Book projects – Whiplash: 5: Patriarchy and paediarchy

What is ‘patriarchy’? The word is used throughout feminist literature: it’s obviously supposed to mean something. But look closer, and it evaporates into a kind of miasmic fog, a kind of all-purpose term for anything that women decide they don’t like, and for which they can blame men. The artist/writer I mentioned earlier, for example, is so obsessed with this use of the word that it occurs well over a thousand times in one of her books:

The new patriarchal solar myth justified the rape of the Earth Mother by patriarchal men in search of raw materials for the growing war and metal technologies.

This is meaningless: she could just as well have used ‘naughty’ or ‘nasty’ instead of ‘patriarchal’ – at least then the sheer childishness of it all would have been evident… But behind this puellist fantasy is something much more real: a pervasive and, for women, disturbing sense of male dominance in the world at large. Or something that at least is believed to be ‘maleness’ – and something that is definitely the source of real problems. For men especially, faced with continual feminist demands that we cease being ‘patriarchal’ without any clear idea of what ‘patriarchy’ is supposed to be, this brings up deeper questions:

In trying to reject traditional male values, I am left with an identity vacuum, and this question: If men today are the result of conditioning in a patriarchal society, what, if such conditioning and such a society were taken away, would be a real man?

My painfully inadequate answer to that question is that I don’t know. Until patriarchy disintegrates I never will. As long as its veil remains, all identities are coloured by its pervasive presence. Like the identity of women, the true male identity is concealed beneath our posturing as emotionless and macho. [1]

The literal translation of ‘patriarchy’ is ‘rulership of the clan’, generally taken to mean ‘rulership by the fathers’ or ‘by the old men’. [2] If so, it’s not obvious how this is supposed to be synonymous with ‘nasty’… once again we find that the mere fact of labelling something as ‘male’ is considered sufficient to class it as deliberately antagonistic towards women – the ‘faces of the enemy’ delusion. And yet something is no illusion: whatever this amorphous entity labelled ‘the patriarchy’ may be, there’s no doubt that it causes a great deal of pain and suffering for women. Rape, oppression, denigration, restriction, isolation: we don’t have to look far for indisputable evidence of something structurally wrong in our society which needs urgent redress – something that at first sight does seem to be a war against women.

Once more, though, we need to take away the gendered blinkers of puellism: for whatever this is, it certainly isn’t ‘rule by the fathers’ – if anything it’s a war against men too. As David Thomas comments, if this culture really is so male-centred, why do so many young men choose to leave it by suicide? [3] If this really is ‘rule by the fathers’, why are fathers so systematically excluded from family life? [4] Why, in advertising imagery, are men alone portrayed as failures, as incompetent, or dirty, or angry, or violent – or disposable? [5] Why are men required to work longer until they retire, even though they tend to die earlier? [6] Why in some countries is a widower still not entitled to claim his partner’s pension, whilst a widow is? There’s just as much evidence that men are just as much oppressed as women by whatever this ‘something’ is: but no-one would seriously suggest it’s caused by ‘the matriarchy’…

Whatever it is, it’s been going on for a long time: feminist historians such as Marija Gimbutas and Riane Eisler place its beginnings at least five thousand years ago. In “The Chalice and the Blade”, Eisler constructs a picture of a supposedly near-idyllic matrifocal culture of that period, in what is now the Black Sea region, a culture without fathers in the modern sense, but where sister and brother lived together, a culture without walls, without defences – a culture which is suddenly crushed by invading hordes of warriors she labels as ‘Kurgans’, who arrived from somewhere to the east. [7] From then on – argue Eisler and her colleagues – the ‘patriarchy’ is firmly established: women are treated as owned property, agrarian goddesses are replaced by warrior gods, and the archaeological record bears the unmistakable signs of endemic, systematic warfare. From then on, all we see in history is ‘his-story’: ‘her-story’ all but disappears – until now, when it becomes ‘politically incorrect’ to talk of anything else…

It’s interesting to compare Eisler’s careful scholarship with the wilder assertions of other self-styled ‘feminists’. It’s not always easy to tell the difference: but in one lecture I went to, for example, a well-known writer clearly implied that she did not think men existed five thousand years ago – or, if they did, they at most held a shadowy and peripheral rôle as inferior sub-females, graciously permitted to serve women (a reflection of the writer’s own matronising attitude toward men). Yet even the serious studies leave crucial questions unresolved: for example, we may know that the ‘Kurgans’ came from the east, but why did they come? If they were bands of men, without women or children, how did they come to be in that state? It rather suggests that they were isolated – excluded – from their own communities: which again brings up important questions as to why…

There are dozens of questions like these which arise from that one issue – none of which are addressed by feminist scholarship, which seems to prefer to place the blame for the whole of ‘patriarchy’ on the mysterious arrival from nowhere of nasty ‘patriarchal’ men, in a manner reminiscent of von Däniken’s explanation of civilization as the gift of ‘ancient astronauts’ mysteriously arriving from nowhere. [8] The facts of the cultural change and its impact are not in doubt: but the explanations – or lack of them – must be.

But what is patriarchy? What are its symptoms? I saw some clear indications of this yesterday evening, as I passed the annual “Women Reclaim The Night’ rally outside the Parliament buildings. Male police in a line outside Parliament, all armed – contrary to the usual routine for demonstrations – and some in full riot gear: intimidating. Placards everywhere: “stop rape”, “end our economic dependence”, “we demand the right / to walk the streets at night / without the fear of rape”. And of course some of the standard Marxist ‘rent-a-crowd’ slogans, modified to meet the occasion: “smash the patriarchy / smash the state / revolution we can’t wait”.

the reclaim the night march … is a peaceful protest by women against all forms of male violence perpetrated against them and their children, including sexual assault, and other forms of criminal assault – whether carried out in the home or in the community.
the march is a stand against the fear and restrictions that such violence imposes on women’s lives. this is an opportunity for women to consolidate their strength and confidence, together, on the streets at night. it is also an opportunity for women to proclaim their right to be free from any form of violence.

… women will march for three reasons: to focus attention on issues surrounding male violence against women; to proclaim their collective strength; and to use this strength to challenge and change our society, that presently perpetuates and reinforces the oppression of women. [9]

The central theme here is fear of violence, fear of restriction, fear in general – a reaction to that presumed “conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear”. Gathering as a group can be one way to create a sense of mutual empowerment; but as we saw Starhawk warn earlier, the feeling of ‘collective strength’ may well be based in the delusions of dispower rather than a true ‘ability to do work’. And we’ve seen how statements like those above can lead to some dangerously simplistic assumptions: we’ve seen the problems that arise from the premise that violence is only male, for example, or that arise from the ‘faces of the enemy’ mythology. (A small number of men from Men Against Sexual Assault were allowed to walk alongside the rally, but only if they wore T-shirts proclaiming “Men Rape” – in other words presenting themselves as targets for blame.)

Yet women’s experience of what they describe as ‘patriarchy’ is more than just this: it’s also a sense that women are regarded as second-class citizens – second-class humans [10] – whose sole rôle is to serve men with “food, sex and clean shirts” (as one friend put it). And providers of babies, of course, preferably male: ‘legitimate heirs’ for the throne of maleness.

That’s what it feels like. And if that were really it, if the real problem was maleness, we’d be stuck: despite the wishes of politicians and others, human nature is not all that malleable. That’s one reason for the sense of powerlessness that many feminists feel: nothing seems to change ‘the patriarchy’; every time they pin it down, force laws through to change it, up it comes again, a hydra-headed monster, creating a new backlash against women and women’s rights.

But the reason why laws change little is that it isn’t a ‘patriarchy’. It isn’t an inherent aspect of maleness: it’s an inherent problem of humanness. But to see it that way means accepting that women are just as much the source of the problem: which is, I’d suspect, exactly what those feminists – puellists, rather – do not wish to see. Someone else must be blamed for their fears – which is exactly the problem that creates ‘patriarchy’ in the first place.

Look again at that list of behaviour, the symptoms of ‘patriarchy’. Violence; intimidation; denigration; an expectation of unquestioning service. Look back through the styles of puellist behaviour described in the previous chapter: what do we see? Violence; intimidation; denigration; an expectation of unquestioning service – if only in the sense of men being available for blame. In neither case could we call that adult behaviour. In that sense, it can’t be ‘patriarchy’, rule by the fathers; and it’s also not ‘matriarchy’, rule by the mothers. So what is it?

We’d have to call it ‘paediarchy‘: rule by the childish. [11] A lifelong childish tantrum; a lifelong childish bullying; a childish arrogance; a childish expectation of support, service, praise, aggrandisement – and angry violence when it’s not provided. A childish obsession with simple solutions; a childish avoidance of responsibility, quick to deny mistakes and to blame others instead. It’s not a problem of maleness, or for that matter of femaleness: it’s a problem of immaturity. And to the extent to which our culture condones such behaviour, we could describe it as a paediarchy.

But our culture doesn’t just condone such behaviour: it praises it, encourages it, and calls it ‘power’. Paediarchy isn’t just childishness: it’s the active promotion of selfishness and the denigration of maturity, of awareness of others. When the inquisitiveness and aliveness that we call ‘childlike’ is beaten out of a child – either metaphorically or literally – all that’s left is childishness… It used to be a serious problem for men; now, courtesy of the inanities of puellism, it’s a serious problem for women too. No wonder we’re in such a mess…

Puerism and puellism are derived from the same psychological dishonesty: demanding the rights of an adult whilst claiming the lack of responsibility of a child. “I have rights; you have responsibilities”, they say: overgrown children denying their childishness by treating others as children… That’s paediarchy. It’s not just patronising, matronising: that’s bad enough, but this is much worse. And we now have an entire culture centred on promoting and maintaining the concept that this arrogant childishness is ‘power’, both for men and for women.

Some examples? We really don’t have to look far. The childishness starts in childhood: right outside my door this morning, two drink cans dumped by kids expecting that someone else will tidy up behind them. And someone else does: which reinforces the kids’ belief that ‘power is the ability to avoid work’. Any questioning of their behaviour brings arrogant denials, angry retorts, threats of violence – not just from the children, but from the parents too. Which is hardly surprising, because the parents have dumped their cigarette butts all down the street – and then wonder where the children learn their bad habits…

According to paediarchy, with its glorification of childishness and its offloading of responsibility to everyone else, it’s supposedly ‘superior’ behaviour to create mess, and to denigrate those who tidy it up. All those people in the morning bus queue dumping their sweet wrappers in the street and avoiding the eyes of the street cleaner as he limps past… All those men who have no trouble carrying a six-pack ten miles or more into the bush, but who suddenly find the beer-cans impossibly heavy once they’re empty… All those people with shallow minds, unwilling to look beyond their own narrow horizons or their own selfish needs; all those to whom the poor, the homeless, the unceasing pollution of landscape, seascape, mindscape and cityscape are of no consequence before the great god Profit. And all those smug young men and women in the bars around the Stock Exchange, bragging about the deals they’ve made: someone else’s livelihood that they’ve just destroyed, so as to make ‘a quick killing’. An unawareness – a literal ‘ignore-ance’ – of others that would be startling if we didn’t think of it as normal… That’s paediarchy. We live in it: every day. And we call it ‘normal’: that’s the real problem…

At least feminists have tried to name it for what it is – even if they’ve at times made things worse by refusing to acknowledge the whole of the problem. Read any feminist description of ‘the war against women’: the self-centred childishness of men is all too evident. [12] Walk down Main Street, Anytown, on any Saturday night: watch all the young men showing off in their ‘pick-up trucks with hormone trouble’, putting each other down instead of finding the courage to lift themselves up – using a show of bravado to conceal the child’s fears of loneliness, of isolation deep within. A desperate need to entrap someone else to pander to them, to give them a childish sense of security; a demand – often angry, often violent – for attention, from lost children pretending to be adults, but not willing to face the reality, the responsibility, the commitment of adult life. That’s paediarchy: watch how it becomes a way of life, or even a way of death…

‘Toys for the boys’, we might say; ‘toys for the boys, glitter for the girls’. There’s really not that much difference between the genders – certainly not after ‘feminists’ have spent so much effort promoting paediarchal selfishness as ‘power’. “The first feminist revolution”, said Gloria Steinem, describing the fall of the Berlin Wall; “there was no bloodshed; then everyone went shopping”. And at times it seems that’s all that ‘woman power’ means to most women: the power to spend ever-increasing amounts of money on clothes and fripperies while the poor of this world continue to starve. On a Saturday afternoon, while the boys are out ‘strutting their stuff’, you can see the girls crowding the clothes shops, competing with each other to be the most on show, demanding attention yet accusing others of paying them too much attention and not enough money – spending tens or hundreds of dollars of someone else’s work as well as their own, whilst always complaining that it’s not enough. [13] They’re earning, and they’re out on the spree; “why save for the future?”, they say – because they still believe that it’s a man’s job to do so on their behalf. That’s paediarchy… the new paediarchy of puellism…

The old paediarchy, the childishness of men, was bad enough; but to see the same inanities promoted as ‘feminism’, touted as an improvement, as ‘equal rights’, just makes me want to weep. We fought for years against pornography, against the objectification of women; the ‘solution’, it seems, is pornography for women, the objectification of men… [14] Go to any newsstand: the old ‘men’s magazines’ are still there, hidden away on the top shelf, in their brown paper wrappers with the absurd label of ‘For Adults Only’; but in full display are the new ‘women’s magazines’, with their lurid, breathless articles on “It’s True! Now you can reach orgasm faster than a man!”, “At Last! The New Turn-On: Brains!” or “For You! Special Pull-Out: 75-page Raunchy, Explicit Sex Story!”. [15] And dear old Mills & Boon, still churning out their endless portrayals of men as two-legged wallets, as fix-objects, think-objects, status-objects, security-objects and, yes, sex-objects… Is all this tawdriness really the ‘liberation’ for which we fought so hard for so many years?

It’s hard not to get lost in a sense of despair and hopelessness: all that work, all that pain, yet the end-result seems to be that we’re further back than where we started. So it’s perhaps excessive of me, I know, but of all the paediarchy I see, I still feel most frustrated and angry at the self-centredness of some of the arrogant girls who style themselves ‘feminists’. Puellists every one, they have not a clue about what was fought for by real feminists, so long and so hard: instead, they just take their ‘rights’ for granted, and demand more. And more. And more. While they themselves do nothing but complain: but at the same time demand that their slightest fear, slightest complaint, must be the centre of everyone’s attention. That too is paediarchy: and a most obnoxious form of it – obnoxious, not only because of its dishonesty, but because on one crucial issue, their childishness is undermining everything achieved in decades of feminist struggle.

The issue is rape. It’s not a pretty word. It’s not a pretty subject. It’s the epitome – the nadir – of everything that can go wrong in sexual relations. Which leads not a few puellists to maintain that all heterosexual activity is rape – for which, once again, men are exclusively to blame:

Rape is all the sexual assaults, verbal and physical, that we all suffer in our daily contact with men. These range from being “touched up” or “chatted up” to being brutally, sexually assaulted with objects. Throughout this book we use rape to describe any kind of sexual assault. [16]

“Chatting up” is rape? There may be some connection, of course: but try explaining to, say, some of the Bosnian women, or to the young woman Valerie who recounted her horrific experiences to the Australian columnist Phillip Adams [17], the notion that this is exactly the same as ‘being brutally, sexually assaulted with objects’, and see how far you get. They’d say exactly the same as I do: that this is insanity – paediarchy of the worst order. Self-centred little… I don’t know, there just doesn’t seem to be any polite term… demanding from the world at large the attention due to someone who really has been wounded, when all that’s been wounded is their fragile overblown little egos.

Mistakes are made, yes. Many of those mistakes are made by men, yes. But all of them? “Yes means Yes / No means No” said some of the banners at the rally: that would indeed be valid if these women – girls – ever actually said either Yes or No. [18] What happens far more often is that only after the event does thought come into play: and it’s then that puellists cry rape… The only one who’s actually raped is the young man who’s dragged into court: his life really is ruined…

Sounds like another bit of ‘the backlash’? Think again. If there’s one issue that infuriates the true feminists I know – the ones who actually fought for rape victims to be treated with respect – the so-called ‘date-rape crisis’ would be it:

It is insulting to women who have been raped to imply that all women have been raped: it diminishes rather than clarifies rape’s hideous reality. [19]

More seriously, as columnist Isabel Hilton points out, it damages the credibility of all women:

It is not often that I feel pleased when a man is acquitted of rape, but on this occasion I do. [What] bother[s] me about this case … is the idea that it is feminism that has brought us to this unlikely pass – that it is sexually liberated to participate until the last minute and then change your mind. … Miss X would not be the first young woman to have regretted in the morning what she indulged in her cups the night before. Not many people feel particularly proud of having been overcome by lust because they were drunk. But getting up and accusing your partner of rape has nothing to do with women’s rights: it is an abuse of the power that many generations of feminists fought for – the power to make their word count and to be taken seriously. [20]

What she’s describing here isn’t feminism: it’s puellism – the arrogant self-centredness of paediarchy. But it’s feminism, not puellism, that gets the blame for this idiocy – which in turn feeds puerist delusions. It doesn’t help…

Rape is rape; confused intentions and miscommunications are not. Much of the thrust of the feminist movement in the 60s and 70s was to claim sexual responsibility, to not be treated as passive children; but much of the thrust of the ‘date-rape’ argument is to shift all responsibility exclusively onto the man – which puts women right back into the position of being treated as passive objects. “It is the passive sexual rôle that threatens us still, and it is the denial of female sexual agency that threatens to propel us backwards”, wrote Katie Roiphe, quoting Germaine Greer’s comments of twenty years earlier. [21] When No is said – and, yes, in the heat of the moment it may well have to be said more than once – it does indeed mean No: that is never in doubt. But as Canadian columnist Barbara Amiel commented, the puellist attitude “views men as vibrators: women may pick them up, switch them on, play around and then, if the off-switch doesn’t work, sue the manufacturer for damages” [22] – which is, to say the least, questionable. Men bear responsibility for their actions, yes: but when women simply are not honest, it places men in an impossible situation where every action or inaction is – ludicrously – potentially criminal.

But it’s a situation that appeals to puellists: it gives them total ‘power over’ men, whilst at the same time avoiding all responsibility on their part – paediarchy again. And when true feminists try to look at the realities of the situation, they find themselves on the receiving end of the same kind of hatred men have received for the past few decades – the relentless whiplash – as the Australian commentator Bettina Arndt discovered whilst researching a television programme on ‘Seduction and Consent’. A committed feminist who also happens to be aware of men’s issues, she found herself – for the sin of encouraging women to be honest – described as “a person whose views are so antagonistic to the majority of feminists”: and that was one of the more restrained epithets. [23] Paediarchy is not merely condoned: anyone – man or woman – who questions it is likely to be attacked… because it forces the childish within us to do what we least wish to do, which is to face our own responsibility, our own immaturity.

Paediarchy also appears as intellectual immaturity. It’s seen in the ‘faces of the enemy’ mythology; in ‘scientific’ rationalisations of racism and sexism; as any of the innumerable variants of fundamentalism, which assign people rigid rôles on the basis of race, creed or gender; or any other worldview which tries to force the complexities of Reality Department into the narrow framework of some comfortably simplistic notion of order. When men ‘owned’ academia, and – in classic paediarchal style – viewed women or other races as inferior children, they had something of a monopoly on paediarchal stupidity; but a new generation of puellist academics, from Mary Daly to Rosalind Miles, have been more than their match…

Maturity needs a balance of analysis and intuition. Men sometimes have difficulty merging the two, rather than going for one or the other; women sometimes have difficulty separating them, to separate emotion from fact. Puellists, however, have been keen to not separate them, because, as Katie Roiphe indicates:

Rape is a natural trump card for feminism. Arguments about rape can be used to sequester feminism in the teary province of trauma and crisis. … By blocking analysis with its claims to unique pandemic suffering, the rape crisis becomes a powerful source of authority. [24]

The ‘authority’ is not true power, but dispower-with, dispower-from-within: it depends on the ability to blame ‘the other’. Likewise in ‘women’s spirituality’: by blurring emotion and fact, puellists can claim to be ‘intellectuals’ without the rigorous intellectual honesty that true academic study requires. This is nothing new, of course: male armchair Freudians and armchair revolutionaries have played this game for decades, if not centuries. But as mythologist Janet McCrickard comments, much self-styled ‘feminist theory’ rejects analysis completely, with results that could hardly be called an improvement:

The effects of this on the feminist study of myth and religion have been dire. Sceptical enquiry, careful reasoning, intellectual discipline and factual accuracy are anathematised as so-called Sun-consciousness – men’s way of thinking – and thrown out of the window in favour of Moon-consciousness, “fantasies, intuitions and dreams… {which are} more legitimate and more to be trusted than Sun-consciousness”. As a result the modern spiritual-feminist texts … characteristically make no distinction between fact and speculation.

Moon-consciousness, it seems, absolves women from any responsibility to distinguish between truth and falsehood. Question-begging, circular argument, deletion of the agent (very common), using the word “all” when “some” is correct, unwarranted conclusions, outrageous generalisation, equivocation, deleting personal pronouns, compounded errors, wishful thinking and every classic variety of false-logic technique proliferate on every page, to say nothing of factual inaccuracies and information stripped of every vestige of its context – all these techniques are used to grossly distort and misrepresent the history and content of mythology. All is sacrificed to the doctrinal need to see the Moon as female, and to avoid at all costs being contaminated by any of those things deemed to belong to the solar principle. [25]

To make the point, McCrickard’s work includes a detailed study of the mythology of sun-goddesses and moon-gods – a situation which is not supposed to exist, according to either the ‘patriarchal’ or puellist worldviews. Not surprisingly, she too has felt the whiplash of puellism and its angry denunciations: it takes courage to face down violent childishness… [26]

It’s a fundamental principle of paediarchy that there’s always someone else who’s to blame for whatever may go wrong. But unlike the concept of ‘patriarchy’, with its comforting, convenient myth of malicious patriarchs, there are no ‘others’ whom we can blame. The ‘paediarchs’ are ourselves: we all have our problems with our own childishness. The only way out is to stop pretending otherwise – and to work with ourselves and each other to break the cycle of disincentives against maturity which maintain the delusions of paediarchy.

One of the central problems is that the gender-rôles of paediarchy form a classic co-dependent pair: each depends on the other to maintain crucial illusions – and dare not let them do otherwise. In the stereotypic split into gender rôles, as Sam Keen comments, “men got the illusion of control; women got the illusion of security”. [27] Men were assigned the outer world – and only the outer world; women were assigned the inner world of hearth and home. Each rôle has its disadvantages too: men found fear, uncertainty, isolation; women felt a sense of restriction, seclusion. And when women chose to move out of that ‘devil’s bargain’ of stereotypes, as part of their feminism, they discovered that the disadvantages of the ‘man’s world’ hurt – which is what men had been trying to tell them… True feminists kept going, understanding that to accept this was part of accepting being fully human; puellists, however, ran for the paediarchal security-blanket of blame – demanding their ‘rights’, and assigning the responsibilities to everyone else.

But rights only exist alongside concomitant responsibilities: they cannot be separated in any culture which works. Whilst we can be responsible about others’ fears, we cannot be responsible for them on others’ behalf: so while puellists may demand – as at the Reclaim The Night rally – that men should be responsible for resolving all women’s fears, it cannot possibly work. Rights are personal, whilst responsibilities are mainly social, respecting the rights of self and others. “Everyone else is responsible for me, for my rights”: the selfish, the childish, want only the rights, and none of the responsibilities – neither responsible for others nor, usually, truly responsible for self. And to condone that selfishness is to promote paediarchy: which is why societies which have a Bill of Rights without a matching Bill of Responsibilities are asking for trouble… and when they get it, wonder why… [28]

Paediarchy occurs in many different forms: to resolve it, we need to understand the whole, whereas the so-called ‘patriarchy’ so much decried in feminist theory is only one minor aspect of it. For example, ‘patriarchy’ is not ‘rule by the fathers’: I only have to look at the Greek and Italian sections of this city to see that. Obnoxious, arrogant, self-centred boys, who think – know – that they’re ‘God’s gift to women’ – but who suddenly find themselves discarded, abandoned, junked, the moment they become fathers to sons. And I look at the statue on top of the nearby church, a figure of Mary holding her perfect young son as her shield against the world, in a supposedly ‘male’ religion which is maintained primarily by women: that’s not patriarchy, that’s the active promotion of paediarchy in both mother and child. But that’s only a guess: I have no real idea where ‘patriarchy’ starts. All I know is that it’s a great deal more complex, a great deal more subtle, than the simplistic myth of patriarchy which puellists proclaim as the source of the world’s problems.

And like the symptoms described as ‘patriarchy’, those problems are real – not the least of which is the problem of war. Men do need to face the issues of their own involvement in war: as Starhawk comments, “a men’s movement I could trust would face the issue of war clearly”. [29] But despite Starhawk’s assumptions, it’s not just men who need to face it: women are just as much involved, although all too often in easily-deniable ways. War is the ultimate form of dispower, of power-over – and the ultimate form of paediarchy. If we want to challenge our own condoning of paediarchy, in ourselves and in others, a better understanding of war would be one of the most useful places we could start.

[1] Jan Dubiel, in Green Line magazine, 1987 (italics in the original).

[2] SOED, p1448.

[3] Thomas, “Not Guilty”, p.1. Simon Armson, chief executive of the British crisis-counselling group The Samaritans reported that “the pressures of being a ‘new man'” had contributed significantly to an 83% rise in suicides of young men in the past decade: “he is not sure how he is supposed to behave, respond or relate in different relationships” (“The Independent” [London], 3 Nov 1993).

[4] See (ibid.), chapter 2, ‘This Working Life’ and chapter 9, ‘Absent Fathers, Violent Sons’; see also, for example, chapter 8, ‘Being A Father’ in Cohen, “Being A Man”.

[5] From a survey of 1000 US television commercials: see Fredric Hayward, ‘Male-bashing’, in Thompson, “Views From The Male World”, p.73-5.

[6] In Britain, men need to work for at least 44 years and retire at age 65 to qualify for a full state pension; women need only work for 39 years and may retire at 60 on the same pension. Given the greater life-expectancy of women (average 18 years after retirement, compared to a man’s 8 years), an average woman therefore receives more than twice as much pensionable benefit per working year as an average man – see ‘Retired and ripped off’ in Thomas, “Not Guilty”, pp.84-87.

[7] See Riane Eisler, “The Chalice and the Blade”, especially chapters …

[8] Compare, for example, Sjöö and Mor’s “The Great Cosmic Mother” with any of Erich von Däniken’s books, such as his “Chariots of the Gods” – they share much the same mangling of mythology and blurring of fact and fantasy.

[9] From a handout issued at the ‘Reclaim the Night’ rally (capitalisation – or lack of it – as in the original).

[10] Hence Simone de Beauvoir’s term le deuxième sexe – ‘the second sex’.

[11] Strictly speaking it should be ‘paedikistikiarchy’ (from Greek pedikistiko, ‘childish’ and arcon, ‘ruler’), but it seems a little unwieldy…

[12] A good place to start would be Faludi’s “Backlash”, or even French’s “The War Against Women” – as long as the latter’s absurd one-sidedness is allowed for…

[13] Women may still earn less than men in some areas, but they certainly spend far more: more than twice as much as men in Britain, and more than five times as much in the United States, according to Naomi Wolf – see her “Fire With Fire”, p.323, and also the statistics in the section ‘…And how it’s spent’ in Thomas, “Not Guilty”, pp.80-84.

[14] To her considerable credit, Naomi Wolf admitted that one of her primary reasons for writing “The Beauty Myth” was to deny her own tendency to view men as sex-objects: see her candid description of her own behaviour in “Fire With Fire”, pp.241-2.

[15] Cover-headlines from recent issues of “Cosmopolitan”.

[16] London Rape Crisis Centre, “Sexual Violence: The Reality For Women”, quoted in Thomas, “Not Guilty”, p.166

[17] ‘It’s time we did something’, in Adams, “The Inflammable Adams”, p.121-9. Valerie had not merely been raped by a man with a knife, but raped with the knife, which had also been used by her rapist to cut off her nipple, in an attempt to elicit a response from her; despite being tied up in barbed wire and with her head covered in a hood, she had still managed to escape; her discussion with Adams was part of her process of rebuilding her life. By comparison, puellist bleatings about ‘date rape’ can only be described as sickening…

[18] Women’s frequent unwillingness to say ‘Yes’, ‘No’ or anything is a point acknowledged even by Naomi Wolf – see “Fire With Fire”, p.207.

[19] Lynne Segal, “Is The Future Female?”, pp.36-7.

[20] Isabel Hilton, “The Independent” [London], 22 October 1993, commenting on the acquittal of a young student on rape charges. Referring to ‘Miss X’s own description of the incident, Hilton wrote, “I have a bit of trouble with the idea that you can tumble into bed naked, or indulge in heavy foreplay, without it being taken in any way as a prelude to sex”; and added, drily, “at the least we must allow for the possibility of a little misunderstanding here”…

[21] Katie Roiphe, “The Morning After”, p.84.

[22] Barbara Amiel, quoted in Thomas, “Not Guilty”, p.179.

[23] Bettina Arndt, ‘When No means maybe…’, in “The Weekend Australian” [Sydney], 7 August 1993.

[24] Katie Roiphe, “The Morning After”, pp.56-7.

[25] Janet McCrickard, “Eclipse Of The Sun”, p.28-9. She singles out two well-known and much quoted books – Sjöö and Mor’s “Great Cosmic Mother” and Barbara Walker’s “A Woman’s Encyclopaedia of Myths and Secrets” – as “the chief offender[s] here… So intensely garbled and confused are both of these books … that it would take a work thrice their respective lengths to even begin to disentangle, refute and correct the misinformation they contain.”

[26] See, for example, her letter in “The Ley Hunter” (a British magazine on alternative views of archaeology), issue 119, 1993, p.22-24: “One of the things I most appreciate about living in the Western world at this time is the freedom to dissent – freedom of conscience and belief as well as freedom not to believe. As a woman, I am very much aware of how recent is the privilege of being allowed to read and write, and to follow up facts and connected series of discussion or argument. … [Yet now in the women’s-spirituality movement] there is an absolute taboo against criticizing any women’s work… strenuous efforts are made to silence dissent, ranging from verbal bullying to attempted censorship, but in any case the dissenter is usually nervous of being branded negative, antifeminist or politically incorrect.” (For another example of the silencing of dissent, in a rape-crisis centre, see Naomi Wolf, “Fire With Fire”, pp.164-9.)

[27] Sam Keen, “Fire In The Belly”, p.209.

[28] For an analysis of the impact of this error on the present-day United States, see Robert Hughes, “The Culture Of Complaint”.

[29] Starhawk, ‘A men’s movement I could trust’, in Hagan (ed.), “Women Respond To The Men’s Movement”, p.33.

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