NCFM Chicago Chapter President Tim Goldich, FemalePower
Hi everybody, I’m Tim Goldich, president of the Chicago chapter of the National Coalition For Men and author of Loving Men, Respecting Women: The Future of Gender Politics. My next book, Equal Partners: The History of Gender Equality, is due out next year. And this ICMI presentation is titled:
In my books I write MalePower and FemalePower in this manner in order to re-brand them a bit so that we may see them in a new way. MalePower is the power we choose to define as power. But MalePower is understood to stand alone, which means that MalePower is poorly understood. Why is MP understood to stand alone? Because we do not understand FemalePower, at all.
I believe that, to come to a balanced understanding of gender reality as it has played out all over the world, all through history, we must come to a whole new and much deeper understanding of female power. But there is profound resistance to acknowledging the reality and magnitude of female power. Jumping that hurdle is, I think, going to be the final frontier in gender politics.
Ask most anyone what female power is, and they will almost certainly point to female senators and CEOs. But, you see, when we point to women who just happen to wield a high-end form of male power, we demonstrate an almost total lack of comprehension of FemalePower. Human society in general and academia in particular are so fixated on the supposed lack of it that we have not yet even begun to officially grapple with it.
What is female power? What is it comprised of and how does it ply its force of influence in the human system? These are the questions that will occupy us in this video. So come on, this is going to be fun!
I’ll offer three reasons why it is so important to understand and acknowledge FemalePower.
- It is a vital step in re-understanding Woman, not as powerless pawn under patriarchy, but rather as powerful participant and ultimately equal partner in the human system.
- Understanding FemalePower leads to respecting Woman as equal partner, and leads to holding Woman accountable as equal partner. In understanding that women ply an equal overall force of influence in the human system, we may understand that women are, therefore, equally responsible for outcomes. Perhaps the truest victimization of women is the withhold of adult accountability, which is infantilizing. It is a withhold of respect. Perhaps a frank understanding of FemalePower is what’s needed if women are ever to extricate themselves from a faction of humanity known collectively as “innocent women-and-children.”
- So long as Female modes of Power remain invisible to us, society is left believing that “men have the power and women are the powerless victims.” Believing that “men have the power/women are the victims” is the source of misandry; it’s the source of all our gender-political woes. You see, it all derives from the premise men have the power; women are the victims and therefore . . .
And therefore ManBad (“over-empowered oppressor/victimizer”), WomanGood (“innocent victim”). It’s not right that men should be granted the power while women are targeted as the victims. That’s wrong and therefore . . . females have a special need for and unique entitlement to their own special “ism,” feminism. And this feminism is needed as a corrective. And therefore anything that punishes and takes power from ManBad (the “over-empowered oppressor/victimizer”), and extra protects and advantages WomanGood (the “innocent victim”), furthers the goal of “equality.” And therefore, female-ism, a special interest group that advocates on behalf of females and females only, can present itself as a movement dedicated to “gender equality.”
But it’s not even feminism as much as it is the initial premise that’s killing us. The premise that men have the power and women are the victims is grossly one-sided, which is why it’s false, which is why it’s poisonous—all around. This MalePower/FemaleVictimization paradigm draws empathy toward the feminine and antipathy toward the masculine. So long as FemalePower remains invisible, women will not be held accountable and men will remain cut off from understanding and compassion.
So that’s three reasons why it is so important to understand and acknowledge FemalePower.
Okay, let’s proceed now by taking a close look at the word “matriarchy.” The near universal assumption is that the opposite of patriarchy is matriarchy. But I submit that “matriarchy” is the wrong word, in fact, I think the word matriarchy is typical of the many ways in which we deceive ourselves regarding FemalePower.
Patriarchy is the male hierarchy. There has never been an equivalent matriarchy because women do not generally form clearly ranked status hierarchies as men do. So there is no motherhood admiralty, no sexual power senate, no Moral Authority Vatican. Instead, Woman tends to work power through the strategies of solidarity. My friend David Shackleton, author of The Hand that Rocks the World, has coined the term “matrisensus” to convey the true nature of this female consensus—the Sisterhood.
Patriarchy is a valid word when understood in conjunction with the mirror-opposite matrisensus. But, feminism’s “patriarchy” is defined as a stand-alone power—the power that rules our human world. As feminist defined, this so-called “patriarchy” never existed. In its place I’ll offer the term patrimatrisensus—the male-female consensus. It is this patrimatrisensus, this male-female partnership that rules the human world, and it always has. xxx
Remember back when no one believed that men ever suffered anything? It took many decades presentation of absolutely unassailable fact before the mere existence of MaleVictimization was grudgingly granted some acknowledgment within feminist academia. But with the dodge, “patriarchy victimizes both sexes,” the existence of FemalePower remains the one most denied, rejected, and adamantly ms-understood aspect of gender reality—shut out from virtually all “official” understanding. Why? In part because FemalePower so dictates.
You see, I told you this was going to be fun.
Both sexes make use of both male and female modes of power. I will label a type of power MalePower if it is primarily wielded by men. And I will label it FemalePower if it is primarily wielded by women. All right, let’s take a look at what FemalePower is comprised of. Here I’ll offer very brief sketches of
14 modes of FemalePower:
1) Sexual Leverage Power: Female powers, such as sexual power, may not be the kind of power feminists choose to define as power, but they are powers men must contend with, powers toward which men are extremely vulnerable, powers that have bent the will of many a man. Moreover, equal to MalePowers, these FemalePowers do much to shape our human world. As seen from the politicized male perspective, so called “patriarchy” is nothing more than men everywhere set in fierce competition in their efforts to perform, achieve, and succeed their way into having what women are empowered to demand of them.
Sexual power is a conduit to Emotional Intimacy power: During sex a man’s carefully constructed walls are breached and an intimacy men don’t get from other men is experienced, perhaps for the first time. Once experienced, men often cling as if their very life depended on it. All denial notwithstanding, the woman holding the other end of this emotional lifeline gains great power.
2) Beauty Power: The power to profit, beguile, open doors, and dazzle through appearance alone. That women will go to great lengths to attain it proves its worth.[i]
3) Presumed Innocence/Moral Authority Power: “#Believe Women”: In part, women are presumed innocent because they “look” innocent. That is, women’s more childlike and angelic appearance has a profound effect upon the human psyche, an effect known as the “halo effect.” This effect, combined with primal associations with motherhood, leads to the power that comes of being more trusted, less suspect in all walks of life, but especially in a court of law. For the same crime, men suffer an average 63% longer prison sentence. This “moral high ground,” is the power a 110lb woman wields when she gets right up in the face of a 210lb man and chews him out for being “wrong.”
4) Majority-Vote Power: The power to vote in or out of office every elected official in all 50 states. When was the last time you heard a major politician dare to speak of men’s issues?
5) Net Worth Power: The greater power to demand alimony and child support payments and keep the family home. Women-as-heads-of-households have an average net worth 41 percent higher than their male equivalents.[ii]
6) Spending Power: Working longer, more stressful and hazardous hours, men earn more. Yet, while men are working, it is women who dominate consumer spending, yielding female primacy in advertising, television, and other media. “That’s because advertisers and marketers are constantly seeking women, who hold the purse strings in our economy,” says author Myrna Blyth. “Women make or influence 85 percent of all spending decisions, representing an enormous $6 trillion worth of annual purchasing power.”[iii] For every dollar a man spends, a woman spends a dollar and forty cents.
7) Procreation Power: The power of choice: abortion, adoption, child drop-off centers, sue for child payments: Her choice is his fate. Note that, unlike male modes of power that tend to be confined to the male elite, these female powers tend to be distributed not just among the female elite, but among women in general. So it is with Motherhood Power: the power to take social, emotional, and legal ownership of her children: The power to shape each successive generation: “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” Historically, the evolution of female parenting has been the evolution of human empathy and emotional intelligence—an evolution equal in importance to the evolution of male technology.
8) Domestic Power: The greater power to rule the roost, set the social calendar, and weave the social fabric. The greater power to choose between fulltime arduous work, fulltime easy work, part-time work, volunteer work, or fulltime parenting.
9) The Greater Power to Elicit Empathy: This is the power that raises only female concerns to the level of major societal concerns. And there is the related power of verbal/emotional acuity: “At home, men routinely sit through harangues that demonstrate women’s greater verbal skills and emotional agility,” says author Daphne Patai. “The feeling of ineptness, of being no match for females at the verbal level, is the common inheritance of all but a few exceptional males.”[iv]
If a man says something in the forest and there’s no woman there to hear him, is he still wrong? See how fun this is?
10) The Power of Protection Under Chivalry: The power of a high degree of protection and exemption from corrupting influences, prison cells, corporal and capital punishment, hard/hazardous labor, battlefields, POW camps, and much more. The degree to which women have been free of the obligation to earn money is the degree to which women have been protected from “the root of all evil.”
11) The Power to Shame: If you were a “real” man you’d . . . do, be, and give whatever it is I want you to do, be, and give. “One of the most effective ways I have seen women using to gain power over men is by shaming men,” says Char Tosi (founder, president, and owner of Woman Within, Inc.), “using their tongue to put men down, to shame their sexuality, to shame their success.”[v] The power to shame the would-be “hero” in a man is a key component in women’s overall power to manipulate. Woman’s power to shame currently has all of maledom in its grip.
12) The Power of Accusation/Lawsuit: “He ‘sexually harassed’ me,” “He ‘discriminated’ against me,” “He . . .”: Feminists such as Susan Brownmiller and Marilyn French have said that not all men need to rape in order to keep all women fearful of rape. It is equally true that not all women need falsely accuse men of rape in order to keep all men and employers fearful of false accusations of rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment, so-called “pay gap” lawsuits, and so on.
13) Academia Power: 90 percent of grade school teachers are female: The power of control over curricula, teaching methods, textbook text, and campus political correctness: teaching feminine-ism (i.e., Gender Studies) even as a prerequisite to graduation: The power to procure an ever larger majority of academic degrees and achievements with all status and economic consequences. Young never-married women far out earn their male counterparts.[vi]
14) The Power of Feminism Itself: Victim Power: The power to define the terms, “sexism,” “male chauvinism,” “misogyny,” “patriarchy,” “pay gap,” “#MeToo,” and so on: The power to control gender ideology and media to defame, discredit, and disempower men with highly publicized officially circulated misandry and “Ms-information.” The power of over a thousand female-centric organizations of all kinds, just here in the U.S.;[vii] plus Title IX, affirmative action, quotas, and other Glass Escalators. The power of ideological dictatorship: In the realms of gender conflict and complaint, gender activism and advocacy, gender defining, gender issues, gender studies, gender politics . . . gender anything, there is femininism on the one hand and on the other hand there is . . . nothing.
The unspoken goal of feminism is to make all other things equal. Securing all the above plus “equality.” The world feminism envisions is a world in which females are often more-than, but never less than, which is not equality at all. But then, what else would we expect from female-ism?
I’ve offered a thumbnail sketch of 14 modes of FP, each worthy of book-length treatment. If we are to form a picture of FemalePower, an analogy is needed. If power is compared with butter, Man and Woman possess equal amounts. But Man’s “butter” is centralized while Woman’s is spread thinner but wider. As compared with his pat of butter, so obvious and objective, examining her “bread” for signs of FP, we find only a thin and seemingly unimpressive layer everywhere we look. But MP is largely confined to the male elite at the tip of the hierarchy while FP is more evenly distributed among women in general.
MalePower extends along the Respect-Axis and may be characterized as relatively extrinsic, very unevenly distributed, objective, and overt in nature. FemalePower extends along the Love-Axis and may be characterized as relatively innate, evenly distributed, subjective, and covert in nature. The power that comes of being more loved equals the power that comes of being more respected.
Feminism reframes FemalePower into “powerlessness” (beauty = “burden,” motherhood = “sacrifice,” etc.). Likewise, MP can all be reframed into “Male Obligation.” I understand that none of the 14 modes of FemalePower may cause women to feel powerful, but feelings are a matter of human perception, perspective, and choice. Just because men tend to power interpret their reality while women tend to victim interpret theirs, doesn’t make either of these interpretations true to fact.
What if FemalePower is not “invisible” as much as we simply choose to be blind to it, even though it is actually plain to see? Consider: less than a 100 years ago, feminism had no more than it had always had—a cult following, passionately advocated by a few but largely rejected by mainstream men, and women. Then, suddenly, technology (distributed by capitalism) radically changed our world.
In the world of women, reproductive and domestic technologies, together with the vast expansion of service industries, went a long way toward freeing women up. For the first time in history the traditional female role could be planned (through effective birth control) and eased (through the use of everything from dry cleaners and daycare to vacuum cleaners and microwave ovens), and suddenly motherhood and career were no longer such mutually exclusive endeavors. Meanwhile, unions, together with attention given to paid medical coverage, paid vacations, plus workers’ compensation, worker safety, and worker morale, went a long way toward making the workaday world of men more genteel and lucrative, cleaner, safer, less arduous, and therefore more suitable and far more appealing to women than it had ever been before. For the first time in history, machine power took the place of muscle power and women’s strength disadvantage was rendered insignificant. Marxism provided the ready made victim rhetoric that tainted what might have been a more loving gender transition movement, but it was technology, more so than ideology, that freed women from biology as destiny.
The world of white middle class America at the midpoint of the 20th century was a world entirely unlike any that humans had ever before experienced. And it was under all these unprecedented circumstances that women—not just a few, but women in general—began to support the feminist perspective and enter the newly improved world of men en masse.
We may cut through the haze and see the true magnitude of female power when we consider how quickly change came the moment conditions were right, female solidarity was achieved, Woman chose to enter the work-place, and begin changing it to her liking (part-time work, flexible hours, paid maternity leave, extra safety measures, political correctness, onsite childcare, and so on). Women now obtain most of the advanced degrees, comprise the majority of the workforce, and never-married women well out earn their male counterparts. Woman powerless? No coup in history ever encountered so little resistance nor effected a shift so dramatic, rapid, and bloodless.
So, we’ve taken a look at what FemalePower is and what it’s comprised of. It’s time now to look at how FP plies its force of influence in the human system. It’s time now to consider:
Domination vs. Manipulation
We are conditioned to rail automatically against the “sexism” and “misogyny” of using the word “manipulative” to describe women. Let us consider this carefully.
Is it any more sexist or derogatory to accuse the feminine of being manipulative than it is to accuse the masculine of being domineering? If women really are the victims, then men, the ones with the power, must be the victimizers. So, the accusation that Man dominates is a judgment of ManBad (“over-empowered oppressor/victimizer”), at fault and to blame for war, crime, violence, pollution—all things bad. Taken to its full feminist conclusion the accusation that Man dominates condemns everything men are and everything men do. Surely, the accusation that Woman manipulates can be no worse than that.
Imagine a husband and wife making a grand entrance into a social gathering. The wife knows the assembled guests and makes the introductions. “Hey everyone, this is my husband; he dominates me.” In your imagination you see a mortified man stammering, “I don’t’ dominate you. When did I . . . ? Do I dom . . What do you mean?” he asks, red-faced. If to dominate is to impose one’s will over another through a show of force, then domination is ethically indefensible.
Male domination and female manipulation may be judged equally negative behaviors, make for equally pejorative aspersions and are about equally representative of reality. The true sexism is found in the unequal protection women receive, from criticism, from accountability—protection even from those truths women would rather not hear. When we readily accept the idea that men are domineering, but recoil at the characterization of women as manipulative, we are only demonstrating our heightened sensitivity to anything that even hints at criticism of women.
Criticism of women is “sexism.” Criticism of women is “male chauvinism.” Criticism of women is “misogyny.” Criticism of women is forbidden. This virtually universal stance is itself highly sexist.
And, every human reality is subject to reframe. When men are told that they’ve been the dominant sex, men tend to hear that they’ve been the stronger, more powerful sex and feel flattered. The male’s generally positive reaction to being described as “dominant” is emblematic of the male’s tendency to power interpret his reality. But, by contrast, we will expect women accused of being manipulative to feel insulted. But what if women were as keen as men are to turn their negatives into positives? Then, should women be told that they’ve been the manipulative sex, women could choose to forgo insult and hear instead that they’ve been the smarter, cleverer sex and feel flattered.
Because we understand the word manipulative only in a pejorative sense, we will not want to apply the word to the Mahatma Gandhi. But Gandhi’s hunger strikes?—those were not dominance strategies he used to ply his enormous force of influence. It’s all in how you look at it.
Domination and manipulation are just two modus operandi with which to wield influence. Because they are both effective, both sexes make use of both manipulative and dominance strategies to get what they want (ordinarily, men and women work these strategies subtly and harmlessly). Woman generally prefers not to work her power to achieve domination, in part to avoid the many and severe costs that, historically, have gone with domination (becoming corrupted, blamed, incarcerated, assassinated, etc.), but also because domination isn’t usually Woman’s most effective modus operandi for wielding power. Men and women generally wield power in different ways because men and women generally possess different kinds of power.
In part, men have leaned more heavily on domination because the kinds of power men tend to possess (physical strength, wealth, titles, status, prestige, etc.) best lend themselves to domination. And women have leaned more heavily on manipulation because the powers women tend to possess (sexual leverage, shaming, moral authority, eliciting empathy, motherhood, etc.) best lend themselves to the strategies of manipulation.
When Woman manipulates, she plies influence (controls her environment and gets what she wants) by pulling strings that can’t easily be traced back to her. In so doing, she sacrifices credit in order to avoid blame. Woman is just as ego-invested in beauty, grace, and goodness as Man is ego-invested in toughness/strength/courage. Thus blame is anathema to Woman. Blame accuses a woman of lacking goodness, which is equivalent to accusing a man of lacking courage. For this reason Woman has been willing to forgo credit for the sake of evading the blame she so abhors.
“The history of Western women,” says author Patricia Pearson “is a history of subterranean narratives. Through the centuries, we have fulfilled our ambitions and expressed our bids for power in a manner concealed from men.”[viii] Through the centuries, Woman has pulled strings that cannot easily be traced back to her. Woman wields power “in a manner concealed from men,” in part because her manipulative strategies work best when plied covertly.
If a woman subtly intimates that doing her bidding is apt to be rewarded with “sexual favors,” a man is apt to do anything she wants him to do. But imagine a woman stating outright: “See these breasts? If you want ‘em you’ll do as I tell you!” Not an approach that’s apt to work very well, is it? To be maximally effective, the man must get the hint that doing the woman’s bidding may be rewarded with “sexual favors,” but then he must be encouraged to think that doing what the woman wants is his idea. When spoken outright, “Do as I say and I’ll reward you with praise,” “Bend to my will or I’ll withdraw my motherly love” will not be very effective. But, left unsaid, they may bend his will and leave him believing it was his idea.
Male power, in contrast, is not diminished by the direct approach. “Do what I tell you or I’ll put my fist in your face” is apt to work quite well. “Do what I tell you or I’ll fire you . . . I’ll bust you down to private . . . I’ll arrest you;” the direct approach imposes many costs, but it works for men. The direct approach doesn’t work so well for female modes of power. “Do what I tell you or I’ll devastate you with an accusation of cowardice”? If a woman is forthright about it, her power is diminished.
From the book Lip Service by Kate Fillion:
“Sexuality is a power tool for women,” says a woman identified only as Laura. “I bluffed my way into advertising with no experience, and basically got my first job because the boss fancied me. He didn’t do or say anything, it was just obvious. . . . the fact that he liked me meant that he went out of his way to help me. . . . He encouraged me and taught me how to do really advanced work, so by the time I got my next job, I was on my way. . . . If a man you work with is attracted to you, he’s not abusing you or taking advantage of you – you can use him, get him in your corner professionally.” [ix] [Emphasis in the original]
I think Laura here demonstrates how femininity can be so powerful; it may ply a force of influence without a woman having to do anything. Obviously, power worked without action taken is power that will be difficult to measure and/or hold accountable. But that doesn’t make such power any less real.
As it stands now, Woman’s power being invisible, allows feminists (Woman’s self-appointed spokespersons) to come to the bargaining table saying in effect: “We women have nothing, you men have everything; so give us half of what you’ve got because that would only be fair.” In his gender-political ignorance, his chivalry, and his blindness to the feminine shadow, Man sees no flaw in Woman’s demand; so his honor and his integrity compel him to pour from his glass half “full” into Woman’s glass half “empty” because that is only “fair.”
So, another reason why Woman is highly invested in keeping her power invisible is because this highly effective female manipulation, this means by which Woman seeks to take more than she gives, can only work so long as FemalePower is kept invisible.
Because women are powerful, women are feared. But Woman will not garner the authentic respect she craves until she is prepared to come to the bargaining table speaking honest truth. Imagine . . . what if Woman said to Man: You have power, I have power; I experience victimization, you experience victimization—let’s negotiate. At that point Woman shows up, not as a damsel in distress, but as a high-integrity adult to be respected and bargained with.
Says anthropologist Marion Kranichfeld:
It is evident from a comprehensive reading of any body of literature dealing with power that women are rarely portrayed as having power, except where and to the extent that they hold the types of power that men generally wield . . . Power appears to be automatically defined as whatever rights men have that women generally do not, and by this definition, women are indeed powerless. When power is viewed from a different perspective, however, it can be seen that women in fact have a great deal of power, of a very fundamental and pervasive nature; so pervasive, in fact, that it is easily overlooked.[x] [Emphasis in the original]
Yes, males wield more MalePower than females do; but females wield more FemalePower—a power that must no longer be overlooked. Women will be better respected when FemalePower is respected. Perhaps the single greatest challenge in gender politics is to bring FemalePower to common consciousness in both men and women. Only when Woman’s power is officially revealed, studied, taught within academia, and discussed forthrightly throughout the most respected sources of news and information will Woman come to own her power and accept accountability.
Was it as fun for you as it was for me?
MalePower and FemalePower come out even. Woman is, and has always been, equal partner in the human system; she has equal weaponry, equal efficacy, and she is equally responsible for outcomes. Every society has been Male Dominated and every society has been Female Manipulated in equal measure. Rather than demand that men Man Up and take Full Responsibility, let us hope that in the future gender issues will be viewed and addressed as matters of shared responsibility.
I’m Tim Goldich, thanks for watching.
[i] “[T]he entire beauty industry is worth an astounding $382 billion globally.” http://people.com/style/how-much-does-a-woman-spend-on-makeup/
[ii] Farrell, Warren, Ph.D., The Myth of Male Power: Why Men Are the Disposable Sex (New York: Berkley Books, 1993) p.32. See, U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Statistical Abstracts of the US, 1989, 109th edition, p. 459, table 747—“Household Net Worth—Median Value of Holdings: 1984.”
[iii] Blyth, Myrna, Spin Sisters: How the Women of the Media Sell Unhappiness and Liberalism to the Women of America (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2004) p.6.
[iv] Patai, Daphne, Heterophobia: Sexual Harassment and the Future of Feminism (New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1998) p.8.
[v] Kammer, Jack, Good Will Toward Men: Women Talk Candidly About the Balance of Power Between the Sexes (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994) p.79.
[vi] Roberts, Sam, “Young women in big cities earn more,” Chicago Tribune, August 03, 2007, http://www.chicagotribune.com/services/newspaper/premium/
Young women in New York, Chicago, and several of the nation’s other largest cities who work full time have, according to an analysis of recent census data, forged ahead of men in wages. The shift has occurred in New York since 2000 and even earlier in Los Angeles and Dallas. . . . The analysis was prepared by Andrew Beveridge, a demographer at Queens College who first reported his findings in Gotham Gazette, published online by the Citizens Union Foundation. It shows that women from 21 to 30 living in New York City and working full time made 117 percent of men’s wages, and even more in Dallas, 120 percent.
[vii] Barrett, Jacqueline K. (editor), Encyclopedia of Women’s Associations Worldwide: A Guide to Over 3,400 National and Multinational Nonprofit Women’s and Women-related Organizations (London: Gale Research International Ltd., 1993)
[viii] Pearson, Patricia, When She Was Bad: How and Why Women Get Away with Murder (New York: Penguin Books, 1998) p.16.
[ix] Fillion, Kate, Lip Service: The Truth About Women’s Darker Side in Love Sex, and Friendship (Toronto Canada: HarperCollins, 1996) p.126.
[x] Kranichfeld, Marion L., “Rethinking Family Power,” Journal of Family Issues, Vol. 8 no. 1, March 1987, pp.42-56 ©1987 Sage Publications, Inc.