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 previous issue                         issue #51,  posted 1 /19/ 2017                      archive of all  issues

Trump's Ascendance: The Patriarchy Strikes Back? Not if Women Are Heard! 

in the news:  With Donald Trump slated to become USA president, nearly a half million women are preparing to join a January 21 post Inauguration march on Washington , pledging among other things, "We will not rest until women have parity and equity at all levels of leadership in society." Given overwhelming support (52%  to 41 % according to CNN provided exit polls) from men, Trump will become president despite losing the popular vote by nearly 2.9 million votes to Hillary Clinton, who women preferred by a 54 %  to 41 % margin. 

Trump plans to put into positions of power in his cabinet mostly older white males collectively worth a combined $14 billion, according to Forbes estimates. Senator Bernie Sanders pointed out that this wealth equals that held by the bottom 1/3 of American households (collectively including roughly 100 million people). Sadly the level of inequality on the global stage is even greater by some measures. As Oxfam reported on January 16, "Eight men own the same wealth as the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity." The report charges that "our broken economies" are increasingly "funneling wealth to a rich elite at the expense of the poorest in society, the majority of whom are women." 

commentary and analysis (by Stephen P. Cook, founder and manager, project Worldview, www.projectworldview.org)

A few weeks ago The New Yorker featured an article by Margaret Talbot entitled "The Future of Women Under President Trump". This article focuses more immediately on the details of what to expect in the next year, whereas what I have to say below represents something of a bigger picture look  While I will end with quoting one of Talbot's hopes with respect to the possible role of Ivanka Trump in the new administration, let me begin with a definition...  

...According to Wikipedia, patriarchy is "a social system in which males hold primary power and predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege, and control of property." As Leonard Shlain so brilliantly (and controversially!) detailed in his 1998 book, The Alphabet Versus the Goddess, generally speaking, Western males and left brain values wrested power from females (traditionally nurturing, gatherers balancing the male killers in long ago huntergatherer societies). He claims this happened roughly around 2500-3000 years ago and men have more or less held onto this power ever sinceaided in part by the written word and monotheistic religions. However Shlain's final chapter, "Page/Screen 1945-2000", suggests the tide has turned and that feminine / right brain values are steadily gaining. To some, Trump's election, the inequality reports, and other recent news suggests otherwise. 

Recently project Worldview  has added a "Patriarchal" orientation to its "Connecting Group Beliefs, Religious, Spiritual, Ethical Traditions with Worldview Themes" page. I've excerpted that portion of this page below:


MOST IMPORTANT (Positive Sense)

IMPORTANT (Positive Sense)

ALSO A FACTOR (Positive Sense)

2B  I Know What's Best For You 18B  Dispassionate  9A Religious Fundamentalism
25  Anthropocentrism 22A  Economic Expansionism  19A Economic Individualism
29B  The Threatening, Violent Person 26B  More is Better Mentality 20B  Authoritarianism
43  Seeking Wealth & Power 39B  Scapegoating 22B  Imperialism
46B  Militarism 46A  Technological Fix Mentality 35A  Self Reliant Nonconformity 

MOST IMPORTANT (Negative Sense)

IMPORTANT (Negative Sense)

ALSO A FACTOR (Negative Sense)

1A  Humbly Unsure 5B  Vitalism #16  Golden Rule, Village Ethic of Mutual Help    
23B  Enoughness 7A  Mysticism #18A  Passionately Impulsive
27  Belonging to Nature 7B  Magic #23A  Sustainability
47B  Pacifism #12  Artistic Orientation #31  Education for Democracy 

Note the top half of this chart lists the name of themes (preceded by their numerical designation) most positively associated with patriarchy—with importance decreasing from left to right. The bottom half lists themes particularly alien to male-dominated value systems—note "Humbly Unsure" (theme #1A)/humility appears prominently in this regard. Thus I see the humor in Secret Service agents reportedly using "Humble" as their code name for Trump, who most view as one of the least self-effacing—many would say most arrogant and egotistical—humans around!  (see note 1 below)  

Previously (in issue #48 "How what Trump is saying resonates with the worldview of those who vote for him") this blog has analyzed the worldview behind Donald Trump's support. Most of the worldview themes cited there appear in the above "Patriarchal" orientation list.  Those who see Trump as embracing a gender neutral Populism (theme #21A) more than Patriarchal values may quarrel with my linking Trump with the latter. However, few will challenge Trump as representing perhaps the ultimate alpha male in the USA tribe. To link Trump with the "I Know What's Best For You" (theme #2B) one only has to recall his "Only I can fix it" campaign pledge. To link him to "The Threatening, Violent Person" (theme #29B) one need only consider the 3500 plus lawsuits this man was been involved it (many self-initiated), and note the part of this theme's description that points out the modern equivalent of yesterday's "Give it to me or I'll hurt you" is filing or threatening a lawsuit. In this regard many women would point first to Trump's off-mike comments bragging about his success sexually forcing himself on women to bolster the case that this man is a predator. In contrast, his supporters sometimes portray their champion as a victim of dishonest media reporting. 

Of particular concern  to Trump's opponents is his Scapegoating (theme #39B) and eagerness to find someone to blameespecially Mexicans, Muslims, the Chinese, etc. Recently Trump defended himself against charges that his election chances were boosted by Russian interference by calling investigations into it a political "witch hunt".  Using this loaded term is especially foolish if Trump wants to build his support among women. While his expected upcoming appointment of a "Pro-Life" Supreme Court Justice will diminish the chances of those fighting for women's right to choose (and maintain control over their own bodies) to prevail in the battle over abortion, once the stakes in a similar patriarchal driven battle were even higher. Chapter 32 in Shlain's book recalls the story of the hundreds of thousands (estimates range from one hundred thousand to one million) of women charged with being witches who were burned at stake in Western Europe in the two centuries following the late 15th century introduction of the printing press.  Shlain argues that this event dramatically increased literacy and allowed left brain sequential linear thinking and associated male values to increasingly dominate right brain image-based, wholistic mentality and associated female values. 

In this regard I find it interesting that Donald Trump has become the world's most famous, and one of the most prolific users of Twittera left brain friendly linear sequence of < 140 characters. Of course many analyzes based on left brain / right brain considerations are over-simplifications of the much more complicated neuroscience behind human psychology. Accordingly I suggest that what I've written above very likely represents a too black & white, oversimplification of a much more complicated political, sociological, and psychological reality...

...And end on a note of not just humility but the uncertainty associated with it. I do this by quoting from Talbot's article: "The United States almost had its first female President, who, however flawed as a candidate, would certainly have protected the fundamental rights of women, among other now newly vulnerable groups. Instead, we have a First Daughter, and what she will protect—or undermine—we really don’t know."

1) from SPC: To keep the body of this commentary manageable in length, I have not included Trump's pro-development—many would say anti-environmentalist—plans for the USA in this analysis. Suffice it to say that they connect with the very much male "Anthropocentrism" theme and are antagonistic to the more female "Belonging to Nature" theme. 

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