The Thinking 

When Will Women Rule Everything?

May 15, 2012


PRESIDENT OBAMA, in another speech demonstrating his selfless devotion to female voters, told the graduating class  at Barnard College yesterday that it’s totally unfair that women have not taken over the world yet. He said every single woman, no matter who she is, needs to participate in the struggle to help women take over the world.

He’s right, of course. It is truly shocking how powerless women are. When I look at this picture of women dressed up as Barbie dolls, it reminds me of how much we have yet to gain. These women could be CEO’s or congresswomen or even PRESIDENT. If not for the Republican War on Women and millennia of oppression, they would be very busy right now. Someday, when equality is achieved, they — or women like them — will ascend the heights of power and become the bureaucratic goddesses they are meant to be.

There is a beautiful mountaintop, a Valhalla where all women will someday reside as CEO’s, congresswomen, college presidents, generals, franchise owners, etc. There they will rule the world, feasting on contraceptives and looking down on the male mortals below, who will have finally gotten their comeuppance. The laughter and shrieks of joy of these divine CEO’s will resound throughout the universe. Their home will look something like this:

Walhal, Max Bruckner

Obama said yesterday, “You are now poised to make this the century when women shape not only their own destiny, but the destiny of the whole nation.” How stirring! It’s amazing what a good deal a degree at Barnard is. If we are lucky, we may have Barbie as a president this century or, if the Paycheck Fairness Act is passed, Barbie as Ruler of the Universe. Imagine how smoothly things will run. Barbie never makes a false move. Despite what people say, she is extremely smart.

Thank you, by the way, to the reader Natassia, who sent the above photo of the real-life Barbies. Natassia makes some interesting comments below about women who are already residing in an earthly Valhalla of their own. She writes: 

This photo was posted on the Facebook page of the Ukranian woman Valeria Lukyanova, who has gained a lot of attention for her efforts to look like Barbie. It is similar to the Japanese make-up trend called Harajuku, lolita style. Women make themselves look like living Barbie dolls or anime characters, sometimes just with make-up but some go all out with plastic surgery (and probably some Photoshop). They look like children with women’s bodies … but creepier.

Natassia continues:

This is what a relative of mine wrote about the photo: I guess this is the new “thing,” I’m not going to hate and say they are ugly because they really are beautiful, but I really don’t know what to think about it.

And her biggest complaint was that it was always women trying to look like Barbie, rather than men trying to look like Ken. But then she posted this link which probably explains why the Ken doll phenomenon hasn’t really taken off with men. :-)
Many of my family members are a part of a culture that exalts physical appearance and particularly “sexiness.” I will not be a hypocrite and claim I was not once a part of it, because I was: nightclubs, calendar shoots, Photoshop, plastic surgery. Interestingly enough, there is a simmering misandry that occasionally bubbles to the surface when we women (or “jackals” as I call us) sit around the table drinking mimosas and mojitos. If one takes the role of Devil’s advocate, the unspoken (and sometimes spoken) accusation is that one is brainwashed by her husband–a ninny who can’t think for herself. My own mother has labeled me as such, and we are no longer on speaking terms.

The feminine side of feminism is just as destructive–maybe more so because there is the deceptive appearance of normalcy and moderation when feminist women have boyfriends or get married. It rips families apart, setting even mother against daughter when one chooses her husband over her family of origin. The most important thing in the world is being an independent, sexy woman who doesn’t need a man for anything but only stays with him because she enjoys the sex. The running joke is that even then one doesn’t need them because of all the great toys out there. Interestingly enough, by engaging in all this sexy-making (like the doll makeup and so forth) a woman makes herself into a sex toy for men, even if its just in photos.

                                             — Comments —

Jane S. writes:

When Christians first introduced the idea of marriage-based monogamy, it went over like gangbusters with women. In those days, guys were free to nail as many chicks as they had access to—wives, concubines, slave girls. The size of a man’s harem was proportionate to his status. That was the norm.

Feminists would like to do away with monogamous marriage. Go right ahead! Given the choice, men would rather not have to promise to pick one woman and take care of her for life. They can easily trade the wife in on a younger model every 10 years or so. You, not so much. Men and women age differently, or hadn’t you noticed? Plastic surgery will not change this. Hope you feel liberated in your lonely old age, you fools.

Laura writes:

While monogamy is beneficial to women, it is not true that polygamous societies are more oppressive of women than men. In fact, the opposite is true. In a polygamous culture, most women are guaranteed a husband. But a significant minority of men never have wives. Polygamous societies benefit powerful men and leave lower status men stranded. Poor men do not have wives, concubines and slave girls.

Rita Jane writes:

In polygamous cultures, the age of marriage for girls drops precipitously. We aren’t talking about 17, 18, 19 year olds marrying men who are somewhat older than them. We’re talking about 12, 13, 14 year olds marrying men who are decades older than them. At that young an age, the risks of childbirth multiply, and a girl’s body is much less physically capable of handling the rigors of birth.

Polygamy works very well for a small number of men, who reap the rewards. But for most men, it becomes mathematically impossible to get a wife–the women they would marry aren’t available to them. The FLDS deals with this by pushing boys out of the culture, but that is only sustainable if you don’t have widespread polygamy instituted on a society-wide basis. (Or a lot of violent wars to kill off a lot of young men, which has its own costs.) In many parts of Asia, populations are already facing a similar problem. So many girls have been aborted that there is an actual shortage of available women. In those societies, men commit more violent crimes, girls are more likely to be sold into sex work, are less likely to be allowed even basic education (because the risk of kidnap is so high their fathers can’t safely let them go to school) and the social order really starts to break down at a fundamental level. Having a wife, or becoming attractive enough to land a wife is significantly motivating for men, but only as long as that is something that is actually feasible. It’s mathematically impossible for most men in a polygamous society, or many men in a society practicing rampant sex selection, to ever get a woman. (Anyone interested should read the fantastic book Unnatural Selection about the phenomenon.)

There are other dangers too. When a relatively small group of men sire most of the children in a community, the genetic diversity of the population is destroyed. Sperm clinics are starting to discover cases dozens of children who carry the same genetic disease from their father. In the Fundamentalist Church of the Latter Day Saints (also known as Mormons), the gene pool is so shallow that a rare birth defect is rampant in the community and the family trees are practically braided. Some pet breeds face problems for the same reason–one prized sire is used too often, and the genetic diversity disappears. When many men are having children with the women in the community, it preserves the gene pool.

Finally, in a polygamous culture, children are often denied the benefit of fathers. I am a fan of big families. But a man who has one wife is likely going to have no more than a baby a year, capping out at an absolute maximum of twenty or so children over the course of a couple decades. This allows him to devote time and attention to each child. But a man with multiple wives may be welcoming several infants into a family every year, and may continue having children for far longer, as more, younger wives are added to the family. He becomes unable to devote significant time or resources to any given child, and children are reduced to a fierce competition for love. When the children have loyalties to different mothers, this is only compounded. Fatherless children are a tragedy, and polygamy lends itself to the creation of pseudo-fatherless children. Polygamy also denies many men the very good experience of becoming fathers, which I believe is one of life’s most important experiences for a man.

Monogamy (real, committed, married monogamy, not serial monogamy) offers the best protection for women, who gain one motivated man who will devote his resources alone to her and their children. It’s best for children, who have both a mother and a father who are wholly invested in them and their little family unit without competing with rival half-siblings (children will naturally be most loyal to their blood siblings and natural mother, polygamous posturing aside). And it is best for most men, who know that if they turn themselves into a decent, respectable man, they have excellent odds of becoming a husband and father.

Jane writes:

Laura writes:

Polygamous societies benefit powerful men and leave lower status men stranded. Poor men do not have wives, concubines and slave girls.

Correct. That’s why: “The size of a man’s harem was proportionate to his status. That was the norm.” In a polygamous society, women are trophies. [Laura writes: Oops, I missed that. I see you said the same thing.]

Laura writes:

 It is not true that polygamous societies are more oppressive of women than men. In fact, the opposite is true.

That depends on how you define “oppressed.” I have a long-term scholarly interest and personal experience in South Asia. You would not want to trade places with women in traditional Hindu society. You just wouldn’t. An orthodox Hindu wife is afraid to say her husband’s name. She is expected to wash her husband’s feet every morning, and then drink the water. It is unseemly for her to look at her in-laws directly in the face. I could go on all day telling stories like this, without making one up and without telling the same one twice.

Sure, every woman is guaranteed a husband—one that she has to fight the other co-wives over and the competition can be fierce, even brutal.

A woman is nothing if she is not attached to a man. For thousands of years, Hindus had a custom known as “sati,” where a woman who outlived her husband was expected to burn herself alive on his funeral pyre. A man of status might have as many as 15 or 20 wives, concubines and slave girls go up in smoke with him. The British outlawed this practice. Otherwise, they’d still be doing it.

Nowadays, women are no longer coerced into committing suicide when their husbands die. But widows are the lowest members of society. They are often blamed for causing their husband’s death. A widow can’t wear jewelry, cosmetics, or nice clothes. She can’t eat good food or sleep in a bed. She isn’t allowed to join in festivals or celebrations, not even her children’s weddings. She isn’t just treated as low-status, she is regarded as unclean.

Laura writes:

In a polygamous culture, most women are guaranteed a husband.

Right. That’s why women in Hindu and Muslim societies don’t have the option of becoming nuns. Once a girl comes of age, she is pressed into wife service. There is no escape hatch. No respectable one, anyway.

Laura writes:

I wasn’t arguing that polygamy is good for women. It clearly has many drawbacks, but when people talk about polygamy as an institution, they almost always focus on the horrors for women and assume that it benefits men. Purely from a reproductive viewpoint, it does favor women more than men. As far as the social consequences, it is probably a mistake to say it disfavors one sex over the other. It has serious disadvantages for both.

Jane writes:

I agree, and I think that’s why monogamy, as propagated by Christianity, has spread throughout the world, even in places that did not become Christianized.

Polygamy is still legal, albeit with some restrictions, in South Asia, and it does happen, but it is not as common as it used to be. I’ve known a lot of Hindu women. But I have never met a single one who would like to share her husband with another woman.

Laura writes:

Serial polygamy, unfortunately, is not illegal, and is very common in a world with easy divorce.

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