Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Preface

Is it inevitable that men will always be the dominant sex? Is it also inevitable that we always will live in a world of conflict, war and poverty? Steven Goldberg put forward a powerful argument for this in his book, The Inevitability of Patriarchy. His reasoning largely focused on hormones. Men naturally have more testosterone than women. This hormone not only makes men physically stronger than women, it also makes them more aggressive and competitive. This competitive behaviour Goldburg says, will always make men strive harder than most women to gain the high-status roles in any society. He claims this means that men will always outnumber women in most positions of power in our world. To be fair, this is the situation in our world today, and has always been the case throughout recorded history.
The big problem for me with this thesis is that it also suggests that the most aggressive and competitive people will always rule our world. The result of this we can read about in our history books. War has become the normal way to settle disputes between countries. Throughout history many leaders have thought nothing of invading other countries and if successful, they are written down in history as a “great” leaders. Well known examples, are Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Genghis Khan and Napoleon. The fact that these great men have caused the deaths of millions of people doesn’t seem to be a problem. We live in a world that worships winners. Had Hitler won the Second World War he would be now thought of as a great leader, simply because it would be his supporters who would be writing history.
So “normal” is this behaviour that very few people seem to question the insanity of war. Nor do we seem to notice that we live in an unfair world where according to the World Bank, over 1 billion people in the world live in conditions of extreme poverty and where there are between 15-20 million starvation related deaths per year. Yet again this is justified because we live in a competitive world of winners and losers. It’s OK to ignore those who live in dire poverty or starve to death because after all they are only “losers”.
We are taught at school that men have always dominated human society, not only during recorded history but throughout the Stone Age as well. According to everything we are told, men have always been the dominant sex. From this it is speculated that life for humans in the Stone Age was savage and very brutal. Men fought and killed each other for dominance, and enslaved women through violence. Because of what ordinary people had been taught about the Stone-Age, popular cartoons used to depict the cavemen mating habits of the male hitting a woman over the head with a club and dragging her off to his cave by her hair. What a reality! A very brutal and hellish world of conflict, violence and extreme suffering. Is it true?
We are also taught that the masculine way is the way of the whole of nature, in being, “red in tooth and claw”. According to the way evolutionary theory is interpreted, evolution is driven by the concept of the “survival of the fittest”. The fittest being the winners of evolutionary game while the losers become extinct. We are taught, this is the way of the world. So not only is it natural that men will rule human society, the whole of nature is masculine. I found one book about evolution called, Evolution: The Four Billion Year War. Clearly the authors thought evolution was solely about competition and fighting. Perhaps we should stop thinking in terms of Mother Nature and call it Father Nature instead!
So that’s it then. Feminism is just a passing phase, which will disappear in time. Yes, it might be unfair that men should rule the world and we live in a world of winners and losers, but it’s a law of nature, and there is nothing that can be done about it. Or so we are told.
All the theories on evolution and early man sound very scientific, we are told that scientists are driven by unemotional cold logic. Yet by no means are scientists super humans. Like everyone else they are subject to emotions, prejudice and bias. Isn’t it interesting that all the theories about why men should naturally rule the world, have been created by men themselves? These theories are similar in attitude to the Judeo-Christian god in the Bible. He declared to Adam and Eve after they ate from the tree of knowledge. “And I will put enmity between thee and the women, and between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head, and shall bruise his heel. Unto the women he said. I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception, in sorrow shalt bring forth children, and they desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” Genesis 3 verses 15-16.
Here is an extremely brutal and vindictive god, who sounds very much like the brutal caveman that scientists tell us we were descended from. Competitive men dominate both science and patriarchal religions like Judaism, Christianity and Islam. So to slightly misquote Mandy Rice Davis. –
“Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they?”
(“Well, he would, wouldn't he?” was her withering reply in court on being told by Counsel that Lord Astor had denied any impropriety in his relationship with her. The Profumo scandal in 1963.)
As alpha males create these scientific and religious beliefs. They are hardly likely to endorse views that remove them from their position of supremacy and to promote the rights of those they are oppressing.
It seems that these men only see god or nature from their biased point of view. In the Judeo-Christian Bible it is claimed that, “god made man in his own image”. Yet it would be more true to say that, men made god in their image. The Judeo-Christian god and Allah in the Muslim world both behave like macho man. When scientists took over from priests in the 19th century as the “wise men” of our society, they still had much the same attitude. They saw Nature in a very similar way patriarchal priests conceptualized god.
If macho men dominate our worldview, reflecting a highly masculine point of view, it is not surprising that they should see a creator god or nature as a reflection of themselves. Is there an alternative to this point of view? Surprisingly there is, but it is a very radical one that has been subjected to censorship for thousands of years. It is what I would call the, “Make Love Not War” thesis. This concept encompasses feminine ideals of love, compassion and nurturing. We are told they are wonderful ideals, but completely “unrealistic” in our world of conflict, violence and suffering. Yet these feminine ideals are only impractical whilst we are unaware of the alternative to the masculine viewpoint.
It is possible for us to live in a compassionate and caring world. But to do so we have to question all the masculine propaganda we have been subjected to for the last five thousand years. In the past, and even today, we were told that a “real man” was someone who stood up for himself and didn’t take any shit from anyone. In the Middle Ages it was normal for a king to declare war on his neighbours to “prove” himself. Then the measure of his greatness depended on how well he had fought in battle. So Henry V (1387-1422) became a great king of Britain because he won the battle of Agincourt. We even have a Shakespearean play glorifying his deeds. Yet many British historians conveniently forgot the fact that this battle started the Hundred Year’s War between Britain and France. From a masculine point of view the battle of Agincourt was a stunning victory or terrible defeat, (depending on which side you are on). From a feminine point of view it was the beginning of a hundred year tragedy.
Even in modern times when the majority of people no longer believe it is a great idea to go to war, the attractive myth of the violent hero is still being portrayed on TV, films, books and video games. The theme of these stories is all the same. You have a villain who is “bad and evil”, and more than likely murders other people. Then enter the hero who overcomes the villain mostly by violence and either kills the villain or puts him in jail.
This looks great as a piece of entertainment but a complete disaster when acted out in real life. We can see this clearly in Israel today. To many Israeli people their military are heroes who go in and “kick ass” whenever Israel is attacked. Mostly this is aimed at the Palestinians, who not surprisingly have a very different opinion about what’s going on. They don’t see the Israeli military as heroes but as villains. They believe that their own suicide bombers are heroes who are hitting back at oppressors. A disagreement about who are the heroes and villains in this tragic drama is what perpetuates it indefinitely.
The whole world is the victim of this violent hero, who “puts the world to rights” through aggression, intimidation and violence. To the majority of the world Hitler was the archetypal evil villain. Yet it is doubtful if he saw himself in that light. His opinion of himself and his followers was that he was a great hero, who was strong enough to destroy all the “bad” people of the world. In his opinion they were Jews, Gypsies, Slavs and homosexuals.
The hero may genuinely believe that he is doing “good”, in committing violence against people he judges as “bad”, not realising or caring that the people he judges may have a completely different viewpoint. They may even think that he is the villain! Not seeing the other guy’s point of view, can lead to extreme violence, time after time after time.
Let’s look at Pol Pot. He became leader of Cambodia in 1976 and set about killing and torturing millions of his own people. The irony of this is that his intention was to create a utopia where people could live in harmony and equality. The real tragedy is that many violent men do have a genuine desire to do good, to make the world a better place. The intentions may be good but the methods used are extremely brutal and barbaric. So why do we have this problem? Why do people continue to use methods that clearly do not produce a better world?
It’s because the hero solves a problem through aggression and so we live in a world that adores and glorifies the masculine. We are taught to find only macho solutions to all our problems. Unfortunately these solutions only seem to work in the fantasies of films and books. Yes, John Wayne or Clint Eastward on the silver screen can put the world to rights by shooting all the bad guys and riding off into the sunset.. But the underlying message that is given out is that, “might is right” and violence is always justified. Provided you are the hero and that the people you kill are bad people! The old saying that. –
“Two wrongs don’t make a right”.
Is completely ignored in the macho mindset. The masculine mind believes very firmly that. -
“The ends justify the means”.
Here we have the inherent weakness of the macho theory, because men are superb at justifying their actions, and of course are NEVER wrong. Yet if we don’t use the macho way to solve our problems what is the alternative? The alternative is the feminine way of compassion, understanding and forgiveness. In the eyes of the masculine this is seen as weak and impracticable. Yet a practical demonstration of the merits of the masculine and feminine way was demonstrated in the First and Second World Wars.
After the First World War ended with the defeat of Germany, the Allies decided to blame and punish Germany for causing the War. In the Versailles Treaty they demanded that Germany pay the Allies £24 Billion, (In today’s money this would be over a Trillion pounds). The famous economist John Maynard Keyes resigned his position in the British Treasury over this, because as he pointed out, Germany at the time didn’t have the resources to pay back this debt. He also predicted that it would ruin the country and create widespread poverty in Germany. Causing deep resentment and hatred towards the Allies. His predictions unfortunately became true. Extreme political parties on both the left and right became popular and at one time it looked as though the communists would gain power in Germany. To counter this, big business financed the extreme right wing Nazi party, resulting in them coming to power and starting the Second World War.
So that was the macho solution. Everyone blamed Germany for the First World War and decided to punish them. This kept the cycle of violence going as it fueled resentment, hatred and extremism. After the second defeat of Germany the Western Allies decided they needed the German people on their side against the growing threat of Communism. This time they only punished the leaders and not the German people. They even helped Germany to recover from the terrible effects of the war. In so doing the Allies instigated the feminine approach of forgiveness and understanding. The cycle of hatred and violence between Germany and the other European countries was broken. Within a short time France and Germany who had been bitter enemies since the Franco-Prussian War, (1870-71) got together, in 1958 and started the European Common Market, along with other European countries.
So it can be done. The feminine way can work. A act of forgiveness and kindness was able to take a nation traumatized by two major wars and one of the most despotic dictatorship ever, and allow it to become a peaceful moderate country. It shows clearly that if we treat people with love, understanding and compassion they can respond to this in a positive way. So if the feminine way can work so successfully, why is it not used more in our world? It must be blindingly obvious that if you are brutal and punitive with people they will learn to fear and hate you. If you give people love, compassion and respect they will eventually return the compliment.
The feminine way also worked successfully in South Africa at the end of apartheid. With what happened elsewhere in Africa and the rest of the world we would assume that a bloodbath would happen, with the ending of white minority rule, This is fairly normal when oppressed people seek revenge for the violence inflicted on them. The fact that this didn’t happen is down to one man Nelson Mandela, who followed a policy of forgiveness and reconciliation. And it worked. People in all parts of South Africa did respond to his leadership in wanting a peaceful transition to majority rule.
The problem with the feminine way is that it is works indirectly on the long term and requires not only compassion and love, but intelligence as well. While the masculine way is far more direct, easy to understand and it can get instant results. A pure masculine solution in the case of two countries in conflict is simply to wipe the other guy of the face of the earth. Which is possible if one side possesses nuclear weapons and the other doesn’t. Then it would be easy for the country owning weapons of mass destruction to wipe out the other one. So you can see how simple and easy this is? Just press a button and let off your nuclear missiles, and bingo, no more problems! This has to be just so much easier than to try and talk with the country you are in conflict with and try and understand their point of view!
As we have seen in the Northern Ireland and conflict between the Roman Catholics and Protestants. Trying to bring peace between warring factions who hate each other, can take a very long time. This needs great diplomacy and patients by negotiators. Political leaders have to take chances and risk being murdered by their own supporters. Who may see their peace negotiations as a act of treason. As do ordinary people who have to dare to question the beliefs within their community that the “other side” are evil people. As voicing any sane and sensible idea, may provoke disciplinary action from the local para-military. Hatred and revenge can appear instantly through an act of violence but it can take a very long time for people to learn to forgive and forget.
Faced with all the great complexities of negotiations, seeing another person’s point of view, and overcoming fear and hatred. The very direct and simple macho way has to be seen as so much easier. Just let the two sides fight it out and who ever wins, wipes out the other side. After all, this is the “survival of the fittest”, in it’s purest form. So why tax our brains with all the problems of understanding others? Just keep it simple. When Hitler saw there was a problem with Jews he simply rounded them up and murdered them. The Jews themselves seem to of only partly learnt from this in their dealing with the Palestinians. They don’t go all the way and simply wipe them out, because wimps among the Jewish population who are uneasy about doing this hold them back. If they where to go for the final solution, then the Palestinian problem would be solved in no time. After all Israel has the military muscle to do this, and there shouldn’t be any moral problem, because the Jews are “God’s chosen people”. Aren’t they?
The simplicity of the macho way is that it rewards winners and punishes losers, and if everyone on Earth were in complete agreement to this, there wouldn’t be a problem. Unfortunately people who live in conquered states or under oppressive governments, or are at the receiving end of genocide, or are discriminated against because of race or religion, or simply live in poverty, tend to feel aggrieved about it. Arguments like, “it’s your fault, because you are a loser”, for some reason fail to convince them to accept their situation with grace and acceptance.
Arguments that we live in a world of winners and losers tend to come from wealthy men who regard themselves as winners. These are the men who dominate our world, and therefore have most to say. We don’t hear very much about the alternative point of view, except from feminists. Unfortunately feminism is mostly written by women for female readers. Which is a pity because feminism cannot only help women but men as well, because men are also victims of patriarchal. Both men and women have something to gain by questioning the assumptions and propaganda of our masculine world.

1 comment:

Jerald said...

Great blog!! It is quite interesting and I enjoyed a lot.
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