After the Second World War, the main policy followed in the majority of “Pro-West” countries of the “third world” was to suppress any potential revolutionary movement that could threaten the Western colonialism. All these attempts were of course disguised under the ‘threat of communism.’ Similarly, major communist countries used basically the same reasoning to extend their spheres of influence. For both Fronts, defending the national interests of ‘the third world’ countries was just an excuse to conceal their real intentions of exploitation and colonialism.
The major policy that the West used for this purpose was to introduce pseudo-revolutions in countries under their influence in order to preclude any true revolutionary movements. One of the major movements that could ignite the flame of revolution in these countries was the feminist movement. Therefore, both the West and Communists aimed at winning women to their side. The German National Movement under the Nazi, was a good example of the important role that women could play.
In Iran this policy of misleading or aborting the genuine popular movements was carried out twice in regards to a semi-western type of feminist movement. The first time was during the reign of Reza Shah the founder of Pahlavi dynasty, under the banner of Kashf Hejab (‘unveiling of women’). The law was enforced in 1935 basically to outrun the movement for attaining the right to education started some thirty years before by some women’s organizations such as the Society of Nationalist Women, the Society of Women’s Progress and Awakening of Women, etc. The second time was in 1965 when Mohamadreza Shah announced his White Revolution, originally consisting of 6 articles, with the last one dealing with the equal rights of women. Ever since then equality of women has been recognized at least on papers in regards to all aspects of women’s social life except in those cases that were against the Islamic decrees such as the right of inheritance, judgment, divorce mentioned in an earlier chapter. The Right for divorce in case the man takes another official wife without his first wife’s permission, was also issued by a special Court of Family, a few years before the Islamic revolution.
It is commonly believed that when we gain something for free, we don’t come to realize its true value. Iranian women hardly went through any of that hardship, sacrifice and agony that western women experienced in their struggle for equal rights. That is why the article dealing with women’s right in Shah’s enforced revolution was the major item that the religious uprising of that period concentrated on as its main objection to Shah’s revolution. And the irony is that women too, participated in these uprisings. Once a law is established it will have its positive consequences no matter what the primary intention of its verification might be, which in this case was mainly to empower Shah’s regime and abort any future protest on behalf of women.
The fact that women hardly ever fought for equal rights in this country can very well explain why there was almost no major protest to the law of Hejab (chadorand scarf) enforced after the Islamic revolution. This is the perhaps one of the major differences between feminist movements in the West and the East. In countries such as Iran the force of religion outweighs that of the traditions and other social prejudices. What Western women were faced with and still are confronting are the social sexual discriminations. In other words, they have been faced with essentially different prejudices. For example, here once the women’s equality was established as the result of Shah’s White Revolution, then women seldom were paid less than men for the same quality and quantity of work, at least when employed in official state institutes while as we know this is still a major issue of protest of western women.
It is difficult to fight with what you believe in. Some of the religious decrees dealing with women are so clearly stated in Koran, that no new interpretations and readings can change the situation. If the right of having four official wives could be revised it was due to the fact that Koran emphasized on observation of justice between them and as this is almost impossible, the court of family established in Shah’s regime succeeded to somehow modify it. Men were allowed to choose another wife with the permission of their first wife, without such consent women could appeal to the court and ask for divorce. Other than that no other religious laws particularly if stated clearly in the Holy Book of Koran, can be revised.
Now here one of the most puzzling questions can be why did Iranian women ever surrender to Islam in the first place? Why should women enjoying real equal rights -- as the historical records show -- so much so that two of them actually sat on the throne right before the overthrow of the Sassanian’s dynasty by Islamic conquerors, gave up all their prerogatives? What did actually happen? Did they not know what was going on? Women who “were treated as completely independent entity and could litigate or ask for divorce without loosing any of their properties” accepted to be treated as half-human beings regarding many human rights. In Koran it is clearly stated that women are “lower than men.” A point shared to some extent by Bible too, but not by Zoroastrianism, the official religion of Iran, before Islam. In the latter, the first man and woman were born in the form of a rhubarb plant splitting into two exactly similar parts, and not as in other major religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) one (the woman) being born from a part of the other. The only ‘pro-masculine’ statement found in Avesta, the Holy Book of Zoroastrians, is that men are advised to marry women who would give birth to ‘good sons.’ As it will be explained in chapter eleven, this is in accordance with natural laws. Male animals that win a female are those that win in the fight over the female. In this way, only strong male animals will find the chance of impregnating females and thus guarantee a more vigorous generation. Therefore there can be a natural reason for the above Zoroastrian doctrine of having ‘good sons.’ In this way not only the next generation will have a better ‘gene pool,’ but the need for manpower, an urgent need for the time when only men could participate in war and defense, could be fulfilled. Other than that there is no difference between men’s and women’s status in the original version of Avesta.
So it is really strange that women surrendered to Islam, and as a result lost all their formal privileges. For Arabian women, whose new born girls could easily be buried alive just because of their sex, Islam was indeed a “divine” gift that acknowledged their right to existence. For us Iranian women however, it meant loosing many important privileges. How did such ‘backward’ movement actually take place? How could a nation so “advanced and progressive” regarding human rights accept to take so many steps back in history?
The first explanation that immediately comes to mind regarding women’s passivity toward their loss of social position after Islam, is the fact that women, as stated in earlier chapters, satisfy the human urge of creativity and searching for truth in a way different from men. It is true that Islam, by taking away Iranian women’s equal rights, limited their participation in production and social life. But it only limited their creativity, but could not prevent it as the culmination of feminine creativity is giving birth. Secondly, as history shows, the process of religious conversion took place slowly and as a result of a series of gradual transformations occurring simultaneously with many other public tyrannies and oppressions under the following rule of despotic dynasties. The country was constantly in upheaval. There was even a revolutionary movement, Mazdakians, which openly proclaimed the equality of women which of course was brutally suppressed. Seldom did any politico-social stability last more than a quarter of century. One despotic ruling power was replaced by another. On one hand, due to the political instability, the productive forces never found the chance to grow and blossom. On the other hand, creative people (both as artists and philosophers), another essential element for progress, were generally under the constant threat and persecution. For example, Avenicina, the great Iranian philosopher and physician whose books were taught in major European universities until seventeenth century, wrote the majority of his works while taking refuge from the kingdom of one feudal prince to another. Many brilliant thinkers were executed with the absurd excuse of heresy. Therefore, in general it was not only the women’s status that declined, but the whole country disintegrated and degenerated.
Another possible reason for the “non-opposition” of women may be that although on a religious and consequently social level they lost their privileges, but on the ‘household’, familial level, if not women, at least mothers remained -- and still are -- the most powerful figure, making the majority of decisions related to the household affairs and children’s life (later in this chapter, we will present evidence for this claim). Thus it is quite possible that women did not really realize what was happening outside the house regarding their rights, because they were still holding their powerful position inside the house. In addition, they were continuing their participation in agricultural production, animal husbandry and handiwork and so on more or less as before and as much as these activities survived the general devastation that the country was going through. In fact, this participation must be the very basis for the far more advanced status of Iranian women in comparison to the Arabian women, who naturally acted as the model for the prophet of Islam, as nearly none of the above activities were possible in the arid Arabian Lands of Islam, and hence women’s role was naturally confined to housework. Iranian women actively cooperated in the income of the family. Sometimes the whole earning of the family was and still is dependent solely on the handiwork of the woman.
The important point to make here is that it is always the degree of the growth and prosperity of productive forces that determines the degree of women’s participation in social production which would then bring about their social rights and privileges. What opened the way to women’s ‘emancipation’ in the West was exactly this unprecedented growth of large-scale production desperately in need of fresh cheap manpower. The number of men was no longer enough to fulfill all the different needs of the flourishing capitalism. What started to happen in the West after the Industrial Revolution was probably similar to the situation under the rule of Sassanian in Iran, of course only from the blooming aspect of the productive forces, which like the industrial revolution made the participation of women inevitable.
The case of Iranian women is somehow complicated in this respect. The past flourishing civilization in this part of the world made them to transcend the natural role of mother-wife during this period and prove their equality in practice. They enjoyed equal rights in a patriarchal society. As the historical records of this period show, they were more or less in the same situation as women of the advanced societies of today. The victory of Islam -- a masculine religion -- with the consequent political instability led to the progressive decline of the productive forces which in turn made women to fall back to their original natural state of pure motherhood-womanhood. From this angle, however we can say that the new situation did not affect them much and they were still enjoying all their privileges as before.
In addition, the memory of the glorious past is transferred from one generation to the next for a long time. The evidence for it is that nowhere in our literature do we find the kind of derogatory comments such as those heard from the great philosophers of the West such as Socrates, Aristotle and so on who to say the least, put women on the same level as children and madmen. It is only gradually and with the loss of women’s social privileges on one hand and empowering of Islam on the other that contempt towards women starts to develop. Even then, the interesting point is that the opinions expressed are quite contradictory. For example, while one finds some quite derogatory verses about women in the glorious epical work of the great Iranian poet Ferdosi, there are also some exalted verses dignifying women in an unprecedented way. This is also true about another great Iranian poet Molavi (very popular now in the West). The source of their admiration and appreciation could be the memory of the past when women were still enjoying equal rights with men and participated in all aspects of social life, while the origin of their derogatory opinions could be the situation of their contemporary state of affairs regarding women’s status quo under the religious influence.
To me this is a unique characteristic of Iranian women. Their glorious past has never disappeared, but has continued to the present day in the form of a kind of hidden matriarchal trend pulsating underneath the otherwise patriarchal constitution. In other words, it seems that the loss of women’s social rights has been compensated by the much stronger, but completely concealed role that they play in the family affairs.
Let us look at a few example taken from our present society, but before that let us explain what we mean by the ‘matriarchal trend.’ By that we mean: “anything that would point to the effective role and power of women in the life of the society.”
The first striking fact that points to the importance and power of mothers in this country is that the worse thing you can do to a man is to curse his mother. He would definitely go crazy. His animal side will come to surface; he will completely loose his reason; he can easily kill. This is from an emotional point of view. From the point of view of children’s future, not only it is largely the mother who will determine her children’s profession, it is again the mother who usually chooses her children’s, particularly her sons’ future spouse. What does this mean? In one word, if religiously and hence legally it is the father who is counted as the legitimate parent in all aspects of the life of children, but deep down the real power is in the hands of mothers. And the irony here is that in this way she actualizes her own dreams as much as possible (see chapter 4).
In this way mothers play the most important role in forming the minds of the men of Future. Depending on her aspirations, she would either act as the main power in restoration and maintenance of the existing social structure or would prepare the conditions for its transformation through bringing up (consciously and knowingly or even unconsciously and unknowingly through her genes and the quality of her existence), a person capable of such a great task.
Thus although mothers have no legal rights to their children in this country, but they are the true determining force in shaping their personality and their future life. Now let us take other religious and thus legal disadvantages of women and see how they are compensated by the same matriarchal trend.
If daughters inherit half as much as sons, but they receive their mothers’ jewelry which sometimes cost far more than the land property remained for the inheritors. In respect to this law, let us also remember that this is only the problem of the upper and a part of the middle class, while the relatively much bigger lower classes of the country do not own anything worthwhile in the first place. If wives inherit only one eighths of the wealth of their husbands, but their children almost never throw them out of the house they now have no share in and in addition will commit themselves to support their mothers financially. It is believed that parents and particularly mothers sacrifice their life for their children, therefore it is the duty of the latter to look after and support them in their old age.
I think it is clear that by saying all this I do not intend to justify the sex prejudiced religious decrees. On contrary, I am pointing to a fact usually neglected and that is the powerful position of women of this country in determining the life of the society, even though they’ve lost many of their past legal privileges. To compare their status with their western sisters without considering this important fact would only lead to aberration and confusion. The social equality that Iranian women once enjoyed and has had no parallel in the West, changed into a kind of matriarchal trend that has continued to this day which in a way compensated their religious and consequently their social-cultural inequality.
In this country mothers and women are still appreciated for the work they do at home. Ever since the Shah’s white revolution, they are no longer confronted with many of the prejudices that western women are still facing. Not only that, they are still treated as women, as the physically and emotionally weaker sex that needs more care and support. If women turn out to be the leader of some sort of protest or strike at work, they are seldom mistreated as badly as male leaders because it is a disgrace for the men (employers) to harass a woman. Mishandling the weak is counted as a crime among men, even among the very men who beat their wives!
It is true that the number of illiterate women is higher than men, it is true that in poverty stricken areas, or in the areas where there are no high schools, girls are affected more than boys, it is true that parents invest more on their sons than their daughters, but let us not forget that at the same time men (fathers and husbands) are obliged legally and morally to support their wife and children. A poor father can force his son to leave the house and earn his own bread, but he normally will not do the same thing to his daughter. The most he does is to find a husband for her daughter despite her wish. Although from one view this is a very cruel thing to do, but from another view he guarantees some bread for her daughter. In the very same poverty stricken areas, many boys are forced to leave school in order to work and help the family including their sisters. This is socially and culturally expected from them, but not from the girls. Why do we not count at least the last two examples as pro-women prejudices?
It is interesting how the above facts are omitted from the feminist works. There have been a lot of discourse on women’s state in the third world countries lately that to me quite are biased and as sexually prejudiced as the situation they try to protest against. Divorce, masculine polygamy and similar problems do not play that important role in life of people. It affects only a section of the population. Of course there is no question that they should change as well. This is not the point. The point is that only half the picture is depicted in the feminist works. They all suggest that women are some indigent miserable weak creatures, who have to deal with some monsters that are called their fathers and husbands. The fact that these monsters are brought up by these very poor miserable women becomes off the point. The cruelty of the father who gives his daughter to an old man is magnified, but the fact that in this way the girl will at least finds something to eat and a dress to wear is ignored. Yes there are cases of psychotic men who beat their wives and the poor women usually have no where to appeal to. But there are also similar cases of psychosis among women that ruin a man’s life and he puts up with it even though he is not faced with the legal limitations that women suffer from. Where is the statistics that the former outweighs the latter? Yes the number of men who marry after the death of their wife much exceeds that of women. Women can survive much more efficiently without a man while most men are incapable of doing the same. Do we women have no role in this situation, both as mothers of these men and as their wife?
This picture of women as some miserable weak creature that feminists present is indeed becoming nauseating. How far away from the truth this picture is. It is against the Nature as even if Nietzsche’s idea of woman’s superiority by nature is a bit exaggerated, if she were of the nature that feminists describe, surely human race would have been extinct by now.
Once again let us go back to one of the basic question of this book. Why did women keep quiet for such a long period of time? We showed that the main reason is probably because their own conception of their situation was different from that of our male-oriented conception. Again as mentioned before, even if they did not wish to stand against their husbands and sons, they could bring about change indirectly through raising their children and particularly their sons differently. We are totally responsible for our son’s ‘reactionary’ approach and their sex-oriented prejudices. I am very amazed when I listen to my young clients complaining about their mothers’ (many of whom are educated) discriminating attitude, depriving them from many privileges that they willingly and self-righteously offer to their sons (i.e. my clients’ brothers). Do we solely have to blame culture and social conventions for such discrimination? To me this is far from any decent, logical justification. How is it possible not to see the power we have in our hands? If so then we are worthy of this very humiliating life we are living, that is if we think it is humiliating. But my observations of non-intellectual women of my country which make the overwhelming majority of women, make me think that they are not really unhappy with being a woman-mother. They become dissatisfied as soon as they stop having their own conception of the story and adopt the men’s view about life, i.e. as soon as they start to see life from men’s eyes.
In fact, a close unbiased observation of ‘non-emancipated’ women of the third world can give us a better and more real picture of women in the past than any masculine conjectures about the problem.
Let us take my ‘non-emancipated’ countrywomen as an example and see how sound are the prevalent views about women’s passive reaction to their ‘inferiority’ now and in the past.
If we blame women’s ignorance as the main reason for putting up with a humiliating life, for not acting as other oppressed classes in history, i.e. for not revolting, then how and why the majority of women in this country who are quite aware of their ‘inequality’ still do not do anything about it?
If up to the present age, all the doors of social ladder of progress and accomplishments were closed to women and as a result they came to accept their secondary status as Fate, then why in our generation that enjoys equal rights to many opportunities available to our race and has become aware of all the sex-discriminations and has experienced them with its flesh and skin why do we still act in the same way as the past generations? In other words, we are no longer ignorant, but why do we act like our ‘ignorant’ grandmothers? So how can we blame ignorance for our long silence? All the Iranian women supporting the religious government, are quite aware of its anti-women precepts, so how can ignorance be applied to them? Can we conclude from this that they have come to take themselves actually inferior to men, just because their religious faith tells them? If so then why do they react to some of these decrees and not the others? Why are they enraged to see their husbands taking another wife, another clearly stated religious decree, but keep silent toward others? What does make them to acquiesce to one law, but react to another, while both point to their ‘inferior status’? Can we then conclude that they would react to anything that would undermine their real power and status in everyday life, but not to that which points to some abstract idea? If the Court of Family in the past regime of Shah revised the law of multiple wives, was it not perhaps because they anticipated that this like other articles in Shah’s White Revolution can lead to a protest if they don’t act promptly? Why did they not deal with other anti-women religious decrees such as the law of inheritance? Can it be because they did not seem to be potentially as threatening as the above law?
The law of inheritance does not seem as threatening because on one hand it does not concern the majority of women, but only the small minority of higher classes, and secondly because women are almost sure that there will be a husband or a son (and now even a daughter) to support them financially. They are not enraged by knowing that Koran considers them lower than men, because in their personal experience they perhaps know they are not, and in any case it does not touch their ordinary every day life. They are aware of their power in the real life of the very husband who is counted superior to them. In short, we can say women react according to their own conception to that which would endanger their security in practice, but not to that which although might seem humiliating, but would not touch their earthly profane existence. It is like that they say let men say whatever they want as long as it does not meddle with our own concerns.
What I want to say is that women, whether in pre-capitalist era of the west, or in underdeveloped countries of the present era, can not be discontent with their status at least for the same reasons that we think they should. Instead of closing our eyes to the reality, we can explore the reasons. Womanhood-motherhood is a great world when seen through women’s eyes and not some “female eunuchs” using Germain Greer’s term.
The point that I definitely like to emphasize here is that by saying all that I do not want in any way to approve of the present sexual discriminations in any part of the world. On contrary, I am inviting my sex-mates throughout the world -- and that is why I am writing this book in English-- to reflect upon the problem more deeply and from a feminine point of view. Since Women can change the whole world if they will. And how badly the world is in need of such a change. For this purpose, we first need to reach a critical realistic view about the real accomplishments of feminism. This can not be accomplished without some attempts to explore whether the hypothesis that women’s status from a feminine point of view can be quite different is in harmony with Reality or not. For this the majority of third-world women who have not yet completely lost contact with their true feminine nature and have not yet been completely poisoned by the masculine outlook can act as an exemplary source. They can teach us a great deal about the inner world of women, something we intellectuals can no longer identify.
Such studies are really vital for both Eastern and Western women, but for different reasons. For the Eastern women it is important as they can prove that feminism is not their only solution for overcoming the present state. As emphasized repeatedly, the main problem with this view is that we are taking the male status as the ideal status. Why? Why is it the ideal? When we compare the present state of the majority of women of this country with that of the western women impartially and without prejudice, it seems that their situation is far better. If the law does not protect them as much, they enjoy the support and protection of their men (husbands and children). Children seldom leave their parents, particularly their mother alone in their old age. Now is the place to look at this last important sexual discrimination regarding children and divorce. It is here that the experience of western women can be very helpful to obtain a better perspective of the problem.
First of all, let us notice that the former (children’s case) arise as the result of the latter, since as long as the marriage continues, there is no question about the ‘ownership of children.’ Therefore, let us first deal with divorce.
An Iranian woman usually does not ask for divorce because of her legal status, because divorce is condemned socially and culturally, and thirdly because the majority of women do not have any specialty, and so it is difficult for them to support themselves financially. On the other hand, observation of the life of western women with nearly none of these problems shows that they are not that much happier. The majority will still find themselves unhappy with their later marriages. Not only they can not establish that close, intimate bond with their children, both due to their multiple marriages and their full-time employment, they can not benefit from all the fruitful aspects of motherhood (also remember the trinity nature of this relation), which can give their life meaning and direction. On the other hand, their motherhood does not allow them to dedicate their life to their profession, so they end up with the feeling they had no major achievement in life, thus deeply discontent and lost. They neither have enjoyed their motherhood nor their job. Neither their children have given meaning to their life nor their profession. Men have not lost as much as women in this respect, since the meaning of their life has been sought in other spheres.
In general what really gives meaning to our lives is our urge of creativity and our search for truth which for women, at least as long as they make use of their wombs, is largely fulfilled through birth giving and child raising. The western women have lost this and what they have sought instead (imitating men) can not satisfy them. Any type of creativity compared to giving birth falls a long distance behind. This is not meant to undermine men’s type of creativity which for them can act as powerfully as the former for women, but the latter who has experienced her own form of creativity, it is then very difficult to be satisfied with solely the masculine form of creativity.
Regarding the case of divorce as it was shown in chapter 5, it is not the real solution of an unsatisfactory relationship. To summarize what was said there, as long as we refuse to consider outside world as a mirror of our inner self, as long as we refuse to understand why we are in the situation that we actually are, as long as we do not learn our lessons, and finally as long as we stay in the same existential level, we would essentially have the same experiences, and consequently the quality of our life does not change.
Thus if divorce is far from a real solution for a couple’s despairing marital life, are Iranian women who are more or less still deprived of this right actually losing much? Instead of travelling on a road that is now proven to get to nowhere, should we not look for perhaps another road? So far suffering has been considered as an inseparable component of human life. The ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ is promised to those who suffer most. Again and again we should be reminded that there is no bliss without suffering, no happiness without unhappiness. Flying away from this truth can not help us to overcome it. Divorce, without accepting the responsibility of our own role in the relationship will only replace one mate with another, without any qualitative change in the nature of our problems. Our mate is only a reaction of our own actions, the mirror reflection of our self. Reaction can not change when the action is constant. The quality of our relationship with outside is changed only through changing our existential level. The graver our conflicts, the deeper are our wounds, the harder we should try to use the opportunity to learn about these wounds and then heal them. Such an attempt (as my experience with my clients show) will automatically improve the situation if not in all, but at least in the majority of cases.
As mentioned repeatedly in this work, once we accept the responsibility for our immediate life conditions instead of blaming others, any point of disagreement would spontaneously resolve. Once we take ourselves as the source of our unhappiness instead of putting the responsibility on another person’s shoulders then a promising hope would immediately arise that if we are the cause then surely the remedy lies within us too. As the result of the power gathered by such view, then we can indeed revolutionize the quality of our existence.
That is something which is not necessarily achieved by divorce as the experience of western women show. If the door to escape from ourselves is closed to Iranian women, perhaps it might help them to look for real ways of solving their problems. This is exactly what I mean by analyzing the consequences of feminism and try to find other solutions for those which have already not only failed to help women and societies, but have perhaps made life harder and less fulfilling for everyone. By now there are enough studies and statistics on the harmful effects of divorce on the future life of children. The couples too, are not much happier after divorce, so why should we continue insisting on something with so many grievous consequences.
For the last time, divorce should be considered as the last resort, after all other attempts (of the kind explained in this book, since there is no doubt that couples do try a little bit before deciding to separate) have really failed. The most effective attempt is a thorough self analysis, discovering the actions that is causing the unpleasant reactions, active responsible commitment to unfold the probable origins of these actions… All this awareness would automatically lead to a change in the existential level of the side who is undergoing such self-analysis. Once the person in question, realizes that for example it is his/her own self-destructive attitude that is causing the humiliating reactions that her/his mate shows, confrontation with such an attitude will automatically prevent the above reactions under normal circumstances. In this way, everything will start to change for the better and in a peaceful way. If such an automatic transformation of reactions does not take place, which is very rare as the result of my workshops show, then divorce should be considered as the only solution left.
In any case, in Iran, after the Shah’s White Revolution, and the subsequent changes introduced into the legal system concerning the rights of women, divorce was no longer that impossible. Although there were still many religious, social and cultural hindrances. As time passed many of the traditional social, cultural inhibitions lost their power. Islamic Revolution introduced conditions that facilitate divorce for women, no matter how odd the these conditions are (the bride should ask for the right of divorce during the actual marital ceremony, i.e. just when she feels that she has found the man of her dreams).
Now the major obstacle left is the case of children. But for most women this is really an excuse. Financial and social insecurity and other fears are the more important, yet concealed reason. In fact “For the sake of children”, is the phrase both sides repeat when asked why they are continuing an unsatisfactory relationship. It is more a cover and a justification than reason, because the couples continue their destructive relationship as before, letting their children to witness the most horrible behaviors, letting them to tremble with fear and insecurity to the point of death, without thinking that how harmful and destructive all this might be for their mental and psychological growth and well being. What these couples need is education and therapy and not divorce.
Deep down the majority of us know that men can not look after children. We know that the statements such as “I will not divorce you until your hair turns as white as your teeth,” “never again will you be able to see your children and you should take this wish to grave with you,” and so on are merely threats. Whenever a woman consults me on this issue, in cases when divorce really seems the only healthy solution, that is after I make sure that the woman has undergone the above self-analysis and has changed her negative, destructive attitudes and approaches, I always tell her that if you really want to divorce and live a better life with your children, tell your husband that you do not want to take your children even before he starts threatening you. In ninety nine point ninety nine per cent of the cases, they leave the children with their mothers.
This is because men are not brought up to be able to raise children. That is why he has to give in. The most he can do is to remarry and get another woman to take care of his children. And this is what women fear. But this is not easy at all. Therefore, children in most cases will be given back to the mother if she wishes. However, the men who use their legal privilege face a great deal of cultural pressure as well. To deprive a mother from being with her children is a cruel act not justified in any society, no matter how patriarchal and anti-woman it might be. That is another reason that they most probably would give in.
The women who submit to the threat, are those who really do not want to divorce. They are just using their children as an excuse. They are deceiving themselves. The first evidence is that mentioned above, that is by continuing a destructive relationship they let their children to grow in a poisonous atmosphere and in addition have the worse role-model for their future life. The second reason is that the overwhelming majority of the couples continue their marriage even after they no longer have the excuse “for the sake of children”, in other words even after all the children have left home and started their own independent life. If they never have wanted to lead such desperate life and have done so just because of their children, why don’t they fly away once the children have gone?
The main real reason for continuing a despairing marriage is women’s financial problem. The majority do not have any specialty to earn a decent life on their own, but even if they did they could achieve as much as western women and perhaps even less, since there is still none of those aids and supports that the society offers them.
Once we stop looking at divorce as the major solution, we are not bothered with the sexual discrimination in respect to the right of divorce and keeping the children. The energy spent on fighting to obtain the right for divorce can then be directed to the right channel of self-education, self-analysis and self-healing.
The main oversight of feminism has been to confuse masculine evaluations with human evaluations. In this way, the virtues of womanhood-motherhood were overlooked and thus completely lost. It took masculine definitions for different human activities as THE definitions. It considered the masculine conceptions of life as THE conceptions. The Eastern women have still this chance of not making the same mistakes. The majority are still in contact with their true, natural self and hence can teach us a great deal about our lost, forgotten femininity. They are still living the feminine conceptions. The mental effects of their hormones are not yet completely suppressed as they are in western women. Pure femininity is not yet metamorphosed to mean a sexy object. Housework has not yet changed to mean some worthless, futile occupation to be ashamed of. They are still preoccupied with some sort of artistic activity other than the ordinary, everyday house works.
In contrast to their relatively passive role in determining the fate of womanhood-motherhood, the eastern women can now be as active as the western women. We have called this new phase as the era of post or neo-feminism whose aim should be to
(1) find the virtues of motherhood-womanhood,
(2) discover what a real feminine outlook and conception might be,
(3) try to look for real Human values and replace them with the present male evaluations that have come to mean Human values,
(4) try to discover the pure roles of husband and wife in order to replace the present confused admixture of different roles that we, each according to our own individual needs, expect each to play and finally
(5) find the feminine medium for communication and transference of mental, abstract ideas.
Women have the power to change the world. It is very important to be able to transfer the concepts necessary for this purpose to them. The medium used so far is not the right medium. We need a medium as effective as the ‘scientific method’ that men use. Observation of eastern women who are still relatively much closer to their nature can be very helpful in this respect. Thus instead of manipulating their way of Being with the same old stuff of feminism, let us learn from them that which the rest of us have forgotten.
© Copyright 2000
NetNative & Roya Monajem
(All Rights Reserved)