*~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~* It is a most insidious drug which must be administered to others in order to achieve its desired effects for oneself. ~ Marie Winn *~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~**~*~*
From the essay Sexual Politics by Kate Millett, 1968. These ideas were later used in her book by the same title.
In history; vast numbers of peoples have worshipped the phallus openly. It may also be true that ever larger numbers of peoples once worshipped the womb or the fertility powers of the earth. It may also be true that one of the-many causes for the commencement of that now-universal oppression and contempt for women lay in the male's very fear of the female powers of giving life and perhaps inspired that enormous change in world affairs we call the patriarchal take-over. Living so close to the earth, without having yet developed toys of his own in warfare and the rise of princely city-states full of toiling slaves building him empty monuments, and unaware of his own vital role in conception the male may well have past glances of envy on the woman and what was -- in those conditions-- her miraculous capacity to bring another human life out of her very belly-and seen in it a connection with the phases of the moon, and the seasons of the earth's vegetation -- and stood both in awe and terror -- and finally in hatred -- and decided to cast this function down from what he rather naturally I assumed was its collusion with the supernatural, the terrible, the uncontrollable forces of nature -- and denigrate it to the level of the the bestial, the pernicious and the obscene. And thus the filthy totem was,appropriated by the male and taboo assigned in a thousand ways to operate against the female.
Having vitiated all effects of the female power the male set about aggrandizing his own. Having finally appropriated all access to the supernatural for himself he established an alliance with the new male god (both his brother his father, depending on auspicious or inauspicious circumstance), he then proceeded to announce his kinship with the divine through a long and impressive list of patriarchs and prophets, high priests and emperors. Now that he had gone into partnership with God, the male set himself up as God to the female. Milton puts it this way: "He for God only, she. for God in him".
In some cultures females were allowed to participate on an inferior level as figures of identification for human females-- useful in encouraging them to an enforced cooperation in their own control. So they can see themselves as honored through the rapes of Jove on Europa and Leda, favored in divine seduction scenarios as an endless series of wood nymphs, possibly debased versions of other tribal goddesses at loose ends now their matriarchal reign had ended -- or incarnate in that first troublesome woman, Juno - the insubordinate wife.
But in sterner patriarchal societies such as the Judaic and Christian, there was never any kidding around about goddesses. Christianity did not elevate the Virgin to goddess status until the 12th Century and the Protestants dethroned her a mere 4 hundred years later. The device of making her both virgin and mother not only excites admiration for its ingenuity but astonishment as its perfection of effect -- here is divine or nearly divine woman completely relieved of that insidious sexuality by which woman herself has always been defined.
Mere mortal women in the Christian ages were continuously assured of their inherent evil and inferiority by a whole procession of fanatic mile supremacists--from Paul who found even the exhibition of their hair in church a powerful provocation and an indelicate enticement to hellish practices more apparent in his mind than in others-- (such it is to represent the sexuality of the whole race in only one half of it)-- to Jerome, Augustine, Aquinas and a whole parade of ascetics, hermits, and other non-participating types who have projected their own teeming sexuality onto the female. For so strong is the hold of the Christian assumption through Eve and other notable exemple that the "evil" of sex was introduced via the female alone-- that today even Women think of Women when they think of sex, sexiness, sex objects, sexuality and sex symbols -- a state of rather surprising paradox in a society which rigidly enforces heterosexuality for women.
Judaism is even more punctilious than Christianity in the matter of male supremacy. First thing in the morning every male Jew is enjoined to thank God for creating him a male and therefore a superior order of being. I have never been informed as to what Jewish women are instructed to say on such occasions of coming to consciousness--perhaps it is some little bit of advice to themselves not to fall into the much-satirized posture of the overbearing Jewish mother.
Of course it is not surprising that religion as we know it takes the enforcement of male supremacy by divine fiat as part of its function in a patriarchy -- so too does literature, all traditional and contemporary notions of government, those platitudes which currently pass for social science --and even--despite the influence of the Enlightenment--science itself cooperates in a number of transparently expedient rationalizations in maintaining the traditional sexual politics on grounds so specious as to have a certain comic charm.
"We have fallen into the place where everything is music." --Rumi