Alpheus Williams

Wind and Whispers from Down Under
MAY 11, 2012 10:14PM

Of GynOPhobes, Scary Women and Mothers

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This is a new word for me. 

Most of us know the word ‘misogyny’.  Misogyny has been with us ever since women.  Ever since Eve was blamed for our mortality and punished by god with the menstrual cycle.  Other religions associated the menstrual cycle with fertility, the moon, and the cycle of birth and death and all things natural.  To them women were not only important for survival of species but also important members and contributors to society.  I rather like the Pagan idea of a natural order and respect for mother earth but they were vanquished by more patriarchal religions and women have been pretty much kept under the thumb for a long time.

We live.  We die.  It’s women’s fault.  Ipso facto…hate women.  Hell, taking that into account even women hate women. Misogyny.

But what about hate’s sibling? What about fear?  We know that fear and hate are joined together at the hip.  People don’t begin by hating spiders, sharks and snakes.  They fear them first then they hate them.

So I think gynophobia is just as relevant as misogyny maybe even more so.  I remember in the run up to the previous election that one of my friends supported Obama over Hilary Clinton for the simple reason that the he felt Republicans hated her so much we’d never find any partisan cooperation.  She would divide the country.  I guess the Republicans simply transferred their resentment for strong intelligent women to strong intelligent black men.

So do Republicans fear and hate women?   Their latest actions seem to indicate that they do.  And they certainly appear to fear women who are intelligent and strong…. thus Michelle Obama, Hilary Clinton, Maureen Dowd, Naomi Wolfe, Susan Sontag, et al. 

To be fair I don’t think they always hated and feared women…but since they’ve embraced the more radical and fanatical elements in their party it’s hard to defend their recent stand on women’s issues.

And I suppose there are a lot of scary women. And here’s a list of some pretty frightening women.  There are more…I know.  This is just a smattering of women who I genuinely respect and love and who might well be scary to some other folk out there:


Hypatia renowned woman philosopher and mathematics professor in Alexandria during the 5th century ADChristian monks dragged her from her chariot, stripped her, killed her, flayed her flesh from her bones and scattered her body parts through the streets.   All her works were burned but she was so influential that she was quoted by scholars of that time so that her reputation survives to this day much to the Church’s chagrin.

Mary Wollstonecraft 18th century British Writer best known for writing A Vindication of the Rights of Women in which she argues that women are not inferior to men, but appear to be only because they lack education.  She died at thirty-eight ten days after giving birth to her daughter…Mary (Shelly) who is considered by many to be the founder of modern science fiction with her novel Frankenstein.

Mary Harris Jones aka Mother Jones School teacher, dressmaker.  After her family died from yellow fever and her shop was destroyed by fire she became a union activist and organizer.  She was branded “the most dangerous woman in America” for her success in organizing mineworkers and their families against mine owners.  (Dangerous to whom? one might ask, obviously to the same kinds of bastards who are destroying our economy, industry, environment, country and planet today..)

 Rachel Carson While some of her data has been questioned over the years.  She brought to our attention the damage done by rampant and unrestricted use of insecticides.  One of the first to warn  of our excesses and the threat we pose to our environment.

Harper Lee wrote To Kill A Mockingbird. Enough said.  Atticus’s one proviso to Gem when he receives bb gun as a gift is not to kill mockingbirds because they only provide beauty through song…a shame he didn’t share his concerns with the chemical companies.

Joan Baez for singing songs that were meaningful and melancholy and important in a voice that was gentle and powerful as water over stone.  For putting herself on the line during the Vietnam War and getting arrested time and time again.  For being one of the first voices that began to change a young small town redneck into thinking outside his own backyard.

Sigourney Weaver aka Amanda Ripley McLaren who kicked alien ass and set the standard for self-sufficient women heroes. 

Jessica Lynch--PFC in the United States Army Quartermaster Corps.  Awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Prisoner of War Medal, and Army Service Ribbon.  A hero to start with Jessica Lynch refused to be a pro-war propaganda prostitute for the Pentagon.  She, no doubt, could have played along and been well paid as Fox pundit but she refused.  She was honest and ethical.  She told the truth.  She pursued her dream of a meaningful career and received her teaching degree from West Virginia University at Parkersburg.

Margaret Atwood because anyone who read The Handmaid's Tale knows that Atwood saw this rightwing fundamentalist gynophobic and misogynistic bullshit coming.  She is a strong voice for our time and one that should be listened to.

Lisbeth Salander misfit, computer genius, crusader and one of the most dynamic and impressive characters of modern fiction.  Fitting that she should champion the cause in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo…or by it’s original Swedish title Men Who Hate Women in the Millennium Trilogy. Lisbeth breaks all molds. 

Dr Sylvia Earle oceanographer, environmentalist and tireless campaigner for our earth and ocean environment, she was named by Time Magazine as the first hero of the planet.

Rachel Maddow for being a strong well researched voice of reason and decency, for being an excellent news commentator and for writing Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power.

Nancy Pelosi because the right hate her so much she has to be good. For saying when the fundamentalist right wing accused her of not knowing her place, "I know my place.  I'm the Speaker of the House.  I was voted in by my colleagues."

Scary ain’t it?

 I invite you to add to the list if you’re so inclined.  I know I left some really scary women out…so feel free.

So how have the New Tea Party Religious Fundamentalists GOP responded?

They’ve suggested that claims of  ‘War on Women” is nothing short of a liberal attack on motherhood. 

I found the following amusing.  One of my relatives sent me a fundraising email from the GOP.  He sends me a lot of stuff…and I think he just has a wicked sense of humour and likes ruffling my feathers.  This one didn’t ruffle me so much and send me into a paroxysm of laughter.


My mother was from the Great Generation.  After her father died during the depression, she and her family migrated from Arkansas to California to find work.  Like so many during that time she was exploited, overworked and underpaid.   She was only about fifteen or sixteen a petite woman barely five feet two and only 115 pounds. 

Once she managed to swing a job as a shop assistant in a department store in Fresno.  She must have felt like she’d finally made it.  She was really excited about it but she quit after a week because the manager wouldn’t keep his hands off her.  She went back to work in the fields, picking cotton, fruit and vegetables wherever the harvest was, wherever the works was.

My mother passed on a few years back.  She was 92.  She married, raised three kids, voted and paid her taxes.  She was a working mother.  She never drew unemployment but she drew her Social Security…and why shouldn’t she?   She paid into it all her life.

She had very little formal education but she was an avid reader.  She respected education and my teachers.  She was a devout Christian and a staunch New Deal Democrat.  To her Franklyn Roosevelt was the best president we ever had.

So cheers to my mother.  Cheers to all mothers.  Cheers to mothers who care enough about motherhood to plan their families and organize their time so they can see to those things so necessary to raising a family.

Yes mothers do work and that’s why it’s so important that they have access to family planning, equal treatment and equal pay.  To me it’s a no brainer…I’m astounded that there are those out there who think they can turn feminism and women empowerment into some sort of threat against motherhood. 

My mother was woman.  Most mothers are.  And I know damned good and well which side she would have stood on this issue and it sure as hell wouldn’t have been the store manager that sexually harassed her as a young woman, it wouldn’t be those who attacked Nancy Pelosi ‘for not knowing her place’ and it   wouldn’t have been those who tried to undermine women in the workplace.

So cheers to women whether they are mothers or not.  Cheers to women who seek a career, who seek to contribute to our society and who have made this world a better place. 

I fret for our future.  I fret for the environment…I fret over the cost of greed and ruthlessness to our society and to our planet.  And to be perfectly honest, it is those scary women who give me hope that it may still be within our power to turn things around.



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