The Greatest Revolution

Posted on April 20, 2015


As I was coming home from the golf course a few weeks ago I passed the playgrounds of a school. I looked over and a bunch of girls, pony tails flying, running at full tilt bogey, were playing a game of soccer, zooming here and there, obviously enjoying themselves.

Published as Men and Women Were Not Meant to Be the Same in my OpEd column, The Port Rail in The Tuscaloosa News, Sunday April 19, 2015

Less than a century ago, their great grandmothers and great great grandmothers reaching far back into the mists of history did no such thing.

They dressed decorously, showing perhaps a sliver of an ankle or a wrist if they were bold, a good bit of cleavage in some earlier, and bolder, cultures, like those lascivious French in the court of King Louise XIV, but bound (literally in some civilizations like the Chinese) and fettered by tradition to home and hearth.

They were, and there is no way to describe it other than honestly, not the equal of men, although through wiles and ways they could, and did, sometimes rise out of their circumstances. But not very often.

Today they are leaders in almost every forum of humankind’s endeavors, breaking the “glass ceiling” in the boardrooms of the world, running countries politically, matching men competitively in virtually everything, with a few exceptions, and I think this change is more revolutionary than anything in history with the exception of when Jesus Christ erupted on the scene in tiny Judea tucked into a corner of the mighty Roman Empire.

If you want to see what life was like for women 500, or 1000, or 3000 years ago, take a look at women under radical Islam today.

They continue to be basically subservient to men both in tradition and in law, religious and secular. The public as well as private evidence of this dominance cannot be hidden or explained away by modern Islamicists. The wearing of the veil and female genital mutilation are but two examples of women still struggling to find true equality within a religious structure that vacillates on the equality of women.

The Qu’ran says men and women are equal before God, but the Hadith, or the sayings of Muhammed, argue otherwise. And among the great range of what women can say, do, or have in Islamic societies, the most conservative, radical expressions of Islam have crushed women under their oppressive laws and traditions.

In the West, on the other hand, equality has long been an ideal that came to fruition in the twentieth century, at the same time the atomic bomb was invented and the computer revolutionized society. But bombs and computers pale in comparison to the revolution that changed the nature of relations between men and women.

Long subordinated by tradition and culture, the founding principles woven into the American Revolution and the Constitution raised everyone up to equality, at least in theory, in the early stages of the Republic.

By the middle of the twentieth century, however, equality was a ringing call to arms in the Civil Rights movement, and it percolated through other segments of society, including the role of women.

The pill liberated them from the tyranny of the womb and while the women’s rights movement had been long in the making, from the suffragettes of the turn of last century through Rosie the Riveter of the Second World War, equality for women, in truth and action, rather than just in theory, took off in the last third of the twentieth century.

Why is this “revolution” more important than black Civil Rights, the nuclear bomb, computers, the magic of healing modern drugs, space travel, and dozens of other parts of our modern life?

I see my daughters, their daughters, my wife and I see girls and women who have no artificial boundaries to who they can be, what they want to be, how God works in their lives to embolden and grant them true liberty and freedom to realize their dreams.

It is an extraordinary release of the energy of fully half of humankind, and it has transformed us, from the mundane stay-at-home dads to the women rocketing into space to work on the space station.

And please, don’t get me wrong here. I am not an enthusiastic fan of unbridled women’s liberation, from the bra burners of your grandmother’s generation to the fanatics of the LGBT community today. Every good and worthwhile movement has its extremes, and these are often ugly and damaging.

Finally, some places are simply unreachable for both men and women. Fathers can be great dads, but they will rarely have those instincts that mothers have from carrying and bearing their children. Some things are inherently different, and these are good and God-given.

Men are made different and no amount of training can bring a girl up the standards demanded by the U. S. Marines for their young officers. To date, one woman has survived the grueling physical tests at Officer Candidate’s School. And it’s not likely that the Marines are going to water down their physical requirements to accommodate women. Nor should they.

We are different, but our differences complement each other. Or, as the French phrased, vive la différence.

One of my few reservations is to be outhit on the golf course by some girl, who usually has a better swing and is far more fun to look at than Tiger Woods throwing his clubs in anger. Go girl!

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