An article by Virginia Heffernan in Yahoo. News caught my attention the other day: “Lady Firsters: Why the new sex segregation is great for women.” (9/20/12) The essay struck me as the joyful crowing of an empowered young woman and a part of me was happy, being a war horse of the women’s equal rights struggle. Heffernan feels herself part of a burgeoning movement where women are at the helm. She’s even made light of the Democrat’s charge that the Republicans are waging a war on women.
The stylized “war on women” may rage on as a fiction of the election, but in the barracks women are living it up. Aung San Suu Kyi, the pro-democracy leader, now sits in parliament in Myanmar. Women play golf at the Augusta National Golf Club. And, this week, we come to find out Jesus may have had a wife. (“Lady Firsters” by Virginia Heffernan, Yahoo.news, 9/20/12)
Without crushing Heffernan’s spirit, I worry about this burst of irrational exuberance. True, women are making strides in the academic and corporate worlds. But a few skirmishes don’t mean the war for equality is won. Let me remind those of the author’s persuasion, that there are fewer women In Congress now than in previous years; that in several states women have all but lost their right to choose with regard to parenting; that there is still a disparity in wages earned between women and men and that most medical treatments are designed for the male rather than female anatomy. And this list is only a starter.
My greater concern, however, is Heffernan’s defense of separatism. She invites her readers to consider the benefits to women if they formed their own societies, went to segregated events and schools. What she proposes is a mirror image of the forms of segregation men have thrived on for centuries. But I question whether or not women should use their growing authority to mimic the masculine model of exclusion. I would prefer to see an end to it. Let the feminine paradigm be one that embraces the whole. Half the world is male. Empowered women would make a greater contribution to our society if they taught us how to live with that statistic. (See my blog of 10/1/12 for more on this subject.)
(Courtesy of www.guardian.co.uk)