Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Chapter Fifteen - The Sisterhood is Powerful

We are supposed to be an intelligent animal with FREE WILL. As such we are suppose to be masters or mistresses of our own destiny. If this is true, then we are capable collectively of using our intelligence and our ability to choose to create a far better future for us all.

In the past we have not used our intelligence properly and as such have made very bad choices. We have somehow allowed ourselves drift into a world of conflict, hatred, violence and suffering. The sign a intelligence animal is being able to learn from its mistakes and correct them. If we claim we cannot use our intelligence to create a better world for ALL PEOPLE, then we have to revise any idea that we are a intelligence self motivating animal.

Which might be true, after all war must be the most stupidest way to settle differences between countries. Also with all the power of technology we have today, yet we are incapable of using it to prevent millions of our own species die every year from starvation every year. This is not only criminal but shows a real lack of intelligence or our part as well.

If we want to claim we are an intelligent animal then war, crime, poverty and malnutrition cannot possibly exist in our world. As an intelligent animal we are allowed to make mistakes but the sign of intelligence is the ability to learn from them and correct them. To continue to make the same mistakes generation after generation for thousands of years is certainly not a sign of intelligence. It is only very unintelligent animals that are driven by inappropriate instincts which to do things against its own self-interest. We can see this in the case of the Cold War where we nearly went extinct, and it is possible we might still do this through global warming and rapid climate change.

This means that “mankind” cannot have it both ways. Men cannot claim that they are the most intelligent animal on this earth and yet create a world of suffering. It is not an option to say, nothing can be done about war, crime and poverty, if we want to think of ourselves as a intelligent, problem solving, animal.

Clearly war, violence and poverty are caused by man’s aggressive and competitive instincts. Now these bellicose instincts may be appropriate in animals like bulls, stags and lions. Where it is essential for the survival of the species that only the physically strongest males get to mate and pass on their genes, but human beings no longer needs to rely on physical strength for its survival. We are an animal that for millions of years has relied on our brains and not our brawn. We know this, because physically we are the most weakest animal for our size in the animal kingdom. Neither do human males fight each other for the right to mate with females. So man’s aggressive and competitive instincts are old instincts that are no longer befitting for our survival as a species. What is more, they are certainly very inappropriate for our well-being and happiness.

Five thousand years ago our species was taken over by a plague called violent aggression. Starting off by a few men who found they could dominate others through violence. Men and women on the receiving end of this violent reacted in very different ways. Men receiving violence became violent themselves, while women lost all confidence and self respect. Even though some of them attempted to fight back as in the case of the Amazons.

As the result we now live in a world that is ruled by aggression and competition. In recent years this violence has evolved into capitalism. Now to some degree this is a step forward as it is better that men fight each other for wealth and status through competing businesses rather than on the battlefield. Yet the foundation of capitalism is that, “greed is good”. The theory being that men are strongly motivated by greed and competition, which as previously stated has created a world of winners and losers.

Yet is greed the only motivation for human beings, surely it would be better is we were motivated by LOVE. Most women have no problem with this when she has a child. She is motivated by her maternal instincts to want to care and love her children the rest of their lives. Men it seems also have a maternal instinct as well. True it is not as strong that of women. We can see this in many marriage break ups where it is mostly women who are, “left holding the baby”. Yet modern experience has shown men are more than capable of looking after children. We even find some men take on the role of househusband and look after the children while the wife goes to work. As well as men who will care for children fathered by another man.

So if both men and women are capable of being motivate by love to care for others. Why do we then need to be motivated by greed, competition, vengeance or hate? We are supposed to be an intelligent animal with free will and because of this, collectively and individually we have a choice. We don’t have to live in a world of violence, injustice and suffering if we collectively don’t want to. We are surely able to use our brains where we are motivated by love and compassion for others.

From primate studies of apes, monkeys and lemurs, we have a choice. We can behave like the aggressive chimpanzees, orang-utans and hamadryas baboons, where alpha males rule through violence. Or behave like the more placid bonobo ape, vervet monkeys, macaques, olive baboons, patas, rhesus monkeys, grey langus, capuchins, prosimians and Madagascar lemurs. Human beings like other primates have within them instincts, that they can take them in either direction.

For many primates it was just chance that pushed them into the direction of living in either a male or female dominated society. This is clearly seen in the case of baboons. Baboons that live on the open savannah tend to be male dominated. This is because in the open plane there is nowhere for baboons to hide from predators. The only defence a baboons troop has, is for the large males to band together and collectively drive carnivores away. This means the males have a very important role in baboon society and it is a big advantage for males to be very strong and aggressive. This strength and aggression is also used to dominate the females. On the other hand baboons that live in forests tend to be female dominated. This is because forest baboon males don’t attempt to fight off predators as everyone climbs up the nearest tree at the approach of a predator. Because of this the male don’t have such an important role, and there is no survival need for male forest baboons to be aggressive. This allows the females to come together in a strong sisterhood to dominate the community.

We can see a similar pattern in human society. Women do look to men for protection, but not protection from predators but from other men! So it is a game men play of both assaulting and “protecting” women. Even today in the 21st century a young women who gets raped because she was walking home in the early hours of the morning are condemned, even by other women for, “asking for it”. The absurdity of this was brought out in the open in India during the 1960s: The Indian parliament then was pushing through a law to place a curfew on women going out at night, because so many Indian women were being assaulted and raped by men at night time. Then Indria Gandhi made a speech pointing out that as it was men who were assaulting and raping women, it would make more sense if a nighttime curfew was place on men! Faced with this logical argument that no one had a answer to, the law was quietly dropped. In Pakistan it is even worse, if a women complain to the police that she was raped it is more likely for her to go to jail. So what men have been running for thousands of years is a type of protection racket against women. In that they assault and rape women and then tell women they have to look to men for protection.

As human beings we have a choice in this, we are not slaves to our instincts like many other animals. Patriarchy is a choice that was made five thousand years ago in encouraging the chimpanzee aspects of our instincts. Which brutalises men who respond by cutting off their feelings for others and becoming very brutal themselves. While women under this reign of terror lose all confidence in themselves and become subservient to men.

In my personal experience as a child of the 1950s, it was still accepted that boys needed to be, “toughened up”, by their fathers, teachers and their schoolmates. So it was all right to brutalise sensitive boys because, “in our tough world you need to learn to be a real man”. I also remember at that time the police gave women who complained to the police about rape, a really hard time. They would spend hours trying to break down their stories, so only the toughest and most determined women could push forward a rape case. Even if they are strong enough to do this, the judge was still more likely to let the rapist off. It was also commonplace that the police didn’t interfere in “domestic disputes” which means husbands were at liberty to beat up their wives whenever that wanted to.

The problem is that we have been taught from childhood is that, the macho way is the only way. We don’t hear very much about this alternative to this, namely the feminine way. Throughout the 19th and 20th century the feminine way has slowly and quietly influenced Western society. Not only has it allowed women the vote and equal opportunity laws, as women have gained more confidence in themselves they are quietly changing society.

The result is that human society now has a real choice. We can go back to the chimpanzee model and once again brutalise our children, or we can go forward and learn from the bonobo. The problem with the bonobo model is that we have all been brainwashed by the patriarchy that sex is “dirty”. Even though most people in the West today are no longer practising Christians, society is still strongly influenced by Christian attitudes. Though since the 1960s there has been a sexual revolution that is slowly undermining these rigid patriarchal beliefs.

For a powerful Sisterhood based on the bonobo model to be created, women will have to do away with marriage and pair bonding. Women’s loyalty to a male partner is one of the biggest blockages to creating a powerful Sisterhood. In the 1960s many hippies attempted to create communes, many of these were failures because the males had real problems with community living. So in the end the ones that survived either done so by having strict rules about community behaviour. Or, all the men left and it ended up with only females in the communes.

For women with children communes are ideal. This is because the children then don’t become the sole responsibility of one woman. This allows women to, “have their cake and eat is as well”, in that women can easy led a life outside of motherhood in having some of her sisters help in the looking after of her children. Female only communes are not so good for men because they no longer have a exclusive female partner to look after his material, emotional and sexual needs.

Pair bonding gives men a big advantage in the sexual relationship between men and women. In that it allows men to have a wife and family as well as the freedom to live a live outside of the family. Female communes give women the same advantages. In that her sisters can emotionally support her. So what would be that role of men in these communes?

Women have complained that man can change when they get married. A man may be very giving and considerate while he is wooing a woman. Then once a marriage has been established he finds he doesn’t have to try so hard to please her and can be selfish and even abusive towards his wife. With the breakdown of marriage in recent times men find they cannot do this anymore, because the women is free to leave the relationship. In a commune it strengths the women’s power even more, because she has the immediate support of her sisters, when things go wrong in a relationship with a man.

So it means without pair bonding men cannot take any woman for granted. If he wants to have relationships with women he has to find ways he can please them, all the time. He also finds he cannot afford to upset any women because as women are good communicators and he could find himself with a bad reputation. Which will mean other women won’t want to have a relationship with him.

In the few matriarchal societies that have survived up until the present day, like in Minangkabau and Keralal the reason why they have survived is because of a simple custom. In most Eastern countries they have extend families, where brothers, sisters uncles and aunts all live in the same household. In the majority patriarchal communities the wife always lives with her husband’s family. So she is at a disadvantage because the family she lives in will mostly take the side of the husband. While in matriarchal communities the custom is that the husband will live with his wife’s family. Where he finds himself at a disadvantage for the same reason.

So we can see how a simple change in marriage customs can make such a big differences in the power balance between men and women. What is surprising is that the men in these surviving matriarchal communities do not rise up and demand the same marriage customs as the surrounding patriarchal society. The fact that they don’t do this shows us that a matriarchal community has advantages not only for women but for men as well, because any strict patriarchal society only benefits a few alpha males. This is because in a society of winners and losers only a very few males become winners most men and nearly all women end up becoming losers. So even though a matriarchal society is loaded to benefit women, the majority of men are still better off in a matriarchal society as well. Because like women they are not being oppressed by alpha men.

To create matriarchal communities women cannot like men do it through conquest and violence, they will have to do it through persuasion. This is why matriarchy has to be attractive to both men and women. Also both men and women who agree with matriarchy have to resist the type of men who want to use aggression and violence to take over and rule. It means we have to stop making heroes of violent men and stop using aggressive macho methods to solve problems.

From what we know about the bonobo ape, the Neolithic age and modern matriarchal communities that has survived to modern times we know matriarchal does work. There is an old saying that goes, “knowledge is power”. People in the past have been powerless against governments of alpha males because they were unaware their was a alternative to patriarchy. Once the common people know there is a viable alternative then the people have a choice of either staying with patriarchy or moving on to a matriarchal future.

No comments: