Re: Rogue Males by Lionel Tiger

From: Stephen Springette (
Date: Thu Jan 24 2002 - 11:54:18 GMT

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    At 02:33 24-01-02 -0500, Francesca wrote:

    >>But who is it that arranges the marriages? Is it not both parents? And
    >>from what I've seen of Arabic cultures, women are the principle enforcers
    >>of such traditions. It seems to me that their men are too busy providing
    >>for their families, to devote much attention to this aspect of life.
    >I am not an expert on Muslim culture, but I have read some accounts of
    >women's lives, and the sense I get is that women are used as pawns to
    >cement political and economic ties (as in Bin Laden's case). That more
    >powerful men (read taliban) can demand to marry a woman, forcing her
    >family to surrender her or flee the country (this has happened
    >alot.) Rape is not uncommon, and if the men are powerful there is no
    >recourse for the women or their families. In many ways the burqa serves
    >the same role that stripes on zebras do - it allows women to merge safely
    >into the herd and not draw unwanted attention to themselves.

    Women often willingly submit themselves to power, to be used and abused in
    whatever way will ensure their stake in said power-base. Refer to my
    following reply to Joe Dees.

    I've raised the question that the Taliban might be an example of an
    out-of-balance culture responding to western globalization and western
    feminist imperialism. So let's cast our net wider, to embrace Muslim
    cultures, instead of confining ourselves solely to the Taliban.

    Take a look at, which challenges
    some of these myths that are frequently trotted out.

    I will not challenge your "sense" that women are used as pawns in the way
    you describe, for the simple reason that the meanings you glean from books
    written by westerners and the meanings you derive from your necessarily
    culture-colored glasses I expect to be genuine. However, I have been struck
    recently as to how very wrong, biased and even deliberately misleading,
    western interpretations are about such issues - eg., the recent article by
    Time magazine (December 3, special report "lifting the veil").

    Perhaps I might know a little more about Muslim cultures than yourself, as
    not only do I have cousins who are half Lebanese, but I also work with
    refugees from Muslim cultures. Not trying to pull rank, but I get a rather
    different "sense" as to what the power distribution is. Moreover, in one
    recent incident regarding my work, my colleagues responded to the screams
    of an Iraqi woman, rushing to her defence to protect her from the man they
    thought was attacking her, only to find later that it was HE that was being
    attacked by her! Unbelievable how gullible us westerners are. While these
    examples are but mere anecdotes, they do color my very different slant on
    the matter.

    >>Secondly... if it were even remotely possible for a culture to approach a
    >>condition so extraordinarily out of balance that men not only provided
    >>for their families but also manipulated the family relationships and the
    >>behavioral trajectories of their sons and daughters, what might we make
    >>of the women of such an out-of-whack culture?
    >That they are powerless.

    Or stupid? How dumb must a woman be to willingly throw away a power that is
    so intrinsically Woman's and Woman's alone? Yes, many women do throw away
    their power. And for what? Money. Prestige. Such power can never be excised
    by force. It is willingly given... nay, thrown away.

    >Again, the little I have read suggests that the man is the head of the
    >household, and all give way before him. He sets the laws, enforces them,
    >settles conflicts, controls the money, chooses favorites etc. The
    >political maneuvering in the household usually centers around competing
    >for the husband's ear. Coalitions form to advance the causes of favored
    >children against other wives, mothers-in-law etc. Your life and the life
    >of your children depends quite literally on securing your husband's favor.

    This is dead-on correct - for wealthy men, particularly in those cultures
    where such men are expected to have more than one wife. For men of more
    humble means, generally, forget it. Your analysis does not even come close.
    Several women competing for favors from the one wealthy provider will, by
    necessity, require the formation of coalitions, etc. Such is the nature of
    women's manipulation. And it applies also to westerners. They are willing
    to pay the price for the choices they make.

    Who's to blame if a gaggle of women fawn over the one provider? What about
    all those other invisible drones littering battle-fields or shovelling dirt
    in coal mines? I don't see much of this fabulous patriarchal prestige among

    >>Is it conceivable that any mother-as-primary-nurturer could willingly
    >>surrender Woman's Power at so wholesale a level as what such a scenario
    >>might seem to imply? At issue here is the fact that there is no aspect of
    >>a culture that acts independently of any other aspect... that is, if men
    >>are "powerful", then it is because women have permitted it, and because
    >>women have exercised their own power, for example, over their sons in
    >>training them to become the sorts of adolescents that finally get
    >>initiated into the culture's manhood.
    >Most cultures do not smile on a "mama's boy".

    Who said anything about a "mama's boy"? Everything, from demanding that a
    boy not cry when he is hurt and barracking at his ball games to organizing
    which school to send him to, which company he should keep, etc, has its
    direct bearing on the character that he grows into.

    >Often the very definition of manhood turns on the rejection of women and
    >women's values. How can you suggest that women have "permitted" the men
    >to be powerful? This is like saying that African Americans permitted
    >slavery. Permission implies choice and there is no choice.

    The first shipment of resisting, restless African Americans did not permit
    slavery. It required effort to resist, and effort to impose. Subsequent
    generations of the better treated ones who acquiesced with rewards provided
    to them by more humane owners, did permit slavery. They made their trade
    with the devil. This is analogous to the part each of us plays within the
    culture we live. The choices we make are votes cast in favor of what we
    think the culture should be. My purchase of a car is a vote in favor of
    destroying the environment, even though I don't like doing this. For this
    reason, my only credible choice that proves my love for the environment is
    to get rid of the car, and even, to shun my culture. Anything less is just
    an excuse.... unless, perhaps, the effort in sustaining the silent war we
    wage exceeds the benefits we obtain from our culture. How many of us
    contribute more than we get?

    >>Incidentally, such imbalances (if one accepts that Taliban culture does
    >>indeed approach such a condition - for example, Taliban fundamentalism as
    >>a reaction to Western globalization) are not sustainable and will
    >>invariably result in corrections, whether from within or from without.
    >>For this reason, we cannot look to them to provide generalizations about
    >>"all" men or "all" women.
    >Muslim culture has been patriarchal for a l-o-n-g time.

    A Muslim patriarchy is quite different to what the Taliban had in mind.


    Newton's Laws of Emotion:
    There can be no complexity without simplicity.

    Applied simplicity:

    Stephen Springette

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