Brocialists of the World, Unite! (Not)Jose M. Tirado I Politics & Government I Commentary I February 4th, 2014
Among the most disheartening phenomena I observe as I occasionally contribute to and regularly monitor the alternative or Left press, and this includes many blogs, political party sites and literary way-stations on the Web, is the preponderance of male voices. While we can´t be sure, the collected numbers of readers are probably small in toto, but nevertheless carry some weight as I see references to these sites and their articles in other, less marginalized media fairly regularly. But the patterns are disturbing:
The websites were by and large made by men, the debates are run, conducted and monitored by men, the content and invited guest commentators are almost always men, the prescribed (or proscribed) topics are selected by men, and the pontifical proclamations about historical minutiae and the projected state of the future revolution are all made by men, largely between the ages of 20-40 (the latter being the extreme upper end on some of these sites.)
I joined an organization a few years ago whose theoretical promise seemed high and whose goals worthy and yet, when I looked more carefully, nearly 95% (yes, I counted) of the membership was made of men and now, 2 years later, with hundreds more members worldwide, the rates have gotten better but are still depressingly indicative of a monumental failure to involve women - now it´s only 80%+ all men. I left them in disgust.
If we are collectively working to make the world a better place, to create new institutions, develop new lines of thinking so as to foster new means of creating spaces whereby a new world can be envisioned and then created, then why do we not have the same number of women as we do men engaging in this most important enterprise? If women constitute at least 50% of the world´s population, one would think they have some input on these matters, no? Poverty, violence and lack of education are just a few issues which have a disproportionate impact on women. One would think therefore that they would have at least as much to say about how to rectify this as men. So are the Web´s gatekeepers only men? (It seems that way.) Do women create these kinds of spaces to debate these kinds of issues and make organizations to effect positive change in this regard, and if so, where are they? Are the mainly young men leading all these pointless discussions and testosterone-filled arguments indicative of a problem in Left thinking that cements male privilege into a sacred, never to be questioned right to create the spaces of dialog, determine the framework of the debate, and then, only when certain unspecified conditions are met, invite women in to share the spoils? What should we make of this?
Personally I want no part of a "socialist" future if half the intended recipients of the Good we are fighting for are not part of the process from the ground up and part of every aspect of its creation and implementation. I do not trust analyses of processes as complex as human interactions or the potential for an end to capitalism if all the people speaking on the topic are men. It means something, and while I cannot be 100% of what, I simply don´t trust it. When I hear people who are still in the first couple decades of their lives "burn out" over the vicious intensity of their squabbling on internet forums (with other men), "tired of all the in-fighting" (with other men) and give up on "the left" I wonder, what is it exactly they think "the left" is in reality - just a bunch of verbally sharp young men? Who are they fighting for? What are they really fighting against (raging hormones are one speculation)? Is the entire exercise another sublimated biological display of machistic posturing designed to impress (the nonvisible) females who are being sought after? I don´t know, but this is a great concern to me.
Riane Eisler has done some very interesting work on the androcratic ("male ruled") nature of larger societies and has proposed the need for more "partnership models" (neither patriarchy nor matriarchy) in which men and women share fully equal responsibilities for the creation and execution of organizing work and society. As far as I know, the androcratic nature of the dominant Left debating societies has not been given as much attention but, if anecdotal evidence has any value, this is an examination which needs happen. And if it does, what will it reveal?
Now, I understand that the Internet remains a domain where young men have dominance (perhaps one of the only areas in society where they do?) but I find the exercise in planning for world changing action pointless if the only one´s discussing it are guys with the fervor of mating jealousies and territoriality.
An Internet meme widely circulated on Facebook pointed out laconically the ridiculousness of a Saudi Arabian conference on the rights of women in a conference hall filled exclusively with men. How far from this is the utopian talk of socialist revolution or fighting capitalism? Not very, I´m afraid. "Brocialists of the world unite!" is not the slogan I wish to cry when the struggle for a new world begins in earnest.