2,500 years ago in India, the Buddha taught that women, in addition to men, had the capacity for enlightenment. Over 700 years ago in 13th century Japan, Nichiren Daishonin taught that both men and women are equally deserving of respect. Today in the U.S., many feminists strive to create a society where women are treated as equals alongside men. My question is this: Are intelligent and powerful women perceived as a threat?
I believe the answer to this question is yes. Perhaps not in all situations, nor by all people (men specifically), but in many cases, a well-educated, intelligent woman can pose a threat to the status quo (i.e. the patriarchy). In my opinion, the majority of white males in our society (both in politics and in civil society) assume that women not only listen to what they say, but also believe what they say. White men also tend to assume that they are always correct in their thinking.
If a woman has a fact to share, an opinion to make, an idea to suggest, or anything to say, she is often disregarded, belittled, or ignored. Obviously, this does not happen to all women all of the time. However, the fact that women’s voices are routinely silenced (including my own), is a very real concern. It has been a very real concern for me over the past thirteen years, as I was repeatedly ignored by everyone I approached regarding the issue involving the people stalking, harassing and threatening me. I’ve often felt as if I was the threat (hence the need to silence me), rather than the people who were actually committing the crimes.
Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban for attending school and promoting girls’ education, is an extreme example of a woman who was perceived as a threat by the patriarchy (the Taliban). I’m excited to be more active in the area of women’s rights and I’d like to help other women make their voices heard.