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Posted on Thu, 08 May, 2014

You’ve heard the tag line in the news, The War on Women.  It really does seem there is one. It’s hard to believe that after all humanity has accomplished in the last century, to include women’s rights to vote, right to choose (abortion), education and employment rights, women in leadership roles both economically and politically that there is still such backlash on women stepping outside of acceptable roles.

images-2          Bring Back Our Girls

Everyday there are headlines involving some hateful act against women.  Recently I can remember Wendy Davis’ filibuster and on-going fight for women’s right to choose in Texas, the abduction of over 230 girls in Nigeria, the favorable judgment passed in Texas against a confessed rapist .  This week it’s a renewed attack on Monica Lewinsky as she puts herself in the spotlight for the first time in a decade to reflect on her regrets.

I want to focus on Monica more in this blog since I believe it to be not only the lesser of the issues, but because I think it gets down to the brass tacks of why women are subjected to double standards, exclusion and the like.  The response to Monica’s reemergence, through Vanity Fair, has been vitriolic, particularly by other women, such as New York Post’s, Andrea Peyser, who writes: “Monica Lewinsky should shut up and go away.” Interesting that she should be villainized by other women. Let she who has no guilt cast the first stone.  Seems Monica strikes a nerve in these detractors that I bet resembles her crime – most likely these critics have been in Hilary’s position and will vilify the other woman (the competition) rather than understand that there were two consenting adults in the affair.  As there are most of the time.  An enormous double standard against women here that I hope sees more discussion.


Think about how the media treats cheaters. There have been a number of cheating men that make headlines but they seem to disappear quicker and when they reemerge they are given another chance without the same tarnish: Arnold “The Governator” Schwarzenegger, John Edwards, David Duchovny, Tiger Woods, Jude Law, Hugh Grant, Kobe Bryant, Eric Benet (seriously, how do you cheat on Halle Berry!?) even Bill Clinton managed to come out clean.  He’s actually more popular.  Anthony Weiner could have but the idiot did it again!  The same application of justice does not seem to be true for women.  Remember Kristen Stewart’s public shaming when she cheated on Robert Pattinson?  I had hoped to forget it too, but I’m reminded of it because the same slut-shaming has taken place with Monica.  Not that cheating is right, but why should women be treated worse then men for the same behavior?

Nathaniel Hawthorne picked up on this in The Scarlett Letter in 1850.  Hester Prynne was vilified, made to stand on a scaffold for public shaming. There’s no scaffold in 2014, but the modern-day press certainly acts like a scaffold. Why do we hold women to such unreasonable standards: Madonna and Whore for one.  That mirrors the same polarizations we see in Bipolar disorder by the way.  Why is it that men can hold the middle ground but women are wither good (the chaste Madonna) or bad (the tempting Whore)?  I see women in my practice struggling against this regarding their motherhood: I’m a terrible mother for working but I desire something beyond staying at home.  Terrible guilt ensues for not fulfilling the traditional role and daring to meet men on their own level.

I think the short answer is power.  Humans are obsessed with it.  This idea shows up everywhere damn it; from politics (think super pacs and land grabs like the Crimea or the continental United States), to education (who can have it or not), access to medical treatment, big business (big tobacco, big pharma, big auto, big, big, big!), to gangs of any kind (the only difference between the FBI/CIA and a street gang is budget) to the kinder smack downs of who’s toy that is.  Power is central to human survival, followed only by the need for companionship or sense of belonging which makes that survival worth living.

So, with that construct in mind, the simple answer is that women are feared for their power.  Power to reproduce, to seduce, to use intellect and emotion.  Perhaps most primitively, the issue of reproduction is the most important because it held the survival of the species at stake.  Here’s a recent Facebook post that circulated in my newsfeed.  Pretty much sums it up.


When I think about why women must wear burkas or head scarves in the middle east I understand it is fear of women’s power.  When I think about why women are prevented from receiving an education I understand it is through fear of what educating that power will do (remember Schoolhouse Rock!?).

images-2                                                                                                                                                                                         When I think about why a woman’s right to choose has become a political platform I understand that is through fear and awe over reproductive power.  When I think about why women are abducted and then sold I understand it is because they are feared.  Ironically the same way the Jews were feared in early 20th century Europe and the slaves in America – the inner dialogue I bet goes something like this, “What will happen to us if this group gets too much power?”

I think we can all learn to share and respect each other. Because otherwise we have doomed our daughters to fight the battles their grandmothers have already won.







2 Responses to Women

  1. barbara byers says:

    Young girls need to be taught to appreciate other girls/women, to unite, respect, champion…value the importance of their friendships. There is power in numbers. Other women are not competition, rally for each other, be on the same team. If you could strengthen this attitude life would be very different for our daughters in the future. We struggle, second guess, feel guilt, try to be wonderful mother’s, daughters, wives…have a career…with more support from each other would that not strengthen us? Rambling thoughts, late and tired, tomorrow I have to try and manage a more complex kids Saturday schedule than a typical work day…lol

  2. barbara byers says:

    Forgot to add…Monica should be supported by other women…who has not made mistakes in their 20’s…in the name of love/passion…she was up against a very experienced, much older manipulator, she is only human…I am glad she had the confidence to share her story and shame on everyone who feels better by trying to bring her down, look in the mirror and see if perfection looks back at you…not likely.

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A blog written by a hip, sometimes irreverent shrink who’s been around the block and calls it like it is

Humor is a great way to make sense of the world around us - and a little psychological perspective never hurt

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