“But let me observe that all histories are against you, all stories, prose and verse. If I had such a memory as Benwick, I could bring you fifty quotations in a moment on my side the argument, and I do not think I ever opened a book in my life which had not something to say upon woman’s inconstancy. Songs and proverbs, all talk of woman’s fickleness. But perhaps you will say, these were all written by men.”
“Perhaps I shall.–Yes, yes, if you please, no reference to examples in books. Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands.” Jane Austen, Persuasion
This weekend, in California, Elliot Rodger, a young man with a history of mental illness, opened fire on a college campus. When the shooting finally stopped, the shooter and several other young people were dead. This sad incident brings up issues that our politicians have been dragging their feet about, (greater awareness and assistance to those with mental illness, as well amending the national gun laws to prevent another tragedy of this manner), it also brings up another issue in regards to the double standard when it comes to women.
We are supposed to be either the virgin or the whore. We are either uneducated, scantily clad or surgically altered beautifully clothed mannequins who are nothing but arm and eye candy or we are nothing but glorified housekeepers, cooks, nannies and sexual partners.
Mr. Rogder’s sentiments are not an anomaly; as much as we in the western world like think that we have removed ourselves from the archaic and outdated ideas of what is male and what is female, we haven’t. His beliefs about women are not too far off from the Boko Haram. There are still women being raped because they were wearing a short skirt or they were walking home alone late at night. There are still women who are being abused by their husbands or boyfriends. Female fetuses are aborted and infant girls are either murdered and given to orphanages to raise. Girls are often married to men twice or three times their age before they reach puberty. In Pakistan, a woman was murdered by her own family because she married for love and not because her husband was chosen for her.
While we can say with pride that we have come a long way in only a few generations. We have the options of school, career, whether or not we choose to marry and/or have children. But that doesn’t mean that the war is over.