International Women’s Day is there to remind us there is still a long way to go
This column was published in the Jersey Evening Post on 2 May 2017.
My baby girl was born in April last year. For the third time in my life, I witnessed the most profound miracle anyone could ever experience. After months of gentle anticipation, there is suddenly this bundle of naked innocence, so delicate, so perfect, so intensely loved, immediately claiming her place among the three most cherished things in my existence. She was born at home, like my two boys, courtesy of my wife’s incredible strength and the team of amazing midwives in Jersey, where I live. Together they made perfection happen, pulsating with the awesome powers of nature, creating life out of liquid, energy and who knows what else.
Most societies throughout history have been patriarchal; males dominating, somehow fooling themselves they were the ‘stronger’ sex. Is it the awesome powers of creation — those superpowers possessed by women — which have frightened us men, instilling in us the need to ‘dominate’ public life? Did we not build a large part of our history on the idea that females were created out of our ribs? Are any of our deities feminine? Were women not excluded from political life until only very recently?
As I fill in my tax return, I have to sign for my wife to discuss her own tax affairs. Wow! I shiver when I happen to come across that filthy rag which has the audacity to call itself a newspaper; the Sun, shamelessly portraying women as sexual objects. Our society objectifies the very same people who give us life. What a self-destructive exercise, literally.
Do we fear the awesome powers of the feminine? Is that the reason men fight wars? Do we take life, to avenge our own shortcomings, as retribution for the powers we lack?
As a historian, I study the deeds of men. Apart from some exceptions, the protagonists of history are males. We have constructed it so. We tried single women for being witches in the seventeenth century. We have denied women the right to vote and control their own riches. Rape victims are usually women and it is still commonplace for middle-aged men to decide on women’s behalf that abortion should be illegal.
I humbly salute all women of the world. I hope I can continue to learn from your amazing strengths and I will try my best to nurture my daughter as best as I possibly can. Let’s not forget that history is herstory too.