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Old November 25, 2009, 11:20 AM   #96
Join Date: August 22, 2009
Location: Rural Washington State
Posts: 27
Women's Instinct for Violence and Aggression

To include self-preservation vis-a-vis men, is powerfully muted by the influence of maternal mortality upon childbirth.

Until an eyeblink ago in historical time--and then only in the developed world--women died in huge numbers in childbirth. They still do in the developing world. 1940 was the first time the mythical average American woman's lifetime risk of childbirth dropped below 1%. In 1920, it was 2.4%. Black women, of course, had far higher maternal mortality rates: the underlying cause was probably poor maternal care, rather than malnutrition, although poverty was the underlying cause of both. In modern Afghanistan, it is about 16%, or about 1 in 7. That's probably on par for the world throughout much of history. (Sweden, which found that it had a maternal deathrate of about 900 in 100,000 live births, which is to say less than half of modern Afghanistan, began in 1751 to create a national surveillance and training system, and reduced maternal deaths to 230:100,000 by 1900..)

High rates of maternal death mean not only that life is at the cost of life, they make it normal and natural for men to kill women and one principle means was sexual intercourse. It is not only for racist and property reasons that rape was considered a capital crime in many societies, and it is also why rape was so commonly the fate of conquered women, who because they generally did not bear arms were immunized from the sword. (In this case, add to maternal deaths, deaths from complicated abortion.) There are not a lot of ways to cope with that and retain your sanity, not as a man, and even less as a woman. How did you cope with the fact that even if he loved you, even if he made no sexual demands upon you, your husband or male lover was likely to kill you?

This is A hard, painful thing to write. To face it as a man must be profoundly shameful.

For a woman to reject learned helplessness and passivity, particularly vis-a-vis a male bent upon sexual violence, is in many ways to totally reject the fundamental meaning of feminity and even womanhood. Certainly it is to do so if WE realize that WE may end up defending OURSELVES against a current or former male intimate. (There are some cultural traditions of women either defending themselves as their husband's wives or as virgins for their future husbands; there are also some cultural traditions of women committing suicide, rather than killing their attacker. But that is not the same thing as defending OURSELVES.)

I've come to believe that until ETA: THAT knowledge is central to self-defense aimed for women, efforts to reduce the number of women hurt/victimized/pick your verb are not going to go very far. This is very much in line with what Tom Servo said, and also Phoebe, about the past being the past (and if you lived, you did the right thing) and women adopting a variety of strategies to protect ourselves that do not involve face-to-face confrontation and violence.


Sorry, been mulling this over while I slept.

Last edited by WarMare; November 25, 2009 at 07:35 PM. Reason: Look at the caps.
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