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Re: theos-l digest: September 30, 1999

Oct 03, 1999 06:30 PM
by Bart Lidofsky

> >> [Kym] Well, again, even in the "old days" marriage still proved an early
> death
> >> for most women.  Spousal abuse is not a modern phenomenon - having one's
> >> family around usually kept a women in her place, rather than serving as a
> >> woman's advocate.
> >
> >[Bart] Are you trying to say that this was the rule rather than the
> exception?
> >If so, I would like to see your sources; if not, then I do not
> >understand the relevancy.
> Well, "trying" isn't the word I would use; I declare it a fact that spousal
> abuse was the rule, rather than the exception and that society/family
> circles served to fortify women's oppression; in addition, such practices
> resulted in the death of many young women.

	Note that your sources (quoted below) are almost entirely death in
CHILDBIRTH, not spousal abuse (unless you are about to say that
pregnancy IS spousal abuse, in which case you follow a brand of
postmodernism which has no place in a Theosophical discussion list).

> Sources?  Well, as far as marriage serving as an "early death" for women, a
> simple jaunt through any old cemetery will speak of that.  The number of
> married women (as noted on the tombstone) will show that the majority of
> them were under 30.  The tombstones of men, on the other hand, show a much
> longer life span.
> Since you brought up "plantation" issues: Catherine Clinton, a history
> professor, writes in her book "The Plantation Mistress": "Apprehension
> clouded the joy of expectancy, for whenever a plantation mistress faced
> childbirth, she literally prepared to die. ..... In order to ensure safe
> and healthy pregnancies, some plantation mistresses continued to exercise,
> especially during the early months - a not uncommon medical practice during
> the early nineteenth century. 1847, chloroform finally began to be
> used to relieve the pain of childbirth. ....Confinement was a time of
> crisis for husband and wife alike. While women went through the pain and
> anxiety of delivery, expectant fathers feared the death of their spouses."

	<End of attempt at justification of statement>

> >       The tight control of women as opposed to men in the West is actually a
> >relatively recent phenomenon, dating back only about 3-400 years
> >(before, women and men tended to be equally controlled). In the United
> >States, it was never the rule, although it did appear sporadically,
> >especially in wealthy urban areas.
> Bart, for pete's sake, women did not get the right to vote until 1920!  How
> can you say that the "tight control of women" was not the rule in the
> United States?

	And most men didn't have the right to vote until the 19th century.

> Women and men were not "equally controlled" in early Western thought.  Take
> a peek at Genesis where it declares that a man shall "rule over" a woman in
> marriage,

	Look at the context of the sentence; the idea is that a man can
impregnate a woman who is not sexually aroused, but a woman cannot
become pregnant from a man who is not sexually aroused, at least until
technology fixed that little problem. Most of the so-called "anti-woman"
verses in the Old Testament are the result of mistranslation and
misinterpretation in the King James version and by fundamentalist
Christians, and the rejection of the Talmud.

> or when Mohammed declares that women are merely "vessels" for
> childbearing and little more.

	Islam is not mainstream Western culture, nor a source of it.

> In Jewish tradition, a woman (if you can
> call a 13 year old a "woman")

	In ancient farming communities, you did. And a 13 year old male was a

> was to be chosen from the "family line" to
> ensure "purity" of such family line.  Clearly, both the family and society
> believed and propagated the custom that a 13 year old was to become subject
> to her husband's rule.  These customs are more than 300 to 400 years old -
> unless my math is in error.

	No. You are just taking misinterpretations of language, and applying it
to a history of which you have no record except what some scholars used
"postmodernist interpretation" which is another term for "we made it up
because it suited our politics".

> Women, in the 1800's, were not allowed to go attend universities and were
> often prevented from attending any kind of public school at all.

	And that was the period when women WERE the victims of oppression, due
to technology making the previous male-female relationships unnatural.

> In
> present day, medical insurance will cover Viagra for men, but not birth
> control for women.

	It will also cover reconstructive surgery for mastectomies, but not
penile enlargement. It's the difference for restoring a natural
condition, and preventing it. Of course, that is assuming that your
statement is right; every medical insurance plan I have ever been on
includes sterilization procedures for both men and women.

> In present day, a woman who kills her husband will,
> according to the Justice Department, receive, on average, a 15 year LONGER
> prison sentence than a man who kills his wife. How can you say, Bart, that
> women and men were/are controlled "equally" in latter-day United States
> thought and practice?

	Did you ever hear of the statistician who drowned in a lake with an
average depth of two feet? Before I accept your statement (do you have a
source for the Justice Department statement?) I would have to see if
there are any other factors involved (for example, are you lumping 1st
degree murder, 2nd degree homicide, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary
manslaughter, and accidental killing all in one lump? If that is the
case, then the statistic is bullshit, combining apples and oranges.

> >> [Kym ]Now, specifically about my complaint about the quote (not you
> personally):
> >> As a woman, I so tire of writings, be them political, spiritual, cultural,
> >> theosophical, that tend to revolve around the perspectives of men.
> >
> >[Bart] Can you give a few examples? And if you define "revolving around the
> >perspectives of men" solely by who is doing the writing, then all you
> >have to do to remedy the situation is to write from your own
> >perspective.
> This is illogical.  It will not "remedy the situation" if women simply
> engage in the same practice as men do - writing and acting as if the world
> sees through only their eyes.  A form of reverse discrimination is what you
> are advocating here.

	No. My statement was dependent on your definition of "revolving around
the perspectives of men" (which you STILL haven't given).

> It is true that men and women view the world
> differently due, mainly, to societal treatment, but to write "sacred" text
> to only a select group of folk is irresponsible.  Too many highly quoted,
> revered, and directive texts are written by and for men - and the people of
> present day continue the cycle of perpetuating that line of thought.
> Instead of examining spiritual texts in a more panoramic "world-view" - the
> same old quotes are tossed around, expected to address today's society.
> Bull.

	And your suggested solution?

> The example Grigor gave, "As it is said in Caucasus, a man is not a
> man worth his salt if he hasn't been salted, assaulted, and insulted in holy
> wedlock" will not work if we replace "he" with "she."

	Why not? My standard test for gender bias is to reverse genders, and
see if the situation still works out the same (an excellent example is
the Tom Hanks movie, "Big", where if you reverse the gender of the title
character, the sex scenes have a far more sinister aspect in our current

> For, to do so, will
> endorse physical, mental, and sexual abuse of women.  It is much more
> difficult, although not impossible, for a woman to "assault" her husband -
> odds are he's bigger, stronger, and may hit back with bolder force.

	Which shows that you clearly do not understand the saying. It is not
"salted assualted and insulted by his wife", it is "salted, assaulted
and insulted by the INSTITUTION of holy wedlock", unless, of course, you
think it is OK for a wife to beat her husband (I don't).

> It is
> more difficult, althought not impossible, for a woman to engage in the
> marital rape of her husband.

	I see you DO understand the meaning of that verse in Genesis...

> The very quote itself endorses a dissatisfaction, a violence, within the
> marriage relationship.  It implicitly suggests that to be married is to
> expect suffering and physical/mental abuse.  This is not acceptable, in my
> opinion, for neither men nor women.  Because men have less fear about
> violence in marital relationships, this quote probably caused a few
> snickers, winks, and understanding nods among some males; however, this
> same quote, if we replace it with "she," sends cold shivers down the spine
> of a woman.

	Only if you're looking for something wrong; believe me, if you think
the whole world is against you, you can find evil under every rock and
behind every corner, whether or not it's actually there.

> Just because something is written by so-called learned men does not mean
> that it is a learned phrase.

	OK, I can certainly agree with that (especially if you change "men" to

> The men who wrote this quote paid NO heed of
> women when writing it.  Those of us who claim to be educated need to
> examine a bit more deeply currently acceptable "words of wisdom."  Do such
> "words of wisdom" apply to most people and will they work in current daily
> life?  Do such "words of wisdom" promote peace and harmony, or violence and
> suffering?

	There is a difference between "words of wisdom" and a joke. Those who
buy the radical femnist revisionist history hook, line, and sinker, have
yet to learn the difference.

> >       The Mahatmas claim that they can choose whether to incarnate as male or
> >female. The Mahatmas chose, at the time, to come mostly as men because
> >of societal reasons. They made it clear that they did and do come as
> >women when the circumstances warrant it; I would assume that in today's
> >society, there are more female Mahatma's than in previous times.
> This reasoning, to me, is also illogical.  Since so few people actually
> "saw" the Mahatmas for what they claimed to be - what difference would it
> have made if they were male or female?

	Because the Mahatmas needed to influence bigoted people with minimal

> Are you suggesting that Blavastky
> would have discounted their words if they had come from females?

	No, but we cannot completely discount the possibly.

> Since it
> was important for Mahatmas to "blend in," what better way to remain
> anonymous in their time but to be female?

	They did not "blend in"; they kept themselves separate unless it was

> Neither does it make sen0se that
> male Mahatmas would chose a female messenger - ESPECIALLY if they were so
> concerned about "societal reasons."  It would have been less problematic if
> they had chosen a male.  Again, the reasoning you offer just doesn't add up.

	They stated that, while Blavatsky was far from their ideal, she was by
far the best they could find. Gender may or may not have had a role in
their choice, but, if it wsa, then it was only one part in a far more
complex decision.

> Oh, and I almost forgot. . .regarding the duel. . .you were fatally
> wounded.  I tried to save you. . .I really did. . .honest. . .I really
> tried. . .but since I wasn't allowed to go to medical school. . .well, you
> know.

	Well, it wasn't me in the duel, because I certainly was no gentleman in
any of my past lives.

	Bart Lidofsky

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