The Invisible Air We Breathe

The burden of this chapter is that there are different kinds of power. While men have the lion’s share of political and economic power, women have always done a corner in moral power. Or perhaps we should rather say authority, on the model of the traditional distinction between power and authority. (Power is when someone says, “Let this be done” and it is done, while authority is when someone says, “Let this be done” and everyone else says, “You know, this really ought to be done”). As has been shown scattered around in my work, many of the phenomena that are regarded as patriarchal or oppressive are in reality exercises of female moral power – against other women, such as for example the trade-unionism of “slut-shaming”, which is designed to support the market price for sex.

The exercise of such female moral power against men, however, is both very widespread and very difficult to talk about, the latter precisely because, like the rules of Fight Club, said moral power includes an imperative not to talk about it. Its workings are intended to be invisible, just as the air we breathe is invisible. The modern situation in which women sit in moral judgment upon men, but may not themselves be judged by them, is meant to masquerade as unchallenged normality.

Of course, debunking the female claim to emotional and ethical superiority in no way commits us to asserting the emotional and ethical superiority of men, but there is a certain kind of mind that cannot wrap itself around this truth, perhaps because it cannot contemplate an absence of aggressive superiority.

The progressive woman considers herself entitled to function as every man’s probation officer, while denying the right of any man even to comment upon her own behaviour, or that of any other woman. And this we call Patriarchy?

Posted on February 22, 2013 at 11:40 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink

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