The sexual origins of patriarchy & the radical power of love


EXCERPT: ‘The world has always belonged to males,’ wrote Simone de Beauvoir in The Second Sex (1949), ‘and none of the reasons given for this have ever seemed sufficient.’ Given the manifestly equal intelligence and capabilities of women, how could there have been so many centuries of sexual domination, of patriarchy? To many, the answers to this question have seemed as obvious as the privileges of power in any other form of social domination. As a result, critiques of patriarchy often take the shape of a struggle for power, a fight for control of the social agenda. However, as I see it, ‘social power’ explanations for institutions of sexual domination remain fundamentally flawed and insufficient.

In their place, I have proposed a historical dialectic that claims – and here I must be careful, lest the claim sound exculpatory – that such institutions of domination were inevitable, however wrong. I regard institutionalised sexual domination as an unavoidable part of a long, often painful, struggle to make sense of the reproduction of human life – resulting in the separation of sexual reproduction from sexual love, and the emergence of forms of life organised around bonds of sexual love.

In recent years, with astonishing rapidity [...] we are living through one of the most profound transformations in human history [...] These developments do not just reflect newly discovered moral facts – ‘equality’ or ‘dignity’. Rather, I wish to suggest, they are the result of a long, collective effort at self-education...

If you start from the erroneous premises of "equal capabilities", "social power", and "equality", you're obviously going to reach faulty conclusions.

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