(Originally published in Guyana’s Stabroek News on 9 June 2012)
I attended a meeting earlier this year that included a good number of women who are devoted activists and advocates for Guyana’s female population. The overall discussion was spot on with the pulse of women’s issues in the nation.
However, there was one statement made by a facilitator of the meeting that I can’t seem to shake. She emphatically stated, “There is not a problem with submission.” She was, of course, referring to the traditional mandate that requires women to submit to men.
I wrote the woman’s statement down and put exclamation points next to it to signify my shock. I completely understand that there are some Sisters who still adhere to these traditions that require them to submit to their husbands because they were raised to believe it is right to defer to a man. However, I simply cannot understand how women do not see that this mandatory submission is one of the reasons women 1) remain in abusive relationships; 2) do not seek the help they need to escape the violence; and 3) do not prosecute an abuser and in most cases will protect him.
In fact, contrary to my dear Sister’s declaration, there is a very big problem with submission. The tradition of one gender submitting to the other (always women to men) has caused women to bow to the whims and fancies of men – always to the detriment of women and the elevation of men.
This skewed way of living has brought upon women savage atrocities like rape, torture, child marriage, constant verbal and emotional abuse, violence and murder for thousands of years – and in many instances neither victim nor her female friends and relatives are allowed to say a word in her defence.
Yes, there is a very big problem with submission. Think of all the women who have been brutally raped, beaten and murdered in Guyana in just the last three weeks. The submissive stance of those women was programmed into them from the time they were little girls so that even at death’s door they still submitted.
As a result, I am asking all of my Sisters to re-examine and challenge these long-accepted traditions (such as submission to males) in the light of the evidence that shows how much it hurts all women and, in fact, all of humanity.