About the show: Dave Pickering takes us on a personal journey through gender as he tries to explain masculinity both to you and to himself. Part true storytelling, part TED talk and part apology, the show looks at how the patriarchy hurts men too; how the patriarchy has hurt him, and how he has hurt people because of patriarchy. Drawing on an anonymous survey of 1000 men, feminist theory, internet memes and his life experience, Dave will explain the conclusions he Read More ...
Does patriarchy exist?
How would you define patriarchy?
The practically universal tendency of human society to develop in ways that establish males as the sex with the greater direct power and the forms of society established as a result of this. This tendency is not easily eradicable, as it seems to arise from several factors that would seem to have some measure of a natural basis, among them in no particular order: 1) men’s naturally lower physical and psychological investment in childbearing and rearing; 2) men’s greater physical strength; 3) men’s greater risk-taking tendencies and greater social expendability; 4) men’s higher confidence levels; 5) men’s tendency to engage in rougher and more agonistic forms of socialization and social interaction; 6) men’s higher preference for hierarchical forms of society; 7) men’s higher agency and lower dependence upon other parties exercising agency on their behalf; 8) men’s tendency to be less conflict averse and less focused upon affirmation from close community; 9) men’s greater tendency to engage in thing and idea-based interactions over person-based interactions; 10) men’s higher relative preference than women for broader shallower networks over more immediate and more intimate ones; 11) men’s higher preference and tolerance for disjunctive social results�the establishment of ‘winners’ and ‘losers’�over a more homeostatic egalitarianism; 12) men’s greater willingness and capacity to engage in warfare and to establish robust hegemonies of power. For all of these, and other reasons, male groups tend to be both the primary sources and beneficiaries of the development of social power structures and institutions. The patriarchies that are produced by these tendencies can take many different forms. Some can be extremely abusive and oppressive, whereas others are more benign in character.
How has patriarchy hurt you?
Patriarchy has benefited all of us greatly, whether we want to acknowledge it or not. Men’s particular capacity to create social power, to take risks, to act and think in a highly agentic fashion, to establish broad institutional structures, and to engage in the most intense physical labour has established much that we most value in our society. However, patriarchy has its dark sides and its dysfunctional, oppressive, abusive, or destructive tendencies. I don’t think that I am alone in having experienced the cruelty of male groups that glorify strength and physical dominance.
How have you hurt people in a way influenced by patriachy?
Like many men, I enjoy much higher confidence levels than the average woman, which makes it very easy for me to stifle their opinions, dominate shared contexts, and leave them in self-doubt.
How would you define masculinity?
The personal welcome, contextually conditioned articulation, and virtue-guided practice that I give as my response to the fact that I am a human male and the culturally established forms of socialization and affiliation whereby I share and practice this reality with others.
Does misandry exist?
It exists, but very, very seldom in forms that threaten men’s social advantage. The greatest social threat to any man is almost always other men.
Have you experienced gender and/or sex related prejudice?
I really don’t fit tidily into many of the most popular models of masculinity and have been ostracized or bullied by many male peers as a result, especially as a child. For the most part, I regard such models as potentially benign, though, provided that they are approached responsibly.
What best describes you?
None of the above
I think that feminism is responding to genuine injustices, devaluation, and marginalization of women. However, I think that it is typically insufficiently attentive to factors that render some form of male enjoyment of considerably greater direct social power virtually unavoidable. I believe that we need to seek to create a society that allows women to thrive and rise to their full stature, while being realistic about the fact that almost certainly won’t take the form of some egalitarian utopia (apart perhaps from coercive government stifling of men’s strengths, which would simply seek women’s fulfilment by suppressing men). Those areas where men tend to enjoy greater capacity should be used for the benefit of all, rather than for private or sexist interest to the exclusion of women.