What do you believe are the driving forces and meaning of subjugation?
I have to divide this post into three parts. First is the benefit of subjugation of women to men, second is the ongoing deep effect on women and then there is the fact of culture. And again I have to point out that these posts are thought documents and certainly not research vehicles or repositories.
Benefits for Men
Looking at the discussions about patriarchy has been a depressing experience. In my life I have heard all the arguments men advance regarding the appropriate roles of women. I found every one of them distressing and invalid. Branded large on the surface of claimed benefits are the augmentation of power for men. I’ve searched that landscape for decades and found it wanting.
But they have held power and continue to hold power. Of course the exercise of that power goes well beyond the subjugation of women. Men held the power over slaves through history. And part of the discussion focuses on sexual rights including rape. The discussion in that area seems to focus more on men’s rights. I don’t hear much about celebration of rape.
As to the overall benefits men derive from patriarchy I have to confess I shake my head. Yes, there is power which some celebrate but the motivation to look away from the issue of loss of potential and broad benefits mystifies me. But then I don’t seem to relish power.
The Losses for Women and Society
It seems there are some benefits for men but at the society level the benefits are highly questionable. As to the benefits for women, they are hardly impressive and the negatives for society are rather important.
First of all, women are half of the population which means any negatives are substantial. At the most global level, the subjugation of women means there are limits of vision and effective planning. We see that much potential is not developed.
In spite of all the publicity we continue to see women paid less than men for doing the same job. That means there is less potential and freedom in their lives. All of this contains innovation and productivity. Patriarchy contributes to racism, imperialism, capitalism (in its darker components) and supports environmental catastrophe. Of course there is much more to the last item on the preceding list.
It is difficult to note any benefits to society as a whole and, even for men, the results are less than ideal. It is ever so hard to see the justification. In the media we see a cross section of people presenting views and too often the arguments simply do not hold water. It is hard to tell if those who present phony or contrived arguments believe them or whether it holds some unadmitted benefits for them.
Then There is Culture
Often in discussing these kinds of issues we talk about specific benefits and losses which leads us to deal with the people who are benefiting or not from policies and attitudes. But at a larger level there is the matter of culture.
If we move beyond individual benefits and losses to the larger picture, then culture glares before us. One of the great strengths of humanity is that we possess culture. Now and again we trip over our differences but culture in general contributes stability and guidance.
Leslie White (one of my heroes) called it the extrasomatic stream. Culture does not reside within a given person but flows around us in society. We see it when two diverse groups come up with the same idea at the same time even though they do not talk to each other. The components come together independently because of this stream outside of individuals.
Its is a strength, but it is also a weakness because when something becomes established in culture it has tremendous staying power. And even if we overcome patriarchy there are systems which constrain women as a matter of culture. These have to be defined and examined. And we cannot believe for a moment that simply recognizing it will lead to sudden and widespread change and release from the negatives of subjugation.
We have our work cut out for us.