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The creation of patriarchy

  1. The creation of patriarchy
  2. We have many myths about our past
  3. MYTH N.1: Man the hunter, superior in strength, naturally protects and defends the more vulnerable female. • FALSE • Big game hunting was auxiliary pursuit • Main food supply came from gathering and small hunting done by women and children • Women provided 60% of the food. • Cooperation necessary: hunter provides meat supply while gatherer needed for subsistence food. Peaceful life. Separate but equal.
  4. Myth N.2: Male dominance is universal • FALSE • In some societies, sexual asymmetry carried no connotation of dominance or subordination. • Elise Boulding: Man the hunter is a myth to preserve male supremacy and hegemony.
  5. Myth N.3: Anatomy is destiny • Freudian theories: normal human is male, female is a deficient one. • Traditionalist explanation: woman’s reproductive capacity confines her chief goal in life as motherhood. • FALSE • Ahistorical • Anatomy was destiny
  6. Myth N.4: Patriarchy is ahistoric, eternal, invisible and unchanging. • Our androcentric assumptions dominate our archeological interpretations. • Distorts the meaning if scientific evidence. • We consider male dominance as a given. • As if there had never been evidence of alternative model. • If patriarchal dominance had historic origins, it will end if historical conditions change.
  7. Sociobiologists are ahistorical • They disregard the fact that men and women do not live in the state of nature any more. • They expect women to follow the same roles that were essential to the specie in the Neolithic. • To claim that of all human activities, only female nurturance is unchanging and eternal is indeed to consign half the human race to a lower state of existence, to nature rather than to culture.
  8. The creation of patriarchy
  9. Patriarchy as a system is historical • It developed over a period of 2.500 years from 3.100 BC to 600 BC, at different pace in different societies. 1. Men appropriated themselves of women’s sexual rights even before the formation of private property and class society. 2. The commodification of women is at the foundation of private property 3. The archaic states were organized in the form of patriarchy. 4. Men learned to institute dominance and hierarchy over people bytheir practice of earlier dominance of women and the institutionnalization of slavery
  10. Patriarchy as a system is historical 5. Women’s sexual subordination was institutionalized in the earliest law codes and enforced by the full power of the state 6. Class for men is based on their relationship to means of production. For women on their sexual ties to a man. Respectable and non respectable women are separated by laws and veil. 7. Yet, long after their subordination, they play an active role mediating between humans and gods. 8. The goddess was dethroned and replaced by dominant male god. 9. The emergence of hebrew monotheism attacked the widespread cults of fertility goddesses. 10. Women are excluded from the covenant with god.
  11. Prehistory: no hierarchy • 3M years ago: hominids evolved from primates • Bipedalism: narrow female pelvis and birth canal due to upright posture • Human babies born at a greater stage of immaturity • Require support and help for years to move, eat, etc… • Division of labor necessary for group survival: women did the mothering • But men and women still were equal, no hierarchy
  12. Different explanations on shift, not one cause • Discovery of animal domestication: need to compensate for inability to bear children • Levi Strauss: exchange of women as leading cause of female subordination • Development of agriculture: children become an asset and tribes seek to acquire reproductive potential of women • With stable food base, population increase: from kin-based to class-based
  13. Engels: Private property is “the world historic defeat of female sex” • With the development of the state, monogamous family changed into patriarchal family and wife became head servant. • Connection between private property, monogamous marriage and prostitution.
  14. • Levi Strauss: The exchange of women is the first form of trade in which women are turned into commodities. • Sherry Ortner: Since every culture devalues nature as it strives to rise above it through mastery, women became symbolic of an inferior, intermediate order of being. • With the domestication of animals and the development of animal husbandry, the function of the male in the process of procreation became more apparent and better understood.
  15. Maternalist theory: Das Muterrecht • Acceptance of biological sex differences as a given • Positive “feminine” characteristics • Women more altruistic, virtuous • Quest for matriarchy central
  16. Basic unit of patriarchy is patriarchal family • Women are not things but their sexuality and reproductive capacity • From the second millenium BC forward, control over the sexual behaviour of the citizens has been a major emans of social control in every state society. • Now even changes in the family do not alter the basic male dominance in the public realm, in institutions and in government.
  17. Decisive transition: institutionalization of slavery • With the advent of pastoralism • First form of hierarchical dominance in human history • Majority of those first enslaved were women • Rape to dishonor them and symbolic castration of their men: they cannot protect them, impotent • Practice of raping women of a conquered group is essential to the structure of patriarchal institutions, beginning of the system, even before class formation • In the Iliad • Concubinage: integrate slave in household • Matter of power and honor • Droit du seigneur • Sales contract in Bible or Code of Hammurabi • Become goods to exchange • Marriage as wife purchase
  18. LAWS: Patriarchal dominance moved from private practice into public law • Asymmetry in severity of punishment • Injured party is actually father or husband of raped woman • Absolute power of disposal • Code of Hammurabi: – beginning of institutionalization of patriarchal family – Kings power based on men who depended on him, as much as families depended on the man: archaic state was shaped – From 1250 BC on, sexual control of women has been an essential feature of patriarchal power: foundation of the state
  19. Commercial prostitution derived from enslavement of women and class formation. • Seen as natural • But not necessary in sexual permissive societies • Byproduct of regulation of sexuality • Does NOT derive from temple sex practices: cultic sexual service is not prostitution • One honours sexual power of the goddess • The other is a commercial activity • In The epic of Gilgamesh, the temple harlot civilizes the man Enkidu through sex. • How to distinguish “respectable” from “non-respectable” women? • Veil as symbol of married woman, distinguishing mark • Class formation demands visible means of distinguishing different classes • Unveiled woman is unprotected and thus fair game for any man.
  20. Progressive declassing of the goddess • Kept much power in daily life • Even if no more economic or legal power to women 1. Demotion of Mother goddess figure and ascendance to male consort or son 2. Merging with a storm god into a male creator god heading pantheon of gods and goddesses • Power of creation and fertility transferred from Goddess to God.
  21. Major god-figures underwent sex change • Increasing influence of priests under kings. • Qualities of goddess split off and embodied in separate goddesses – Warrior aspect diminished – Qualities as healer stressed – Erotic aspect emphasized
  23. Erich Fromm: Human beings are half animal and half symbolic • Man has found a way of dealing with his existential dilemma by assigning symbol- making power to himself and life-death- nature finiteness to woman. • Monotheism excluded women from the creation of symbol systems: only males could mediate between God and humans (all male priesthood) • Procreativity and creativity were severed.
  24. Changes of symbols • Who creates life? – From the vulva of the goddess to the seed of a man • Who brings evil into the world? – From the tree of life to the tree of knowledge • Who mediates between humans and the supernatural? – From the celebration of sacred Marriage to the Biblical covenants
  25. Importance of creation myths • Gender symbolism in creation stories proves a reliable guide to sex roles and sexual identities in a given society • Peggy Reeves Sanday: out of 112 creation stories, 50% male deity, 32% divine couple, 18% female deity – When masculine story, 17% of fathers cared for infants. – When couple, 34% – When woman, 63%
  26. The symbolic devaluating of women is one of the founding metaphors of the Western civilization. • Major gender symbols and metaphors of Western civilization are derived from Mesopotamian and Hebrew sources. • Two key metaphorical constructs: 1. Bible 2. Greek philosophy
  27. The creation of monotheism
  28. Jewish history 1. Patriarchal tribes nomads or semi-nomads: cohesiveness and survival depended on strong tribal ties. Smallest unit was patriarchal family. 2. 1800BC Abraham meets God in Haran: God’s chosen people: belief which will make them survive during following 4.000 years 3. Joesph and his brothers: migration to Egypt story 4. Moses and Joshua come back to Canaan 1250 BC 5. Semi–nomadic tribes become sedentary: from tribe to clan 6. Then Kings, Saul who unites the 12 tribes, then David and Solomon: from confederation to statehood 7. Split in 2 kingdoms of Judah and Israel, only 200 years after and Assyrians deported entire population in 722 BC 8. Survival of Israel depended on its adherence to the religion of Yahweh: canonization of Pentateuch, innovation of synagogue as religious assembly: mobile, exportable, communal
  29. Book of Genesis with most significant symbols concerning gender • Inspired by Sumero-Babylonian, Canaanite and Egyptian cultural materials • Work of many hands • Started after division of kingdom • Final fusion in 450 BC • Creation of Jewish monotheism: vast cultural transformation • Transition from matrilineal to patrilineal families (beena to baal)
  30. Book of Genesis • There is no longer any maternal source for the creation of the universe. • God granted power of naming to human male only. • Man is the mother of the woman. • 2 myths: – Woman, created of Man’s rib – Eve the temptress, causing humankind’s fall from grace • Proof for 2.000 years of divine sanction for the subordination of women
  31. Women are absent from the covenant with God • God’s blessing of Abram’s seed lends divine sanction to the transfer of procreativity from female to male. • Consequence of sexual knowledge is to sever female sexuality from procreation. • Free and open sexuality of the fertility goddess is forbidden to fallen woman • In her, through procreation, lies the only immortality to which we can aspire. • Severed from snake, ruled by husband • Who brought sin? Woman in her alliance with snake which stands for free sexuality. • Weight of Biblical narrative
  32. Women cannot speak to God • Prolonged ideological struggle of Hebrew tribes against worship of Canaanite female deities must have hardened emphasis on male cultic leadership and tendency towards misogyny, which fully emerged in the post exilic period.
  33. Patriarchal Greece
  34. Patriarchal greek foundations • Thucydides or Herodotus: since 2.500 years, the construct of history is a male product. • Greece from 8 to 5 BC was class society, patriarchal with slavery • Citizenship excluded women • Hesiod’s misogyny, woman scapegoat for society’s evils in myth of Pandora • Theogony defines Zeus ascension to power • Male gods take power from the forces of the chaos identified with fertility goddesses
  35. Greek mythology • To prevent his own overthrown, Zeus swallows his wife Methis and gives birth himself to Athena.
  36. • Aeschyle: – “The mother is not the parent of the child – Which is called hers. She is the nurse who tends the growth – Of the young seed planted by its true parent, the male…”
  37. Aristotle’s hierarchical and dichotomized worldview • Male is homo faber • Women are mutilated males, excluded from democratic policy • Biological inferiority of women make her inferior in heer capacities, ability to reason and make decisions. • Some are born to rule and others to be ruled. • Soul rules over body, rational thought over emotion, humans over animals, male over female, masters over slaves, Greeks over barbarians.
  38. Socrates proposed same education for boys and girls: sentenced to death. • Roman law is pater familias
  39. Leading metaphors define and shape our cultural heritage. • Symbolic construct is key in the acceptation. • Subordination of women thus became completely accepted since it appeared natural to both men and women. • It is seen natural, and thus invisible.
  40. You are insignificant
  41. Women have been excluded from History making • History making is the record and interpretation of the past. • It started with the invention of writing in ancient Mesopotomia. • Historians have selected events to be recorded and have interpreted them to give them a meaning. • Until very recently, historians were male. • They recorded History and claimed universality for it. • Story of performances have been recorded by men and told in their voices. • Naming has magical power.
  42. We perceive historical events from white catholic male perspective • Example: Columbus day – Genocide or discovery? – Mistake or historical turning point?
  43. Crusades • Holy way or terrorism and slaughter? • Fanatism or just cause?
  44. Women’s acts and experiences have been unrecorded and ignored • The record of the human race is a partial one. • The vision is distorted, seen from the male viewpoint only. • Women are the majority, yet we are structured into social situations as if we were a minority. • Creative and educated women have barely left an imprint. • WE ARE NOT PART OF THE STORY.
  45. Contradiction between women’s central active role in creating society and marginality in meaning giving process • Women are essential and central to creating society. • Women have made history, yet they have been kept from knowing it. • Women have been excluded from creating symbol systems and theory formation. • Growing consciousness: dynamic force
  46. Women lasted 3.500 years to realize their own subordinate position in society • Existence of women’s history neglected by patriarchal thoughts • This has MASSIVE effect on the psychology of men and women.
  47. Your significance in history is key for psychic well being • From you are nothing, invisible, worthless To you are half of the reality • The myth that women are marginal to the creation of history and civilization has profoundly affected the psychology of women and men. • Erroneous view of their place in society. • In real life, women had no history. And so, no future alternatives. • Class struggle is a struggle for the control of symbol systems. The control of the stories. • Where there is no precedent, one cannot imagine alternatives to existing conditions. • The denial to women of their history has reinforced their acceptance of the ideology of patriarchy and has undermined the individual woman’s sense of self worth. • Mens version of history as the universal truth. • White catholic men. • Picture is false. • For more than 2500 years, women educationally disadvantaged. • Since 2500 years, men have more time to think, women have less uninterrupted time • When you don’t have time to think, raise your head and read, learn, understand, it is easy to forget. • Feminists come from educated elite: time to think
  48. You are insignificant • Quelle force de survivre pendant 5000 and dans un monde où nous ne valons rien… • We managed to survive under male cultural hegemony: huge resilience and capacity of adaptation • Stigma of insignificance • Why no female system builders? • Because one cannot think universals when oneself is excluded from the generic.
  49. When we see with one eye, our vision is limited in range and devoid in depth. • Men and women live on a stage. But men have written the play and directed the show. • Equal parts will not make women equal if the script is still written by men • Feminists point to that stage.
  50. • Men appropriated and transformed the symbols of female power • Constructed theologies based on the counterfactual metaphor of male procreativity. • Metaphors for female as deviant, mutilated, powerless • Male is the center of the discourse • Men arrogated to themselves the representation of the whole humanity: even in the language • We are taking the half for the whole. • Same as when we thought the earth to be flat: distorted vision. No full understanding of reality. • And this androcentric fallacy cannot be rectified simply by adding women. • You need a radical restructuring of thought
  51. Like system vision shift from Ptolemaic to Copernic
  52. We need to shift history from male centered to humanity centered
  53. How to step out of the model?
  54. For nearly 4000 years women have shaped their lives under paternalistic dominance. • The basis of paternalism is an unwritten contract of exchange: – economic support and protection given by male for subordination in all matters – sexual service, unpaid domesttic service given by the female. • It was a rational choice for women under conditions of public powerlessness and economic dependency. • Women also shared class privileges with men in exchange for their special economic political and intellectual subordination.
  55. Ignorance of your own history keeps women subordinate. • Women have for millenia participated in the process of their own subordination because they have been psychologically shaped to internalize the idea of their own inferiority. • Indoctrination from early childhood on • Male hegemony over the symbol system: educational deprivation of women and male monopoly on definition.
  56. The patriarchal system can function only with the cooperation of women • Reforms and legal changes while ameliorating the condition of women will not basically change the patriarchy. • Patriarchy is secured by different means: – gender indoctrination, – educational deprivation, – denial to women of knowledge of their history, – dividing of women, – coercion, – discrimination in access to economic and political resources – and by awarding class privileges to conforming women.
  57. But it’s scary to step out of the model • Fear of “existential nothingness”, Mary Daly • Threat of loss of communication, love and approval from man in her life. • Heterosexual feminists have developed friendships with women, chosen celibacy or separating sex from love. • No thinking man has ever been threatened in his self-definition and his love life at the price of his thinking. • Gender conditioning to please and to avoid disapproval.
  58. Slay the masters
  59. We need a shift of consciousness • Revolutionary thought has always been based on upgrading the experience of the oppressed • Get rid of the great men on our heads and replace them by ourselves, our sisters, our anonymous foremothers. • Effort to resurrect women’s literary and artistic work • Rejection of goddess/witch dichotomy • Unacknowledged restraints embedded deep into our psyches
  60. We need to reclaim power at individual and collective level • Women’s history is indispensable and essential to the emancipation of women. It changes their lives.
  61. The end of an era • Patriarchy inextricably linked to militarism, hierarchy and racism. • Threatens the very existence of life on earth. • We are living in an age of unprecedented transformation. • We are in the process of becoming. • A feminist world view will enable women and men to free their minds from patriarchal thoughts and practice and at last to build a world free of dominance and hierarchy, a world that is truly human.
  62. • The patriarchal model is reflected even in the language we use • The generic term for human is male • Words are socially created cultural constructs • They come to life if they represent concepts accepted by large numbers of people
  63. • Not as easy as with other oppressed groups • Women, more than any other group, have collaborated in their own subordination through their acceptance of the sex gender system. They have internalized and transmitted these values.
  64. OTHER
  65. Sexual attributes are a biological given but gender is a product of historical process.
  66. • The ego formation of the individual male, which must have taken place within a context of fear, awe and possibly dread of the female must have led men to create social institutions to bolster their egos, strengthen their self-confidence and validate their sense of worth.