Happy International Women’s Day

Today Google honors International Women’s Day with one of their doodles.

I am 100% in favor of honoring the women of the world. And, I have some thoughts. Consider these remarks by Morgan Freeman on the occasion of Black History Month:

MIKE WALLACE: Black History Month, you find …
MORGAN FREEMAN: Ridiculous.
WALLACE: Why?
FREEMAN: You’re going to relegate my history to a month?
WALLACE: Come on.
FREEMAN: What do you do with yours? Which month is White History Month? Come on, tell me.
WALLACE: I’m Jewish.
FREEMAN: OK. Which month is Jewish History Month?
WALLACE: There isn’t one.
FREEMAN: Why not? Do you want one?
WALLACE: No, no.
FREEMAN: I don’t either. I don’t want a Black History Month. Black history is American history.
WALLACE: How are we going to get rid of racism until …?
FREEMAN: Stop talking about it. I’m going to stop calling you a white man. And I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man. I know you as Mike Wallace. You know me as Morgan Freeman. You’re not going to say, “I know this white guy named Mike Wallace.” Hear what I’m saying?

2005 interview with Mike Wallace for television’s “60 Minutes” news magazine program

There has recently been an immensely favorable response to the Neflix series “The Handmaid’s Tale,” ¹ as well as rising awareness of the challenges still faced by women around the globe (astonishingly, in the 21st Century. Sadly, there are bastions of troglodicity (my own word) in my own country where people in power are bound and determined to keep women in a state of perpetual subjection and inferiority – notably the US Congress, SCOTUS, and legislatures in various “red” states around the nation, such as Texas, Alabama, Utah, and many others.

The Christian faith has a lot to do with it, especially religion of the evangelical sort:

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Saviour.”

Ephesians 5: 22-23

“Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness I permit no woman to teach or have authority over a man; rather, she is to remain silent.”

1 Timothy 2: 11-12

But even in non-Christian societies, the pervasive attitude that women are inferior beings has been present for millennia – the following passage from one of my favorite short stories, set in Brazil, lays it out pretty clearly.

Then [the tribal chief] went on to explain—it took all night—that the tictoc nut was not like other nuts. Everything, said the chief, everything could think a little. Even a leaf had sense enough to turn itself to the light. Even a rat. Even a woman. Sometimes, even a hard-shelled nut. Now when the world was made, the deuce of a long time ago, man having been created, there was a little intelligence left over for distribution. Woman got some. Rats got some. Leaves got some. Insects got some. In short, at last there was very little left. Then the tictoc bush spoke up and begged, “A little for us?”

“River of Riches” by Gerald Kersh, 1958

Fast forward to our day and age and country, and these attitudes have some direct consequences within individual families, and not just in the less-tangible global sense of economic and social inequality. In other countries it’s worse still; female children in Afghanistan and India, for example, are more likely to be abandoned, sex-selectively aborted or killed in instances of infanticide than are boys. Human trafficking, largely perpetrated upon women and female children, continues to be rampant. The evil is mind-clenching.

If we’re going to be fair about it, every other day should be International Women’s Day… plus February 29th when it rolls around because women slightly outnumber men on a global basis. But until the recognition which they deserve is granted them in the same sense that Morgan Freeman expressed, I give honor – every day – to all the women of the world², who not only bear and raise the next generation but who have made incalculable contributions to humanity since the dawn of time.

This little essay may do absolutely nothing to improve the situation, but I felt that for myself, it was important to mark the day with more than just a congratulatory message.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Footnotes

¹ If you liked the series, read the books by Margaret Atwood, including The Testaments. They add a lot of things you’ll never see in the series and leave you with some reasons for optimism instead of bleak hopelessness.

² Cis-, trans-, or otherwise, in case you were wondering.

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