attention to the outer world manifestation of such abuse of power. We need to remember that a core part of healing this in the outer world is healing it in our inner worlds, too . . . healing the misuse and abuse of power it reveals in our lives – current and long, long ago – and healing the powerlessness it reveals in our lives – current and long, long ago. Only by including the inner work of psyche, heart, body and soul, will we be able to help make changes that are sustainable.
Please read my original post at
to expand your understanding and inspire you even more to do your part, too.
(c) Judith Barr, 2009