The Meaning and Substance of the Subjugation of Women

What do you believe are the driving forces and meaning of subjugation?

I have to divide this post into three parts. First is the benefit of subjugation of women to men, second is the ongoing deep effect on women and then there is the fact of culture. And again I have to point out that these posts are thought documents and certainly not research vehicles or repositories.

Benefits for Men

Looking at the discussions about patriarchy has been a depressing experience. In my life I have heard all the arguments men advance regarding the appropriate roles of women. I found every one of them distressing and invalid. Branded large on the surface of claimed benefits are the augmentation of power for men. I’ve searched that landscape for decades and found it wanting.

But they have held power and continue to hold power. Of course the exercise of that power goes well beyond the subjugation of women. Men held the power over slaves through history. And part of the discussion focuses on sexual rights including rape. The discussion in that area seems to focus more on men’s rights. I don’t hear much about celebration of rape.

As to the overall benefits men derive from patriarchy I have to confess I shake my head. Yes, there is power which some celebrate but the motivation to look away from the issue of loss of potential and broad benefits mystifies me. But then I don’t seem to relish power.

The Losses for Women and Society

It seems there are some benefits for men but at the society level the benefits are highly questionable. As to the benefits for women, they are hardly impressive and the negatives for society are rather important.

First of all, women are half of the population which means any negatives are substantial. At the most global level, the subjugation of women means there are limits of vision and effective planning. We see much potential is not developed.

In spite of all the publicity we continue to see women paid less than men for doing the same job. That means there is less potential and freedom in their lives. All of this contains innovation and productivity. Patriarchy contributes to racism, imperialism, capitalism (in its darker components) and supports environmental catastrophe. Of course there is much more to the last item on the preceding list.

It is difficult to note any benefits to society as a whole and, even for men, the results are less than ideal. It is ever so hard to see the justification. In the media we see a cross section of people presenting views and too often the arguments simply do not hold water. It is hard to tell if those who present phony or contrived arguments believe them or whether it holds some unadmitted benefits for them.

Then There is Culture

Often in discussing these kinds of issues we talk about specific benefits and losses which leads us to deal with the people who are benefiting or not from policies and attitudes. But at a larger level there is the matter of culture.

If we move beyond individual benefits and losses to the larger picture, then culture glares before us. One of the great strengths of humanity is that we possess culture. Now and again we trip over our differences but culture in general contributes stability and guidance.

Leslie White (one of my heroes) called it the extrasomatic stream. Culture does not reside within a given person but flows around us in society. We see it when two diverse groups come up with the same idea at the same time even though they do not talk to each other. The components come together independently because of this stream outside of individuals.

Its is a strength, but it is also a weakness because when something becomes established in culture it has tremendous staying power. And even if we overcome patriarchy there are systems which constrain women as a matter of culture. These have to be defined and examined. And we cannot believe for a moment that simply recognizing it will lead to sudden and widespread change and release from the negatives of subjugation.

We have our work cut out for us.

 

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

The Caribbean Tragedy

They’re Here At Las

Those of us who aren’t climate change deniers have been wondering when our number would come up for a major damaging hurricane. Well, it wasn’t one, it was three. The damage has been terrible and there is now years of hard work ahead. What has happened in the United States is tragic, but it is even worse in the Caribbean.

Breathtaking Reports

Looking at the damage in the Virgin Islands and neighboring islands is frightful but, for me, there is another dimension. It grows out of my experience in the Caribbean.

In 1990 we opened a home in St. Lucia, one of the windward islands. It stood on the top of a hill with a 250 elevation above the sea. Of course we got insurance but declined “overage from the sea” coverage. A storm surge to 250 feet was unlikely. Wind damage was another matter.

We looked deep into the history of hurricanes on the island. It turns out that St. Lucia was just below the hurricane belt. They had had a hurricane 100 years ago and only an occasional tropical disturbance since with no major damage.

Then Came a Hurricane

One time we were in the house and got word that a major hurricane was hurtling toward us and was coming past the island of Barbados. It seemed likely it would go between the southern part of St. Lucia and St. Vincent. That would have put us on the more damaging side of the hurricane. We prepared for the worst and hunkered down in a windowless concrete outbuilding and waited. The winds grew much more intense and then died off.

Later we learned the specifics. Some island friends of ours (travel agents) had been given a cruise and they were just off Barbados as the storm came in. The ship fled West and turned due north past Martinique. So did the hurricane and followed them up on the other side of Martinique. It’s not easy to go between all islands so the ship traveled north dogged by the hurricane. At last they could turn west near the Virgin islands and the storm plowed into those islands.

Then There Was Reality

Our friends were horrified by the complaints of the passengers who wanted to get off and go shopping. The news from St. Thomas was that there was no news. All communications and all power were gone. Later they learned that the island had been crushed by the storm.

And here is the meaning of this post. We think of the Caribbean as a paradise for vacations. There are villas for wealthy people and a glorious life style. But, when these kinds of storms hit, the true devastation is for the ordinary people of these islands. Foreign homeowners can take a pass on visiting that year or even next but the local people, who are anything but wealthy, have to rebuild their lives.

We Must Not Forget Them

In this time of tragedy we are looking at Florida and Texas with occasional mention of the devastated Caribbean Islands. It is not easy for these people to get supplies. There are no roads to the islands. And they had little if any wealth to help them recover. Some are lucky and have the United States or Britain to send aid. Others have no such resources.

In the months ahead we need to pay attention regarding word of their needs. We need to take advantage of possibilities to contribute as they try to rebuild their lives. The tourists are gone for the foreseeable future but the local people will struggle on and will need our help. We also have to be aware that governments will handle the near term needs but the recovery will go on long after. It is then that the contributions from the public at large will be essential.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Women in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy – Pt 1

 

Avery the Whiner

This post kind of comes down to the psychologist still learning about being a psychologist.

Avery is the lead character in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. She is a central focus throughout. Characters should come alive to the author if they are to be authentic. Avery certainly did that. But I had to learn a lesson and she had to get a grip.

Getting What You Wish For

It is hardly news that sometimes we have to tell someone they should be careful what they wish for. Avery had to learn that lesson and since I was the author it really was me who had to learn the lesson and get it across to her.

Avery had a pretty good life. She had been raised to do “good works” because her parents worked in third world health delivery systems. It was a challenging life and had its perils. They died in a car accident in the Middle East and Avery felt abandoned. Maybe that wasn’t quite fair of her because they had no intention of leaving her.

Then She Got a New Family

And later the family she got was not one she had known existed but suddenly they were very much in her life. Their arrival came with a large load of complications and threat. Here is where my problem began. In the first draft of the first book of the Gaia’s majesty Trilogy I finally had to face that Avery was whining a lot. Sure she got a grip at last but until then she could be really tiresome.

What I learned

At first I thought her reaction was perfectly understandable. Well, it was to me because, as a psychologist, I could feel her agony and her devastation and discomfort. You want a family but it didn’t have to be so complicated and even frightening. And you didn’t want to have people trying to kill you.

What I was doing was displaying my view of what was almost surely going on deep inside her. But what happens deep inside is often not what we display to the outside world. But consistently I got to see that side of people in my office and there were times when I had to encourage them to display their agonies. When someone comes for help it may be necessary for them to bring out all the nasty things they feel so we can together sort them out and help them come to terms with their burden.

In Avery’s case she hadn’t known she had a burden or perhaps it is better to say she didn’t have a burden until this strange, alien family showed up. What was she supposed to do with that? The more she learned, the more her agony increased.

What To Do

Avery could flee and take what was left of her former life with her or she could tough it out. Toughing it out was what she really had to do and in the life changes she had found a neat guy. Fleeing would have probably meant giving him up. So she hung in there and displayed her agony and feelings—whined.

My Turn

At last it was the turn of the author to get a grip. I had a picture of her agony and knew how she would almost surely feel inside. Fine! Nice for me to know but the reader did not have to endure her agony in that particular way. I had to serious revise what I had written and give her more strength, determination and composure. And her guy could help her.

Sometimes, in particular settings, it is not desirable to have truth and reality be writ too large.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Core Elements of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

Reflecting Growing Crises

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called:Women in Power, the first book of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy, was published in March. I am well along on the second book and I’m enjoying the reception of the first book. Now I’ll take the opportunity to continue the discussion of some of the elements of the trilogy.

First let me underscore essential themes. In our real world, as it is, we clearly are entering a period of growing crisis. Given the waves of conflict and change that engulf humanity from time to time, it could have been expected. The arrival of the period of crisis offers an opportunity for us to examine ourselves and our future. One of the ways we can do that is through a fictional exploration.

Let me now touch on three elements in the trilogy.

The Importance of Women

It is my belief that we have underestimated the role women will play in the future and the growing movement to empower women needs attention. Accordingly, the power of women in this series is significant. The Andromeda women are clear purveyors of their importance.

Through the ages women have played a wide variety of roles but often not as the central holders of power. They often engage men in a variety of ways and one of them has been as consorts. The role is a dangerous one and may involve in depth intelligence gathering. Such a role was chosen at the opening of the series as an important role. In the past women were often seen as despoiled when they were in such a position. That perception is fading.

In this series the Andromeda women will take on many different roles and their dedication and importance will be clear. We can see richness and appreciation of the varied roles of the women bears examination and thought. And, as it turns out, women warriors have a rich history including the Amazons in ancient times.

Exploration Through the Paranormal

Another element is paranormal. Certainly the series could have stayed close to what we might call a reality context. But I find mythology so enriching that I felt it was essential to use mythology to enhance the story. And mermaids were an obvious choice because we can note how pervasive the myth is. We must wonder what the myth says about women and our view of them. We have the chance to explore and note the power it indicates.

Power and Greed

Lastly let me briefly touch on the Overlords. I brought them into the story to convey a real world theme of greed and power which is forever troubling. But, in this instance their role had to be limited. We can only hope that people who concentrate on greed and power will fade in importance over time. And in this series there are a lot of characters and the story is complex. There was no need to further complicate the story by making the Overlords more complex or with considerable story detail.

Pondering Our Future

In all, I’m convinced we are entering a period of unparalleled change and opportunity. The times ahead will surely be difficult and our attention is required. And attention means sifting import especially, I believe, in regard to women.

In the next books the story will grow and change as humankind approaches what will surely be greater change but also possibly transformation. More on these themes in future posts.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

A Focus on Patriarchy- Pt 2

Why Are Women Subjugated?

There is an interesting historical perspectives about subjugation and it suggests that women were not always subjugated. Now granted, when we reach very far back in history we cannot always be sure about the validity of the information but it seems intriguing.

Were Cavemen Rapists or Nasty Mysogynists?

There is the recurrent image of the caveman dragging a woman off by her hair but it may be that for many of them life was quite different. One line of thought says that the men were often off hunting. Remember the hunter-gatherer? Well, yes, the men were hunters and the women gatherers. Since they didn’t have access to birth control pills they were often back at the cave with the kids and took them out to gather. The hunt might be unproductive or worse and what they gathered was generally believed to be central to sustaining the tribe. It may be there was a good partnership.

Women Warriors

Adrienne Mayor’s book The Amazons was truly an interesting encyclopedia. Once upon a time I thought Amazons were mythological women warriors. Not really. Amazons were the women of the nomadic and semi nomadic tribes of the area that includes the Steppes east of the ancient mediterranean societies. They were skilled horsewomen (women do better with horses) and fought alongside their men just like the Viking Women.

It seems when we go back in history and search cultures we find that the subjugation of women was far from universal. Of course, true equality may have also been illusive in many circumstances as it is among races and tribes.

The Agricultural Revolution

Then came the agricultural revolution in the Middle East. Evidently there was then the need for more workers and that meant more children were needed. Perhaps this was the beginning of the subjugation of women because of the needs. Naturally all of this can be taken with a grain of salt but the possibilities are interesting.

In fact, I remember sitting in class mesmerized listening to the anthropologist Leslie White when he pointed out that slavery began when people started to be able to produce more than they needed personally. If all you can do is sustain yourself then there is no point in having a slave.

Plenty Is Not Enough

It is truly intriguing that what happened to women and many peoples may have been a function of surpluses. Suddenly subjugation of all kinds became rewarding to those who managed to be in power. Then came kings, despots, dictators and oligarchs. For many of them what wealth and power they held was never enough. Moving beyond subsistence and survival can have wholly new effects.

Then culture gets stamped in. How it has been becomes how it will be. Now comes our capacity to examine and reconsider.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

 

Inner Life and Dreams

 

Where does fiction lead you?

Life Transitions

Generally we don’t question our relationship to reality. So long as things are going well, we are best engaged in other pursuits. Of course, when we find ourselves in a life transition, we may decide what we saw as reality is open to interpretation. We tend to explore ourselves at times such as when we embark on adulthood, experience a love relationship or enter middle age. We seem to have no trouble with exploration when we are deep in fiction precisely because we call it fiction and it need not be personal. But, in fact, fiction is often a reflection of facets of our personal reality. The fiction which attracts us surely has something to do with our inner lives.

Avenues for Exploration

Inner lives serve purposes. These lives may be numerous and tumultuous but generally are kept in bounds until there is a crisis whether it is something like a job change or a marital failure.

These lives may include quite a number of alter egos with which we flirt.
Perhaps we experience them as moods. They may be defined by our enduring personality. That is not to say they are real and active personalities but we do have a life within in which we cavort and seek alternatives. Certainly they are testing grounds for who we think we might be or who we might want to become. They are probably more publicly visible in childhood but as adults they may become private and secret. Sometimes though, in our later years, we feel the need to assess what we have done and how we leave our life.

Enhancement of Existence

Most of us have some valuable inner lives which enhance our overall existence. Wouldn’t it be unfortunate, even stultifying, if we did not have such richness which we harbor.

And then there is the matter of our dreams. We nurture them through our years and often share them with friends but, it is to be hoped, they are shared and enhanced in our love relationships. It is my suspicion that dreams are much more prevalent in younger people but I suspect that there may be people who maintain rich and active dreams well into late life.

Dreaming of Eternity

We tend to think that people resign themselves to the end of their lives but I doubt it is universal. Who might not dream of an extension of some form? Part of the reason I believe this is that there is almost a universal belief in an afterlife. Isn’t that a dream which is widely harbored? Why would we ever want to give up the precious dreams of what we might become or with whom we might bond some day in a far off future of some sort? We may want to reunite with a current loved one because it is a precious relationship. Or we might know someone we would want a relationship with some day in the future.

Individual to Universal

The point of this exposition is that as individuals we are not static and that at many levels our lives are complex. Each life has a wave pattern in which we experience some form of an upwelling with attendant changes. That period may be followed by a consolidation as a wave subsides. Then comes preparation for the next period. We can see these processes in human development. But we are beginning to see that such processes occur socially, in the life of a nation and even for humankind in general. What fascinates me is that the examination of these waves is becoming more intense and more public. More on this shortly.

Can we truly separate personal development from the development of humankind in general?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Adventure in the Caribbean – Pt 1

 

That Life Plan

Most of us would like to believe that we have a life plan. As I look at my own life and the lives of the people who came to me for counseling, I have to say it seems we have a plan but very often it does not play out. Life gets in the way and stuff happens. That is not to say that this is a bad process because the twists and turns can be rewarding each in their own way.

A Terrible Twist of Fate

I call it “ultimate determinism”. There are many people who believe that whatever happens to us is of our own making. In short, we determine everything that happens to us. My contact with my clients and life in general leads me to declare—rubbish! What matters is what we do with life events.

I was coming home from the office one August night. We had dreadful problems with the elevators in our building and we often waited a long time for an elevator. On this night it came at once. By that happenstance I was a bystander at a head on collision. A speeding SUV hit the pickup truck in front of me, bounded off and swerved back directly in my driver’s door at high speed. And so I was thrown into what I called “The Pits of Hell” with six years in and out of surgery at Baltimore’s Shock Trauma.

Life Returns

At last I was mobile and my wife and I went to a professional meeting in California. We decided having gone that far to continue to Hawaii. I’m a sun person, my wife not, but she loved it and said if we could find us such a place she would gladly go. On the flight back I drew circles on the map of the world. The six hour travel time in the air we were enduring could take us to places like Teheran or Buenos Aires. Not to my liking.

We shared the experience with some friends who told us they were going to a small tropical country in the Caribbean called St. Lucia. They were devoted sailers and wanted a home where they could sail year round. We took their invitation to go with them to look at land.

How Interesting

The island was luscious and the people welcoming. We toured, we looked and they found nothing suitable. But we were very interested.

Back at home we began a research. At the time there was a small publication which monthly discussed each Caribbean island in turn. We studied them and at last I called and asked to talk to one of their staff. Her assessment was detailed and interesting. She told me not to go to Guadeloupe because the “natives were restless at the time” but we might like French Martinique although it meant investing in the Euro. But number one on her list was beautiful St. Lucia.

Just to Take a Look

We decided to go back and look again on our own. This time we studied the costs on the island in more detail and took different twists and turns. Land was affordable by comparison to such places as Barbados—by a very great deal. It also had the advantage of being English speaking.

A real estate agent introduced us to a builder from Canada who had married a Lucian and settled in. He was reassuring and it was like dealing with an American who said “Eh” and “Aboot”. And then one day we came to a hilltop with stunning views. The lot was affordable, we were hooked and we bought it. And so began a fifteen year adventure we had never expected.

Much more to come.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt