Insightful newsletter of Drishtikone: Issue #272 - Women and Conquest
Is sexual abuse as an exhibition of power and conquest only the preserve of men? Are women also prone to sexually humiliating men when they have power? Let us explore.
“Begin each day by telling yourself: Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness – all of them due to the offenders’ ignorance of what is good or evil.” ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
I am a male. That is a fact. Since both a male and a female came together to bring me into existence, I am both. That is the truth.
Masculine is not male. Just as Feminine is not female.
Masculine is the survival, and by extension, the conquering instinct of our beings. How we want to stamp our presence. From the pee of a dog to mark his territory to the rape of women of those conquered and defeated by the winners of wars - the manifestation may be different, but masculinity as conquest is apparent.
Just an exchange of a few coins and one can claim ‘ownership’ over a product. A product that has gone through several hands. Many of those who worked on that product would have created it as a matter of devotion and sheer love. Toiling endlessly without rest, powered by sheer passion and intensity for perfection.
But the one whose view of the world is constructed through the lens of conquest, all that does not matter.
The right. The claim. The ownership is paramount.
There was a time not so long ago when many homes in India would have a tap or even an earthen pot of water with a cup outside for the passers-by. Specifically in summers. Growing up, I would see an old man (rich but retired guy), in a big posh house sitting outside offering water to anyone who walked on the road. All with a smile
This is nurturing.
Blossoming of human instinct. It is the hallmark of femininity.
Men and women, both can experience and share it.
Should. If their lives have to mean anything.
Any action that we do can have both, feminine and masculine manifestations. It is up to us how we approach something.
Sex via embrace, for example, is love. Deeply touching and moving. Sex via conquest, however, is rape. Deeply violating and devastating.
Every time a despot unleashes his power, he has always used a woman’s body as a tool. For the victim, nothing was more demeaning and humiliating. And, in that humiliation lied the thrill of the psychopathic conquerer.
But power has a unique ability to corrupt anyone. And the lure of humiliation as the hallmark of conquest is intoxicating. And - universal, as we find out.
The question of whether both men and/or women use sexual abuse as the exhibition of power may be an incorrect question after all. The right question may be whether one has any semblance of femininity left for life to be meaningful anymore?
Is power expressed sexually a ‘male thing’ only?
When one gets power and money, what does one go for? For so many centuries and millennia, whenever the kings or warriors or the rich got power and unlimited money, they have always gravitated towards sex. Sexually exploiting the other sex. Whether it was a king who took the women in his harem or a military warrior who beat an adversary and took women as booty or today’s CEO who exploits his subordinates.
That is the normal way that men have always expressed their power. Enslave, sexually abuse and rape women.
But what about women?
Do women also go for sexual abuse when they get power and money?
Or is it more of a man thing?
Women demanding and forcing sexual favors from men, when they have money or are in positions of power is something that rarely ever becomes the topic of discussion.
We implicitly believe that it is always a one-way deal. As if sexual exploitation for those high on power is an exclusive preserve of men.
Is that true?
Let us explore this today.
How a female CEO abused her power
Thinx CEO Miki Agrawal started a company for ‘period-proof underwear’ and was hailed for empowering women and destigmatizing menstruation.
But in 2017, a case was filed against her for sexual harassment. The charges were quite serious. Specifically about what she would discuss with her employees embarrassing them publicly.
According to a complaint filed late last week by a former employee (and echoed in interviews with multiple current and former employees), those things have included: the size and shape of her employees’ breasts, an employee’s nipple piercings, her own sexual exploits, her desire to experiment with polyamory, her interest in entering a sexual relationship with one of her employees, and the exact means by which she was brought to female ejaculation. Her alleged boundary-breaking in the workplace isn’t just verbal. Per the detailed complaint, filed with the City of New York Commission on Human Rights, Agrawal also touched an employee’s breasts and asked her to expose them, routinely changed clothes in front of employees, and conducted meetings via videoconference while in bed, apparently unclothed. (She also is said in the filing to have shared nude photos of herself and others — “including but not limited to her fiancé” — with staff.) At least once, she supposedly FaceTimed into a meeting from the toilet. (Source)
This was the use of power by a CEO upon those whom she thought would not retaliate. It was outright abuse.
Sexual harassment is more prevalent than we think.
According to a 2015 survey, one out of three women between the ages of 18 and 34 experiences sexual harassment at work. Of those women, 81 percent of them have experienced verbal harassment, 44 percent have received sexual advances and unwanted touching, and 25 percent have dealt with lewd texts or emails. Meanwhile, 75 percent of women were harassed by male coworkers and 10 percent by female coworkers. (source)
Of course, we all know about Harvey Weinstein and other male bosses who have exploited women and in some cases given them some career benefits. But how many cases of men being exploited by women bosses come out?
And, that is the tragedy. Because sexual exploitation is expected to be only one-sided. In Miki’s case, it was a woman exploiting other women. But there are many cases of women bosses exploiting men.
Chinese queen who made men kneel
In thousands of years of Chinese history, there has been only one Empress – Wu Tse-Tian (Wu Zetian).
And she had her own ways to make men feel they were weak and worthless in front of her. She, of course, had many male concubines in her harem (Source).
However, what makes her different in history was her treatment of the court officials and visiting dignitaries. It was unparalleled, even by male kings!
In an account of Wu given in “The Cradle of Erotica” (Allen Edwardes and R. E. L. Masters), the Empress saw sex and power as being closely related. For this reason when holding court government officials and visiting dignitaries paid homage to her by licking and kissing her sex – which she called “Licking the lotus stamen”, a symbolical display of her superiority over men. Near contemporaneous prints show Wu parting her heavy imperial robes, exposing her small sex, while a man kneels to lick her vagina. One account claims her sex tasted salty; another that it had the texture of crushed pearls. Yet a third suggests she tasted of the willow-coloured water from the dragon-pond outside the palace…Even when menstruating courtiers were expected to kneel in homage to Wu. And frequently, it was said, the supplicant would be expected to continue his ministrations until the Empress achieved her climax. (Source)
How was her treatment of men any different in terms of complete contempt for the men around her versus how some of the worst male predators chose to exercise their power over women?
When power comes and it has to be demonstrated and perpetrated, the instrument of choice has always been imposed sex on those who cannot question or target the powerful. Throughout mankind’s history, the ultimate ‘victory over another’ has been via sex.
It is like a conquest. The territory is the body in this case. Just like sex by embrace is love, but by force is rape; it is the same with the land. Either you can embrace a land or conquer it. Power always conquers.
Men are sexually targeted by Female bosses too
Louise Noakes of Women Against Sexual Harassment (Wash), a London-based helpline said –
In 1985, Wash had 105 clients, all women. In 1991, it had more than 6,300, including about 1,500 heterosexual men. Many would have been young men teased by women at work, but there are also cases of harassment by a female boss.(source)
Wash found that it was more difficult for men to come out with their exploitation than women because very few will be believed. In fact, it has been found that men also feel that they will be mocked by their friends and colleagues.
Some stories shared by men follow the same pattern that ‘men on women’ exploitation follow.
As a younger male employee, I suffered through groping by several female employers and bosses. Had hands slid over my butt and asked to pose for shirtless pictures with female co-workers at least several dozen times in the past 10 years. Not to mention ‘business weekend ski trips’ offered by my married female boss who is 20 years older than I am. (source)
I've been a civil servant for seven years. At the time, the woman was 43 and I was 41. She was my line manager. I’d been working in the department for about a year, and there was a promotion board due. One evening the whole office went out for a few drinks. She came up to me at the bar and said: ‘Your promotion board is coming up very shortly. I think we ought to go away for the weekend.’ My first reaction was: well, what’s happening here? Then I thought it was just the drink talking, and I walked away. The second time was on a Friday after everybody else was gone. I had to go in to see her about some work. After some pleasantries, it was basically: ‘You either come to a hotel with me for the weekend or you can count your promotional chances as nil.’ Her overnight bag was ready in the corner. (source)
You see it always starts harmlessly and then it picks up. In some cases, of course, it can be pretty upfront as well even in the case of female bosses.
Not enough Statistics
The statistics and studies are common about how women are harassed and have to undergo sexual exploitation.
For example, 15% of women workers have slept with their bosses. And 37% of them say it was good for their career!
34% of executive women claim they know a female colleague who has had an affair with a boss. Furthermore, 15% of women at the director level or above admitted to having affairs themselves.
And worse, 37% claim the action was rewarded: they said that women involved in affairs received a career boost as a result. (source)
Interestingly, here are some stats for both sides from Canada.
As mentioned above, this Angus Reid Institute survey finds more than one-in-four (28%) Canadians have been sexually harassed at work or at a work function and one-in-seven (14%) have been subject to unwanted sexual contact at work. As stated, women are more than three times as likely as men to say they have experienced sexual harassment at work – 43 percent versus 12 per cent. Women are also twice as likely to report experiencing unwanted contact at work – 20 per cent of women versus nine per cent of men. (Source)
So there is some evidence and statistics, but not nearly enough.
Its exploitation – from either side
Exploitation is just that – either way. And, power is what creates that. Throughout history. And it continues. The #MeToo movement was a good way to bring out the advances and exploitation of women by men, specifically those in power, but that did not discuss or focus on the exploitation of men by women.
Really speaking, in all these so-called ‘movements’, everyone misses the central cause. And focuses on the outrageous. It is the critical central cause that needs to be addressed. Movements side-step that.
The central cause is the vices that spring from power. When power comes, what does one – man or woman – do?
Conquest or Embrace?
Whether it will be conquest or embrace will depend on the level of consciousness of the one who gets power. Raising that is the key to fighting exploitation. Of any kind. Exploiting sexually or imperialistically.
#QuestionsofLife Episode-02: What is God?
This was an exploration that we started on a whim. If the idea is interesting, then one thing you will learn from Vivek Agnihotri is that it should be tried. And, that is what we did. One day we discussed that we could have a simple discussion - civil, respectful, non-pedantic, and exploratory - on different spiritual topics. And then another day, we started a series.
This is the second episode of the series where we looking into the question of God. What or who is it? More importantly, is there one?
How the time went by as we discussed, we had no idea. It was an intriguing discussion. I believe you will have a similar experience.
Check it out and if you like it, please share it with your friends and family. We need more and more people to start posing questions and then exploring our fundamentals. The time for beliefs is over.
market corner: 10 quick bytes
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Shakeup in Babudom: The higher Indian bureaucracy is being put to the litmus test like never before—and there are many who are flunking the scrutiny. The test is being conducted at two levels; one, many senior officers—nearly 400—deemed incompetent or corrupt, have been sacked or superannuated compulsorily and prematurely in the last few years. Two, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is pulling no punches when it comes to taking on the country’s elite Indian Administrative Service (IAS). In a move that can be regarded as unprecedented, he told the Parliament last month: “Babus will do everything. By dint of becoming IAS officers, they’ll operate fertilizer warehouses and chemical warehouses, even fly airplanes. What is this big power we have created? What are we going to achieve by handing the reins of the nation to babus? Our babus are also citizens, and so are the youth of India.” (Source)
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video corner: What is a Raag?
Indian classical music is not easy. It is a combination of many different layers built upon each other such that melodies and rhythms are differentiated very minutely. For the uninitiated, it is tough to get. For those who have been brought up in Western music, it becomes even tougher.
Raag is the most common lingo used in the Indian classical. What is it? Anuja Kamat has a channel where she really makes things very easy to understand. Do check this episode out where she explains what a Raag is. Very beautifully done.
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