I have 2 daughters – Rose and Alana – and both of them are now out and working after having complete college and masters degrees. Both are doing well. And one reason this is so is that they live in an unprecedented time for women and freedom. Throughout human history there have been very few times when women have shared equal rights with men. And most of those times have ended badly when a neighboring civilization with male dominance has ended up crushing the more gentle and civilized group where equality existed.
Riane Eisler in her masterwork – The Chalice and the Blade – details one of the earliest of such civilizations – the Minoan culture which existed in the eastern Mediterannian, on Crete about 1700 BCE. It was a culture that produced probably the finest art and architecture of its time. Minoan culture embraced equality of men and women, women had positions of power, participated in sport. But the culture died out at the hands of stronger willed male dominated cultures eventually.
And this seems to me to be the central question going forward. Our future is not about Muslim vs Christian, not about east vs west, it is about whether we are once again going to leave behind the gains we have achieved in the overall equality of people.
We know today that cultures and civilizations that value both women and men, and allow a partnership model for working together, that it is these groups that have the highest standards of living, that make the most rapid progress technically, environmentally, overall.
If you ask a young US woman how much she values the progress that has been made over the last 50 years for women. You will get an ear full. But if you ask how much she is willing to sacrifice to hold on to these gains, then the answer becomes mixed. Is this because the gains came to easily? Or is it because the gains are thought to be impossible to erase? One need only look to other cultures where we are in conflicts to see that this is not the case.
There are cultures who teach that women are chattel, not to be held in the same distinction as men, to be mutilated away from their full sexual potential, to be managed and kept ignorant in terms of education.
So my question is – how willing are we to really fight over these principles? What level of sacrifice will we endure? Can both men and women be convinced to sacrifice for these clearly very valuable gains? If not, what does that say about us all?