Smashing The Patriarchy? What's In It For Men?
Updated: Mar 12
Some men still resist women's equal rights. But what if a more egalitarian society brings them...certain benefits?
Does he look like he's complaining? Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels
In my last article, What If Human Women Challenged Male Aggression Like Bonobos? I explored theories as to why our close primate cousins evolved toward the more peaceful society many of us humans claim we want. Bonobo society exhibits some elements of a 'matriarchy' rather than a patriarchy, but still appears much more equitable for both sexes in a way the patriarchal model of male dominance never has been.
While bonobos are far less studied than humans and chimps by biologists, zoologists and other scientists, our sex-crazed, hippie-like grrrl power African cousins south of the Congo River offer several options for changing human society--for everyone.
The idea of a human society run primarily by women must sound pretty threatening even to a rational, even-minded human male. Patriarchy has been brutal for women for many thousands of years and a 'matriarchy' sounds too much like Payback's a bitch, bitches!
Let's get this straight: No Blessed-By-God/dess biological anybodies should run the show. Humans are fallible and selfish and power corrupts absolutely. Women would find whole new ways to screw up the world and tip the current power imbalance to their own favor, as I expect would happen if black people, Asians, Latinos, or any other melanin-based group would.
We're more alike than we're different and one thing we all have in common is human tribalism.
Our bonobo cousins, though, demonstrate how a more equitable society benefits everyone, including males, whose primary 'lose' is that they're unable to behave as aggressively as other primates, since bonobo females gang up to shut them down fast. It's theorized this response is enabled via extensive female friendships, a sentiment that extends even to females in other troops.
Bonobo males are hardly 'henpecked', to coin a judgemental term from their higher primate cousins. They benefit mightily from the equitable bonobo social model which begs the question: Would human males, also, if we adopted some of their best practices?
What if the men who fight the fiercest against women's equal rights are the ones who'd benefit mightily from a more equal world?
In order to sell a less violent, non-zero-sum-based future vision to Da Boyz, we women need to paint them a picture: What will it look like? Should they be afraid?
A bonobo-style human social model would be less matriarchal than patriarchy is patriarchal, and would NOT be led by misandrist #MeToo victim feminists. They're the ones who would mess it up if they were in charge. Gender hatred sucks no matter who wields the power.
Let's explore what we can adopt from our bonobo cousins and more specifically, What's in it for men?
SEX! SEX! SEX! SEX! SEX! SEX! SEX!
South of the Congo, everyone gets laid and peace reigns supreme. Bonobos put the 'free' in 'free love'. There are no bonobo incels! In a comparable human model, only relentlessly toxic masculine males will lose.
Scientists theorize that bonobo male aggression may have selected out of the gene pool in Darwinian fashion if female bonobos favored mating with less aggressive males. Bonobo females shag who they want, when they want, in front of the males they've shagged before and if anyone objects, several bonobo females will move in to remind him to stand down, buddy-boy.
I'll bet s/he doesn't stress over whether their baldness will hamper their access to sex. Image by Paul Brennan from Pixabay
I don't advocate we emulate all the bonobos' sexually liberated lifestyle - adults have sex with young bonobos, who, admittedly, seem to be okay with it, but if human females can learn not to favor 'bad boys' and toxic masculine models that have proven otherwise successful for aggressive males for thousands of years, male aggression might be bred out of our species.
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Cis-hetero-normative, and especially more even-tempered, broad-minded men who choose to cooperate with strong, powerful women will finally get the breaks they deserve and enjoy plenty of access to women without all the grief and jealousy this currently causes - because sex becomes a bonding ritual rather than about dominance and possession.
Keep in mind, that works both ways.
But what if you're gay, trans, or genderfluid? The bonobos got it covered!
An end to homophobia
Bonobos are pansexual. They'll have wild sex with just about anyone, and that includes male-to-male and yes, guys, girl on girl! Homophobia becomes a happily discarded relic when everyone is free to explore whatever homosexual feelings they may have. There aren't likely any 'trans' bonobos (not that we can look into their brains, but maybe 'identity' doesn't matter when you can be who you are without social sanction), but bonobos exhibit the sexual fluidity humanity is currently exploring now.
The trans/non-gender movement's willingness to be more fluid, to regard sexual identity and sexual preference as a spectrum, less bound to labels and less trapped in rigid gender roles, is something we humans can certainly work on.
Photo from Vice's Gender Spectrum Collection
No more hiding. No more going on the 'down low'. No more shame in loving sausage more than you love Jesus. No more 'beards' to pretend to your family you're 'normal'. Everyone is normal when it's consensual.
Everyone getting laid and being who they are without a lot of crap from the Twitterati and Tucker Carlson's WTF scowl leads to another male benefit.
Less violence from other men
In our world today, men are as much at risk for violence from men as women are, and a less violent world for women means a less violent one for men.
With an end to entitled, aggressive, socially-challenged romantic rejects, the sexually satisfied will have much less to be angry about.
When collective female power demands and enforces female sexual rights, including the right to shag whoever they want, and sex becomes a bonding ritual rather than a dominance one, men won't need to compete with other males for women. Everyone's available to everyone! Men will have a lot less to fight about. When men are no longer allowed to bully and assault women, bullying or assaulting other men won't be a good look for women seeking non-toxic partners. If anyone forgets, perhaps the formerly-bullied weaker men can gang up together like bonobo females and keep more aggressive males in line.
There's one final benefit for men to adapt to in a non-dominance human social model.
Escape from the Man Box
'Real men' fit into a constricted definition of what 'being a man' or 'masculine' is. Social scientists have come to refer to it as the 'man box', noting it's a hegemonic masculinity that ultimately restricts and harms all men, whether they consciously adhere to it or not. It requires men to pack their feelings, emotions and sentiments into a mental box and keep them far, far away, because emotions are for 'girls'. And girls suck because they're weak and feminine, not like he-man boys!
Remaining in the man box today is the safer option for many men, who are less bullied and preyed upon if they conform to toxic masculine ideals, but many chafe to escape (like those in LGBTQ) and in a more equitable world, with the primary excuse for toxic masculinity (female subordination) removed, men will be free to be whoever they are, whatever they are. They'll be relieved of the immense burden of constantly having to 'prove' their masculinity and forever being surveilled by anxious male 'gender police' for signs of homosexuality.
Abandon all hope, ye who enter here. By Édouard Hue, CC BY-SA 3.0 on Wikimedia Commons
Do a little dance, make a little love, get down tonight!
We humans no longer have to follow the patriarchal dominance model germinated by the Agricultural Revolution. Some men, arguably many men given the popularity of a cardboard he-man like Donald Trump and the intense fear around female sexuality surrounding the current direct threat to Roe vs Wade, feel like they're fighting for their lives in the face of 'dark hordes' of immigrants and feminist hordes of angry, pissed-off feminists seeking to turn them into second-class citizens (fear of the tables turning is behind a lot of Angry White Male-ism).
It's hard to fault their fears when you peruse social media and find as much victimist-thinking misandrist feminism damning men, laughing at them, blanketing them with generalizations, and proving that misandry is as ugly as misogyny.
Fortunately, bonobo females never take it this far. Bonobos overall aren't known to kill each other. This is the kind of chick human females may need to sit on from time to time.
'Erasing men' isn't the answer, either. Ladies, The Slumflower's on the Watch List!
Update:You're on the Watch List too.
That's what they do to us when we don't 'satisfy our needs'. And this is right because...?
A more bonobo-style social model for humans might not be 'matriarchal', per se, and absolutely can't mean female dominance. But there would definitely be more female power, leadership and decision-making input. We can strive for a more equitable society in which our increased power augments, rather than debits, men's.
What we as power feminists must do to encourage our potential male allies to join us is to help them visualize what a more equitable society looks like, and particularly what it means for those who are today part of the dominant power structure whether they accept it or not. I hope I've presented men some food for thought regarding how we can all learn to live together, work together, and love together.
For starters, gentlemen: We offer lots more guilt-free sex and a happier, more joyful existence.
What else does a more equitable future look like for men? What else is in it for them?
What changes do we women need to make within ourselves first to prepare for the responsibility that comes with increased power?
Are you ready for it? Are we ready for it?
Did you like this post? Would you like to see more? I lean left of center, but not so far over my brains fall out. Subscribe to my Substack newsletter Grow Some Labia so you never miss a post!