Gender and Responsibility

Reera Abbasi

What really fulfills my views on the issue of gender is neither magnification of the question of sexuality nor a marked distinction between what we refer to as the male and female categories but rather a more subtle approach to awareness of gender and the responsibility it engenders.
What are the constituent factors of the ignorance, evasion and eventually the discrimination of the two intertwined genders? How do the roots of a negative thought process run and function within us? And is it possible to find a partial cure for what I may call an immense misery? Do you think women can attain their long lost Rights by growing masculine arms and opting for masculine jobs? Don’t men possess these very arms? And haven’t these arms been puppets to the power of puppeteers? Hasn’t this masculinity been played with? There are many such questions and there is not ample time to pose each one and then attend to them but it seems that the most important answer to the self, to ourselves comes in the form of this question: Have we arrived at that level of self growth and development to invite the man and the woman within us to peace? Do we accept the fact that without either of them, our essential gender could not possibly respond accordingly to our nature?
What gender can be at peace from and at the cost of the misery and intellectual poverty of the other? The harm done by the apparently dominant gender is like a clear mirror that reflects them both equally. What would happen if we convert the negative force that everyone uses to attack gender into awareness? Undoubtedly, the result of these two forces would be more effective. Attacking, fundamentally, demands a lot of force and energy on the part of responsible individuals and makes defense secondary, for whatever reasons. When every defendant aims at enlightening and taking responsibility about both genders and makes an effort to align their respective domains of thought accordingly, then he/she is a contributor to humanity and obviously each human, each one who seeks an answer to a query, will undoubtedly make an attempt to change inequalities and an effort to understand that the disparity lies not in the essence of gender but could be traced back to the abuse of power and the much evaded need for a fundamental change in the system of beliefs. In order to change wrong beliefs and convert them into awareness, one must note the obvious, that women have been more vulnerable than their masculine counterparts because throughout history, men have noticeably succumbed to the powers of their time. Perhaps one may not arrive at a "good" conclusion by comparing the two genders, but one is aware that ruling powers, from ancient times, set their foundations on the basis of human beliefs and even today, in some countries, the very same beliefs or similar ones, appoint the value and status of women in the society. When the ignorance (meaning, unawareness) of both genders disturbs equality, then the state is even more empowered to play a corruptive role between them and sanction laws that are inhumane. Under such circumstances, the valued or undervalued status of the two genders is defined by such laws and the state, in line with even more deception, often functions under the disguise of a despotic savior for the woman and at times, for the man. This is while ruling powers can and should think of uplifting their laws to a humane level because they can use their invested authority to regulate equality among both sexes…By taking a look at some discriminative legislatures, we can analyze how in the long run, inefficient and inhuman relationships turn into laws, cultures and even traditions. This happens when the law hands over a knife to the man to behead his daughter, wife or sister and does not even acknowledge this as a crime, but a value that the rulers pass on to their men in order to even govern and rule families through trampling the ‘other’s’ freedom and violating human rights. And interestingly, by allotting this space to violence in the law, they do not leave anything to imagination as they need such helping hand in violence; this is the same masculine arm that is stringed along and played through its very own masculinity. This is a very vast topic and therefore I am bound to digress. I now call your attention to a few other points. You must have noticed the geographical exclusion and deprivation imposed by these kind of rulers.
I define Geographical Deprivation as Geographical Mafia. It does not matter where you live. This deprivation could take place in the center of a large city or a forsaken and faraway spot. In my view, wherever the deprivation is and whatever it is leading to, it is intentional and is absolutely enrooted in injustice and discrimination. In a place where poverty and deprivation exceed, it is not so strange and unreasonable that men are respected and valued by law more than women. Why? We know very well that this geographical mafia is not merely defined by geography but by a series of other factors which are very well known to all. Why is this so? Do you think that the real man and the real woman within us engender such enmity? Isn’t it but true that the unwise man and unwise woman are hand in glove under such circumstances? And what and who is the power that permits them to inflame even more violence?

In the much available and numerous categorizations that clearly reveal the journey of human beings through history, the most responsible factor for the irresponsibility and discrimination of both genders is the power that is invested in economics. Economy has managed to make the most out of these discriminations with the helping hands of traditions and religions, in particular.
What a sorry state of affairs to be a witness to a one dimensional law and how even more sad is the state of the gender who in such a system and such a state is wittingly or unwittingly at the service of inequality.
In a dictatorship, it is completely natural for a man to lose the woman within him and to engage with violence towards the women and children around him. It is here and now that we realize that this geographical mafia was not and is not planned without a reason. And how cleverly some words and terms enter our dictionaries! For example why do we, and wrongly so, refer to the laws established by such systems as patriarchal? ‘Patriarchal’ is an even more empowering title in a dictatorship. We do not have patriarchy. Patriarchy becomes truly meaningful and relevant when our laws are issued on the basis of civility and human liberty. A patriarch is someone who acknowledges the matriarch within him and does not invite the hidden gender within him to stoning. We do not even have matriarchy. What would happen if the matriarch closes her eyes on the man within her? Humans with their intertwined cells and tissues cannot arrive at the abstraction of one gender at the cost of the other.
They say that beside every great man there is an efficient woman. Interestingly, in this great slogan, the efficiency of the woman is not verified, whereas the greatness of the man is emphasized. Why women are not seen? If we look with optimistic eyes, this is not because women lack courage but it is due to the fact that their thoughts were not demonstrable in the past. It was formerly thought that women were complementary to the power of men. It has repeatedly been observed that ruling powers have refrained from the presence of female intellect and its manifestations and in line with their self glorification and magnification of their powers, they have humiliated the one who has claimed wisdom and have pushed her back to the walls of her chambers.
Today women know very well that they can display their thoughts and push away excuses one after another. Let us accept the obvious: Power demands servility and slavery and not awareness and equality...
There will be a day when every man and woman is after a new birth, a reformation. We have been invited to this world to dance to our own birth. In this dance, every living being is motion with its two inner and essential genders. We can forgo the issue of ‘after death’ because we are still uncertain what the secret of that domain is. But we cannot evade the mystery of our birth which takes shape in a unique synchronicity and is completed in nature by a woman. Human procreation is the most beautiful dance in the creation of the universe. The synchronicity of this clotted blood calls for the power and equality of both genders in this dance as crucial. Perhaps the most difficult share of birth and growth of humans is inevitably shouldered by women, but it is still not understandable for me that there was actually a time when women buried their own daughters alive with the help of men and that what factors did actually cause this great lapse of judgment? I do not wish to narrate the history before Christianity and Islam but I am aiming at a point which is: women should get closer to their womanhood as much as possible and this is equally true about men too. I am still baffled why in some countries women take part in the murder of their own daughters. This is a very serious issue. Factors that impose such conditions on women and push them in these directions do not even hint at gender awareness. In other words, the unawareness of the masculine gender is elevated over the unawareness of the female. And this unawareness is more conferred to the male by the power of law. We women do not want to demand our legal rights from men, but better yet we shall obtain our rights through awareness and responsibility towards our gender. So, this is our question: why is it that a woman’s love life, her marriage, her education, custody of her children, lactation , her clothing, her divorce, her choice of single or marital life , inheritance, ransom and even death must be legislated by law makers who are at the root cause of her very prohibition and underdevelopment? Why is it that laws pertaining to the welfare, security and liberty of women in many systems are still extremely discriminative? Why is it so that the destiny of woman in family life, society and the state is still vague and obscure...the questions flow and all of them do not come into the scope of our discussion. Therefore, I now call your attention to an important issue with the intention of alerting both genders.
During the Iran-Iraq war to which I was a witness of the bitter life that we led, numerous honor killings occurred among some families and though horrendously revolting, they went unnoticed in the chaos of the war. Women who were captivated by the enemy, when freed, were silently killed by the men in their families (this was true particularly of families who lived on the borders) because these men unwittingly could not tolerate the absence of honor from their clan. Who could take away the pain, the agony of this abomination from the families? In my view this is a complete breach of human rights in the sorry state of affairs caused by the free ignorance of men who butchered their own innocent sisters, amidst the war no less and after their horrifying captivation by the enemy. These men were never trialed. As a poet, I can only hope that male and female wisdom, are aligned with each other in full responsibility and make an effort to free the victimized, because what fortifies the pillars of a dictatorship is the unawareness of the dominant gender in the family and society. The enlightenment of these two inseparable genders must arrive at a union from within so that it may tone down the invasion of constant discrimination that instills violence in our children. In my view, the inner peace of both genders is one of the most fundamental necessities of human history.

Rira Abbasi
Poet and Peace Activist (Iran)

Translated from Persian by Maryam Ala Amjadi



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