This seems to be an odd phrase. It appears that though we are living in the 2nd half of the 20th century, yet there are some people, here and there, who have a medieval way of thinking, and still pursue the outdated idea of disparity between man and woman. Like the people of the medieval ages they are of the view that woman belongs to the inferior sex and that she is not a perfect human being. She is something betwixt and between man and animal. She is not fit to lead an independent life and must live under the supervision and control of man. But we know that all these ideas are outdated and obsolete. Today we know very well that the fake charge of imperfection against woman was concocted by man during the days of his ascendancy over her. Now, the proven fact is that woman belongs to the superior sex and man to the inferior one.
These are the views of some modern Westerners. In actual fact, the wonderful scientific progress of the 20th century has clearly proved the existence of disparities between man and woman. Their existence is not a malicious misrepresentation but a scientific truth, based on observation and experiment. Anyhow, these differences have nothing to do with the superiority or inferiority of either sex. The law of creation has ordained them simply to make the bond of conjugal relations firmer and to lay the foundation of the union between husband and wife deeper and better. Nature wanted to distribute family rights and obligations between them with its own hands. The law of creation has made the disparities between man and woman similar to the difference between the various organs of a body. If it has given a distinctive position to each one of the eyes, the ears, the hands, the feet and the spinal column, it does not mean that it has been unjust or has made any discrimination against any of them.
IS IT PROPORTION OR PERFECTION AND IMPERFECTION?
It is amazing that some people insist that the disparity in the physical and psychological capabilities of man and woman is due to the imperfection of woman and the perfection of man. They hold that, for certain good reasons, woman has been intentionally created imperfect.
The notion of the imperfection of woman has been more popular in the West than in the East. The people of the West have given her a raw deal. Sometimes, misquoting the religion, they say that woman should be ashamed of herself. Sometimes they say: "Woman is the being, having long hair and a deficient brain", "Woman is the partition between animal and man" and so on.
It is still more amazing that some Westerners, having taken a 180 degree turn, have lately begun trying to put forward a thousand and one arguments to prove that by creation, man is inferior and imperfect and that woman is superior and perfect.
If you have read the book, 'Woman, the Superior Sex', by Ashley Montague, you may know how its author, by misrepresenting the facts and adducing incongruous arguments, has tried to prove that woman is more perfect than man. As far as the medical and psychological studies and social statistics are concerned, this book is very valuable, but where the author tries to draw his own conclusions to prove his claim, which is the title of the book, he goes to the utmost extent of absurdity. It is not understood why it is necessary that the Westerners should one day disparage woman so much that the next day, to make amends for the past, they are compelled to absolve her from all the defects which they had ascribed to her, and instead debit man with them. What is the necessity of regarding the differences between man and woman as the result of the perfection of one sex and the imperfection of the other, so that we may be compelled sometimes to take man's side and sometimes woman's?
The author of this book insists that woman is superior to man and regards the privileges of man as the product of historical and social factors and not the result of natural causes.
In fact, the differences between man and woman are a question of proportion or suitability and not that of perfection or imperfection. The law of creation has decreed that as man and woman have been created to lead a joint life, they should bear a specific proportion of their capabilities despite all differences. This point will be clarified later.
A PLATONIC THEORY
The subject of dissimilarity between man and woman is not a new question, which might have cropped up during our time. It is at least 2,400 year old. It was discussed, in its present form, by Plato in his book, "The Republic".
He expressly maintains that men and women have the same capabilities, and women can perform the same jobs and enjoy the same rights as men do.
The germs of all ideas about woman, which have emerged during the 20th century and even of that part of these ideas which appears to be odd and unacceptable to the 20th century people, are found in the views of Plato. That is why the people admire him so much and call him the Father of Philosophy. Plato, in the fifth part of his book, "The Republic", has discussed such questions as communism of women and children, improving the breed, sterilisation of some men and women, confining the breeding activity to only those who possess high hereditary qualities, rearing children outside the family atmosphere, and confining procreation to certain years of life, during which vitality is at its peak.
Plato believes that, like man, woman should also be given military training and, as man takes part in athletic competitions, woman should do so as well.
Anyhow, there are two points about what Plato has said. One is that he admits that physically and mentally women are weaker than men. In other words, he considers the disparity between man and woman to be quantitative, though he is opposed to the existence of any qualitative disparity in their capabilities. He believes that both man and woman have similar talents. The only thing is that in certain respects woman is weaker than man, but that is no reason why she should have a separate sphere of activity.
As Plato regards woman weaker than man, he thanks God that he was born a man. He says: "I thank God for my having been born a Greek, not a non-Greek, a free man not a slave, and a man not a woman".
The second point is that all that Plato said about the improvement of breed, equal promotion of the talents of both the sexes, and the communism of women and children, is related only to the ruling class, that is the ruling philosophers or philosopher-rulers, because according to him, only this class is worthy of being rulers. As we know, politically he was an opponent of democracy and a supporter of aristocracy. So what he has said, on the above points, relates to the aristocratic class. As for other classes, he has different views.
ARISTOTLE VERSUS PLATO
Plato's pupil, Aristotle, is the next thinker of the ancient world, whose views are available to us. He has expressed his views on the disparity between man and woman and has strongly opposed the views of his teacher Plato. He believes that man and woman differ not only quantitatively but qualitatively also. He says that the two sexes have talents of different kinds, and the functions which have been entrusted to them by the law of creation and the rights which have been bestowed on them by it differ greatly. According to Aristotle, their rules of morality are also different in many respects. It is possible that a moral quality may be excellent in regard to man, but it may not be so in regard to woman and vice versa.
In the ancient world, the views of Plato were replaced by those of Aristotle. The later intellectuals preferred the views of Aristotle to those of Plato.
THE VIEW OF THE MODERN WORLD
This was about the ancient world. Now let us see what the modern world says. It does not resort to speculation and approximation. It is concerned with observation, test and experiment. Its conclusions are based on facts, figures and objective studies. In the modern world, as the result of deeper medical, psychological and social studies, more and bigger disparities between man and woman, unknown to the ancient world, have been discovered.
The people of the ancient world evaluated man and woman only on the basis that one is rougher, taller and more hairy, having larger limbs and a high-pitched voice, whereas the other is finer, shorter, and cleaner, having a low-pitched voice and smaller limbs. At the most, they took into consideration the difference in their age of puberty, and the difference in their intellect and feelings. They regarded man a symbol of wisdom, and woman a symbol of love and emotions.
But now many other disparities have come to light. It is now known that the world of woman is different from that of man in many respects.
We shall first narrate the differences between man and woman, as far as we have gathered them from the writings of the experts in this field. Then we shall mention their philosophy and shall point out which differences are natural and which are the products of historical, cultural and social factors. Some of these differences are so obvious that they are undeniable. The knowledge of others can b& gained with a brief study and experience.
From the physical point of view man, on an average has larger limbs and woman smaller. Man is taller and woman is shorter. Man is coarser and woman is finer. Man's voice is comparatively rough and heavy, and woman's delicate and delightful. The bodily growth of woman is quicker, and that of man is slower. It is said that even the growth of a female foetus is quicker than that of a male foetus. Physically, man is stronger than woman, and his muscles are more developed, but woman has a greater power of resistance than man. Woman reaches the stage of puberty earlier, and loses the capability of reproduction earlier. A girl speaks earlier than a boy. The average brain of man is larger than the average brain of woman, but, in proportion to the whole body, the average brain of woman is larger. The lungs of man can breathe more air than those of woman. The heart of woman beats more rapidly than that of man.
Psychologically, man is more inclined to physical exercise, hunting and active life. The feelings of man are challenging and bellicose, whereas woman has a peaceful disposition. Man is aggressive; woman is comparatively calm and quiet. Woman avoids violence, and that is why the cases of suicide by women are fewer. Even when committing suicide, men tend to be more violent; they resort to shooting or hanging themselves or jump off lofty buildings, whereas women use sleeping pills, opium etc. for this purpose. Woman is more emotional than man and is more easily excited. Man is comparatively cool-minded. Woman is, by nature, much interested in ornaments, cosmetics, make-up and the latest fashions of clothes whereas man is not. Feelings of woman are not stable; she is comparatively fickleminded. She is more cautious, more religious, more talkative, more fearful and more ceremonious than man. Her feelings are motherly from childhood She cannot compete with man in deductive sciences and dry intellectual subjects, but in literature and arts like painting etc. she is not at all behind him. Man has a greater power of concealing his secrets. He can keep the unhappy happenings to himself and that is why he is more often afflicted with the diseases caused by introversion. Woman is more sensitive and soft- hearted than man; she can easily resort to weeping and sometimes even becomes unconscious.
A COMPARATIVE VIEW OF EACH OTHER
Man is the slave of his desires; woman is the bonds-maid of love. Man loves the woman whom he likes; woman loves the man who realises her value and proclaims his love to her. Man wants to own the woman; woman wants to dominate man's heart. Man wants to overpower woman; woman wants to penetrate into his heart. Man wants to capture woman; woman wants to be captured. Woman wants man to be courageous and gallant; man wants woman to be beautiful and charming. Woman wants the protection of man, and looks upon such protection as the most valuable thing she can possess. She can control her desires. Man's sexual urge is active and aggressive, woman's passive and excitable.
DISPARITIES BETWEEN MAN AND WOMAN
An American psychologist, Professor Reek has published in a voluminous book the result of his researches into the affairs of man and woman. He says: "The world of man is totally different from that of woman. If woman cannot think or act like man, it is because they belong to two different worlds."
He further says: 'According to the Old Testament, man and woman have come into being from the same flesh. That is true, but though they have come into being from the same flesh, they have two different bodies, which are totally unlike each other in composition. They never have the same feelings and never show the same reactions to various incidents and accidents. They are like two planets moving in two different orbits. They may understand each other and may be complimentary to each other, but they are never unified. That is why they may live with each other, love each other and may not get fed up with the temperament of each other."
Professor Reek compares the spirit of man with that of woman and discovers many of their dissimilarities. He says:
"It is boring to man to have to live always with the woman he likes. But nothing is more pleasant to woman than to be near the man she loves.
Man always wants to be the same, but woman wants to get up every morning with a new and fresh look.
The best sentence which a man can address to a woman is: 'My dear, I love you'. The most beautiful sentence, which a woman says to a man of her choice is: 'I am proud of you'.
The man who has had several mistresses in his life becomes an object of attraction for other women, but men do not like the woman in whose life more than one man has existed. When men become old, they feel distressed because they lose the jobs on which they depended. The old women feels happy, because, from their own point of view, they come to possess all the best things one could desire, a house and a few grandchildren.
Good luck from man's point of view means securing a respectable position in the society. But to a woman good luck means to captivate the heart of a man and keep it safe through out her life.
A man always wants to convert the woman of his choice to his own religion and nationality.
For a woman it is as easy to change her religion and nationality for the sake of the man she likes as to change her family name following the marriage."
A MASTERPIECE OF CREATION
Irrespective of the question whether or not dissimilarity between man and woman causes the dissimilarity in their respective rights and responsibilities, dissimilarity itself is one of the most wonderful masterpieces of creation. It is a question which leads one to the recognition of Allah and His Unity. It proves that the system of this world has been most wisely and exquisitely planned. It shows that creation is not a matter of chance. Nature is not a blind force. It is not possible to interpret the world phenomena without recognising the Ultimate Cause'. With a view to preserving the species, the great creative mechanism has brought the reproductive system into existence. Males and females are continuously being produced. As the continuity of the human species depends upon their mutual co-operation, nature has seen to it that the males and females seek coexistence with each other. For that purpose self-interest which is essential to every living being has been converted into sentiments of service, co-operation and tolerance. To make the scheme practical, and to ensure that their bodies and souls fit in each other comfortably, certain physical and spiritual disparities between them have been arranged. These very disparities attract man and woman to each other. If woman had the same physical features, the same temperament and the same habits as man has, it would not have been possible for her to attract man towards her, in the same way as she does now. If man had the same physical and psychological features as woman has, she would not have regarded him as her ideal and would not have done anything to win his heart. Man has been created to dominate the world, and woman has been created to dominate man.
The law of creation has so ordained that both man and woman seek each other and are interested in each other. But their relationship is not of that nature which they have with other possessions; that relationship emerges from selfishness. They want to possess things for their own use, and look on them as the means of their comfort. But, the relationship between man and woman means that each one of them wants the comfort and happiness of the other, and enjoys making sacrifices for the sake of the other.
A CONNECTION HIGHER THAN PASSION
It is amazing that some individuals cannot differentiate between sexual passion and love. They think that the relation between husband and wife is exclusively based on greed, lust and a sense of exploitation. They hold that this relationship is of the same kind as man has with the things he eats, drinks, wears or rides. These people do not know that in nature, besides those based on self-interest, there exists other relations also. These are the relations from which sacrifice, tolerance and goodwill proceed. These are the relations which demonstrate humanity. Such relations are, to a certain extent, found among animals also, as far as their mates and the young ones are concerned.
These persons think that man always looks at woman, just as a bachelor sometimes looks at a dissolute woman. They believe that only lust can join man and woman together. In fact, the matrimonial union is something higher than physical passion, and its basis is in what has been described by the Qur'an as 'affection and compassion'. The Qur'an says: 'And of His signs is this that He created your mates from yourselves that you might find rest in them, and He put between you affection and compassion". (Surah ar-Rum, 30 : 21).
What a grave mistake it is to interpret the history of man-woman relationship from the angle of employment and exploitation, or on the basis of a struggle for survival! But still some people do so and advance baseless arguments to support their line of thinking. We are really amazed to see the history of man-woman relationship being explained on the basis of the principle of contradiction, as if man and woman are two divergent social classes which are always in conflict with each other. If it is possible to explain the history of the relations between fathers and children from the angle of employment and exploitation, only then the historical relations of husbands and wives can also be explained from this angle. It is true that man has always been stronger than woman, but the law of creation has so ordained that instinctively he has not been able to mete out the same unkind treatment to his wife as he has meted out to his slaves, subordinates and occasionally, even to his neighbours.
We do not deny that men have been cruel to women. We are only against the way how this cruelty is explained. Throughout history, men have oppressed women, but they maltreated their children also, despite all the love they have had for them, and despite ignorance, prejudice and custom, and not by way of exploitation. Roots of these kinds of oppressions are those very factors which make man Oppress and do injustice to himself; these are: ignorance, bias, traditions and habits, more than selfish cravings.
THE DUALITY OF THE FEELINGS OF MAN AND WOMAN WITH REGARD TO EACH OTHER
Not only are the family relations of man and woman with each other different from their relation to other things, but also their attitude to each other is not similar. In other words, the nature of the relation of man to woman is different from that of woman to man, though they both attract each other, but, unlike the non-living bodies, in this case, the smaller body pulls the larger body to itself. Man has been created as a manifestation of longing, love and pursuit, and woman as a manifestation of attraction and desirability. The feelings of the two are of different but complementary kind. One seeks and the other wishes to be sought after.
Sometime ago, a newspaper published the photograph of a young Russian girl who had committed suicide. This girl left a note in which she said that no man had ever kissed her and so her life had become unbearable.
For a girl it is a matter of great disappointment that no man loves her and nobody has kissed her. But a young boy is not frustrated if no girl has kissed him. He is frustrated only when he is not able to kiss a girl.
Will Durant in the course of his exhaustive discussion, says that a girl whose only merit is knowledge and high thinking. but who lacks natural charm and semi-conscious cleverness, is not likely to succeed in finding a husband. Sixty per cent of the university educated women remain without a husband.
He says that an eminent woman intellectual complained that nobody was willing to marry her. She used to say: 'Why doesn't anybody love me? I can be better than most of the women. Still, many insignificant women are wanted, but I'm not."
It may be observed that the sense of frustration of this woman is different from that of any man. She complains as to why nobody loves her.
Man is frustrated only when he cannot find a woman of his choice, or, if he finds her, he cannot win her.
The temperaments of man and woman have been so ordained, that with the definite purpose of making the union between husband and wife firm and deep it may enable both of them to enjoy their life better. In fact, the foundation of the human society and the upbringing of the future generations has been laid on this very union.
A lady psychologist writes: "As a psychologist my biggest interest has been the study of the spirit of men. Some time ago I was given an assignment to investigate the psychological factors of man and woman. I arrived at the following conclusions:
(i) All women are interested in working under the supervision of someone else. They like to work as a subordinate rather than a boss.
(ii) All women want to feel that their existence is effective and is required".
This psychologist expresses her views thus: "I believe that these two spiritual requirements of women proceed from the fact that women are led by emotions and men by reason. It is often observed that women are not only equal to men in intelligence, but sometimes even superior to them. Their only weak point is that they are too emotional. Men's thinking is always more practical. They judge better; they are better organisers and better directors. The superiority of the spirit of men to that of women is a thing which has been designed by nature itself. Whatever women may do to counter this fact will be of no avail. Women should accept the reality that, as they are too sensitive, they need men's supervision in their lives. The biggest aim of women's life is to 'ensure' her future. Once she achieves it, she says goodbye to many of her activities. She is afraid of taking risks. Fear is the sentiment, to overcome which woman needs man's help. All jobs which require constant thinking are boring to her".
A HASTY MOVEMENT
The European movement for the restoration of women's rights was a hasty affair conducted with undue urgency. The reforms being outstanding, scientific consideration was not given to the proposed measures, with the result that they became a conglomeration of good and bad points. No doubt, a series of miseries of women were removed, many rights were granted to them and doors hitherto closed were opened for them by the women's Rights movement, but at the same time the reforms brought, in their wake other misfortunes and miseries, not only to women, but to the whole human society. If undue hurry had not been made, women's rights would have been restored in a better way and there would have been no hue and cry by the intellectuals against their evil effects. Anyhow, it is hoped that better counsels would prevail and future reforms, instead of being emotional, would proceed with knowledge and a sense of understanding. Comments of the intellectuals augur well for the future. It appears that the Westerners are suffering from the after-effects of the same reforms which seem to be exhilarating to their imitators in the East.
WILL DURANT'S VIEW
Will Durant in his book, Pleasures of Philosophy", has elaborately discussed the sexual and family questions. We select some of his ideas so that the readers may become acquainted with the course of current thought among the western intellectuals and avoid hasty conclusions.
He says under the heading 'Love'. "The first clear tune of love begins with the coming of puberty. Puberty is a Latin word, meaning the age of hair, that is the age of the appearance of hair on the body of the boys, especially on their chest which is a matter of pride for them, and on the face, which they regularly shave. The quality and quantity of hair, other things being equal, is related to the power of procreation and genesis. Hair is in its best condition at the peak of virility. This growth of hair, along with the coarseness of voice, is a part of the secondary sex characteristics, appearing in the boy at the time of puberty. As for the girls, at the time of puberty nature makes their bearing and movements so graceful that they attract the attention of onlookers. Their buttocks begin to flatten to facilitate maternity. Their breasts develop and become prominent to suckle a child. Nobody knows exactly what is the cause of the appearance of these secondary sex characteristics. Anyhow, the theory of Professor Starling has lately found many supporters. According to it, the genital cells, at puberty, not only produce spermatozoa and ova, but also secrete a hormone that enters the blood and causes physical, spiritual and other changes. At this age, not only does the body attain a new vigour, but the spirit, conduct and demeanour are also affected in innumerable ways. Romain Rolland says that during the years of life a time comes when many slow physical changes result in further development of a male or a female. The most important of these changes are the appearance of heart-warming boldness and vigour in a male, and the fascinating grace and delicacy in a female. Damoseh says that by nature basically "all men are liars, deceitful, braggarts, hypocrites, cunning and quarrelsome; and all woman are selfish, ostentatious and unfaithful. But there is one thing in the world which is noble and sacred, and that is the union of these two imperfect beings . . towards perfection.
The etiquette of mate-seeking in adults consists of an attack by a male to gain a free hand but withdrawal by a female for incitation and deception (of course, there are exceptions). As man, by nature, is war-like and a hunting animal, his action is positive and aggressive. Woman for him is a reward which must be carried off and owned. Mate-seeking is a fight and struggle, and marriage is possession and domination. The existence of substantial chastity in woman serves the interests of procreation, for shy abstinence of a female is helpful to her in choosing her mate. Chastity prevents women from being casual in the choice of her lover, that is the father of her future children. Woman speaks for collective interest and man for individual interest. . . . Woman is more skilful in making courtship, for her desire is not so intense as to make her shut her eyes to reason.
Darwin has observed that in most species a female is not much interested in love-making. Other naturalists, like Lemberzo, Cash and Kraft Ebing are also of the opinion that women are more inclined towards being attractive, receiving the vague and general appreciation of men, and more interested in men paying attention to her real inner desires than in seeking sexual pleasure. Lemberzo, and others say that "the natural basis of woman's love is only a secondary characteristic of her motherhood. All the feelings and sentiments which join woman to man, do not proceed from her physical needs, but derived from her instinct of submission (placing herself under the protection of man). This instinct is meant to meet the requirements of her factual position
Will Durant in the chapter under the heading, 'Man and Woman', says: "The main function of woman is to serve the cause of the survival of the species, and that of man to serve his wife and children. They may have other functions also, but based on wisdom and expediencies they are subservient to these two basic ones. These are the two basic but semi-unconscious human objectives, on the realisation of which the happiness of humanity depends. Woman, by nature, mostly seeks peace, not war. It appears that in many species the female has no bellicose instinct at all. If it ever resorts to fighting, it does so for the sake of its offspring.
Woman is more patient than man, though man is bolder in facing the risky and critical jobs of life. She has more endurance, and can face the countless minor hardships and irritations of daily life better. Her martial spirit is confined to her appreciation of this spirit in others. She loves soldiers and likes strong and sturdy men. As such she may be influenced by mysterious masochistic tendencies and be victimised by manly strength.
The spirit of appreciating strength and vitality in others sometimes overshadows her economic sense, and occasionally she prefers to marry a brave man. She gladly submits to a man who commands in just and fair ways over others. If women are not so obedient nowadays, as they used to be before, it is because men are now weaker in strength and her own surroundings and is usually limited to her house. She her own surrounding and is usually limited to her house. She is as deep as nature. She is also as limited as her house. Her instinct keeps her attached to old traditions. She is neither mentally nor habitually given to trial. (Some women living in big cities may be an exception). If she resorts to free love, that is not because she wants freedom in that but it is because she has met without disappointments when she is married to a responsible man. If in her youth she sometimes gets enamoured of politics and extends her interest to multifarious human aspects, she usually gives up all such activities after finding a faithful husband, and quickly pulls herself and her husband out of public affairs. She reminds her husband that his sense of intense loyalty should be limited to his home as woman does not require much thinking to know that all reforms begin at home. As she turns a fanciful and vagrant man into a man tied to his home and children, the survival of mankind depends on her. She is not concerned by nature with laws and governments. Her house and children are the objects of her love. If she is successful in looking after them, she does not care which government comes into power and which government goes out of power. Nature does not care for the laws of the governments. It holds the household and the child dear. If it succeeds in preserving them, it is not interested in the governments, and laughs at those who try to change the basic laws. If today nature appears to be helpless in protecting the household and the child, that is because the woman has since long forgotten the nature. But the failure of the nature is not everlasting. It can always draw upon hundreds of advantages it has in store, whenever there is occasion for it. There are nations and races more numerous than we are, and nature can ensure its absolute and indefinite continuity from among them."