Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The politics of Repression and Oppression

Eight years ago, I traveled to South Africa with my son to meet my daughter who was on tour with the Radcliffe choir. Partly ,it was to reconnect with friends from graduate school days, partly it was to see not only where Nelson Mandela and many others  had been incarcerated during the apartheid but also to see animals in the wild.

What I did not expect to encounter was that apartheid had been jut one abominable segment of  the government policy of those despicable  times. The fundamentalist "Christians" who had overtaken the political  life of the nation also shut down science, and censorship of books and films was ubiquitous.

I fear that the Republican right wing has gone just about as far in their ideology as the regressive politicians  in South Africa  did before the end of apartheid. Representative Akin's reprehensible comments about how "legitimate"(!) rape will not result in pregnancy is just the tip of the chilling truth: he spoke what his cohorts think.

  The South African  cave,  where the fossilized remains one of the oldest humans- a woman- had been found, was shut down durng the apartheid era. Scientific work and anthropological studies that would shed light on our evolutionary history were anathema to these patriarchal politicians.

So is it any surprise that legislators who can't comprehend scientific evidence about evolution or climate change would think otherwise about what is true about human physiology and pregnancy?Whatever fits neatly into their solipsistic world of women as inferior and science as  fiction is what they conjure.

I would not give a whit as to what they conjure if it didn't so affect all of society, especially women and anyone disenfrancished. We really need to see what happened in South Africa to get an inkling as  to how repressive the patriarchy can be.When we think patriarchal repression and oppression, we think of Afghanistan and the Taliban. That is blatant, yes. But what happened in South Africa was insidious and it was accomplished by  white males of European descent --and the white women who supported them.

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