[Script, or near enough:]
It’s something that won’t sit well with feminists, the notion that their “boogie-man” is an insurmountable, undefeatable foe. However, they will likely never stop in their endeavour to see this elusive yet overarching fiend dismantled.
Excuse my juvenile crudeness but feminists have a real hard-on for dismantling the patriarchy. Their efforts would be valid if such a patriarchy existed and if it required dismantling, however, neither of these presuppositions are true.
Firstly, we do not live in a patriarchy as they define it but instead, we live in a patriarchal society, not that there is any issue with that. According to the London Feminist Network, “Patriarchy is the term used to describe the society in which we live today, characterised by current and historic unequal power relations between women and men whereby women are systematically disadvantaged and oppressed”. [Informed viewers will be aware that The Istanbul Convention legislates such a belief as fact – because feminists totally aren’t about re-writing history.]
The core assumption of this definition is that women are not in positions of power because they are refrained from doing so, that an outside force is preventing them from attaining higher ranks (the same force, in turn, promotes men and male success). As per the norm, feminists are viewing the world with an incredibly external locus of control.
Instead, women are not held back from positions of power or management. Sure, there are fewer women at the very top of the pay-scale but that does not mean women are barricaded from the corridors of power and success. According to the Women in the labour market report, 33% of directors, managers and senior officials in occupations with the highest pay are female. Hardly an effective patriarchy if women are allowed to share in all the success, eh? (I would like to quickly add that whilst feminists harp on about all the male Fortune 500 CEOs, 72% of service users for homelessness accommodation projects in England are men. Just as there are few women at the top, there are few women at the bottom – it’s almost as if women like hugging around the average.)
Feminists also fail to acknowledge why it is our society has grown to be patriarchal, why we see more men at work, more men at the top, more men in government and more men making the decisions. It’s because that is what has been required by society. Believe it or not, but men and women are sexually dimorphic and this affects not just our physiology but our psychology as well. Just as the male body is better equipped for hard work (male upper body strength is greater than female upper body strength, men are better at visual-spatial reasoning) so is the female body better equipped for baby-making (females naturally lactate from their mammary glands and males do not, women possess a uterus and men do not, female immune system is stronger so as to ensure survival of gestating young).
Women tend to take a more cautious approach to spatial exploration so as to avoid physical harm, while males will have larger range sizes and often outperform females in navigation-related tasks. During the millennia that have overseen the evolution and advancements of our species, it has been required of men to step up and do the work to facilitate our progression. As men worked they made political gains, they took the positions of power because they were required to do so.
These men historically “held the power” because it was needed of them; when times were tough and enemy clans were knocking at the door, the group would need strong, male leaders to ward off invading forces so as to ensure the survival of their own. They could not risk the safety of the mothers and children as they are key to the reproductive success and long-term survival of the group.
This mentality has maintained, the notion that men go out and do the hard, dangerous work whilst women stay home in relative safety. The locations have changed but the premise is still the same. We see more male MPs and more male Fortune 500 CEOs not because “patriarchy says so” but because the worlds of politics and business attract and require those with masculine qualities. Women exhibit greater risk aversion than men (women with higher levels of testosterone exhibit lower levels of risk aversion). The lion’s den of the outside world, of the hunt, has evolved into the lion’s den of the boardroom, or the Houses of Commons and Lords.
In fact, patriarchal societies are born as a survival mechanism to cope in an ever-competing world. In a research report from the University of Kent, the authors argued that intra-group competition causes female leaders whereas inter-group competition causes male leaders (businesses fall under the “inter-group” category, as does politics). The authors speculate that “such gendered leadership prototypes are a residual of human evolutionary history that still affects the way people evaluate and respond to leadership in society today … compared with women, men adopt a more hierarchical leadership style, which is perhaps better suited to engage in intergroup aggression”. In a competing, intergroup world, hierarchy and structure as well as the need for strong leadership has overseen the rise of patriarchal societies.
To further quote the authors again “Whereas intergroup competition activated a male leadership prototype, intragroup competition elicited a female leadership prototype. The female candidate was rated better at fostering positive intragroup relationships”. And just exactly where is intragroup leadership best suited? That’s right: the home and in local community groups.
Think especially of career-women. The sort who climbs the ladder, let’s say does law. Excels in university, gets a first, hired as she walks out the door of university, continues to excel, winning case after case, is made partner by 30. Do you know what she does then? Makes a decision. Either she continues doing the 80 hours a week, earning 300K plus a year … OR(!) … she settles down with her equally high earning partner, takes a huge pay cut and raises a family. Starts doing motherly things, gets involved in her children’s local playgroup, joins the PTFA or school councillors. Something where she can be involved in her local community and be with her children.
Ask any social-conservative (or any decent, upstanding person for that matter) which life matters more: work life or home life? Naturally, they will answer the latter. Consider this, when people lie on their death bed, they do not speak of how they wish they had spent more time in work, doing extra hours, punching longer times on their clocking card. No, they wish they had spent more time with their families, been there more for their children, not missed those first steps or words. Family life matters more than work life.
If only there was some evidence I could cite about what women want.
As Geoff Dench comments, drawing upon data from the annual survey of British Social Attitudes, “there is a strong and reviving recognition of the value and appeal of the housewife role; and mothers who are able to spend at least part of their day looking after the home and children are more content with their lives than those who work fulltime … private realm concerns are in fact much more powerful among contemporary women than policymakers and their key advisors appear to understand”. The call of motherhood, believe it or not, is louder than the call of the nine to five. Somehow, this memo has failed to reach the desks of feminists.
However, as feminists have pushed for more women in the workforce over the past four decades, we’ve seen more women leaving the home and entering the world of work. Ignoring some 50,000 years (and more) of sexual division of labour and maternal instincts, these women have entered the workplace and (lo and behold) are now suffering because of it. Dubbed The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness, women’s happiness levels over the past four decades have decreased both absolutely and relatively to men’s. In fact, men’s happiness levels have gone up. Curiously enough, it seems that taking away an integral part of someone’s identity and replacing it with office work makes them depressed.
Speaking anecdotally, I don’t know how many women I’ve spoken to, or comments I’ve read online, telling how a mother’s heart was broken because she missed her child saying “mummy” for the first time. Feminists like to claim that the reason so many women work part-time is because they are being oppressed (or patriarchy or whatever nonsensical BS reason they can think of) yet, they won’t even consider the idea that maybe so many women work part-time/flexible hours is so they can spend more time at home being mothers – being part of the family. Feminists, what matters more to you, pushing pencils or seeing your child’s first steps? I’ll take answers in the comments below.
And so, just as men are happy at work supporting their families, so too are women happy at home raising their families. By attempting to dismantle the patriarchy, what feminists are really doing is ruining the home and fracturing society. Feminists will never be able to defeat the patriarchy because we do not live in one and because the gender relations between men and women were not broken, that is, they were not broken until feminism came along. Patriarchy isn’t men oppressing women or holding power over women. No, patriarchy is a man out at work earning bread for his family with a loving wife at home raising their kids. There’s a reason society evolved to be the way it was, because that’s the way it worked best. So, to any and all feminists I say this: just stop, you’re not doing anyone any favours and you’re hurting those you claim to be empowering.
“Women’s liberation, if it abolishes the patriarchal family, will abolish a necessary substructure of the authoritarian state and once that withers away Marx will have come true willy-nilly–so let’s get on with it.” Germaine Greer