Last night I was driving home from some charity work I’m doing to help abused children. I was on the highway in the middle of nowhere in the middle of a tornado producing storm. It wasn’t a great night, you know?
So I turn on the radio, looking for a weather report, to see if I would live through the drive home, and also for a little company on my hour long drive. I flip through a Christian talk station that I sometimes listen to, and I settle in to listen to this program about the roles of women in ancient Greece and Rome. I happen to know that Greek philosopher’s thoughts on the place of women largely defined early Christian scholars’ restrictive views, so I was hoping to hear something about that, like maybe some recognition that maybe those views should be rethought in the present day. Instead, I heard this 20 minute monologue about how terrible marital relations were in ancient Greece and Rome. It started with a quote about male sexual habits (very loose) and built to a crescendo of disbelief as it rose to the incredulous statement that women actually began to hunt and wrestle and compete with the men, divorce as soon as be divorced and take their marital vows into their own hands and only promise what they wanted to.
Short of the fact that I am not entirely certain that his facts were all correct (my understanding of 1st century Greece is that women were lower on the property scale than a man’s dog) I found myself thinking over and over again, “and?” – “so?” – “your point?”
Oh, how far I’ve come. There was once a day when I would have nodded my head and thought, “Now that is the height of wickedness, when it infects the women to such a degree,” and never considered the double standard that somehow winks at male infidelity but considers it taboo for women, that cheers at male competitiveness and strength but castigates female physicality, that looks at male nudity as appropo to physical activity (the preacher didn’t complain about the naked Olympic games, after all) but considers the women “riding after the hunt with breasts bared” to be the very definition of evil and barbarianism.
Maybe this attitude is why I have always felt wrong for being strong and a woman. Maybe this is why I always thought God must have hated me to make me a woman”¦and hated me for being one, no matter that I had no choice in the matter.