Since ancient times satirists and moralists have delighted in showing up the weaknesses of women. Also current in the US is the discussion of rape culture and slut shaming in light of the events of the Steubenville High School Rape Case, where media outlets offered biased coverage that sympathized with the rapists and rarely focused on the victim. Man superbly ignores the fact that his anatomy also includes glands, such as the testicles, and that they secrete hormones. Is not the housekeeper happier than the working-woman?
We are familiar with the savage indictments hurled against women throughout French literature. Even if the need is at bottom equally urgent for both, it always works in favour of the oppressor and against the oppressed. On the same grounds it is impossible to deduce the oppression of woman from the institution of private property. If the human consciousness had not included the original category of the Other and an original aspiration to dominate the Other, the invention of the bronze tool could not have caused the oppression of woman. He is the Subject, he is the Absolute — she is the Other. She cannot think of herself without man. Man finds himself in these goods which are his because he has previously lost himself in them; and it is therefore understandable that he places upon them a value no less fundamental than upon his very life. Engels assumes without discussion the bond of interest which ties man to property; but where does this interest, the source of social institutions, have its own source? Man in his sovereignty indulges himself in sexual caprices, among others — he fornicates with slaves or courtesans or he practises polygamy. Man-the-sovereign will provide woman-the-liege with material protection and will undertake the moral justification of her existence; thus she can evade at once both economic risk and the metaphysical risk of a liberty in which ends and aims must be contrived without assistance. The parallel drawn by Bebel between women and the proletariat is valid in that neither ever formed a minority or a separate collective unit of mankind. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Even when her rights are legally recognised in the abstract, long-standing custom prevents their full expression in the mores. It is a mistake to seek in fantasies the key to concrete behaviour; for fantasies are created and cherished as fantasies. The fact is that a true human privilege is based upon the anatomical privilege only in virtue of the total situation. Yes, women on the whole are today inferior to men; that is, their situation affords them fewer possibilities. Thus humanity is male and man defines woman not in herself but as relative to him; she is not regarded as an autonomous being. Equality cannot be re-established until the two sexes enjoy equal rights in law; but this enfranchisement requires participation in general industry by the whole female sex. Refusal to pose oneself as the Subject, unique and absolute, requires great self-denial. If they belong to the bourgeoisie, they feel solidarity with men of that class, not with proletarian women; if they are white, their allegiance is to white men, not to Negro women. But a historical event has resulted in the subjugation of the weaker by the stronger. The Cinderella myth flourishes especially in prosperous countries like America. What is certain is that they do most obviously exist. I have lingered on this example because the masculine attitude is here displayed with disarming ingenuousness. True, the Jewish problem is on the whole very different from the other two — to the anti-Semite the Jew is not so much an inferior as he is an enemy for whom there is to be granted no place on earth, for whom annihilation is the fate desired. When man makes of woman the Other, he may, then, expect to manifest deep-seated tendencies towards complicity.
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Feminism in the Second Wave: Simone de Beauvoir, Germaine Greer (ENG)
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