Three weeks ago, in Nigeria, more than 200 school girls were taken from their school, kidnapped by a group of masked men, who have since threatened to sell the girls, including a 9 year old, as slaves and child brides. (By the way, I abhor the term, “child bride.” The correct term is “sex slave.”) This is not an uncommon event in Nigeria and in many other places around the world; every day,women, young and old, are emotionally abused, kidnapped, raped, sold, beaten, and killed, usually by men, often by those who claim to work for the glory of whatever god they worship.
I will not name the group responsible for this current atrocity, for to do so is to feed its power, to give these men a significance and identity not afforded to the girls they have taken, girls whose names most of us have never heard, girls who,until recently,were not as important as the male owner of a basketball team when he was called out for racist remarks he thought he was making in private, or whatever celebrities on the circuit are up to at the moment. Now, the focus has shifted somewhat. The Western world has decided to pay attention to the girls, offering moral and tactical support to help these children return to their families. There are reports that the kidnappers might be willing to trade the girls for prisoners or ransom. As an example of just how low we have sunk in devaluing human lives, a report in the local paper quotes someone who has “previously brokered face-to-face “peace” talks with this group" as saying this: “. . .it is possible to detect a conciliatory tone in this statement from S-he is not saying he is going to kill the girls (LeaderPost, May 9, 2014, emphasis mine).” Big of him.
How did we come to this? At what point and why did men learn to hate women so deeply? How did women, life-givers to all humans, become the targets for such rage?
Barbara Walker thinks she knows. I am speaking of that Barbara Walker, she of knitting fame, known to knitters young and old for her Knitting Treasuries. Barbara wrote the bibles of knitting; when she finished that work to her satisfaction, she went on to write many books on the history of goddess religions and matriarchal systems. In one of these books, The Crone: Woman of Age, Wisdom, and Power, Ms. Walker traces the current madness of men back to a time thousands of years ago, when men began the suppression of matriarchy, replacing it with a system of violence and greed, a system in which anyone who is not Us is The Other, someone or something to be destroyed. These characteristics, Walker claims, are traits of the patriarchal societies in which we now live.
Patriarchal systems (most notably, the Christian church) actively suppressed female wisdom, punishing those women who were sought out as the keepers of wisdom, healers in their community, responsible for familial lineage. Women were punished unto death for daring to seek education (sound familiar?); Walker cites a figure of over nine million people, virtually all of them women, killed in the witch hunt frenzy (The Crone, “The Crone Turns Witch,” pp. 125 to 146). The suppression of women has a long, long history. Current events are a continuation of tradition.
The Crone was published in 1985. There's a good chance you've never heard of this book, let alone read it, even if you know Barbara Walker and her gifts to the fibre world. Walker is an example of what she writes-we think of her as that lady who wrote those knitting books, not the strong, powerful force of intellect and champion of women’s rights she has always been. She’s a scholar-you may not agree with her thesis, but she has the documentation to support her claims. I consider myself to be a strong feminist, but there are sections in her book that made me go, “Whoa!” Mr. DD read it and was fascinated; it’s a text anyone who desires some understanding of the world’s current treatment of women should seek out and read.
The question remains: what can we do to help? Raising our voices against this violence is a start and, by “speaking out,” I don’t mean liking pages or signing on line petitions. Raising our voices means demanding change, face to face, with politicians, our neighbours, each other. It means marching and active protesting.
In the long term, we will need a massive shift in our view of current patriarchal systems and our perspectives and treatment of women in these systems, which operate in every part of the globe, including here. I’ll leave it to Barbara Walker to summarize the benefits of a shift away from the male back to the female:
If the self-seeking powerlust of mature men were made subject to the “intuitive” judgment of mature women, instead of the other way round, surely human life and society could be improved. The earth might become a safer, kinder, healthier place. People might care more for the welfare of future generations. Instead of trying to escape inevitable death in futile fantasies, they might enrich life by honest work on their legacy to their posterity.
Women, who have suffered so much at the hands of patriarchal mythmakers, need no longer pretend not to understand their motives. God can’t, but woman can call man to account for his gynocidal, genocidal behavior.She had better do it soon, for he is already counting down to doomsday. (The Crone, p. 178)