Just got off the phone with the professor who is my Comps Supervisor (which is explained in the second paragraph here) for this semester, and I am so excited! As I’ve previously mentioned (in part 4 of the review of The End of Men) I’d been worried that my tentative dissertation subject was already obsolete. However, after brainstorming a bit with my prof, I think that worry is unfounded – because there’s still so much fascinating stuff to consider regarding our changing society! I’m putting some of my thoughts here, regarding the beginning socioeconomic rise in women-led households, so they don’t get lost. I think these can all be used productively in the dissertation, or at very least in its consideration.
For example, here’s one important and major difference in matrifocality between this society, and in more standardly matricentric societies: women who lead households are not yet being accorded any social respect or assistance for that job. Granted, they’re no longer considered pathological (which was the case even as late as 1965, according to the Daniel Patrick Moynihan report on “The Negro Family”)– but they’re still often (usually?) viewed with concern & suspicion.
Further, in many cases these women are exhausted! Regardless of whether there’s a man present or not, they’re still usually working the “Second Shift” – where they come home from work and then have to put in another full-time-job’s worth of hours on housework and caring for the family. Many of them are also going to school so they can get better jobs, and from what Rosin says in her book, the women short themselves on personal care and/or sleep time in order to get everything done that needs to be done. It would not surprise me if many of these women in this predominantly Christian & heterosexual society – especially those with unhelpful men living off them — occasionally ask themselves with bemused and weary resentment: “Where’s my religiously-promised help-mate?”
This leads to one of the suggestions I want to include in my dissertation: if a woman is getting frazzled in running her household alone, why must her potential helper be only her male lover? That really limits her options. Wouldn’t it be smarter to pick a productive female friend — one who also has a job or kids of her own, and who understands the time-crunch problem — to help run the household? The pool of potential helpers instantly becomes much larger — and in many cases less dangerous for the children: there are grandmothers, mothers, aunts, sisters, sisters-in-law, or other trusted friends with whom a woman can create a balanced household. This is not to say that men can’t help out in this way as well, and fortunately many do. However, all too often the frequently-unemployed men whom Rosin studies are also carrying along antiquated societal baggage about house- and child-care being “women’s” work — something a “real” man doesn’t do. Balderdash to that. :)
Another important thought to keep in mind: even if my native society becomes far more female-led, it still will emphatically not be the same as a true matrifocal society. The physical bodies heading the families may be female in both cases, but the cultural constructions which create them are very different. One culture supports its women leaders with a socially taught-and-approved underpinning of egalitarianism and mutual respect — the other doesn’t. This society often, in fact, actively tries to sabotage such women.
Further, if we remove men from the patriarchal positions of power and replace them with women — this is not a win for any of us! This simply means we retain the currently-standing, oppressive systems of privilege, while changing who has the job of cracking the whip. I have a better idea: let’s dump the whip-cracking entirely, in favor of making a place we all can thrive in!
Consequently I want to review, in my dissertation, why we very much need to change society as it stands today. I want to encourage the following:
- Thoughtful, intentional reflection coupled with cooperative interpersonal dialogue on the type of society we truly wish to live in — so we can make and implement decisions that benefit all of us, rather than just one privileged gender, race, or other social grouping.
- A careful analysis of capitalism: how is it helping to both support and/or subvert our current androcentric society? Is it possible to use capitalism to encourage more social empathy and sharing, so we knowingly create a better society? –and finally:
- A constructive critique of the current socially-constructed concept of “masculinity” – followed by the critically important reconstruction of this concept in order to create a new masculinity which is both not damaging to men, and socially beneficial to us all.
As is demonstrated by the title of Rosin’s book, in this society we’re taught to think in simplistic binaries – if women are rising, then men must automatically be falling and losing, oh nosers! — but I strongly believe this is not a zero sum game. Yes, women may be rising, but this doesn’t mean men can’t rise also! They may rise in a different way than they used to, but that’s just another way of saying we finally have the power, as a people, to create a truly a win-win situation. This, ultimately, is what I want to demonstrate within my dissertation: the understanding and the knowledge that we have the ability now to create a better, healthier, winning society for all of us.