A Right of Man and a Demand of Nature

Having recently watched two movies, Oranges and Sunshine by Jim Loach and Your Sister’s Sister by Lynn Shelton, I was reminded of the movement for equality between genders and the emancipation efforts of the second half of the 20th century.

Briefly, Oranges and Sunshine deals with the deportation of around 130000  British children (especially in the 1940s and 1950s) – taken from their mothers by government officials and church representatives and sent on ships to other Commonwealth countries to end up in children’s homes and put to work as cheap labour – believing their mothers had abandoned them or were dead, while in fact most had been considered “unfit” by the standards of the day, because they were either poor or unmarried.

Your Sister’s Sister involves a complex relationship between two sisters and one man and deals with the choice and expectation today’s people have to engage in sex with protection against pregnancy and the natural instincts that underlie motherhood.

Both movies are excellent in every sense and more than worth watching.

As with every social change, the pendulum tends to swing too far into the other direction before settling down somewhere in the middle. With regard women’s rights that has become painfully obvious in the last decades. Despite the suffragettes fighting for the right to be employed and to vote in the early nineteen hundreds, women were still expected to marry and be housewives throughout the forties and fifties and not only were children ripped from their mothers – even if most would have been adopted into ‘good’ families – if women did not conform, but the mothers may have been sent to reform homes run by the churches or outcast by their families because of the “shame”.

Although pregnancy prevention is as old as humanity, the tools to achieve it were always subject to strict moral and legal regulations for most of history and if promoted it was done in an effort  to reduce birth rates among the poor or to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. In the sixties and seventies contraception became easier accessible, so that a general atmosphere of free sexual relations emerged and with that the demands for equal rights for women. Women wanted equal pay for working outside the home and they wanted to be allowed to engage in sexual relations without being married – sex for pleasure instead of for making babies.

Less religious power and more contraceptive power was therefore celebrated by women and with the changing laws more and more women were able to return to work after having children. Slowly lifestyles changed, families became smaller, better childcare facilities sprang up and women contributed to the family income.

Today, double income families are more common than ever and the old cliché of the “macho” man who prohibits his wife from working has made place for men sharing the provision of financial security with their wives or even role reversals with men staying home while the women bring in the money. An obsession with sex in the public media has resulted in the expectation that couples have sex three or more times a week, regardless of the time of the month, because there is protection against getting pregnant.

But what is becoming more and clear to many women is that this expectation of double income and sexual emancipation may have created a loss of female power that was not recognized as such at the time – being in charge of the household and raising the family for which he had to hand over his pay check. More and more women are beginning to realize that it wasn’t women who were liberated – at least not all of them – but men, who can now demand sex as their natural right in a relationship, while women can no longer claim their right to have children.

China may have legally and openly oppressed and hurt millions of women by forbidding them to follow their natural instinct into motherhood, but the silent suffering over not having (more than one or two) children and to stay home with them is responsible for a large amount of today’s stress, anxiety, resentment and anger among western women, which in turn may be responsible for problems such as cancer, high blood pressure and depression.

Women wanting to stay home with their children and not go to work are being frowned upon – the belief that women who stay home watch television all day, implying laziness, and that children who don’t spend most of their time in the care of schools don’t learn to socialize – aware that her husband stresses about having to bear the financial responsibility alone and that the family cannot afford the luxuries, big homes and expensive schools the neighbours all have. Very few women are willing to openly express their desire of being at-home mothers.

Don’t misunderstand me: Emancipation was a good idea, because it stopped all women from being forced into a mother role regardless of whether their personality type was suited to that.  But today the pendulum has swung the other way and, like always, the new idea has become dogma. Where previously those women who wanted to do be employed in a well-paying job and who enjoyed regular sex for the pleasure of it and did not desire permanent relationships were discriminated against, today equally as many are suffering because their natural desire for being mothers and their preference for verbal over physical intercourse is not considered acceptable; they are expected to participate in sex without getting the reward.

Emotional and social problems, like abuse, are a result of people not feeling accepted for their inner nature. There are different types of people with different needs and these needs are less dominated by gender differences than by inborn personality tendencies that result from the way people deal with information. The only way to solve the problems our culture is dealing with today is to acknowledge these natural differences and to allow people the choice; to let the pendulum settle.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jennifer Gritt
    Feb 25, 2013 @ 09:10:21

    I’ve often wondered if women are actually stronger in the post-liberation era. From personal experience and the experiences of friends and family, it almost seems that women still want the relationship, the home, the family, etc., but that it is actually harder to find long-term relationships and men who want to commit to the life-partner lifestyle. I’ve known women whose whole lives are dedicated the gym, the diet, the latest fashions, botox, plastic surgery, etc. Their lives are ruled by it and–while they try to mask the insecurity behind a wall of “I’m doing this so I feel better about myself”–the reality is they are torturing themselves because they need that affirmation from a man that they are desirable and attractive; thinking that this affirmation will somehow–magically–turn into a long-term relationship or marriage.

    I agree that the pendulum has swung from the extreme “a woman’s role is in the home” to the extreme “a woman’s place is anywhere she wants”–with the predictable fallout that we are all set adrift in the word of choices and options. But feminine nature hasn’t changed that much despite the greater level of freedom. With the blurred roles of both men and women, American society is faced with the challenges of isolation and individuals’ inability to formulate lasting, loving, committed, healthy relationships. For me, personally, I will never enter into a relationship based on the sole premise that I don’t want to be alone. And by choosing this, my position in society is not diminished as a result of the efforts of those brave and reforming individuals of decades past. But I truly believe that one has to “know thyself” and “understand thyself”–without prejudice, dissatisfaction, or insecurity–before they will ever be able to fully and productively join that self to another, and thereby eliminating the destructive forces of petty narcissism, codependency, and manipulation. And alas, this is–for me– the true measurement of a woman’s strength.

    Reply

    • nonentiti
      Feb 25, 2013 @ 11:02:17

      Thanks for your comment, Jennifer. I think women were pretty tough pre-liberation as well; they often stood strong to hold the family together even if things became hard.
      But even though I can see a clear difference between women and men and I don’t deny that there is such a thing as a “feminine nature”, I do not believe that this is stronger than the personality type we are born with and which does not differentiate between male and female, which is why some wpmen may well enter in a relatiosnhip in order to not be alone – they have a different inner motivation.

      Reply

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