This attitude permeates the whole of patriarchal societies. The ruler who decides to conquer neighbouring states clearly has no love for the people in country he wants to conquer, and in fact he probably hates them. He also has no love for this own people, as he must know a war will inflict death and hardship on them as well. Likewise the rich, who exploit the poor and force people to work in sweatshops for poor wages, have no love for the people they employ.
For centuries we have been ruled by uncaring leaders who have shown very little compassion for the people they rule. It is true in the west their has been a improvement where welfare reforms have allowed unemployment pay, state pensions and free hospital care for the poor. Yet these are something the workers have had to fight for and we can see today many politician are looking for ways to do away with these benefits. Because their masters, the rich and wealthy, are complaining they are not getting enough!
Patriarchy is hell for both women and men. We can see this by the number of people who are addicted to alcohol, drugs, (both legal in illegal), gambling and even food and work. Somehow most of us are looking for ways to blot out the reality of our lives. This is because patriarchy only benefits the alpha men and even they have to watch their backs, for fear of others who want their power and wealth. Men have coped with this hell by becoming totally selfish, so he doesn’t have to care for anyone but himself. This makes it possible for him to protect himself by being aggressive and even violent towards others. Women on the other hand cannot use this method because they have a maternal instinct, which makes them care for children. So many women to cope with the hell of patriarchy go to the opposite extreme and care for everyone except themselves. By not caring for themselves they are not hurt and can put up with all the physical and mental abuse metered out by men. Which means most women have had to become harden masochists to stay sane in a traditional patriarchal society.
In Jean Liedloff’s Book The Continuum Concept, she describes living among a South American jungle with a tribe where conflict, anger, hatred and violence was unknown. She contrasted this “Garden of Eden” existence with our modern world of stress, where many people need alcohol, nicotine, anti-depression tablets, as well as illegal drugs just to get them through the day. But she didn’t explain fully the reason for how this “Garden of Eden” existence came into being.
She said more in a workshop she conducted in London as she explained to us that there were other tribes in the same area who did frequently have wars with other tribes. She implicated that these wars were conducted in the same spirit as we have football games, except that people did get killed. This is also confirmed in studies done on Stone-Age tribes in New Guinea. In one incident in the 1960s, anthropologists observed a battle between two tribes that was called off because it started to rain! It seems that the warriors were worried that the rain might make their war paint run! Yet this violence was enough to change the nature of the tribe so unlike the non-violent tribes they did have, hierarchical customs, laws and taboos. While the women were made second-class citizens because they weren’t warriors.
This then presents a mystery. If we as human beings did once live in a stress free world of non violence that is not only shown in Jean Liedloff’s book but also in the archaeology of Neolithic cities and towns. Why did we voluntary move from a stress free world of peace to that of violence and stress?
In our modern world we are unaware that it is possible to create a stress free communities where conflict and violence are unknown. But the same cannot be said of the Indian tribes studied by Jean Liedloff, where non-violence tribes live alongside violent tribes. So the people of these tribes do have a choice of living a free, non-violent and stress free existence or living in a oppressive and violent community. So why would anyone voluntary choose the latter?
The purpose of any competitive game whether it is just a game of football or a tribal war, is to be a winner. It seems that the fleeting ego boost of becoming a winner is enough for men to want to risk their lives in a tribal war. Also in this system there are other ways of gaining an ego gratification. The chief has the ego satisfaction of knowing he has power over all other members of his tribe. While all the members of the tribe align themselves in a hierarchical system where although they know other members of the tribe are above them in the pecking order. They still have the ego satisfaction of knowing others are below them. As women and children are the lowest in this system even the lowest ranking man has the ego satisfaction that he is still above them.
So it seems that the rewards of ego satisfaction is enough for men to want to move from a non-violent, stress free world to that of a stressful and violent patriarchal system. As this system developed, men began to capture other men in war and forced them to become slaves. This became another way of gain ego satisfaction because the victors had the power of life and death over their slaves and so can force them do whatever they want. Sometimes this went to the extreme and developed into sadism where the victors enjoyed the power of being able to inflict fear, pain and suffering onto their captives.
This then becomes a problem for the male slaves because they were now at the very bottom of the pecking order with no obvious way of gaining ego satisfaction. The slave then has a choice of either hating his master and seeks ways to escape. So he looks for ways to get even with those who oppress them. Sometimes this was possible like in the case of Spartacus who led the most successful slave uprising in the history of Rome, (71-73 BC), but this was only a rare success for most slaves. The other option was for the slave to identify themselves with their masters so they could bask in the reflected glory of the success of their owners. Also the identification with their masters also encouraged the slaves to compete with each other to become the master’s favourite. (Something a sensible master would encourage). So it is from slavery that masochistic behaviour starts to appear, because it was only from masochism that a slave could gain any ego gratification. This then means that the master had a even greater ego boost in that he has forced men into slavery through violence. Yet in return he receives from many of them great loyalty and devotion. While the men who don’t give him this, he has the sadistic pleasure of being able to torture and murder. So the invention of slavery also created sadomasochist desires within people as the only way to stay sane in such a barbaric system.
The path of the women into sadomasochism is different because she has a maternal instinct. Nature has designed women to give unconditional love and devotion to their children, because without the commitment of females, to care and protect their offspring, most animal species would become extinct. This is very true of the human species where the newborn baby is completely helpless and can take up to 20 years before it is fully-grown. This means that the maternal instinct in human mothers has to be very strong for the human race to survive. Because of this, it is commonplace that most women find themselves spending their whole lives caring for their children, grandchildren, their aged parents and their husbands.
When men began to move out of paradise into violent competitive games like war. Women would have resisted this move because they wouldn’t want their sons or lovers being injured or killed. So this would of started a battle of the sexes that for a long time women seemed to have won. We can see this in Neolithic sites all over the world. Then this changed about 5,000 years ago when suddenly in the Bronze age archaeologists were finding cities and town full of weapons of war, fortifications and images of violence and conquest.
In the Neolithic sites archaeologists have found a predominance of feminine imagery. To the degree that it is accepted that people then worshipped female deities. Which also suggests that women then were then the dominant sex. They perhaps had to be if they were resisting men’s desire for competition and war. To do this they had to find ways to control and dominate men and this was probably done through mothers brainwashing their sons. Yet in the end this failed and men began to compete with each other creating wars and dominating women through violence. Women still continued to resist and even fought back as we can see in the case of the Amazons, but in the end men won and began to dominate the world.
Women then found themselves at the bottom of the hierarchical system in a situation of slavery. So like male slaves, women they had no option but to but to adapt and become masochistic. Though the feminine masochism was different to male masochism in one important factor. Masculine masochism was a way a man could gain ego satisfaction by identifying himself with his oppressor. While feminine masochism was simply an extension of women’s maternal instinct. Through her maternal feelings she could love her children unconditionally so she leant to extend this to love all men in the same way, even if men were now taking sadistic pleasure in hurting and humiliating women.
This then meant that men were gaining a even greater ego boost because they now could abuse women as much as they liked and yet only receive unconditional love in return.
This seems to be the case over the last two thousand years where it became commonplace in all relationships between men and women, the husband became the dominant sadistic bully while the woman became the submissive and masochistic wife. While any person that didn’t fit this stereotype was considered to be “unnatural”. Even up to the 1960s psychologists were claiming that all women were masochists. (Something no psychologist would dare claim today).
Yet if it was hell for both men and women to begin to live in a patriarchal world, it also can be hell to come back out of patriarchy.
There is a story that the great German philosopher, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche became insane when he saw a donkey being beaten by a man. On a superficial level this story sounds silly and is used by Nietzsche's detractors to make him look foolish. Yet on a deeper level it shows a problem that all men have: Most normal men, if suddenly faced with feelings that give him real distress, like seeing a animal suffer, may start to worry that he is going "soft". But someone like Nietzsche being highly intelligent, self-aware and imaginative clearly saw the implication of this. He understood that once a man begins to feel empathy with others, he is at the mercy of a bottomless pit of human suffering.
Another famous philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre had the same problem because he once commented that,
The other is hell.
Indicating that he also had difficulty with his feelings of empathy for others. The problems with empathy is brought out in the poem, No Man Is An Island by John Donne,(1571-1631) with his famous line,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee.
The bells were tolling for a man who was about to be executed. Now we can react to a scene of execution in two ways. We can watch it as a spectator sport, which many people have done when we had public executions, and be very glad it is happening to someone else. The understanding of why people like to witness suffering comes from a scientific theory on why people enjoy slapstick humour. It is because watching people who are foolish or have misfortune makes us feel better, to know someone else is more foolish than ourselves, or has had greater misfortune. So these people can feel better about themselves by watching another person being hanged because they know someone else is worse off than themselves. The alternative is to feel empathy with the person who has suffered misfortune and that can be very painful. Which is what John Donne wrote about in his famous poem. This is supported by a saying on love by Francis Bacon. (1561-1626) Philosophers don’t normally talk much about love, but his remark about love goes to the heart of the matter.-
He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune, for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief.
In other words if you care nothing for others you are free to do as you like, because if you care then that freedom is gone, because you have to think about the needs of others. This is something modern women know a lot about. It they have children, the family takes priority over her career and anything else, she may want to do. The other is not hell for a man who cares only for himself, or for a woman who cares for everyone, except herself. The other can only become hell, when people begin to feel love for both themselves and others at the same time. Because the needs what you want for yourself clashes with the needs of what others want of you. This then will create inner conflict.
A man who is totally selfish and cares nothing for others can be very strong and “macho”. This allows great conquerors like Alexander the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte and Hitler to start wars with other countries and be unconcerned and even unaware of the suffering they inflicting on thousands or even millions of other people. In the second world war the Germans had no problem in recruiting young men to be concentration camp guards, while the allies had no problems in recruiting airmen to bomb German cities day and night, killing millions of women and children. This behaviour is only possible by men who are not in contact with the feelings and suffering of others. I remember once reading about a famous pilot in the Battle of Britain. He had shot down many German planes and had been excited whenever he had done this. Yet in one instance he had shot down a German fighter and had got close to it while it was going down in flames and could see clearly the pilot struggling to get out of the burning plane. He was then shocked to realise there were real human beings like himself in the planes he had shot down. It may sound crazy that a man who is fighting a war didn't realise that in the process he was killing other people. Yet the reason for this would be that when men start to be aware of the feelings of others they have to go into denial to continue to enjoy “macho” pursuits like fighting wars. Once a man realises he is killing and hurting other people like himself. Then war and violence become very difficult for him. Men who enjoy watching violent films are doing exactly the same thing. The pleasure of watching say a very violent James Bond film is only possible why you don’t connect this in terms of the horrendous suffering going on, if is was played out in real life. In this way the spectators in the Ancient Roman games were more honest than people today who watch violent films. At least the Roman people were not divorced from the violence they saw. Where real people were being killed and maimed. Today we watch fake violent film, yet the enjoyment of violence is still the same.
Women are less protected by the reality of the suffering around her because of her maternal instinct, which teaches her to care for others. This can make it automatic that other people's feelings become her feelings. The masculine on the other hand is individual and in its purest form. So the truly “macho” man is only aware of his own feeling and totally unaware of the feelings of others. This is why it is possible for patriarchal leaders to declare war on other countries and be unaffected by the great suffering that a war will cause.
But many men find they can learn to love and care for others and find this so difficult that they will cut off their feelings for others. Resulting in some caring and loving man suddenly turn into a cold and uncaring monster These men, in learning how to have empathy with others, discovered that empathy was very joyful and easy when they have empathy with someone who was very happy. Their happiness became his happiness. Then when they find that the person they are in love with were also able to be very unhappy then they have a problem. The other person’s unhappiness immediately became their unhappiness. So the solution to this problem was is to run away from other until they have got over it.
I know personally of a young woman who became convinced that her father hated her as a child because whenever she cried he would immediately become very angry and sarcastic with her. Yet in many other ways he did show he was a caring man. Again it was clear to me the father couldn't cope with his daughter when she become distressed.
What many women are discovering today is that they find men who are a real "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde". These men seem to be very caring and loving and then suddenly will turn on them and become uncaring monsters. Men who begin to learn how to have empathy with others will naturally only want the joyful part of empathy. Where it becomes a nightmare is when the person he has empathy with becomes unhappy and has no control over the situation because it is another person's unhappiness. Some husbands in this situation then can become very angry with their wives and children. He is telling himself, "why should I have to be unhappy because they are unhappy". This can result in many men physically attacking wives and children simply because they express unhappiness. Certainly there have been many court cases where a man has killed his own baby because the baby was crying too much. While the wife or girlfriend protests that she cannot understand it because he is normally a very kind and caring man.
Women themselves have a similar problem. It was easy in the patriarchal age for a woman to have empathy with everyone else while she didn't care for herself. Now in recent years women are beginning to find they have real problems in empathy with others, when they begin to be aware of their own feelings. It can be wonderful for women when they become aware of their own happiness as well that of others. Before they were always happy when their husbands and children were happy. Now by being aware of their own happiness, they can become even more happy and joyful. Unfortunately when things go wrong they can also be aware of their own misery.
In the past if a woman had a husband who wanted to spend all his money on drink and gambling, she might fight him for enough money to feed and cloth their children. But if she ended up with nothing it wasn't a problem for her, because the needs of her husband and children came first. But women today find that if they end up with nothing it is a real problem for them, because they are aware of their own needs as well. So they find themselves in a "no-win" position if they live with a irresponsible man. They are able to be strong enough to say clearly to their husbands: "No, you cannot spend all our money on drink, gambling, cars and computer games". Yet she can be still be unhappy and feel guilty about denying her husband what he wants. However if she were to give in to these feeling and give him what he wants and deny herself, she would also feel unhappy. It is no wonder that heterosexual women complain today that with men, "you can't live with them and you can't live without them".
It can get even more difficult than this: What women find wonderful about having a caring husband is that she finds she can make him happy by being happy herself. So a virtuous cycle can be created, she can feed off his happiness and he can feed off her happiness. Unfortunately the opposite can be true. Also with a caring man she might find that if she is unhappy it makes him unhappy, so she can feel guilty about being unhappy. This can then create a vicious cycle where both partners feed off each other's unhappiness, making the situation worse and worse.
For this reason many women having had a relationship with a caring man, will leave him to go back to a more selfish man. She knows that with a "strong" “macho” and selfish man he will not be concerned about her unhappiness. So the relationship cannot go into a vicious cycle where the unhappiness of both partners will strongly affect the other. Unfortunately what she will find is that it is impossible to change a very selfish man. If he has a behaviour pattern that makes her unhappy, like spending all the money they have on himself or treating the children badly. She is totally unable to influence him in any way, because he doesn't care if what he wants to do will make others unhappy. But a man, who is able to feel empathy with her, knows full well that if his partner is unhappy he will be unhappy. He then has a powerful reason to do all he can to make his wife or girlfriend happy.
So heterosexual women have two choices: They can have a man who is able to love and empathy with them. But they find he has real problems if they become unhappy. Or women stick to very selfish men, who are able to cope with women becoming unhappy, and will probably be more helpful in this situation. The downside is that there is nothing a woman can do, if he wants to behave in a way that makes her unhappy. She cannot appeal to his better nature because it is unlikely that he has one.
It would be very easy if we could give a quick and easy solution, as you see with many of these "self help" books, but real life is not like this. Even today if a woman gives birth to say a mentally retarded child, it is fairly normal for that woman to devote her whole life to caring for it, even into adulthood. On the other hand it would be very unusual for a man to do this. He might help his wife look after a mentally retarded child, but he would be very unlikely to take full responsibility and back off when the going gets too tough.
So we can see that compared with women men are just beginners at learning how to love and care for others. They haven't been exposed to thousands if not millions of years of a powerful maternal instinct that makes women want to care for children, animals and men. Many men today may have strong desires to love and care for others. But when they have to put these feelings into practice and face the misery, unhappiness and sacrifice these feelings cause, they often back off.
For this reason many men have become very frightened of empathy with others. They do not want to be at the mercy of other people's feelings, so they practice being very hard “macho” men. The same time women are finding it hard to learn to love themselves while loving others. A woman who is learning to love herself finds that she is always betraying herself by putting the needs of children and men before her own. She might then choose to learn to hate men and even learn to hate children, seeing it as a way to prevent her from sacrificing herself for others.
We as a human race are standing at a crossroads. We have before us two choices; one is of a far better future than we could dream is possible for the human race. The other is a far worse future, if that is possible. In the patriarchal age we only had one half of the human race behaving totally selfishly with no regard for the feelings of others. If in the future men continue to resist empathy because they do not wish to feel the suffering of others. While at the same time women continue to learn how to love themselves by hating other people. Then it means that all men and women will be fearing and hating each other. In the patriarchal age men mostly killed each other as well as women and children in wars because they feared and hated each other. But at least it was only 50% of the population doing this. It women were to join in and learn hate and violence from men then the whole of human kind would be behaving in this insane way. In such a situation the human race would quickly become extinct.
The alternative to this is that men stop resisting their desires to give empathy with others, and women do not go down the path of learning to love themselves by hating others. That is to say they stick to learning how to love themselves and love others at the same time. The positive thing about this all is that it gives human kind a far better future. The suffering caused in the patriarchal age was caused by the dominant sex, (men) being unable to care and empathize with others. With men in the future learning how to empathize, and women not suppressing their ability to do this. It means both sexes will be motivated to create a far more loving and caring world.