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The “evil” that men did


The “evil” that men did to women in the old days.  Was there discrimination against women?

A take-off on Theodor Fontane's thoughts about discrimination.

We wonder about discrimination against the sexes and often discuss the issue.  The feminists claim that it always existed, that women were oppressed for millennia—although they virtually always forget to consider (deliberately, it seems) that it is not fair to judge the past by today’s standards.  But even by contemporary standards, was there discrimination in the past?  Scientific evidence standing up to today’s standards is not that easy to come by, but today’s feminists who like to decide such things by different means, based on “women’s way of knowing”, prefer to go by feeling, rather than by absolute and true knowledge, and claim without blushing that discrimination against women was and is rampant — all a sinister plot by “The Patriarchy”.

Judging the past on the basis of feelings, we can ask some pertinent questions.  If indeed discrimination against women existed in the past, were people who lived then aware of it?  (Which, if it truly existed, would have been nothing sinister, but rather nothing more than a manifestation of constraints imposed on the sexes by biological necessity).  Let’s consider one instant of such a discussion that took place toward the end of the 19th Century.  You decide whether in that case the hard evidence of how society felt about women was in fact discriminatory toward them.

The discussion described in the following is part of a fictitious situation, describing events surrounding a group of vacationing people, members of the lower-upper class who are “taking the airs”, seeking to recuperate in the Harz Mountains in Germany, an area then reputed to be conducive to the recovery of one’s health, due to the “quality of its air”.

From the short story Cécile (1886), by Theodor Fontane (1819-1898), a German author and poet:
[A translation is appended]

    “ . . . Die Hexen sind hier nämlich Landes Produkt und wachsen wie der rote Fingerhut überall auf den Bergen umher.  Auf Schritt und Tritt begegnet man ihnen, und wenn man fertig zu sein glaubt, fängt es erst recht eigentlich an.  Zuletzt kommt nämlich der Brocken, der in seinem Namen zwar alle hexlichen Beziehungen verschweigt, aber doch immer der eigentliche Hexentanzplatz bleibt.  Da sind sie zu Haus, das ist ihr Ur-und Quellgebiet.  Allen Ernstes, die Landschaft ist hier so gesättigt mit derlei Stoff, daß die Sache schließlich eine reelle Gewalt über uns gewinnt, und was mich persönlich angeht, nun so darf ich nicht verschweigen: als ich neulich, die Mondsichel am Himmel, das im Schatten liegende Bodetal passierte, war mir's, als ob hinter jedem Erlen-stamm eine Hexe hervorsähe.”
       “Hübsch oder häßlich?” fragte Rosa. “Nehmen Sie sich in acht, Herr von Gordon.  In Ihrem Hexenspuk spukt etwas vor.  Das sind die inneren Stimmen.”
       “O, Sie wollen mir bange machen.  Aber Sie vergessen, meine Gnädigste, wo das Übel liegt, liegt in der Regel auch die Heilung, und ich kenne, Gott sei Dank, kein Stück Land, wo bei drohendsten Gefahren zugleich so viel Rettungen vorkamen wie gerade hier.  Und immer siegt die Tugend, und der Böse hat das Nachsehen.  Sie werden vielleicht vom Mägdesprung gehört haben?  Aber wozu so weit in die Ferne schweifen!  Eben hier, in unserer nachsten Nähe, haben wir ein solches Rettungsterrain, eine solche beglaubigte Zufluchtsstätte.  Sehen Sie dort (und er wandte sich nach rückwärts) den Roßtrapp-Felsen?  Die Geschichte seines Namens wird Ihnen kein Geheimnis sein.  Eine tugendhafte Prinzessin zu Pferde, von einem dito berittenen, aber untugendhaften Ritter verfolgt, setzt voll Todesangst über das Bodetal fort, und siehe da, wo sie glücklich landete, wo der Pferdehuf aufschlug, haben wir die Roßtrappe.  Sie sehen an diesem einen Beispiele, wie recht ich mit meinem einen Satze hatte: wo die Gefahr liegt, liegt auch die Rettung.”
       “Ich kann lhr Beispiel nicht gelten lassen”, lachte Rosa. “Zum mindesten beweist es ein gut Teil weniger, als Sie glauben.  Es macht eben einen Unterschied, ob ein gefährlicher Ritter eine schöne Prinzessin, oder ob umgekehrt eine gefährlich schöne Prinzessin . . . “
       “Was dem einen recht ist, ist dem andern billig.”
       “O, nicht doch, Herr von Gordon, nicht doch.  Einem armen Mädchen, Prinzessin  oder nicht, wird immer geholfen, da tut der Himmel seine Wunder, interveniert in Gnaden und trägt das Roß, als ob es ein Flügelroß wäre, glücklich über das Bodetal hin.  Aber wenn ein Ritter oder ein Kavalier von einer gefährlich-schönen Prinzessin oder auch nur von einer gefährlich-schönen Hexe, was mitunter zusammenfällt, verfolgt wird, da tut der Himmel gar nichts und ruft nur sein aide toi même berunter.  Und hat auch recht.  Denn die Kavaliere gehören zum starken Geschlecht und haben die Pflicht, sich selber zu helfen.”
       St. Arnaud applaudierte der Malerin, und selbst Cécile, die beim Beginn des Wortgefechtes ein leises Unbehagen nicht unterdriicken konnte, hatte sich, als ihr das harmlos Unbeabsichtigte dieser kleinen Pikanterien zur Gewißheit geworden war, ihrer allerbesten Laune rückhaltslos hingegeben.

Translation:

    “ . . . Witches are truly a famous product of the area [renowned in German folklore for that “fact”] and grow like red foxglove all-over the mountains.  You meet them at every step, and when one believes to be done with them, that’s when things are just starting.  Lastly comes the Brocken [the main mountain in the Harz mountains], although it doesn’t reveal any correlation to witches in its name, in reality it still properly remains the dancing ground of the witches [folklore has it that all witches frequently convened there to hold their dances].  That’s where they are at home, that’s their place of origin and source.  In earnest, the country-side here is so saturated with such stuff, that the matter in the end gains a real power over us, and as far as I’m concerned, I’m not at liberty to remain silent: as I recently, the crescent of the Moon in the sky, passed through the Bode Valley that lay in its shadow, it seemed to me as if from behind the trunk of each alder a witch peeked at me.”
       “Good-looking or ugly?” asked Rosa. “Take care, Sir Gordon.  In your witch haunt, something hauntingly peeks out.  Those are the inner urges.”
       “Oh, you want to scare me, but you forget, My-Lady, where there is evil, there lies as a rule also the cure, and I know, the Lord be thanked, not one piece of country where with the most threatening dangers so many rescues happened as did here.  And virtue is always victorious, and the evil-one always at the disadvantage.  You may have heard of the Maiden-Leap?  But why go so far into the distance!  Exactly here, in the closest vicinity, we have such a terrain of salvation, such a certified refuge.  Can you see over there (and he turned around) the Rosstrappe Felsen [Hoof-Track Rock, the name of a local attraction, a rock outcrop at the edge of the valley]?  The history of its name shouldn’t be a secret to you.  A virtuous princess on a horse, pursued by an also-mounted, but not virtuous knight, sets forth full of deadly fear over the Bode Valley, and lo and behold, where she landed fortuitously, where the horseshoe hit, we have the Roßtrappe.  In this one example you can see how right I am with my one statement: where there is danger, there too is salvation.”
       “I can’t allow the validity of your example”, Rosa laughed.  “At the very least, it is evidence of a good deal less than you believe.  It plainly makes a difference whether a dangerous knight pursues a beautiful princess, or in the reverse a dangerously beautiful princess ...“
       “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”
       “Not so, Sir Gordon, not so.  One always helps a poor maiden, princess or not, then Heaven weaves its miracles, intervenes graciously, and carries the steed as if it were Pegasus, happily across the Bode Valley.  But if a knight is pursued by a dangerously beautiful princess or even a dangerously beautiful witch, which sometimes coincides, Heaven does nothing and only calls down its aide toi même.  And rightly so.  Because the knights are members of the stronger sex and have the duty to help themselves.”
      St. Arnaud applauded the painter [Rosa—a woman], and even Cécile, who couldn’t suppress a slight feeling of discomfort at the beginning of the verbal skirmish, gave way without any reservations, after she became certain of the harmless inadvertence of these small piquancies, to her best demeanor. . . ."

_________________________
That example from the literature of the time is only one of many giving us impressions of the “feelings” of the time.  Clearly, judging by it and many others that document the gender politics over time, if we want to find fault with men for not preserving and protecting women, the evidence that would call for a verdict of “guilty” isn’t there.  After all, the intent to do harm to women quite plainly didn’t exist and society’s attitudes were, if anything, quite benevolent toward them.  However, there is a plethora of evidence that all along women, either inadvertently or deliberately, cleverly manipulated men to put their lives and fortunes on the line for them.

There is absolutely nothing new about that sort of recent development.  The trend is nothing but a continuation of the chivalry by "men" of the Victorian age (politicians, judges, lawyers, writers and journalists) who did their best to give women — in the name of liberating them from male oppression — more and more privileges at the expense of common men.  In that fashion The Fraud of Feminism (1913, by Belfort Bax) has been at work already for hundreds of years  to bring about The Legal Subjection of Men (1908, by Belfort Bax).

_____________
Note: The Internet Archive does not always produce results for those two preceding links. However, the two pieces by Belfort Bax can be found and accessed in other locations on the Net. You can use, for example, http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Fraud_of_Feminism and http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Legal_Subjection_of_Men

In WHY MEN ARE THE WAY THEY ARE, Warren Farrell explains that men and women are equally powerless but that men and boys are being indoctrinated to admire women and to follow career paths that enable men to give women what women want.  For example:

What Are Boys Good For?

What does a teenage girl learn to give to a boy? Let's look at a thirteen-page spread in Teen-the Christmas 1984 issue. Approx­imately seventy presents are mentioned, with an average price of about thirty dollars (over two thousand dollars' [close to US$5,000 in 2007 dollars — F4L] worth of presents). Only one is for a male-pajamas for a baby boy. As with Ms., no presents for boyfriends.
    There are several teenage boys shown in the pictures. One admires a girl while she admires herself in the mirror; another is towing a girl's brand-new car. The same use of men as in Self.
   
Is the girl in the Teen spread helping the boy who has attached her car to a tow truck? No. She drapes herself over the tow truck. And how does she learn to handle a stressful situation? The caption explains: "If a stressful situation causes complexion concerns, keep skin under control with Noxzema Acne 12. And pass the time in an easy-to-wear wardrobe!"
    All twelve days of Christmas run the same pattern: "Keep tabs on your weight," "File your nails ... ," "Massage your hands," "Massage your feet," "Turn heads in your direction by keeping lips lusciously lubricated .... " What does he get? Nothing is mentioned but her beauty. What lessons does he learn? Admire and rescue. [Emphasis by F4L] In Teen. In Ms. In Self.
   
Do teenage boys' magazines show a girl towing his brand-new car, while he drapes himself over her tow truck and worries about his acne? Hardly.
    In men's magazines there are only a few gifts for men to buy women. Remember the principle of the De Beers transfer. She chooses the diamond and chooses among the men her beauty power can attract to buy it. Which is why his ads are for how to become successful enough to buy whatever she chooses; hers are to become beautiful enough to be able to make the choice of both the gift and the man to buy the gift. Men's magazines do not feature many gifts for women because men are expected to do the buying after consulting the women, not the magazine, and to concentrate their energies on making the money.

WHY MEN ARE THE WAY THEY ARE, By Warren Farrell, p 34-35

Once they become men (or perhaps even sooner), men (or boys) begin to catch on.  For example:

Why is changing a light bulb always a guy's job? Because women have more important things to do - like making men feel useful and important by giving them things to do, like changing light bulbs.

How many divorced men does it take to change a light bulb? None. They never get the house anyway.

Edmonton Journal,
2007 08 28, p. B2, Venting
(more at edmontonjournal.com Online Extras - Venting)

It will take quite some time yet, however, before a majority of society gets Warren Farrell's message expressed in the following.

One of the fascinating parts about men is our tendency to subject ourselves to war, physical abuse, and psychological abuse and call it "power." The ability to be totally out of control while continuing to view ourselves as the ones with the power can have certain advantages to a woman. As expressed in this poem:

One-Night Stand

He bought me drinks all evening
   in response to just a wink
Then accepted my invitation to
   repair my kitchen sink
Then I brought him into beddy-bye
   to get a little sex
Then couldn't help but smile
   when he called it conquest!

WHY MEN ARE THE WAY THEY ARE, By Warren Farrell, p. 289

That story, translated into a joke that is far more ironic than it is funny, goes like this:

An Irishman an Englishman and a Scotsman were sitting in a bar in Sydney. The view was fantastic, the beer excellent, and the food exceptional. "But" said the Scotsman, "I still prefer the pubs back home. Why, in Glasgow there's a little bar called McTavish's. Now the landlord there goes out of his way for the locals so much that when you buy 4 drinks he will buy the 5th drink for you."

"Well," said the Englishman "at my local, the Red Lion, the barman there will buy you your 3rd drink after you buy the first 2."

"Ahhh that's nothin'," said the Irishman, "Back home in Dublin there's Ryan's Bar. Now the moment you set foot in the place they'll buy you a drink, then another, all the drinks you like. Then when you've had enough drink they'll take you upstairs and see that you get laid. All on the house."

The Englishman and Scotsman immediately pour scorn on the Irishman's claims. He swears every word is true.

"Well," said the Englishman, "Did this actually happen to you?" 

"Not myself personally, no" said the Irishman, "but it did happen to my sister."

found at angryharry.com

Men's problem is that women's "powerlessness" has been amply addressed throughout the history of evolution, intensively so since the advent of radical feminism [*], but that men's powerlessness received little or no attention. Instead, men curry women's favors by giving women gifts, even the gift of men's lives.
   While in the past men were enticed to live up to the social duties imposed upon them with promises that they would be paid back for that through society paying them appreciation, honour and respect, today — thanks to decades of feminist slandering of men, intended to "increase" the social value of women — men are being vilified for being men, and not much else matters.

* If the term "radical feminism" (a.k.a. Marxist- or socialist-feminism) is somewhat new to you, you need to expand your knowledge.  After all, radical feminism, the currently controlling faction of feminism, governs just about everything that is happening in your life.  See,

Carey Roberts column

Carey Roberts is an analyst and commentator on political correctness. His best-known work is an exposé on Marxism and the roots of radical feminism.

Carey Roberts' best-known work, his exposé on Marxism and the Roots of Radical Feminism, is not necessarily easy to find, but this link will help with that. (Some of the URLs for the article series appear to keep changing.  For that reason the identified link leads to an Internet search for the series.  The first or second link in the return list will most likely lead you to the series.)

I fail to see the need for today’s feminist’s obsession with the fabricated and falsely perceived past wrongs done by men to women.  It appears that women were quite aware of the existence of discrimination, but that they also knew quite well that it was in their favour, and that they felt they deserved it, due to their sex and their status in society, just as they do now.

Then, as now, it seems, women were “more equal” than men.  Men pampered them and didn’t oppress them.  It appears that the patriarchy was good to women.  Why would any woman ever want to exchange the reverence that men had for them for a seat behind the steering wheel of a tractor or for a place in the trenches of a battle field?

But then, as the wife of one of my friends told me just a few days ago, “men have the right to choose less dangerous jobs.  It’s men’s choice and desire to pick dangerous jobs.  Why should women be obligated to choose dangerous jobs?  That’s a men-thing!  Men like doing that and why should women do the same?”

The question now is: “What is it that men did that gave them such a bad reputation today?”

Maybe men should never have pampered women and instead of providing them with servants in the past and appliances today, they should have let them fight for themselves all along.  Without any doubt, the privileged positions that women historically had in society provided the feminists with the power base from which they launched their assault on the reputation of men, apparently and evidently in a successful attempt to establish more power for women, above and beyond the power that women already had over men.  In the process of doing that, the feminists attacked and destroyed the one institution that without fail throughout history provided protection to women who realistically believed themselves to be the weaker sex.  The women who feel that they have the obligation to perpetuate the human race have to suffer now the consequences by either having to do so without the comforts of the protection that a family provides, or, even if they live within the confines of functioning families, without the honour, respect and support that society once gave to them when they did so.  Worse yet, some factions of feminism consider them to be “traitors to the race” (of women).

--Walter H. Schneider
Bruderheim, Alberta, Canada (1998 02 21)

For related views by Aristotle, see the essay "Politics" (350 B.C.) at aristotle.htm

And a free translation of a poem by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (the poem was part of a letter he wrote in Vienna, August 18, 1784, to congratulate his sister on her impending marriage):

You'll experience much in matrimony
that was half a riddle to you;
soon you'll know from experience,
how Eve once had to deal with
giving birth to Cain.

However, sister, those matrimonial duties
you'll do gladly with all your heart,
because, believe me, they aren't hard.
But every matter has two sides:
although matrimony brings much joy,
it'll bring you grief as well.

Therefore, when your husband offers,
what you feel you don't deserve,
dark demeanor in his bad mood,
then think, that is male whim,
and say: Lord, Thy will be done
by day and mine at night!

A little later, in the beginning of the 19th century, Alexander Pushkin told us about the travails of Eugene Onegin and his views about the power that women exercised over their husbands.

Little information survives from the turn of the first millennium.  However, in the country in which modern feminism became born, England, the situation was like this:

    ". . . Slaves were numerous but not actually "property."  They were "tied" to a protector, the local lord, and English law severely restricted his demands.  A surviving text, the Rectitudines Singularum Personarum of Archbishop Wulfstan of York, sets out the lords' rights and obligations [toward their slaves], and lords in Engla-Lond never did claim the notorious droit de seigneur
       Our forebears cannot be dismissed as out-and-out misogynists either.  One of the favorite riddles began, "I am a strange creature, for I satisfy women," and many women wielded surprising power.  Queen Aetheflaed, daughter of Alfred the Great, after his death led the war against the Danes.  In combined religious houses abbesses outranked abbots.  Of 30 extant wills (another Anglo-Saxon word), 10 were made by women who owned significant property.  The term "man" really did include both men and women; the latter were often referred to as "the second mann."  King Alfred even promulgated laws against unwanted sexual touching, and the fines went to the offended woman. . . ." 

      [Excerpt from a book review by Nathan Greenfield in Alberta Report, 1999 05 17, p. 40, of THE YEAR 1000: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium, Robert Lacey and Danny Danziger, Little Brown and Company, 230 pages, hardcover, $31 (Can)]

That women yielded power then would surprise only someone whose history courses were taught under the feminist curriculum.  That creative view of society didn't exist yet when I went to school.  I'm therefore not surprised that there were women such as Cleopatra, Helen of Troy, Hildegard of Bingen [1], those that surprised the reviewer of THE YEAR 1000 and many others like them throughout historyWe had been taught that all throughout history women were powerful, and experienced it first-hand in the positions of power that our mothers held in our own families.  It is fascinating, though, to see that the authors discovered a few more things that weren't quite like the circumstances taught in today's made-over politically correct version of history.

    Women did have the right to own property and to pass it on.  What the review doesn't mention is that throughout history dowries were the property of women in marriage which they had the right to dispose of and to bestow on their descendants as they saw fit, and that they had dowager rights all along that have today been expanded enormously to make men virtual wage slaves for life — married or not.

    It is enlightening to see the feminists' obsession with the term "man" is shown to be for what it is, irrational.

    Lastly, the item about King Alfred's laws relating to unwanted sexual touching: already then we had one-sided sexual harassment laws, with women then too being considered to be the only possible victims and only men being capable of, and culpable for, being the perpetrators, although the truth is that for many men who experienced it, sexual harassment and unwanted sexual touching by women is far more prevalent than the feminists would have us believe.  For anyone who doubts that, simply take a look at women's night in the local bar when male strippers are on, or, perhaps just as effective an eye opener with respect to women's violence toward others of either sex, just watch Jerry Springer.  Even there, Jerry Springer admonishes the rare man who dares to defend himself against the physical abuse that he's subjected to: "Oh no! We don't do that on this show.  A man never touches a woman!"  Nevertheless, the audience on the Jerry Springer Show delights in seeing men being beaten up by the outraged and outrageous females on exhibit on that show.  On the Jerry Springer Show and in real life, there is no constraint against women beating up men.

    Sure, there are plenty of women who ruthlessly take all of the advantages they can get from the status that society gives them, but very few of those would be considered by anyone to be ladies!

____________________
Note 1.) The link to the URL for information on Hildegard of Bingen is to a web site of the University of Mainz.  Other URLs that I found lead you to texts that, although they are largely based on information that was collected by the University of Mainz (Bingen is practically a suburb of Mainz), add the usual feminist slant to the considerably more objective views of the authors of the documents shown at the U of Mainz's web site.  For example:

       "At a time when few women wrote, Hildegard, known as "Sybil of the Rhine", produced major works of theology and visionary writings.[*] When few women were accorded respect, she was consulted by and advised bishops, popes, and kings. . . ." 
        [Source: http://tweedledee.ucsb.edu/%7Ekris/music/Hildegard.html

    That view is seriously in conflict with the emerging trend in the arts of the time, which increasingly devoted themselves to venerating women in all possible ways, shapes and forms.  Men and women, being under the control of their mothers from birth, directly or indirectly through internalizing, could harldly help themselves from doing otherwise. 

    The same source gives also a somewhat tainted view of the circumstances of Hildegard's upbringing, starting at age 8, in the Benedictine Monastery of Disibodenberg, near Mainz, in the women's accommodations for reclusees that were, as was customary at the time, associated with the monastery. 

         "The girl started to have visions of luminous objects at the age of tree, but soon realized she was unique in this ability and hid this gift for many years...." 

    This "unique ability" was hardly unique, nor a gift, most definitely far more likely to be considered a scourge by anyone who has ever been "blessed" with severe migraine.  Hildegard herself regarded it as a serious sickness, especially as it severely disabled her whenever it manifested itself. 

* See also: Hildegard von Bingen - Where her visions actually atmospheric halos? by Mark Vornhusen

In Germany too, at the time, just as in England at the turn of the millennium, it was quite common for women to own property, especially women who were living in the community of a convent.

   "It is notable that the record of assets (Fundationsbuch) of the convent of Rupertsberg that was founded by Hildegard in 1150, shows at the top of the entries, throughout nine consecutive pages, records of gifts that stemmed from the Bermesheim area [which was Hildegard's place of birth].  In addition, the deed of a gift dated 1158 certifies the transfer of the landed estate at Bermesheim and of other estates to the "Ladies" ["Herrinnen", original emphasis] of the convent of Rupertsberg.  Verifiably, the originators of that donation were the three brothers — clearly without offspring — of Hildegard, because Hildegard, as the youngest sibling, was at this time already 60 years old." [Translation of an excerpt from http://www.uni-mainz.de/~horst/hildegard/wirk/bermer.html]

Is it not reasonable to ask anyone who claims that women weren't permitted to own property in the old days, to explain why it was necessary to officially record the transfer of property to women just as it was done for men?

_____________
Last updated:
1999 05 19
2001 01 29 (format changes)
2002 03 12 (slightly changed the translation of Mozart's poem to his sister)
2004 06 15 (added reference to the connection between Hildegard von Bingen's "visions" and atmospheric halos)
2007 07 29 (added entry for WHY MEN ARE THE WAY THEY ARE)
2007 12 14 (reformated)