Indian (Vedic) mysogyny - (part 2)
Notwithstanding that I may or may not be on firm footing while writing about any subject, I can only acknowledge that this one is problematic. I intend to quote an author, whose opinions mirrored/reinforced my own, however, I have grown uncomfortable singling out the Vedas in terms of their hatred towards women. The Brooklyn Museum, during an exhibition on 'women's history', had the following commentary relating to the Middle Ages:
" ...The 12th century was a highpoint, not only for secular women, but women
in the cloister. The improved status of women did not last long, though. Wo-
men's property rights were eroded, and their educational opportunities were
curtailed. They were excluded from the guilds, and the power of the abbesses
was strictly restricted. Eventually, the church joined with the developing state
and instituted witch hunts, which suppressed the last vestiges of female power.
The extent of the witch-hunting craze was much wider than commonly thought.
Witch hunts were prevalent from the 13th to the 17th century. According to
male scholars, no more than 300,000 women were exterminated. Contemporary
feminist scholars, however, are beginning to suspect that there were probably
between 6 and 9 million killed. The exact figure is difficult to determine, be-
cause few records were kept, but those that do exist are horrifying."
Compare this to Mandakranta Bose, writing in " Faces of the Feminine in Ancient, Medi-
eval, and Modern India"
"It seems that by about the fifth or sixth century BCE, women's position began to
slide into one of subjugation, as evident from a thorough examination of smriti
texts with their commentaries. They record the shrinking social space of women
and offer proof of their eroded social and intellectual activity from about the 8th
century CE. The lawgivers of the time begin to redefine women's position in in-
creasingly subordinating terms...(T)he general discourse (of the Hindu scholarly
establishment) adds up to the imposition of severe restrictions of women's lives."
So much for ancient history, but what brought me to question the subject was the recent testimony of women in the armed forces concerning the brutality of their rapes by their commanding officers and fellow enlisted men.