Second Nature Home > Short Essays by Dan Bruiger >

If Women Ruled the World

Males have played a dominant part in transforming the planet. The conquest of nature, the building of civilizations, and the exploration of intellectual and spiritual space, as well as of physical space, have been largely male enterprises. The role of females in creating culture and the human identity has been overshadowed and overlooked. We have yet to imagine what a world made by women would look like. The story of Man’s relationship to nature, moreover, is really the story of men’s relationship to the feminine. Characteristic solutions to the masculine identity crisis are what we know as “ego satisfactions”: power, status, dominance, recognition, accomplishment, etc. Perhaps these reflect the extent to which social values have been defined by dominant men. On the other hand, the great dreamers, contemplatives, saints and idealists, who have been relatively in touch with the feminine principle, have either been lumped together with the great conquerors, doers and troublemakers of history simply by gender, or else have thrown in their lot with them in a shared masculine idealism. Culture has been ostensibly a masculine accomplishment first of all because men have created and ruled the world while women remained, perforce or by choice, in nurturing roles at home. In addition, it is because the efforts of women to make their marks in a male-dominated world have been systematically ignored, thwarted or appropriated by men. Just as importantly, because a certain type of man has been able and driven to impose his leadership on society, the voice of the feminine has been muted in the patriarchal era and the masculine idealism that dominates it has acquired its particular tone. Male and female alike have been conscripted into the masculine ethos, and men too have been seduced by masculine concepts and values (progress, power, success, consumerism) that are against common sense and the common good. The repression of the feminine has served to keep in their places not only women but also the majority of men. If we have not witnessed a world defined by women, neither have we seen one produced by a positive masculinity: one that is not defined against women, the body, and nature, nor one that is not controlled by an elite of other men.

RELATED TAGS: [self-made identity, cultural heroines, creative women, masculine identity crisis, male/masculine enterprise, male-dominated world/society, patriarchal era, masculine ethos/value, positive masculinity]

© Copyright Dan Bruiger 2008. All rights reserved.