Do FWR posters want a matriarchy?

(205 Posts)
PromQueenWithin Tue 12-Mar-13 11:22:04

I think not. I think that the majority of posters on this board don't want the unfair advantage men have replaced by an unfair advantage for women. They want equality for men and women and while that equality would require men to give up some of their privilege I think that everyone, including men, would be better off as a consequence. I also do not think that most posters on this board wish to see women prevented from being SAHMs or choosing traditionally female occupations if that is what they wish to do.

I would like to understand the opinions of other posters, because I think there's a lot of "well, most posters on this board think <insert straw feminist discrediting belief here>" and I personally feel that this is unjustified.

UptoapointLordCopper Tue 12-Mar-13 11:50:47

Equality please. Neither a patriarchy or a matriarchy. No unfair advantage/disadvantage to anybody, and certainly not based on genitalia or skin colour. I really don't understand why it's so difficult for some people to understand the desire for this. How you get there, of course, is quite another thing...

duchesse Tue 12-Mar-13 11:59:35


I want the best people for the job, whatever that job is. I want a true meritocracy, with everything equalised to make that possible- especially wrt childcare and child rearing. I want equality.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 12-Mar-13 12:10:38

No, equality would be just fine.

FrothyDragon Tue 12-Mar-13 12:20:46

Liberation would be preferable. But equality would do. No one has ever campaigned for women's superiority, and that's not what feminism...

duchesse Tue 12-Mar-13 12:42:00

Anybody else listening to You and Yours at the moment? Some git on saying that women sink companies.

UptoapointLordCopper Tue 12-Mar-13 12:48:17

Oh I had it on for a second before switching to another station so didn't hear anything. Is it the usual maternity leave thing?

UptoapointLordCopper Tue 12-Mar-13 12:50:34

Not meaning to sound dismissive at all! But tend to hear/read about how women going on maternity leave ruins the economy...

duchesse Tue 12-Mar-13 12:52:03

Not even that- it was way crasser! His opening ambit was that every country that's introduced gender quotas to ensure even numbers of women on boards have seen their profits suffer. Eventually the host managed to make his agree that it was the quotas that were the problem rather than the women but his opening ambit was that women on boards= death of companies.

To answer OP, no, I want a revolution.grin

slug Tue 12-Mar-13 13:15:09
Lessthanaballpark Tue 12-Mar-13 14:51:40

Slug, thanks for that link - it was a gem and the interruption by the idiot in the audience just demonstrated the truth of what she was saying.

StickEmUp Tue 12-Mar-13 15:45:15

I would like equality BUT this thread has left me wondering ... what would the world be like if it was a matriarchy?
<starts gathering thoughts for later>

TeiTetua Tue 12-Mar-13 16:01:15

Then the men would be openly revolting.

ObviousCunt Tue 12-Mar-13 16:53:22

What blackcurrants said. smile

(LRD here, just too lazy to change.)

PromQueenWithin Tue 12-Mar-13 21:14:36

So when some posters make claims like "well, you're OK, but most of the other posters on this board hate men, want all women banned from being a SAHM and will just use their 'equality' to be unfair to men" sorry Larry they're actually talking out of their bum holes.

Thought so.

larrygrylls Wed 13-Mar-13 10:27:04


Try asking a load of men whether they want a patriarchy. Probably, you would get the same response. Of course we don't, we just want equality.

People tend to want whatever benefits them personally but, at the same time, they want to feel that they are fair. So they rationalise their desires to make them seem fair to them. It is called confirmation bias. How about asking people whether they want a "fair" tax system? Everyone thinks that they do but everyone's idea of fair is completely different, generally highly correlated to their own level of wealth.

It is funny how this is so clear to women when putting men right on the FWR boards but so completely opaque to them when they are considering what they actually want for themselves.

BIWI Wed 13-Mar-13 10:31:10

'Fair' is obviously a subjective thing. (It makes me immediately think of hysterical children stamping their feet and whinging 'that's not fair' when they don't get what they want). But 'equality' can be measurable, so I find it hard to see how there can be more than one definition of it. Can you be more specific about that, larry?

larrygrylls Wed 13-Mar-13 10:34:47


All the issues around maternity leave are highly open to interpretation, for instance. Only women can give birth and breastfeed. Is it "fair" to 100% compensate for this or is it "fair" to say time at work counts and, if you have to take time off for whatever reason, you have missed valuable experience and it should be taken into account.

Is it "fair" to make a woman friendly (i.e flexible) workplace or is it "fair" to say that everyone should be treated identically and a workplace should be maximised for output?

There are plenty more issues where the concept of fairness could be differently interpreted.

(And, by the way, I am not stating any views in this, merely saying how equality cannot be easily measured).

slug Wed 13-Mar-13 10:36:15

Try watching the link Larry then consider what the research shows about men's perceptions about what does and what does not constitute equality.

UptoapointLordCopper Wed 13-Mar-13 10:54:16

LOL at the idea that "most men want equality" meaning anything at all. Read Delusions of Gender. Watch slug's vid. Larry if you can't be bothered to do any work and exercise your brain a bit more I think we are wasting our time.

And shock at the suggestion that women are "compensated" for giving birth. This is wrong on so many levels. Women give birth for fun? Or you have other ways of propagating the human race that you are not telling us?

And Larry you are a bit wrong about equality initiatives. We don't do "let's be nice to the wimmin". We do "let's be fair to everybody". Read up. Keep up.

namechangeguy Wed 13-Mar-13 11:07:46

If you start from the question 'Would you like your wife/sister/daughter to have an equal chance in life to you/your brother/sister?', I think most men would want this. Is that controversial?

UptoapointLordCopper Wed 13-Mar-13 11:23:40

That is not controversial. What is laughable is the idea that that is sufficient. We are not as immune to social conditioning as we think. Some research shows that it is the rational, logical, "nice" (in that they think they want equality and they think they are not biased in any way) men who change the goal posts most when it comes to employing women. I haven't got time to write a book about it. But luckily others do. Read Delusions of Gender (it's not that hard to read - even my poor little female brain can cope with it), read Why So Slow. Watch slugs's video. Open your eyes. Look, think, instead of going "yeah but this yeah but that". Enough excuses. Enough arrogance. Or our sons and daughters get it.

This sounds awfully like 'we just want equality, but only the kind of equality we get to define, that doesn't include the kind of equality you want, because you don't deserve a say and are wrong'.

Well, gee thanks, that sounds fab, I'll keep on with the boring old equality feminists want, if you don't mind.

namechangeguy Wed 13-Mar-13 12:22:28

I don't 'get' to define anything. You hum it, I'll play it. If you get A, I get A. If my son gets B,C and D, so does my daughter, and your's. If my dad can do something or go somewhere, so can my mum. No ifs, no buts. Same education, same healthcare, same social conditions, same social/societal attitudes. Let's have quotas if it will help.

Where does anybody's/feminism's definition of equality differ from that?

As soon as you got onto this thread you started quibbling at BIWI about definitions of equality. That sounds to me like you saying you think you know best.

At the moment, as you must know perfectly well, all these 'same' things are not remotely the same. It is simply rubbish to suggest that is true.

namechangeguy Wed 13-Mar-13 12:34:43

I am talking about an ideal, not a reality, as you well know. Quibbling indeed.

As a further measure, I would remove an tax advantages/charitable status from institutions such as churches/religions who do not have full equality for women and gay people. If all the avenues within such organisations are not open to everybody, you should not qualify for any advantages under the law.

No, I didn't know, because you didn't say. And it is very unclear from your posts what you think.

You have a few small ideas about how to advance equality, by the sounds of it. But you think the most important thing is to take issue with feminists over the possible unfairness of maternity leave ... why? And you seem sure, against all evidence, that 'most men want equality'.

There is a pattern to your posts - you tell us you're a nice, decent bloke who wants equality for the women, but somehow, you think feminists are doing it all wrong. Doesn't seem like you're very committed to that equality now, does it?

Hullygully Wed 13-Mar-13 12:39:00

I'd like one.

namechangeguy Wed 13-Mar-13 12:42:50

Can you please point out my reference to maternity leave? Which post?

mungotracy Wed 13-Mar-13 12:46:04

No thanks...equality please...although many of the posters on these boards apparently have zero interest in that.

Interesting comments on maternity leave, the concept is gendr based and arguably sexist, id really rather there was parental leave that families could divide as they wished. This would also end the disparity of risk small companies actually face in taking on female staff... that risk is predicated by only paying mat leave proper to females and it is mat leave in its current state that is continuing that situation.

slug Wed 13-Mar-13 12:46:29

Ah, sorry, getting you all confused with larry, seeing as how you were defending his posts I assumed you agreed with them.

Do you in fact disagree, then?

UptoapointLordCopper Wed 13-Mar-13 12:46:52

Yes yes yes, we all want equality. If intentions were enough then why hasn't it happened yet? Is it because "women don't want it enough"? Huh? How often have we heard that? So naive. Maybe it's all so clear cut and obvious in some people's mind because they've never had to cope with insidious and subtle discrimination and the kind that you can't even begin to complain about and some kinds that you can't even name. And maybe it's all so easy in some people's mind because they think they are oh-so-nice and if-only-there-are-more-of-me-the-world-would-be-a-better-place. And maybe these nice people are the ones with the best intentions and refuse to see that their thinking and their actions might be a result of more than their actual concious thoughts and because they want equality and if hasn't happened it's not their fault. Self-righteous superior "nice" people. It's getting boring.

Mmm. Yes, if men want equality, and acknowledge that women are not yet being treated as equal to men, it would be nice to know whether the reason for us not having it is we don't 'want it enough'. I have seen that argument advanced seriously, btw.

Or there's that 'oh, yes, I want equality, so just my good intentions are enough. I'll sit back in this armchair while you sort it out.'

namechangeguy Wed 13-Mar-13 12:51:54

Larry? Yes, I saw his stuff just now, and realised you had confused me with him. Brilliant. How have I referenced or supported him? I didn't even read him until you mentioned maternity leave. Can you please stop making stuff up to cover your mistakes?

My stance is parental leave to be split equally, or as the parents see fit. Same rights, same under the law for either gender. I'd have loved to have stayed off when mine were younger, 6 months each for me and my wife. It was never an option though, sadly.

mungotracy Wed 13-Mar-13 12:53:43


"There is a pattern to your posts - you tell us you're a nice, decent bloke who wants equality for the women, but somehow, you think feminists are doing it all wrong."

with respect that's no worse than your own attacks on this poster...If you could confine yourself to engaging with the arguments given rather than trying to attack the poster on the basis of your assumptions about his style and gender you'd be making a more convincing case.

UptoapointLordCopper Wed 13-Mar-13 12:55:30

slug grin You have the best links.

Somehow I'm reminded of this too. Not sure why. But you know, it's this mysterious female brain thing that links irrelevant things. Anyway I'm taking the advice of this link and leaving. Bye!

mungotracy Wed 13-Mar-13 12:55:58


I am female and a feminist AND I agree with you on the parental leave you have suggested as it also prevents the reasons for discrimination given by smaller busineses when considering taking on female staff as i stated above.

namechange, I apologised, you might have the grace to accept. I confused you because of how you responded to my posts, because you sound as if you both agree. If you don't, fine, that's fair enough - but tell me so, don't expect me to read your mind.

Do you think that I'm wrong men are saying 'we get to define what equality is and we reject feminists' definitions'? Do you think larry is wrong about equality? Or are you just arguing for the sake of it?

mungo - I don't give a flying fuck about his writing style, and don't know why you think I do. I think there is a pattern to the way he (and for that matter larry) posts. They like to tell us they are for equality, but they think we feminists are doing it all wrong. So it's clearly a very special kind of equality they think they're supporting - the kind that doesn't involve women being equal to men, in my impressions of it.

StickEmUp Wed 13-Mar-13 13:05:29

I find the chat about maternity leave very interesting.

I am not having children, so one might say if I work in a place of women with children, I have to pick up the slack as they all work part time etc.

I could think 'oh they get flexitime so I end up working harder'

Alot of childfree people think like this.

I think, however if it mothers were more supported and there were decent fall backs we wouldnt have this problem.

I am a supporter of maternity rights (as a feminist I don't think you can be unsupportive if it clashes with other views).

I think if there was equality though men and women would be equally expected to take care of children and there wouldnt be so much put on mothers, and men and women equally would be able to do jobs and look after children.

I think equality, and equal opportunites are different things.

I agree, stick. Especially about equality and equal opportunities being different things.

StickEmUp Wed 13-Mar-13 13:09:06

If you take this to the realm of disability, equality is like saying: 'wheelchair user, use the stairs like everyone else'
Equal opportunities: 'Wheelchair user, you need to get to the first floor, we have a lift for you to use.'

I am sorry for the term 'wheelchair user'
It seems a bit rude, I do not mean it that way.

StickEmUp Wed 13-Mar-13 13:09:48

Also that's a good example of how feminism helps men.

namechangeguy Wed 13-Mar-13 13:11:46

Larry's points;
All the issues around maternity leave are highly open to interpretation, for instance. Only women can give birth and breastfeed. Is it "fair" to 100% compensate for this or is it "fair" to say time at work counts and, if you have to take time off for whatever reason, you have missed valuable experience and it should be taken into account.
It is 'fair' to allow either parent to take parental leave regardless of gender, up to the legal limit. If you miss stuff, it is up to you to catch up, but jobs vary almost infinitely, so in some industries this is a non-issue. I work in IT. Nobody changes the way computers work fundamentally in 12 months, so for in my industry it is not a valid point. Besides, bringing up kids is not a trivial thing, and not easy. Nobody takes the decision to do it lightly. Companies need to do more to support regardless of gender. Plus, as mungo said, it will not allow companies to discriminate as easily.

Is it "fair" to make a woman friendly (i.e flexible) workplace or is it "fair" to say that everyone should be treated identically and a workplace should be maximised for output?
See above. Parent friendly, not woman friendly. 'Maximising for output' is not flogging people to death. Maximising output comes from happy, valued employees. Family life contributes massively to this. It is greedy businesses that would have us believe otherwise.

mungotracy Wed 13-Mar-13 13:15:39

LRD I havent been here long but your swearing isn't terribly adult and your accussation against him which attempt to discredit his style of posting (based on your perception) looks a lot like an un-grounded personal attack. I find nothing in his comments on maternity leave that state feminists are 'doing it wrong' you have already attributed statements to him which were false, thats 'misleading' and appears to break the guidelines. Incidentally you are not a representative of 'feminists' nor are you entitled to speak on their behalf as a group. He disagrees with you....not all females who are feminists as you hav repeatedly implied. He is clearly asking for equality in this case, if you disagree please state why you don't think parental leave is a better option and why you continue to support increased maternity benefits for one gender over another. I thought this board was an area for reasoned discussion not an area for you to try and insinuate other people are anti-feminist and discredit them in that manner because you lack a rational discursive style.

namechangeguy Wed 13-Mar-13 13:20:19

I would still like to know where I supported Larry. I am lost on that one.

Beachcomber Wed 13-Mar-13 13:22:18

'Matriarchy' as a concept is entirely patriarchal.

It is based on patriarchal ideas of a gender binary hierarchy and the social constructs of submission and domination.

These are all things that feminism wants gone, so the entire notion of a 'matriarchy' is utterly redundant in feminist analysis.

larrygrylls Wed 13-Mar-13 13:29:45


That is all too easy.

How many women are comfortable having a discussion with their husbands where their husbands assume that they have an equal right to maternity leave to them? Really? Not theoretically. And what is the workround for breast feeding in a truly equal society? Can men demand their wives/partners make expressed milk available to them in the same way a wheelchair user can demand a lift be installed?

I have seen several threads where women are disgusted that men have assumed that they are going to be the SAHP.

Also, companies struggle to deal with maternity leave as is. Can you imagine every employee taking 6 months parental leave?

mungotracy Wed 13-Mar-13 13:32:21

Larry, i think hes suggesting that parental leave would be split as the parents chose not that each parent would get the entire allowance! That's no more complex than the current system and consumes no more resources from the employer.

namechangeguy Wed 13-Mar-13 13:33:23

Well, that threw a spanner in the works, Beach grin

In this link

it makes reference to some prominent feminists who have espoused Matriachial societies;
'In her book Scapegoat: The Jews, Israel, and Women’s Liberation, Andrea Dworkin stated that she wanted women to have their own country, "Womenland,"[107] which, comparable to Israel, would serve as a "place of potential refuge".

There are plenty more referenced in there. So it isn't all feminists, is it? ( a question, not rhetorical)

larrygrylls Wed 13-Mar-13 13:35:18


Do you believe in any genetic/hormonal drivers of behaviour? Or is all human behaviour merely a social construct? And, if that is the case, what are the behavioural drivers of the other great apes? Are we completely different or merely more evolved? If the latter, we are going to share some influences. If the former, you are harking to creativity.

Yep, that old (undiscredited) theory: evolutionary psychology.

larrygrylls Wed 13-Mar-13 13:37:03


It is far harder for an employer. It is not that much harder to arrange a temp for 6 months than for three. On the other hand, finding twice as many temps and dealing with all the transitional arrangements would be a huge additional headache.

mungotracy Wed 13-Mar-13 13:39:58

you dont need twice as many temps. The parents wouldnt be able to take that leave at the same time. The current allowance would be split between the family to use as they wished. Infact it would allow both the mother and father to take less time off than the mother would under current mat leave rules.

FelicityWasCold Wed 13-Mar-13 13:44:26

How many women are comfortable having a discussion with their husbands where their husbands assume that they have an equal right to maternity leave to them? Really? Not theoretically.
It is my belief that this is a non issue.

And what is the workround for breast feeding in a truly equal society? Can men demand their wives/partners make expressed milk available to them in the same way a wheelchair user can demand a lift be installed?

Men making demands on their wives/partners breasts is not the same as a wheelchair user demanding to have a lift installed. By any stretch of the imagination.

I'd imagine, in a healthy relationship this would be discussed by the parents. Some would feel that mum being off for the first six months then switching to formula/reducing the feeds was fine. Others might feel it appropriate to express milk. Others will mix feed from the beginning etc... Etc...

Why does your vision for equality in maternity rights result in men making demands on their wives? Bizarre.

mungotracy Wed 13-Mar-13 13:46:19

"Why does your vision for equality in maternity rights result in men making demands on their wives? Bizarre."

That was my thought too....

namechangeguy Wed 13-Mar-13 13:48:24

Larry, I don't get that thing about comfort discussing breast feeding. I cannot comment about other people's relationships. I can tell you that my wife and I discuss far more personal stuff than that.

Re breastfeeding - if that is fundamental to your parenting joint decision, then arrange your time accordingly.

For me, it should be a fundamental right to split childcare. They are not 'her' children, they are 'ours'. Companies need to get their heads round this. This archaic concept that someone who works 10 hours a day, 5 days a week, from 18 - 65 is a good employee, is frankly bollocks. Companies who offer the best, most enlightened work/life balance will attract the brightest and best employees. The best/happiest employees get the job done, to a higher standard, than those who are stressed out and frazzled. And honestly, yes, I can imagine it.

I work for a multi-national IT company. My manager works 4 days a week, as she has young kids. She is smart, knows her job, lets us do ours. She is a better manager than most of the blokes I have worked for. And this is not for validation from other posters on here - it's a fact.

StickEmUp Wed 13-Mar-13 13:50:41

milk available to them in the same way a wheelchair user can demand a lift be installed

This is not true. Companies have to make' reasonable adjustments'.
Installing a £50,000 lift (*unfortunately*) is not reasonable.

In the case of a person going for a job up where they would have to sit at a desk upstairs my HR dept just said they would probably seat them somewhere else, etc.

So that scenario cannot be used in the argment here.

Well said, beach.

mungo - my swearing isn't terribly adult? How precisely does this comment fit with your laudable desire for me not to comment on someone else's 'style' (not that I did)? You are being hypocritical.

I do not see why this thread needed to devolve into arguments over why childcare is a feminist issue. As usual, the topic has been derailed by posters who feel the most important thing they can do, is to disagree with feminists rather than to offer support. If you cannot see why that is tedious, and why it makes it very hard to believe in this version of 'equality' which (so we are told) most men want, then think about it: why do you think these issues have been allowed to dominate a discussion that started off being about matriarchy? It happened because someone was letting off steam about companies blaming woman. That was a red rag to those posters who immediately felt the need to leap in, quibbling about how actually, really, it's terribly important to recognize that women have it easy, and it's all 'open to interpretation'.

And lo and behold, we've moved away from discussing matriarchy. Boring.

MooncupGoddess Wed 13-Mar-13 13:57:44

As of last year mothers and fathers can choose who takes the second six-month period of maternity leave. I expect it will work out fine. People (and indeed companies) are very adaptable when necessary.

Also, it is a great way of cementing namechangeguy's point that childcare is an equal responsibility.

StickEmUp Wed 13-Mar-13 13:58:08

Can men demand their wives/partners make expressed milk available


I'll tell you why.

Women have breasts: They breastfeed.

the man can do other things which means the care split is 50/50

That would be like saying if the man doesnt drive he still has ti get in a car to make the driving a couple does together 50/50.#

50/50 means playing to your strengths.

It doesn't mean we have to do each job half and half.

Is Dworkin's idea of 'womanland' the same thing as the concept of 'matriarchy'? Isn't she talking about separatism and, as the quotation puts it, 'refuge'? That is surely different from 'matriarchy', since that word means 'rule of the mothers'.

It is quite telling that even when women seek a refuge away from men, they are accused of trying to 'rule' - and I'm not just thinking of this thread, I'm thinking back to the separatism threads about a year ago. On those, people were constantly commenting about how threatening they found the idea of women being separatists. Even though separatism is purely about women staying away from men, it's not some covert attempt to raise a feminist army and crush the patriarchy by force.

namechangeguy Wed 13-Mar-13 14:04:31

LRD, doesn't equality in childcare move feminism forward massively towards its aims, for all the reasons stated?

MooncupGoddess Wed 13-Mar-13 14:05:09

"it's not some covert attempt to raise a feminist army and crush the patriarchy by force."


<imagines the feminist army preparing its lethal manoeuvres>

Yes, I think equality in childcare does move feminism forward. But I do think it is a bit of a side issue and I think it's a pity we've ended up discussing it when the original topic was interesting in itself.

When you jumped in to argue with my post in response to larry's points about 'equality' and its meaning, you told me that you don't get to define anything - but it does feel as if that is what's happening on this thread. You're defining an agenda and saying 'let's talk about this instead of the topic'.

Not to be a killjoy, it's just that we talk a lot about issues to do with childcare, and they're interesting issues, and I'm glad we talk about them, but this is one thread about matriarchy and I'd love to hear what beach was saying because I thought it was interesting and not something that's been discussed to death.

namechangeguy Wed 13-Mar-13 14:08:29

I raised the reference to Dworkin for her opinion, not to cause a ruck. The section leading up to the reference said;

While matriarchy has mostly fallen out of use for the anthropological description of existing societies, it remains current as a concept in feminism.

I asked Beach the question is all. I would value her opinion. It isn't derailing.

mungotracy Wed 13-Mar-13 14:09:27

LRD, Yes swearing isn't adult. I could almost have predicted you would avoid providing any rational for your statements. I asked you to justify your view not to stop posting. Do you make a habit of misrepresenting other posters?

You have repeatedly commented on his style and made assumptions regarding the pattern (which is part of style, give up on the semantics...) of his posts.

Despite being happy to discredit him incorrectly, attach false quotes to him and then go on to pretend you represent others as a group you have failed to actually address any point hes raised. You've failed to address me. You simply accused him of attacking feminists which was false.

You have as yet failed to apologise both for your unfounded attacks or your habit of acting as a spokeperson for feminism which you are not, nor are you entitled to state a viewpoint on behalf of feminists. Now when challenged on your behaviour you pretend you don't want to derail the discussion to avoid having to justify your view.

You voluntarily involved yourself in the discussion about MAT leave. It is relevant many posters are interested and YOU discussed it yourself yet now your claiming that anyone who discussed the point raised by another poster it was in fact saying women have it easy...... again your argument is 'if you disagree with me you are anti-feminist' this is patently untrue and another reason why you should cease claiming to represent me as a feminist.

So for the last time if you wish to attack this gentleman who is arguing for equality please state WHY you disagree with him and me. If you don't and you don't like the derailment (as is your latest argument) probably best to stop attacking him on the point?

I mean, it does feel a bit like you're saying 'c'mon, I'm here talking about moving feminism forward, be happy - it's not on topic but hey, count yourself lucky that I'm discussing feminism at all'.

If that's not the intention I'd be glad to hear it, but do you really not get why this is depressing?

Hullygully Wed 13-Mar-13 14:09:41

I'd like a matriarchy please. I think everything would be a lot nicer if the world were organised around the reality of human life and need rather than capitalist bollocks.

namechangeguy Wed 13-Mar-13 14:10:23

No more from me about childcare then.

mungo - I honestly don't care what you think of swearing. Pattern isn't style. I never commented on his style, so please stop pretending I did. If you can find one example, do so. If you can't, I suggest you stop harping on about my style for a start.

I've made it clear why I disagree with this 'gentleman'. If you don't understand, let me know what's the problem and I will try to explain again. But please stop pretending I attacked his style or refused to make my objections clear - it's not true, and it's very rude.

Thanks namechange.

Oh, and sorry, I didn't think the question you asked beach was derailing at all. I thought that was on-topic, FWIW.

MooncupGoddess Wed 13-Mar-13 14:17:00

mungo... swearing is very common and generally considered totally acceptable on MN. If you don't like it you're probably on the wrong forum.

And what's with the personal attack on LRD?

Hullygully Wed 13-Mar-13 14:20:09

Imagine if took a totally different start point to the way society is organised.

There are women and men.

Women have babies. They carry them for nine months and then breastfeed them (hopefully) for at least a year. This is best for the baby. Men get to do other stuff with the baby and support the mother.

Both women and men are intelligent and would like to participate in society.

How could we organise it for the benefit of all?

mungotracy Wed 13-Mar-13 14:20:31

LDR the question was asked above...... you havent answered: Ill repeat it as you clearly missed it a whole half page ago.

"He is clearly asking for equality in this case, if you disagree please state why you don't think parental leave is a better option and why you continue to support increased maternity benefits for one gender over another. "

You were also asked to explain why you kept making statements on behalf of all feminists. You have not.

You haven't covered this anywhere...which is why you were still having the discussion. Dont claim to have explained clearly....

Me asking you to explain is not rude by any interpretation. You repeatedly misrepresenting people is a breach of the rules.

If my swearing is genuinely offending anyone, I'm sorry. It is habitual, and I do think it's quite common on MN, so to be honest I would find it hard to stop. If it makes you feel better to think of it as a sign of a limited vocabulary and inferior intellect, go right ahead.

I apologised for misattribution a post to namechange when he didn't post it. I can apologise again if it would make him feel better. I do stand by my point, that I do think there is a pattern (ie., recognisable series of events) to the way his posts and those of some other posters go. I think we do often get sidetracked into debates on a fairly narrow range of issues, as if as feminists we should just be happy to discuss (or justify) a few ideas over and over and over.

I certainly don't think I'm representative of feminists in general and I'm not trying to speak for anyone else - these are just my perceptions.

I would really like to talk more about the concept of matriarchy and about why it gets put forward as something feminists are said to want. I think it's really interesting that the Dworkin quotation about 'womanland' was brought in.

If everyone else is seeing something I'm missing, and debating childcare is actually deeply relevant to the debate, I apologize, and I'll back off. I'm not saying childcare isn't important, just that I thought we'd got sucked into talking about it prematurely.

mungo - as I have explained, I think the discussion of childcare is derailing the original topic, and I think it's a pity.

Hullygully Wed 13-Mar-13 14:26:06

I think children, if not childcare (although it is an inevitable follow on), are the crux of the matter.

You can ignore your biology and gender both within your relationship (if enlightened) and at work, until you have a child.

hully - I wonder if nuclear families are part of the problem? I don't know, just thinking about it. But I think something that is an issue at the moment, is that you end up with women who can be very cut off from other women's support. I don't think it'd be a matriarchy we would need to make things better for woman, but we might need to get rid of the patriarchial idea that every family has one man at the head of it - maybe we need it to be more communal?

Cross post. Fair point, maybe you're right.

UptoapointLordCopper Wed 13-Mar-13 14:29:40

I did say I was going away and I am, after I agree with LRD that discussing childcare is derailing. Single women without children do not progress as quickly as married men with children (a study on careers in academia said so). It's not about childcare. It's about men and women. OK. I'm gone again.

Oh, and feminist theory does evolve, does it not? What people used to think and what people think now after much study and experience can be different without being accused of being fickle, no? Or are feminists held to much stricter standards than all other social and scientific theories?

Ok ok I am gone.

VerySmallSqueak Wed 13-Mar-13 14:30:49

LRD I love the more communal prospect.
Ime of having lived in a womens only space there seems to be more of an emphasis on co operation rather than there being a hierarchy.
So no matriarchy or patriarchy for me.

mungotracy Wed 13-Mar-13 14:31:18

Three times now you fail to justify your disagreement with him and me? Really? After claiming you'd already explained? After calling me rude? You are not going to answer the question you kicked off about?

Well I think we can all draw the obvious conclusion there.

I am glad you don't represent feminists in future please avoid phrases like "we feminists" as this will help you avoid giving the impression....

Ooh, I'd love to have lived in a woman-only space.

I've heard that woman who have strong support networks of other women are less likely to get PND. Which I guess is obvious, but also really telling, I think. And I think it's really interesting (and depressing) how often you get threads from women who're fed up because their DH/DP is going out and leaving them to look after the baby. The replies tend to focus on whether or not the DP should be staying home more, but I wonder if the mum shouldn't be getting out more. I mean, it's scary isn't it, that in 2013 women can still be more isolated at home than men? There are still women who wouldn't go into a pub on their own, that sort of thing.

Hullygully Wed 13-Mar-13 14:35:02

LordCopper, the reason they don't tho is because of the general position of women within capitalism, single/married/with/without children.

The issues are utterly entwined, the capitalist system won't change until the children issue is addressed, the children issue won't be addressed until the capitalist system changes.

I do completely agree with that, hully. But would solving that issue make the world a matriarchy? I don't see how it would.

Sorry to keep harping on but I do think this is a really crucial issue: why do so many people assume that women want to 'rule' (or that one sex or other has to be in charge), instead of imagining ways both sexes could be equal?

MooncupGoddess Wed 13-Mar-13 14:38:24

Why is it to do with capitalism specifically, though, Hully? Women were discriminated against just as much (indeed, often more) in the days of a land-based economy.

Hullygully Wed 13-Mar-13 14:38:28

Humans are obsessed with "ruling" and hierarchies, they can't envisage any other way, I guess that's why.

mungotracy Wed 13-Mar-13 14:38:48

Isnt discussing PND derailing the discussion now LRD or is it ok for you to provide exemplars whilst others may not?

The issue of child care is relevant to matriarchy, anyone seeking increased mat leave rights and not seeking parental leave is actually not seeking equality they are seeking privilige in this rare instance for females which is matriarchal. Hence its a very good indicator of whether you do or do not actually support gender inequality.

Is it humans who're obsessed, or the patriarchy? There's a theory, isn't there, that war is effectively a patriarchial system, not an inevitable result of us being human. I dunno.

I do think capitalism comes into it, btw, because it is profitable to oppress as many groups as possible.

Hullygully Wed 13-Mar-13 14:41:09

yy Mooncup, I was thinking in very narrow terms about our system right now. I wonder how much difference there is between modern day capitalism and land-based economies? Would it be fair to say they are both based on what's mine is mine and I want as much as I can get? Oh, and women stay home with babies and do cooking?

This is what I'm getting at though. Personally I don't believe that women seeking increased maternity leave rights is seeking privilege, and I think this is yet another way of moaning about feminists asking for too much. Obviously that is just my view, and obviously there is some relevance to discussion of matriarchies, but if we get hung up on the 'bad women demanding more than equality' aspect, isn't it a bit dull? Haven't we done this before?

hully - yes, I wonder that. When does 'capitalism' start, does anyone know? Haven't we pretty much always lived in societies you can understand as being capitalist, or am I misunderstanding?

Hullygully Wed 13-Mar-13 14:43:30

um mungo, you are now seeming to have a bit of a bee dans votre bonnet with lrd...

Hullygully Wed 13-Mar-13 14:46:41

yes, who can give us a potted history?

We need Custardo, she was good on capitalism and theory. Does she even still post on MN?

Hullygully Wed 13-Mar-13 14:49:11

I'm not sure, she's on fb, not so much MN I think.

So, do you think we can't envisage a non-hierarchical system because it's something that'd never be possible for humans - or is it more like the way that before marital rape was criminialized, lots of people couldn't envisage how it could be a crime? (Does that make sense?)

MooncupGoddess Wed 13-Mar-13 14:53:45

Have to work so can't answer properly, but I think modern-style capitalism is largely an 18th-century invention; it's about having lots of liquid capital that one can invest in joint-stock companies. All linked to the industrial revolution and mass production/export, which enables swift turnaround of profits.

Whereas in pre-modern times rich people were those who owned lots of land (and the associated feudal retainers). Of course there have always been merchants but they weren't the most powerful class until fairly recently.

Pre-industrial revolution people mostly didn't go out to work, so women much more likely to get involved in the family business, farming etc, with small children tagging on. Or had their own small businesses (weaving, sewing, herbalism, etc). The total separation of many women from the world of work was the result of the creation of big, very structured workplaces away from home.

May be over-generalising but you get my point.

Yes, that makes complete sense. And I think the bit about the workplace being at home is really important. But I think even in societies before modern-style capitalism, women were still oppressed because it was economically valuable for them to be so, right?

MooncupGoddess Wed 13-Mar-13 14:57:42

I think some level of hierarchy probably comes naturally to humans, but of course some societies are much flatter/more flexible than others.

I'm pretty sure we'd see less war in a world run by women, but is that because men are naturally more aggressive or because they're socialised to be so? Looking at the extraordinary differential between crimes committed by men and by women (men commit 90%+ of violent crime) I'm inclined to think that there is something that makes men (on average) more violent, but of course it's impossible to tell for certain in a society which treats men and women differently from birth.

Beachcomber Wed 13-Mar-13 15:00:21

i'm happy to expand. can't just now though, am working. maybe later.

I don't think men are naturally more violent. I think it is pure socialization. Obviously, it's not something we can prove one way or another, though.

vesuvia Wed 13-Mar-13 15:00:57

It's the existing patriarchy that I don't want.

What is a matriarchy? I don't think there has been a matriarchal society. There are mothers who are strong, so-called matriarchal women who run/control their own families, but that does not mean that society is a matriarchy.

I get the impression that most people tend to see matriarchy as the mirror image of patriarchy. I think that is probably due to widespread patriarchal backlash propaganda about matriarchy, which scares people with myths about how bad a matriarchy would be. I think the popular patriarchal view of matriarchy is based on at least two things:
1) a patriarchal attitude that every society has an oppressor/oppressed binary.
2) fear that, after women's liberation from patriarchy, a matriarchy would be equal and opposite to patriarchy, where men would become second class people, men would become the sex class, male biology would be shamed and men would be treated as badly as patriarchy has treated women for the past several thousand years.

I would not want a matriarchy which swapped the sex of the oppressors and oppressed. I would not want a matriarchy if it was just like the old patriarchy with the same power imbalances, with men becoming the sex class, men becoming most of the social status sacrificers, men becoming most of the rape and domestic violence victims, men becoming 20% of the MPs, men owning only 1% of the wealth. Who would want a matriarchy that treated men as badly as patriarchy treats women?

Would women in a future matriarchy oppress men or even want to? If so why?

It took 30 years of actual evidence of the failures of patriarchal communism before George Orwell wrote "Animal Farm", to warn us that "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others". He only ever knew patriarchy, so it is debatable whether or not his warning would even apply outside patriarchy.

Perhaps a post-patriarchal society might just be able to free people from the harmful current patriarchal oppressor/oppressed binary.

I don't want women to be seen as superior to men.

Thanks beach, will look foward to it.

VerySmallSqueak Wed 13-Mar-13 15:01:31

Doesn't a hierarchy,of any sort,require some form of struggle/domination/survival of the fit?

MooncupGoddess Wed 13-Mar-13 15:01:41

I dunno, LRD. I don't think economic value was the primary reason for women's oppression - I suspect men did it because they could, and because they wanted control of the means of child-production.

But of course children were an economic asset until pretty recently, so certainly having a wife and quiverful of children to help in the forge/with the sheep-shearing or whatever would have been very useful.

Yes, I think it must do, very.

moon - yep, but surely control of the means of child-production is economic? confused

Sausageeggbacon Wed 13-Mar-13 15:07:50

Interesting, having had the discussion yesterday with DS1 about the MHRM proposed charter from that bastion of of equality AVfM (sarcasm mode off). I was surprised how they define the issues they want equality on. No surprise about the parenting issues the one bit that caught my eye was Foster the emergence of a new cultural narrative where all men and women are encouraged to live their lives as they see fit, without preferential treatment, while also being expected to bear the responsibility for their personal choices.

True equality is never going to happen, the class system is always going to give privilege to those with the wealth. It is why a millionaire became Prime Minister.

AbigailAdams Wed 13-Mar-13 15:14:59

I think what some people would consider a matriarchy would actually be equality. I also agree with Beach.

Beachcomber Wed 13-Mar-13 16:02:08

namechangeguy have you read "Scapegoat: The Jews, Israel, and Women's Liberation" ?

The book doesn't argue for a matriarchal society. It argues for a land of refuge for women from patriarchal society. One land in the globe where women can escape male dominance and sex based oppression.

I agree with AbigailAdams in that what many people would consider 'matriarchal' society which actually be equality (I prefer the notion of 'women's liberation').

Anyway, the concepts of both patriarchy and matriarchy are based on the notion of power hierarchies according to sex, achieved through the means of gender. Gender is a social construct and a political tool used to maintain and justify the existence of the current oppressive society in which women are oppressed, exploited and controlled (due to their sex) and men oppress, exploit and control women (because of women's sex).

Feminism wants nothing to do with this entire system. Feminist theory rejects gender, gender roles and gender based social organisation. Feminist theory rejects sex based oppression in all forms.

If the world were to evolve to an extent where gender and sex based oppression no longer existed (which is feminism's ultimate aim), both the terms 'patriarchy' and 'matriarchy' would be relegated to history.

As we are not yet in that situation, if you asked me, as a feminist if I would rather live in a male dominated society or in a female dominated society (and could only choose between one or the other), I would have to choose a female dominated one. Men seem to be absolutely rubbish at running things so I would like to see if women could make a better job. However, as I said before, the twin concepts of submission and domination are an anathema to feminist ideals and have no long term place in feminist thinking of the evolution of human society.

VerySmallSqueak Wed 13-Mar-13 16:08:11

Completely agree Beachcomber.
(and very well put)

mungotracy Wed 13-Mar-13 16:09:15

"I don't think there has been a matriarchal society."

WRONG.....please use google.

Id explain in detail but apparently that's not needed......

mungotracy Wed 13-Mar-13 16:11:43

"Feminist theory rejects gender, gender roles and gender based social organisation".

No it doesnt, it tends to discuss it specifically in terms of gender........ please as with LDR avoid making blanket staments representative of a groupyou do not speak for. Thanks.

Beachcomber Wed 13-Mar-13 16:12:22

Larry, you asked me "Do you believe in any genetic/hormonal drivers of behaviour? Or is all human behaviour merely a social construct?"

Yes I do. I can only answer that question as a woman but I think there are examples in pregnancy, childbirth and childrearing. I do however think we are socialized to a huge extent and certainly a great deal more than we realise.

Beachcomber Wed 13-Mar-13 16:20:26

mungotracy - which tenets of feminist theory do not reject gender, gender roles and gender based social organisation?

Please note that I was careful to refer to "feminist theory" not "feminists". Feminist theory is not a 'group' and therefore I am not attempting to speak for anyone.

There are, of course, women who identity as feminists who do not reject gender and indeed who embrace it. The act of embracing gender is contradictory to the basic political analysis that underpins feminism as a political movement however, (that gender is an oppressive social construct).

slug Wed 13-Mar-13 16:22:45
VerySmallSqueak Wed 13-Mar-13 16:28:00

mungo I am feeling a little confused and cannot follow all of this picking on choice of wording.
Would you want a matriarchy? Can you give me a plain english answer so I know where I am.

Beachcomber Wed 13-Mar-13 16:32:33

VerySmallSqueak, thanks!

FloraFox Wed 13-Mar-13 16:55:46

Beachcomber I fully agree. Please carry on as the fuck you were. And you LRD

mungotracy Wed 13-Mar-13 16:55:49

A large amount of feminist theory recognises gender roles. For example in relation to child birth and societal build.....especially in emerging 'cultures/tribes'. freedom to leave gender roles is partially technologically based and not a matter of simple 'societal approach'

The very terminology 'feminist theory' implies a thought process related directly to gender. To claim it is 'feminist theory' and then claim that it rejects concepts of gender is inaccurate in terms of the academic body of text available on feminist theory not all of which rejects gender and also because of the obvious oxymoronic nature of claiming that feminist theory isn't related to gender. Basically to claim that feminist theory rejects gender concepts is to attempt to validate a single branch of feminist theory without having to discuss alternate theory.

My answer regarding matriachy was given very very clearly in my first post on this thread. The answer was no. I want 'equality' and that I suspect some of the more regular posters (who demonstrated in subsequent discussion they were unable to defend their attacks on others) do not actually understand.

mungotracy Wed 13-Mar-13 16:57:55

sorry the above was intended to answer very smallsqueak and beachcombers well written questions.

VerySmallSqueak Wed 13-Mar-13 17:12:11

I wasn't being off with you mungo. I owned the fact that it was I who couldn't follow all the meandering. I can see know that you said you don't want a matriarchy - so for that I apologise.

I don't want a matriarchy.You don't want a matriarchy.

Got it.

AbigailAdams Wed 13-Mar-13 17:14:21

Really eloquent post Beach. Totally agree. And I agree about preferring women's liberation to equality as well.

VerySmallSqueak Wed 13-Mar-13 17:15:11

I can see now,I meant.

FloraFox Wed 13-Mar-13 17:17:11

mungo gender does not equal sex therefore what Beachcomber said is not oxymoronic.

It's blindingly obvious that Beachcomber and LRD are setting out their own views. It would be ridiculous and tedious in the extreme if everyone had to continually qualify their posts as you seem to be suggesting.

Why are you being so aggressive?

vesuvia Wed 13-Mar-13 17:32:18

"I don't think there has been a matriarchal society."

mungotracy replied - "WRONG.....please use google. Id explain in detail but apparently that's not needed......"

Well, we can all use Google I suppose, but sometimes I prefer to learn through polite and respectful discussion on the FWR forum instead.

I'd like to read about any examples you can give that are matriarchies analogous to patriarchy, which are not subservient to the more powerful patriarchy that dominates their particular region of the world.

I think that a tribe of a few hundreds or thousands of people who have matrilineal inheritance is not a matriarchy, because it is subservient to the patriarchal rule of the nation state. e.g. the supposedly matriarchal Mosuo people in China. Mosuo men still have the political power and the women still do the housework. It's more matrilineal, in which women are often the head of the household, inheritance is through the female line, and women make business decisions (perhaps similar to how the family of a single mother might operate elsewhere). The Mosuo are subservient to the patriarchal Communist Party of the People's Republic of China, so it's not in control of it's own destiny or free from patriarchal oppression. Likewise for the Nair and Bunt peoples of India and the Minangkabau people of Indonesia etc.

I see parallels between such tribes and the situation that I described in my earlier comment on this thread: "There are mothers who are strong, so-called matriarchal women who run/control their own families, but that does not mean that society is a matriarchy."

Hullygully Wed 13-Mar-13 17:38:21

I was thinking ssimilarly brsuvia,, bit not nearly so neatly and eloquently

Hullygully Wed 13-Mar-13 17:38:49

sorry, phone

Beachcomber Wed 13-Mar-13 17:40:29

I do not use sex and gender as interchangeable terms. At all.

Sex = biological = female/male = concrete reality of human existence

Gender = social construct = masculine/feminine = man and woman as social constructs = political tool

Feminist analysis recognises the existence of gender as a means of control - as an extremely powerful and pervasive political force.

This does not mean that said feminist analysis rejects the concept of the existence of sex - quite the contrary.

Nor does it mean that feminist analysis rejects the existence of gender - again, quite the contrary. Gender quite clearly exists as an anti-woman oppressive construct. The construct of gender must be dismantled for women to achieve liberation.

Lessthanaballpark Wed 13-Mar-13 18:12:02

I support equality obviously but I think a matriarchy would bring us closer to that than a patriarchy for the simple reason that classic patriarchy is built on the idea that a father owns his daughter then passes her on. I can't see that attitude flying between mother and son in a matriarchy.

And sons wouldn't have to leave their maternal home in a M like daughters do in a P so sons would still have as much value as daughters.

Hullygully Wed 13-Mar-13 18:13:58

I think a matriarchy would bring equality because most women really aren't that into oppressing. (Only half joking)

Lessthanaballpark Wed 13-Mar-13 18:25:48

I agree Hully. I think the reason so many people believe that a feminist/matriarchal vision will be women oppressing men is that they are so used to the duality of struggle in patriarchy.

They think "well if women don't want to be under they must want to be on top" and can't envisage equality. Plus they view equality as sameness and lack of individuality. Which is odd because.....well it's just odd!

Just popping in to agree with beach. smile

Thanks for the explanation about 'womanland', too, very interesting to read.

I wonder if mungo is thinking of gender theory rather that feminist theory, or maybe queer theory? There's sometimes some confusion between them, but at the level of people who're not very sure which is which, I think, not at the level of the actual theorists (or not that I've seen).

'The very terminology 'feminist theory' implies a thought process related directly to gender. To claim it is 'feminist theory' and then claim that it rejects concepts of gender is inaccurate in terms of the academic body of text available on feminist theory not all of which rejects gender and also because of the obvious oxymoronic nature of claiming that feminist theory isn't related to gender. Basically to claim that feminist theory rejects gender concepts is to attempt to validate a single branch of feminist theory without having to discuss alternate theory.'

Can I just ask - what academic body of text is this that you're referring to, mungo? It occurs to me maybe if you cited something, it'd be easier to follow what you're trying to say. Without being sure, I think there is a problem that you've misread what has been said.

It's not oxymoronic to claim that feminist theory rejects gender (which is what beach is actually talking about. Feminist theory relates to gender, in that feminist theorists are aware of gender as a concept. In the same way, my mate who works on Jewish history works on theories related to Nazism, but - as you might expect - he also rejects Nazism itself. It's quite possible and normal to be aware that a concept exists, and still to reject it and the oppressive world-view to which it belongs.

I think this misunderstanding/misreading may be at the root of your issues on this thread.

To claim feminist theory rejects gender (I'm not sure what 'gender concepts' would mean) is not to attempt to validate any branch of feminist theory. Validation is concerned with saying something is correct and right. To claim feminist theory rejects gender is only a description of a tenet of feminist theory. We could discuss alternative strands of feminism, or ideologies that you feel are complementary to feminism but which have a different view of gender, but I think it'd be easier to do that if you cite your sources so we can all see what it is you're trying to say.

Tortington Wed 13-Mar-13 22:51:07

I just saw " We need Custardo" on a feminist thread and nearly fell off my chair!

Not read the read, but if this post sparks anything - i might be back.

I think you are looking for The Enclosure Acts - a set of 4000 Acts which stole the means of making a living off the land from the common people. enclosure happened from around 1300 a little earlier maybe, slowly through to charles 1 and then on to blatent profiteering with the onset of the industrial revolution, where parliamentarians could vote to enclose the land they would profit from.

I think in terms of womens history, for poor women at least there were a number of factors
religeon and therefore cultural - the expectation of marriage to a man.
lack of birth control
labour - on the fields or in the cities was bloody hard graft - and fella's are usually stronger.

I think the demonisation of women to subjugate en mass - you're probably looking at medieval history, women really were the fount of all knowledge, so they took it from us and called us witches.

but was there a time when women were revered? i don't know. I think that would be nice to know.

What i do know is that with the breakdown of traditional religeon, the ability to control reporduction and the huge leap into the service industries, administration and internet based technologies, that women do not require a man to feed themselves and have a home.

But i would contest that this is a great win on behalf of feminism on the whole ( you have won some) I think this is a great win for capitalism, for now the workforce from which they can profit is huge.

I would also like to point out - that poor women on the whole have always worked. and that 1950's utopia was an american one


It was me asking. So would you say capitalism sort of 'starts' from 1300 and then gets stronger?

I agree with that about a lot of what you describe being a win for capitalism. sad

I think it is a brilliant win for capitalism that these days it is so hard to afford to get a home (rented or bought), even if both parents go out to work, and yet you get people saying it's the 'fault' of feminism that houses are expensive, because back in the 50s when 'women didn't work' hmm, houses were more affordable. Result is we all borrow too much and struggle like mad.

Tortington Wed 13-Mar-13 23:08:02

it must start with disenfranchising the poor - absolutley and this was done gradually over hundreds of years by taking away their means to feed themselves - driving them to cities and then with the onset of the industrial revolution - you have all the exploitation you need

Tortington Wed 13-Mar-13 23:11:45

wiki hisory of capitalism wiki has a page! should have known

Tortington Wed 13-Mar-13 23:15:30

Ivy pinchbeck - might be a good read for feminists about women in the industrial revolution.

That wiki page is really interesting, thanks.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 14-Mar-13 00:09:46

Thanks custardo.

TeiTetua Thu 14-Mar-13 02:02:39

What part of capitalism do you object to--is it the life expectancy of over 80 and never being hungry, or is it worse that we have instantaneous worldwide communication to tell each other how bad it all is?

Lessthanaballpark Thu 14-Mar-13 05:57:22

But that has more to do with science and the welfare state. Granted that scientific discovery has been spurred on by capitalism but the welfare state is a response to its excesses. I think people need a caring capitalism, one that derives its benefits for the good of all and curbs its worst inequalities.

It's all a mixed bag. On the one hand women have benefitted from the medical advances (pill, less maternal mortality) but on the other they've been separated from their family support structure and expected to prop up the whole system with a mixture of their unpaid or very poorly paid labour.

FloraFox Thu 14-Mar-13 07:47:30

I would say that the majority of those benefits come from socialist responses to capitalism - the NHS, health and safety measures, employee rights etc. Before the labour movement was able to make changes, I don't think capitalism brought significant benefits to most people.

What has life expectancy over 80 (which most people don't have) or never being hungry (which very few people have) to do with capitalism? confused

The WWW, I grant you, maybe. Who knows?

The way that in our current society we tend to forget that the vast majority of the world's population aren't as lucky as us, and that, in fact, we have a huge number of children living in poverty in our own country, may or may not be to do with the way capitalism devalues the lives of people who're poor, but it's not exactly an attractive trait, is it?

Leaving aside the rest of the world (which I'm not wildly comfortable with doing when you brought up the WWW, but ...), what about this?

TeiTetua Thu 14-Mar-13 13:07:21

I don't think it's worth getting into a major argument here. I just get annoyed when people talk glibly about how awful modern society is, while using (but not appreciating) the enormous benefits we get from it. No, it doesn't solve every problem for everybody, understood. But just think of a day when over 90% of the people had to be farmers just so that everyone could be fed, and pretty marginally at that.

Things really took off with the Industrial Revolution--which of course was capitalism all the way. The key was to get machines doing the work.

A quote from LRD's Guardian article says:
< Since poverty is relative, the lower life expectancies in the UK are "not those associated with destitution" but rather affluence and expectation. The poorer people suffer diseases related to inadequate diets, lack of exercise, smoking, poor pay, and job insecurity.

The effect is so striking that people with low levels of education have the highest levels of lung cancer.

That makes is seem as if there needs to be official support, but also people need to take care of themselves. What would make them willing to do that?

larrygrylls Thu 14-Mar-13 13:21:22

"Since poverty is relative"

Incorrect axiom. You either can feed your children enough nutrients or you cannot. You either can heat your house or you cannot. You either can educate your children or you cannot.

I find the concept of relative poverty absolutely sickening. It is born out of pure jealousy for the wealthy and would be laughed at in any non wealthy society.

MooncupGoddess Thu 14-Mar-13 14:16:26

I disagree, Larry. Of course living in relative poverty is not as bad as starving or freezing to death. But humans are social animals and are affected by their position in the hierarchy. Children whose parents can't afford school trips or decent clothes (for instance) really suffer. And there are lots of people on MN who, although not actually freezing to death, cannot afford to heat their houses properly or buy as much healthy food as they'd like. Their life chances are adversely affected as a result.

Have you read The Spirit Level? It demonstrates pretty comprehensively how life/health outcomes are worse in more unequal societies.

I agree with TeiTetua that dismissing capitalism as a disaster is mistaken - it's the surplus money created by innovation (which capitalism encourages) that allows us to supply free healthcare and education to all. Obviously though capitalism can come in many forms and I'd argue for a more Scandinavian approach than the UK/US laissez faire model.

Fair enough not to want to talk about it, tei. I don't think anyone was being glib, though. It's possible IMO to appreciate the huge advances in medicine and so on, while still being aware that most people do not have life expectancy of 80, and do go hungry at times, and that there is still a lot in the world that could be better.

I didn't get the implication you got from that article, that people shouldn't take care of themselves - my feeling is that it's hugely important to get people to take care of themselves. Re. lung cancer specifically, I think a big factor must be the age when people start to smoke. Most smokers start in their teens, and their earlier they start, the harder it is to give up. So the solution would be to do with breaking that cycle.

Mind you, my grandpa had severe problems with his lungs commonly associated with smoking (not lung cancer), and he'd never smoked at all, but had been exposed to asbestos during his working life. sad So some of these diseases may also be prevented by increasing awareness of what's safe in a workplace and what isn't. That's both to do with people taking care, and to do with increasing medical knowledge.

I take larry's point that 'relative poverty' can be trotted out to excuse 'not giving a fuck about the poor in the UK', but I do also think it is a real concept, not just as soundbite.

TeiTetua Thu 14-Mar-13 15:04:49

WHAT? No, the point of that quote was obviously that people must pay attention their own health, and that poor people don't do a good job of it. Exactly why they don't is a difficult issue in a liberal society, and it's not new--look in The Road to Wigan Pier.

I want to go further than MooncupGoddess did--capitalism does more than just allow governments to offer services. We can go down to the supermarket and buy very cheap food that the shop makes a profit selling us, and we can live as healthily or as unhealthily as we choose on it. A few generations back, most people simply couldn't afford a healthy diet, so that's progress.

On the other hand, it seemed like a good profitable idea to produce and use asbestos. Or coal, for that matter. Is it a good sign that when something causes damage, at least it's noticed and acted on? Or a bad sign that it usually takes a long time?

Ah, ok, sorry - in that case we were reading the quotation the same way and I just misunderstood what you were getting at. I'm well aware this isn't a new issue. I've not read that book - I will - but it's not a new issue in medieval times, so I am absolutely in agreement with you on that.

I don't follow how capitalism has meant people can now afford a healthy diet (even if that were true and I am really not sure it is - look outside the UK, look at people living out of B&Bs with only a microwave ... are they managing to afford healthy diets?).

But yes, it's certainly true there are plusses and minuses to every situation. I don't think anyone is demonizing capitalism and saying that it's a monster trying to oppress the world. But it is a system that relies on economic oppression, and to me, that's problematic.

larrygrylls Thu 14-Mar-13 16:03:09


If I move to Monaco, do I suddenly become poverty stricken, even with a property worth over £1mio and a very comfortable life? And what about a child whose parents can afford to send him/her to a public school but cannot afford the annual skiing trip that their mates are going on? Is that an example of relative poverty? I really don't get it, I am afraid.

I think not being able to eat or heat one's house properly is actual rather than relative poverty, assuming you are sensibly using what income you have. Sadly, there do seem to be some cases of actual poverty in the UK.

Beachcomber Thu 14-Mar-13 16:09:55

The problem with capitalism is that is relies on exploitation (of women/lesser developed countries/vulnerable populations). It is a flawed model (in the humane sense).

It also thrives on rampant consumerism and instability/conflict in exploited countries (oil for example). We have yet to develop a capitalist system based on sustainability and non-exploitation.

Of course capitalism brings benefits to the average westerner. It comes at a cost though.

I doubt many wish to live in a "World According to Monsanto".

larrygrylls Thu 14-Mar-13 16:29:13


All models are flawed, capitalism is, IMO, the best that has been tried to date.

There have been a few years in a few places where a kind of socialism has delivered on its promises (Russia early 20th century and the Kibbutzim movement are two that I can think of) but, as soon as the idealism wears off, there is more opportunity for exploitation within a socialist system than a law based capitalist one.

Also, recently, we have not really had capitalism. We have had a rather odd system which has favoured a cabal of senior employees and special interest groups rather than those who actually risked their capital.

We can all agree that, in an idealised utopia, a socialist system where everyone has the same and respects everyone else is the best system. However, it is not implementable given human beings' inate flaws.

I'm not sure I agree all models are flawed. In fact, to me, that makes no sense - surely it's not the models that are flawed but the application? Unless you think suffering and oppression are inherent and correct parts of every model?

TeiTetua Thu 14-Mar-13 16:36:09

Under capitalism, some people exploit other people. But with socialism, it's the other way around.

larrygrylls Thu 14-Mar-13 16:39:37


Yes, I meant the implementation of the models, not the theoretical constructs themselves. Apologies. However I do think models have to build in human nature as is and not human nature as one would like it to be.

No, no need to apologize, I was just checking what you thought. But do you think human nature is that people oppress other people? It seems to me this is the basic question of the thread. And I don't think they do. I think we like to belive it because it justifies so much.

tei - grin Well, maybe. But I'm not sure socialism is the only alternative to capitalism?

TeiTetua Thu 14-Mar-13 16:45:23

That being as it may--

Do you want a system that produces prosperity, or not? Because I think the evidence is plain, for how we get a pleasant standard of living. Show me the socialist society that's ever had a problem with illegal immigration.

I'm not dogmatic about the details though. Maybe a highly regulated capitalism on the Scandinavian model is the best, or maybe it's a looser system as in English-speaking countries. But I think socialism has at best been a method of sharing poverty. And more often, a way for an elite to benefit at everyone else's expense.

larrygrylls Thu 14-Mar-13 16:46:30


I am not sure people set out to oppress per se. They merely set out with a fairly selfish agenda. And if their own utility maximisation is best served by oppressing others, they will find a way to justify it. If that is not the case, why have all systems ended up the way that they have?

But I am a believer in evo psych and believe that gorilla society and human society have far more in common than we would like to believe smile.

tei - define 'prosperity'? That's the root problem, isn't it?

Not sure what illegal immigration has to do with it - help me out?

larry - no, I'm sure people don't (most people) set out to oppress. But the question is, are people inherently oppressors/victims, or is there some other possible set-up? I would like to believe the second. And I would like to believe that the reason we've struggled so far is the patriarchy. Of course, I can't know, but that's what I think.

Beachcomber Thu 14-Mar-13 16:57:30

Mmm, I don't know if all models/applications of them, are necessarily flawed.

Neither am I at all sure that capitalism is the best of a bad bunch, even within patriarchy. (I'll concede that it may be for westerners because we are the group it awards privilege to, but that is a very blinkered view.)

Of course, as a feminist, I think that any socio-economic system applied within a patriarchal framework is inherently flawed (economic, domestic and sexual exploitation of women/VAW/rape culture/hypermasculinity/women and children as chattel etc).

There are of course better and more just systems to be developed but the first steps towards any of them are women's liberation and true civil rights for people of colour. (Both of which would mean the end of capitalism as we know it.)

Beachcomber Thu 14-Mar-13 17:05:35

And I think we need to be very careful about talking about 'human nature' when we are discussing socio-politico-economic systems and constructs which have been controlled, developed and conceived by men.

Half the population is missing from much of the equation so it is a misnomer to talk about 'human nature'. What we are talking about is 'male nature' if anything at all - and even then I think we are skating on thin ice. Centuries of patriarchy has socialized the beejeezus out of all of us.

Absolutely. 'human nature' is in any case a construct. It has a history of being advanced to penalize or demonize marginalized groups for being 'unnatural'. I don't understand how people can advance (say) evo psycho by comparing humans to animals, and then talk about 'human nature'. My hunch is that we are not like animals in some ways, but that we don't yet know how we're different or why, because we've always analysed the world from this perspective where 'human nature' is defined by the patriarchy.

TeiTetua Thu 14-Mar-13 17:13:18

Defining prosperity is easy enough. It's when you can go down to the shops with money in your pocket, and there are things there that you want and that you can afford. And on a society-wide basis, it's where people aren't hungry and have adequate clothing and housing, and some leisure time, and where we can expect to live to be over 80 years old, as I said earlier. Of course now we need all sorts of electronic gadgets, nobody should be expected to live without such things these days. You can say "rampant consumerism" as Beachcomber did, but human nature is what it is. People want stuff. Maybe more than is good for us, but who's to say when it's wrong?

The point about illegal immigration was that people will try to go to places where they expect to be happier than they were before. "Voting with your feet" as it's sometimes called. Anyone for North Korea?

No, that's what it is to be well-off. To define prosperity, you must define what other people don't have. If a society is prosperous, what is the difference between that and a non-prosperous society?

It would be lovely to live in a society where people can expect to live to 80, but only the rich, in the UK, do so. The poor do not. And outside the UK, there are countries where the life expectancy is higher and many where it is lower. So, how does the UK's 'prosperity' depend on these other countries? Who make our clothes and our electronic gadgets and so on? How does it all stack up once we take them into account?

TeiTetua Thu 14-Mar-13 17:24:57

That's interesting, I mentioned "human nature" while a couple of other people were posting about it too (last message seen before 17:13:18 was LRD at 16:48:58).

Points about patriarchy noted, and of course feminism has a different perspective, but look at the "Fashion and Style" section of Mumsnet. There's a lot of talk there about what you can buy, and very little about whether it's good for the world or exploitive, and certainly not about whether the system is set up for men's benefit or women's. And women there are pretty much satisfied with the way things work, I believe. (Hmm, where is this leading?)

I think the point is that you can't get too radical before you end up telling people what they "should" want, or else you're just talking theories which can never be made practical. Just as with capitalism--if it's having results which satisfy people, how do we deal with its flaws while keeping the benefits?

Beachcomber Thu 14-Mar-13 17:38:07

But do people really 'want stuff' in a consumerist way?

How can we possibly know? Like I said we are all far too socialized to tell our human nature arse from our socialized elbow.

And what does 'human nature' actually mean within patriarchy anyway?

Is it really 'human nature' to want flat screen tellies, iphones and cars that tell us to do our seatbelts up? The iphone and the ipad series are triumphs of marketing - people replace expensive bits of technological kit that work perfectly well because they are sucked in by marketing and socialized to consume. And we are not encouraged to examine how consumerism consumes valuable material and human resources.

Oh yes, I am certainly guilty of using the term! My post at 16.48 doesn't acutally use the term, but my question whether an oppressive tendency is inherent is certainly related to it. I think we have to question these things, not just accept them.

I'm not trying to tell anyone what they 'should' want - is anyone else?

Capitalism as it currently is a crap system, isn't it? I mean, I can see that in an ideal world you might believe it would work, but at the moment, it's terrible. The question then is, is it terrible because capitalism is structurally unsound, or because we currently have an imperfect version of capitalism, and capitalism as a theory has an answer to the inequalities?

I have to admit, I've never heard any satisfactory answer to the second.

Beachcomber Thu 14-Mar-13 17:58:36

LRD, I suspect it may be because capitalism is born from inequality.

(amongst other reasons)

There was an article linked to on MN recently about how so much of the wealth that was invested in means of production during the industrial revolution came from reparations paid to slave owners when slavery was abolished.

Thing about capitalism is that when you have money to invest, it is relatively easy to make more money. It is getting hold of the money in the first place that is out of the reach of the masses (especially women).

Yes, I think it must be. I don't know how we would prove it, but I think it must be.

This is why I think it is inherently a system of oppression.

But I don't think we can prove that human beings automatically oppress one another. We can't go far enough back to get to a pre-patriarchial society, so we can't know what one was like. So, capitalism and every other system we can describe, has been influenced by patriarchy and has therefore been inherently hierarchical and based on oppression. I don't see how we could assess the genuine merits of any system until we get rid of patriarchy - we won't know.

Beachcomber Thu 14-Mar-13 18:03:46

I don't see how we could assess the genuine merits of any system until we get rid of patriarchy - we won't know.


Beachcomber Thu 14-Mar-13 18:21:14

And certainly, with regards to feminism, there are certain built-in nonconsumerist ideals.

Such as rejecting all manner of costly beauty practices, advertising, media, fashion, lifestyle products, etc as being misogynistic bullshit.

Yes, absolutely.

There's a thread at the moment about someone who's a teacher and whose students were shocked at the idea that women don't always shave, and that really made me think about the costs involved.

TeiTetua Thu 14-Mar-13 20:42:55

I can't argue with that. If capitalism correlates with patriarchy (so the most capitalist societies are also the most patriarchal) then it's a weak link. For all their talk, I don't see socialists as ever being good feminists; in fact as we know, a lot of the energy of the women's movement in the 1970s was brought by disillusioned leftist women.

On the other end of the scale, maybe it's a useful fact that the Scandinavians have the world's best approximation of a feminist society (debatable?) along with the world's most limited capitalism. But they haven't abolished capitalism entirely. I mean, if patriarchy never goes away, we could look for the conditions that make it most bearable.

I see what you're saying. I think personally, I tend towards the left, but I've certainly seen left wing men who're deeply misogynistic, and I certainly don't think the left is some kind of feminist haven. I wish it were - but I don't htink it is.

Personally, I would rather look for ways of dismantling the patriarchy than bearable ways to live under it, but that is a hugely privileged viewpoint to have, of course. Hard to know what to do.

PromQueenWithin Thu 14-Mar-13 22:20:29

Wow, fascinating discussion. I have been away so unabke to contribute but really looking forward to reading through properly.

larrygrylls Fri 15-Mar-13 08:59:03


"Absolutely. 'human nature' is in any case a construct. It has a history of being advanced to penalize or demonize marginalized groups for being 'unnatural'. I don't understand how people can advance (say) evo psycho by comparing humans to animals, and then talk about 'human nature'. My hunch is that we are not like animals in some ways, but that we don't yet know how we're different or why, because we've always analysed the world from this perspective where 'human nature' is defined by the patriarchy. "

You cannot say it is a "construct" as an assertion. It might be but it also might be a product of genetics/hormones etc. Or, most likely, it is a combination of the two. Also, why can't one talk about human nature at the same time as comparing humans to the other great apes. Could I not talk about "gorilla" nature while comparing them to chimps? I am not sure I understand that point.

It is a very moot point whether "human nature" is defined by the patriarchy or the patriarchy came about because of human nature. After all, if we are essentially selfish and hierarchical apes, in an age when physical strength determined success, you would automatically end up with some form of patriarchy. If you look at societies or companies where women have great power, you see the same form of hierarchies and exploitation. Joyce Mujuru, Marie Antoinette, Angela Merkel, Maggie Thatcher etc. Of course, in a sense, you can claim that they are "products" of the patriarchy but you cannot know that they would not have been just the same in the absence of the patriarchy any more than I can know that they would have.

Well, I can, actually, larry. As you see. 'Human nature' is in any case a construct.

You might want me to explain that assertion, but to be honest, I think it is blindingly obvious.

There are no societies where women have great power - none of those women exist in societies where women have great power, they exist in societies where men have great power and a small number of women also have power, which I think is a very different thing. You're correct we can't know what would happy outside a patriarchy (one way or the other), but that simply leaves us unable to prove our assertions. It doesn't mean we can't speculate, and it doesn't mean we can't assert what we believe must be true.

Beachcomber Fri 15-Mar-13 10:25:04

It is a very moot point whether "human nature" is defined by the patriarchy or the patriarchy came about because of human nature.

Not to feminists it isn't.

It is the difference between whether male supremacist society is the natural order or whether it is an oppressive construct.

larrygrylls Fri 15-Mar-13 10:31:09


Well, yes, again I should have phrased myself better (although I do think my meaning was self evident). You cannot assert it with any evidence to back up your assertion. You can assert it in the same way as a Christian would assert that Jesus is the son of God. But if you want to argue that something is axiomatic without any decent evidence to suggest it is, it becomes an item of faith, nothing less and nothing more.

You can look at companies and institutions where women do indeed wield great power (the BBC, for example) and they seem to look just like ones where men wield great power. It is true that, until we see a society where women hold the vast majority of the power, we will never know what it would be like. On the other hand, given what women do in positions of power at companies and institutions, I don't think we have any reason to doubt a theoretical matriarchy would behave similarly to a patriarchy.

larrygrylls Fri 15-Mar-13 10:34:01

"Not to feminists it isn't.

It is the difference between whether male supremacist society is the natural order or whether it is an oppressive construct. "

Agreed, except that the "is" in your sentence could be replaced with a "was" as physical strength is no longer important in an age of machines.

I didn't argue it was axiomatic, larry, that was your term.

You are telling me how I can and can't argue, and I think you are assuming I want lessons in how to construct a larry-logic argument. I'm terribly sorry, but right now, I don't. I'd rather just discuss the topic if it's ok.

Women don't wield great power at the BBC, btw, and the reason the Beeb looks like companies where men wield power is because it is like them. This is a patriarchy. It's not a surprise.

beach has already made the point that matriarchy is a concept that reflects the structure of the patriarchy, because people imagine that this is what women would want if we could be liberated from patriarchy. You seem very determined to hammer home the point that a matriarchy might look just as oppressive as a patriarchy, but if you read the OP, don't you think that is what she's getting at? That people are constantly assuming this is what feminists want, when feminists actually don't?

larrygrylls Fri 15-Mar-13 10:49:22


Well the thread has moved on and I note you were quite happy to enter the capitalism debate earlier on, despite having nothing really to do with the thread title.

I pointed out upthread that some of the consequences of a more equal society (in every sense) might not be really wanted by the majority of women (issues around rights to childcare, rights to children on separation, leave around child birth etc).

No feminist will come straight out and say what they want is a matriarchy, just as very few men will argue openly for a patriarchy. What I do note is women arguing for a version of equality defined by them and not up for discussion. This is a stealth matriarchy.

I thought it did have a lot to do with the thread title, though. You see, we're all different.

What on earth is wrong with women arguing for a version of equality defined by them and not up for discussion? That might be a concern if we had power to effect it, but we do not. It is absurd to say this is 'stealth matriarchy'. It would be funny if I didn't think you almost believed what you were saying.

PromQueenWithin Fri 15-Mar-13 14:38:31

"You seem very determined to hammer home the point that a matriarchy might look just as oppressive as a patriarchy, but if you read the OP, don't you think that is what she's getting at? That people are constantly assuming this is what feminists want, when feminists actually don't?"

Yes, yes, that's exactly what I meant.

I started the thread to explore the accusation that seems to be levelled at unnamed (but assuming that everyone knows who they are) "FWR posters" who are said to want x, y or z, or do a, b or c.

I am a relatively new poster who has lurked for a short time prior to engaging and I hadn't observed the negative things other openly feminist posters were being accused of.

So, I thought a thread where we discussed this openly would be interesting. And be sort of a yah boo sucks to the repeat accusers as well blush, assuming I was correct about fellow feminist posters not wishing to ban SAHMs and banish all men to a rocky island somewhere.

The capitalism discussion was interesting and relevant in the context of whether we want a matriarchy or not, it's my thread and I want it discussed <stamps foot>

Oh, and I think "human nature" is absolutely a social construct. Do you think gorillas sit around discussing whether self grooming practices and the way in which these can serve to create and reinforce hierarchy is to do with hormonal differences or socialisation? Silly example, but I think it's in good company in that respect tbh.

Larry we've crossed swords before and I don't mean to give the appearance of patronising you, but I think we'd all get more out of these robust and interesting exchanges of views if you weren't quite so condescending of tone. Perhaps you don't intend this, perhaps you do, who knows. But if you want meaningful and productive engagement, even if we don't always agree, perhaps you could lose the "well obviously you're wrong, this is the correct answer" approach... smile

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 16-Mar-13 02:20:43

Good post promqueen

MissRenataFlitworth Sat 16-Mar-13 04:31:23

The only reason for capitalism to make any concession to women is that capitalism can't afford to alienate them altogether. It needs women as consumers and as a pool of labour - but most of all it needs women as the producers of the next generation of workers and consumers.

Just watch Western capitalism/the patriarchy get its knickers in a knot if women get out of the box and have the temerity to stop having babies.

By the way - talking of early capitalism. Years ago I read the report of the 1842 commission on the conditions for women and children working in mines. It was impossible to ignore the rank hypocrisy of a society which refused any active life for its upper- and middle-class girls and women on the grounds that they were too weak physically to bear the strain of being educated, while profiting from the physical labour of working class women, who presumably were not the same species as the ladies. (The chaps involved didn't mind wearing out their lady wives in childbirth, though. Given that the ladies weren't allowed to support themselves so had no option but marriage there were always plenly of potential replacements for a wife who died in childbirth.)

PDFs of the 1842 report are available online, if anyone is interested. They make harrowing reading.

TeiTetua Sat 16-Mar-13 13:39:10

If you have to go back 170 years to find your ammunition against capitalism, maybe it's not really so very bad.

But we don't. Sweat shops still exist, you know. Children are still working instead of being in school. People still make a lot of profit out of selling women and children.

TeiTetua Sat 16-Mar-13 14:25:08

Those things happen, but I'd say they're better as examples of individual selfishness than what keeps the economy running. In general, what does our prosperity depend on?

OrbisNonSufficit Sat 16-Mar-13 14:46:14

slug that's a fascinating video.

Personally, I just want gender not to matter at all. I don't want quotas or 'Women in Business' groups or diversity discussions to be necessary or even under consideration, and I certainly don't want a matriarchy.

But in reality women are not yet equally represented, nor do they have truly equal opportunities (if they did, there wouldn't be such male domination everywhere - management boards, politics, media). I really don't believe we have a true meritocracy - to believe that would imply that men are better at running the world than women, and I've yet to see any evidence to back that up.

The reasons why women aren't yet equal players in society are complex and hard to resolve & I think it's reductionist to turn it into a 'patriarchy' vs 'matriarchy' conversation, or to return persistently to biology (a year or so out to have and then breastfeed a baby or two over a 40 or 50 year career makes bugger all difference in the grand scheme of things).

The most insightful comment I've heard related to this discussion (which we're coincidentally having at work at the moment - the management board have belatedly noticed that they have a bit of a diversity issue at executive level ie the whole company is run by old white men) is to challenge senior leaders and people in power to 'take a chance' on someone who doesn't think like them and whom they don't truly understand when thinking about jobs and promotions. Because that's the point really - diversity is about the combined power of multiple different points of view, it's not about counting the number of willies.

MissRenataFlitworth Sat 16-Mar-13 15:04:50

Merely pointing out that these hypocritical attitudes run deep.

And no, I wouldn't advocate a matriarchy, or any other -archy either, though I suspect we'd do better without all the testosterone fuelled willy-waving which goes with the present system. I don't know what the answer is but I do know that I'd like to live in a kinder society which operates for the good of the many rather than for the good of the few.

MissRenataFlitworth Sat 16-Mar-13 15:17:25

Sorry, Orbis. My answer was to TeiTetua. I agree with you, though I believe it all runs much deeper than the world of work. It is built in to our social structures and into the way we feel about the world we live in and how it should be structured. Most people never think about it. It just is. And when you do think about it the whole thing is so overwhelming, and we are so powerless, that most of us just put our heads down and try to survive as best we can.

I don't see how they can be individual selfishness, tei? confused Whole industries are built around trafficking women, or exploiting children as labour. I don't see how that can just be put down to individuals. If it were, it surely would not be organized and commercialized?

OrbisNonSufficit Sat 16-Mar-13 17:48:22

Renata Do you think most people don't think about it? I think people are quite conscious of it, although they don't necessarily know what to do about it (or think it's a problem, more worryingly). And I agree, it's bigger than the world of work, that's just where I'm seeing it most at the moment, personally.

LRD I tend to agree with you - I've been in and around big companies for long enough to know that they'll only pay lip service to/actually do something about social responsibility if they have to, the profit motive sits about any kind of wider sense of justice. Exploitation of the weak is very much part of the system (and I mean the weak in every sense, both socially and economically).

MissRenataFlitworth Sat 16-Mar-13 18:36:42

I'm not sure that many people do think about why our social structures are as they are at any fundamental level. Our education system doesn't give them the tools to do so. It is pretty impossible to find out what is going on when unbiased information is not available. If you don't know the hows and whys you have no hope of defining what exactly is wrong and you haven't a cat in hell's chance of fixing it. Sorry, I'm sort of thinking aloud here, and probably not very coherently. I've been a feminist since the 1970s and it is distressing to see all our high hopes coming to nothing, and our society getting worse instead of better.

Dervel Sun 17-Mar-13 06:59:53

If you'll permit another chap to contribute to the debate, I'd like to offer up a few observations. When discussion of capitalism as success/failure comes up many of you have been very quick to point out how the benefits some of us enjoy in the west are propped up by exploitative behaviour abroad as a qualifying factor of failure.

Contrast this with the point on the first page (I think) about countries being less profitable when fulfilling quotas and employing more women. That single fact (if indeed it is true, I have no idea) is remarkably short sighted, assuming it is right it is not necessarily the solution to not hire women. It stands to reason that countries that have been male dominated for years would be a challenging environment for any woman to succeed in (not for any lack of ability on the their part, but from prejudice and bias she would likely face). However there is no reason that if said country removed it's gender bias it could return to a much healthier bottom line when all was said and done. In addition I don't care how profitable a country is, sending out any message that marginalises any group is harming society. Besides if every country had to remove gender bias, they would all be operating on a level playing field anyway.

The reason I bring up the observation of developing world exploitation against the gender bias is the former came out of a discourse on a forum with a dominant feminine bias, with the latter being (I assume) male. I'd rather live in a society where the powers that be rationalised it's actions, and defined it's successes and failures against a wider spectrum of factors than simply what provides the greatest fiscal benefit.

If you'll indulge a personal note, I've become interested in feminism upon learning that in countries where a greater percentage of the female population are literate and educated you get less overpopulation, and by extension less chance of starvation, and also extremists have a much tougher time gaining a foothold, so it seems logical to me that if not a matriarchy women should be very much be more represented in the power structure. I'm still very much new to feminism, but I'd like to learn more.

I'd like to close by asking a question, but if its off topic or asinine please disregard. I've seen people talking here about sex vs gender, with sex = biological male/female, and gender being the role given to us by society. Does it matter which precisely is more the case, as not being able to affect the former if we work to dismantle the latter we arrive at a fairer place for all to define who they wish to be for themselves? Then perhaps we can do away with patriarchies and matriarchies altogether, but first we would all need to learn to value the strengths and traits traditionally viewed as feminine gendered as just as crucial to humankind as the masculine ones, which I don't think we do really.

kim147 Sun 17-Mar-13 11:46:38


TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 18-Mar-13 01:42:54


<bumps into kim>


TeiTetua Mon 18-Mar-13 15:40:26

Making a delayed response to LRD, I don't think it's worth pursuing how prostitution is or isn't an "industry". The whole point of capitalism is that everyone is out for their own advantage, and the process itself is morally neutral. If people see a profit in something evil like prostitution, they might indeed try to do it. Most likely the biggest illegal industry is drugs, but it's hard to know, since it's underground. None of that makes capitalism inherently bad. We still have to think about where our own comfortable life gets paid for ("everyone is out for their own advantage"). I really don't see it as inherently bad for women.

The most interesting thing in this thread to me is the idea that all the institutions we live with were created by men to be operated by men. But then, if we wanted to be more inclusive, what should we be doing differently? Given that nobody will support anything that demands giving up our level of physical comfort, of course.

But MissFlitworth, do you really see "all our high hopes coming to nothing, and our society getting worse instead of better"? Some things have improved in the last few decades, a lot. But then, other things haven't changed much, or have genuinely regressed. But it's like capitalism, you can find some terrible stuff, but overall are things really in a hopeless state? Someone should do an inventory of aspects of society that have improved versus "need work".

Yes I am a liberal, how did you know?

runningforthebusinheels Tue 19-Mar-13 07:51:14


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