Masochistic Perceptions, Trials and Truths

These are my cyberfied cerebral synapses ricocheting off reality as I perceive it: thoughts, opinions, passions, rants, art and poetry...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Suffrage and the Psyche

I’ve always considered myself to be progressive when it comes to issues of sexual and racial equality. Listening to the news a few minutes ago, they reported that another Canadian soldier has died in combat over in Afghanistan. I support our troops 110%, regardless of my political opinion of the mission. Each time I hear of one of our own being killed leaves me feeling for the soldier’s family and friends and a gratefulness that the fallen were willing to serve in the name of our country. Today’s news, however, had an extra sting to it in that the fallen soldier was a woman.

Woman in combat has been a contentious issue for some time. My own reaction to hearing that the fallen soldier was female demonstrates an instinct that exists deep in my psyche. I wonder why? Is it because I have a daughter and am protective of my wife and family? I know that it doesn’t represent a feeling that women are not capable of such roles. I proudly serve with several stellar female Officers in the men’s maximum security prison where I work, doubting their abilities no more than I might many of the males Officers with whom I work. My sister-in-law is also proving herself to be an excellent Officer in the British Army. No, I feel, perhaps, that it is men who are not capable of having women in such roles.

So what does this say about the role of gender in our society? I know that we have been re-educating ourselves with programmes such as affirmative action and constantly challenging our assumptions. Is this working or has it been reviled by either a sense of being manipulated and coerced by political correctness? Are we failing, as a society, to address the issue of gender equality at an intra-psychic/ inter-personal/group level? I know that many have viewed things like affirmative action to simply be failed attempts of universal suffrage and have resulted in having lesser qualified individuals in certain positions due to gender/race. I agree with this to a degree, but also acknowledge that the first step toward equality required a rather messy entrance in a world where women couldn’t even vote 60 years before its implementation. I admit to being critical, for example, when men and women have different fitness standards to do the same job, whether that be a Police Officer, Firefighter, Soldier, etc. The whole ‘P.C.’ wave has made some ridiculous splashes along its route to shore. So often we do see the Orwellian practise of “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”. That, sadly, are some of the negatives in accomplishing a greater moral good. You’ve got to break a few eggs to bake a cake, right? What’s important is that we, as a society, don’t become distracted by these shortcomings and strive toward the goal of genuine equality.

In closing, I just want to tip my hat to all women, regardless of vocation, and apologise as I am still a work in progress! My condolences to the families of all our fallen troops – their spirit lives on in all that we represent as a nation!


  • At 9:43 p.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Funny you should say that. I didn't really think about it as a genger issue when it came to her loss. I'm a woman, and honestly I felt the same as when I heard male soldiers had lost their lives. I don't see a difference anymore, but I guess not everyone feels that way.

  • At 10:24 a.m. , Blogger Real-E said...

    It's interesting to see the political side of this as well: traditionally the silver cross is awarded to the widow or the Mother of a fallen soldier. In this case the government is looking to change the rules so that Fathers and widowers can recieve the medal (and rightly so).

    It's good to hear a woman's perspective on this issue. Again, I think that you make the point that woman are ready and capable for such roles, the real question are men ready for women to be ready. That whole 'protective' instinct is ingrained deeply in our (male) psyches.

  • At 5:33 p.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I think if gender-perspective is not a variable, we are looking at "women at war" now as a growth in awareness of "reality" instead of "equality". A history of the human animal lived in the flesh, not on paper, shows the "warrior" nature in female people as. nearly as, often as the male people. Writers have been too often male. I know from my mother's teaching it is unwise to imagine that "motherhood" is always soft and gentle/nurturing. She would have rather been a lawyer than a legal secretary, a soldier than an army billing clerk. Life was not "like that in those days". Some few women always prove the rule wrong, but most are stuck in expected roles, even now. We suppose enlightenment by education, but we should not if we look at the electorate. It's very "Bush-league" out there! I worked with officers in c.s.c. who have old military history and could not have abided fighting along side women infantry. That too is all in the mind. But as a "cause worth fighting for", it is not a matter of equality for women. I believe it is the right of some women and some men who prove themselves capable and willing to engage in combat, to enlist and serve. More women will die in 21st Century wars, as before, while sitting at home with children and parents. Smart bombs still don't think for themselves. And I still hum the Zappa theme, "Suppose they gave a war and nobody came?". nodroganon

  • At 11:33 a.m. , Blogger auntiegrav said...

    Equality is an ego trip for the people who are more 'equal' than those of us embedded in the chaos of Nature. What matter is this: We need to create more than we consume (as a species), and to do so in perpetuity requires reproduction. Initially, the idea of keeping the 'wimmin' safe from wars was so that they could produce more warriors. Now, we decide they make just as good of warriors and we have enough backup babies to go around. However, in the long term, the chemical exposures, the travel to lands with alien diseases, and the general lassaiz faire attitude toward technology and 'equality' may help the reproductive process of our undoing more than our Doing. I don't have a recommendation one way or another, I'm only trying to expose the exposure for what it is: unequal. The sensitivity of reproduction processes to environmental conditions should be taught more aggressively to all career-seeking youth.
    What good does it do us to 'save the children' if we have already poisoned them before they are even conceived?

  • At 12:07 p.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I like that perspective. It is not as relevant, but i watched a Frontline on women sold into sexual slavery. The "uses" of women-as-property is much more widespread than this limited program could cover. The horror of it as an individual destroyed life, one person at a time, is overwhelming and tends to leave abstract viewers feeling helpless. If a woman as warrior is killed among her comrades it is not a horror, but a peculiar honour. The deaths of "women-as-property" is a horror. The "sacred cow" was not what my mother wanted from "motherhood" and she avoided mother's day goop if possible. Men and women continue to explore eachother in this, as every other century, "lookin' for love, big big love" and singing songs about it. But is it not embarassing that male soldiers and police and "Native Warriors" are so often complicit in the sale of their sisters and mothers for profit?

  • At 8:50 p.m. , Blogger auntiegrav said...

    Bullying is primarily a male dominant trait (probably testosterone). It is also a symptom of society that is competitive, rather than cooperative. All slavery initiates from dominance and competition, whether physical slavery or wage slavery, we need to stop putting prices on people and learn to live (From Doug Rushkoff) life as an ecology, rather than an economy.

  • At 12:53 p.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Good point too (two)! Ownership and profit serves the few who can dominate and serves the rest of us badly, with misery. As a below-alpha male it is easy to see and blame the Alphas for my identification with zeta-omega females in life. But being weak by nature, while an eye opener, also gives insight into the nastiest nature of low-ranking males who exert whatever dominance they can over too many females. Is it a dog's life we have to 'bitch' about? Is there an excuse for our inmate-in-dogpound behaviour? No, the words of enlightenment have been available for milennia of years. The truly weak avoid truth and cater to the "bullies" and "profiteers", so Bush-league government seems inevitable. Canada now follows that type of leadership. Hope rests with the people, usually out of sight of media, so the UTNE won't sell as well as the Readers' Digest, ever. Don't give up. nodroGanon

  • At 4:10 p.m. , Blogger Real-E said...

    There's a book you guys should check out called "Living the Enlightenment" - worth reading. It's interesting in that I was listening to something on the CBC and they were speaking about us commencing a new "Dark Ages" time in History. On the cusp, that looks like it might be a bit harsh, but such statements aren't without some merit. Certainly the shift from ecology to economy factors into all this, as does our apparent voluntary servitude/enslavement based on said precepts.

    A colleague of mine recently told me that she was reading Orwell's "1984", noting the irony as she is also a Correctional Officer and that she is reading this in prison is somewhat "ironic". I would add horror to that irony as we contrast this novel to society at large. Certainly Margaret Atwood in "The Handmaid's Tale", keeping on our broader topic of gender politics, portrays tenative outcomes of the "freedom to" versus "freedom from" societies. They all bear stark resemblences to the roads down which we are presently headed.

    Is it testosterone or is it that ingrained instinct to dominate one another? Are we really compassionate or do we simply attempt to make ourselves that way?


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