What started this article was a comment (it may have been Joe Biden speaking about a Hillary Clinton run for the Presidency in ‘08) that in the U.S. we've yet to elect a female leader, despite the gender equality ideals our nation aspires to portray. Biden continued speculating whether there might be less wars, less violence, less evils directed around and more emphasis on education, child care and healthcare if "women took over the leadership spots in running the world." He mused that men have been the ruling-elite for thousands of years, but things haven’t changed much towards solving these kinds of human conflicts. It got me thinking about the notions of our ideal wish for “peace on earth” “good will towards men” and the future of our own humanity. Aside from the "Star Trek" episodes of the "female inhabited" planets as some sci-fi model of a "Woman's World," there is a question begging in this idea.
We've seen the expanse and contraction of
"feminism" over the past forty years, but would "woman's
nurturing nature" if allowed to set the policies, control the wide
ranging social customs and cultures...would it resulting less wars? Less
violence? Less subjugation? There are point of view that hold men
are more volatile when women are not present...but what if: Women Ran The World?
Doesn't this also speak to the issue of the more "religiosity" of a culture or group (regardless of country of origin) the more dominant the exalting of the male not merely as "provider" but as the "authoritarian" source for the "rules" and governing proscriptions for the female and offspring...an authority to be unquestioned and "right" even if it involves violence, incest, promiscuity, and other social ills ... if not entirely permissive, justified by this reading of the world order? So much of the worlds issues and evils can be traced to these kinds of interpretations in favor of "man's rule" and dominion over "all he surveys.” There are even suppositions, and ancient texts, the Gnostic Gospels (found at various cites like: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/gnostics.html or http://www.gnosis.org/library/marygosp.htm ) which were rejected by Pope Constantine for the current rendition of the Bible, that speak to Jesus’ love, trust and belief in Mary as one his most important disciples. If this were ever “proved” that Mary was considered an “equal” to Jesus and higher on his list of disciples than Peter, Paul, John, John, Luke, Mark, Matthew, etc. then what would this revolutionize in the notion of Women’s place (even in a Biblically conceived approach or sense) in contributing and being co-equals to Men for the purpose of Running the World. No longer would they be “at the back of the Biblical Bus” or “second class citizenry as derived from Adam’s-Rib” to be lead, taught, subject and subservient to Men. But co-equals. This is a world changing idea…and even without the Biblical references…could bring about a very different World model.
Now, I am not proposing a full fledged feminist anti-male rant in this...simply a question of following the thread that for the most part men have been the "ruling elite" for some thousands of years throughout history and across societies (barring a few matriarchal societies like in Hawaii and elsewhere) and the world is no more peaceful, co-existenal model of cooperatively working countries or societies than we were thousands of years ago. Are we missing something? Could we find a better way if females set the agenda and this was the model worldwide?
Or the abuse of women as in the "Gentle Amish" by Nadya Labi (published in Legal affairs at http://www.legalaffairs.org/issues/January-February-2005/feature_labi_janfeb05.html) or the examples of Fundamentalist Mormons written about in "Under the Banner of Heaven" by Jon Krakauer, or Chicago Tribune’s front page story by Paul Salpek (December 12, 2004, at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/specials/chi-0412120360dec12,1,2870744.story) about the marriage of 7 year old girls in Ethiopia to grown men. These are only a few examples that occur daily in many societies and illustrate their treatment of women as "second class" property and “throw-away” citizens.
I had been looking to buy Jared Diamond's "Collapse" (having read "Guns Germs & Steel) and found his other book, "Why Sex Is Fun" (written along the physiology style examination towards evolutionary implications much like Desmond Morris wrote about Human development in "The Naked Ape" and "The Human Zoo" back in the 1960's.) What struck me most was an entire chapter on "Why men don't breast feed their babies" which has some peculiarly interesting insights into the issues I wrote about earlier of men's role in "running the world" versus what type of societies we might have if this situation were reversed on a world-wide basis.
What Diamond suggests it that theoretically it is entirely possible with medicine and technology to have men who actually suckle and bond and could participate in infant rearing in the same manner, degree and fashion biologically as women now do by breast feeding. Yet, men haven't followed this development for other reasons he describes in further chapters. The underlying issues become the evolutionary "hard-wired nature" of the status seeking impetus in males and the dominance (either with body signals of strength & virility or though the pseudo-signals of the social/wealthy attainments) over rivals. Likewise, is the male (nature) impetus to retain this dominance over women, other men and other societies…leading to the endless cycles war and violence and male cultural dominance throughout our human history. (The warrior/hero/provider model myth being the male values sought and perpetuated in most societies.)
Even First Lady, Laura Bush, announced “We need to pay more attention to boys” in a Parade magazine article (January 16, 2005.) The First lady had this to say: “I think we need to pay more attention to boys. I think we’ve paid a lot of attention to girls for the last 30 years, and we have this idea in the United States that boys can take care of themselves. We’ve raised them to be totally self-reliant, starting really too early. They need the nurturing that all humans need. And I think there are a lot of life skills that we teach girls but we don’t teach boys. We actually have neglected boys.”
She has an ongoing push to “help” young men and students as “more vulnerable” to bad influences and becoming educational drop-outs. It’s also never cited that populations of young disaffected, unemployed young women are the cause and concern for societal violence and anti-social behavior threatening to the world we live in…but young men. There is a reason for this “statistical” difference and it is important enough for Laura Bush to address it and begin to try to get some public support and out-reach efforts to deal with this. Not only do boys now attend college at lower rates than girls, Mrs. Bush points out, but “they’re the ones who are in trouble, who have been adjudicated, who can’t read, who are not doing well in school and drop out in frustration and embarrassment. A lot of times they’re the ones with the drug and alcohol problems.”
These “disaffected souls” aren’t just trouble to themselves and their families…they’re also the ones that threaten the stability of the entire world.
(As a side-bar, there are a “few” women I’d disqualify from running the world: Ann Coulter, Condoleeza Rice, Imelda Marcos, Anita Bryant, and possibly a handful more. I’d not rule out someone like Laura Bush…though she show very poor judgment in her selection of husband (reformed sinner though he may be, he didn’t start out that way) …she’s a lot smarter, more diplomatic, engaging, cleaver, thoughtful, hard working, poised and savvy than he is by a long shot.)
Yet, it could be chosen otherwise, and without waiting the tens of thousands of years of evolutionary engineering to effectuate such a radical shift in the nurturing paradigm of males and the subsequent investment in this off-spring raising that would also foster the accompanying attitude to create a less violent prone world for the benefit of those children. This potential answer seems to imply it would be the advantage in "feminizing" males (rather than our reverse model to make women conform to masculine business and leadership models.) Since women would still retain their evolutionary feminized nurturing skills and choices of also protecting offspring, it wouldn't effectively change them into aggressive male war-mongers even if they took over those same leadership roles on a broad world-wide basis.
Pundits had argued that part of why/how John Kerry lost to Bush was his lack of perceived "macho-ness" on the war on terrorism especially after he was "feminized" in an emasculating way in the campaign...but perhaps he was just heading for the future as a man ahead of his time. Could such a change herald the kinds of functional societal differences that would result in a “peaceful” world (baring natural disasters beyond our control) and become the idealized safe/ co-existenal future of humanity?
Some have argued, Mr. David Brooks (NY Times columnist in his January 15, 2005 piece “Empty Nests, And Hearts”) among them, about providing more flexiblity in women's lives and societal roles...and if they had the opportunity to have children they desired...so much the better. But perhaps you're he was thinking too small, way too small…
So, I’ve tried to imagine what this world might look like. I do recognize, however, that would have to be a "world wide" endeavor...which practically speaking would render it socially impossible across the wide range of cultural and societal differences currently in vogue. Yet, it could be chosen otherwise. Our cultures and societies choose “non-natural” rules and re-order our lives this way all the time….so why not in this instance?