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February 6, 2018


Professor Kennedy’s blog today dealt with discrimination against women in obtaining credit and other less noticed discrimination against women on the job, equality in wages for the same work etc., asking for commentary. I responded with a thumbnail history of centuries of discrimination against women, slightly edited, as follows:

I think that gender discrimination began even before Abraham of Ur (see Isaac’s half-brother) and that it had to do with the stronger warrior thinking (and thus leadership role) males assumed. Our history of male dominance has been around for thousands of years before the tentative evening up we see between the genders these days. Let’s not forget that women (to our shame) have only been able to vote since the twentieth century, less than a century ago.

Athenian democracy (upon which our democracy was modeled) did not permit the vote of women and slaves and some of our revolutionary era politicians professed surprise that some men thought they should have the right to vote even if they owned no real property since, thus unendowed, it was thought they could not possibly have any interest in political outcomes.

Democratic values of the Athenians (where rich and poor freed men intermingled at the local agora and made decisions by majority vote) as well as our colonial values in ratifying our Constitution and our subsequent Bill of Rights (which ignored slavery and women’s rights) left much to be desired, and I think our forefathers’ views of women as second class citizens in 1789 was a matter of momentum from ages past.

Perpetuation of that momentum is wrong and should be reversed in every area of gender comparison, from lending practices to and through equal pay for equal work and total economic, political and social equality. Democratic practices can and should be subject to change in the interest of equity and justice, especially these days when the nature of change is itself changing and challenging conventional measurement.      GERALD      E



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