The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not represent the opinions or editorial position of I-Witness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected]

By Vanrick D. Williams

(Dedicated to Pat Robinson Commissiong and all virtuous women.)

The very way society is institutionalised and organised is likely to produce particular calibres of women. The pressures to respectability and moral behaviour in any contemporary society create the need for a perverse underworld of indulgence and promiscuity. Females often contradict the two terms “value” and “worth” to mean the same thing. However, value deals with the amount that can be purchased or price attached to a commodity, whereas worth has to do with the significance and importance of someone or something. Hence, the worth of a woman should never be trivialised.

From a Marxist understanding, women are “comfort products” in a capitalist society; in Engels’ words, “the slave of the man’s lust”. Yet they have surpassed the expectations of many in contemporary societies. Marx and Engels believed that female employment would elevate the status and power of women within the family. Women would be free from economic dependence upon their husbands (Haralambos and Holborn, 1995). The worth of women can be measured to that of being mothers. Mothers bear and nurse children and so have closer and stronger relationship with them. Although women were once seen as “mere instruments for breeding children”, they are the first important figures in their child’s life. In a number of studies of juvenile delinquents conducted by Bowlby, it was found that the most psychologically disturbed were separated from their mothers at an early age. The fact remains, “we will only have one biological mother”.

The woman is mainly responsible for socializing the young. Many sociologists argue whether individuals would have any resemblance of human beings without socialisation. Talcott Parsons posited that the expressive woman provides warmth, security and emotional support, which are essential for the effective socialisation of the young as cited by Haralambos et al. Moreover, Millett believes that men are socialised to have dominant temperament. Women are taught to be passive and men to be aggressive. Hence, men gain higher social status and fill social roles in which mastery over women is exercised. The absence of the husband/father from the homes in so many instances means that the women have to assume the primary responsibility for the children. Women encourage their sons to marry virtuous women and to make their wives companions, not servants.

Proud males concur that women’s true worth is expressed through the stabilisation of the adult personalities. Exploitation and oppression in capitalist societies lead to stress and anxiety. The “desired female” relieves this tension by providing sex, consideration and understanding. This is definitely Talcott Parsons’ “tension management” in action. When a woman applies the expressive qualities to her spouse, the way she applies them to her children then her “significant worth” is evident. What makes a “good man” a “great man”? What turns a king into a great king? “A VIRTUOUS WOMAN”. Profoundly speaking, “women are our comfort spot; our rib, taken from men, refined, then given back to men”. Hence, a woman’s worth cannot be denied.

However, a close examination of contemporary societies suggests that the worth of women is undermined by the actions of women (worth vs. action). Nevertheless, their actions must be understood in light of economic factors. The career woman no longer breed several children, they share comfort if they desire comfort. Ironically, they perceive men as their very own “comfort products” and seek out the best sexual performers. Economic independence and education have given women the lead. They are all over our faces — literally and figuratively. When asked, what is a woman’s worth? Many claimed- diamonds, pearls, and cruises around the world. When asked, why, responses concurred, “because women are worth it”.

In short, it is a man’s world, but what would the world be without women! Women are our mothers, our “comfort others”, the first important figures who teach us the cruel ways of society. Females show courage and strength when they play the roles of moms, dads and breadwinners. Satisfying the emotional, sexual and psychological needs of men have transformed “ordinary men” into “extraordinary men” and have propelled the worth of women. However, women innate predisposition to be less than virtuous makes them vulnerable in a challenging and demanding era driven by economic forces.

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The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

3 replies on “Woman’s Worth: Slave of man’s lust?”

  1. Pat Robinson Commissiong says:

    Dear Mr Williams, define “virtuous woman”. Just look at your final sentence “However, women’s innate predisposition to be less than virtuous makes them vulnerable in a challenging and demanding era driven by economic forces” – what “innate predisposition” is that? What is a woman innately predisposed to do that is not virtuous?
    I strongly suspect that behind your analysis is the belief that the “virtuous” woman is one who has sexual relations with one man only. And that the “innate predisposition to be less than virtuous” is the possibility that a woman might actually LIKE to have sexual relations with more than one man, which is a BAD THING. I hear this in our society all the time. The woman who has children by several men is said to be “whosover will may come”. She is a “slut”. Somehow I don’t hear the same opinion expressed about the man who has children with several women, or who is known to have sexual relations with more than one woman at the same time. We come up with all kinds of rationalizations for this difference in our judgements; the one that we frequently use, with a claim that it is a “scientific fact” is that men are “naturally promiscuous” , and women are “naturally monogamous”. We blame poor nature for all the things we want to think are right or wrong. That nature gives us examples of females (and males, by the way) that stick with one partner, as well as both females and males that change partners with each mating season, seems to escape our attention. “Nature” is probably the most diverse thing there is.

    I have to tell you that I know women who have not and do not stick to one man, but who I think are quite virtuous; and a number of women who live all their adult lives with one man who are not virtuous at all. But then you may not agree with my definition of virtue, which for me has much more to do with how you relate to your fellow human beings than it has to do with your sexual activities. And if you are going to have sex with more than on person, you still need to treat your partners with respect and consideration – you know that “Do unto others as you would have them do to you”?
    The problem with sex is that for eons, men have sought to control women’s sexuality for a very good reason. While we can, usually, tell who is the mother of a child by simply being present at the birth, until very recently the only way a man could assume that the child of his partner was biologically his, was if he was certain that the mother had no sexual relations with another man. You know that late 20th century discovery of the nature of DNA and the ability to read the DNA code in order to determine with a high degree of certainty who is the mother and who is the father of a child? Just think of all the millennia before that when a man could only be sure of paternity if his woman had been with no one else. So all kinds of rules an regulations surrounded women. The woman who had sex before marriage was “spoiled” and not fit for marriage. The child of an unmarried woman was “nobody’s child” (“nullius filius” in the Latin the legal system continued to use until recently) before we did away with the legal disabilities of illegitimacy. The mother of such a child could be put out by her family to fend for herself. Many such children were left at workhouses or orphanages. Even today, her parents and older brothers can, in countries like Jordan or Pakistan,, for example, kill her for bringing shame on her family. And if you think we are “better”, I just remembered a video that has gone viral on YouTube, of a Trinidadian mother beating her daughter. The mother herself posted the video. She beat her daughter (and I don’t mean just a few slaps – she used what looks like a five inch wide belt and I lost count of the blows she inflicted) because her daughter posted inappropriate pictures of herself unclothed on social media. The girl is 12 years old. As she beat her daughter, one of the things she says is “You want man? You not going to bring shame on me” That that child needs someone who can talk with her, counsel her, discuss with her how she should relate to the opposite sex, talk about growing up in a difficult world, talk about resisting the pressures to do something because “other people are doing it” – all that is clearly beyond the mother. All the fears we have about a girl’s and a woman’s sexuality are in that piece. I don’t know that the child is not “virtuous”. Misguided, perhaps. Too lacking in self-confidence not to be able to resist the dares of her peers, perhaps. Wanting to be “liked”, perhaps. I shudder to think of how that child will grow up if she doesn’t get the help she so badly needs. A very young girl should not get pregnant not because it makes her a “bad” girl, but because there is so much more she needs to learn and do before she is not ready for the responsibilities of parenthood in the society we now have. This is not about the “shame” of her mother or of her family. It is about the unnecessary problems that this child of 12 is creating for herself. A female was once considered (and in some countries is still considered), an adult at puberty. She would be married and start child bearing soon after that. But then she would probably have lived in an extended family with other adult females, where she would learn all the various female responsibilities. Indeed, she would probably have started taking care of younger siblings even before she reached marriageable age. We no longer do it that way, so she does need to be able to support herself before she takes on the responsibility of her own children.

    And I don’t know that a “Virtuous woman” however you define her necessarily makes a great man or a great king. There have been many “great kings” who had put away virtuous women (in the sexual sense) and have still been seen as great by both their contemporaries and by later generations (Henry VIII of England for a start comes to mind; or Louis XIV of France) And Peter the disciple is a VERY great man for every Christian denomination – he’s even supposed to be the guardian of the pearly gates; and all we’ve ever heard of his wife is that she was once “sick of a fever”. So forget about the “making a good man great”. Teach our daughters to respect themselves. Not to be afraid to say NO to a man. Not to be worried that someone will say that they are “bossy” (men are “assertive”, women are “bossy”), or worse yet “arrogant” (dear, dear what a TERRIBLE thing to be) because they refuse to do what someone else thinks they should do. To be happy in what they are and what they do, and in their own achievements whatever those are, rather than seeking to find someone “to make them happy” as if life were a fairy tale. And they’ll be fine. And one day, soon I hope, our sons will recognize that the women in their lives are independent individuals to be treated with respect, not extensions of themselves, whose function is to make them feel “good” about who they are. No one can “make you happy”. You can only give of yourself, hopefully with love, and trust that the other person will do the same. And be prepared to walk away from the person, whoever that person may be, who takes you for granted and assumes that your sole purpose is to provide their gratification.

  2. Vanrick Willams says:

    Women are naturally prone to making mistakes. Can you guess who suffers the most from these mistakes? I think you know my answer to that question. Virtuous does not only refer to fidelity, but also “a partner in friendship, sex, competition and cooperation.” Can you recall or think about all the times you have seen a male at his lowest? A virtuous woman would be there to pull him up every time. In essence, a virtuous woman is a woman of principle, with or without a man. With your assistance, my last few sentences in this comment cement and add to this definition of virtuous. We both know that there are many rationalizations for men being promiscuous. Again, can you guess who men learned this from?
    The belief you have that virtue refers to how you relate to your fellow human beings does not do ‘virtuous’ justice. My previous article speaks about men putting restrictions on women’s choice of sexual partners in order to identify their children in the past, and I am well aware of DNA testing in the present. I do believe in the maxim, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you,” and I strongly believe that women should be treated equally with men. I have seen that video and I concur with the notion that, this child needs someone to talk to and the other views you expressed pertaining to this single issue. However, this is a perfect example to illustrate the first point I made that females are naturally inclined to making mistakes. Would you not say this girl made a mistake? I also believe that her mother’s intention was good but she may have gone about it in the wrong way. Nevertheless, this is a case of effective parenting and we both know that many lack the characteristics necessary to be effective parents.
    My statement about a virtuous woman turning a king into a great king served to explain the significance and importance of a woman. We all know that there have been a lot of great kings who had put away virtuous women. I am a king in my own right. Now! In your last paragraph, you stated several points we should teach our daughters. Lady Commissiong, in other words, you are simply saying teach our daughters to be virtuous, because those points yon mentioned constitute my definition of a ‘virtuous woman’.

  3. Steve Huggins says:

    IS this the Vanrick Williams that I know, the one who used to be my sidekick pal? Could someone be ‘smartly’ using you as their “front-man”?
    For my two cents worth: from extensive historical readings and personal observations, I am convinced that women, as a whole only, have never ever had their “rights”, but, in our contemporary society many women have been moving from one extreme of the pendulum to the opposite extreme — mainly due to communistic propagandizing, subversion, and targeted de-stabilization of the historic free enterprise western polities. Check out the aims, strategies and tactics of the official communist party exposed a year or so ago by Mr. Peter Binose.
    Like men, in SVG as elsewhere, women may be among the ‘good’. the bad, sometimes the VERY BAD, and the “ugly” – – – physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, psychologically . . .

    Stereotyping, finger-pointing and blame-allotment are futile, trite, and time-wasting.
    Removed from the romantic arena, I have met some supremely intelligent Vincentian women [in fully platonic settings and circumstances] who evinced jaw-dropping depth of thought and grasp of historical, philosophical and economic issues. One was an Angie originally from Mesopotamia who a Byera youthman pal recruited to give me some early tips on political ideologies; her brother is well known. Her life story, however, amply demonstrated the cynical destructiveness of the local Vincy communist advocates; it dramatically foreshadowed what the ideological charlatans would do to our Vincentian community, and sweet, intelligent St. Vincentian and Grenadinian women.

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