The name of privilege.

Unspeakably Violent Jane enscribed a comment relating to men’s apparent right to brutalise the womenfolk, questioning the murder of a young woman by her father over a facebook relationship. Regardless of a man being of Democratic or progressive persuasion, why is the blame ascribed to a religious perspective rather than a social, even global problem? Why don’t men acknowledge that men are the problem?

Unfortunately the problem is male privilege, where men as a class are defined as being superior to women as a class. This is not only a Western phenomenon, this is a global problem as UVJane quite correctly points out. Marilyn French wrote books about this very phenomenon describing the way that men were socially defined as being superior beings to females. Pop-cultural stupidities such as “men are from mars, women are from venus” illustrate the point. Although women and men both originate from earth as descendants from a common ancestor with apes, (and the mammalian genotype was originally XX) Victorian class society would have it that male and female human beings are somehow separate entities and subject to a heirarchy artificially created and enforced by men for men.

The problem began with Greek philosophers like Galen, about 500 BCE, who thought that men were the normal outcome of a pregnancy and only if the wind was blowing the wrong way would a pregnancy result in an inferior female offspring. Early christian writers like Augustine endorsed such a perspective. Don’t even ask what notorious misogynists such as Thomas Aquinas wrote.

It wasn’t until the 17th century that microscopes and the details of sexual procreation were discovered. Even when we did become aware that semen wasn’t the be all and end all of human fertility somehow the dominant cultural influences of church and state declined to admit that they’d been wrong and further declined to admit the full and necessary female participation in human procreation. So far as they were concerned men were all that mattered and with the lingering (mis)influence of the fall of man and subordination of the female, there was not going to be any serious reconsideration of human sexuality.

Needless to say, if procreation and fertility weren’t going to be reconsidered then the equality of the human female wasn’t even going to be mentioned. As early as the third century CE women were subjugated and subordinated, and the systems of political and religious patriarchy that brought that about weren’t going to reconsider it lightly. In fact, to date they haven’t done so at all.

UVJ raises a point regarding academic men and their opinions, through which she touches on a much broader issue. The subjugation of the female of the species is not now limited to religious influences because of the scope of religious influences in the past. All the current and many of the future leaders of religion, business, politics, medicine, law and education are themselves educated in religious (private school) environments wherein they are subtly or overtly subjected to the sexist agendas of religion.

That’s about as simply as it can be stated. Although humans are well aware of the nature of sexual procreation, inheritance, DNA and the lack of any evidence suppoting male superiority, female subordination continues to be overtly and subliminally taught by means of social and cultural male superiority enforced by men over women by such means as rape and emotional and financial abuse, and the threat thereof by media stories of factual and fictitious abuse of women by men.

As Marilyn French described, in a society where men as a class are culturally held as being superior to women as a class, how can there be any equality? And after roughly 3 or 4 thousand years of male dominant society, where is there going to be anything other than male dominant social definition?

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2 Responses to “The name of privilege.”

  1. Unspeakably Violent Jane Says:

    I’m particularly interested in the use of subtle language choices that show male bias. I found another one this morning. An article about gender driven toy choices. Juvenal Monkies were given a selection of toys. Here is a write up of the results

    The plush and wheeled categories served as proxies for feminine and masculine, but other toy characteristics, such as size or colour, might explain the male’s behaviour, he says. Or the male monkeys might seek out more physically active toys, he says.

    But the study ties in with a previous experiment with green vervet monkeys showing that males favour masculine toys.

    Consider the feel of the article if instead it had said

    The plush and wheeled categories served as proxies for feminine and masculine, but other toy characteristics, such as size or colour, might explain the female’s behaviour, he says. Or the female monkeys might seek out more diversification in toys he says.

    But the study ties in with a previous experiment with green vervet monkeys showing that females prefer “feminine” and “masculine” toys equally.

  2. crowlie Says:

    Aside from the obvious, that New Scientist has become a rather asinine bastion of patriarchal influence in recent years… There’s a continuing focus in research in so many areas on the male of any species. This follows simply from the assumption within the patriarchal construct that only males are really human, therefore only the males of any species are really interesting.

    Except when they do really weird things like giving female monkeys vibrators…

    To give equal time and attention to the behaviour of female monkeys might imply that we need to give equal attention to the thoughts, feelings and behaviours of human females. If and when that happens it has to be carefully reported to support existing concepts of female subordination and passivity. It’s that same old every female is passive and a potential rape victim for the active, aggresive manly men thing. Yuck.


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