Newspaper columnists are expected to avoid entering in argument in print with readers. I am breaking the rule because of a faceless fellow who apparently has no name. Since this anonymous person entered my comfort zone, I feel somewhat like a female who is being pursued down a dark street by a stranger in a ski mask.
In the beginning the person, who is undoubtedly a man, commended me for the sagacity of my columns and give me references for making them more pungent. More recently he has labelled me an Old Fool. Normally, I don’t object to this appellation because I know the people who use it in reference to me are all idiots. I don’t know, however, whether the stalking stranger, clothed in his burkha of anonymity, is an idiot. This bothers me.
My mysterious would-be mentor didn’t like my published thoughts about the women of Afghanistan and, presumably, everywhere else. He gave me examples of a number of warlike women in international affairs who were active conspirators in feeding the coffers of trans-national corporations. They count for nothing because they are atypical.
My thesis was that the most primitive societies are those in which women are treated most unfairly. I was sure that if a negotiated peace was to come in Afghanistan, the Taliban would be intransigent so long as women appeared to be escaping from their traditional role as chattels. Only days after my column appeared, the Karzai government passed a new law which ruled categorically that women are second-class citizens.
In patriarchal societies women are always treated unfairly, from the potentate’s seraglio guarded by gelded male slaves to the corporate towers and unbalanced salary scales of corporate Canada in 2012. (I hasten to add the male slaves of the seraglio were also treated unfairly.)
My critic asked why women don’t march in protest against the war in Afghanistan and the conflicts elsewhere in the Middle East. The answer is they have been bamboozled along with all the lordly males. Women are marching now wherever activists are protesting. They marched with the suffragettes in order to gain the right to vote. They marched with the Anti-Saloon League in order to prevent males from drinking up their pay cheques.
During the Second World War, women prayed relentlessly for the safe return of warrior sons. I was there; I know. During the Second World War, reluctant station agents delivered “killed in action” telegrams to homes in my village. I was there. I know. I saw the stricken faces.
In writing this column I have broken another rule. I have always refused to acknowledge any relationship with anonymous critics. I won’t do it again.