No, Women’s Rights are not an inherent part of Western culture

The right-wingers deny history when they criticize non-western immigrants

The Island of sprogø has a dark history relating to women's rights in Denmark.
Image from Thue C. Leibrandt – Own Work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

The picture above shows an Island in the middle of the Great Belt. It is located between the Islands of Funen and Sealand, in Denmark. The Island marks the end point of a suspension bridge. The bridge is part of a system of bridges connecting the two larger Islands. But that Island has an eerie history related to women’s rights in Denmark. 

Before the bridge was built, you could only reach the Island by boat. The building complex on the Island functioned as a female asylum. It closed in 1961, a mere 60 years ago. Women who were “morally unfit” had to stay on the island with no chance to escape. Most of the women who ended up there got sterilized against their will.

Of course, if you are inquisitive you would ask, what “morally unfit” means.  Here are some excerpts from patient journals.

“She is an erotic volcano that threatens to explode”. 

“She is boundlessly frivolous and squeamish after every man”. 

“Her sense of the other sex has awakened so strongly that it seems to be taking the power away from her”

Today, we would call that behavior promiscuous.
 Another entry reads:

“She is a slightly weak-minded woman of the verbal type, who has little resistance, little inhibitions, is impulsive and somewhat imaginative”

Judging by those standards, Many modern women would have ended up on that island. Back then, if women were promiscuous, they were seen as a danger to society. After all, there was a danger that they would foster ‘degenerative children’. 

The phrase ‘little inhibitions, is impulsive and somewhat imaginative’ often was a label. It was applied to women who dared to stand their ground against male sexual abusers. Or to those who wanted to divorce a cheating husband. Sometimes even to women who demanded to get equal treatment to the males around them. And a vast majority of those women came from the proletariat. They committed the crime of poverty.

Women’s rights were never a given in Western societies

Western history has countless of these examples. In West Germany, a woman could not take up a job outside the home. Not without explicit permission from her husband. That law was abolished only in 1977.

Politicians on the right often use a default narrative when it comes to immigrants. It is the narrative of Western values about equality between men and women. They claim that non-westerners have a barbaric outlook on women. They also claim that equality between genders is an inherent value in the West. A value as old as Western civilization itself. 

The truth is much more nuanced. It is true, that in many places in the world, women suffer terribly. Many societies in the global south have women’s rights issues. The NGO I worked with had many projects addressing this.

But we do not need to go far back in history to find equally abhorrent crimes against women in the West. Even today, the justice system abandons victims of domestic violence. The vast majority of these victims are women. 

It is high time we stop denying our own history

I will not go into a debate about how some men are victims themselves. They are. But the statistics are clear. #Meetoo was necessary for that reason. Countless Western women experience that male perpetrators get away with abusive behavior. Often, these perpetrators even get custody of their common child. Because the courts lean on pseudoscience to discredit the victims. I wrote about this in detail before.

It is funny, that conservatives often favor such policies. The same politicians who criticize other cultures for not respecting women’s rights.

Ever notice the overlap in SoMe between red-pill advocates, racists, and conservatives? That isn’t a coincidence. It is because these three groups have one thing in common. They refuse to see others as human. Whether those others are immigrants, trans people, or women. They are not even ashamed to deny their history to persuade others to follow them.

Then again, historical denial is a staple in Western culture. Like when we gloss over our role as slave-holders.

The examples I gave above highlight our historical blindness about women’s rights. There are many more. If you like to provide any, feel free to leave them in the comments.



I am from Germany but have spent more than half of my life in Denmark, and other places abroad. I have a background in teaching, both youngsters and adults. I am interested in a wide field of things, which I love to teach and write about. Sustainability, technology, politics, social change, and mental health are just some examples.

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