When I first started reading Rich’s article, I found myself agreeing with many of her opinions and understanding the points that she was making. However, as I continued reading, I found that I understood the problems she was sheding light on and her underlying anger a little bit too well. I came to the conclusion that there has not been as much progress since the 1980s as I thought at first. This became very clear to me as I read the characteristics of male power in pages 638-640.
- to deny women our sexuality
clitoridectomy and death penalties for female adultery are popular practices in Africa and the Middle East, female masturbation is still taboo or erased in our culture, denial of maternal and postmenopausal sensuality is supported by the media (using words such as cougars, MILFs) and there are still false lesbian images in the media
- or to force male sexuality upon them
rape of course has not stopped, and rape culture is always abundant, while marital rape or rape while in a relationship is considered impossible by many people. Beating and incest are not that acceptable anymore, however the myth that male sexual “drive” is uncontrollable is as popular as ever (“boys will be boys” etc). Of course there’s idealization of heterosexual romance, and the media (especially the porn industry) still portray women as naturally submissive during sex.
- to command or exploit their labor to control their produce
marriage and motherhood as unpaid production is abundant (I don’t know the statistics for the U.S. but in Greece more than 70% of women are housewives), there is still bias against women in the workforce, there has recently been a lot of debate regarding abortion by male politicians who talk and female politicians who go unheard, and female infanticide still goes on in many parts of the world
I could finish the list, but my post would be very long, and I think my point goes through with just the first three points anyway. It’s nice to focus on the parts where progress has been made but sometimes you are overwhelmed by the battles that still need to be fought.