Status of Women in the West (21)
Woman has been a major topic of discussion in almost every community and era. However, the western world has used the deceptive mottos like, "freedom of women", "defence of women's rights" and so on to appear as the pioneer of justice-seeking in the world. However, a brief look at the history of western countries reveals the appalling fact that women have been the most oppressed stratum in society.
A review of different views of western philosophers confirms this fact.
Aristotle was the first philosopher who raised the issue of woman. He believed that women are "by nature" of the base sex and second-class. Thus, they should be under the dominance of men who are the first sex and superior. According to Aristotle, nature creates everything for a purpose and goal; and in this matter, the duty of women is reproduction and childbirth. He considers reproduction as an excessive love in women and describes it as "the most natural performance of mature creatures." He always considered male sex superior to the female one.
Woman, in view of Aristotle, is characterized as mean, imperfect, and incompetent. In other words, man functions as a subject and superior while woman has a passive function. Moreover, it is man who gives spirit and life and causes physical revival belonging to woman. Woman, as the physique, gets life by man who is the spirit and superior to everything. Aristotle sums up his discussions and concludes, "A woman, regarding the function of reproduction and childbirth, is equal to a sterile man; because woman in any way is deformed. A man has special capabilities due to being man and a woman, instead, is deprived of these capabilities due to being woman."
Aristotle's views affected the philosophers of posterity, too. Jean Jacques Rousseau was one of these philosophers in the 18th century. This French philosopher didn't believe that women could gain higher grades through education. Rousseau maintained that the intellect and thinking faculty of women is not something to be developed via teaching and training as it is in their nature. Thus, he said social situation of women has naturally placed them inferior and this is the social life ordained for them. Rousseau went further on to say that, "Woman has been created for man and she has even accepted that she is not equal to man."
In his book, "Emil", he writes, "Women's intellect is an experimental intellect and this intellect doesn't enable them to understand and discover affairs. Instead, it guides them towards the issues that they conclude from the affairs Women are not able to grasp general principles and rules as men grasp them; but they can find out details better."
Rousseau writes explicitly in his book, "Pure research and examination of axioms and general rules of science, surely, won't be contained within the intellectual domain of women. Women's duty is to accept and apply the general rules discovered by men."
It can be said that Rousseau believed in woman's mental and physical inferiority before man and her acting in accordance with man's demands.
Now let us listen to the statements of our specialist, Ms. Akhundan, "A review of the opinions of famous western philosophers proves that, basically, woman has a lower and inferior status before man. The only reason for this discrimination is womanhood and her gender and this very view has caused oppression and injustice against women in communities. This is while, according to the Islamic view which was raised 1400 years ago, woman and man play an effective role in the perfection of one another. Woman and man, in being human, are the same and both have the same value and importance in the divine court. And they enjoy the equal human, individual and social rights."
The status of women in the views of western philosophers of the 17th and 18th centuries was more or less against women.
German philosopher, Emmanuel Kant's works are also impacted by this mentality. Although Kant stresses that "his proposed moral principles include not only men and humankind but logical creatures", he emphasizes that women can only be considered as "passive citizens". His reprehensible and humiliating remarks go to the extent that he says women are known via carnal desires while men are known by intellect.
From Socrates to Heidegger, western philosophers maintained a pessimistic and cynical view on women; and there is no mention of women as human beings who have any right or basically considered as persons and citizens. The west has always preached of individual rights and values ruling the individual ethics; while it is overtly and covertly speaking of men and women are forced to accept their ominous fate and have just been cast into oblivion.
Then in the waning years of the 19th century, with the need of the capitalist world to women's cheap labor force, philosophers and the ruling system claimed to advocate women's rights. Will Durant writes, "Freedom of women is one of the repercussions of Industrial Revolution. It first caused women to become industrialized. Women were cheaper workers and their employers preferred them to rebellious and expensive men."