What Really Happens When Women Rule?
October 24, 2007 9:16 PM   Subscribe

"This will be a woman’s world, and men will have to learn to fit in." The Wilson Quarterly examines the historical, cultural, and sexual implications of matriarchy. Via.
posted by amyms (31 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
So Mike Stout got it right all those years ago with W.H.A.M.? Amazing.
posted by meehawl at 9:29 PM on October 24, 2007

"This will be a woman’s world, and men will have to learn to fit in."

no - it's still going to be based upon the processes, structures, institutions and ideas developed by men that our society already has

if the minangkabau have stayed matrilineal and female- headed even after hundreds of years of being muslim, what ideas does the author think is going to change our society to a matriarchy in a few decades?

cultures are deeply conservative and they take a long long time to change

i don't really like that, but it is the way things seem to be
posted by pyramid termite at 9:39 PM on October 24, 2007

Men run the world like this, but women run the world like this.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:46 PM on October 24, 2007 [2 favorites]

Delicious, ­high-­quality salads will be sold ­everywhere ... that will make dieting a ­snap.

Huh. Apparently obsession with dieting will still be a feature of a matriarchal utopia. Guess this body image stuff isn't men's fault after all.
posted by adamt at 9:55 PM on October 24, 2007

make dieting a ­snap...obsession with dieting will still be a feature of a matriarchal utopia. Guess this body image stuff isn't men's fault after all

Human beings weren't made for the sedentary lives they lead now. And our food variety, quality and flavor of what we eat has vastly improved in this last century in the West. It's easier now for men and women to get fat than it ever was. Women have more fat on their bodies than men genetically. And when women have a child they put on weight,which often sticks around after the birth. Then, having become mothers, they are around children all day long and tend to eat the high carb foods that children prefer. So women get fatter more easily than men and due to their lean muscle mass to fat ratio, have a harder time getting rid of the fat than men. If they become stuck in being fat they are ridiculed for that, often by men who they would like to please.

So, it would seem likely that women will always need to keep an eye on the level of fat they carry, until our bodies change genetically to suit our new chair-bound lifestyles sitting in front of the computer.
posted by nickyskye at 10:06 PM on October 24, 2007 [2 favorites]

I'm not sure comparing the behavior of matriarchies in tribal societies in far flung corners of the planet works when trying to understand greater gender equality in an urban or suburban environment today.

Matriarchies are about mothers dominating within a family structure and power these days seems to be less about families and more about working and other non-tribal, non-family relationships. Also, it seems to me that there was so much concern in the past about who got what woman pregnant and who could have sex with whom. Contraceptives and socially accepted sexual permissiveness have greatly changed those social constraints in power positioning.

As men increasingly need to be less physical in their work, it makes sense that they would share more work arenas with women.

I experience a lot of residual misogyny in the West and I'm not sure why it's there. Maybe it's that powerful need for hetero males to perceive and want to dominate females sexually? Maybe it's fear of competition, loss of status among male peers if they are seen siding with females, except in a patriarchal or condescending way.

I would hope that if women achieve more power in the world they encourage more healthy power sharing.
posted by nickyskye at 10:08 PM on October 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

Delicious, ­high-­quality salads will be sold ­everywhere—­not the wilted, uninspired packages grudgingly offered at corner delis or Starbucks, but fresh, innovative compositions that will make dieting a ­snap

Is this meant to be funny? I honestly can't tell. To me, it sounds like something out of a bad stand-up routine. I half-expected the next line to be "Architects will design houses with greater shoe-storage capacity". Maybe it's just the use of the word "dieting" that's so off-putting?

But, overall, the article didn't seem to be saying much at all, with a pattern of making a point and then retreating from it and concluding with:
women are as diverse, as incisive, and, yes, as fallible as men

It's an interesting read and I'm glad you posted it, mostly because I'm hoping the comments here will shed some light on what it is I'm clearly missing.
posted by bunglin jones at 10:20 PM on October 24, 2007

What's wrong with women wanting a great selection of easily available healthy salads, so they can keep fit and trim? Salads are, in my experience, a preferred working woman's lunch food and a decent one is hard to find on a lunch break. Most restaurants and delis have traditionally served 'hearty', high calorie, high fat food, which has been geared towards male tastes. I don't think it's frivolous to talk about salads and dieting, although I don't think dieting is ever "a snap".
posted by nickyskye at 10:46 PM on October 24, 2007

Point taken, nickyskye, but in my mind there's a difference between "dieting" and "having a good diet". Like I said before, maybe it was just the use of that one word which threw things off track for me.
posted by bunglin jones at 11:05 PM on October 24, 2007

Women are ridiculed for being fat and ridiculed if they talk about dieting -not just diet- as a serious concern. In my experience the majority of urban/suburban professional women who lead a contemporary sedentary life think about, talk about and work on the dieting issue some portion of their lives.

And if fresh, nutritious, varied, interesting salads are not easily available to working women, they aren't getting the practical diet they need.
posted by nickyskye at 11:36 PM on October 24, 2007

I would welcome shorter shelves at the market. And kitchens built by someone and for someone under 5'8" or taller.

At the market, I usually have to wait for a tall man to come by to ask for a product out of my reach. I have a step stool for my kitchen.

The best kitchen I have ever encountered was designed in 1926 by a female architect for a woman who was 4' 10". Unfortunately this house was demolished for a McMansion with a large, tall kitchen for giants.

Ms. Jen who was darned glad when she finally grew above 4' 11" to 5' 0" tall at 19. Unfortunately, no further height has happened since. Step stool is at the ready.
posted by msjen at 11:38 PM on October 24, 2007

Fantastic! I will be very disappointed if this post does not end up containing the following comments::

*"Here is how you should feel about matriarchy..."
*"Well, I don't a vagina. Or breasts! But many women..."
*"That's not offensive."
*"I used to work with rape victims, so I know what I'm talking about here."
posted by thehmsbeagle at 11:40 PM on October 24, 2007


Actually, I see a lot of equality these days, as I work with teenagers and young people.

When I was a teenager (not all that long ago, really) guys didn't style their hair (beyond 'neat'), didn't care much what shoes they wore, or what jeans. Even amongst the rich kids. Moreover, there simply wasn't designer hairstylists for men, or the range of trendy male clothing available in shopping centers and the like, or men's fashion magazines. And certainly, male shoes have changed vastly.

It seems, these days, that young men are as likely to be obsessed with appearence, weight, clothing, style, as their female counterparts. I'm not saying that male fashion has never existed - but that especially over the last decade, it's come to the fore, somewhat, to become a far more common thing.

I don't recall the cite, but I did read at some point that eating disorders are on the rise amongst young men, also.

I don't think this is the direction of equality that most envision. But it seems to be occuring.
posted by ysabet at 12:27 AM on October 25, 2007

It's easier now for men and women to get fat than it ever was.

It's easer now for men am women to eat better than it ever was.

And when women have a child they put on weight,which often sticks around after the birth.

I believe it's eat "twice the quality" not "twice the quantity" of food.

Then, having become mothers, they are around children all day long and tend to eat the high carb foods that children prefer.

But they don't have to -- and what children prefer isn't what's best for them either.
posted by NewBornHippy at 2:11 AM on October 25, 2007

Interesting article, though the line of reasoning which leads her to conclude that Women are taking over! is, um, rather flimsy. It seems like the her "predictions" make a point about the present, rather than a serious stab at what things will be like in the future. Is there any reason to believe that once we get to a state of healthy power sharing, we're going to veer off into Minangkabauland?

Delicious, ­high-­quality salads will be sold ­everywhere
ie. We already know what food is good for us, so why doesn't this happen now?

men will have to squeeze themselves into public bus seats and crouch down to reach items on supermarket shelves
ie. What do you think it feels like to never be the right size?

Schoolteachers, most of whom are women, will finally get the higher salaries they deserve for nurturing the next generation, but it will suddenly become apparent that ­hedge ­fund managers, almost all of whom are men, don’t really need to make millions of dollars a year for moving some numbers around on a computer screen.
ie. Why aren't we willing to pay more to educate other people's children than to have our own wealth looked after? (gee, i don't know)

The bonobo research was fascinating, and I will take it at face value.
posted by magic curl at 2:17 AM on October 25, 2007

thehmsbeagle, I would prefer to see any of those comments over meta snark. At least they'd be making a discernible, well-intentioned point.
posted by magic curl at 2:18 AM on October 25, 2007

Men will always have the last word..........

Yes, my dear. / Si, mi amor.
posted by adamvasco at 2:30 AM on October 25, 2007

Is there a tool out there for merging gender agendas that doesn't require me to use microsoft sexchange?
posted by srboisvert at 3:10 AM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

Linux has cool tool for doing it, if you can login into you as ROOT.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:50 AM on October 25, 2007

I read somewhere that scientists had figured out how to turn a woman's stem cells into viable sperm. Seeing as they have all the child-bearing equipment, and now they can inseminate themselves too, well, men are starting to seem less and less necessary for the survival of the species.
posted by jamstigator at 4:34 AM on October 25, 2007

Interesting topic, stupid and superficial article. The first few paragraphs were just a stupid recitation of female stereotypes. Followed by shallow examinations of matriarchal cultures with no thought about how they fit into the larger patriarchal societies around them. Neither the Minangkabau or the Mosuo live in independent nations, so there is quite a lot of patriarchy that they have to deal with. Then there was the predictable discussion of bonobos, even though there is no reason to think they are stronger predictors of human behavior than chimps.

What I would like to have seen was an examination of actual existing female leadership. There is a tendency for people to think that female leaders from Maggie Thatcher to Hillary Clinton are not "real" women, but just men in disguise. Is a women really betraying her womanhood if she doesn't "seek consensus and express her feelings" or are these just more new stereotypes forcing us to act in certain ways on the basis of our gender? Maybe my male brain is clouding my thinking on this and the real way to gender equality is to be concerned if there is a low carb option available at the local deli.
posted by afu at 6:48 AM on October 25, 2007

I'm just kind of amazed that the Wilson Quarterly still exists.
posted by lodurr at 7:34 AM on October 25, 2007

Already, traditionally male occupations from medicine to bartending are heavily populated by women. We have our second female secretary of state, our first female Speaker of the House, and the first viable fe­male presidential candidate in the nation’s history.

HEAVILY populated by women? Are they fucking joking? Until it's half men and half women, we're nowhere near that.

And that's just the start of the stupidest article I've read this week. The tribe stuff was interesting, but the whole idea that women are on the brink of "taking over" our society is incredibly laughable given the amount of sexism and mysogyny still present today.
posted by agregoli at 7:37 AM on October 25, 2007

They'll still need us for Snu-snu
posted by Scoo at 7:46 AM on October 25, 2007

A world made of women! It'll be just like a Pat Califia novel. We'll all be broken up into two groups- hot bikers, and hot hippie witches. Sex will involve fists. Dinner will be speed chased with whiskey. I'll finally have a use for that leather catsuit in my closet.

Now that I'm all excited, I guess I'll go read the article.
posted by Marquise at 10:24 AM on October 25, 2007

You find it offensive that you like something women commonly prefer as a dining out choice more than men?

are actually saying that certain foods are man-foods

Hungry Man meals

He eats, She eats, Washington Post article

Salon.com Life | Men munch on carcass; women pick at salad

Gender preferences in 'comfort' foods stem from childhood

Comfort foods: women prefer snacks, men prefer meals

Food preferences, body weight, and platelet-poor plasma serotonin and catecholamines

He-Man Helpings

Hey, Guys, They're Not Girlie-man Portions

Changes in nutrient intake during the menstrual cycle of overweight women with premenstrual syndrome

WebMD l Women's Nutrition Needs Special Attention, "A woman and man of the exact weight and percentage of fat would burn the same amount of calories for the same amount of exercise," says Sharon B. Spalding, MEd, CSCS, professor of physical education and health at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Va. "However men are usually larger with a higher lean weight and will burn more calories."

No, I'm not saying they are foods only eaten by males but commonly preferred by Western males, in my experience. It is harder to get a decent, varied salad on a lunch break, they're not easily available compared to high fat, high calorie fast food.
posted by nickyskye at 11:59 AM on October 25, 2007

LOL, Greg Nog. Guess you're a salad eating wuss then.
posted by nickyskye at 1:19 PM on October 25, 2007

You'll know women have control of the salad-world when croutons are replaced with small cubes of fudge brownie as the preferred salad topping. <>
posted by Marquise at 1:37 PM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

This article is awful. As already pointed out, women are nowhere near taking over. Mistaking "minority but more than there used to be" for "majority" is incredibly bothersome. A single serious female presidential candidate does not make for female dominance, whatever scared apologists for the status quo think. Moreover, the success of many of these high powered women is due to their conformance to essentially male roles, and is in no danger of creating a matriarchy.

Really, I find most offensive the propagation of the idea that feminism aims to replace the patriarchy with a matriarchy. Not only is this a horribly implausible goal, it would also represent the failure of the modern feminist effort. Destroying the patriarchy, only to replace it with a different biased system means that feminism's fight isn't over yet. The patriarchy is detrimental to both men and women. A matriarchy would be the same.

That said, it's not even clear to me that much of what is proposed in this article is even actually indicative of a matriarchy. This mostly strikes me as "women are more catered to" and not "men are shunted aside at an institutional level". I sort of glossed over during the analysis of obscure cultures, but the only thing I saw that would fit the mould of a matriarchy was the industrial design bit.

A lot of the other stuff propagated current standards and stereotypes about women, holding them to those. Which I guess, if you're going to build a matriarchy, would happen, in the same way that the patriarchy currently holds men to various standards and stereotypes. However, the idea that only current patriarchal standards are available to solidify in the event of matriarchy is laughable.

Can we get a post-gender society yet? I'm sick of this crap.
posted by Arturus at 1:38 PM on October 25, 2007

“It will certainly be a nicer place to -live—-more attractive, friendlier, and much, much cleaner.”

Ever been in a woman’s bathroom? More graffiti, more trash, more general nastiness. Granted, the guy’s toilet has more urine on the floor (and on the seats - one in every crowd, drunk or sober) maybe a hole punched in the wall if you’re in a bar, but really women are far more abusive of their facilities.

The author engages a bit in the same kind of pollyanna stereotyping that is decryed at the end (gotta second afu: “Interesting topic, stupid and superficial article”)

Which, really, is the thing. Equitability is great. No one should be marginalized because of their sex. Some of the finest most professional and competant individuals I’ve ever worked with were women doing what was traditionally viewed as a man’s job. That isn’t to say there doesn’t need to be some division and specialization there. But this “diet” crap and bathrooms being cleaner and grooming are social dictates of what has traditionally been a male-centric media.
My wife and I get along wonderfully because we divide decisions according to our skills. She takes care of the checkbook (she’s better at math), I make long term financial decisions (I’m better at strategy) and we both decide on what we buy when and how to raise the kids. As far as sex we’re both pretty monogamous so that works out well and I’m not the jealous type (but I am fantastically violent, so the bonobo lifestyle is out.)

“The patriarchy is detrimental to both men and women.”

Y’know, you wouldn’t think so. For a lot of people it’s counterintuative. But I went to a seminar when I was younger (with my then girlfriend who was a very serious feminist intellectual, but for some bizarre reason liked large macho males with muscular bodies...ok, maybe it was just physical) which completely reversed my view of this. The common perception (then) was you pay a guy more because he’s got a family to feed, the inference there is that the woman doesn’t have to work, it’s an option.
Times have changed such that it’s an obviously silly position now when many families have both parents working.
Anyway, back then the speaker (a woman) ‘splained that you can pay men less if you visibly are paying women less because men (on the whole) don’t necessarially want what might be fair, but want to make more than someone else. Women (and minorities) were being paid less not only because they could get away with that, but that you could pay men less too - since they had someone they could feel superior to.

Nowdays of course, what you make is some kind of big secret, and that’s the new form of the game. (’Cause the CEO is making vastly more than all of you)
posted by Smedleyman at 3:30 PM on October 25, 2007

Thirding afu's “Interesting topic, stupid and superficial article” comment.

But I would go a little further, stating that it omitted some pretty important points like the fact that the national sex ratio in college freshmen in the US is 51.8 percent female. Women have outnumbered men in college for 40 years, which would be more than 1 generation of educated women that are currently in the work force. Also, men still get more graduate and professionals degrees.
posted by 517 at 8:02 PM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

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