Just another college girl fightin' the patriarchy

Matriarchy Versus Patriarchy

I was reading an article written by Jane Alpert called Mother Right and found it to be fascinating. It examines many things, among them the idea that we would have a shot at a caring peace-filled world free of almost all oppression of anyone if only we lived in a matriarchy rather than a patriarchy. The idea is that in a patriarchy, the traits most desired are traits associated with masculinity and the traits most loathed are those associated with femininity. Stereotypically of course. This means the MOST masculine run the world, the most feminine remain at the bottom.

So let’s examine this. Our world is filled with murder, war, poverty, greed, rape, and just basically hate. What are stereotypically masculine versus feminine traits?

Masculinity Femininity
Aggressive Amicable
Competitive Cooperative
Emotionally stunted Emotionally available
Selfish Selfless
Cruelty Compassion

The point I’m trying to make is that masculinity encourages a cut-throat world where the basic goal is to dominate and overtake EVERYONE else in order to do what’s best for yourself, while femininity encourages teamwork, cooperation, friendship, empathy, etc… If the world were more oriented towards feminine traits, there would be no top and bottom. There wouldn’t be the capitalistic idea that in order to be “on top” you need to oppress and kill and enslave everyone else. As Jane Alpert says beautifully about matriarchy and femininity (pretty much the whole point of this article was to post this quote since it is spectacular):

But feminist culture is based on what is best and strongest in women, and as we begin to define ourselves as women, the qualities coming to the fore are the same ones a mother projects in the best kind of nurturing relationship, to a child: empathy, intuitiveness, adaptability, awareness of growth as a process rather than as goal-ended, inventiveness, protective feelings toward others, and a capacity to respond emotionally as well as rationally. If matriarchy means a society in which these are qualities all human beings admire and strive to embody, a society in which the paradigm for all social relationships is the relationship of a healthy and secure mother to her child, then matriarchy means nothing less than the end of oppression.

Which world would you want to live in? The one where no one is trustworthy, where winning is valued above all else even if it means destroying the entire human race, where everyone is encouraged to be selfish and aggressive, or the kind where people are actually, gasp, nice to each other and encouraging? If we lived in a matriarchy world peace (clichéd as that may sound) might actually be achieved.

Of course the real catch-22 is that masculinity and femininity were invented by patriarchy. Both masculinity and femininity are social constructs of the patriarchy, so the idea of feminine traits being so cooperative, kind, and peaceful might disappear were we not oppressed. But it would really be worth a shot wouldn’t it?

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Comments on: "Matriarchy Versus Patriarchy" (24)

  1. A Shropshire Lad said:

    Just like patriarchs, matriarchs only care about their own kids (or those who have some of their own genes, like grandchildren, nieces and nephews) and are indifferent if not outright hostile to other matriarchs’ kids. Evolutionary, matriarchs bestow more care on their sons than their daughters because he has potential to give her more descendants than her daughter.

    BTW the traits you list as typical feminine also sound like the virtues of a good Christian. Interestingly humans are the species in which the father-child bond is the strongest in so far as they under normal circumstances develop a deep lifelong bond. This is one thing that makes us humans unique and perhaps one reason why our gods often are father figures (and we are very prone to patriarchy).

    Indeed, a univeral god is more likely to be a man rather than a woman, as a man can father much more offspring than a woman can in a lifetime. And his bond with his children will be more abstract than that of a mother who through birth and breastfeeding experiences the child more as an extension of herself than a separate being in his care and custody.

    Many women dying in childbirth might be one reason why there are so many fairytales about evil stepmothers, men being better stepfathers than women are stepmothers might be another reason. And are you going to tell me that fairytales are patriarchal propaganda, when they originally were told by the matriarchs, the grandmothers, the wise midwives etc.?

    • A Shropshire Lad said:

      BTW this is not saying that women can’t invent democracy in the same way that men can: I.e. saying “Sisters / brothers! Let’s stop catering to this tyrranical matriarch/patriarch and compete to succeed her/him and having sole reproduction rights. Let’s rather pick one mate each and stay monogamous, punish infidelity with ostracizion and fund a kindergarten / hunting / farming commune and get something done to expand the social cake, instead of competing for the crumbs!”

    • With all due respect, SL, do you get your ideas from your very own hind end? Nothing you’ve said in your comment can be backed up by historical or scientific evidence. And no, evo-psych is not science, sorry. So why are you commenting? I guess because you just can’t stop yourself from mansplaining on a feminist blog.

      • evo-psych is not science

        I’m halfway through writing a post on this very topic! I’m in the process of conducting interviews with real psychologists and people who study actual evolution. I’m having trouble writing it since it’s just so hilarious…

      • A Shropshire Lad said:

        I comment because I greatly appreciate feminist theory as a means to challenge my view of the world, expand my horizon, relate better to women, help them achieve equality and articulate my political views as a bisexual male.

        But I think feminist theory too needs to be challenged, especially when it is reduced to such meaningless generalisations as in this post of Elkballet’s.

      • A Shropshire Lad said:

        evo-psych is not science

        I’m halfway through writing a post on this very topic! I’m in the process of conducting interviews with real psychologists and people who study actual evolution. I’m having trouble writing it since it’s just so hilarious…

        I will be looking forward to reading it. In the meantime I found this article very interesting: http://www.newsweek.com/2009/06/19/why-do-we-rape-kill-and-sleep-around.html

        It always frustrates me that that evolutionary pscychologists never acknowledge the huge impact the agricultural revolution had on most of humanity and only base themselves on the Stone Age, without actually comparing their theories (yes, because they are mere theories) to actual hunter-gatherer societies still existing.

      • Very interesting article, thanks. Evolutionary Psychology is such a ridiculous “field.” I like the one written for the New York Times as well:
        Men, Women, Sex, and Darwin

      • A Shropshire Lad said:

        Mutual thanks, that article was also very interesting. Even though I as the grandson of farmers am hugely prejudiced against hunter-gatherer societies in favour of agricultural societies, I must say it’s relieving to read that even those societies weren’t the lawless cut-throat environments that evo-psychologists claim.

  2. SL, yes, it’s all about you. It’s all about YOUR view of the world, YOUR relationship to women, YOUR horizon, YOUR political views, YOUR challenges to feminist theory (except you haven’t actually understood any of it, alas), YOUR claims about this post. It’s all about you, you, you. You’re a man. That’s the way you see the world.

    Do you ever wonder what it’s like to not view the whole wide world from inside your own tiny little frame of reference? You might try it sometime. In the meantime, until you can see it for yourself, I can assure you that what you think are meaningless generalizations are ideas that are simply going over your head. Having your head up your male-entitled butt will cause that.

    • A Shropshire Lad said:

      Do you ever wonder what it’s like to not view the whole wide world from inside your own tiny little frame of reference?

      Sure, that’s why I talk to people, read novels and blogs like yours, where I found this statement:
      “One, we have to un-codify the concept that if a girl likes playing with trucks and footballs, doesn’t want to dress as the little princess, and hates pink, that she actually IS a boy (see DSM). The idea that there are two genders with specific traits is as dangerous as anything in this issue and has led to much of this situation.”

      Doesn’t this counter Elkballet’s claim that the world would be so good and harmonious if women ruled it, because all women have such harmonious characters and are not the least competitive and aggressive?

      • Doesn’t this counter Elkballet’s claim that the world would be so good and harmonious if women ruled it, because all women have such harmonious characters and are not the least competitive and aggressive?

        I wasn’t talking about gender at all. I was talking about traits that were assigned based on sex. Not that women should rule the world, but what would happen if feminine people ruled the world. This most definitely includes men showing feminine traits. So her post (how I interpret it) is saying men should be allowed to learn these traits and there would be no gendered traits. This would remove the fear so many men have of associating with femininity, of being called girls. This includes expressing traits like compassion, kindness, nurturing, etc…

        I find it telling that you are unable to separate masculinity and femininity from what gender they are typically assigned to.

      • You read blogs like ours because you think you have something oh so very important, special, and clever to impart. You’re like a million other mansplainers, SL, you’re just too dumb to know it.

  3. A Shropshire Lad said:

    I wasn’t talking about gender at all. I was talking about traits that were assigned based on sex. Not that women should rule the world, but what would happen if feminine people ruled the world.

    Oh, now I understand what you meant. You want a world built on civilization, i.e. people being nice to each other and striving for a common good!

    I find it telling that you are unable to separate masculinity and femininity from what gender they are typically assigned to.

    Yes, it’s the Scandinavian in me. The idea that a man can’t be amicable, cooperative, emotionally available, selfless and compassionate is very outdated here.

    • A Shropshire Lad said:

      So when someone brands thse character traits as “masculine” or “feminine” I get confused and start to think we are talking about 19th century gender roles.

  4. A Shropshire Lad said:

    Not that women should rule the world, but what would happen if feminine people ruled the world. This most definitely includes men showing feminine traits.

    Hehe, some male chauvinists would say that such people already rule the world: Most male politicians do not have power because they are the strongest bad-ass guy on the block or the most respected among their peers, but because they are experts in co-operation and the various tactics involved in group dynamics: networking, manipulating, backstabbing, persuasion, positioning, forming alliances etc., traits one often would find branded as feminine.

    Thus the contempt of career politicians and the admiration of a figure like Cincinnatus.

  5. omg. elkballet, you have a mansplainer! time to get out the roach bomb, i think this guy has moved in.

    anyway, about the post. i dont think it matters if these qualities are “innate” or not. if they were VALUED, and deviating from them was discouraged or punished, that would be enough. and YES i think its worth a shot. absolutely yes.

    • i dont think it matters if these qualities are “innate” or not. if they were VALUED, and deviating from them was discouraged or punished, that would be enough. and YES i think its worth a shot. absolutely yes.

      I just talked about this today with some people, the reward and punishment system that emphasizes certain traits in each sex. It’s incredible how harsh but subtle it is.

      A little off-topic, but someone (I can’t remember the author) was proposing that not only is gender socially constructed, but sex itself is socially constructed. Obviously we have physical differences, but whether or not they are viewed as different or not changes with society. For instance during the 1600’s, male and female genitalia were viewed as more or less the same (a vagina was an inverted penis, and ovaries were the same as testicles) and a lot of work went into emphasizing the sameness (even if same meant variations of male). However, now a lot of social effort is put into emphasizing the differences. Sex and not just gender actually changes with society. Whatever we had that was innate is gone now. It’s silly to suggest we can’t overcome basic urges. Even the need to eat can be overpowered.

      I don’t mind this mansplainer, he’s not ridiculously angry and seems to actually listen. I’ve shot down a few from the other one though, for attacking.

      • A Shropshire Lad said:

        I just talked about this today with some people, the reward and punishment system that emphasizes certain traits in each sex. It’s incredible how harsh but subtle it is.

        Absolutely. It’s interesting to consider how yes, little girls have much more freedom than little boys: I.e. progressive parents applaud them if they reject the pink dresses and dolls and want to dress like boys, play football, climb trees and help daddy repair things; whereas even progressive parents get deeply uncomfortable if a boy wants to dress like a girl, put on make-up and hold tea parties for dolls.

        BUT: A boy or especially a male teen or young adult male who shows no “worrying” signs of effeminacy also gets a lot of credit if he shows off being nurturing and caring, i.e. likes to cook, is good with babies or children, helps the elderly or the disabled etc.
        A girl or woman at the same age who does not display such nurturing and caring traits but rather masculine traits like aloofness and selfishness is not applauded.

        Perhaps it comes from female being the default gender and that once a boy is “made” he can get a lot of credit for displaying feminine traits, whereas the opposite is not true for females?

      • A Shropshire Lad said:

        Obviously we have physical differences, but whether or not they are viewed as different or not changes with society. For instance during the 1600′s, male and female genitalia were viewed as more or less the same (a vagina was an inverted penis, and ovaries were the same as testicles) and a lot of work went into emphasizing the sameness (even if same meant variations of male).

        Yes, this is extremely interesting. Another gender-exaggerating myth that pornography teaches is for example that breasts stay convex when the owner is in a horizontal position. Unless they are fake and full of plastic implants this is allegedly not true in reality.

        Perhaps that’s another reason why the most common sexual position, missionary, is so rare in pornography. Because the female’s chest might be mistaken for a man’s chest and you would start to see not a male predator raping some inflatable living doll but two humans having sex!

  6. Agreed about the roach bomb, FCM, but SL is such a perfect example of the classic lazy-thinking and self-centered male, he’s kind a great to have around as an example. Anyway, the list on the left of Elkballet’s post are all qualities that take no effort – simply remain in a state of selfishness, do whatever you can to get and keep everything for yourself, and voila! world power. The list on the right are things that take thinking, effort, caring about fellow human beings, caring about the future, building things instead of tearing them down. Do those things regularly and voila! mansplainers will come on your blog and tell you how great they are.

    • A Shropshire Lad said:

      building things instead of tearing them down

      One reason for the disgust I felt for my male peers in childhood was the feeling that among those people who would rather tear down your sandcastle instead of join you in building it, there was a far higher percentage of boys than girls!

      And my theory is that they are the rapists. But let’s not forget the percentage of boys who will derive more pleasure from helping you build your sandcastle than tearing it down just to feel the power.

  7. A Shropshire Lad said:

    More random thoughts from the mansplainer:

    It always irks me that when anti-feminists discuss “appropriate toys for boys” it’s always just about toy guns and footballs, when in fact a real man’s man boy’s tools should be hammers, nails, screwdrivers, axes (as a tool, not a fucking weapon!) etc. so he fucking learns to build and repair something!

    Of course I am of the opinion that he should be taught to cook, sew and knit too, which also is all about making things, just like his sister, who should also get a hammer and nails instead of make-up and a pink tiara.

    Then, after they’re tired of sawing and nailing together a crib for their teddy bear/doll and sewing and knitting clothes for it/her, they can go out and kick the football around together.

  8. A Shropshire Lad said:

    Even more random thoughts from the mansplainer:
    Is destructive feminism the ultimate tool of scheming matriarchs?
    By propagating ideology that celebrates the idea that their sisters’ daughters will achieve equality by being promiscuous and at the same time intimidating their sisters’ sons from breeding, they make sure that there is ample opportunity for their own sons, who they can groom to be perfect players in a feminist culture, with just the perfect mix of bad boy and sensitive nice guy – perfect opportunity for this specially trained son to pick and choose in a sea of liberated women, without those women’s fathers entitled to track him down and killing him for more or less raping their daughters. By making sure he is not limited to one woman, he can give her hundreds of grandchildren while many of her sisters’ sons will be completely sidelined. If these women will be able to support themselves and their children indirectly, via the state (and taxes paid by those totally sidelined men), so much the better for her son!

    Of course she will teach any daughters to protect themselves against such sexual predators as her son, but what her son can do with that mass of liberated girls out there who fuck for feminism is so much more valuable to her than the few grandkids her daughter can give her.

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