The Same Rabbit That Went Into It

We have been made so accustomed to describing, opposing and apologising for the male as the “dominant” sex that we have been rendered quite unable to consider the possibility that this discourse might in fact be a tactical instrument of the female sex in maintaining a position that, if not actually dominant, is at any rate a lot less subordinate than purported. Perhaps we ought to ask this question: if various kinds of aliens, with various kinds of social arrangements, were to visit Earth, which sex would they consider “dominant”, in what arenas and for what reasons? Until such aliens arrive, we might usefully pretend to be them. The answer may not be quite what was expected.

The assumption that it is men who wield power over women and not the other way around is in fact a tautology. For there are many different kinds of power, some more obvious than others. And if we seize on those particular kinds of power that men do undoubtedly wield over women, and ignore the kinds of power that women wield over men, then it is hardly surprising that we can triumphantly conclude that men wield power over women. All we have done here, however, is to pull out of the hat the very same rabbit that we put into it.

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