posted on 10/30/2002 7:14:27 AM PST
To: SauronOfMordor; Nick Danger; Jim Noble; IronJack
Does Patriarchy Benefit Women? Much has been said in feminist circles about how women are oppressed by patriarchy. Patriarchy literally means rule by fathers and is a system where men effectively are in control of property and decision-making. An important characteristic of patriarchal systems is that they are generally also patrilineal (a childs descent is described by who his father, and fathers father were, rather than through the mothers line). The question Im putting forth here is: Does the patriarchal/patrilineal system act more to oppress women, or is it actually more a way for women to tap and control male energy? My assertion is that patriarchal society creates an incentive structure that enables women to harness male energy and initiative for the benefit of women and their children. In patrilineal societies, men tend to be confident that the children of their household are theirs, and take an active role in their upbringing. The men also tend to perform long-range planning, and invest time and effort into making life better for their offspring. Matrilineal societies have been recorded in early history, and still exist in sections of Africa. The matrilineal societies of ancient times did not leave much in the way of historical record. In modern times, where they exist, they are generally poor and technologically primitive. To some extent, the welfare enclaves of our inner cities are increasingly matrilineal. In the developing matrilineal societies in our inner cities, the defining characteristic is that males have no permanent attachment to the children they father, nor to the women who are the mothers of their children. In such an environment, males tend not to make long-range plans for the well-being of their children, nor do they make much effort to create the institutions that would be needed for long-term stability and prosperity. In classic patriarchal cultures, men are motivated to amass wealth through the acquisition and enhancement of productive facilities: land, ships, businesses things that will produce revenue to support a family, and which will provide an inheritance to pass along to their children. Part of the motivation is from love and emotional attachment. A large part of it is also pride and self-image -- the desire to leave a legacy, to be remembered as a great person after he's gone. Having children who are emotionally attached to you has mutual benefits: the children can rely on support during their vulnerable years, and parents can have the expectation of support in their declining years. This can be very important in societies where survival is not assured unless you have a committed provider looking out for you. Once someone has property, he has a strong incentive to promote institutions to protect and preserve his property. He bands together with his neighbors, in mutual protection. He has an incentive to cooperate with his neighbors to create improvements for their mutual benefit: roads, irrigation systems, etc. The incentive system promotes the institutions needed to preserve itself Now lets consider the incentive system for males in a matrilineal environment. When a man cohabits with a woman, he has no assurance of any of the children being his. He is less likely to experience any emotional bonding with them, and may consider them an interference with his relationship with the woman. He will have no expectation that the children will take care of him in his old age, and will be much less likely to make any investment in the childrens well-being. In such an environment, the male wont expect to survive much past the point where hes no longer strong enough to obtain food and resources through his own strength. Hes likely to be invited to share the bed of a woman as long as he provides for her and protects her, and invited to leave when she acquires a better provider. The incentive will be to acquire wealth the fastest and easiest way he can: by getting together into a strong gang and taking it from somebody else. In matrilineal societies, whether in Somalia or South Central LA, the men tend to band together into warring gangs rather than engage in productive work. In a competition between a patriarchal society and a matrilineal society, the patriarchal society will tend to prevail. The men of the patriarchal society are more likely to stand and fight off encroachments to territory they consider their property, while the men of the matrilineal society will be more likely to seek easier targets in another direction. A man will fight for his wife, his children, and his property they are HIS, and part of his self-identity. A man is less likely to endure long-term conflict to protect the property of a woman he considers to be just a temporary girlfriend its simpler to just find another girlfriend in an area with less conflict. Comparing a patriarchal culture with a matrilineal culture, the advantages for women become apparent. By channeling male energy and imagination into long-term planning, patriarchy creates an environment where women and children are better provided for and better protected, thus better assuring long-term survival for all concerned.
Very well said.
You might've subtitled this: "From Patriarchy To Matriarchy: The Decline And Fall Of Western Civilization."
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