*( in this context the gender question relates to the context of elections, and, MPs/members of Parliament)
Repeatedly the statement, that “women Members of Parliament are worse than men in that position” is being circulated. Even by us women, ourselves. This statement, less based on experienced realities, has its routes in the low level of women’s self-esteem and in the dominating value systems as defined by men. A value system that has been, over times, internalized by women. The statement also hints at a misguided school of thought, in which the rank of a ” traitor” is regarded worse than that of an “ enemy”.Many of us have probably seen Fred Zinnemann’s film “Behold a Pale Horse”. The protagonist Manuel, acted by Gregory Peck, is a merciless opponent of the Franco Regime. He returns home to Spain after 20 years to see his hospitalized and aged mother. Franco’ men know of his return and are up to killing him. When, towards the end of the film, Manuel approaches the hospital, he can see the death trap. A general, representation of Franco, and a few soldiers are waiting for him. Manuel knows there is no escape. He decides to embrace his death but first kill the general, one for the many who have killed thousands of his people. A strange turn happens. In the last moment Manuel who can only kill one person, before he is shot himself, decides to turn the gun toward Carlos, his former combatant, now on the other side, and kill the traitor who was once a freedom fighter, and not the general.The authors intention in quoting above plot is to get at our own shortcomings in the judgment of female peers in politics. We are as vulnerable as Manuel has been, towards women, who are “one of US” but in their decisions turn against us; turn against their own gender. In a misguided conclusion, we attack the traitor woman and call her an augmented copy of negative masculine attitudes. To be fair, could we instead ask ourselves, which are those mechanism that have resulted in the transformation of a woman in power, in such a way, that she not only turns against the rights of other women, but actually also against her own SELF, against her Gender itself.The reaction of our collective consciousness, as womenIt is likely that our collective unconscious, as “inferior part” of the society, is an important drive to enhance our radical judgment against our peers and to say “ Women Members of Parliament are worse than their male peers”. Studies on the experience collected by analyses of collective behavior pattern among “inferior groups” ( such as marginalized groups, minorities, migrants etcetera)have demonstrated that these groups , for a variety of reasons, are more strict in their judgment toward individual of their own groups than towards the one outside their own group. Any wrong-doing by a member of the identity group, is seen as betrayal against the Self- Image in the society. Examples of such reaction can be found in large numbers among migrant Iranians in European and American countries. Women, as collectively deprived of influence in power structures, are in a similar status of collective inferiority and thus more strict and radical in judging other women and their actions. At the first glance the moving final oft the film and the choice of the protagonist’ s revenge, seems to tap on a sick judgment system. A system that condemned individuals who were “one of us” before; our peers. Persons who for a variety of reasons turned against the group, or against the image that we maintain form that identity. Individuals who regret their earlier battle, who make a U- turn and regret their past. They do become greater enemies of the Us-self, than the constant and defined enemy.No doubt, it is regretful to see women depleted from Self-respect, to such an extent that they take positions such as defending polygamy. But the shame and blame is not on them. It is on the ill-figured System of patriarchy, which has created an environment for women to turn against their gender identity and, in other words, commit suicide and exert self-afflicted injuries.(The Persian text is here quoting a verse from A.H. Sayeh, that confirms this mechanism.)Let us also not forget, that the shadow of the observant male eye that has set standards for “proper“ attitudes for women, and keeps controlling them, is above us at all times. This fact further deteriorates women’s self- esteem. It increases our idiosyncrasies towards our actions and decisions. We constantly calibrate our positioning and standing from a male angle of assessment. The fact that women are brought up with investing lots of attention and energy to their external looks originates from this “looking at ourselves from the male angle of observation”. We are constantly under our own critical scrutiny. We become the bearer of the myths that have been imposed on us throughout generations. The wrong decision of a CEO, a female leader, of feminist activists or any other woman in the public arena will be brought much harder to scrutiny than the same deeds, executed by men.I would like to get at the following conclusion: When we look at the myth „Women are Worse than Men“ with realistic eyes, we can clearly recognize that in the parliament, some hundret men are present at all times to set the legislation ( unfortunately their female peers lack such influence!) For years and years men have brought legislation about that is still extremely against women. The reason that we are more alert to statements by women MPs of a given faction, that are against women’s interests, is, because we are confronted with an unwritten rule that women MPs in any given faction are chosen to be the speakers for women issues. Whereas it is the entity of that particular faction that drafts that particular decision.It is obvious that our assessment of women MPs is fundamentally influenced by values that are coined in our patriarchic society. We women, have become in the course of this prevailing setting extremely merciless against women who betray the image of Self that we maintain. We can go as far as to declare them as unsuitable for the office. We do not support them. Consequently they need to turn to male structures to obtain political group support to become representatives. Is it a surprise that, as a consequence, we deprive the support aspiration of female politicians with our own hands? Those women know from the onset, that they have no basis among women groups and their peers. Not the peer group support. They nevertheless, need to be supported and thus turn to male power structures. Favors must be paid back: women in such male-dominated factions will have to comply with the ruling male values systems. They have to offer loyalties to patriarchy . And that is why, we can see and follow the path of those women MPs and observe how they resort to apologetic slogans and demands when it comes to saying “I detest feminism” or “it is alright for men to have more than only one wife” .Considering idealistic criteria that we women apply to assess our peers, it is unlikely that any woman in a power position is safe from our radical criticism and blame. As a consequence the number of women who enjoy the support of female groups and societies, become rare and very limited. The resulting vicious circle further guarantees almost exclusive rights for men in power structures and positions. There is so far no space for competent and capable women.
Translated into English by Dr. Jaleh Lackner-Gohari