Friday, July 27, 2007

The Patriarchy Again

An interesting comment by Amanda over at Pandagon -- this is just part of it; it's in a discussion of this post here.

Our behavior makes more sense if you look as us as individuals trying to negotiate our survival and that of our children with the knowledge that we’re interdependent. With that in mind, it appears the patriarchy is a social system that developed when human males realized what female bonobos already know; if you band together you can dominate the other sex. Dominant females don’t have much reason to dominate too cruelly, though; they mostly seem interested in using their power to set up matrilineage and to keep males from harassing females. But dominate males want a lot more from females than just decent behavior; since females have wombs and males don’t, there’s a heightened interest in controlling females from cradle to grave. Thus, the patriarchy, which is a subtle alliance between men throughout history to keep women maintained as a sex-and-breeding class, utterly dependent on men for their economic survival.

Chimpanzees would like to dominate females this way, but they don’t control the females’ economic resources, so they’re sort of stuck.

The patriarchy is crumbling, by the way, because women have learned what our bonobo sisters already know; you band together and you have more power.

It occurs to me that this is why the Wingers hate women who work, and women who won't marry, and women who don't want kids, and women who "act like men," as they put it, meaning women who talk back and don't submit, and any woman who they see as escaping their spiky iron fists -- because it's not just a choice, for them, as it is for us.

For me, that's what it always was, and for me, therefore, their anger was a bit bewildering. Why would they get so bent about women who wore pants, and wanted a college degree, and didn't want kids, or didn't want to get married, or didn't want to take her husband's name? What was that to them? Surely this didn't have anything to do with their lives, did it? Why should they care if I said fuck, or I prefered the study of Greek to having six kids? That's my choice, isn't it? I don't care if they choose to go to church and have twins, do I?

But this makes their temper clearer: because they do care what I do, because to them it isn't just choice. What they see is that feminism lets women be free. And that means that that some women have escaped the cage. (The love of a good man, James over there on WorldNut put it, but it does start to look oddly like cage, when you examine their premises: women who have jobs leave it more often, women with educations leave it more often, women with access to birth control reject it in droves...hmmm...why does this not sound like something women are choosing because they feel loved and cherished? Why does it sound like oppression?)

Who will stay a slave when the door is open? Not too many.

[Now to be clear, I do not believe all relationships are oppressed relationships: people can partner up and work out decent relationships. It can be done. (At least, I'm hoping it can.) It can't be done, though, on the basis of one of those people exploiting the other.]


Diane said...

"Who will stay a slave when the door is open? Not too many."

I'm not sure I agree with that. Oppression is a way of life. Look at all of the women and girls in this country who have choices and who prefer not to execute them. The fear of being rejected is just as strong a prison as anything. I wish I had a dollar for every female who has said to me "Oh, I couldn't do THAT" (call a man for a date, leave a spouse, go to a restaurant alone, stop doing all of the housework, obtain sexual pleasure, etc.).

delagar said...

You're right. I probably just wish that were true. I've been over on the Right, reading some of those sites and their comments, and the women are often worse than the men when it comes to endorsing the cages.