Sex and Power

October 1, 2018

Since my last post I have been following with interest the latest round of discussion and debate on and off the front page in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein story.  The recriminations, confessions and #metoo’s, one could be forgiven for that oh so human quality of enjoying a good story, how juicy!   Or is it simply a distraction from the bigger picture?


In a recent dialogue with a new acquaintance he suggested that part of this picture is men’s addiction to women, “men may be addicted, addicted to Women and femininity in a way that Women are not addicted to Men and masculinity.”  An interesting perspective, and yes, I think there can be an obsession with men, that does not play out with women in either the same way or with the same level of intensity, however trying to deconstruct the reasons for it feel complex, multi-layered and dense.  Mired as it is in millennia of fear, misinformation, polarisation and control.


We went on to discuss how very little will change whilst one of the larger elephants in the room is our everyday complicity and denial of the deeper issues at play.  For change to come, we need to turn towards these things and not look away.  In short, if we are serious about change, we need to first to acknowledge the level of disempowerment of both sexes, and look to re-educate, simples . . . except of course it isn’t, because what we are talking about here is millennia of ancestral, familial and cultural beliefs about sex and power.


Are we really ready for this? I suspect not . . . not really . . . is that too cynical?   Perhaps, but let's be clear, what we are talking about here is dismantling a significant cornerstone, if not the entire edifice of patriarchy, are we ready to do that, no, I think not.  Many individuals and organisations have way too much invested in this current system, men and women alike, we are all complicit in some way . . . 


What are we complicit in?


Patriarchy, (in case you needed a reminder) is defined as; ‘a system or society of government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it” (Oxford English Dictionary), " Patriarchy is the term used to describe the society in which we live today, characterised by current and historic unequal power relations between women and men whereby women are systematically disadvantaged and oppressed. This takes place across almost every sphere of life but is particularly noticeable in women’s under-representation in key state institutions, in decision-making positions and in employment and industry.” (London Feminist Network)


And if I dare be so provocative, I would add one more definition and it is this; over time, becoming inextricably fused together, are the two issues of biological make up eg the drive of testosterone and its attendant traits, with a historical misuse or misappropriation of power. 


So . . .  assuming we are at least interested in beginning this process of re-education of both biological sexes, let’s look at that a little more closely . .


If, ancestrally, culturally and sociologically we are, even if unconsciously, linking male traits with power, then it follows suit that the education of our children, irrespective of their sex, will teach that doctrine.  The extremes of gender identities, currently so prolific, are considered to be driving much of this gender crisis (think swathes of young people seeking gender reassignment), this is all part of the sickness of this system we know as the patriarchy.


Within each human being reside the feminine and the masculine.  Each human has the capacity for a full range of qualities and emotions, spanning empathy to hatred, rage to contentment and so on . . . all of these many qualities are not related to our sex.. Our respective familial, cultural and environmental conditioning distorts our human expression and polarises these qualities into gender stereotypes.  There are so many examples of this, the princing of boys by their mothers and the denial of the full range of human emotions by the emotionally castrated father, all encouraged and reinforced by whichever culture and environment we find ourselves growing up in, is there any wonder there is a crisis in gender identity. 


So this male obsession/addiction, if that’s what it is, to the sensual aspects of the feminine that my friend described is, I feel, as much, if not more, about the denial of those qualities within the male identity rather than some kind of pathological condition that needs treating.


Were we culturally and individually to address the collective ‘disempowerment of the male and female’ by being enlightened (grown up) enough to raise our children in a more gender-neutral way, embracing all aspects of our humanity, rather than ascribing particular qualities or emotions to any specific gender identity, we would live in a very different world. 


It is the denial of the normal range of human emotions within each of us that can lead us to extremes, and in the case of men and sex, undoubtedly the repression and denial of so many aspects of our human nature, well, there is no wonder it finds expression in the extreme, and lets not forget, the still socially acceptable and in certain circles, applauded form of male desire.


So let’s think carefully . . . are we really ready to dismantle this structure we live by . . . who knows, if we ‘allowed’ and ‘encouraged’ all our children to feel and express all their emotions healthily, it might even be the end of wars . . . imagine that . . . in the meantime, I for one am handing back the chains of the patriarchy . . .




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Rosalind J Turner

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