Social Empowerment Of Women: The Birthrigth Of The Female Gender

Power in Social Life

What does power do in most social situations? The answer is power influences, steers and regulates social behavior, opinions, attitudes, goals, needs and values of the powerless as desired by the powerful (Lewin, 1951; Thibaut & Kelley, 1959, Overbeck & Park, 2001). Take note, that the Powerful (power holders) influences, steers and regulates the powerless (any person). The use and misuse of power to influence, steer and regulate social behavior can be seen from the examples of high profile persons in public offices to the private employer of maids (Kipnis, Castcll, Gergen, & Mauch, 1976). If the use or misuse of power can involve any target person, why is the question of social empowerment of women alone being discussed here?

The author agrees that social empowerment is relevant for all powerless persons but especially more relevant for women and children. The greater urgency for social empowerment of women is for two reasons. Firstly, women are still the unequal partner in terms of being power holders with men in many areas of humanity. The symptoms of misuse of power to the disadvantage of women can be seen in the blatant and despicable cultural example of honor violence and killings for the purpose of protecting male honor and female fidelity (Wilson & Daly, 1992). Violence and killings based on the right and protection of male honor is a classic example of the misuse of collective power against women. The author regards honor based violence and killings as criminal in nature and an excuse to practice collective violence and murder. Any religious, moral or cultural sanction does not alter the objective reality of violence and murder. Secondly, children are mostly depende nt on women for their nurturance and survival. Thus, by socially empowering women, the chance of the dependent children being cared for is higher in the process.

Social Empowerment of Women

It is in the awareness of the realities of violence and murders being carried out openly in certain culture that has convinced the author to assert that nothing short of equality of power between male and female will rid the scourge female discrimination, violence and abuse now or in the future. There are many perspectives of social empowerment of women. But in this article, the author posits social empowerment of women as basically giving women social power on equal terms with men in every aspect of humanity. The basis for the equality of women with men has been covered in another article entitled: "Equality with Men: The Principal Right of Women" (http://www.articlesbase.com/womens-issues-articles/equality-with-man-the-principal-right-of-women-906326.html). Anything lesser, would be short-change of the rights of women regardless of any counter arguments.

The author has these to say regarding women's equality to power: "Show me a nation that claims democracy and I will look for equally powerful women rulers besides their male counterparts. Show me a legislature that claims the rule of the law and I will look for equally powerful women judges besides their male counterparts. Show me a society that claims social progress and I will look for equal resources, benefits and amenities framed for the women as with men. Show me a belief that teaches Godliness and I will look for the teachings on the equality of women with men. Show me a true man and I will look at his equal treatment of women."

The social empowerment of women is the birthright of all women that should not be open for a lesser negotiation. Any attempt to negotiate the social empowerment of women other than on equality would be an attempt to stifle the legitimate rights of women to be power holders in every aspect of humanity. If men have the right to power in religion, culture, economics, politics, academics, military and any other field the women too have the same rights without the need to prove.

It is only men with low self-esteem who would object or negotiate for lesser about the social empowerment of women. And usually these categories of men psychologically suffer from low self-esteem. And low self esteem when projected on women many times lead to violence and aggression (Toch (1969/1993). They (men with low self-esteem) have an erroneous cognitive perception that overpowering women is a means to regain or maintaining their self-esteem. In actual reality, men who have a balanced self-esteem do not need to resort to the misuse or abuse of power to maintain their self-esteem. The teaching of Yin and Yang although not psychologically based asserts that power sharing between male and female brings about balance in the universe.

Yin and Yang: Balance of Power

According to Hooker (1996) in Chinese philosophy, TAO the ultimate principle is divided into two opposing principles, which oppose one another in their actions. Among other things, Yin represents the female with all its characteristics while Yang represents the male with all its characteristics. All changes in the universe could be explained by the Yin and Yang and the five material agents of wood-fire-earth-metal-water. The author of this current article is not concerned with whom or what is the correct label for the ultimate principle or being in the universe. What the author like to point out from the teachings of Yin and Yang is that even in Chinese philosophy the female is considered to be an equal opposing (ultimate) principle that is equally responsible for universal changes. It takes both the male and female (ultimate) principles to maintain balance in the universe. Any imbalance in power affects the status quo of persons.

Status Quo: Determine Social Ideals

Power is associated with Status Quo. And Status Quo determines social ideals which when out of balance leads to social discrimination and inequality (Kay, Gaucher, Peach, Laurin, Friesen, Zanna, Spencer, 2009). Thus, it is impossible for women not to be discriminated if they do not share equal social power with men. The only assurance for an equal status quo between men and women is equality in social empowerment.

Let us look at the cultural practice of honor violence and killings in relation to the status quo of the male and female in such cultures. Males are considered the power holders with the females are the subjects to their power. The male power holder's honor is upheld by female fidelity. Any infidelity whether real or perceived, objectively proven or unproven has the collective empowerment of the culture to practice violence and killings on females with impunity. Thus, the status quo is clear-cut with the males having all power and females having none. Let's take the scenario in reverse. If the status quo were to be given to the females with them being the power holders, will the males subject themselves to violence and killings if found unfaithful? When a status quo (power holders) is one-sided, the ideals that proceed from it will be one-sided. And no amount of cultural justification (bullshit) is going to whitewash the ideals to be objective. All subjective ideals have a tendency to be discriminatory. And power affects moral thinking. If power is used abusively and in discrimination, it leads to defective moral thinking.

Power Affects Moral Thinking

How power affects moral thinking? Lammers & Stapel (2009) in their article entitled: "How Power Influences Moral Thinking" said that:

"It is shown that high power increases the use of rule-based (deontological) moral thinking styles, whereas low power increases reliance on outcome-based (consequentialist) moral thinking. Stated differently, in determining whether an act is right or wrong, the powerful focus on whether rules and principles are violated, whereas the powerless focus on the consequences. For this reason, the powerful are also more inclined to stick to the rules, irrespective of whether this has positive or negative effects, whereas the powerless are more inclined to make exceptions."

Why is it that every time an individual or a group comes into power, one of the first actions that can be seen is the attempt to secure legislature power and bring about creations of new legislations or changes to existing legislations of the land in favor of themselves. The answer is power. Like the power of the person who holds the gun, the persons who have legislature power have collective power which can be manipulated to serve the individual or group purpose. As Lammers & Stapel (2009) have pointed out power holders especially those with high power resort to the use of rule-based (deontological) moral thinking styles. Moralities based on deontological approach have an inherent biasness. One example of rule-based (deontological) moral thinking style is:

Women under Taleban rule.

Women have almost no social empowerment in the Taleban world. Women were systematically and methodically repressed in the name of culture and religion. Women were denied the right to education, blocked from health care, work, mobility, and endured public beatings at the hands of men (Islam for Today, 1977). The Taleban rule-based moral rule served the pleasure of men at the pain of the women. The use of religion and culture to sanction their ill-treatment of women does not differentiate them from common criminals who abuse women. The Taleban abused their power through so called moral rules that applied only to women. Can you identify Taleban mentality and cultures around you?

Women in West Virginia.

What about the status of women in developed nations? It was interesting to note that Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) in their report: "The Status of Women in West Virginia" has this to say in their overview of the status of women in West Virginia:

"West Virginia reflects the difficult obstacles to equality still facing many women in the United States. Women in West Virginia, and in the United States as a whole, are seeing important changes in their lives and in access to political, economic, and social rights. Still, they by no means enjoy equality with men, and they lack many of the legal guarantees that would allow them to achieve it. Women in West Virginia, and the nation, would benefit from stronger enforcement of equal opportunity laws, better political representation, adequate and affordable child care, stronger poverty reduction programs, and other policies that would help improve their status."

The United States of America prides itself for its democracy and the rule of the law. Yet with all its political, economic, military and social power, the United States of America is not able to give the women in West Virginia what IWPR succinctly states as the right to "enjoy equality with men." Equality with men is lacking even in one of the most powerful nation on earth? So the question, is the nation as a whole (including the women, the children, the minority, the disadvantaged) powerful? Who are actually holding powers? What does the rule-based (deontological) moral thinking in USA have to say about the social empowerment of women in West Virginia and across the USA? Are there the existences of the Taleban mentality (men rules over women) in a developed nation like the USA? If there aren't any such mentalities, why can't the women in West Virginia be equal with their men?

It is only fair that we ask questions about the social empowerment of women in the context of both the so called undeveloped and the developed nations? What can be seen from the examples of women under the Taleban rule and the women in West Virginia is that women are still not equal in social empowerment with men whether it is in undeveloped or developed nations. So power does affect moral thinking of men even when it has negative effects on women. A morality or moral thinking that does not give equality to women losses it moral savors like salt without saltiness. But when morality or moral thinking gives equality with women than the balance to humanity and the status quo of all persons (men and women) is restored. It is for all these reasons that women should continue to demand and fight for their birthright equality in social power with men. And any man who is psychologically healthy and balanced would join the women in their rightful fight towards social empowerment. Wo men every where, know this,





Aaron C. Kay, Danielle Gaucher, Jennifer M. Peach, Kristin Laurin, Justin Friesen, Mark P. Zanna, and Steven J. Spencer, Inequality, Discrimination, and the Power of the Status Quo: Direct Evidence for a Motivation to See the Way Things Are as the Way They Should Be, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2009, Vol. 97, No. 3, 421434.

Chinese Philosophy (1996). Wu Hsing The Five Material Agents. Retrieved February 5th, 2009 From WSU.EDU Website: http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/chphil/yinyang.htm

David Kipnis, Patricia J. Castcll, Mary Gergen, & Donna Mauch. (1976). Metamorphic Effects of Power, Journal of Applied Psychology, 1976, Vol. 61, No. 2, 127-135.

Islam For Today (1977). The Taleban's Other outrage. Retrieved February 6th, 2009 From Islamfortoday.com Website: http://www.islamfortoday.com/taleban6.htm

Institute for Women's Policy Research. The Status of Women in West. Retrieved February 6th, 2009 From IWPR.Org Website: http://www.iwpr.org/states2002/fullreports/wv.pdf

Lewin, K. (1951). Field theory in social science: Selected theoretical papers. Chicago: Harper & Brothers.

Joris, Lammers & Diederik A. Stapel. (2009). How Power Influences Moral Thinking, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2009, Vol. 97, No. 2, 279289.

Overbeck, J. R., & Park, B. (2001). When power does not corrupt: Superior individuation processes among powerful perceivers. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81, 549565.

Thibaut, J. W., & Kelley, H. H. (1959). The social psychology of groups. New York: Wiley.

Toch, H. (1993). Violent men: An inquiry into the psychology of violence. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. (Original work published 1969).

Wilson, M., & Daly, M. (1992). The man who mistook his wife for chattel. In J. H. Barkow, L. Cosmides, & J. Tooby (Eds.), The adapted mind: Evolutionary psychology and the generation of culture (pp. 289322). New York: Oxford University Press.


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