The most essential biological difference between men and women is the womb, and the harboring of life that a womb provides. For most of human history, creating a new life was a mystery; the role of men in fertilizing an egg was misunderstood for a long time, and fertility itself was the subject of myth, secrecy and ritual. Such misunderstanding produced conflict and confusion, and we live with the results of that confusion to this day.
For men, confusion has bred both idealization and resentment of women, neither of which have been helpful in cultivating equality and equity between the sexes. The ancient Greeks, for example, proposed that the first woman was constructed from clay by Haphaestus, blacksmith of the gods; he named his female creation Pandora. Hermes and other gods brought Pandora to life, and the popular myth of her opening “Pandora’s Box” and thereby releasing evil into the world, was the result. It has not been smooth sailing from there. Men have been blaming women for all sorts of ills ever since.
In Medieval times (1400-1700 A.D.) women and mothers were often accused of witchcraft. Sexuality was at the heart of such accusations, and the career of a witch, according to the church, began with sexual relations with the devil. From there, according to the Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer of Witches) of the church, a witch could control men, “First, by inclining the minds of men to inordinate passion; second by obstructing their generative force; third by removing the members accommodated to that act; fourth, by changing men into beasts by their magic act; fifth, by destroying generative force in women; sixth, by procuring abortion; seventh, by offering children to the devils….All witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which in women is insatiable…”
Mothers, on the other hand, have often been idealized by men. Insulting one’s mother was a guarantee of conflict, and swearing fealty to one’s mother a virtue. Lost in the flood of commercially produced Mother’s Day Cards oozing with sentimentality is the reality of just how difficult a mother’s job usually is. While things domestic have changed a bit, mothers are all too often cheated upon, left to do all the housework and child rearing, and expected to contribute to the household income as well. Working mothers have three jobs: mother, wife and breadwinner. This they do, as they have most always done, with a remarkable measure of dignity and great effort.
Living in #MeToo times, the depredations inflicted upon women are now getting deserved attention. Men, too long allowed to get away with overtly sexist attitudes and behavior, are finally being brought to task by women unwilling to silently cower in fear of revenge. For those among them who are mothers, our admiration runs even higher.
Our planet, the Mother of Us All, needs credit and loving attention, also. She has been a patient mother, perhaps too patient. It’s no accident we call our planet Mother Earth; she feeds us and gives us all we need to take care of ourselves and each other, much as most any loving mother tries to do.
So on this Mother’s Day, we suggest not simply sending your own mother a card or sending flowers. This Mother’s Day, forgive your mother whatever grievances you may carry in your heart and offer her and all mothers your deepest expressions of loving gratitude.
— Sun Editorial Board