In the last few years there has been intense push back on women’s rights. This push back has been coming from very conservative and mostly religious establishments. I have shared emotions of disbelief with Riane Eisler. She has served as our mentor, and is well known as a human rights lawyer, and social systems scientist. Her opinion is that the people who have created and empowered the legal system are making a very aggressive and violent LAST Stand.
Trump was elected by the majority of Americans despite his “in your face” misogyny. The rise of the White Supremacy, emotionally and physically against immigrants and other minorities in the country is a reflection of the strife of the Grand Old Party and their European “brotherhood”.
Recently I was listening to the podcast “This American Life”, an episode titled “White Haze”. Its apparent that the drums of this conflict are getting louder and louder, Charlottesville being one of the first “war cry”. This “war cry” speaks to the unhappy and insecure white males in our society. I am writing this also on the eve of the tragedy in Las Vegas (I started writing this post before that tragedy, yet another one!?)
White supremacists are frustrated by a perceived loss of majority of white male jobs to women and minorities. The success of these two groups is a threat to the virile white male. “The Proud Boys” organization, which is described by the founder as “Pro-Western fraternal organization who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world”, is one of the clear symptoms.
We are all connected by the Internet, and this technology has forced us to function at an increasingly faster rate. Jobs are lost, not to China or Mexico, but to computerization and robots. Would serve the “white male” well to open their eyes and ears and realize that there is no defense against society’s evolution?
The Revolution towards a boundless, colorful, multiracial world is here. Feminine values and traits are integral in saving humanity.
I feel compelled to share a letter of Riane Eisler’s that is poignant at this very moment:
Trump’s election as US President shows that our old approaches are not working, that we have to go deeper, to emotional and mental habits, to language (because our old social categories trap us in old thinking), to foundational issues that stand in the way of a more equitable, caring, sustainable society.
We have to think big -- in terms of whole systems transformation -- and it has to be outside the old mental box of right vs. left, religious vs. secular, capitalist vs. socialist, liberal vs. conservative, and patriarchy vs. matriarchy.
A whole system transformation means a shift from a domination system to a partnership system, and we cannot achieve this as long as we are trapped in old categories. Societies in all of them have been repressive, violent, and unjust. And none recognize the critical importance of how gender roles/relations and childrearing are culturally constructed. I would like to see us bring together thought leaders and political/economic/media experts (including young people!) with the goal of a clearer understanding of what is needed to change deeply rooted emotional/mental habits that make it easy to fan anger, yearning for "strongman leaders," and in-group vs. out-group scapegoating -- all inherent in the social configuration of a domination system rather than a partnership system. That is the first step toward developing effective short, medium, and long-term strategies.
The Invisibility of the Obvious
One thing we must address is the elephant in the room -- which not one commentator on TV talked about during the election results coverage. If the most qualified person is a woman, and she can lose to a nasty bully with no government experience - whereas if a black man had been defeated this way, talk about race would have been center stage - this is a big clue to a major factor behind what happened. The distrust, scapegoating, and barring of women from leadership inherent in domination systems (be they Eastern or Western, Northern or Southern) is a template both men and women unconsciously acquire in childhood. It not only keeps women "in their place," it is automatically transferred to in-group vs. out-group thinking/feeling re other differences -- racial, religious, etc.
The old normative ideal of dominator families -- top-down, highly punitive, maledominated families -- makes many people vulnerable to authoritarian, strongman demagogues, as my cross-cultural and historical research and both psychology and neuroscience show. We see this writ large in the Muslim fundamentalist world today and in the domination subcultures in the West (including our own religious fundamentalism). But of course it's not just the people who voted for Trump who have these emotional/mental templates: already some Sanders supporters are blaming the DNC -- ironically, since the Sanders campaign fueled the distrust of Hillary. But blaming is not going to help here, what happened is a wake up call to us to go deeper, to focus on underlying problems. If we don't, domination systems will keep rebuilding themselves in various forms.
1 Analysis and Action
My article shows why we have to focus on 4 cornerstones: childhood, gender, economics, and stories. If we do not, we will not address the foundations for domination regimes here or abroad. We also have to take into account the shift from the industrial to the post-industrial technological age. This calls for an economics that goes beyond capitalism and socialism, since both not only came out of early industrial times hundreds of years ago, but from times that still in the West oriented much more to the domination side of the partnership/domination continuum. Consider that both capitalism and socialism relegate the essential work of caring for people, starting in early childhood, to "reproductive" work that women should do for free in households, rather than recognizing it as productive work. The current seismic economic/technological shift is replacing jobs formerly held by people with automation, robotics, artificial intelligence, which is a major factor behind the distress of US blue collar workers who came out in droves to vote for Trump. Unless we offer a meaningful and workable solution, which is a caring economics (described in The Real Wealth of Nations) that recognizes the enormous value of caring for people and for nature), we cannot begin to solve our mounting economic and environmental problems. This is a crisis, but also our opportunity to redefine what is, and is not, productive work. As we shift the national conversation toward a more partnership framework (i.e. valuing caring work, and with this, respecting the fundamental human rights/dignity of all people), we offer solutions to economic anxiety that are specific and workable, so the nebulous promises of Trump and others of his ilk are no longer so appealing.
Education is of course key, so one long-term strategy is working on the local and state level to get education for caring for life (self, others, and nature), including parenting and emotional literacy, into educational systems -- from preschool to graduate school. This will give people not only essential skills and healthier values, but also tools to connect the dots between gender/childhood and economics/politics. Getting artists and writers and filmmakers together to craft stories that show the benefits of partnership, getting schools and universities to highlight studies showing that what's good for women is good for everyone (which are currently ignored), these are some long-term strategies. But they require education about the partnership and domination configurations -- which show the centrality of gender constructions to social values and institutions. Here a first step is workshops on this for researchers, teachers, professors, artists, media people, etc. To start with, we have to engage leaders from the liberal/left side. Except for feminists, they still generally marginalize "women's issues" -- even though women are half the population, even though environmental and resource scarcity problems require reproductive freedom for women, etc. They also pay little attention to "children's issues" 2 -- even though it is in early childhood relations that people first learn what is normal or abnormal, possible or impossible, moral or immoral.
Let’s remind ourselves that one definition of insanity is continuing doing what has not worked! What is needed is a whole systems change approach so we do not just react, but carefully plan and then act effectively. Step One: analysis. Once we have our analysis in place, we can hone a long-term strategy focusing on the 4 cornerstones of childhood, gender, economics, and stories. This in turn will lead to more targeted and coordinated medium-and short-term strategies. Tactical outputs could include:
● Spreading the understanding of transformation from domination to partnership to young people in colleges and high schools.
● Seeding this new thinking at the regional and state levels.
● Engaging business leaders, especially young Silicon Valley women and men, introducing them to this new thinking and the actions that flow from it.
● A media conference to promote authentic reporting and storytelling