She Rises: Why Goddess Feminism, Activism and Spirituality?

She Rises: Why Goddess Feminism, Activism and Spirituality?

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In Reply to What Every Dictator Knows

Original article: What Every Dictator Knows : Young Men are Natural Fanatics

Humans have been successful as a species because of our ability to work together for the good of our source group and our willingness to make sacrifices for the good of that group. Because the frontal lobes of the brain in males takes longer – until nearly the age of 30 – their tendency to underestimate the consequences of their own fanaticism is reduced. I’ve written quite a bit about moral and ethical development described by Lawrence Kohlberg and the fact that although we can reach a higher level of functioning toward the end of our teens, most in this culture never do without some intervening influence like higher education or travel or various particulars – greater tolerance, openness – of the social group of origin. The median levels of development are focused on external sources of moral values as an accepting, unquestioning view of one’s family or community. People at this level are more likely to defend the morals of their group to the point of fundamentalism, particularly where religion is concerned. At this level you’re likely to hear “it’s the LAW”; “those are the rules!” “It’s in the Bible/Torah/Quran.” The moral code is seen as absolute and unalterable, the literal “word of god” in some cases, and others challenge that code at their peril.

At this stage, those who vary from the learned code are seen as “other” and therefore a threat to the whole community. Questioning their  code is so disturbing to them that they will feel attacked, and their very survival threatened, which has resulted throughout history as unfathomable violence. At this median level fanaticism can result in Crusades, Inquisitions or Jihad. People will stone women for being raped or burn their neighbors as Witches. They will kill to defend the code even if they don’t adhere strictly to that code. The 9/11 attackers were willing to die for the code they defended, but they spent the night before their attack at a strip club. There’s often a cognitive disconnect – their transgressions are OK, but “the other” must die for theirs.  More benign manifestations of this can be seen in people who will attend and support a fundamentalist church while “living in sin” or advocating abortion though identifying as Catholic; being gay or female and voting Republican; claiming to practice Christianity while advocating war, discrimination or the death penalty.

Everyone past puberty has the potential to reach higher levels of moral and ethical reasoning if the mitigating factors exist – higher education, experience with people from other cultures or communities, values espousing tolerance, understanding and an attitude of openness and curiosity of other ways of thinking or being in the world. It’s important to note that this isn’t simply a more mature approach to life, it’s the development of a higher brain function. You’ll often hear fundamentalists in our culture speak derisively of “Moral Relativity” because they haven’t yet developed that capacity to step back and look at their one moral codes from the outside. They can’t look at their own ideas as anything but reality. They’re concrete thinkers, with strictly black and white concepts of grace/sin or good/evil.

The overarching goal of Western culture at this stage in history should be to pull as many people as possible from their entrenched dogmatic  world views into a level that has been called “enlightenment” in earlier times. It’s not that my code is better than your code – it’s the idea that my code might be as valid as yours so we agree to disagree. This is the opposite of faith. Faith involves accepting your code without question. If I can get a fundamentalist to open their eyes to other ways of living and being in the world. then I have created a level of openness they didn’t have before. If I can get a person to see that, for example, none of us really knows what happens when we die, that little bit of doubt makes all the difference in a person who will welcome a refugee into their community and one who would rather burn down a mosque. It takes absolute certainty to wear a bomb onto a crowded bus, or ruin someone’s career because their lifestyle is unfathomable to you. If you can make the simple logical step to acknowledging that none of us can know what happens when we die until we actually die without coming back* that can introduce enough doubt into that individual mind to allow that reality might be a little bit bigger than their own social context.

*A Christian often believes that they know exactly what happens when they die, though not all Christians agree on what it is; Jihadists believe they’ll be rewarded with virgins when they reach heaven; Some scientists, like Dr. Pim Van Lommel, study near death experiences. Ultimately, we can each speculate as to what happens at that final juncture, believing one view or making an “educated guess” based on whatever data we choose, but the logical reality is that we cannot know until it happens, so we shouldn’t throw bombs at people who expect a different outcome. We might all be wrong. We might all be right. “Might” is far less dangerous than certainty.”

Equality Hell, How about Reparations?!

NOTE: This was originally written for Women’s Equality Day in August of 2003. Women’s wages have gone down since then. 
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I found the following statistics on The Feminist Majority Foundation site today

On this planet, right now:

1,500 women die from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth every day

A woman’s risk of dying in childbirth: 1 in 25 to 40 in developing countries,
1 in 3,000 in developed countries.

Source: 1994 World Survey on the Role of Women in Development 

75% of refugees and displaced persons are women and children.

Source: Wistat, 1994 & UNHCR 

Out of 1.3 billion people living in absolute poverty, 70% are women.

More than one million babies die each year from malnutrition, neglect and abuse who would not have died if they had not been born girls

Source: Education Working Group, UNICEF 

In America today:

One woman is physically abused every eight seconds 
One woman is raped every six minutes .

Source: National Center on Women and Family Law, USA, 1988/New York Times, 19 October 1994 

Domestic violence is the number one cause of serious injury to women ages 18-49.

At the current rate of progress, it would take 475 years for women to reach equality with men as senior managers.

Source: 1994 World Survey on the Role of Women in Development, United Nations 1995

US Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Women constitute almost 47 percent of this country’s labor force,
There are only six Fortune 500 women CEOs

According to statistics released by the US Census Bureau on September 25, 2001

For every 1 Dollar earned by White men:

White women working full-time earn only 73 cents
African-American women earn only 65 cents
Latina women earn only 53 cents

So on today, Women’s Equality Day, I’d like to make a modest proposal. Since our society can’t protect us – 1 in 3 women will be victims of sexual abuse in their lives; and won’t promote us; and most of all isn’t paying us for the work we do, why not cut to the chase. Instead of proclamations and pats on the head and the kind of placating that Bill Maher calls “making women nod”, how about one simple concrete solution. I want reparations.

Now, the African-American community has talked about reparations for a while. The problem with paying reparations for slavery is that the people who were enslaved are no longer alive, so even if we all agree that reparations are in order, there’s a very real difficulty in figuring out how much to pay and to whom. Not so with Gender Gap Reparations.

I propose a two step plan. First, take all of the Social Security records for every living woman in the United States and get her total lifetime earnings. If she’s white, add 27%; Black, 35%, Hispanic, 47% and for those of us who don’t fit into any of those categories – Native Americans, Asians, etc – we’ll take the Latina rate of 47%.
Take the money out of the bloated, bullshit defense budget, and pay us . I mean send my check right now. I’ve worked with defense contracts, and believe me, there’s more fat than fight in that budget. You could do twice the work for half the money with a bit of common sense and some basic good business practices. Tighten your belts, boys – we’ve been doing it for years.

Ok, so Step One is done and no one is the poorer for it. Step Two is going to be a little harder. Well, not really harder – just unpopular. Step Two is simply give every woman currently employed a raise in the percentage already discussed for each group. Business is not going to like this idea, so let’s put it into perspective:

If the minimum wage had risen at the same level pace as executive pay since 1990, it would be $25.50 an hour, not $5.15.
http://www.raisethefloor.org/press_bostonglobe.html

So you can pay our girls the $6.67, 6.96, and 7.58 (based on $5.15 minimum wage) and yes, for Goddess’ sake round up or you can pay us all the 25.50 an hour we’d be making if you corporate raiders weren’t skimming off the top. We’re willing to be reasonable, and frankly, it’s more than you deserve.