It has always bothered me that throughout history, women always seemed to be a second class. Everywhere violence against women is too high. Females are the most common targets of men and other women.
It seems universal. Why do women collude in their own dehumanization? Are they really not as smart? Do they perhaps deserve it? Or is there another explanation?
Now, after having children, the answer seems more obvious.
Women are more vulnerable than men.
Women are smaller and have less lean body tissue than men. They also have less testosterone. There is no such thing as a fair fight. Those boys who always complained girls didn’t fight fair really meant that girls should accept their physiological disadvantages and not make up for them by novel ways of fighting (scratching or kicking between the legs). Basically, that ‘fair’ means ‘whatever makes sure I win’.
Women who have disabilities are even more at risk.
Then there is the matter of children. Pregnancy can be disabling. Some women do well, others do not, but no woman feels like she has more energy, more mental sharpness, more emotional stability, and more strength. Just the opposite. (Unless pregnancy puts a disease such as MS into remission)
According to an abuse counsellor I talked with, pregnancy is the time when domestic violence is at its worst. Often it is the first time that such abuse begins.
This is appalling to me. Why would a man injure the woman who is carrying his child at just the time she is most vulnerable because of him?
And its not just men. One of my friends has a horrible time with pregnancies. Everything from brushing her teeth, to eating to moving to not eating makes her throw up- all the time. She got so sick that she missed a lot of work days. Some of her female colleagues told her that she was being melodramatic and should get over it. Only the male principal gave her the support she needed.
I challenge anyone to alternate sprinting and jogging up a mountain slope for 14 hours. Have all your muscles strained and pulled. Have your joints lose most of their strength and then be pulled apart- literally. Then immediately donate litres of blood. And then, since milk is really filtered blood, to continue doing so every two to three hours for the next few days. (Then year.) Add in a few 1 to 2 hour sleep slots in there. Welcome to a typical birth. And that is if everything goes well.
Then, after the baby is born the mother is still vulnerable- perhaps more. She is feeding the baby every few hours and so is sleep and nutrient deprived. She is tied to the infant for the child’s survival
Small children also need constant care. Mothers had to have work that they could do in small bits with broken concentration close to home. Of course, not all women have small children but they tend to be grouped the same.
While men could have done those tasks, not having small children to breastfeed meant that they didn’t have to. Men as a group tend to shun things associated with women. (Individual men may do them, but male group think tends to react to such things with distancing and almost scorn. Example: my husband loves gardening. So does our neighbour behind me. Our neighbour will talk gardening with me, but when my husband is there, this neighbour pretends he really isn’t into gardening but is helping his aged mother.)
Without small children, a person is freed to do other things requiring mobility, intense concentration, physical danger, and silence. These things would gain a higher status. Those who have higher status generally want to keep the privilege.
Then a woman, because of her biology, is physically more vulnerable. She is economically more vulnerable- less able to do the higher status tasks whether it be hunting meat or working 60+ hours as a CEO. This makes her socially more vulnerable.
Conclusion: Women are taking abuse more often, not because they are stupider, but because they are more vulnerable. And humans, like most animals, attack those who are vulnerable.
However, it was this period of infant care, longer and more intense than any other animal, that allowed human brains to become what they are. For the dark side of humanity there is also a bright one. Many people work hard to defend society’s most vulnerable and we all reap the benefits of it.