My husband mentioned yesterday that no matter how conservative or liberal, men usually feel that they should protect women. This adorable girl would bring out the hero in anyone!
Thinking about that I came up with 3 ways this is done.
1) Man is the king extending his protection to his vassals. His superior strength is offered to the woman for her protection and in turn she is in his debt. She owes him at the very least admiration and at the other end of the scale she owes him obedience and various services. Part of the way he protects her is isolating her from ‘harm’ which also isolates her and makes her potentially more vulnerable.
Women owe men for their protection. This gives a man rights over the women he protects. Woman is held accountable to man. In extreme cases she is also responsible for her own harm by “asking for it”. At the heart of it is that violence is the woman’s fault.
2) The reason that women need protection is not because of their inferior strength, morality, or reasoning skills: it is because they are targets of other men. A man must protect a woman from other men- and he is best equipped to do so.
He owes her this protection in the same way Canadian mining companies (or just Canada?) owe remuneration to areas affected by their deleterious mining practices which pollute other’s water and land.
Men (as a group) are the biggest threat to women, therefore men owe women protection against themselves. Men are holding men accountable. Men are viewed as being responsible for violence.
Women’s issues are men’s issues. See http://uzzas.blogspot.com/2010/08/making-list-and-checking-it-twice.html and http://uzzas.blogspot.com/2010/09/sex-slaves.html for what men can do to help protect women (and children and other men).
3) For the best society possible, anyone who can help another is benefitting all. You help, not because you will get direct payment nor to atone for the wrongs of your group, but because it is the right thing to do. Violence harms everyone. Everyone is capable of it- we share responsibility.
Evolutionary altruism. Everyone holding everyone accountable.
That got me thinking to why I take care of my children. What are the rights and responsibilities there and do they translate to the genders?
Do I owe my children because I gave them birth? Do my children owe me obedience because I take care of them? Do I tend them because it will benefit society?
I do it because I love them. I take care of other children, not because I am responsible that they are alive, but because they need taking care of too.
Patriarchy decrees that women need taken care of, but they are treating women like children. My children assume more responsibility for themselves as they develop. My three year old cannot make the best choices for her eating habits. But, part of my taking care of her is teaching her to make the best decisions for herself. If I teach her blind obedience, I am harming her. I must teach her how to make good decisions.
Part of how I protect her is to give her the tools to take care of herself.
This is missing in the first view.
I have mixed feelings about the second view. For sure, men need to see “women’s problems” like domestic violence and rape as their problems too. And, yes, they can and do help. But, does it come too close to victimizing women and blaming men?
The best scenario would be for there to be less need for protection, not because women and men are segregated or children microsupervised, but because all are respected, honored, and given the tools they need to do well.
Utopia. Impossible? Perhaps.