Social Commentary

            What does Queen Elizabethís reign in England teach the rest of the world?  It must be something important, considering the number of biographical works and films/TV series revolving around the subject matter (e.g. cartoons & comics, films and/or television series).  The challenges facing her never subsided, considering that she ruled over an era with heavy anti-male policies and attitudes.  Numerous conspiracies dotted over the years of her reign, yet she remained steadfast and headstrong; always staying one step ahead of her adversaries.  Thereís a lot to be admired about a woman ruler who could endure that in such a misogynistic era and not crumble under the pressure.   Since this time period however, is it plausible to claim we progressed past this attitude 16th/17th century England embodied?

Consider:

         our modern day views toward women

Although itís fair to say our society evolved from the more misogynistic social outlook that plagued our ancestors, the attitude behind it still affects us to this day and even the distant future.  Itís not impossible to repair, but since these sexist thoughts affected the world for centuries, it wonít be a quick fix.  What seems to be the biggest challenge is making sure society doesnít downplay women as carnal vessels to be chewed and spit out like an average meal we consume daily.  How can contemporary misogyny be fought when most men accepts it or feels impassive on the subject?

Itís not difficult to come to that realization.  These days, any racist, homophobic or bigoted comment made by celebrities gets recorded and sent throughout the entire internet for the world to see.  Itís ironic that gay men, one of the most ridiculed groups in modern day America, gets more attention for mistreatment compared to than women (not that it excuses bias against people because of their sexual preference, anyway), even though the aforementioned women fought against injustice just as long if not longer than racism.  Some societiesí practices are especially cruel to women. When some of these women in other countries can get legally punished and/or ridiculed for being raped, a situation she obviously has no control over, thereís a problem.  When some of these countries advocate sadistic practices like various forms of vaginal circumcision on African women or breast ironing Ė i.e. a process where a heated stone/hammer/spatula is used to burn a young girlís breasts, preventing them to grow Ė to lower the chances of being noticed and then raped, thatís just brutal and unnecessary. Just like in the U.S., most other nations seem desensitized and indifferent about these injustices done to women.  Unless we change our standards with women, incidents like these will continue to affect the world.

For further insight on the subject, you can explore them from the links below. Various subjects are under fire for the anti-female attitudes. Some of them are fairly obvious while still interesting to dissect (pornography) while others are surprising (religion). 

http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/2313097.html

http://www.plusnews.org/report.aspx?reportid=39711

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/2/14/191541/095

http://www.aegis.com/news/dmg/2006/MG060304.html

http://www.barbelith.com/topic/26996

http://renegadeevolution.blogspot.com/2006/10/pornography-misogyny.html

http://renegadeevolution.blogspot.com/2006/11/porn-misogyny-part-ii-examining-why.html

         religion's influence towards contemporary society

Religion has gone a long way throughout the course of history.  Whether some people use it for personal moral guidance or faith in a violent and chaotic world, everyone has their reason to accept it.  While not the influential powerhouse it used to be in the world Ė hence, removing religion from politics and laws from multiple nations Ė absolute obsolescence is next to impossible to even think about.

In recent years, many things can be said about the variety of religious backgrounds simmering under every country.  Although its presence can be enlightening, history is rife with conflict between various religious groups, and incidents with various people claiming to use religion as a backdrop for their violent and/or immoral acts (the Elizabethan period is included).  Religion revealed many rough patches historically and unfortunately impeded its goal of bringing more people to serve whatever religion they serve.

Even to atheists/agnostics, religion still has some worth to our modern world.  It provided to backdrop to our own morals and societal standards.  The biggest issue will always be breaking apart rules for any religion to serve a set society.  This leads to:

         the possible reaction upon breaking traditional actions over progressive ones

Letís face it: the United States does that all the time with the Constitution.  Since its emergence, itís been altered several times over the years to keep up with our changing standards.  Even the original settlers of the Unites States fled from England for their own religious freedom.  There in lies the problem with keeping traditional thoughts.  People change and society alters with it all the time.  Change happens all the time, whether you like it or not.  Some people are enthusiastic moving from stage to stage with their own life, while others are desperate to keep things the way theyíve always been.  There are advantages and downsides to both paths. 

Bottom line: if we act too stubborn with our old ways, then we stay in a mental rut and canít evolve.  On the other hand, too much progression can be abused in horrible ways.

The Chain of Being resonates with the former passage.  On the top of said chain lies God and at the bottom are mere rocks.  Everyone is born with a task, no matter how menial it might be.  This defined the hierarchal society of 16th/17th century England.  If you think about living in this sort of society where youíre stuck at whatever point of life youíre born in, it kind of sucks.  Living under a heavily religious society that could uses the word of God as judge, jury and executioner to rationalize whatever arbitrary, immoral done also kind of sucks, especially for women having to endure such bias.  When Elizabeth became the Queen, imagine the outcries of silent heresy infecting the citizens, who preferred to keep things the same way.

Political correctness embodies the latter statement well, which is a double edged sword at best.  It forces a society to alter the mindset of its citizens, even if they disagree with it.  Even if this is for good intentions, resistance isnít an uncommon occurrence once laws are written to contradict someoneís personal beliefs.  Also, thereís always the chance that political correctness could get awfully close to censorship or reducing its citizens to caricatures of humanity (which domesticity already did to us in some level).  Once that hits, personal strife isnít an implausible scenario.  The English Reformation was such a controversial event during 16th century England because it disemboweled an entire societyís traditional standards.

If thereís a lesson to learn here, donít expect societal change to pass by without a fight.  Anyone old enough to witness the civil rights era of the Ď50s and Ď60s can tell you that with absolute certainty.

 

         how much popular media toys with the idea of an untraditional leader

Consider these examples:

 

 

   24ís David Palmer

 

 

http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bgoodsel/post911/2003_02_01_arch.htm

The idea of a black president is hardly revolutionary, but itís impossible to argue against their modern day relevance.  Few fictional presidents are as universally loved as 24ís David Palmer.  His wise and commanding, if sometimes morally ambiguous outlook with every crisis at hand makes viewers long for a president like him during a national crisis (which helps, since 24ís America tends to have frequent terrorists attacks in Los Angeles every eighteen months).  It is unfortunate he had a poor choice of associates Ė including his ambitious but conniving wife - which led to multiple conspiracies to throw him out the oval office, not to mention several assassination attempts; one of them leading to his untimely demise.  None of the other 24 presidents came close to filling the void David Palmer left behind; not even his younger brother.

 

 

 

 

 

    Battlestar Galacticaís Laura Roslin

 

 

 

 

http://scifipedia.scifi.com/index.php/Laura_Roslin

Female presidents havenít had much luck either in contemporary America, but those days might be numbered.  Enter Laura Roslin, the current president ruling over the survivors of Caprica - a space colony that got wiped out by cyborgs known as the Cylons Ė within the starship Galactica.  Because of the Cylonsí omnipresence throughout the series, everybody teeters on the edge of madness wondering when theyíll conduct the next inevitable attack.  Roslin has the unenviable task of keeping order in the spaceship while trying to find Earth.  In such a desperate and almost hopeless situation, the biggest enemy isnít the Cylons but the fractured psyche on the human survivors.  Roslinís soft, monotone and detached voice embodies the hard leadership needed to stabilize such an unstable group of people, even if some of her actions seem questionable on paper.

With the oncoming electionís candidates being Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the discussions of an African-American and a female president is one worth pondering over.  Racial and gender biases will always be challenging issues with both and will no doubt be discussed as a moot point, should one of the two get elected.  However, if 24 and Battlestar Galactica proved at least one point, itís that their beliefs and actions overshadowed everything else about their leadership.  Even if youíre a pragmatic pessimist that doesnít believe in 24ís fictional America of 24 or Galacticaís sci-fi universe, Queen Elizabethís prosperous reign in England is enough proof to justify the claim.  Tradition doesnít always work and staying with such prejudices can be detrimental in the long run.