Preview Conversations With EVE
Why are people treated so unfairly, especially EVE? Why do “nice guys finish last?” Why do sensible, practical ideas lose out to “conventional” thinking? I also wondered if it had to be this way, and had it always been this way? Or not. Then when I began to look at the big picture—both around the globe and through time—it started to make sense. But why are those things true? Well, for the same reasons that almost all the world’s:
- Political leaders are men
- Financial leaders are men
- Religious leaders are men.
Now, some will tell you that’s the case because it’s the way things are “supposed” to be, or that men are more naturally suited to leadership and power, or that EVE just aren’t meant for such roles. But none of those reasons is true at all. In fact, they’re totally wrong. But too many people don’t know that—so we’re going to talk about the real reasons behind those “WHY’s.”
Reformers have been trying to fix humanity’s troubles for a long time. But progress has been terribly slow because until recently they were only working on the symptoms, not the real problem. So what is the “real problem” that we need to recognize? Would you believe me if I said there’s ONE central cause behind virtually all of the social and cultural troubles that plague our global community? What if I said that if you could snap your fingers and change just one thing, most of our problems would become manageable? Well, it’s true.
The one “real problem” that leads to most of our personal and social turmoil is a deep-seated belief that men are somehow superior to EVE and have a natural right to dominate and control us. In our conversations we’ll call this belief the “Myth” to make it easier to talk about. But that will always be short for the “Myth of male superiority” which claims that men are more important than EVE, more capable, and smarter. And should rightfully be in charge of everything—including EVE!
The Mythpromoted a male dominated culture thousands of years ago, but it’s still very much alive. The Myth is still told and retold, enforced and reinforced in a billion ways across the globe every day through customs, marital laws, religion, etc. It has to be because, like any illusion or hoax, it must be continually propped up or it will fall apart. And we’renot having these conversations because the global demeaning and abuse of EVE is ancient history. If it was, we’d be talking about history.
No, these are conversations with EVE today because it’s still happening today. And it will always keep happening until extraordinary numbers of ordinary people are vigorously promoting widespread improvements. As we talk about the Myth, remember that it limits and harms men as well as EVE. And there are many men who want to live in a saner, kinder world, but we’re all stuck in the same crazy system.
And that’s why I want to have these conversations. So they can know about a past where both EVE and men enjoyed respect and freedom, and how the Myth put an end to that equality by creating the dysfunctional system we still struggle with. But most importantly, so we can talk about how a “cultural (r)evolution” can reclaim that equality and create societies built on justice, common sense, and pleasure. Don’t worry, though. Ours won’t be a violent revolution powered by weapons and armies. It will be a velvet revolution powered by EVE’s values and viewpoints. It will be a cultural (r)evolution inspired by EVE’s awareness of our social heritage and our social power; new ways to look at our past and new ways to take charge of our future.
You may be thinking, “But I’m not a politician or a business leader or a celebrity. I’m just a mom, a secretary, a farm laborer, a waitress, etc. How could I have any effect on anything?” And I know that many EVE might find it difficult to take control of their lives and improve their situations. But for most of us, it’s more a matter of understanding what’s actually wrong with society and believing in our ability to make it right. And our conversations will take care of both of those items. They’ll give EVE a brand new way of looking at old problems, and inspire them with easy ways to change their lives and change the world at the same time. Because ordinary people hold extraordinary power!
Culture is like an instruction manual that tells us how to live—from what we’re supposed to eat to how we’re supposed to dress. But the most fundamental thing that culture tells us is how we’re supposed to relate to those around us and how we’re supposed to treat them. These are our social values and they are the crux of it all, because they tell us who and what is considered important. And then these basic values play out in the customs, rules, and traditions of a group. So a culture can only be as kind or fair or wise as its basic values. Let me describe one to show you what I mean.
How were the earliest societies organized?
Before the 1990s, most theories just assumed that men were running the show even in ancient times. Researchers told us that “man the hunter” was the center of the earliest social groups and was also responsible for all human advancements from language to farming. But they were wrong.
These groups were probably organized around EVE and their children for the majority of our history because there was little or no awareness that sex made babies and no understanding of “fatherhood.” Since the mother was the only obvious parent, family relationships and responsibilities would have been based on her family connections, just as some cultures do right into modern times.
In addition to their ability to give birth to, feed, and care for the next generation, EVE had a number of other skills that were critical to survival. They probably gathered most of the food, which required detailed knowledge of all types of roots, plants, and trees for food and medicine, as well as trapping small game. And scholars consider EVE to be the inventors of weaving and basket making, which allowed them to create valuable and helpful items for all sorts of uses from carrying babies to storing foods. It was also EVE, as gatherers and processors, who turned raw foods into meals, and plants and animals into clothes and containers. So it’s easy to see why they were not only essential to survival and a pleasant life, but honored and respected for both their power to give birth and their many practical skills.
People linked some goddesses to the fertility of the earth and credited others with the creation of all life. In fact, myths of a goddess as the supreme creator of all life were the center of spirituality in many places such as the Middle East, Africa, Australia, and China.
These myths would have made perfect sense to those who created them because they saw EVE as the “magical” source of new life. This sense of awe came from the amazing power that they had to bleed each month without becoming ill, to grow a new life inside their bodies, bring forth that new life, and then feed it from their own breasts. The mother truly had power over life and death, so it’s not surprising that honoring a mother goddess was central to spiritual principles. In studying the myths of the world, the renowned authority Joseph Campbell found that in the earliest stages of human society the magical force of creating new life gave EVE extraordinary power. And he has stated that breaking and controlling this power has been a goal for men ever since.
The earliest theories about ancient social life proposed that men held most or all social power as they do in many modern cultures. But newer analysis of the evidence tells us something quite different. As we talked about a minute ago, EVE was central to the life of these early groups as mother, provider, healer, weaver, shaman, etc. Experts have found no evidence that they were submissive to men or treated as inferiors, and a great deal of evidence that they enjoyed more social equality with men than most EVE have seen in thousands of years.
The social roles of EVE and men developed to complement and balance each other so a group could survive and thrive, but they were viewed differently. EVE’s responsibilities as mother and provider were seen as natural and obviously useful, but men didn’t seem to have natural, straight forward roles. So they had to use culture to define their place in the group. Over time men built on their responsibilities and bonds as defenders when they became big game hunters. And having these clear cut roles as defenders and hunters was critical, because men have a problem.
The EVE we’ve been talking about had few comforts and fewer luxuries in these ancient times. But from a social point of view, they probably lived with more self-respect, pleasure, and pride than many of the billions that have come after them. That’s because the Myth took those things away, so next let’s talk about how that happened.
Imagine there are two villages.
In Village One their social values say EVE and men are equally important; residents should treat each other with mutual respect and consideration; cooperation and sharing make life better for everyone; and the general welfare of the group and its children are the highest priorities.
In Village Two their social values say men are naturally superior to EVE; men rightfully have authority and control over EVE; everybody will labor for the benefit of the chief and his family; and the production of weapons for aggression and defense is the highest priority.
That may be putting things quite simply. But it does make it easier to picture how society generally operated before and after the Myth.
How did the Myth change culture?
No one knows which social shifts came first or whether there were different types happening in separate places. But for the societies that were changed by the Myth, the outcome was the same—greater status and control for some men, less status and control for most EVE. There are few facts that we know for certain about why these changes happened. And there are those who say that such changes never happened. But when we look at society before and after the agricultural revolution in the Middle East, it’s clear that major transformations did take place.
But that was changing and there are signs of a devaluing of EVE’s authority and a shift in their status from “mothers and sisters” to “wives and daughters”—from defining them in relation to their families to defining them in relation to men. But simply knowing about men’s part in reproduction wouldn’t have been enough to drastically alter marriage and kinship systems. There had to be more going on. And there was. The roles of both sexes were changing, and in societies where the Myth was at work these changes plus a new conviction that men were the “magical” source of new life added up to a loss of power and status for EVE.
The social value of male ownership became more important than life itself. And it definitely became more important than EVE’s freedoms or equality. Men used their desire to be certain about fatherhood as one excuse for a crucial shift in social and sexual powers. EVE’s bodies were no longer the symbols of spiritual and sexual power they had always been. The Myth redefined their sexuality as a resource under the control of men. And this new definition led to “illegitimate” children, prostitution, and monstrous punishments for any sexual independence.
Early beliefs held that EVE were the source of all life and led to spiritual principles centered on goddesses. But the new belief that men were the true power behind procreation led to the idea that the most powerful spirits must be gods not goddesses. And as men became more socially powerful, they promoted that idea. They slowly but surely reduced the power of the goddesses and elevated gods in their place.
But the growing belief that the one god or the chief god was male eventually led to a radical loss of prestige and authority for both goddesses and their priestesses. This can be seen from texts about 4,000 years old that refer to priestesses as concubines of the male gods and prostitutes of the temples. Myth changes steadily demoted EVE in sacred service and eventually labeled them unfit to serve the gods at all in many religious systems.
Besides turning them into a resource, warfare had another devastating effect on EVE. Rape became a weapon of war that was used to control captives and dishonor the men who couldn’t protect them. It wasn’t enough for men to kill each other. They also used EVE as pawns to display their domination and humiliate their enemies. This has been the way of men and war ever since, and EVE are still being used that way today in the twenty-first century.
Customs, rules, and then laws took away most possibilities of social independence for EVE, to the point that their lifelong dependence on fathers and husbands came to be thought of as the natural order of things. And men made sure of this when they excluded EVE from formal education in Myth societies. Some of the earliest actual records suggest that those not attached to a man—orphans, unwed mothers or widows—lived in poverty or were sold as slaves. Other laws gave men so much control over EVE that their bodies and sexuality were considered to be at the disposal of male relatives or husbands. And this new status as “property” is clearly shown in ancient records that gave men the right to legally buy, sell, torture, disown, and kill them.
These reversals of social values and organization happened thousands of years ago. But they haven’t been widely challenged or successfully corrected in all that time. How can that be? Good question. Next let’s talk about how men have been able to maintain their grip on power for so long, and what that still means for EVE’s lives in the twenty-first century.
The Myth still controls our world and I call it the Manplan.
This isn’t going to be a cheerful conversation. It might even upset you or make you angry because we’re going to talk about how badly EVE are still mistreated in modern times. After the Myth, treatment of EVE in those societies was often harsh, insulting, and even cruel. And, depending on who you are and where you live today, it still is. You may be thinking, “Oh, but things have changed. Surely they aren’t that bad anymore.” And that’s true, but only in some ways in some places.
1. Being born EVE in the Manplan
But those are the girls that made it to their birth. Many cultures are still arranged in ways that make parents hope for boys, and modern science has added a terrible new twist to the lesser importance placed on girls. The Myth preference for boys has been combined with the modern ability to know the sex of a fetus in the womb with frightening consequences. Mara Hvistendahl wrote that population estimates showed that there are over 160,000,000 (that’s 160 million) less EVE in Asia than there ought to be. These estimates indicate that sex selection abortions have claimed that many girl fetuses before their birth. Many opinions and policies that prize boys compel EVE to abort girls, but sometimes actual physical force is used to coerce them.
2. Becoming EVE in the Manplan
The stunting of young girls’ self-image can keep them from living up to their potential. But there is another, even more damaging experience shared by a horrifying number of girls of all ages. Little girls should have imaginary places to fly away to, but they should never need them to escape their abusers.
Some of those earliest known laws that we talked about declared EVE and their children to be the “property” of men. Men could legally kill them, sell them, use them to settle debts, and treat them as they saw fit, including abusing them physically. The Myth practice of ownership and control of children by men is one reason why we still have rampant child abuse.
3. But why can’t we……?
Religion became a key strategy for demeaning EVE, and men supported their illusion of superiority by claiming that even gods think EVE are immoral and inferior. When any new religious philosophy preached that everyone was equal in the sight of god, EVE would flock to the new sect hoping for a fair chance at life. And they would usually be influential in spreading the new doctrines. But, once a religion became established, the male leaders of the religion would resent their newfound freedom and accomplishments. So the original philosophy of equality would be altered to put EVE back in “their place” and men back in control. In later generations, the sacred texts of the religion would be edited or rewritten to wipe out any reference to EVE’s importance to its founding.
4. My body, (NOT!) my own
And in many Muslim nations, Islamic Shari’a or Holy Law still requires four male, adult Muslim witnesses to establish “rape.” If there were no witnesses, the sex is deemed consensual, the victim is charged with adultery, and then punished with stoning or whipping. Isobel Coleman wrote of an almost unbelievable injustice committed in Somalia, Africa, in 2008 because of this belief. In front of a crowd of a thousand, a thirteen-year-old girl was stoned to death for adultery after her family told local authorities that she had been raped.
5. Marriage – it should be a bond, not bondage
Even in countries that seem to be “officially” working to stop abuse, male solidarity can trump EVE’s legal rights. The US justice system did begin to treat abuse as a crime in the 1970’s. But as recently as 2007, Carol Jessup, a “captive” wife in a Mormon cult where men have many wives and abuse can be rampant, had to file a lawsuit to protect herself. She stated that local police took escaped wives back to their abusers rather than giving them shelter, and ambulance drivers would not take abuse victims to the hospital without the abuser’s permission.
6. Motherhood – sentenced to a life of hard “labor”
Men appointed themselves as watchdogs over their sisters, wives, and daughters and demanded strict sexual behavior of them, but not of themselves. So it was imperative to blame EVE as the ones who tempted and seduced innocent men to disguise the real danger—the sexual competition between men that constantly threatens their loyalty to each other. Some cultures took this blaming of EVE to the extreme and based men’s “honor” on the chastity of their wives and daughters. This honor became so essential to a man’s social standing that rape of “his” EVE by another man was the ultimate insult. And some “blame the victim” customs were so twisted that the death of the rape victim was required to keep the peace between men and restore the “owner’s” honor. Talk about delusions!
7. Working for “the Man”-plan
Over the millennia, EVE have been kept from earning or controlling money because money is power. They have labored long and hard but rarely if ever been rewarded with the income or status they deserved. They were restricted from employment outside the household, labored as an unpaid family member, or worked at a job where their earnings were controlled by their father or husband. Only in modern times and only in some regions are they allowed to hold jobs of their own choosing and to control their wages. But wherever EVE labor, the Manplan workplace still makes it difficult to earn a decent living and often mistreats them while they try.
The outrageous and shameful ways that EVE are treated begs the question, “Are men out of their minds?” Well, not all of them, but a large number do seem to have a collective form of cultural mental illness with delusions of grandeur as the main symptom. But this condition can be cured because the Manplan can be changed, it can evolve. Culture was altered in ways that demeaned and disadvantaged EVE back then, so it can be altered in ways that put respect, freedom, and opportunity back into our lives now.
(R)evolution – it’s not an organization, it’s an attitude! And you don’t join by paying dues. You join by knowing about the Myth and the Manplan, believing that EVE have the right to be treated as equal and respected members of every society, and recognizing that ordinary people hold the power to create a new kind of culture that does just that.
EVE possess all the will power, intelligence, energy, and passion that it will take to move beyond the Manplan. We’ve always been able to do it. We just never realized it in large enough numbers to work together globally. But now we do, so EVE need to say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH and confidently use our power to end it. Because the Manplan isn’t something magical or mystical, it’s not ordained from on high or engraved in stone. It’s just a distorted way of looking at life and relating to each other that gave men social power over us. It’s an historical (hysterical?) period like pharaohs in Egypt, not any kind of permanent reality. And it’s way past time for that period to be over. But it will never be over until EVE are determined to leave it behind.
Our routine choices may seem like small, powerless actions but we make trillions and trillions of choices around the planet every day. And when we start making those choices based on better values, our choices can influence social values. When EVE make choices based on self-respect, the foundation of the Manplan is weakened. When they insist on fair treatment, it crumbles a little bit more. And when millions of EVE choose to live their values and stand up for their rights on a daily basis, they begin to create a better way of doing things.
Strategies for creating a new culture – living our values
There are as many ways to “choose” our new culture as there are EVE because our situations are different. There are also many levels at which we can use our power of choice, from the personal to the national and everywhere in between. And the effects of those choices will range from immediate (where you shop) to long term (who you vote for). But, ideally, actively applying our feminine values will shape our daily choices and revitalize our lives, because living the change makes the change happen.
TALK TO EACH OTHER—have your own “conversations with EVE”
Deep in their hearts, I think men have always doubted their superiority. So keeping us insecure and breaking connections and loyalties among us were one of the best strategies to contain us. But we can choose to ignore those divisive attitudes and be (r)evolutionary just by communicating with each other in all sorts of ways. EVE can ignore the boxes and borders that men create and move freely beyond them to recognize how much we have in common. We can have an especially powerful impact by communicating across the racial, religious, and ethnic fences that the Manplan puts between us—Muslim to Jew, white to black, Christian to Muslim, rich to poor, European to African, etc., etc., etc.
EVE will need to support and elect representatives who don’t just pacify us with words, but demonstrate a commitment to challenging Manplan policies. So take a fresh look at the social policies and programs of whichever political party you favor. See if they expand equality, fairness, and opportunity in your society, or not. Then when it comes time to cast your vote, make it an informed one because voting for candidates who enthusiastically support such changes will be our most powerful leverage.
GET THE MOST FOR OUR MONEY
v Purchasing power
Whenever possible spend your money at shops and companies owned by EVE. When you do, you’re not only keeping more resources within supportive networks, you’re often keeping those resources within your local community as well. The same is true when you seek professional services. If you’re lucky enough to have them available, choose EVE doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc. Besides the obvious benefit of supporting EVE professionals, you might find them easier to talk to and better able to relate to your needs.
v Managing our money
Now, I’m not suggesting that we do anything as drastic as switching to potato sacks and crew cuts or anything. And I’m definitely not suggesting that we all start looking like men. But there has to be a middle ground, a more sensible way to think about how “beautiful” we have to make ourselves, and about how much we have to pay for and suffer for that beauty (think $500 shoes and lipo-suction).
SPEAK OUR MINDS AND STAND OUR GROUND
v The truth shall set you free
EVE have been told for countless centuries that they are less capable and less intelligent than men. Most of us know such statements are utterly absurd, but sometimes we don’t challenge them passionately enough. In many societies, when men insult or verbally abuse EVE there is still, too often, mute acceptance. I know that speaking up to defend yourself or others can sometimes have serious consequences like losing your job or getting beaten up. But many EVE don’t speak up simply for fear of the criticism and disapproval that are often heaped upon those who do. The dreaded label of “uppity bitch” is an intimidating Manplan control strategy, and countless individuals find it safer and easier to keep their mouth shut. But we should do just the opposite.
v Reclaim your faith
Any time someone claims that EVE’s place in life is inferior because that is the will of a supreme being, you can be sure you’re being manipulated. Ask yourself. Does it make any sense that a supreme being would make half of the human population less capable or intelligent or moral? No. That’s just a Myth belief that too many EVE have suffered under for too long because men wanted to be the winners at religion.
LOVE OUR PARTNERS
v “Choosing” them
Just giving ourselves the right to choose rather than waiting to be chosen is (r)evolutionary in itself. Because until recent centuries, many EVE weren’t allowed a choice and in some places still aren’t. After the Myth, men held all the cards in marital decisions. They were usually the ones who decided which “lucky” bride would have the “honor” of serving them and bearing their children. So we need to thoroughly overhaul how the choosing gets done.
v Living with them
Probably the most dynamic culture-changing thing that EVE can do is to claim equality in their own homes. “Our homes?” you might ask, “How can what happens in our homes change anything?” Because
TEACH OUR CHILDREN
v New role models for girls and boys
The truth is powerful, and once it’s on the loose change doesn’t take very long sometimes. So simply living with confidence and pleasure can not only enrich your life immediately, it can also change the future for many girls. Because, when little girls want to grow up to be as smart, strong, and self-assured as their mothers, they’ll be more likely to make choices that help them meet that goal. And when that becomes the goal of all little girls, another part of our new culture is in place.
You may be doing some of those things already, but everything you do can be (r)evolutionary when done with a new attitude and a new vision.
But we can do so much better than that. We can create a global culture that answers the yearning of the tens of thousands that hold candlelight vigils against cruel intolerance and senseless waste. We can build societies that inspire and honor the compassion and common sense that are the best parts of our human nature. And we can start doing it right now!
And remember, we’re not talking about creating new values. We’re talking about restoring fairness, intelligence, and pleasure to our lives and our societies by recognizing how essential “feminine” values are to a healthy culture. We’ll make those values visible and respected again by enthusiastically living them every day. And we’ll build a better culture based on the reality that EVE and men are equally valuable, equally intelligent, and equally capable.
Creating a vision of a better world
But how does such a marvelous culture operate? Do we have to make up a totally different social arrangement? I think the short answer to that question is no, we don’t. Remember, it’s not the fact that we have rules that makes social pressure a destructive thing; it’s the rules we follow. Well the same is true for customs and institutions. Having them is unavoidable, so having better values that shape and direct them is what truly matters.
We’ll use our awareness that the personal is political and the political is personal to change the fundamental conversations. We’ll know that the mutual respect and cooperation that are essential for healthy personal relationships are just as essential for healthy political relationships. We’ll use the same values that require non-violence between partners to require non-aggression between nations. And the same practical thinking that says family planning and resource conservation have obvious benefits will say that warfare is a useless waste with no real benefit and should be ended.
So, one critical value of our new culture must be equal education for EVE, young and old. All types of learning from basic and vocational education to advanced training in medicine, law, business, and the sciences must be open to them. That way, instead of losing all that potential and wasting time and energy to hold EVE back we could become stronger and more secure through their efforts and their wisdom.
But on the way to a culture where all EVE are fully educated, one of the critical building blocks will be decent, productive jobs for them now. In the short term, EVE must be given employment opportunities with dignity, security, and a living wage that will help them lift themselves and their children out of poverty. And that brings us to another value that must be absolutely central—parenthood by choice not chance or intimidation. Because becoming pregnant too young or too often is still the most powerful reality that shapes and limits EVE’s lives.
At the end of this initiation into EVE’s possibilities and responsibilities, each girl, with her mother or mentor by her side, could choose to receive a long-term contraceptive. A girl would not be required to do so at all, and she wouldn’t physically receive the method until she saw her health care provider. But if she did make this choice, it would be seen as reasonable and responsible, and she would be respected for it rather than belittled and condemned.
Our world might be a wonderful place to live if we encouraged both girls and boys to reach their potential and enjoy their lives by working together for pleasure and accomplishment. And yet, our new culture will still be missing a crucial element as long as domination and violence are acceptable ways of relating to each other.
And we saw how EVE can have an enormous influence on this right away by teaching children non-violence and expecting and admiring it in our dates and mates. But violence is widespread and will need to be challenged on all levels to change the mindset behind it. The good news is that this trend has already started.
EVE are also directly advocating to stop violence at the international level. Their work to oppose and end warfare has been a central issue of campaigns at the UN conferences for decades. And in 2000, the UN passed a resolution to emphasize EVE’s roles as peacekeepers and participants in the peace process.
So now is the time to build on this progress and create a culture based on mutual respect and practical ideas. Now is the time to vigorously use our awareness of the Myth and the Manplan, our new way of thinking and choosing, and our activism.