Sila or power

Posted: 18/01/2012 in Media
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An ex-student, who I am still in touch with, is working for Women’s rights in Lebanon. Whilst her choice of career had nothing to do with me I am pleased that she is following a righteous job, and she knows that. (Below is an opposite example). This ex-student posted this clip on her facebook page, and it has elicited this response in me:-

(This is a trailer for the movie Miss Representation that can be downloaded here.)

Everything I see in this clip I agree with. Women are conditioned to be sex images and to be seen as sex images, and it causes so many problems. Women don’t have appropriate representation in senior management, government, corporate execs etc. This representation is improving since the start of feminism in the 60s but it is nowhere near equal, and this of course is oppression and unacceptable. The first person I ever saw lauded as a symbol of feminism, following the movement in the 60s, was Margaret Thatcher. Politically some of her politicising used the prevailing feminisit movement. She and Reagan deregulated letting the reins off, a release that preluded the current global crisis. As a figurehead she was instrumental in crushing the unions in the UK, a regressive step in terms of people’s rights there. She started a war to maintain power and many more. This woman was completely immoral in her use of power, and never did anything for the rights of women except as an example for being in the position of prime minister and being more “competent” than many men in carrying out the bidding of the 1%. In the US we have a small group of women who have recently become powerful politically, one of whom Condoleeza Rice who was caricatured with an appalling sexist image as “dominatrix” as shown in the clip. This of course is totally unacceptable, but what mainstream media does never has any moral stance; the Occupy movement, current hope for humanity, are characterised as unwashed hippies in middle-class America. The powerful women that come to my mind are Madeleine Albright, Condoleeza Rice and Hilary Clinton. Because they are women I support their right to be given equal chance to be in these positions but nothing they do do I support.

Since the feminist movement of the 60s there has been an increase in the breakdown of the family in the West. A significant factor in the growth of feminism was the oppression in the home of many women. Women were seen as a chattle, a kitchen appliance, by many men – I know this personally in the way my mother was treated by the three males in my family. There was a need for change, and along came feminism. The one thing that feminism definitely has done is alter the home dynamics. In the West there are now few chattels, but at the same time with the increasing financial independence there are fewer nuclear homes. As a single man I perhaps have no right to comment but I believe it is important that children have a mother and father. Whilst the bonds to the mother are naturally closer a good father’s influence is beneficial. In less “educated” and less “feminist” cultures this male influence is accepted as needed, if not always found. I have no doubts at all that the breakdown in the western homes has been as a consequence of feminism, but that statement needs to be placed in context. In the 60s when feminism started the male perspective was definitely that women were a kitchen and bedroom appliance. Through feminism women quite rightly rejected this role but there was no broad education to compensate for this. In other words women correctly fought for their rights but men resisted. In some cases there has been a move to more egalitarian responsibility in the home, but mostly this has not been resolved. Women are striving for social position in the workplace etc. whilst pretending they can run a home at the same time. Some men accept a changing responsibility in the home, but not all. And where are the children in this? They suffer from absentee parents, for many families both parents are trying to establish themselves in society and the children become neglected not having sufficient time with parents. This might be compensated for by extended family but in the West this has also broken down in many cases, as employment pulls people away from the community of their upbringing. And what is the natural responsibility of Nature’s species of which people are one? To bring up children well. Because of the broad failure to recognise this priority our children are suffering as feminism fights for the rights of women. This is not moral. Do I want a return to women as chattels? Certainly not. But who is going address the need for improved child care? A feminist woman fighting to climb the career ladder to compete with men climbing the career ladder, neither of whom have a moral bone of compassion?

Where in this clip is there anything about children?

And what about men in this? OK historically they have not earned rights. But consider a young man. He falls in love and gets married. They have children and he goes out to work. The mother then also goes out to work so just from the man’s point of view where is the woman he married? She is not there, she has no time for him. After work she is tired but must look after the children first, does he get a look in? So the man can invest himself in the home and the children the same as the woman, but are the man’s drives the same? Is the male bond to make a home for his wife and children the same as that of a woman’s? Stereotypically the man is a provider, in traditional societies this is still an accepted value. The man earns the wherewithall for such a home, the woman then makes it stereotypically. Is the man tied to the home in the same way, desiring a home and wanting to take care of children? Is a man brought up to do this? In the current situation where feminist women are seeking success in society, the man is left on the shelf. Whilst I consider that any man entering into marriage nowadays needs to accept egalitarian responsibility, many don’t. When the woman of his dreams disappears from his life and becomes a mother, home-maker and careerist, his mind will wander seeking another “woman of his dreams”. Men might be criticised for this, but for such stereotypical men is there any other way of fulfilment?

And as for racism we cannot see moral role models in leadership. The majority of African leaders accept the role of puppet dictator ascribed by the transnational corporations. So in the West we had Jesse Jackson with a much stronger moral direction whilst fighting for the rights of black people. But where did the West gain success for black people? In a man who had been bought by Goldman Sachs before getting into office, a puppet of Wall Street and a strategy of continuation of war, Obama. Here is an article as to how the interests of black people have fared in the Obama administration. Of course there is always Mandela as an example but he was never a leader in power.

Ultimately feminism and racism are not moral campaigns, and I can only support campaigns that have sila – a Buddhist word for moral integirty. Women and black people have the right to be as big bastards as white men, but when you have campaigns that are underpinned by a right to power such as feminism and racism I hold back. I want to support their right to power, but not power in a system which exploits the world including other women and black people. Of course if I insert a proviso for my support that the women and black people must be moral then that automatically excludes them from these positions of power – sila ensures that people cannot have power in the world of the 1%. I remember a discussion I had in the 80s with a group of women who ran a printing cooperative in Brighton. At the time I was Secretary of a Trades Council and I was encouraging them to feminise the council. They refused saying it was a male structure – something I tended to believe. I wonder how much this type of representational structure that I have now rejected has at its basis the egos of the men that became elected. Underlying the discussions with these good people was a notion that women would bring a sense of morality into politics, I see no evidence of that. I see the women who have been successful in attaining power have been equally immoral as the men who previously were there – perhaps even more immoral. Women have the right to be in that power but I don’t want to support the women who get there. Equally being an oppressed black person does not bring with it moral integrity.

As usual in discussion of integrity versus power there is no clear conclusion. Women and black people have the right to more power, something they cannot get if they are moral. If you become a puppet of the 1% it matters little what gender or race you are, your soul has been sold. We all have the right to sell our souls but this is not something I wish to campaign for.

Below:- Interestingly enough another woman I am in touch with is following a career in food additives – and food additives I now consider poisons and damaging to health. In her case I did have direct input. As teachers we were ascribed careers advisory duties to some students. This girl was not ascribed to me. At a meeting with parents her mother, the girl and I were discussing the choice that she was following and she was not happy about it. I cannot recall exactly how it went down, but I always promoted choosing a career you want to follow. The girl changed to what she wanted to do, has now almost completed a Ph D on flavourings, and has appropriate jobs in the industry. Following my discussion a neurotic ex-colleague hit the roof with me claiming a lack of professionalism, I had to agree with her and apologised. What a system. The woman, ex-girl student, holds gratitude in her heart for my inadvertent intervention, and I had to apologise. Typical miseducation.

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