Scientists Discover Patriarchy Not Good.
A recent issue of the “New Scientist” magazine has done a special report stating that the patriarchy is not a natural state of human society and we would all benefit from a different and more equitable system. Plenty of evidence has been found that male dominance is a problem. I know this will be huge shock to women all around the world but we are ready to take the evidence and use it to help anyone who needs high status validation to help them understand the oppressive nature of this system.
It is pretty interesting to see how the shift from gatherer/hunter to inherited lands has helped patriarchy develop, although the article does not focus on indigenous land based cultures that may have had matriarchal systems. I guess I am resistant to the idea that male dominance is inevitable anywhere and inspired by evidence in Aotearoa and elsewhere that female tūpuna have always been rangatira. It is very hard to imagine the world without “old Pat” as us Irish descended feminists like to call him - but as usual indigenous communities have a few lessons for the rest of us.
Since leaving Parliament I have been working with some great women in the film industry on stopping sexual harassment in their workplaces. They are not focused on exposing individual “bad guys” but want to change the culture so it is safe for everyone. There is a lot of initial high level industry buy in due to the momentum in the post Harvey Weinstein era. However the daily damaging microaggressions in all workplaces will take some changing. The other big challenge for the “Me Too” movement more broadly is addressing the issues of white privilege.
A recent discussion in the USA raised the issue of “ The Handmaid's Tale” being treated as a possible dystopian nightmare, when in fact indigenous and African American women have already been the slaves and reproductive prisoners of patriarchy but for some reason no one in the dominant culture has noticed this. The question put to us white feminists is do we want freedom from white male oppression for ourselves or do we want to end racist patriarchy for all and especially the front line – indigenous, disabled, women of colour and those who are poor? We certainly seem to get more attention when causes are fronted by celebrities and not ordinary women who are not from the western paradigm.
It brings up the old question as to whether patriarchy created colonial capitalism or vice versa? I do not have any glib answers but what I do know is that being in Parliament for 8 and a half years was a textbook experience of how Old Pat and “power over” is dressed up. Now I am back in the “real world” watching kereru share the guava tree and thinking about the brave new world where we have no reason to complain because the Prime Minister is a woman. Last time that happened, Women's Refuges were still overflowing so I guess some scientific research might be needed on why individual success does not mean the system has changed.