It has been weeks since the Weinstein’s storm and sadly most news and articles seem to treat this news and the following scandals in Hollywood (and Westminster), as any other ‘trendy gossip’. Number of victims, photos of celebrities, details of what happens, how many times it happens … a sort of soap opera basically. Rather than looking at the cause of all this. Rather than looking at the origin of all this. Rather than looking at the cultural, historical and most importantly financial reasons behind gender inequality, sexism and misogyny, press and social media focus on the details of this intriguing and sickening ‘soap opera’. Not to mention the hypocritical – and quite disgusting – statements of Weinstein’s (ex) friends and collaborators stating that they were totally oblivious about such conduct in the fairyland known as Hollywood. The issue is far FAR more complex and deep that what it has been discussed so far. That’s why I didn’t post anything, I didn’t engage with a topic that in actual fact is extremely relevant to me, not only because I am a woman, but also because my latest production HOME, is a piece on misogyny, and I have been working on it for quite a while well before ‘Weinstein’s storm’!
It is absurd that we don’t talk openly about the fact that we are all victim of an indoctrination. And I’m not talking about religion (although religion plays a huge role!!). I’m talking first of all of our education. Every subject we study in school is gender-bias and class-bias : history, history of art, philosophy, science…everything we study! Because history has been written by those in power: men…white privileged men to be precise.
Who are the pillars of Western culture? Who are the revered philosophers and thinkers we study at school (99%men of course): Aristotle, Rousseau, Schopenhauer …just a few examples. Some quotes from these ‘extraordinary’ thinkers:
Aristotle in the Politics declares, “as regards the sexes, the male is by nature superior and the female inferior, the male ruler and the female subject ”4 (1254b13-14)
And Rousseau, considered one of the key Enlightenment philosophers, states: “In the union of the sexes, each alike contributes to the common end, though in different ways. From this diversity springs the first difference that may be observed between man and woman in their moral relations. One should be strong and active, the other weak and passive; one must necessarily have both the power and the will, it is sufficient for the other to offer little resistance.
If woman is made to please and to be subjugated to man, she ought to make herself pleasing to him rather than to provoke him; her particular strength lies in her charms; by their means she should compel him to discover his own strength and put it to use. The surest art of arousing this strength is to render it necessary by resistance. Thus pride reinforces desire and each triumphs in the other’s victory. From this originates attack and defence, the boldness of one sex and the timidity of the other and finally the modesty and shame with which nature has armed the weak for the conquest of the strong.”
Schopenhauer’s On Women: “One need only look at a woman’s shape to discover that she is not intended for either too much mental or too much physical work. She pays the debt of life not by what she does but by what she suffers—by the pains of child-bearing, care for the child, and by subjection to man, to whom she should be a patient and cheerful companion.” Or: “Women are directly adapted to act as the nurses and educators of our early childhood, for the simple reason that they themselves are childish, foolish, and short-sighted”
And what about our religious texts? Some excerpts from the New Testament:
“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, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also women should submit in everyway to their husbands.” (Ephesians 5:21-24)
“The women should keep silent. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.” (Corinthians 14:34-35)
“Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.” (Timothy 2:11-15)
After all Tertullian, one the Church Fathers (ancient and influential Christian theologians), had a very clear position about women. And this position seemed to have left a strong legacy in the development of the Church: “Do you not know that you are Eve? The judgment of God upon this sex lives on in this age; therefore, necessarily the guilt should live on also. You are the gateway of the devil; you are the one who unseals the curse of that tree, and you are the first one to turn your back on the divine law; you are the one who persuaded him whom the devil was not capable of corrupting; you easily destroyed the image of God, Adam. Because of what you deserve, that is, death, even the Son of God had to die.” (De Cultu Feminarum, section I.I, part 2)
After thousands of years of gender inequality, misogyny and sexism promoted by religious and secular authorities in both Catholic and Protestant countries, I would expect some serious conversations. Instead, too little is spent in analysing this issue and the root of the problem. We can not focus ONLY on blaming and persecuting. This is only the beginning not the end of this story. Whoever misbehaved should pay the consequences of his act – no doubt. And public shame is one of the inevitable consequences. However, we must reflect on the origins of sexism, sexual inequality and misogynist behaviours.
To challenge the current political and economical power system would require some time and it won’t be easy. I do hope women (and men) will take advantage of recent events to reflect and work together in changing this system. It’s wrong. It is unacceptable and it is high time to make our voice heard…and we should be fucking LOUD, Girls!
A decent article: