Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Equating Empowerment with Erotica in Ecuador

When Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa took over the reins of government in January 2007, he vowed to re-write the constitution to increase the power of the people and to tackle political instability. In a country that has been rocked by decades of political and economic turbulence and social volatility, a constitutional proposal to enshrine a "woman's right to enjoy sexual happiness" has sparked fiery debate in the predominantly conservative Roman Catholic nation.

Opposition members in the Constituent Assembly immediately raised a howl, protesting that such an intimate subject is private and should not be enshrined into Law. Other opponents ridiculed the proposal as legislating libido, and accused the proponent, Maria Soledad Vela, a member of the ruling governing body, as attempting to decree orgasm by law. The proponent's declaration that "Women have traditionally been seen as mere sexual objects and child bearers" has not helped her proposal gain adherents in the Assembly. Others argued the im
probability of prosecuting violators if the "victims" didn't know what it feels like to have an orgasm. Not surprisingly, the most virulent criticism and ridicule came from the men.

Ms. Vela clarified that she wanted women to have a right to make free, responsible and informed decisions about sex and clearer laws on life, health, and sexual education - not the right to an orgasm. But what is revealing is the kneejerk reaction of the men in the Assembly. The traditional male dominance over women in a Catholic environment may have been threatened, viewed as providing equal power to women who should be subservient to men - especially in love making. The conservative view that sex should be used only for the procreation of children, and that sexual gratification is lustful, still prevails among societies with fundamentalist practices and beliefs. This hypocrisy is in itself conflicted, and biased against women. How can procreation take place if the man, at least, is without "lust"? That would only mean a failure to launch.

What is not being made explicit in the proposal is the woman's "right to refuse" which puts and end to the "sex on demand" by men. By keeping the subject intimate and within the confines of the conjugal bedroom, men in such societies have long escaped prosecution for sexual abuse and marital rape. The proposal is being attacked on the basis of the allegations by the men of its implications. However, it is clear that the proponent in pushing for women's rights, in a country that treats them as lower than second class. The window of Democracy opened by the US educated President is an opportunity to correct this malady. That it will lead to several laws on women's rights, especially of the emerging indigenous population, is another factor that elicits strong opposition.

It is men who refuse equality, especially for the opposite gender, who are the weakest of all. Pretensions to strength of character are based on power currently dispensed, but will not allow a level playing field for fear of losing. Men whose egos are more important than the pursuit of justice will always prefer a corrupt and unjust environment, for as long as they enjoy the upper hand. It's difficult to believe that they love their mothers, sisters, or daughters when they would allow them to endure such cruel and humiliating experience for the rest of their married lives.



Zhu said...

I definitely enjoy seeing less traditional church power in Latin America, even though it might take some adjustment...

The Fitness Diva said...

In Latin America, Africa, Asia, parts of Europe...it's the same. Men fear losing their absolute power over women. I thank God that I was born in America EVERY SINGLE DAY.
My heart goes out to the women of the world. I hope the situation of each and every one of them gets better than it is now.

Religion was invented to control people. Most especially women. It's not about worshipping God at all, IMO. Besides, you don't need a religion to do that.

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Zhu,

I remember you saying that you've traveled through Latin America. I have traveled to the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua some years ago and the traditional and fundamentalist practices and beliefs of the Catholic faith are unbelievable. It's part superstition and part occult, but the male dominance was very prevalent and powerful.

I remember a child of about 14 was crying in shock and shame at being molested by a priest in a rural village.The women rubbed soap on her mouth for saying dirty things and the father had her tied and whipped for telling lies about the representative of God, which was like saying it against God himself.

When I saw the priest, he fit the bill of our ordinary everyday pedophile. We could not do anything since no charges were made.

But on the night before we left, we waited for the priest coming out of his favorite bar (believe it) banged him on the head, kicked and beat him, then ran for our lives.

We left the next day peacefully. It was not a good deed I know, and I still feel queasy about it now. But it felt good to get even at the time - not for me but for the girl.
:-)--Durano, done!

May 7, 2008 12:55 AM

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Fitness Diva,

This domination happens in America too. Remember that raid on a Texas cult a couple of weeks ago about a breakaway Mormon sect who practiced polygamy? That is another example of this power domination agenda given religious flavor to make it appear like it was a divine right.

It's ignorance or hypnotism or both. But the bottom line is it's power and domination.

If in America people can get away with things like these, think of all those in other parts of the world. Thank God you were given the upbringing and proper mental and attitudinal development that you have. Being in America alone is no guarantee.:-) --Durano, done!

SheR. said...

Well said Durano. Being born in a so-called privileged country is no guarantee that the women will be treated with more respect. We've seen so many cases of husbands abusing their wives in UK too. So do we then conclude it's not good for women to live in UK?
I guess it's pretty much in the upbringing of the child. If a mother taught a son to respect women, the story might be different. But of course in a male-dominated society, the woman will fear any single male member of the family and would not have brought up the son the way we wish she did.

Kim said...

excellent post Durano..
and the last few lines sum it up..
I agree with Sher...all of these men have mothers !!
I know my son would never dream of treating his girlfriend in that manner...and I suppose it has a lot to do with the principles and beliefs that I have tried to instil in him...

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Sher,

I agree with you completely. The mother must teach her son to respect women and care for them. However, the intervention of the male dominant figure - husband - in the upbringing of the child destroys the values that the mother attempts to inculcate.

This is precisely why the laws on women's rights is critical and important. Equally critical is its dissemination and implementation, as well as the education of the women on the values and attitudes that these instill.

Changing society's attitudes towards these factors is a long process. These have been part of a culture embedded with religious fervor, believed and accepted as Gospel truth.

We are still a long way from creating a just and humane society, but hoes are high that we'll get there sooner. :-) --Durano, done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hello Kim,

Thank you very much for the nice comment.

In most cases, it's really better that sons are raised by mothers to get acquire the better values.

I have no doubts about your son's degree of respect for women, knowing that he's been raised by a mother who envisions what is ideal; and translates it into inspiring and beautiful creations that strengthens an imperfect world.

He is a very fortunate young man to have been born with a mother like you. :-) --Durano, done!

Kim said...

thanks Durano...
you are very kind :)
have a lovely day :)

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