Tuesday, 4 December 2012

is patriarchy archy?

it must be nice to be able to think without writing. indeed it might be nice not to think at all, which is one of the wonders of meditation, including christian. however i find not thinking almost impossible especially when people make provocative statements and not writing painful when i think. so it is a good thing i have a left hand.

i have been thinking about patriarchy for many reasons, particularly because there still persist social contracts between men and women. the most obvious one that many of us women rely on every time we leave the house after dark is the understanding that men will not take advantage of the fact that we are smaller and weaker and attack us.

this used to be a contract between men and other men, of course, as men thought women derived our value from our relation to them. and indeed we can see today something of this attitude in men who feel it their responsibility to see certain women and not others home after dark.

i would say that is more meritorious for a man to see a stranger or chance acquaintance home, for she has no claim on his protective services whatsoever. a man more naturally wants to protect someone belonging to his family or group, whatever that group might be, from harm. and it must be a good feeling to know that your mere presence makes a woman happier and enforces your status in a group. as an occasional chaperone and sometimes rescuer of younger women i can guess.

i use the expression 'protective services' intentionally because i have recently read anarchist arguments against minarchist thoughts about the minimal state. the minimal state arises from from a perceived need from protection from violence, in which as a woman (a short one) who is forbidden by the state to carry a handgun, i am naturally interested. if there were no state i would certainly carry a handgun because, although statistics are on my side, any sexual attack--such as are not unknown in my neighbourhood--would be unthinkingly devastating to my psyche. it is for this reason that i never walk home through the woods after dark by myself but arrange to meet my husband at the bus stop.

from a patriarchal perspective i suppose i would ask how men should be rewarded for their protective services. i might answer back that, beyond the emotional satisfactions of doing a good deed, their reward could be sheer gratitude that they themselves are relatively--relatively--free from danger of attack in peace-time, particularly--outside prison--of sexual violation, at least now that they are adult males. i do not think they deserve a complex system in which they make all the decisions and get all the education and eat all the pies.

at any rate it seems to me that as long as women are in danger of sexual attack--and a breakdown of society--see Tahrir Square for a peacetime exanple--seems inevitably to lead to sexual attack--women will always need protective services and from those services will inevitable arise a state, even if that state is only patriarchy. the only way i can imagine a stateless society in which women flourish is one in which we are armed and prepared to kill an attacker. the problem then is if women can actually do this without great psychic damage.


Sheila said...

I think the idea is that if everyone is armed, and it's known that rapists will be shot, there might not be so many rapists anymore. So the likelihood that you yourself would be called upon to shoot someone is rather slim; if most women are known to be armed, they will no longer be considered a vulnerable class of victims.

On the other hand, some level of male protection is probably always going to be necessary. I don't think I'm a wimp for not wanting to own a gun, although it's legal for me to do so. I am just not the gun-toting type. On the other hand, I do NOT fear rape wherever I go, because it is quite rare in my area. Is it because guns are legal in this state, both to own and to carry? I'm not sure. Probably cultural factors are also involved.

My one beef with anarchy is just what you mention, though: it treats everyone as equal, adult individuals, each of whom is capable of taking care of him or herself. And the fact is, there are many people who don't fit this description. Some are physically less able to defend themselves. Some are unable to work. Some are disabled. And a heck of a lot of people are children. I can understand the notion of caring for these people as the job of communities and not a task of government, but caring for them is going to be an important aspect of any system you come up with.

I myself am a libertarian and not an anarchist. As I see it, one of the ONLY roles of government is to protect the weak in society from the strong. That means women from men, the poor from the rich, children from adults, individuals from large corporations. I'm not really sure how you'd ensure everyone's safety and justice without government.

Seraphic said...

i do not fear rape wherever i go because i restrict my movements and my relationships to safe places and safe company. i would never for example be behind closed doors with a stranger except a cab driver or a priest and even then i would do a perhaps very minor risk assessment. i would certainly think twice about travelling to certain countries.

as my philosophy of female self-care was very much influenced by camille paglia back in the 90s. i am not sure that simply arming the population would solve the age-old problem of protecting women from violent men. but i do think culture plays a very strong role indeed, particularly the fear of hell and perhaps the anger of the community.

Magdalena said...

What if the men also had guns, and knew better than you how to use them? Then your gun wouldn't really protect you.

(In the title, did you mean "is patriarchy anarchy", or is "archy" an existing word?)

I hope your hand gets better soon! I am working at the computer all the time and know your difficulties...

Seraphic said...

but to address what you wrote about the weakest, i think you are absolutely right. there seems to be a tendency in some to tyrannize over others and this can be seen even in infants.

but the question remains: do women owe men anything for their protective services or is it merely the lot and responsibility of men to protect women in light of the fact that women are physically so vulnerable to men? it seems...argh! now left hand hurts.

Seraphic said...

magdalena i was suggesting patriarchy itself might be a form of state.

it is an interesting idea that men would be better at using modern firearms than women. for me it is more of a question of the psychic ability to shoot a man and to live with having done so.

personally i have lousy aim but presumably i could improve, my brother n.s. is a crack shot.

Sarah said...

Hm, the line about shooting a man doing psycholigical damage made me think of the day my dad took me to practice with his handgun that he was giving me to keep in my bedroom when I was 15 or 16. He had started travelling for his job and since my mother's bedroom was on one floor of the house, and most of the kids' bedrooms (mine included) on the upper floor, he wanted someone on the upper floor to be armed. After we'd finished practicing, and we were packing away our guns, he looked at me and said, "I'm giving this gun to you so you can use to protect yourself and mom and younger siblings. That means you might have to shoot and kill a real, live person. Do you think you can handle that?"

I gave my honest answer which was, "I don't want to, but I will if I have to."

I'm generally a pacifist and don't like violence. But what I said was true: I would do what I had to do. I think most women would, and if it came to protecting themselves from sexual harm, the fact that they had to resort to violence as self defense would be something that yes, would be damaging, (how could killing another person ever NOT be in some way?) but something you can heal from. This world is a vale of tears, and some degree psychological damage is part of being human, unfortunately.

I don't think I'll ever forget the conversation with my dad. And I think women should depend less on the men they know to protect them from harm. Another thing I was taught growing up is that even the men you trust most can hurt you. Most rapes are not commited by strangers lurking in the woods, but by someone the victim knows and trusts.

Magdalena said...

With regard to women owing something to men for protecting them, or the responsibility of men to protect women – isn't this rather about stronger persons in general who should not use their strength against weaker persons? Women are stronger than children or sick people.
I should, as a friendly person, be thankful to someone who is nice to me. But I don't owe him gratitude, do I? Likewise, as a civilised person, I shouldn't physically hurt somebody. And, again as a friendly person, I should maybe protect others.
Another thought: Isn't non-assistance of a person in danger a crime in itself? ("Crime" is maybe too strong, but my brain is already in stand-by.) That would mean it is kind of a duty to men to protect women. But it would be nice of us to be thankful for that, nevertheless.

Re using guns to protect ourselves... I have never in my life come near any kind of weapon other than wooden swords, water pistols and bows and arrows as a kid. In my country, only policemen, soldiers and hunters can legally carry weapons. If someone gave me a gun I would have no idea what to do with it and would be terrified to shoot anyone (including accidentally shooting myself). And I am sure I would be extremely slow in learning how to use it. But, of course, if in an extreme situation I had to protect someone, I probably would use a gun. But otherwise… Give me a bow and arrow and I will chase away any villain!

Notburga said...

It seems bamboo sticks can do some quite impressive damage, too. Unfortunatly I was ill again this Monday and did not learn any new ways of breaking collar or other bones using them...