Guest Column

Women, our time is now

2018-02-18 06:09
PENDULUM Women are dynamic and make a vital contribution to societyPHOTO: DE BEERS

PENDULUM Women are dynamic and make a vital contribution to societyPHOTO: DE BEERS

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I foresee a pendulum swing from patriarchy to matriarchy in the not too distant future. Nothing in between. The equality of the sexes that feminism calls for is not enough to compensate for the incalculable damage done by men while leading society. Just as much as men have flexed their muscles at women for centuries and in that way defined, explored and established themselves, women are headed in that direction too. Call it social gravity if you will – kingdom rise, kingdom fall.

It is only once both sides have had practice being in power that we can start talking of equality. This sounds like tit-for-tat and maybe it is. It may be the only way to bring about true healing from the psychological gender genocide inflicted by men.

The poison of patriarchy is like the abusive man who repeatedly beats up a woman and, when convicted by conscience over his brutish behaviour, apologises with gifts and public displays of affection. The two-faced relationship dynamic that is entrenched in traditional manhood hypocritically claims, “I will love you, profess you as mine, provide for you and protect you – until I decide not to.”

My hypothetical prediction is impending civil war between the sexes – and the arrogant self-entitlement of men will be their downfall. The days of patriarchy are numbered, as are the institutionalised pacifying ploys practised on women. I reckon the utilitarianism of patriarchy will eventually nullify the hetero-normal roles played by women and men. This will subsequently evoke matriarchy as the antidote to male superiority.

Women have for ages been held ransom by the whims of their fathers, brothers, uncles, boyfriends, husbands and employers. They were damned if they toed the line defined by patriarchy – which in essence declared them inferior. Conversely, they were damned if they rebelled – with the pandemic of physical and psychological abuse being evidence of enforced compliance.

I do not think that women necessarily believed in the superiority of men, rather they believed that they should believe in that ideology. In response to the animal training tactics of punishment and reward employed by the men in their lives, they became meek pets submitting to their masters.

Hegemonic masculinity issues out of patriarchy as a cocksure philosophy that God, biology, psychology, culture and religion have all vested in men the right to dominate women and children. The weakest links, however, are in complicit, marginal and subordinated masculinities. These softies have also had to bear the brunt of being bullied into submission by alpha males and the systems and structures propagated by the hegemony. Their only consolation has been the dividend of masculinity they enjoy if they play along. It is these subordinated masculinities that have opened for women the doors of infiltration into the echelons of power.

These complicit, affable, accommodating, non-threatening men have allowed women the room to flex their muscles of independence. Their consciences were stirred by the injustice of patriarchy. Their lived experience showed them that women were actually capable, dynamic individuals who could make a vital contribution to society – beyond making babies, cooking and cleaning. So they have facilitated and supported legislation for equal opportunity and employment, empowerment, and transformation, and have actively supported women in their educational and professional exploits.

As for those men marginalised by the economy and racism, they have had to rely on partnerships with their women in order to survive. They have had to swallow their pride and admit to the social odds against them and the need for their partners as joint breadwinners and decision makers of the household. Arrogance had to be abandoned due to practical necessity.

The complicit, marginal and subordinated masculinities have become the unlikely allies of feminism. Because women are smarter than they sometimes display, they capitalised. The man who is “not man enough” is the weakest link in hegemonic masculinity, while the woman who is not feminine is the strength of her sex.

I envisage a generation of millennials who were raised by single mothers growing into adults who cannot tolerate even a whiff of patriarchy. As for the boys reared by single mothers, if they do not become replicas of their delinquent fathers, they will harbour a sense of vengeance against the men who remind them of him. Their fierce determination to protect and support their mothers who struggled alone to raise them, will see them becoming the valiant knights of all women. In this way, they will sponsor tangible empowerment of women in society.

Infiltration into previously male power bases is already in place. The educated and enlightened among women are taking up their places as leaders. They have developed tough skin in the face of being threatened by withdrawal of love and affection. Through multiple forms of abandonment, they have become used to the reality that a man’s word is not his bond. Before long, a substantial percentage of them will be running business, government, education, the law and society as a whole.

These matriarchs will formulate criteria for what a good man is and punitive measures for those who are considered in default. Recently there was a #MenAreTrash campaign on social media as an outcry against men who are abusive.

In future, men will not get away with claiming that “Not all men are trash”, as the burden of proof will shift to guilty until proven innocent. Laws will favour women and children. Men complicit with matriarchy will be rewarded for their cooperation. Women who are still the minions of men will be exposed, chastised and incriminated for “sleeping with the enemy”.

With their cultivated education, smarts and resources, women are going to run the world. Their allies of amiable, trustworthy and cooperative men, plus their children, will, as a collective, neutralise the proponents of patriarchy. Artificial insemination will be a reproductive recourse for women who are rejected by men insisting, “I don’t want to have a child with a woman who behaves like a man!” Simply put, men as we know them will be rendered obsolete. This, of course, is merely my hypothesis.

I know that much of what I have said sounds alarmist. I don’t mean it to be. I am just attempting to map out a worst-case route to equality of the sexes. Ideally, it would be a diplomatic, cohesive and linear progression. But there is so much underlying hurt, damage and suffering caused by the misalignment of interests between men and women.

Structurally, we are advanced enough as a people to formulate new ways of relating. Emotionally though, women have been callously played for so long that they eventually learnt the playbook. It will take immense character and forgiveness for women to wield power but not use it against men as payback.

It would be nice if we could all play nicely, but men broke the Golden Rule. Only forgiveness will save them.

- Setlaelo is an author, writer and personal development practitioner.


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