May 11, 2014
Three hundred of my daughters were kidnapped in the last two weeks, by terrorists. Terrorists need no excuse to do heinous things but the stated reason was that my daughters were in school and being educated, and it was God’s will for women to be uneducated.
I am not surprised by this; women have been downtrodden for two million years. Women were chattel in this country for most of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and much of the twentieth century. Black women and American Indian women had it worse for obvious reasons. George Rogers Clark hung Indian women by their fingertips from trees and flayed them alive as a message for their men. It worked. Anthropologists estimate that forty per cent of pioneer women and girls were raped, often by husbands and fathers.
The film director John Ford captured the grimness of the frontier, the gun-toting and drunken mentality and dark souls of its men, in “The Searchers.” See John Wayne’s face, as “Ethan.” Walk the Alton mall, the ubiquitous malls of the country and see those men, often alone, today.
The only women who have figured out the way the world works are black window spiders and lightning bugs and honeybees. They need men for mating purposes then eat them or throw them out.
I wonder, did our ancestors take their clues from the animal kingdom, forgetting that they too were animals? Every day of my life, I marvel at the colorful songbirds and their mating rituals, the males strutting and calling and preening. On the mammal scale, mating is violent. Did We watch that violence and emulate it? Or are we one of the mammal species, and don’t like to think about it? Yes, to both questions. Only our collective intellect, Jung’s “Oversoul,” would change things for women and girls. Change is slow, slower than evolution.
My daughter Malala Yousafzai, from Pakistan, the bravest woman, bravest human on the planet, was shot in the head while walking to school by the Taliban, in 2012. How did she respond? She wrote a bestselling book, “My Name is Malala.” John Stewart was overcome by emotion when he interviewed her, the sheer courage and sereneness of her. Now she travels the world as an ambassador for girls’ education, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, lives under a death threat and smiles.
Misogyny is as ingrained in men and boys as is racism. Even God hates women—there is no other conclusion if you read that book and take it literally—the Bible is replete with hatred and dominance over women. I decided as a teenager: misogynist men wrote the book; God had nothing to do with it.
My Pastor Henderson was outraged when I told him that thought. He had been grooming me for the Methodist ministry; I was giving sermons at Main Street Methodist Church, on Sunday nights. He banished me for asking questions. I walked away from organized religion. But it isn’t organized religion that’s the culprit; it’s the patriarchal men who run it.
The word of God is spoken by trees, by flowers, by the seasons, by the stars.
The words of truth are spoken by my daughters Harriet Tubman and Mother Jones and Lorraine Hansbury and Sylvia Plath.
By my daughter Malala.