Such is the story of Ann Boleyn and “the other Boleyn girl,” Mary, Ann’s younger sister. The first ended up with her head chopped off, the second in exile – thanks to their loving family, which introduced both girls to Henry’s court for his sole use and pleasure, to serve as concubines once it became apparent that Catherine of Aragon, Henry’s lawful wife, was about to fall into disfavor.
Where am I going with this?
First, let’s just say that we’ll never go back to “the good old days” when women were so mistreated. Our history is replete with pendulum swings, with significant shifts forward only to experience a reversal — two steps forward, then one step back. But it is also true that the voice of reaction will take you back only so far, and no further. Parts of our past are irretrievable.
Why? Simply because the gains we’ve made have trickled down to the popular consciousness, precluding any possibility of radical backsliding. This is true of any area of human relations where gross injustices were once prevalent throughout our inglorious past only to be rectified, in light of heightened consciousness, in times since, including the present, . We simply can’t turn our blind eye anymore on practices we now regard as abhorrent : slavery, exploitation of women, discrimination against gays, African-Americans and the handicapped, unfair labor practices and sexual discrimination in the workplace, glass ceilings and all such; any practice, in fact, which only a while ago was considered the norm, but which now seems to violate our common sensibilities and consciousness Too much time has elapsed ever to revert to our old barbaric selves and the barbaric views which were part and parcel of them. Once we acquire a third eye, it’s impossible to shed it. If that is not an argument for progress, I don’t know what is.
Which brings me to another, more perturbing, because it seems to fly in the face of ordinary understanding, question: Why did it take us so long? Must we traverse two thousand years of darkness and oblivion to realize finally that certain rules of conduct, especially in such matters as justice and equality under the law, are not privileges to be accorded to the few but, by their very nature, ought to apply to all humans regardless of gender, skin color, or ethnic background?