It occurs to me that two great expressions of women's oppression are "slut shaming" and "the cult of childbearing".
Men are hunters, which means they have to constantly wait for opportunity and prepare for the unknown as best they can. This effectively means that men have little power to act absent said opportunity. In the sexual realm, men are not "sexual warriors" as has been vapidly said, but more like "sexual ladies-in-waiting".
Women have the power to create new human beings, and those new children are automatically loyal to their mother. Women can create this love and family and community around them through their own volition, as an act of their own will. Men have no such power. Further, women can access the sexual attention of men anytime they choose. Again, men lack this power. Women can offer (or withhold) their love and nurturance, e.g., their breasts, etc., to their children, and sexual access to themselves to their lovers, and this gives them unique power that they may exercise of their own free will.
Women take for granted that they have this power, that their children and men crave this closeness with them as a biological imperative, but this may be another discussion.
A Japanese coworker once mentioned to me that he was going on a SCUBA trip with his ex-wife. Of course, I found this intriguing and asked why he still had this contact. He explained that he was infertile, that his wife wanted to have children, so she divorced him (amicably) and got another man, and that they were still friends and kept doing the things that they did before the divorce, e.g., going on SCUBA holidays together and so forth.
As usual, the Japanese show themselves to be the great pragmatists, and this story is probably not unusual in Japan. As it happens, I looked into sperm donation in Japan, and it is rather more involved than in the US. A woman must be married to be eligible, and she must receive a "cocktail" of sperm, i.e., not just the sperm of a single man.
American women, of course, can get whatever sperm they like from a sperm bank with no real legal constraints, nowadays, at least. Failing that, any random man will suffice, of course.
So women who are married to an infertile man, or who are otherwise in love with one, or with one who is otherwise genetically "unfit" are still free to exercise their natural female powers of fertility. There is no male equivalent to this. A man who is for whatever reason, usually the absence of a woman who will have him, may become a sperm donor, but is not guaranteed that he will be able to pass on his genes to children -- it is still women who have the absolute power of decision in this matter -- and he will almost certainly never even see these children, or even know that they exist. In other words, men have no power to guarantee that they will not always be completely alone.
We could also touch on how women have tremendous power, even in US society, to forge friendship bonds with other women, including lesbian ones, and of course with men, largely free of the homophobia which is mainly (certainly when it comes to violence) directed at men. Women are not in competition with one another in the way that men are. There is no such thing as cuckolding a woman. Women can effectively share a man or multiple men in terms of fertility, certainly, and so do not compete with one another in this regard, while for a man, dedicating himself to a woman (or women) who gets pregnant by another man is complete reproductive disaster. By the same token, for the other man (or men), it's a reproductive bonanza. In other words, men are in competition with one another in a way that is beyond the ken of women.
This brings us to the twin oppressions of "slut shaming" and "the cult of fertility". Women's two main biological, nature-given powers of avoiding loneliness and garnering power for themselves, namely, creating their own little army of children and grandchildren, and the natural power they have over all men, are undermined by these twin notions that having children is the highest and greatest thing a woman can and should do, and that a woman who exercises the powers of her own sexuality is the worst sort of woman, i.e., a "slut".
Men don't care about either of these things, by the way. Men crave the society of women, so a woman who is accessible is prized. Of course, the issue of being cuckolded eventually rears its head, but for the most part, "slut shaming" comes from other women, not from men. Indeed, a woman who is by contrast, "virtuous", i.e., only sees one man and withholds sensuality, engenders frustration, jealousy, and rivalry in men, while a "slut" does the exact opposite, and yet she is shamed and attacked. By the same token, a woman who is infertile, or who simply doesn't want to have children, is subject to oppression from other women, shaming, exclusion, ostracization, judgement, unfavorable comparison. There are men who seek women who want to have children, and men who don't. As long as woman is not pursuing a man who is of the opposite inclination to her own, there are plenty of men of either type for her to choose from. Lesbians are also free to make this choice, where gay men are not -- as always, they have to depend upon women for their own sexual self-expression, even as homosexuals.
Men also suffer from "slut-shaming" and the worship of the "cult of fertility". Men like "sluts" and are shamed for this, as well as for associating with them. Men can't have babies and so, like women who are infertile by choice, or, like men, by biology, are tarred with the same brush and excluded from the "club" with equal callousness and cruelty.
And so, once again, we see how women are hoist on their own twin petards of "slut-shaming" and "worship of fertility", which are almost exclusively internalized oppression, i.e., promulgated by women themselves and not from any outside group. These two behaviors splinter women as a group politically, undermining their power both as individuals and to act together, and alienate men, who would otherwise be willing allies, indeed, they engender distrust and even hatred of women among men. Women are just as smart and capable as men, and yet we hear post nauseam about how some group of women just recently found this out in some specific area, e.g., military training, engineering, etc. It's truly tragic the lies our society tells women about what they can and cannot do. One of the greatest examples of this is that women's "sexual superpowers", e.g., having babies, nurturance, and seduction, are touted as the be-all and end-all of womanhood, rather than the building of a personality, skills, and experience, which is the standard to which men are held.
If everything is taken away from them, women still have their ability to be mothers. Men, of course, have nothing, but that's another issue. The fact that "slut-shaming" and "the cult of fertility" are still so much in the forefront of the public mind leads me to worry that women are still backed pretty far into the corner. One hears rhetoric about the evils of "slut-shaming" (but little about the "worship of fertility") and I fail to see that so-called "Feminists" and self-described women's liberationists are making much headway, or even paying much attention. They focus too much on men, even where men are arguably not the problem, and indeed would probably be of no small help in solving it.
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