And for centuries he has used the woman just as a reproductive mechanism, just to produce children. You may not be aware that in the past the woman was constantly pregnant – because out of ten children only one survived; nine died. Just to have two children, twenty children had to be produced – and that is not a part-time job. The woman’s life has been almost a constant torture, because every pregnancy is a torture. Nine months she suffers, and then she has to bring up the child – that is tedious. And before the child is even a few months old she becomes pregnant again. And man has never thought what he is doing to her – treating her like cattle.
Around the world, all the cultures have misbehaved with women. Even a great culture like China has not accepted the idea that the woman has a soul. She is only a reproductive machine. In China, for centuries, if the husband killed his wife it was not considered to be a crime – even murder was not a crime because the woman had no soul. It is almost like destroying your table, or your chair, or your washing machine. You cannot be dragged to the court as a murderer because you have destroyed your chair. It was your chair, and you have every right to keep it or to destroy it.
The woman has been possessed almost like a commodity. The Indian scriptures say that while the woman is a child, the parents should be in possession of her; when she is young the husband should be in possession of her; when she is old her own sons should be in possession of her.
In such ugly situations it was almost impossible for women to become enlightened. They were not even living, they were being used. And the most insulting thing in the world is to be used.
No religion has shown any respect to women. I sometimes wonder what kind of religions we have produced. Even the finest people, like Gautam Buddha, were not ready to initiate women into sannyas. Buddha was more afraid about his male sannyasins…that if women become sannyasins the celibacy of his male sannyasins will be in danger. What kind of celibacy is it? – so fragile, not confident of itself. And it is not surprising that these monks created homosexuality in the world. You can avoid the woman, but by avoiding the woman you cannot destroy the sexuality of man.
Mahavira, a man of tremendous compassion, who brought the concept of non-violence to the world, is very violent about women. He says that a woman cannot become enlightened as a woman. First she has to earn enough virtue to be born as a man, and then there is a possibility of her being enlightened. But as a woman he absolutely denied the possibility.
Jesus talks of love so much, but when he chose his twelve apostles he did not include a single woman – although there were three women who were very close to him…far more understanding than those apostles. And it is a historical fact to be remembered that when he was crucified, all his twelve apostles disappeared, afraid that if they were caught, perhaps the same treatment would be given to them too.