Sexual Repression of Women in Patriarchial Societies, or the Natural Order of Relative Things
The continuation of human life on this planet is dependent upon breeding. That is sex between male and female. Of this can be no argument. The urge and need to breed is as natural a human desire as eating, sleeping, or taking our next breath. Furthermore, it is as absolute as the rising of the sun that the human female makes life. So the argument here is whether it is a willing act, a forced act that is the basis for the argument of ‘sexual repression’. In forced I mean physically forced or culturally forced and or controlled. To understand this, we must grasp and accept the essentiality of the need to breed. Our chemistry and huge portions of our anatomy are dedicated to this purpose. Since the need to breed is a fact of human life, we’re left with little more to discuss than the selection or choice of breeding partners. The sexual repression of females within a society is relative to that society’s existence in time and location. For what may seem to you a repressive act today, in your twentieth century, Western suburban home was and in many cases and places, still is nothing more than the natural order of things.
Of age females are going to breed. They will find a mate. Whether the act produces an offspring or not is subject to her physiology and her partner’s physiology and whether or not she chooses a male at all. Her chemistry compels her to this. Who the partner is and how the selection of that partner came about within a male dominated society is the basis of the argument of sexual repression, if you chose to call it that. In Western societies females choose their sexual partner, male or female. Whether for our Western idea of love, physical satisfaction, financial security, and so on, females chose. In other places of the world, she may have no choice at all. This too may be true of the male. In past times this was true almost universally. Marriages were and in many places still are arranged. The selling off of females to men occurs daily today. In like manner, females sell themselves off for survival, financial gain, or just plain pleasure. Regardless of reason, breeding, sex, the act of procreation and sexual stimulation is going to occur in the female as in the male.
Males are going to breed and in any case perform the act of breeding just as females do. Homosexual men just go through these motions with men. Those who chose to abstain from sex all together are making conscious sacrificial decisions to do so for whatever reason which is on consequence to this argument. They’re both minute groups and or anomalies. Regardless of century geography and cultural moray of their place or time, males seek out females to breed, the continuation of his bloodline, the driving uncontrollable urge behind his quest. The human male will and does slaughter, steel, rape, and purchase something to breed with if need be. Kingdoms fall and rise over this fact. Powerful men can change entire cultures over the right to breed with whom he wants. To believe the Greek poet Homer, fifty thousand men and ten years of devastating war came to Troy, delivered by the hands of an Imperial army over the theft of a female. And in the story, whether Helen chose to abandon her marriage or not is of no importance. That the armies of an empire were mobilized to bring her back, demonstrates the length that male dominated cultures will go for sex and the control of the female and ultimately, his bloodline. Henry VIII defied God’s emissary on earth, indeed God himself, over his right to breed with who he selected and threw England into a century’s long fight over bloodline and heirs. That tops Homer’s story by miles.
Understanding our evolution is the first step of understanding why we’re even having this discussion. As family units, small and extended, of Homo sapiens began to migrate out of Africa nearly 800,000 years ago breeding pairs were obviously first contained within those groups. We can examine the well documented bands of nomadic groups of the plains Indians of North America, the Laps, the Kuchi of Afghanistan, and the handful of others who survive to today, to glimpse our common and distant past. The act of marrying and breeding between cousins within these groups was a matter of survival of the bloodline and that fact meant the survival of the culture and its way of life. The act of selecting partners groups and their breeding to produce offspring insured the continuation of the tribe and the extended family. The roles of male and female within these groups was / is an absolute. Many male children in these cultures, was / is desirable, while too many female children could mean the literal extermination of the group. Family bonds and the benefits of mutually supporting male bloodlines then become essential. Marrying off a female child to a cousin family was then absolutely essential. The only other alternative would be to bring in a female from another family bloodline by purchasing her, bartering, or force. In twentieth century Western minds this may seem repressive, but to a clan who does not live within the context of the twentieth century, this is essential to survival. It is to say, their natural roles.
As we moved from nomadic clans and tribes to village dwellers and then city dwellers during the dawn of our civilizations, our choices for breeding partners widened. This widening gave rise to new rules about mate selections and breeding. Civilizations have a few essentials that allow them to be civilizations; administration, security, and food surplus are among these essentials. It is only through collaborative efforts of many larger family, clan and tribal groups that civilizations continue. Administration, the creating of rules and laws, whether to govern the spiritual or physical is an essential element of control of civilizations. Governing how breeding and family units are formed within these groups is an offshoot of administration. Still today we in the West have both the civil and the religious ceremonies of marriage as a result of this. But the underlying thread to each of these is the control of sex and in male dominated cultures that means the sexual control of females, what some may see as sexual repression.
In the developed world, the world that has experienced the revolutions of mind and industry, the female’s rights in selection have taken vast leaps forward since the rise of the notions of romantic love and for sure since the industrial revolution. In areas of the world less affected by these leaps in ‘progress’ females continue to play traditional roles within cultures and societies which have not yet experienced these liberations of evolution. We as moderns struggle with knowing that the under-developed exist, and seek to bring them on par with ourselves. This is where the problems begin. You can no more bring an undeveloped culture forward than you yourself can step back to a more undeveloped time. There is not one yardstick by which to measure progress. We count progress as the beginning of civilization; i.e. cities, the invention of the wheel, and domestication of animals. The whole world is not there yet, but that civilized world has bumped into it without stop since the invention of the first machine. Indeed, today we recoil in horror at cultures which traffic in humans for sex, or labor, which behead adulterers, and whip the religious faithless. But you only know of these cultures because of our communications and industry, you and our cultures were them once as well. So, as I said, there is not one yardstick. We Westerners chuckle or sneer at arranged marriages, all the while knowing we came from a similar tradition not too many years before. But regardless of century or culture, males and females have to deal with the two issues of biological need and cultural acceptability. Females of our culture and time, being the physically weaker of the two and the actual creators of offspring, may label that repressive, but it is the reality of their bodies and their natural physical role.
It boils down to control of the continuation of a way of life. By controlling breeding and sex, males of a family, clan, tribe, country, control the continuance of a way of life. While there may be subtle differences even within the larger of these. Social values, rules, morays, within a specific culture, determine the rules for the sexual interaction between men and women. Family values, religious values, and all other societal influences provide the left and right limits of what is acceptable. Controlling the breeding and sexual relations between females within the group is not only then essential to the continuation of life on the micro level, but a way of life on the macro level. Defending that way of life, whether family, clan, tribe or nation, is the male’s role. He is going to play that role despite himself. The female is going to bring forth life, unless she does something to interrupt that natural cycle, once she breeds. It is that breeding, that bringing forth the next generation within a society that is being controlled. Without this control in some manner, your society, as you know it, ceases to exist, and this is the underpinning of this argument. Like it or not.