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Spiritual Meditations (27 Feb 2014 NewAgeIslam.Com)



Patriarchy as a Major Impediment to World Peace Today

 

 

By Adis Duderija, New Age Islam

27 February, 2014

Discussions on peace are central to humanity since they force us to deal with some fundamental issues regarding our human existence, its purpose and nature. 

As we all know world-peace is much more than just the state of ‘absence of war ‘. The voluminous literature of ‘just peace’ and ‘just war’ testifies to this fact well. My purpose is not to engage with this literature directly but to offer some reflections on what I consider to be the major impediment to world peace today.

Today, we live in an incredibly interconnected world that one or two generations ago was simply unimaginable. Things we do and choices we make on a daily basis often can have significant impact, both positive and negative, on people who live on different continents, who come from different religious, cultural, ethnic or racial backgrounds and whom we will never meet in person. How our actions impact upon others, often, are not always easy to discern or to understand. Nevertheless, given our state of interconnectedness, it becomes ethically incumbent upon us to try our utmost to understand how our place in the world and things that we do (or not do) impact upon others no matter where they live or what their secondary identities are. By secondary I mean those that are distinct to us and fall outside of our commonly shared humanity.

This state of unprecedented interconnectedness offers to us a tremendous opportunity to do good. However, it is also a potential burden for if we fail to take full advantage of this opportunity history and future generations will judge us harshly. Rightly so, I think.

So what are the main impediments to world-peace today?  In this brief article I will discuss one that I consider to be the most prevalent and most damaging-patriarchy. It is most damaging because the underlying philosophy and worldview behind it permeates all other impediments I will mention in the course of this article.

Patriarchy is a dual system of domination of a small percentage of privileged men (mainly white, rich men living in the Global North) over other men, women and children. Patriarchy as a system of domination is based upon certain worldview that manifests itself in all aspects of human   existence both at a level of society and at the level of the individual. It affects the way people think, behave and feel. Traditional hegemonic masculinity is its ultimate source of ‘values’ and norms. While we have been witnessing patriarchy ever since the rise of agricultural societies it current forms are much more lethal and insidious due to the nature of the contemporary world we live in.

 Patriarchy, anchored in the ethos of traditional hegemonic masculinity that is upheld as an ideal and norm for and by both many men and women, strives on competition and creation of hierarchies largely devoid of (m)any ethical considerations.  It is an never-ending competition and a quest between elitist men for economic, military, and political power. In a patriarchal world success is measured by an ever increasing need for larger  profit margins,  larger market shares, better stock market performance, increased  military capability , more effective  cooption of “democratically elected” politicians or a number of attractive-looking women, crudely sexually objectified as they are,  a men can  ‘score’ ( i.e. sleep with).

This patriarchal worldview, in turn, gives rise to a particular economics whose gods are greed and ever greater profit margins, at every and any cost. The vast majority of banking systems in the world are, in one way or another, structurally implicated into perpetuation of this patriarchal economic system and worldview. Recent events surrounding America’s financial crises that, due to our interconnectedness, have more or less strongly reverberated in just about every other place on this planet are a clear testimony to this truth. 

Patriarchal interests and worldview has well and truly entered many political systems even in the so called western liberal democracies. Money created through exploitative nature of patriarchal hierarchies is used in funding political campaigns and is a major source of corruptive and undemocratic practices in the world. Hence, political systems whose survival depends on patriarchal interests are a major impediment to attaining of world-peace.

Hans Küng, a noted theologian, once famously asserted that without peace between religions there cannot be world-peace. Unfortunately, the dominant interpretations of religion have been wearing the garb of patriarchy   for as long as patriarchy has been inexistence. Patriarchy has not only been able to significantly dampen the original sprit of constant prophetic messages  which empathized the need for   and spoke in favor of social justice and protection of the weak and marginalized ( and paving the way to their emancipation)  but has often co-opted and perverted  religious ideas to serve its selfish interests. What is important to keep in mind is that patriarchal interpretations of sacred texts are neither inevitable nor are they in line with the Prophetic spirit I just mentioned. Patriarchal values, norms and ethics disguised in the idioms of religion are not only betraying the original Prophetic spirit and message, they often coexist very comfortably with the vested economic  and political interests patriarchal worldview defends and depends on that cause much suffering in the world. This is most unfortunate.  Hence, patriarchal interpretations religions are impediments to world-peace. What we need instead are theologies of peace that honor the original prophetic spirit of social justice and care for all.

Degradation and exploitation of the environment are a major threat and impediment to peace. The patriarchal mindset of competition and creation of a homo economicus ,  a unique species of human whose worth is solely defined by material profits, detached from (m)any ethical constraints that views the world through the single conceptual  lens of profit making  is directly responsible for unprecedented and irreplaceable  destruction of natural habitats which can have and are in fact  having catastrophic consequences for survival of all life on earth including the human.  This destruction of the environment can only worsen the prospect for world-peace by further increasing the competition for earth’s finite resources.

 Patriarchy, with traditional hegemonic masculinity as its source, does not just give rise to a certain view of economics, politics, religion and attitude to our mother earth. It is also based on certain personal traits. With its focus on competition and domination it is arrogant, it eschews co-operation, meaningful dialogue, lacks empathy and the consideration of the needs and legitimate aspirations of others.  The ideas of gratitude and of thankfulness are, indeed, completely strange to it.  

Recent sciences tells us that the above described ethos of patriarchy is in actual fact a non natural state of being for humans and is damaging to us psychologically at an individual level. Science as well as wisdom accumulated through humanities’ rich and varied religious and cultural heritages, inform us that we humans reap real psychological and emotional benefits from acting in cooperative manner, when we show empathy, gratitude and are thankful.

It is plainly evident that patriarchy by its very nature that I briefly described is antithetical to peace and can only create exploitation, suffering and grief to human civilization at large and to our individual selves. As such is a great impediment and threat to peace. Every effort must be made to dismantle it.

Given our interconnectedness we as individuals have never been empowered as we are today to fight the forces of patriarchy. We can do so by choosing to buy and benefit from products and services which to not partake in perpetuation of patriarchy. If we are men, we can fight patriarchy by developing equitable relationships with our female counterparts in the context of family, marriage, friendships or work. If we are religiously observant we can embody, uphold and promote non-patriarchal interpretations of our religious scriptures and traditions. Finally, we can fight patriarchy by supporting, financially or otherwise, individuals, organizations and institutions which do recognize patriarchy as a major threat to world peace.

Dr. Adis Duderija is a Visiting Senior Lecturer, Gender Department, University Malaya is the author of Constructing a Religiously Ideal Believer and Woman in Islam, (Palgrave, 2011

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/spiritual-meditations/adis-duderija,-new-age-islam/patriarchy-as-a-major-impediment-to-world-peace-today/d/45938

 




TOTAL COMMENTS:-   25


  • This is what I asked:
     If capitalism represents ‘patriarchal’ values/ethos/world view, does socialism then represent ‘matriarchal’ values?

    This is your response:

    there is no such thing as traditional hegemonic  femininity because it is the masculinity that is hegemonic 

    Are you saying that socialism is also a hegemonic  political philosophy and therefore cannot be matriarchal?

    2. If mainly white, rich men living in the Global North display pronounced ‘patriarchal’ behavior in that they dominate the rest of the people in this world, what explains that the Global north also has a liberal democracy which is the antithesis of the ‘patriarchal’ model? So can we conclude that whereas domestic policies of liberal democracies are matriarchal, it's external policies of world domination could be patriarchal?
     
    3. If difference in wealth between the rich and the poor is a consequence of `patriarchal’ values of the rich, then do the rich men also display pronounced `patriarchal’ behavior towards their women? If the answer is no, then does it mean that rich people can practice gender egalitarianism in their homes but become fierce patriarchs in the outside world?

    Does the discussion not sound like flogging a weak theory beyond its limits? The less we use gender theory outside man-woman relationships, the better it would be. Even as it concerns man-woman relationships, you say it is not gender specific and a female can display traditional male hegemonic behaviour which leads to the obvious conclusion that behaviour is determined by role and not by gender and the changing behaviour over the centuries, is a result of the changing roles as impacted mainly by the economics or by the economic parity between spouses, nations, groups of people and between individuals.  

    There's no egalitarianism without economic egalitarianism. The greater the economic disparity and therfore dependence, the greater we will see evidence of "traditional male hegemonic behaviour".

    So the threat to world peace comes from the fact that there are weak nation states which cannot defend themselves and are vulnerable to external aggression. There is no aggression without vulnerability and the only way to keep aggression in check is to eliminate vulnerability or provide institutional support and protection.






    By Observer - 3/5/2014 12:29:08 AM



  • observer, once you realise that I use the concept of patriarch in the sense of traditional hegemonic masculinity ( as i keep repeating this)  the questions you posed answer themselves or become irrelevant ( e.g. the analogy with matriarchy does not stand - as interesting as it is- since there is no such thing as traditional hegemonic  femininity because it is the masculinity that is hengemonic ) 
    By adis - 3/4/2014 8:53:46 PM



  • Adis,

    Every theory makes exaggerated claims and tries to explain more phenomena than it actually can.


    Beyond doubt, world peace, widening income disparity, political and economic subjugation of man, will continue to be burning issues much  after we have achieved complete gender egalitarianism. It is puerile to claim that gender egalitarianism will solve all these issues. There is no connection between these issues and gender behaviour.

    It is not surprising therefore, that you failed to respond to the following, simply because it is not gender behaviour that is at work outside the family or outside of male-female relationships. 
     
    1. If mainly white, rich men living in the Global North display pronounced ‘patriarchal’ behavior in that they dominate the rest of the people in this world, what explains that the Global north also has a liberal democracy which is the antithesis of the ‘patriarchal’ model?
     
    2. If difference in wealth between the rich and the poor is a consequence of `patriarchal’ values of the rich, then do the rich men also display pronounced `patriarchal’ behavior towards their women? Conversely, do the poor show the absence of patriarchal’ behavior towards their women?
     
    3. If capitalism represents ‘patriarchal’ values/ethos/world view, does socialism then represent ‘matriarchal’ values?


    Gender behaviour itself is a function of economic parity between the sexes. World peace is a function of economic and military parity between nations. Income difference between the rich and the poor maybe a function of knowledge parity. Religion, political and economic philosophies, social and political institutions play either a facilitating or hindering role.




    By Observer - 3/3/2014 10:57:00 PM



  • Observer, I am sorry but you just  do not get it. the paradigm and  the ideology behind  TRADITIONAL MASCULINITY  ( which is not gender specific per se as i desctibed earlier )  is well and truly alive  including the countries like the US. I happen to be teaching the subject and  have read literature on it. you can start here for example ( not to mention various academic journals to which you probably do not have access ) : http://www.nomas.org/taskgroups/profeminism/
    By adis - 3/3/2014 8:01:41 PM



  • Adis,

    Gender based behavioral studies are interesting from a historical perspective as we come to know how the behaviors or expectation of ideal gender behavior  have changed over the years due to the impact of various transformations the society has gone through - from hunter gatherer to agrarian to industrial. The most important development has been the impact of technology which has liberated the woman from time consuming household chores and brought her into the work place and given her economic freedom which has given a tremendous impetus to the cause of gender egalitarianism. The hunter (men), gatherer (women) societies were gender egalitarian as the responsibility to feed the family was shared and a similar situation exists today when women are back to sharing the responsibility of earning for the family.

    Contemporary language, literature, cinema, art, and business are therefore engaged in dismantling the old truisms about gender behavior (e.g. "boys will be boys") as a result of the new reality of the woman having achieved a status equal to that with men on account of her new found economic freedom. The woman of today can live without a man which frees her from accepting a role subordinate to man based on her gender alone. Under the circumstances, I find it strange that we should use an outdated gender paradigm of male domination that is fast becoming irrelevant in today’s world, to discuss world peace and a host of other things.

    World peace, income disparity, political and economic subjugation of man, will continue to be burning issues much  after we have achieved complete gender egalitarianism. I therefore see no causal relationship between the issues discussed and theories of gender behaviour.
     

    By Observer - 3/3/2014 4:19:58 AM



  • observer, my final attempt to clarify my position with an example. risk taking and drinking for men  are behaviors which are  part of traditional hegemonic masculinity and patriarchy .these behaviors   are based on certain values/ideal/models  which a patriarchal society considers as good or normative for men. some women may also engage in these behaviours because they want to be part of this 'masculinity'  since they  consider that there are some  societal or other benefits that would accrue to them by doing so e.g. get sexual attraction from  men. 
    By adis - 3/3/2014 2:59:09 AM



  • Adis,


    When there is growing evidence that notions of  gender based differences in behaviour are false, it is absurd to cling onto theories based on supposed gender behaviour. Such theories are not only absurd but also perpetuate gender stereotyping. If matriarchy were to be negatively stereotyped, the feminists would have  killed the theory long ago.

     You say "patriarchy as traditional hegemonic masculinity  is based upon certain  ideals/norms/values about how both men and women should think, behave and feel".  Why should they think, behave and feel in conformity with the theoretical stereotypes?

    You also say "you can have women who uphold and  embody  traditional masculinity/ patriarchy  and vice versa . you can also have men/women  who do not uphold traditional masculinity  but an alternative one.  same holds for femininity". All that remains is for us to talk about patriarchal mothers and matriarchal fathers. For example, we may see a study report saying that 'there is strong evidence that men sports champions are more likely to have patriarchal mothers'! Or artists are more likely to have matriarchal fathers. Or law breakers are more likely to have both parents who are patriarchal!

    We can persist with absurdity or abandon a theory which was weak to start with and has become indefensible today.


    By Observer - 3/2/2014 11:07:55 PM



  • Observer, you concede that you do not have academic knowledge of gender and masculinity theories yet you  insist that  the theory of patriarchy as traditional hegemonic masculinity which you still do not understand  is false ?  I am not sure how many times do I need to repeat that  patriarchy as traditional hegemonic masculinity  is based upon certain  ideals/norms/values about how both men and women should think, behave and feel. it  is part of empirical reality. you can read here more: http://gas.sagepub.com/content/19/6/829.abstract or read articles here:  : http://www.nomas.org/taskgroups/profeminism/
    By adis - 3/2/2014 9:28:42 PM



  • Adis,

    The evidence that I have cited against the theory is not challenged—it is simply not addressed, and its salience is being sought to be diminished by the exclusive focus on the fact that there are many ‘experts’ who subscribe to it and pointing to the literature on the subject.

     

    The life of a poor theory is extended by explaining away embarrassing counter arguments with statements such as: “you can have women who uphold and embody traditional masculinity/ patriarchy and vice versa”. It is easy to see that the theory would have been trashed, if such a statement was made when the theory was first propounded. However, after a theory takes hold, those who believe in it, will readily buy such arguments, and it is precisely such behavior that is called theory-induced blindness which prevent its timely demise.

     

    Even without the counter examples of the behavior of women leaders and of women in ‘manly occupations’ which in no way differ from that of men, the theory is weak and the evidence is that there is either no response or an unsatisfactory response to several questions asked viz.

     

    If mainly white, rich men living in the Global North display pronounced ‘patriarchal’ behavior in that they dominate the rest of the people in this world, what explains that the Global north also has a liberal democracy which is the antithesis of the ‘patriarchal’ model?

     

    If difference in wealth between the rich and the poor is a consequence of `patriarchal’ values of the rich, then do the rich men also display pronounced `patriarchal’ behavior towards their women? Conversely, do the poor show the absence of patriarchal’ behavior towards their women?

     

    If capitalism represents ‘patriarchal’ values/ethos/world view, does socialism then represent ‘matriarchal’ values?

     

    This debate is unimportant to me but is important to you as a scholar. I confess that relatively speaking, I know much less about it than you do. But precisely for the same reason, I am able to see that ‘the emperor has no clothes’. What is important is not winning or losing a debate – I can concede the debate to you. However, you need to consider whether you are going to invest your efforts supporting a theory which is already brain dead and whose last rites may not be far away. That is of course purely for you to consider and the discussion is over from my side.



    By Observer - 3/2/2014 8:15:49 AM



  • observer, once you learn/realise  that the ethos , the values and the worldview behind   traditional masculinity/ patriarchy that I described in the article   can be internalised and perpetuated by  both men and women re-read the article. a basic concept in gender studies is the differentiation between gender and sex.  hence you can have women who uphold and  embody  traditional masculinity/ patriarchy  and vice versa . you can also have men/women  who do not uphold traditional masculinity  but an alternative one.  same holds for femininity.  at any point in time in any society different  conceptualisations of masculinities/famininities co-exist but some are more hegemonic than others for a number of reasons. my basic premise is that patriarchy and what is known as  traditional masculinity  are identical in their worldview, ethos, values, ideals,  norms and goals that i described in my article. as this is not an academic forum i tried in my original short article ( which should not be considered as 'scholarship' ) to use as less academic jargon as possible.
    By adis - 3/2/2014 5:55:47 AM



  • Adis,

    You are a scholar stuck up with a theory that can no longer stand scrutiny but unable to give up. Unlike a scholar and like any other mortal, you keep saying `false and irrelevant' and attributing motives, without dealing with my evidence and arguments against the theory in a forthright and honest fashion.

    Yes, I have a history of demolishing a weak thesis.



    By Observer - 3/2/2014 3:45:05 AM



  • Observer, first of all you have a history of making either  irrelevant or simply false arguments or mischaractering of my  views which oyu never retracted even after  they have been pointed out to you. hence, my tone was /is the way it is. i have experienced this before by other people on this website too.   I suggest you familiarise yourself with the theoretical discussions  regarding the  concepts of  traditional (hegemonic) masculinity which  would make you understand that they are based on certain ideals,models, ways of thinking, behaving and feeling  which are upheld or defended  as normative by men or women   and which are in complete accordance with patriarchal interests . i already provided you with the link as a good starting point for you to educate yourself on this.  
    By adis - 3/2/2014 3:10:30 AM



  • Adis,

    I think that you are beginning to understand now when you finally accept that the behaviour is exhibited by both males and females and is not gender specific.  It is but a small step now to also accept that the behaviour is influenced by the role and the role is described by the institution and people in a capitalist system will therefore behave differently from people in a socialist system. The gender based terminology is no help at all in understanding behaviour outside of the domain of personal relationships.  It is simpler to understand the ills of capitalism as emanating from its political and economic philosophy rather than saying that it represents traditional masculine hegemony! The question then arises what does Socialism represent - traditional female nurturing, caring and empathy?

      

    You also say “it would be good if more people made themselves more familiar with gender related theories before they ventured out to make (uninformed)   critiques of those who are familiar with them”

     

    It should be clear to you when I speak of theory induced blindness that I am aware of gender related theories but I think that these have outlived their utility and their longevity is being ensured through poor scholarship which ignores the massive evidence of the behavior of females in leadership roles which is in no way different from that of the men. As the psychologist Daniel Gilbert observed, disbelieving is hard work after one has believed in a theory.

    This is my last post on the subject. I hope you understand that I have sound reasons to differ. As you are a scholar, I was surprised when you  attributed motives to me for my comment like any other lay person would, when he cannot defend his views through evidence, reason and logic. I imagined, that a scholar would welcome criticism which demolishes his hypothesis. To my mind, the only way to make progress is by discarding what is not worth holding on to.

    This exchange was necessary to clear myself of the personal charges that you made against me. In future, I will refrain from comment on your articles.


    By Observer - 3/2/2014 12:20:33 AM



  • Observer, you fail to understand the link between patrairchy and traditional hegemonic masculinity ( which can be enacted by either females or males and is not gender specific)  whose dealineating features  I DESCRIBED IN THE ARTICLE: competativeness, economic success at every cost, women as symbols of success,  and certain personality traits which give to certain shape to a certain worldview which in turn gives rise to certain view of economics, politics and ethics( if we can call it that ). retrospectively, i should have made this link between patrairchy and traditional hegemonic masculinity more explicit as it is clearly not evident to some people.  it would be good if more people made themselves more familiar with gender related theories before they ventured out to make (uninformed)   critiques of those who are familiar with them 
    By adis - 3/1/2014 6:32:53 PM



  • Blaming patriarchy for the aggressive politics and economics in the world is an old theory which was propounded at a time when sufficient evidence of female behavior in leadership roles and in ‘male occupations’ was unavailable. The mystery is how this theory that is vulnerable to such obvious counterexamples that are available in plenty today survives to this day. This can be explained only by a weakness of the scholarly mind which Daniel Kahneman calls theory-induced blindness: once you have accepted a theory and used it as a tool in your thinking, it is extraordinarily difficult to notice its flaws. If you come upon an observation that does not seem to fit the model, you assume that there must be a perfectly good explanation that you are somehow missing. You give the theory the benefit of the doubt, trusting the community of experts who have accepted it. Adis has not refuted the validity of the many counter examples to this theory of patriarchy as a danger to world peace but he is unable to go the distance and pursue the idea to the point of saying, “This theory is seriously wrong because it ignores the enormous evidence of the behavior of females in leadership roles which is in no way different from that of the men” As the psychologist Daniel Gilbert observed, disbelieving is hard work.

     


    By Observer - 3/1/2014 7:03:10 AM



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