Iran News ...


The Fall of Woman

Roya's Corner...
By Roya Monajem, Tehran

After living an almost androgynous life for a decade and turning to a hermaphrodite (unfortunately without having any of their extraordinary characteristics such as the one the late Soraya, Shah's ex-wife had), the question of "Who am I?" became overwhelming. And as by then I had taken off the cloak of feminism due to being forced to live a man's life (as breadearner) that revolutionized my conception of this opposite sex, and due to extreme aversion to re-wearing the old traditional feminine costume, that now seemed even uglier due to living under the rule of Islamic fundamentalist traditionalism, I didn't know what to do, except to resume the primal nakedness of my first grandmother in the gardens of Eden before eating that damned fruit of knowledge of good and evil. So I assiduously started a process of brainwashing by forgetting all that had been said and written about the sexes. What was the use of all those generalizations that men and women had and have in their minds toward the opposite sex except the perpetuation of hatred between the sexes. "Men as selfish, unfaithful, sex-oriented, despotic and.. and women as weak, possessive, jealous and." is more or less the image each sex has from the other in its mind. No wonder that home has turned into a battlefield instead of the place of rest and...

In addition to the question of "What am I?" came the question of 'what is a woman?' accompanied by the third quite disturbing question that 'why did women put up with their "secondary" "inferior" status throughout the recorded history?' It became increasingly harder to believe that the only reason for women's supposedly indifference to their conditions was the dominance of patriarchal relationships since the beginning of human civilization, because history has proved that no degree of suppression, oppression, awe-inspiration can prevent one from doing what one wills to do. Did we stop listening to music when it was banned by our religious leaders? Did Moslem painters stop painting, making sculptures, making and playing musical instruments? Do writers living under the most suffocating unfree conditions stop writing, criticizing, describing the kind of life they have? Did the women in this county stop using lipsticks, varnishing their nails and putting their forelock out of their scarves because of the threat of arrest and mistreatment and having their feet tied in a bag full of cockroaches in the past twenty four years? And...

No, suppression and oppression could not really explain the reason for women's historical silence. So I went back to the beginning of history, when nature had the first word. And in nature, physical strength is the main element determining 'superiority' and as in humans, males are physically stronger than women, they naturally came to be regarded as the "superior" gender. And as mythologies show at the beginning this had been only a superiority merely in the physical sense of the word, bringing about no advantage for men. But gradually and hand in hand with establishment of patriarchal societies, this once natural (mere physical) masculine superiority came to dominate all spheres of life. I came to realize that there seems to be a great historical misconception involved here and that is masculine conception and worldview has been taken as Human conception and worldview which seemed quite natural too, as only men could have the luxury of free time, to lie idle thinking and philosophizing and theologizing and deterring and defining what life, this world, the other world, the underworld, the future world could be. Women were busy with their full-time role as the main progenitor of the species and its survival and considering the relative longer and stronger dependency of human offspring on their mothers, that left them no free time to think in the masculine sense of the word. That is why even the works of arts have been different in men and women.

No it is hard to believe that women were ignorant of their conditions or scared to protest and struggle in the past. Their apparent silence, apathy, indifference towards their conditions may have another reason. Feminine understanding and conception of life, of existence, of themselves, of the world and.can be quite different from the masculine conception. Forget to take masculine condition as the point of reference, go beyond all value judgments and you will see what I mean. It is only when compared to men's status that women seem to be leading an inferior life. Compared to a true human status both are in the same position, that is leading a very inhuman life full of woes and sorrows and hatred as God imagined and ordained after the commitment of the Original Sin by them.

"And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed..." (Genesis, 3, 15)

The dawn of patriarchism is also the beginning of development of a kind of hatred between the sexes, in other words from the time that man started to create his Pro-masculine Gods (even if physically they were supposed to be asexual or supra- or trans- or bi-sexual) one after the other. Before that there were Gods and Goddesses, whether Greek or Persian or Indian or Egyptian in origin, who had divided responsibilities on the basis of their natural potentialities even if their superior one was a male-- which can very well be due to the above-mentioned 'superiority' in strength. In fact the story of exile from heavens should be regarded more as the fall of woman rather than man. It is from this point in the history of mankind that women started to be regarded as the 'inferior' sex, no longer on the basis of physiology (or profanely, this worldly), but according to a mental, divine, otherworldly value judgment. And so naturally a hidden hatred between sexes started to develop that was suppressed for centuries due to the rule of Traditionalism all over the world, and brought to the surface as one of the consequences of Freudian psychological revolution and women's liberation movement. How can an Eastern women not learn to hate men for all the 'freedom' and 'right' the tradition has given them? And how is it possible not to project this hatred onto her mate, even if not consciously, unconsciously? How can men not hate women whom their (Judo-Christian) God has told them to be the one who caused their expulsion from Heavens? Or advises them to hit them if they get too uncontrollable and rude? (that is the God of Islam)? Can we still doubt that theology should be a masculine creation?

God! You help us to find a way to put an end to this historical hatred! Was it all due to eating that fruit of knowledge of good and evil and thus becoming the victim of a dichotomous way of thinking? Why was their nakedness the first awareness that dawned on them? Could it be because they realized their physical differences? And immediately they hid it. And this is what has been kept hidden throughout the recorded history, that men and women are different, not only physically, but existentially, if I may use this word here. As there is no Chinese wall between physis and psyche. And this is the beginning of that historical mistake taking masculine conceptions and valuations and judgments as Human conceptions and...

Going back to the era of theo-pluralism (i.e. before the advent of monotheism), when as mentioned above responsibilities were equally divided between Gods and Goddesses, we see an interesting difference that might explain the future development of masculine and feminine way of development. The difference lies in the quest of men and women. While men seem to be totally absorbed by the thought of immortality, women seem to care only about love and beauty. There is no story of a woman looking for, even being interested in immortality. We have heard a lot about the cauldron of witches, but there is no story that they ever attempted to make a potion of immortality. While this was all the men witches (sorry they were called alchemists, only women can be witches, men are scientists) were looking for. Could it be because women have a more immediate experience of 'survival' through their children? Not only they carry them in their body, they spend a far greater time with them.

There is another interesting difference between these pre-civilized men and women that can illustrate my point in saying everything in men and women are different. And that is the nature of 'curiosity' in men and women. We see the kind of curiosity that Eve showed in Pandora and in Psyche who preceded her as well. If you want to arouse feminine curiosity, tell them 'not to be curious about something!' You can be sure that they will find out about it no matter what the price might be. Psyche does it even twice, although she paid the extremely high price of losing her love with her first show of responding to her curiosity. And the subject of her second curiosity was of course beauty. (Sorry it takes time-space to tell you her story. Don't be more curious than what I am telling you. I bet you the number of men who would try to find out more about her will be much less than women!)

In men curiosity leads to invention. Their imagination can fly to furthest horizons, while in women it is more immediate. It is like saying that in men the curiosity starts with 'why and how' while in women it begins with 'what.' What is there? (in this jar, Pandora asks. And Eve asks, what is in that fruit, and Psyche asks, what is sleeping beside me, the monster that Delphi's Oracle had said or Cupid the Son of Venus, and the second time she asks what is in this box that is supposed to make Venus more beautiful?) Tied to her children and home, this is as far as her curiosity would take her. While he, the hunter, finds the opportunity and chance to think broadly and highly (more height-wise, going to sky for answers). So women become agriculturist, herbalist, practical art-workers and men cattle breeders, alchemists, abstract art-workers.

The quest of immortality has a different path from the quest of love and beauty. In a way they run parallel.

And love and beauty is what our world is crying for since those who should attend to it are either hating their position and status quo as women because of all the deprivations they are experiencing compared to men, or are busy, carrying out a masculine way of life.

What is in that jar or box called 'heart'?

... Payvand News - 3/6/03 ... --

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