In our civilization, men are afraid that they will not be men enough and women are afraid that they might be considered only women. -Theodor Reik (1888-1969) Psychoanalyst
How many times in your life, have you been in love? A man and woman union with love at its axis is a new pattern in human history. So, starting from the beginning of time until around 1930, love had literally zilch to do with matrimony. It’s reasonable to conclude that your great grandparents’ wedding was arranged without love’s infringement. Throughout history marriage has been the artifact of economic and political arrangement agreed upon by the parents of the couple, or by the government of the times that dominated the social law of wedlock. History reveals even in America, marriage has been faithfully a merger of need or convenience, not an act based on choice and love.
It was not until the late 18th century that a few male leaders of society began to toy with the novelty that marriage would be better if based on the passionate feelings and free choice of both individuals in the relationship. This change of heart represented the male concession to woman’s rights and their fight for equality in the early 1900s. However, even as recent as 1960, marriage remained a lopsided union between an obedient wife and a leading man—wives were to be compliant housewives and mothers, with men the superior breadwinners. Love might have been present in this union, but the pyramid of power had only one person at the top—the man—the husband and father. This is still true, today, in various cultures.
For centuries, young women were stuck, however reluctantly, to culture rules regarding female and male intimate relationships. They learned early from their female predecessors what to anticipate from a man, and it was rarely the promise to love, honor, and cherish with equality and faithfulness. Women may have doubted male superiority, but men remained with the power in the relationship. Societies squelch the female aptitude so women traditionally were dependent on a man to provide money, protection, food, and shelter. Any goals women may have had, like fulfilling personal aspirations, pursuing a talent or education, or insisting on an equal say in a relationship were not an option. Women, traditionally, were expected to tolerate male behavior. It was customary for our ancestor sisters to suffer irresponsibility, deceit, injuries, drunkenness, infidelity, rape, imprisonment, degradation, and inferiority in any relationship with a man.
Men have historically been in conflict with other men while their maltreated, indifferent women laid in waiting with Band-Aids and a beer for the heroic return. Traipsing off to battle to conquer a kingdom was (and still is) a guy thing. Men by nature compete to be right, to win, to have control, and to rule. Whether it was off to war or off to the saloon, men thought of a woman in basically the same category as wanting a hot bath and a turkey drumstick.
A look at women in history helps explain why relationships today with men are so screwed-up:
IN THE BEGINNING 4000 B.C. – 450 B.C. (about Genesis – Jonah)
~Women were prohibited to have a say-so anywhere, about anything.
~Women were denied rights over their body or life.
~Women were to make the home, children, and mate the priority in life.
GOLDEN AGE OF GREECE: 450 B.C. – 27 B.C. (about Micah – Malachi)
~High-class prostitutes were held superior to wives.
~When Greek men fell in love, they were considered sick.
~Wives were considered only as housekeepers and mothers.
~Wives were not allowed to eat at the same table as her husband.
~Kings claimed they descended from gods; and held all-powerful positions.
ROMAN EMPIRE: 27 B.C. – 385 A.D. (about Matthew – Revelations)
~Love in Rome was guilt-free sex, not a feeling.
~Women remained inferior to men and under Roman rule.
DECLINE OF ROMAN EMPIRE: 376 A.D. – 476 A.D.
~Women were considered sex and labor slaves.
~Women born into royalty were raised as sexual partners for Kings.
CHRISTIANITY & THE DARK AGES: 385 A.D. – 1000 A.D.
~In 585 A.D. the Church argued that women did not have a mortal soul.
~Religion viewed sex as an unromantic, harsh, and an ugly act.
~By the 1st Century, women were viewed as disposable property.
~The Church sanctioned wife beatings.
~Only small fines were enforced for killing women.
~Noblemen had the right to rape any woman.
PRE-RENAISSANCE RISE OF COURTLY LOVE: 1000 A.D. – 1300 A.D.
~Courtly Love was a relationship considered to make men better warriors.
~The sex act was considered false love.
~It was believed that unsatisfied passion improved character.
~Women were viewed as utensils.
THE CHURCH VS. THE RENAISSANCE: 1300 A.D. – 1500 A.D.
~Religious people saw Courtly Love as sinful.
~By 1450 A.D. the Church believed all physically desirable women were witches.
~The Pope authorized the burning death of 30,000 women.
~Pope Alexander VI possessed many teenage mistresses.
~Marriage remained a lifelong financial transaction that took place when a girl was 14-16 years old, and included a dowry plus income/property guarantees.
~As the Renaissance enlightenment prevailed; people associated sex with love.
~A new idea that married couples should live together alone in a dwelling of their own began circulating in the 17th Century.
~Wife beating was legal.
THE PURITANS: 1500 A.D. – 1700 A.D.
~Dr. Martin Luther battled Catholic beliefs asserting that sexual impulses
were natural and irrepressible.
~Women remained inferior to men, dominated by the male population,
religious judgment and discrimination.
~Henry VIII put two wives to death for unproven adultery, though he had several mistresses while married.
THE AGE OF REASON: 1600 A.D. – 1800 A.D.
~By the mid-18th Century man turned “to reason.”
~Louis XIV set rules of etiquette to suppress all evidence of emotion. ~Men viewed women as ornaments, unreasonable nitwits, and subservient. ~Love was a malicious sport with the motive to seduce; flirtation became a common societal hobby.
VICTORIANISM & THE RISE OF CAPITALISM: 1850 A.D. – 1900 A.D.
~U.S. Surgeon General, William Hammond, stated that decent women felt not the slightest pleasure during sex.
~Many physicians considered sexual desire in women pathological.
~The 1842 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica stated that women had no privileges or rights in marriage.
~The clinging-vine persona in women developed as the culture encouraged women to be modest, sweet, weak, and anxious to be dominated by men.
~Men had legal power over their wives and could imprison or beat them.
~Women were not allowed to vote.
~Married women had no property rights.
~Divorce and child custody laws favored men.
~Women were not allowed to attend college.
~Women were forbidden to serve on a jury.
~Women were forbidden to participate in political or church leadership.
~Elizabeth Cady Stranton began in 1848 The Women’s Rights Movement to achieve full civil rights for all women.
~Sigmund Freud concluded females suffered neurosis and had little purpose.
￼20th CENTURY ROMANTIC LOVE: 1900 A.D. – 1930 A.D.
~In 1920 women won the right to vote; 72 years after its initiation.
~Romantic attraction became the basis for choosing a partner.
~Divorce rates grew although a woman’s place was still in the home.
~Birth control information started circulating secretly.
~Women were mainly housewives and caretakers to men and children.
~The restrictive clothing don by women for centuries began to loosen up.
MODERN ROMANTIC LOVE: 1930 A.D. – 1970 A.D.
~Dating started in 1930 as a new method of mate selection.
~Women were expected to adopt behaviors to build up a man’s image.
~Alfred Kinsey provided specific details that changed views on sex.
~Playboy franchise created in 1953 exploited women who consented.
~Women were allowed to enter college, sports, politics, and military.
~In 1963, The Equal Pay Act required equal wages for women.
~In 1967, a law prohibited any hiring bias against women.
~Women could not obtain credit.
~California became first state to adopt a no-fault divorce law.
CONTEMPORARY RELATIONSHIPS: 1970 A.D. – PRESENT
~Ms Magazine published in 1971, sold out 300,000 copies in 8 days.
~Marriage no longer mandatory for financial support.
~Supreme Court ruled in 1971 unmarried woman’s right to use contraceptives.
~The word obey is dropped from female vow in marriage ceremonies.
~Marriage rates fell.
~In 1976, the first marital rape law was enacted.
~In 1988, women were paid 32 percent less than men for same job.
~Despite working, women were expected to be caretaker at home.
~Women entered politics and held government positions.
~Sexual discrimination suits toward women flooded courts.
Attitudes toward women today are, at best, trying to be politically correct in America. There remains an undertow of inbred inferior opinions towards the female sex in business. During water cooler chats men still minimize a woman’s abilities and degrades her existence within a company. Despite the gains over the years to show women equal respect as a man, women are still being raped, trafficked, violated and discriminated against — not just in the rest of the world, but here in the United States. And though feminists continue to fight gender injustices, most men seem to think that outside of a few lingering battles, the work of the women’s movement is done.
Do you think men today are afraid of equality with women or simply
stuck under the influence of history in their interpretation of women roles?
Think about it. Look for Do Men Owe Women?, Part 2, tomorrow.