This article on the BBC made me think back to Joss Whedon’s question (I’ve quote it on this blog before): ” What is wrong with women?
I mean wrong. Physically. Spiritually. Something unnatural, something destructive, something that needs to be corrected.
How did more than half the people in the world come out incorrectly? I have spent a good part of my life trying to do that math, and I’m no closer to a viable equation. And I have yet to find a culture that doesn’t buy into it. Women’s inferiority – in fact, their malevolence — is as ingrained in American popular culture as it is anywhere they’re sporting burkhas. I find it in movies, I hear it in the jokes of colleagues, I see it plastered on billboards, and not just the ones for horror movies. Women are weak. Women are manipulative. Women are somehow morally unfinished. (Objectification: another tangential rant avoided.) And the logical extension of this line of thinking is that women are, at the very least, expendable.” (emphasis mine)
Perhaps your experiences have been different than mine, but I’ve met waaaay too many people who fetishize the risk and suffering often associated with child-bearing. And this goes back to Whedon’s question as well – perhaps what’s really wrong with women, historically at least, is just how scary the reproductive process can be. It’s so scary, in fact, that the human race has learned to disassociate from it – by framing women as inferior and/or by focusing disproportionately on how pain experienced by women in childbirth is so beautiful that it should not in any way be tampered with (I’m not knocking natural childbirth here – but guarding against infection, for example, is a good thing, this we can all agree on).
Considering that giving birth has become relatively safe in developed countries not so long ago, and that it continues to be unsafe for many women on the African continent, in South Asia, and elsewhere – perhaps we have yet to un-learn the discomfort we feel on the subject. Whedon talks about popular culture – and it’s a fact, while torture-porn such as “Hostel” rakes in millions, a live birth would send people running from the theater (I remember the screams of horror, pure horror, at the end of “Doctor T & the Women,” for example). And it’s no wonder that women are labeled as “morally unfinished” – this almost works as a defense mechanism against their scary, scary nature.
I could get all philosophical on you now and talk about how, perhaps, our unconscious ambivalence about existence in general leads most world societies to be hostile toward women – because women are the ones who bear children. I could, but I’m not going to. Maybe because this would be too much of an excuse for all the terror and injustice in the history of this miserable little world.