on gender abolition and matriarchy01 Jul 2020
changing my thoughts
Two books that I have been reading help me think through the gender question. One is The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin and the other one is The Double Goddess : Women Sharing Power by Vicki Noble. I will soon receive the book Myths and Mysteries of Same-Sex Love by Christine Drowning and I hope this one too will help me shape my opinion on the matter.
When I had to write my text about queer feminism, I conclude it with the idea that gender abolition would solve the issues of gender inequalities. This conclusion was quite precipitated, and I kind of used it as a sortie d’urgence in my text since the real path to gender equality is a long one that cannot be summarized quickly. I was also reading text in the vibe of the Cyborg Manifesto, therefore I was ‘‘in the mood for gender abolition’’. But this ‘‘mood’’ was one that has been in the air for a long time, as I realized a few days ago that it has now been a year that I am somewhat questioning my gender, considering that I might fit more the non-binary label than the woman one. But the thing is, when I was writing this text, one thing I haven’t took in consideration was spirituality.
Even though there is plenty of androgynous and hermaphrodite characters in mythology, rare (or even non-existent?) are the religious systems where genders are completely discarded. Maybe the mythology solely based on animal could be an exception, but still there, the culture of people having animal-based mythology still have gender roles in their society.
I mean, gender roles were a normal thing to have in the past. Today they are less appropriate, namely because we don’t really need it anymore. So yeah, gender abolition now wouldn’t cause any problem to society itself. But what about our psyche?
Before I dig into the psyche question, I want to bring a fact I didn’t know of when I was writing my queer feminist text. I used to say that even if women and men are different biologically, if one ‘‘works hard enough’’, they can reach the ‘‘biological advantage of the other’’, i.e. if women are born weaker physically than men, they can still workout to reach the average men strength. Nonetheless, I discovered in my Double Goddess book that men and women didn’t react the same way to stress. While men have the typical fight of fly response, women secrete different hormones that rather lead to a ‘‘tend and befriend’’ reaction (this is overly simplified of course). This finding suggests that women would probably more peaceful leaders, and maybe better leaders overall.
When we look in the archeology discipline, it is an objective fact that a lot of primitive society were matriarchy. We also see that many archeologists tend to see that the patriarchy is ‘‘the normal evolution’’ of those, as if matriarchy was something primitive to be replaced by something better. Nonetheless, this scientific finding about the stress response makes me rethink it. I mean, I’ve been thinking for a while that patriarchy is an issue, and that matriarchy is somewhat better, but at the same time, womanhood isn’t what it used to be, so could we invent a ‘‘queerarchy’’ or something like that? (I must confess that this idea appeared out of the blue just now.)
When I say that womanhood isn’t what it used to be, maybe I am only thinking through my own biases of ‘‘I am a bit afraid of women/feminine toxicity’’. Or maybe not. It brings back a conversation of the historical nurturing nature of women. The question I had on that matter was ‘‘are women more caring because they experience birth, and if yes, does it mean that a woman who doesn’t go through pregnancy, like it is the case for many modern women, doesn’t systematically have this maternal caring instinct?’’ And, therefore, I guess my question in regard to a possible come back to matriarchy is, are today’s women that similar to women of the past, and do they still have this potential of being great rulers? If we had to the equation years of generational traumas and alienation regarding a woman’s worth (the desirability lie) and the relations of that to womanhood/sisterhood (competition), can we really expect women to be able ‘‘to fix everything about society’’ when they already seems to have to fix so many things in regard of themselves first? Or is this maybe exactly the path that is required to heal womanhood?
But I mentioned earlier that The Left Hand of Darkness influenced me, and yet I haven’t talked about it. In this sci-fi work, the people do not have gender, but the protagonist does, he is a man from another planet, and tries to understand this reality. We can learn that the inhabitant of the planet he visits aren’t ‘‘always sexual’’, as they only feel need for sex when they are in ‘‘kemmer’’. It goes back to this concept of estrus which is, according to Oxford Languages, ‘‘a recurring period of sexual receptivity and fertility in many female mammals; heat’’, phase who would normally correlated with when a female bleeds, the bleeding signaling the receptivity. But, as Vicki Noble remarks in her book, ‘‘human sexuality detached itself from reproduction through the aegis of the vacillating female hormonal cycle , in which the female human is “continuously sexually receptive,” to quote the male-based anthropological view.’’ As the main character, Mr. Ai, explores les us et coutûmes of the place, the inhabitants are also curious about Mr. Ai’s birthplace, wondering how does the ‘‘constant sexual nature’’ (as in, theoretical constant sexual receptivity) of the aliens influence their society.
I am not advocating to go back to a society where women and men solely have sex when there is menstruation here, and I don’t advance that is used to be 100% like that in the past. I’m a sex-positive person, if such a thing would happen, I’d be quite sad. But still, this idea is something I want to come back to later. Nonetheless, there is another thing interesting in Le Guin ‘‘kemmering’’ idea. To give more detail about the physical process, when two people in kemmer wants to mate, they both secrete hormone, and depending on the partners, one will secrete some ‘‘female’’ hormone, and another, ‘‘male’’ hormone and then their genitalia will morph for the occasion, therefore everybody has the potential to become pregnant/’‘a mother’’, as they will never know in advance if they will morph into a female or a male for a sexual intercourse.
In The Double Goddess, Noble affirms and reaffirms often that one key characteristic of the feminine is her bipolar nature (not in the clinical sense). She claims that that bipolar/cyclical nature is foundational to femininity. Therefore, if we go back to Le Guin’s universe, I’d say that those agender folks are somewhat female, because bipolarity is part of them. But I don’t know where this idea should lead me yet. I mean, to say that we should fight gender inequality by bio-engineering humanity so it looks more like some imaginary other species would be quite crazy of me. But yeah, surely, one of the key of gender equality would be that everybody can (and should?) understands the others’ reality. Which goes back to my constructivism way of seeing thing.
I need to research if constructivism is a thing in other field than international relations
EDIT : it does, but it doesn’t mean the same thing, but in the end, I should question if I ever understood properly the constructivist theory in IR lol