I guess that the relegation of women to second-class citizen started in the Neolithic, with the invention of farming, and hence static settlements. And I suppose it might have had something to do with a biological need in men to confirm paternity. At least, that’s what evolutionary biologists would probably say, but they’re always making up unprovable stories, so it’s hard to be sure. Since I seem to be entirely lacking in any biological imperative to breed, introspection provides no help either.
Anyway, if that was the reason, it doesn’t work very well. With the invention of DNA, it has become possible to check paternity definitively, and various surveys in the modern Western world have returned rates of between 10% and 25% for proportions of children whose apparent father is not their biological father. Ten percent of us are bastards, in other words.
If that ratio was around the same throughout history, then it makes absolute nonsense of any ideas of aristocratic “breeding” or royal birthright. At least one King of England is reasonably suspected of having been illegitimate: Edward IV, whose “father”, the Duke of York, (through whom he inherited the throne), was away fighting a war at the time of conception. During Edward’s lifetime, his real father was rumoured to have been one Blaybourne, an archer. (How is it that the archers get all the girls? First-century documents claimed that the real father of Jesus was an archer from Sidon called Pantera.)
The evolutionary biologists say that a certain amount of “outbreeding” is good for genetic diversity in any case. I suppose we can believe that, even given their congenital bent for making up stories.
Whatever the reasons for locking women up, making them follow ridiculous and one-sided rules, burning them at the stake, insisting on arbitrary forms of dress and behaviour, treating them as property, always putting them in second place; well, I don’t like it much. It offends my natural sense of justice. The evolutionary biologists say… well, anyway, it’s an ugly stain on humanity and it still isn’t fixed.
After some hopeful progress, it now looks as though we’re moving backwards. A recent item in the Guardian pointed out that the main female figures in the British political parties had been quietly disappeared during the election campaign. We did get to see the lovely wifeys of Messers Brown and Cameron, doing lovely wifey things like attending cake sales and visiting hospitals. That was the message the politicians wanted to send us, not female politicians doing serious politics. (Nick Clegg’s wife, Miriam González Durántez, richer and more successful than he, was having none of that sort of nonsense, which in my book is another plus point to Nick.)
In the absence of equality, I advocate revenge. Maybe it isn’t going to improve matters, but it makes us feel better. And you know what? It’s easy, because men are stupid. Ripe for exploitation. Most women don’t realise the sexual power they have over men, and I think some of them look down on their sisters who use it. Wrong! What you should really be doing is observing and learning. Don’t think of the makeup and hairstyles and shoes as symbols of your opression. Think of them as weapons that help you to get your own way, the things you deserve and have a right to. Think of ten thousand years of opression.
And if you want to have a baby, pick your partner wisely, but not necessarily permanently. Think of the genetic diversity.