This seminar shed light on the fact that women are not treated equally.  In my opinion, much of our understanding of women stems from the Enlightenment, which associated irrationality with emotion and rationality with reason.  Furthermore, emotion was associated with nature and women.  This sexist idea is used to oppress women and the environment to this day.  I believe sexism is rooted in the feminine/masculine dichotomy.

The patriarchal system that dominates the world today is rooted deep within our global society.  Although it can be traced back to ancient times, it has evolved in many ways, expressing itself in various forms of oppression. Furthermore, it appears to have consolidated itself through the process of globalization, and is deceptively presented as the only and best way to structure society.  Many have embraced the Platonism that has imbued itself into Western culture. The Platonic conception of human nature—where reason is exalted and praised and emotion is demonized—culminated in the Enlightenment. This dichotomy of reason and emotion continues to prevail today and is essential to maintaining the oppressive power structure of the patriarchal system, which is built on the perversion of attributing masculine characteristics to reason and feminine characteristics to emotion.

Indeed, the Enlightenment has perverted human nature by devaluing the intelligence of the emotions and appetites of human beings.  Platonism has influenced Western culture to such an extent that the mind is seen to be the true self.  However, it must be said that we are not just minds; we are much more.  The complexity of human beings must be taken into account.  Nietzsche understood this and condemned Platonic-Christianity for devaluing human emotions.  It is a perversion to exalt the mind over emotions, and likewise, to exalt the emotions over the mind.  Blaise Pascal wrote that there are “two extremes: to exclude reason, to admit reason only.”  Both reason and emotion are equal.  They are dependent on each other and should be treated holistically.

This perversion of human nature oppresses both men and women. It confines our freedom by forcing us to fit into either masculine or feminine social roles.  Hence, we are never able to reach our full potential as human beings.

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Various social groups are looked over, or “invisible” in many societies around the world.  Today the seminar primarily focused on one such group, women.  Women have fought and continue to fight to be visible in our world.  The translation fo today’s seminar was a bit difficult to understand, but the overall message was clear.  Even today, in the 21st century, women are still being ignored and treated unequally.

There is a website, Equals?, that seeks to open up this topic for discussion.  Just as the video above pointed out, the question of inequality – “Are we equals?” – must continue to be asked until there is a definitive answer of “YES!” worldwide.  I would like to share some of the posters that are available to download from this site, so I have posted a couple of my favorites below.

Download the “Little Book of Big Debate Starters” here!

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