Womanhood-Motherhood (by Roya Monajem)




Women born to feminist or non-traditionalist mothers are somehow only ‘physically’ female. They are not brought-up ‘like women’, and as a result they do not have a distinct, well-defined self-identity, and when they do, it is mainly an ‘intellectual’ self-identity. What is constantly conveyed to them--explicitly and implicitly--is that “there is no difference between men and women.” While the life of men has remained more or less the same despite ‘the Industrial Revolution,’ women’s life has undergone a radical change. A simple comparative glance at women’s life, say rural and urban, or a grandmother and her grand-daughter, or a modern western woman and an ordinary eastern woman in a traditionalist, non-developed country, can give us some feeling of the kind of change women have gone through. Such a comparison can unfold the wide range of quantitative and qualitative changes that woman’s life has undergone. This change is so extensive and immense that it might even bring to mind, that they are different species, or from different planets.

This drastic change of feminine identity has largely occurred in feminist families.  In traditionalist families, however changes have been very gradual and largely as an after-effect or reflection of the transformations occurring in the outside world.  Here what has changed and  is changing gradually is largely the ‘superstructure’ and not the ‘structure.’  

Unlike ‘modern’ women, the traditionalist women are made conscious of their sexuality from early days of their childhood, and are reminded constantly--directly or indirectly, explicitly or implicitly and in thousand different ways -- that they are different from men.  In my country, for example, one of these ‘thousand different ways,’ is vestment.  As it is now probably well-known to all, Islamic women, in addition to their ordinary clothes, are obliged to wear chado,r[1] a special type of covering, which like every other aspect of our life, must have once had a biological function, in other words, a survival value that is now buried deep under its apparent ‘religious function.’

In the traditional families, girls are supposed to start wearing chador from the age of religious puberty -- which is nine for girls, but sixteen for boys (Notice the rather significant age difference).  They should wear it in the presence of men with the exception of their fathers, brothers, grandfathers and uncles. This obligation would naturally and constantly remind them that they are different from boys, an allusion, not found as strongly in the life of non-traditionalist girls. Such reminders help a traditionalist woman to be constantly aware of her sexuality, i.e. her difference, a condition not shared by her ‘modern’ sisters.  In fact, the sexual awareness in the latter is mainly only felt during her menstruation or when she falls in love, i.e. is sexually aroused. As we proceed we will see that this sexual awareness if it does transform to a deeply rooted, constitutional part of our consciousness is perhaps the most efficient means left for modern women to rediscover her lost forgotten womanhood. The means to develop a whole healthy personality.

In our modern world of Relativity, the only “relative absolute” for us mortals is Nature and her laws. And in Nature, men and women are different, a concept totally distinct from equality. This seems to be an important confusion we are suffering from. Socio--economic and legal equality, possessing similar mental faculties and abilities, does not imply similarity in nature. By the same token, biological differences do not rule out the existence of equally powerful mental abilities or equal economic, sociological and legal rights.  This is one of the historical errors that we have perpetrated: to confuse equality of rights with equality of nature (i.e. psychosomatic constitutions).

 What is really astonishing is the fact that although the emergence and further development of Women’s Liberation Movement (WLM), coincides with the progressive predominance of the scientific ‘materialistic’ outlook--the outlook that everywhere looks and searches for ‘molecules’ and material basis of everything, including thoughts, emotions, feelings— there has been little scientific attempt to look for the probable physical or biological (hormonal) sexual differences that should naturally lead to psycho-mental differences between the sexes. Not only this sort of scientific endeavor has been rare, but it seems that there has been a conscious attempt to avoid, suspect and look down at such undertakings.  It seems our past prejudiced deductions from such biological differences--for example, ‘smaller and lesser weight of women’s brains implying lesser intelligence’, etc.--has scared us off further direct research in this field.  In fact, it would not be very wrong to regard Feminism partly as a reaction against the ‘abuses’ of the discovery of such biological differences. Today however, all this belongs to the past, and we are now more capable than ever to carry out more realistic and less prejudiced researches in the field of biopsychology of men and women. But in order to reach non-biased conclusions this time, several points about ‘women’s’ problem’ need clarification.  For this purpose, it is first necessary to review the history of Women’s Liberation Movement, its causes and consequences and clear the probable misunderstandings and misjudgments that may have occurred due to the relevant prevalent theories (feminist and communist) up to now.

A Brief Historical Review of WLM in a New Light

Everything seems to start from the Industrial Revolution, with the resultant transformations in the means and mode of production that for the first time in history, gave women the opportunity to work outside home as a separate individual, with her own identity.  Please note that this was not the first time that women’s work power was used in the social production, but it was the first time that she worked independently and as an individual. Here two points should be made clear. First, in respect to women, social production has two parts, (1) the part carried out at home which can be called ‘household social production’ and consists of all the work down inside the house from cooking, cleaning, washing to child raising (see chapter 2); (2) the part carried out outside the house, including farming and animal husbandry and all types of handicrafts (from pottery to carpet making, etc). The nature of the role of women in social production is one of the misunderstandings mentioned above.  In contrast to the prevalent materialistic belief[2] that regards the mechanization and capitalist mode of production as the beginning of women’s participation in social production, women have always been a part of work power throughout the history.[3]  If men who due to their greater physical strength, pulled the plough, tilled the land, did the heavy job of house--building and so on, women carried out all the less heavy duties such as sowing, weeding, milking, feeding poultry, etc, either alone or as a ‘co-worker.’ The main difference between the capitalist mode of exploitation of women and the previous modes, is that while in pre-capitalistic modes of production woman’s work power was never considered distinct and separate from that of her husband or her father, in Capitalism women start to act as an independent work unit for the first time in the history of humans.  If before they worked shoulder to shoulder with their husbands and together they were considered as a single economic unit, they could now enjoy an ‘economic independence.’  They were no longer recognized merely as ‘somebody’s daughter, wife, or mother,’ but possessed a personal identity. This is what really distinguishes the situation of the ‘capitalist’ women, meaning women living in the capitalist era, from their ‘pre-capitalist’ sisters regarding the ‘labour market.’

We do not really need to go back in history to prove such a point, to see how women did not possess a self-identity and were always recognized as somebody’s wife, mother or daughter. This is still the predominant situation existing in all the rural districts of my country and I am sure in many other non-industrialized countries of the world. You seldom hear a woman’s name being mentioned in these areas. If they have a son, they will be called as for example Ali’s mother. Another common way of calling women is to use their husband’s name together with the Farsi word for house or family such as Ali’s manzel (meaning house of Ali) or Ali’s Ae’leh (meaning Ali’s family). At the same time, in the majority of cases, it is the husband who still gets the money for the work that his wife or daughter does for the employer. It is not rare to find the man drinking tea and chatting in Ghavekhaneh (coffee shop), while the woman is working in the field and never even see the money gained as the result of her labour and toil.  This is not only true for their salaries, but also for the price of their handiworks. It is the husband’s responsibility to find a customer and sell the work that his wife or his daughter or mother has produced.

This is a very important point that has escaped attention so far. On the surface women are deprived of economic independence, but in reality they are definitely aware and conscious of their active part in the economy of the family. In other words, they have the “consciousness or the awareness of economic independence” even if in reality they never see the money that is earned as the result of their creativity and work. The relevant meaning of independence here is “not requiring or relying on others (as for support, supplies, a livelihood).”[4] This is the consciousness women did enjoy. It seems that it didn’t bother her that she would never perhaps see the money, but she trusted her husband that whatever he would do with it is for the benefit of the whole family. She knew it is her that makes this money and will do so whenever necessary. The proof for such a claim is that when a woman loses her husband in these situation, life continues for the family without much vicissitudes, while when a man loses his wife, he is more or less totally lost and paralyzed. On the other hand, now in our modern life, with all the credit cards and loans, this is the state of the majority of people. They don’t see their salary and earning as much as the above rural women, but this does not make us to conclude that they do not have economic independence, does it?

One of our greatest historical mistakes is that we are taking men’s concepts, understandings, views and values as human concepts, understandings, views and values. Briefly, women’s situation has always been compared to men’s solely with men’s outlook and conception about life and existence. In fact, we have never tried to find out how women (‘true’ women and not women with highly masculine developed aspect i.e. modern intellectual women) conceive life and existence. We will look at this point in much more detail later.

Now let us go back to the problem of self-identity of women as a separate entity taking shape as they join the capitalist labour market.

One of the first and most significant consequences of women’s participation in the capitalist mode of production, developed mainly as the result of masculine creative activity, is that they are forced to increasingly develop their masculine self in the expense of the feminine side. They enter a ‘man-made’ world[5] built in her presence, but without her direct participation in its creation. Therefore they need to adapt themselves to a mode of activity that is new to them. Any activity is the implementation of a corresponding system of thinking. Active participation in the new productive relation necessitates the adoption of the corresponding system of thinking.

Therefore women’s participation in the capitalist mode of production leads to a great deal of psychological changes as women try to adjust and adapt themselves to the outlook that gave rise to a ‘machine’ (mode of production) that they are now only participating in its operation. Gradually they start to see the world as men see it. Looking at it from a different angle, the more they work like men, carrying out the same activities the more they need to adopt the masculine world-view and conceptions and values and the more they become alienated from their own outlook, approaches and attitudes. Gradually, what are left from their womanhood, is mainly their physical body and the ability to give birth. As they see and conceive the world more as men see and conceive it the struggle for equal rights starts. The more they compare themselves with men with a masculine approach, the more the question of rights becomes an urgent matter. And the more they experience their ‘equal capabilities,’ the more ‘equality’ comes to mean ‘similarity.’ Women were silent until then not because they were ‘ignorant’, unaware, but because they conceived the world differently, they had different values, attitudes and approaches. This is what we should start to search for and rediscover in order to reclaim our natural whole integrated lost self.

Thus the participation of women in capitalist world of social relations, naturally forced them not only to adapt themselves to these relationships, but also to assume the underlying outlook.  So it is quite natural that they were made to act like men and see everything from their point of view, in order to be able to carry out their duties efficiently.  They had no other alternative.  The system they became a part of, was a ‘man-made’ system.  It is not possible to work in a system without adapting and adjusting yourself to its rules and regulations. In summa, capitalist mode of production while on one plane brought women a separate ‘independent’ identity, but on a different plane took away their own instinctive or inborn or sex-related or natural outlook (self). This was the beginning of the formation of ‘split personality’ among women.

Another important consequence of involvement of women in the capitalist mode of production is that the previous cooperative relationship between men and women in social production changed into a competitive relationship.  As a result of this transformation, man and woman could no longer make a couple working together for their joint and their family well-being, but changed into two separate competing individuals. For the first time in history, competition runs both intra- and inter- sexually. Up to this point in history of humankind, it had mainly been one of the prominent male characteristics, now it starts to develop among women, too. Its presence among men and its absence among women were due to the natural or biological division of labour that we will look at in greater detail later in the book.

The emergence and development of competition as a trait in the psychological make-up of women, as the result of women’s involvement in the capitalist mode of production, is another factor in the formation of ‘split personality’. It does not affect men as much because it has always been part of their psychological make-up. At the beginning, this inter-sexual competition appears to occur only outside the house, in the labour market and between strange men and women.  But how is it really possible to confine a feeling, even when it is unconscious, to a specific space and time?  How is it possible to treat your opposite sex co-worker as a rival at your job, but as your complementary life-companion at home? In contrast to what was once believed about competition, i.e. as a growth promoting phenomenon, we are now beginning to realize its destructive effects on one’s psychology and human relations in general. Nevertheless, it is going to last as long as the present infra-structure continues to survive.  It can very well be one of the roots of increasingly inharmonious, pugnacious and argumentative communication between married couple. In any case, a tremendous amount of unconscious psychological effort-whether we know it or not- is spent to harness this dangerous competitive inclination at home.

There is no doubt that the above trait is only one of the masculine idiosyncrasies that are now developed in women too as the result of the latter’s participation in the social relations. We have used it as an example here to illustrate how the ‘split personality’ is developed in women as the result of the growth and dominance of the ‘masculine’ outlook. Competition and any other quality that can potentially lead to struggle and war can not be part of women’s psychology. The responsibility of human survival is largely on women’s shoulder. So any situation that threatens human survival would be against their natural tendency. Women by nature will be peace loving as the anthropological studies on matriarchal societies show. The growth of masculine qualities produces an intense inner tension, conflict and struggle in women. They will be torn between their natural tendencies (feminine core) and their acquired (masculine) qualities. The irony is that with the advent of capitalism, women find a personal identity on one plane and lose it on a more profound plane. Their well-developed animus[6], alienates them from their true nature, giving rise to a lost soul with a lost true identity.

Now as explained at the beginning of this chapter, normally the only way girls brought up in feminist or non-traditionalist families, become aware of their difference is through their physical body, and some of the insuppressible psychological effects of their sex--hormones.  Here and unlike their sisters raised in ‘traditionalist’ families, not only they do not develop a well-defined feminine psycho-sexual identity, but also they tend to resent their physical constitution--dislike being a woman--due to patriarchal foundation of the societies. Their greater psychophysical vulnerability such as less physical strength (making self-defense and protection harder), greater psycho-mental sensitivities, emotional upheavals of menstruation that affects both their physical and mental activities, the constant threat of rape and other sexual abuses, all seem to work against them. The situation becomes more complicated when all other existing sociological, economic and legal disadvantages and sexual prejudices are taken into consideration.  For example, in many parts of the world -- if not throughout it! -- women are still paid  less than men for the same job and the same amount of work.  In Islamic countries, daughters inherit half as much as sons, and in general, they are counted as a “half-man!” before the law—e.g. legal cases requiring witness, two women are counted as one man, and for many cases women can not testify.  On the other hand, while men are legally allowed to take four official wives, and divorce their wife (wives) whenever they wish  even in their absence, without them even knowing anything about it, for women it is extremely difficult to get a divorce, if not that much legally[7] now, but morally.  By the order of law, children belong to their fathers. Mothers are allowed to keep their sons only until they are two years old and their daughters until they are seven.  In cases where men are unwilling to divorce their wives, they use this law as a weapon. This is true even when they are quite aware of their inability to keep and look after their children. Some men can go so far as to accuse their wife of defamation and disgrace just to deprive her from even seeing their children, let alone taking them with themselves.  The court is usually more lenient to men than to women.  As mentioned above, it is enough to fabricate some conspicuous lies and accuse their wives of infidelity or anything like that, to get the court to vote against competency of the mother and deprive her from even seeing her children.  Faced with the threat of living without their children, the overwhelming majority of women naturally give in.  Another important factor involved here is the morality of the society that looks down on mothers who are not  ‘devotional enough’ to put up with any kind of probable mistreatments and injustices they might be facing, for the sake of their children.  This is actually the kind of behaviour that society expects them to show.

All these, together with the general devaluation that housework and child-raising--particularly when it is the sole preoccupation of women--has undergone during the past decades, have made it extremely difficult for women to value their femininity and celebrate their womanhood.[8] It is not surprising that the incidence of cancer of the reproductive organs and other disorders of this system is increasing with a high rate among women.  It will not probably be a very wild guess to say that this rate must be much higher among the feminists than traditionalist women, since it is comparatively easier for the latter group to find some virtues in being a woman and as a result value their life more and find it more worth living.  In other words, they suffer from less psychological inner conflicts that arise as the result of losing contact with one’s true nature and self may bring about.

In my rather long clinical experience, I have not yet encountered even one female patient, celebrating and enjoying her femininity deeply and whole-heartedly and yet suffer from some sex-related disorders. I will deal with this subject more extensively in another chapter.  Here I just want to emphasize on the fact that when womanhood is reduced to its profane aspect and all its other virtues (see the next chapters) are dishonoured, it becomes rather impossible to find true joy and meaning in it, and as a result of this antipathy and disrelish—usually accompanied with deep resentment--one is prone to suffer from all sorts of sex--related organic and psychosomatic disorders ranging from pre-menstruation, postpartum and menopausal syndromes to all different types of cancers of the reproductive organs.

‘Women’s Liberation Movement,’ like any other phenomena, has had both positive and negative consequences.  The main positive aspect of this movement is that it refuted all the long held notions about women’s ‘inferiority.’ It proved to first women themselves and then the whole world that women possess equal intelligence and mental powers and are not ‘less than men.’  We are now aware of our equal competency in all aspects of human life.

The negative aspects of this movement include the devaluation of womanhood--motherhood, which together with all other sociological, economic, religious and cultural prejudices, make it now extremely difficult for women to appreciate their sexuality and as a result are easily disposed to suffer from sex--related disorders.  The ‘split personality’--feminine body and a masculine mind--is in fact the price we have paid for the aforementioned awareness we gained, is a sort of ‘split self,’ being.

Summary: The great historical mistake regarding women’s problem is that men’s evaluations, conceptions, judgement, in one word masculine outlook has been regarded as human outlook. Women have been compared to men and consequently were conceived as possessing an ‘inferior’ status. It never crossed our minds that perhaps feminine approach to existence, their expectations from life is different from that of men. Perhaps material gains (or the so-called worldly position, rights etc) did not appeal to women as much as they appeal to men because of their different role in existence, the role of the main progenitor and guardian of the human race. In the discussion on Creativity we will show that feminine psychology is closest to that of the Artist. And Artist is among the most spiritual souls disregarding material possessions and status more than other professional groups. If so then the main reason for the historical silence of women toward the “sexual injustice” is that they did not give a damn to this worldly, profane status. They had different evaluations, expectations and interests that are still a mystery. This is where traditional women can play a determining role in rediscovery and resumption of feminine nature. They are the last remaining species of ‘true women’ that can unfold this mystery. The mystery that can teach us how to heal our ‘split personality,’ reunify ourselves and rediscover our true identity.  Otherwise, the painstaking slow scientific work through trial and error, scientific search of the detailed psychological effects of different hormones will take us there anyway. It will take longer, costing the life of at least another generation of human beings not enjoying life.

This does not mean in any ways that what we are suggesting is to resume our old status. The community Marx had in view was not the same as the primal commune although they had many things in common, including a classless society. This is the true difference between a conscious choice and unconscious one. We don’t describe a sportsman who spends the whole day practicing for his next race ‘a person in suffering’ although he is deprived of many other aspects of life (dating his girlfriend, eating whatever he likes, etc), doing breathtaking strenuous exercises. In what way is his toil and deprivation different from that of a man in real suffering so that we don’t call it suffering? It seems a chosen suffering is not regarded as suffering as such. So return to our forgotten womanhood does not imply resumption of the traditional way of living although they might have many similar aspects. There is no way back in any ways for women as it will be discussed later.

The Way to Reunification of Feminine Self

No doubt that with all the depreciation and derogation that womanhood and motherhood have undergone throughout the past history of mankind, it is not going to be an easy task. How can women appreciate their sexuality when it appears that there is not much value, worth and significance in it?

It seems that we are caught in a labyrinth. Like the mythological labyrinth, with its monster Minautor who subsisted on human youth, its monster, that is our divided self, is squeezing vitality and happiness out of our lives.  Minautor was finally killed by brave Theseus who also found his way out of the labyrinth with the help of a thread that Ariandne, his lover gave him. Like the three feminine mythological Weavers of Destiny we should start to take back the responsibility of weaving of our destiny with our own ‘conscious hands.’ The way out of our labyrinth is the same as that of the mythological one: the thread of love. The first step in weaving this thread is to love our true feminine self. For this purpose, we should start to discover its virtues. We should seriously and bravely start to look into our differences and find out the effects of different sex-hormones on our psychology, mind and world--outlook.[9]  Let us emphasize once more that different psychology of men and women does not rule out our equal mental faculties and capabilities. The latter has already been proved through our increasing involvement in all spheres of human life and we no longer need to worry about it.

The second step is to make clear some points in our knowledge of women’s situation in the past.  First of all it should be noted that until very recently, women were studied and described only by men.  My grandmother, the daughter of a rather distinguished ayatollah (Islamic bishop) and a wholehearted communist?!, when talking about women’s conditions, used to say: “The pen (describing women) has always been in the hand of our enemy.”  Of course, calling men, ‘enemies’ was and still is one of the harmful side effects of feminism.  However, there is a core of truth in her statement.  Women’s world has always been peeked in by men from outside. The other group describing women’s case, has been feminists, who to our description are mentally male. Their main difference with the first group is that they have peeped into the women’s world from inside, but from the same keyhole. In other words, we have always been studied and scrutinized by those who due to their different nature (when male) and hence outlook (men and feminists) were unable to understand us as we might understand ourselves.  Looking at an object or subject from outside would lead to different conclusion than when it is viewed from inside (and from a different keyhole). 

Let us take an example, in fact a rather important historical example. Women were considered as a suppressed and oppressed ‘class’, exploited by both the ruling class and men.  If so, the question is: ‘Why is it that throughout the history, all similar “classes”, “groups” or nations -- in general any suppressed “anything’ -- have in one form or another reacted against their conditions, while women, being “suppressed” from the advent of patriarchal society, as it is claimed, did not show any similar response until a century ago (in the West)? Why did they keep quiet for more than two thousands years? What was their subjective feeling during all these years?’ Truly, when we look at their condition ‘from outside’ and in comparison with the masculine status quo it does not seem much better than that of the ‘slaves,’ so why didn’t they revolt? Why don’t we-- women in all the still sexually prejudiced countries -- revolt?

Before going any further, it would perhaps be interesting to read what the great German philosopher Friedrich Nietzche said about “Emancipation of woman”.

“... The struggle for equal rights is even a symptom of sickness: every physician knows that…. The more a woman is a woman,  the more she defends herself tooth and nail against rights in general: for the state of nature, the eternal war between the sexes puts her in a superior position by far... Has my answer been heard to the question how one cures -- “redeems”  -- a woman? One makes a child for her.  The woman has need of children, the man is always only the means: thus spoke Zarathustra. -- “Emancipation of woman” -- is the instinctive hatred of the woman who has turned out ill, that is to say is incapable of bearing, for her who has turned out well -- the struggle against  ‘man’ is always only means, subterfuge tactic. When they elevate themselves as ‘woman in herself’, as ‘higher woman’, as ‘idealist’ woman, they want to lower the general rank of woman; no surer means of achieving that than grammar school education, trousers and the political rights of voting cattle...”.[10]

In the next chapter we will explain why there might be a core of truth in the above quotation, and why might women be actually “in a superior position by far”. The reason we brought up this rather long quotation here is that if Nietzche is right in claiming that women are in a ‘superior position,’ then perhaps this is what they might have actually-- if only unconsciously -- felt too.  In other words, on contrary to the prevalent notion that regards women as one of the suppressed historical classes, women themselves (and some men such as Nietzche) might have held a different notion about their situation. But let us assume the long held view and think of women as a suppressed and oppressed class. Now the question is: who were and still are their oppressors? The answer is: the ruling class, in other words some men and perhaps all men.

Now, considering the fact that women were, after all, the bearer and ‘upbringer’ of these very men, then, women’s protest and revolt against their ‘oppressors would have meant rising against their own sons, fathers, brothers and husbands.  This is the main difference between women and other historical oppressed classes. But another dilemma is that, if the truth is that women were an ‘oppressed class’ and could not revolt against their oppressors due to the above reason, why did they not try to use their power as the creator and ‘upbringer’ of their oppressors to change them? The first and old answer is that they were not aware of their ‘oppressed’ condition.  If this is so, then why is it that other oppressed classes did eventually become aware of their situation, and only women stayed ignorant for such a fantastic long time ? Do we want to say we were the most “imbecile” historical oppressed class? Do we want to admit our “inferior” intelligence? If womanhood is really “that bad”, why then have we kept silence for such a long time?

Let us admit that the conventional answers such as ‘ignorance,’ ‘fear’ and all other similar sociological, psychological reasons cannot be sufficient to explain this long humiliating silence for the simple reason that all these factors never prevented other similar ‘oppressed’ classes from protesting and revolting against their conditions. All of them were equally strictly deprived of any opportunity for intellectual growth and development. So, why? Why did they neither revolt against their oppressors nor “re--educate” them? If lesser intelligence, madness and higher ignorance is not the case--which is not, otherwise we could not achieved so much in the past hundred years--then what other reasons might have played a role?

Before trying to give a probable answer to this question, let us consider one last point in this respect. As mentioned before, ‘women’s situation’ has always been studied by taking men’s condition as the basis of comparison. It has been judged by male-oriented standards, values and criteria, and again as mentioned before, largely by men or feminists.  In other word, women have always been looked at through the eyes of men and masculine outlooks and insights.  It is in this way that we have either been considered ‘inferior’ in all aspects of human activity--in fact we should say “men’s activity” if we are to be absolutely exact. Or we are suffering from “castration complex.” And in issuing all these  glorious allegations (whether social, cultural, moral, psychological, or religious), the measuring tool has always been men’s perceptions and conceptions about the truth.

But perhaps the story is something else. Perhaps women’s condition was not “that bad,” at least from a point of view, other than that of the men.  Perhaps women were actually happy with their role, not out of ignorance, stupidity or madness, but because as Nietzche believed, they were somehow in a superior position, and they felt this superiority and found much joy, ecstasy and spiritual growth and perfection in it, at least from their own point of view. Nietzche, however, does not make it very clear why he considers women’s position superior to men’s -- or at least I do not get it clearly -- to me, however, such a claim is only justifiable from a metaphysical or spiritual sense. In other words, from the material point of view women were indeed suppressed, while from the metaphysical or spiritual point of view, they enjoyed a superior position. This is in fact one of the main shortcomings of “Women’s Liberation Movement”. So far it has mainly looked at the ‘material’ aspects of our situation and has been so involved with the sociological, economic status of women that the ‘spiritual’ aspect of the problem has almost  been completely neglected. Another factor has probably played a role here. In many of the important religions of the world, there are many ‘metaphysical’ rewards for woman while emphasizing on her lower ‘worldly’ position. For example, in Islam it is said that the “Garden of Eden is under women’s feet” while asserting that they are “half-men.” Naturally any reference to concepts such as metaphysical, spiritual becomes dubious and suspicious.[11] 

 What women lacked in comparison to men, consisted mainly of the ‘non-spiritual’ or profane or mundane aspects of life – apparent economic independence and security (in the sense of taking the money into their own hands), social positions, etc -- perhaps these merits or advantages did not appeal to us as much and if reaching and finding the truth, that to me it really means: growth, maturation and perfection is the ultimate goal of humans, perhaps women were so ‘naturally’ preoccupied with this goal that left the rest -- mundane aspects of life -- to men. We will expand this concept in detail in chapter three of this book.  Here, in one sentence, we are claiming that men and women have different paths in life in its all aspects including responsibilities toward the world.  And there is nothing novel in this claim.  Among the primitive people, the initiation rites were different for men and women.[12] In Taoism, men and women practiced different techniques and followed different paths for illumination.[13] Why? What could be the basis of and the justification for these differences other than the fact that men and women have different constitution with their individual paths. What led me to reach such a possible conclusion, was a long puzzling dilemma that I could not solve for years.  I could not understand that if the conventional explanations for the absence of women from the intellectual, creative spheres of life were sufficient (suppression, oppression, ignorance) why is it that after more than a century of women’s involvement in these sphere, there is still nearly no truly creative, trend--making, innovator women as great as any men geniuses in the history? If unavailability of equal opportunities for growth and development for women were the main reason for such a lack of ‘prodigy’, why is that the removal of the above obstacle (with all its imperfections) has still not been that fruitful in this respect?

It is true that women displayed their equal intelligence and other mental powers in all fields of human activity, but only on an ordinary, average level and not on a level comparable to that of the geniuses such as Beethovens, Einsteins, Pasteurs, Nietzches, Van Goghs, Buddhas,..… Why? In the next two chapters, we would attempt to explore this question more extensively.  The point that we would like to emphasize here is, first of all, the fact that women’s situation in the past, i.e. before the Liberation Movement, appears inferior to men’s, because it has always been looked at from men’s point of view, taking their criteria for evaluation. Secondly, it has been looked at from a material, profane point of view, and  not in relation to the main probable goal of human life, which is perhaps the attainment of Truth, or in a more scientific language growth, maturation and  perfection.  When examined from this point of view, then woman’s situation may indeed appear totally different.

Another important point that needs to be considered here is the fact that when we talk about women’s absence from the sphere of artistic and scientific innovation and creativity, again we have a rather limited ‘masculine’ definition of Arts and Sciences, and what comes to mind is naturally those works of Arts that have left a trace of themselves, in the form of paintings, music or literature.  All the ordinary houses decorated, the tables set, the plants grown, the lullabies composed and other numerous similar ‘traceless’ works of creative activity of women, are naturally not taken into consideration. This is another evidence for our one--sided analysis of women’s problem. We adopt a really superficial, limited and conventional view of Arts and Sciences, of education and intellectualism.  All these concepts should be defined in relation to our main human goal, i.e. the attainment of Truth. After all is it not true that the works of arts and sciences are actually created as a result of human’s search for Truth ?

But let us go step by step and still stick to our old conventional -- masculine -- way of thinking for the time being and only try to deal with the subject from another angle, as we did, for example, with the problem of women’s suppression before. When we tried to explore the probable reasons for women’s long silence toward their situation, by comparing them to other historical classes, we reached the conclusion that the reason for their apparent long silence could have been that perhaps they were not dissatisfied with their position. In other words, it is quite possible that their own perception of their situation may have been far from suppression, oppression, inferiority and as such.

With the advent of Industrial Revolution and the new form of women’s participation in the sociological, economic relationships and their inevitable adoption of men’s outlook, the above perceptions, naturally started to change.  Now they start to see themselves through the eye’s of men, as men see them.  And they start to be that ‘split character’ explained earlier, a masculine mind in a feminine body. With this general picture in mind, we are now ready to explore the next step in weaving the thread that will help us to come out of the labyrinth of our “split self” and move toward its integration and unification. This would mainly consist of the attempt to unfold those forgotten perceptions that women held of themselves before the present era of their ‘emancipation,’ i.e. those perceptions that helped them to accept or ignore their so-called ‘inferior’ social position. For this purpose, we first need to explore the nature of womanhood--motherhood that in reality is the most forgotten part of our ‘self.’

Top | Next Chapter

© Copyright 2000 NetNative & Roya Monajem
(All Rights Reserved)