I recently read a comments thread on another blog. I spent last night frantically searching for it, but no luck yet. I’ll update if I find it. Anyway, the discussion had a brief diversionary track which caught my attention. The topic was separatism, and one commenter in particular considered what men would do for sex with no women around. The obvious answer was to have sex with each other, which became the general consensus.
On the immediate surface, I agree with that conclusion. However, that part of the discussion really stuck with me, and I’ve considered it for a week or so now. A conversation with my wife a couple of nights back really cemented a lot of ideas which had been unformed until that point, and I have some thoughts to bang out on the matter.
Being female – literally female, i.e. female at birth – is an inherently spiritual state. On the surface, it’s easy to point at menstruation, pregancy, childbirth, and everything else directly or incidentally related to reproduction as sources of female spirituality. Those are the big markers, the organizing headers under which spirituality happens. Female spirituality, in the broad sense, is responsibility, or sacrifice; they’re almost interchangeable in this context. (“Sacrifice” is a very layered word. I love it, especially as it applies to spirituality, and it deserves more investigation someday soon.) The exercise of female spirituality is in the ways a woman – better yet, women, since female spirituality should never be a lonely thing – undertakes, acknowledges, anticipates responsibility.
Women look into the future; women never rest on today alone. Women are doing a hundred things at once, and to men it looks like an unfocused cloud of worry and activity, but that’s because men are not equipped to have that kind of future sight. (Men who cultivate it and emulate it well are held up as farsighted visionaries among their peers. Never is it noted that the trait is feminine.) If men were capable of shifting our angles of vision – focusing not on the immediate future, but through today and out toward the horizon, like swinging the camera around in a video game – then suddenly it would come into focus, like a Magic Eye picture which only works if you look through it.
I stated that men are not equipped for that kind of future sight. Men focus with exclusion and immediacy, which serves well for male roles in a matrilineal society, focusing mainly on individual and present tasks which must be completed in a linear and uninterrupted fashion, but makes us less effective at the helm of the family ship.
Female spirituality, guided by their bodies, suffused with the environment, aware of the passage of time, is cyclical. Women understand transience and loss in ways that men cannot; men, staring laterally at the now rather than along the line of time into the future, never truly grasp that there is no such thing as “forever”. Any spiritual or religious tradition which has a concept of change, passage, ending, rebirth, maintenance, or continual investment is almost certainly derived from a matrilineal heritage – look at the Indo-European traditions, especially now that we’re in such an exciting period of discovery of Indo-European history. Contrast this with traditions such as the Abrahamic religions, which speak of unchanging gods, permanent spiritual conflict, one-time acts of redemption or rejection which lead to eternal reward or suffering – ideas which could only arise from the lateral focus on this moment alone, unable to conceive of any other view, a male trait.
It’s also in our social understanding. America / Britain / China / Babylonia / the Pharaoh is forever, unflinching in the face of adversity, never ceasing in its blah blah blah. Keep chopping those trees, keep pumping that oil, keep sending in troops. A world run by men is a world which keeps slamming its head into the wall, unable to understand why the wall isn’t moving, unwilling to look to the side to see if the wall can be circumvented.
Men can form a grocery list. Men can handle finances responsibly. Men can do what women do. But we must be trained. We will screw it up. We are slow, oh so slow, in internalizing the principles underneath the processes, if we ever manage it. And the principles do not make sense to brains which speak in immediacies and see myopically.
Men need female spirituality. Men need an imposed framework of cycles, an imposed understanding of impermanence. Maleness is unsustainable without female principles guiding them. Men are horses with blinders; men are boars; men are missiles which need target acquisition gear. Men without women will burn ourselves out, and everything around us as well.
The most sustainable and stable societies, the ones with the least violence, the ones with the least environmental degradation, have been matrilineally focused. Women control the family’s land, home, and possessions; women guide the family into the future. Some modern matrilineally focused cultures which survive today give men an interfamilial political role, but the real responsibility explicitly rests with women.
In writing this post, I guess I’ve answered my own queries. I wondered: what would men be like without women? And there’s a lot more to discuss on that topic. There’s a whole ‘nother post’s worth, in fact, hence the Part 1 tag way up there at the top. But it seems like men have already wrenched the reins away from the hands which should rightfully hold them and are driving the carriage right off the cliff. Men already dismiss and ignore women except when it pleases us. Men invade women’s spaces, women’s bodies, women’s brains, and we think nothing of it: truly nothing; we generally are not conscious of how precisely tailored our actions and beliefs are to the destruction of women as individuals and as a group. The world may have women in it, but you wouldn’t know it from listening to the men.