Thursday, December 30, 2004

Dusting Off the Old Books

Liberated a copy of Gloria Steinem's Revolution From Within from my mom's bookshelf. I don't relate to all the inner child stuff because, well, I really do have fantastic parents, and I didn't have to deal with childhood abuse, but she's got some really fascinating stuff in here about self-esteem and how teaching people self-worth can acutally topple empires (Steve Biko and the Black Consciousness Movement did great things for black South Africans. Her biggest example was Ghandi and the liberation of India).

The idea being that when you're told you're not worthy, you're at the bottom of the pile, when you don't see yourself represented as smart, as worthwhile, you're more likely to act like a loser.

What I found interesting was when Steinem compared the women she'd gone to college with who *then* either got a job, got married, had kids, to the women who'd stayed in her home town, got married, and raised kids. She felt that the women who *didn't* have the higher-end education learned *over time* to have a greater sense of self-worth than the women who'd gone to college.

Her thoughts on why?

College women:

"- Being taught to rever "the classics" of Western civilization, most of which patronize, distort, denigrate, or express hatred for the female half of the human race.

- Learning systems of philosophy that depend on gender dualisms at best and female inferiority at worst; surveying a tradition of art in which women are rarely artists and often objects; studying biology that focuses more on human differences than on human possibilities; [my emphasis] absorbing ethical standards that assume masculine values; and learning theologies that assume all-male dieties.

- Reading history books in which almost all power and agency is assigned to men and being graded for memorizing male accomplishments - with the deep message that we can learn what others do, but never do it ourselves.

- Seeing fewer and fewer females in authority as we climb the education ladder: fewer as faculty, fewer still as deans and presidents, and fewest of all in the fields of science, engineering, poiltics, business, foreign policy, or other specialities valued by the world at large. And if we are of the "wrong" race or class or sexuality, perhaps seeing no one we identify with at all.

- Finally, being isolated from other women - perhaps respended by them - because we are educated like men."

Some interesting stuff to chew on.

1 comments so far. Got something to say?

Anonymous said...

I'd be interested to see how women who are currently starting/in college right now would feel about these points of hers. I'm sure things haven't changed enough, but I'd be that at least some of that list has changed quite a bit for the better... 

Posted by jp