Friday, 2 December 2011
The Twofold Tragedy
The enemy has two faces.
One is obviously traditional Patriarchy. Patriarchy is normally defined as male dominion, and any kind of social system that is deemed to favour the masculine.
I have redefined it. It is broader than that. For me it is the perversion of masculinity at the heart of much of human culture, East and West.
It usually does involve some male orientated power scheme, but that power is itself based on a limited sense of maleness. It is power over others or the environment, rather than simply empowerment. It is sexual compulsiveness, rather than healthy eroticism. It treats men and women alike, as means to ends, rather than ends in themselves.
Human value in general under Patriarchy is prudential. In this sense it can be said to be a spiritually bankrupt foundation to a culture and therefore unsustainable, because organisms that have a high level of self-consciousness must come to value themselves in and of themselves, as themselves. If they do not, they are by nature self-destructive.
Our culture is a Patriarchal one, because it is by nature decadent and self-destructive.
The other face of the enemy is post-feminism. This is completely distinct from what might be called Feminism in the broadest sense. Feminism is the political movement that seeks to establish ever greater levels of equal opportunities for women. Period. It is the natural progression of authentic liberal thinking, and anyone who has a beef with it, is as bad as the worst racist and bigot.
Post-feminism, on the other hand is itself a form of masked bigotry. I say masked because it usually flies under the radar as Feminism, as it sees itself as empowering women, usually by attacking masculinity or demeaning it in some way.
Advertising companies, pop idols and Hollywood executives make a lot of money out of post-feminism. It perpetuates the very forces they claims to be attacking, because they are essentially Patriarchal, as I define Patriarchy above.
Post-feminism allows abusive and sexist people to take the mainstream limelight under the guise of Feminism. From Germaine Greer to Beyonce, Madonna and Sex In The City, it is traditional Patriarchal values dressed up as liberation for women. It is archaic in that in depends on traditional gender war games that are themselves the product of male dominant societies. Principally it gives the message to young women that while they can now aspire to the same material goals as men, they can also retain their sexual power over men by means of objectifying themselves in the same old ways that Patriarchy forced them to.
Post-feminism is destructive in its hypocrisy because it entrenches the very ideals that original Feminism sought to dismantle. It appears to be female liberation, when in fact, once you dig deep enough, it is really a form of enslavement and control, as it is grounded on a power system that depends on force and dominion, rather than mutuality.
I make two analogies to illustrate my point. For me it is similar to the ways in which record company fat cats co-opted rock and roll to capitalise on youth rebellion in the late fifties and early sixties. What started out as enfranchisement and a shift in values, ended up becoming nothing more than a new commercial market worth exploiting. Selling people's aspirations back to them through fashion and regurgitating trends.
Another example is the empowerment of African American community in the USA. The culture of bling and ostentation that so-called hip-hop culture has become, entrenches the very values of rampant capitalism and imperialist thinking that is really the specialty of the European white male.
The worst thing about these patterns of social change is that they appear to be about empowerment and enfranchisement, while in fact they are forms of cultural regression. It is simply a way of Patriarchy subsuming counter-culture movements and making them its own.
Post-feminism, then, for all its glitz and sexy self-satisfaction is an insidious tragedy. It is destructive to both men and women. Women because it furthers the very ideologies that oppressed them in the first place. Men, because men as a broad biological definition have never actually benefited from Patriarchy.
This must be understood. The only men to benefit from archaic sexist ideals of Patriarchal cultures are pathological men, men who are tyrannic and insane. Even then, those men could not be said to be human beings in the fullest sense. They still live out a life of tragic depression and violent fear.
The greatest tragedies in our literature normally involve the pathological male ego, bound under the aspiration of Patriarchal self-image. From Achilles to Tony Montana, from Oedipus to Hamlet to Tyler Durden, the Patriarchal hero vents his default self-loathing on the world by seeking to dominate and control the people and the environment around him. In doing so he destroys himself.
The fact that one no longer has to be a white male to participate in this vacuous culture at the highest level, means very little. Post-feminism would have us think that this constitutes a significant social change. I believe it constitutes a form of cultural self-destruction.