Sunday 11 December 2016

Sense of a woman

Published 07/02/2012 | 10:57

Ann Fielding's remarks (Irish Independent, February 4) on the justifications provided for the inequitable treatment of women, though excellently argued, will fall on deaf ears. Our male-dominated world is so incurably fixated in its unthinking view of women that it will take another dinosaur extinction event to make a difference. As far as men are concerned, women exist to fulfil male purposes. Relationships with men are in many subtle ways construed as subservient.

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The argument based on the fact that the oppressed group are different has been the supposed ground for the appalling injustices built into the policy of apartheid in South Africa. It has been the standard justification of slavery. When the American Constitution was being drafted there were some real difficulties with the initial formulation. Though all people were declared to be born equal, the slave was considered equivalent to half a person so did not have the same rights as the rest. This ingrained attitude has underpinned and sustained unjust treatment of women.

Perhaps the most absurd justification of inequitable treatment of women is the one used to exclude them from the priesthood; the gender differences between them and Christ seem enough justification to satisfy male logic.

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