Actually, back when men were hunters (and not farmers), which was all of history up until 10,000 years ago, humans lived in egalitarian societies. There were no husbands and wives. Sexuality was considered a natural and sacred part of everyday existence — not a commodity to be controlled.

Drawing on archaeological evidence and Paleolithic and Neolithic art, Eisler argues that prehistoric societies were relatively free of the domination, exploitation and misogyny that have marked Western societies up to the present. She emphasizes that Christianity’s hostility toward sex and, particularly, women’s sexuality has conditioned men and women to accept coercion and repression. Discussing abusive child-rearing practices, genital mutilation, natural childbirth, abortion, sex education, the men’s movement, AIDS and much else, Eisler outlines a new sexual ethic that aligns pleasure with our capacity to feel and act empathically. Her visionary, passionate scholarship is a revealing psychosexual exploration of love and power relations.

You don’t get to actually just pick a time when that changed. It’s been established by anthropologists as having taken place in the very recent past of human history. Cave men did not have patriarchy; they did not even have wives or marriage as we think of it now. “Men were hunters and protectors, and when those roles decreased they became like overprotective parents to compensate.” That isn’t actually what took place. See my quote in my originl comment as to what scientists say happened.

but in a situation where the social programming they received is the norm, it’s not really fair to hold it against them, either. We cannot punish the aggressors and then change the social programming. That’s like teaching a student that 2+2=5 and then punishing them when they don’t answer 4.” So what you’ve just said here is that abusers and rapists can’t be held responsible for their crimes because they were raised in a society that subtely taught them that this was OK???? According to the CDC, 1 in 3 women will be the victims of some kind of sexualized violence, but we can’t be upset about that or complain of it because that is “punching down?” You have some odd beliefs, I must say.

Here’s a much better analogy: A bully is beating up and harassing your kid and making his life miserable. The bully comes from a bad home where there isn’t much guidance or love and he is being bullied by someone in his family. You can understand why he might act out and even feel a lot of compassion for him, but that doesn’t excuse him doing that at your child’s expense. Before you start looking for ways to get him some support and help, you are without a doubt going to demand that he stop beating your kid up! Right?

Patriarchy allowed civilization to grow and expand exponentially, but it also came at a deep cost to both men and women because it it a social system based in continual domination of others in order to maintain your social position in the hierarchy.

“As bell hooks says, “Learning to wear a mask (that word already embedded in the term ‘masculinity’) is the first lesson in patriarchal masculinity that a boy learns. He learns that his core feelings cannot be expressed if they do not conform to the acceptable behaviors sexism defines as male. Asked to give up the true self in order to realize the patriarchal ideal, boys learn self-betrayal early and are rewarded for these acts of soul murder.” (bell hooks, The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love)

In the end, patriarchy gives only a few men access to power in society, and most men some small access to power in relation to women, robbing all men of core aspects of their humanity. This is a raw deal of monumental proportions. I see this as the core source of violence: the physical, emotional, and spiritual brutalization of boys and men.”

The World Health Organization and the CDC both say that violence against women (and sexual violence in particular) are at epidemic levels. We can still care about creating a better world for everyone, including men, while at the same time demanding that this situation stop.

You are continuing to try to look at societal dynamics through the lens of personal identity and it doesn’t work. Patriarchy is a social system — it’s not the actions of any one man (or woman). It’s a social system that came into being around the globe at about the same time with the advent of agriculture. One of it’s primary features is to restrict social and sexual freedom of women for the purposed of ensuring parentage of heirs (so you could pass on land and animals). Before that, no-one cared much about who the father of a baby was because humans lived in small bands where everyone shared everything; co-raised children, shared food, etc. You don’t need to have a stated desire to oppress women as a feature; but it was a definite by-product — again, as already clearly stated by anthropologists.

No one is trying to change social programming in one direction. The things about patriarchy that hurt women also hurt men but in different ways. Domination hierarchy as a social system is incredibly destructive to all, but because women (and minorities)have historically been on a lower part of the hierarchy, it has effected them in more overtly detrimental ways. Until 50 years ago there were plenty of laws on the books that enshrined many of those detrimental things. The ways that men are harmed is often more subtle. For example, the high rate of depression and suicide amongst men is a direct result of the emotional isolation that is demanded of them as a part of the “man box” — the rules about what constitutes acceptable masculinity.

Whereas domination systems are ultimately held together by fear, force, and the threat of pain, partnership systems are based on mutuality; there are hierarchies, but rather than hierarchies of domination, these are hierarchies of actualization where power is empowering rather than disempowering and accountability, respect, and benefits flow both ways, rather than just from the bottom up.

The goal should be to dismantle the rigid gender rules that patriarchy as a social system demands, and let people be who they are, with what ever blend of traditionally masculine and feminine traits that they actually have. It should be to treat each other with respect and cooperation and not to try to win at others expense so that we can ascend in the social hierarchy. Defending and excusing patriarchy is not the way towards a healthier society.

Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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