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Do FWR posters want a matriarchy?

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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


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?

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


<bumps into kim>


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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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.

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.

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).

LRDtheFeministDragon Sat 16-Mar-13 16:16:13

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?

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.

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.

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.

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?

LRDtheFeministDragon Sat 16-Mar-13 14:02:36

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 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.

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.

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

Good post promqueen

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 15-Mar-13 10:59:58

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.

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.

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 15-Mar-13 10:40:54

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 10:34:01

"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.

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.

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.

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 15-Mar-13 10:19:42

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.

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.

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