I watched half a documentary on Muslim women yesterday. The woman who made the documentary was what I guess would be called a modern Muslim woman. I only caught the section of the documentary where she went to Saudi Arabia to see what things are like for Muslim women there.
It appears the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia is trying to bring the country forward into a more modern attitude towards women. They see it as necessary to their long term goals. They realise their country is being harmed by the fact that women are not being permitted to become all they are capable of being or contribute all they have the potential to contribute. They are trying to give women in Saudi Arabia a better position and more freedom but they are being fought and opposed by religious leaders and even some Saudi Arabian women.
One Muslim woman sat in front of the camera and firmly stated she believes in the restrictions imposed on women in her culture. She said women really are not the same as men. They really are affected by monthly hormonal swings that make them unstable and irrational. They cannot, therefore, be trusted to make good decisions at all times. Men, she said, are not vulnerable to such hormonal instability and are better equipped to wield the power in a society.
The woman who was making the documentary rejected this assumption as most modern women do. The problem with modern thinking is, in my opinion, that we tend to completely reject such things when, in fact, there is a grain of truth in them.
During my years as a psychologist I have encountered many people with a variety of problems. One of these people was a woman caught in the grip of hormonal hell! As she outlined the way her menstrual cycle worked I realised how lucky I was with my own cycle.
Once a month her hormones transformed her into a no-holds barred b*tch filled with anger and zero impulse control. Every month she would verbally savage her partner and wound him. He was ready to leave her and she felt he was entitled to. She was completely unable to control herself each month as pain turned her into a wounded animal lashing out viciously at anyone who came near her.
She did not come to me for help with her periods of course. She came to me because she wanted help to stop abusing her partner. She was a modern woman married to a modern man and they rejected the myths about women and their monthly cycle. They both knew she became abusive once a month and they both believed she had the power to control that aspect of herself.
If not for my personal knowledge about the power of the female menstrual cycle I would probably have wasted her time trying to help her control her anger! I sent her to her doctor instead because she was already using all the anger management tools I could have given her. This was not something will power could fix. She needed the help of a doctor to adjust her hormone levels. I knew this because of my own experience.
When John Howard, Australia’s Prime Minister, broke his word to the people about removing all other taxes once the GST (goods and services tax) was imposed I got angry. He did not remove any taxes from cigarettes – he added the new tax to them.
When he followed that up by saying condoms were a necessity and would be GST free but menstrual products were a luxury and would incur GST I was outraged. I swore I would not pay one cent of that tax and I began getting depo-provera injections.
Depo-provera is a contraceptive injection you get every three months. One of its side-effects, for most women, is no more periods. I decided, if periods were to be classified as a luxury, I would give them up. Sometimes I wonder, now that John Howard is being forced to offer people money to have babies, if I was one of many women who had that reaction hehehe.
For almost two years I did not have a period. Circumstances, however, changed and I stopped the injections. Months passed without the return of my cycle and I was sure I had passed through early menopause but then, one day, I came home from work feeling irritable and annoyed. I walked in the door and my kids greeted me and asked how work had been that day. I snapped at them in anger and retreated to my room wondering what was wrong with me. I soon found out what was wrong and it was then I realised just how powerful that cycle is.
The contrast between who I was all those months without that cycle and who I became again when it returned astounded me. Prior to going on the injections I would have said my cycle was pretty mild and did not affect me much at all. After two years without the cycle, however, its sudden return allowed me to see exactly how much power it had over me.
I did not like it one little bit and I went straight back to the doctor to get rid of the cycle for good. I have not had another period and I never will again as I have now passed through menopause thank God.
My answer to the problem of the monthly cycle is not, of course, the answer for most women. Most women want to have children and the cycle of fertility must be endured to achieve that goal.
I do, however, agree with some of what that Saudi Arabian woman said. Women are not the same as men. Their monthly hormonal swings can make them irrational and very unstable. They can do things, say things, and act in ways that make no sense even to them. They can be controlled, to a certain extent, by a force of nature that is much more powerful than will-power.
But wait, don’t start sending me hate mail just yet, there is more. Men are also prone to a similar problem! The difference between men and women is that women are only affected by hormones for about one week each month. Men are at the mercy of their own hormonal weaknesses all the time!
I am talking about testosterone and, once again, it took a personal experience to teach me how much power that hormone has over a person too.
When I was about 35 a change came over me. Out of the blue my sex drive went into orbit and I could not stop thinking about sex. It was probably one of the most distressing times in my life for me because I started thinking things and wanting to do things that really repulsed me intellectually.
I was still married at that time and it was truly awful to find myself trying to think of ways around my belief in fidelity so I could do the things I wanted to do.
Young men I had thought of, until then, as mere boys suddenly started looking like meat would look to a starving wolf. I found myself arguing with my own strongly held beliefs about not interfering in the natural sexual development of the young.
He was only 17 but I flirted with him. He was a virgin so he did not recognise what I was doing and he did not know how to take it to the next level. I could not convince myself it would really be all right to make this boy into a man at the expense of his own conviction that a man should not mess with a married woman.
I could have manipulated him into betraying his own moral code. I came very close to abandoning my own moral code. Too close. If I had not been married, if he had been experienced enough to make a move, if not for the grace of God I would have cheated on my husband and messed with a young man’s head, heart, and life!
I went to my doctor and asked him what was wrong with me. I said I just can’t stop thinking about sex. He said it was normal. He said around the age of 35 the level of testosterone in a woman’s body goes up. He said it lasts for roughly five years and is designed to increase the chances of a woman having babies before menopause shuts her down as a breeder.
I said it’s awful being so obsessed all the time. My doctor said welcome to a mans world. He said think yourself lucky. He said the level of testosterone in my body was not even a fraction of what is in a man. It was then that I realised the power testosterone wields over men all their lives! All his life a man is at the mercy of a powerful hormone designed to shut down his brain and get his pants off.
No wonder they make stupid decisions and do dreadful things like betray their wives and children, become presidents caught with their pants down then make themselves look stupid by lying, go to war for senseless reasons and so on.
I have had a mere taste of the force of nature that men battle with all their lives and it was enough. I take my hat off in admiration to the thousands of men all over the world who fight that force, and win, day after day for years!
The people of Saudi Arabia are struggling with issues the Western world battled with many years ago. Women in our culture were once viewed with just as much disdain, had just as few rights, and were under just as much control as Muslim women are now.
I take my hat off in admiration to the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia for being able to see the truth. Men and women are different but they are both human and both are valuable. Any culture that suppresses its women denies itself the untold wealth of human potential for good those women possess.
The seeds of a cure for cancer may be lying dormant in the brain of a Saudi Arabian girl-child. If she grows up being told she is inferior and must submit her life to a man the seed may never grow because she may never believe in herself enough to let it flower. The country will miss out on the money such a cure would have been worth and the world will miss out on the cure. All because the culture does not accept the truth – we are all priceless because of our individuality and the vast potential contained therein. Sex, race, religion, age, social status and all those other things we use to classify and limit people just makes our world poorer. Any person, male or female, who is controlled by another is a person who will be unable to reach their full potential. There is no reason or excuse, in my opinion, that is good enough to justify that.
Men are different to women. It’s true but not for the reasons old fashioned myths suggest. Hormones can make both sexes irrational and unstable. Both sexes can do things, say things, and act in ways that make no sense even to them. They can both be controlled, to a certain extent, by forces of nature that are much more powerful than will-power.
The difference is men are always at the mercy of nature. Women are only subjected to the forces of nature for one week a month. Real stability and rationality is only available to women who are post-menopausal – like me 🙂
Sadly, however, I am too stable and rational to ever be stupid enough to want to rule the world so you will all have to make do with people like Mr “I did not have sex with that woman” Clinton and Mr “A GST will replace all other taxes” Howard.
(Rolls on floor laughing then hides from all the people she has just offended.)