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The rule of the father


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What is patriarchy? How has it been created? Which myths are at the root of the system? And what can we do about it?

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The rule of the father

  1. 1. What is patriarchy?
  2. 2. Patriarchy is a social structure in which men are considered to have a monopoly on power and women are expected to submit.
  3. 3. The rule of the father • Patriarchy is a social system in which males hold primary power, predominately in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege, and control of property; in the domain of the family, fathers or father-figures hold authority over women and children.
  4. 4. Patriarchy is a system of domination enforced through violence and the threat of violence. It is a system developed and controlled by powerful men, in which women, children, other men, and nature itself are dominated.
  5. 5. Patriarchy is generally not an explicit ongoing effort by men to dominate women. It is a long-standing system that we are born into and participate in, mostly unconsciously.
  6. 6. A question of privilege Often invisible
  7. 7. “Power conceals itself from those who possess it. And the corollary is that privilege is revealed more clearly to those who don’t have it.” Hugo Schwyzer:
  8. 8. A few examples of male privilege • Privilege of a Gender That Confers Authority • Privilege to Show Skin and Dress as you wish • Privilege of Seeing Yourself Widely and Positively Represented in the Media • Privilege of having political officials fight for issues that pertain to your sex • Privilege of having major religions in the world led by individuals of your sex • Privilege to Move or Date Without Fear of Harassment, Assault,or Rape
  9. 9. A few examples of male privilege • Privilege to be less interrupted than members of the opposite sex • Privilege to take up more space • Privilege of Easy Bathroom Access – Even When There Are No Bathrooms • Privilege to have or not children without any judgment • Privilege to be paid more for your work • Privilege to have access to sex / porn / prostitution
  10. 10. But a System of Privilege and Oppression Hurts Us All Feminism stands opposed to oppression.
  11. 11. Most common reactions to male privilege • Defensiveness: “I’m not going to feel guilty for what I inherited. If some people don’t have those same privileges, tough luck!” • Paralyzing guilt: “This is just so unfair, but what am I supposed to do about it!? I never asked for this, and one little person can’t change a system that’s been around for hundreds of years!”
  12. 12. Reacting with guilt or defensiveness does not help • “Guilt is a profoundly conservative emotion and as such is not particularly useful for bringing about change. From a position of insecurity and guilt, people do not change or inspire others to change.” • “If we inherit injustice, we should never feel guilty. We are not responsible for that past. However, if we choose to do nothing about it going forward, then we have plenty to feel guilty about.” • The Construction of Masculinity, Michael Kaufman
  13. 13. The two major trends explaining gender roles Sociobiologists NATURE • Gender is in our DNA • Patriarchy is natural. • Human biology and genetics explain male control Social constructionists CULTURE • Gender is a social construct. • Patriarchy is learnt.
  14. 14. • Sociobiologists • Social constructionists The two major trends explaining gender roles
  15. 15. The two major trends explaining gender roles Sociobiologists • Bateman's principle: male dominance is a human universal as a result of our biological makeup • Influence of hormones • Females almost always invest more energy into producing offspring than males and, as a result, females are a resource over which males compete. • Pressure on men to be competitive Social constructionists • Since the feminist movement in the 1970s and the flood of women into the workforce, social constructionism has gained even greater traction. • A growing body of research has found key points of the biological argument to be groundless.
  16. 16. How was this power system created?
  17. 17. Understanding the role of male in procreation • The first signs of patriarchy were the ancient humans of the Neolithic Era, which encompassed from about 10,200 BCE to between 4,500 and 2,000 BCE, who relied on a system where men were the hunters of a tribe and women the gatherers. • During this time, the realization occurred that it took a male and female to produce offspring. • It is theorized that with this realization, these Neolithic men first became aware in their role in paternity. • With the domestication of animals and the development of animal husbandry, the function of the male in the process of procreation became more apparent and better understood.
  18. 18. Engels: Private property is “the world historic defeat of female sex”
  19. 19. With this new concept of ownership came the desire to have private herds left to the descendants of the owner. • These same men also began to take private ownership over their individual herds. Prior to this development, the people of the Paleolithic Era had shared both land and supplies. • Because of this new desire, it became necessary for women to be virgins before marriage and for them to abstain from adultery after marriage so that men could have the reassurance that their offspring were their own. • With this new control over women began the earliest patriarchal families.
  20. 20. Patriarchy was furthered at the end of the Neolithic Era when women began to be traded as commodities. • This was seen in arranged marriages between families or villages, women being used to have sex with visitors as a deed of hospitality by tribal chiefs, and the ritual rapes during festivals to insure prosperity. • Women were treated as commodities, and from a young age became accustomed to this identification. • Women’s values lay in their reproduction, especially in farming villages. • In these villages, more people were needed to work the land and sustain the population, so women were expected to produce a large amount of offspring. • Children became an economic asset, and if women were unable to produce them, they were seen as all but worthless. • The idea of women being only good for their womb has progressed even into today’s society.
  21. 21. Patriarchal dominance moved from private practice into public law • Beginning of institutionalization of patriarchal family • Kings power based on men who depended on him, as much as families depended on the man: archaic state was shaped • From 1250 BC on, sexual control of women has been an essential feature of patriarchal power: foundation of the state. • Marriage becomes wife purchase.
  22. 22. The decisive transition was the institutionalization of slavery • First form of hierarchical dominance in human history with the advent of pastoralism • The majority of those first enslaved were women. Sales contracts appear in the Bible. • Veil helped to distinguish married and respectable women from slaves • Commercial prostitution derived from enslavement of women • Practice of raping women of a conquered group is essentialto the structure of patriarchal institutions:Rome built on rape of Sabines.
  23. 23. As culture evolved, the patriarchal society grew increasingly misogynistic. • Ancient Greece played a large role in the increase of patriarchal practices. • A primary democracy can be seen in ancient Greece called the polis. This gave men somewhat equal rights; compared to the aristocracy they had known before. As men gained equal rights, women lost many of theirs. • The family had before been a biological unit, but now took the form of a political and economic unit. • Wives and mothers became obligatory, and women who did not follow the traditional functions faced legal consequences.Women were the legal wards of either her father or husbandand had no rights of their own; they could not inherit property. • A woman during this time did not even have custody over her children as they belonged to her husband.Additionally, if a woman committed adultery, they would either be banished or executed where men, who would occasionally sufferpenalties, had many legal sexual outlets. There were highly trained courtesans and male and female prostitutes (Radek). • As men were able to find sexual freedom with these outlets, most women could not leave their homes without permission from a father or husband.
  24. 24. Creating new myths and stories
  25. 25. Importance of creation myths • Gender symbolism in creation stories proves a reliable guide to sex roles and sexual identities in a given society • Peggy Reeves Sanday: out of 112 creation stories, 50% male deity, 32% divine couple, 18% female deity – When world created by male, 17% of fathers cared for infants. – When world created by couple couple, 34% did. – When world created by female,63%
  26. 26. Major god-figures and symbols underwent sex change • The Power of creation and fertility was progressively transferred from Goddess to God. – Who creates life? – Who brings evil into the world? – Who mediates between humans and the supernatural? • The masculinizing of religion resulted, always and everywhere, in hostility towards the woman and the body.
  27. 27. The symbolic devaluating of women is one of the founding metaphors of the Western civilization. • Major gender symbols and metaphors of Western civilization are derived from Mesopotamian and Hebrew sources. • Two key metaphorical constructs: 1. Bible 2. Greek philosophy
  28. 28. The Book of Genesis contains most significant symbols concerning gender • Final fusion of texts in 450 BC • Creation of Jewish monotheism: vast cultural transformation: transition from matrilineal to patrilineal families • There is no longer any maternal source for the creation of the universe. • God granted power of naming to human male only. • Man is the mother of the woman.
  29. 29. To her temptation, cause of humankind fall from Paradise From Eve Created from man’s rib Proof for 2.000 years of divine sanction for the subordination of women
  30. 30. Women cannot speak to God any more • Prolonged ideological struggle of Hebrew tribes against worship of Canaanite female deities must have hardened emphasis on male cultic leadership and tendency towards misogyny, which fully emerged in the post exilic period.
  31. 31. Male gods take power from the forces of the chaos identified with fertility goddesses In Greece, the Theogony defines Zeus ascension to power
  32. 32. From all powerful Zeus swallowing his wife Methis and giving birth by himself to Athena To Pandora who opened the way to all evil (Hesiod)
  33. 33. Three brothers share the world ZEUS Alpha male Punishes disobedience Imposes his will Conquers and rapes Authoritarian Distant No emotion POSEIDON Intense Repressed feelings Conquers and rapes Revenge Instinct HADES Unconscious Cold Hijacks Persephone Lonely
  34. 34. Patriarchal gods rule the world • Rule from the distance • Expect total obedience • Fear that their power might be challenged by their children: see them as threats (Zeus swallowed pregnant Methis) • Mums unable to protect their children from male authority • Sons reject their own vulnerability
  35. 35. Thucydides or Herodotus were the first historians: since 2.500 years, the construct of history is a male product.
  36. 36. Greece was built on a dominator system • Greek mythology:cruel and barbarian Zeus maintaining supremacy and raping goddesses and mortal women • Sentencing to death of Socrates for corrupting youth: supports education of women, challenge to the system • Human rankings are based on force, therefore natural. • Aristotle in Politics: – Some are meant to rule and others to be ruled – Foundations of androcratic philosophy – Slaves ruled by men, women by men, the rest violates natural order
  37. 37. When mother-murder is not a crime Aeschyle: “The mother is not the parent of the child Which is called hers. She is the nurse who tends the growth Of the young seed planted by its true parent, the male…”
  38. 38. Leading metaphors define and shape our cultural heritage. • Symbolic construct is key in the acceptation. • Subordination of women thus became completely accepted since it appeared natural to both men and women. • It is seen natural, and thus invisible. • Thanks to myths and stories, women have not realized they are oppressed.
  39. 39. How does it maintain itself?
  40. 40. For nearly 4000 years women have shaped their lives under paternalistic dominance. • The basis of paternalism is an unwritten contract of exchange: – economic support and protection given by male for subordination in all matters – sexual service, unpaid domestic service given by the female. • It was a rational choice for women under conditions of public powerlessness and economic dependency. • Women also shared class privileges with men in exchange for their special economic political and intellectual subordination.
  41. 41. Patriarchal culture rewards total obedience from men and women • A man has to be able to kill or to repress his feelings • No room for vulnerability, tenderness, love • Children are sacrificed • Inner child is sacrificed
  42. 42. You will not be loved unless you obey: mothers shaping their children to conform “for their own good”
  43. 43. You need to choose between conforming or being rejected
  44. 44. Ignorance of your own history keeps women subordinate. • Women have for millenia participated in the process of their own subordination because they have been psychologically shaped to internalize the idea of their own inferiority. • Indoctrination from early childhood on. • Male hegemony over the symbol system: educational deprivation of women and male monopoly on definition.
  45. 45. The patriarchal system can function only with the cooperation of women • Reforms and legal changes while ameliorating the condition of women will not basically change the patriarchy. • Patriarchy is secured by different means: – gender indoctrination, – educational deprivation, – denial to women of knowledge of their history, – dividing of women, – coercion, – discrimination in access to economic and political resources – and by awarding class privileges to conforming women.
  46. 46. Women have internalized and transmitted these values. • Women, more than any other group, have collaborated in their own subordination through their acceptance of the sex gender system.
  47. 47. The problem is not men as sex but men and women socialized in a dominator system • Our dominator-dominated way of relating to other human beings is so internalized by birth that we are not aware of it any more. • Some rule and some are meant to be ruled. • A mind socialized to submit to male authority will tend to turn to his protection of a strong leader in times of crisis. • In Bible, Koran, communism… obedience is supreme virtue • All is not hopeless if we recognize it is not human nature but a dominator model of society that drives us to war.
  48. 48. The first step is to debunk the myths
  49. 49. 3M years ago: hominids evolved from primates • Bipedalism: narrow female pelvis and birth canal due to upright posture • Human babies born at a greater stage of immaturity • Require support and help for years to move, eat, etc… • Division of labor necessary for group survival: women did the mothering • But men and women still were equal, no hierarchy
  50. 50. MYTH N.1: Patriarchy is natural Man the hunter, superior in strength, naturally protects and defends the more vulnerable female. • FALSE – Big game hunting was auxiliary pursuit – Main food supply came from gathering and small hunting done by women and children – Women provided 60% of the food. – Cooperation was necessary: hunter provides meat supply while gatherer needed for subsistence food. – Separate roles did not mean hierarchical.
  51. 51. Myth N.2: Patriarchy has been here forever • FALSE – It developed over a period of 2.500 years from 3.100 BC to 600 BC, at different pace in different societies. – Patriarchy is a system that originated in history, which means that it is neither eternal nor inevitable.
  52. 52. Equality between the sexes was the general norm in the Neolithic • Key point: discovery of sites of Catal Huyuk and Hacilar (Turkey) • Evidence of gynocentric religion in Neolithic times • Pre-patriarchal society was remarkably equalitarian. • No mayor difference between the houses.No glaring social inequalities. Priestesses and priests. Linking rather than ranking. • Neither was subordinate to the other: by complementing one another, their power was doubled. • Genitals of both men and women showed by clothes: pleasure bond. More natural attitudes towards sex. Use of contraceptives. • Reduced aggressiveness through free and well-balanced sexual life • Greater male physical strength was not the basis for social oppression. • Technologies of destruction were not important social priorities for the farmers of European Neolithic age. • From Old European sedentary horticulturalists,no fortifications or weapons, peaceful coexistence, egalitarian to herding units, stock breeding and grazing.
  53. 53. In this world of peace and creativity, women were self confident • Religion supports and perpetuates the social organization it reflects. • In societies where supreme Goddess was perceived as wise provider, women would internalize a very different self image. • They would see themselves as competent, independent, creative, inventive. • Predominator mind recognized its oneness with nature, interconnected life system.
  54. 54. No sign of warfare in over 15 centuries • In Neolithic art: no imagery idealizing armed might, cruelty or violence-based power • No military fortifications • Everywhere in art: symbols of nature, serpents and butterflies as symbols of metamorphosis, • Primary purpose of life was not to conquer and loot but to cultivate earth and provide material and spiritual for a satisfying life. • Prevailing paradigm: We assume (cf 2001) that metals were first and foremost used as weapons. • Not true: Neolithic people used weapons for ornamental and religious purposes.
  55. 55. Crete: The Archaeological Bombshell • Technologically advanced and socially complex ancient culture of Minoan Crete • Starts in 6.000 BCE, colony of immigrants from Anatolia brought the Goddess and settled down in Crete • A unique civilization with no signs of war. • Nicolas Platon: “The fear of death was almost obliterated by the ubiquitous joy of living." • Jacquetta Hawkes: Absence of idea of a warrior monarch triumphing in humiliation and slaughter of the enemy • No scenes of battles or hunting. • Power was not equated with dominance, destruction and oppression. • Power was a responsibility and represented the interests of people. • Proves that the city-state does not require warfare or hierarchism or subjugation of women
  56. 56. Myth N.3: Male dominance is universal • FALSE – In some societies, sexual asymmetry carried no connotation of dominance or subordination. – Elise Boulding: Man the hunter is a myth to preserve male supremacy and hegemony.
  57. 57. Myth N.4: Anatomy is destiny Woman’s reproductive capacity confines her chief goal in life as motherhood. • FALSE – Ahistorical: Anatomy was destiny – Men and women do not live in the state of nature any more. – We cannot follow the same roles that were essential to the specie in the Neolithic. – To claim that of all human activities, only female nurturance is unchanging and eternal is indeed to consign half the human race to a lower state of existence, to nature rather than to culture.
  58. 58. Myth N.5: God has always been male • Before the secret of fecundity was understood, female was revered as the giver of life. • The great goddess, the divine ancestress, has been worshipped from the beginnings of the Neolithic periods of 7.000 BC until the closing of the last Goddess temples about AD 500. • Koran: “The pagans pray to females”
  59. 59. From India to the Mediterranean, she reigned supreme • Ashtoreth ou Astarte was known in Canaan as the Near Eastern Queen of Heaven • Archaelogical evidence that her religion flourished thousands of years before the arrival of the patriarchal Abraham • Astarte, Elat or Baalat principal deity allover Canaan. • Same religion during minimum 7.000 years in Iraq, Iran, India, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, Sinai, Libya, Syria, Turkey, Greece and Italy: all around the Mediterranean.
  60. 60. Ishtar Gate of Babylon
  61. 61. Yet, our memory is very short • We only remember the past 3.000 years of dominator system. • But the partnership system of the Paleolithic dates back over 30.000 years! • Neolithic age of agriculture revolution is over 10.000 years ago. • Catal Huyuk was built 8.500 years ago. • And Crete fell only 3.200 years ago…
  62. 62. The world started shifting with the Northern invasions from 2300BC • Series of migrations from Indo Europeans, Indo Iranians, Indo Aryans: aggressive warriors from Black sea, Caucasus, India, Iran • Viewed themselves as superior people • Ability to conquer, with a priestly cast of high standing • Brought with them concept of light as good and dark as evil (racism as well and casts) • Supreme male deity, storm god, high on a mountain, blazing with light of fire or lightning • Female deity associated with snake or dragon, most of the time evil
  63. 63. To switch to a patrilineal system, a total control of knowledge of paternity was needed • Political maneuvering for power over land and property accessible to them only upon the institution of a patrilineal system • First step: discredit the local religion: – Levite priests purposefully misspelled her name and referred to her on masculine gender or always linking her to male consort – Bible talks about Pagan religionof Canaan as idolatry • Second step: destroy the religious centers and the resisting cities – “Destroy their altars, break their images” – Purposely and violently destroy their religionand replace it with their own – Canaan: promised land but not an empty land! – Entrance in promised land seen as peaceful moment after 40 years in desert and slavery in Egypt – In reality, full cities were slaughtered (we left no survivor),added traumatized virginwomen to their tribes as Hebrew left Egypt with higher number of men
  64. 64. The end of an era
  65. 65. Today we are living in an age of unprecedented transformation. • Patriarchy is inextricably linked to militarism, hierarchy and racism. • It threatens the very existence of life on earth. • We are in the process of becoming. • A feminist world view will enable women and men to free their minds from patriarchal thoughts and practice and at last to build a world free of dominance and hierarchy, a world that is truly human.
  66. 66. We are reaching the limits of the system • Our masculine militarism is the most energy intensive activity: converts energy into destruction and waste without any useful fulfillment of basic needs • Ruths SIvard: World Military and social expenditures – The cost of a new single nuclear submarine equals the budget of education of 23 countries. – One intercontinental ballistic missiles= feed 50M children, build 160.000 schools, open 340.000 healthcare centers • We need a metamorphosis in culture premises
  67. 67. Now even nature seems to be rebelling against androcracy • Rational man subdues nature, poisons his physical environment • We see the limits of the system: destruction of rain forests, species dying out, loss of arable soil, population growth at fantastic rate • Supermaterialistic and consumerist lifestyle • Media propaganda glamorizing male violence • Persistence of dominator gender stereotypes • Harm of structural adjustments of World Bank
  68. 68. Androcratic system’s first line of defense has been reassertion of male control • Thoughout history, violence against women has been the androcratic systems response to any fundamental change • If androcracy is to be maintained, women must be suppressed at all cost. • And if violence is mounting now, it is because never before the male dominance has been so vigorously challenged (Mushrooming of NGOs). • When feminine rises, aroused and fearful androcracy thrusts back.
  69. 69. When challenged, the androcratic system reasserts masculine stereotypes
  70. 70. Fundamentalism is also an androcentric reaction • Neither capitalism nor communism has fulfilled its promises. • Disillusionment: return to fundamentalism • Frightened by increasing signs of impending chaos, turn back to androcratic system
  71. 71. In Greek Mythology, fathers are destructive of their own children
  72. 72. From the perspective of Jungian psychology, patriarchy may be seen as an expression of a stunted, immature form of masculinity and thus as an attack on masculinity in its fullness as well as on femininity in its fullness
  73. 73. Who do you decide to be? Luke Skywalker • Hero looking for his identity • Teaming up with his sister • Unite with other men to fight authority and power Darth Vader • Powerful father trying to murder his son • Fearful of superior power • Looking for prestige and power • Under an armor and a mask • Suppressing feelings or emotions
  74. 74. Patriarchy crushes male and female WOMEN • Limited freedom (especially sexual) • Visibilityand representation reduced MEN • Inner sensitive child crushed by authority • Constant pressure to prove your virility
  75. 75. Slay the masters
  76. 76. Now is the time
  77. 77. Small fluctuations can lead to systems transformation • Today we are nearing the possibility of a second social transformation, this time from dominator to a more advanced version of a partnership society • Fear grows but revulsion against violent repression is strong like in Burma or Pakistan • cf Peace Nobel Prizes: Malala, Aung Suu Kyi, ... • Similarities between our time and turbulent years of Roman empire (one of the most powerful dominators societies of all time) when broke down • Chaos theorists: increasing systems disequilibrium
  78. 78. A new world is possible • Caring labor needs to be fully integrated: economic and social transformation • Human spirit has been imprisoned, needs to live free from war • Changes in man-woman relations from recrimination to openness and trust • Result in prosperous economy • Decentralised economy,cooperative units of production and distribution • New myths to reawaken the lost senseof gratitude and celebration of life • Reconnecting us to innocent psychic roots • Sexual bonding for pleasure and love • New myths,epics and stories where human beings are good and men are peaceful, power of creativity and love • After bloody detour of androcratic history,women and men will be free
  79. 79. We need a critical mass of new images • In modern totalitarian societies: main industry is manufactureof myths • Nazi Germany: dark short Adolf Hitler sells myth of racially pure Aryans • Nietzche’s view of women: pleasant domestic animal • Nazi Germany one of the most violent reactions to gylanic thrust • Fatal error to underestimate the power of myth • Humankindis hungry for meaning • Need to create new myths,new symbols • Symbols and myths have changed in the past so they can change again • Original meaning of crosses was health and happiness • We need to challenge destructive myths of hero as killer like Theseus or Rambo or James Bond • Children of both sexes need to value caring and affiliation more than conquest and domination
  80. 80. The achievement of full equality between sexes is a prerequisite for world peace • When the power of the blade and dominator model is actually threatening all human civilization now. • Male dominance, male violence and authoritarianism are not eternal givens. • A more peaceful and equalitarian world is a real possibility for our future. • Are we finally reaching the end of a 5.000 year androcratic detour?
  81. 81. There is growing awareness, higher consciousness • Alfred Adler: For both men and women, this ranking of one half of the humanity over the other is poisoning all human relations. • Interconnectedness, new science of empathy, love • How to make conflict productive rather tan destructive • Suppressive dominator approach to conflict still prevails but feminine approach to conflict resolution offers hope for change (Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King) • Gandhi’s aim: to transform conflict • The vision of power has to shift: either you control people or they control you. • But the greater the development of each individual, the better • “Sisterhood is powerful"
  82. 82. A critical mass of people can create a new archetype • From the individual change to the collective influence • Until we create a new model • Where we trust love more than power
  83. 83. We all have patriarchy in us to some degree and it’s hurting us. What do we do about it?