“The system of patriarchy is a historic construct; it has a beginning; it will have an end.”
Gerda Lerner in The Creation of Patriarchy
President Trump is wealthy. He governs a commercial empire as well as the United States. He has established a lineage to carry on after him. He issues orders subject only to his will. Two beautiful women, suborned by his wealth and power, stand at his shoulders. He is commander in chief of the patriarchy.
In my last post, I wondered why women have but up with the patriarchy so long. And by patriarchy, I refer to an institutionalized system of male dominance. Gerda Lerner, author of The Creation of Patriarchy, had an explanation. In marriage, she wrote, women found“the possibility of sharing economic and political power with men of their class or in their stead.” This point is vividly illustrated by Trump’s wife, Melania, and his daughter, Ivanka. Women will be watching–and learning from–how this plays out.
At the same time, we’ll be observing ongoing and radical cultural changes that challenge traditional gender roles emerging from patriarchy. The following are some examples:
- Women are becoming more educated than men. According to the “Digest of Education Statistics,” since 1982, more bachelor’s degrees have been earned in the US by women than by men. Since 1986, this has been true of master’s degrees, and since 2005 of doctoral degrees.
- Due to the loss of manufacturing jobs, prime-age men (25-54) are facing a financial crisis. At the same time, college-educated women are accounting for a higher percentage of employees in prestigious fields, some of them very high-paying.
- Fertility rates among American women have been dropping steadily. The current rate, 1.86 per woman, is the lowest since records have been kept. As a result, women are freer than ever before to pursue careers and to share or take over the role of provider that has always burdened men.
- Traditional gender roles are also being challenged by morphing sexuality. By 2016, Facebook was offering members the opportunity to identify with 71 gender options. As of last year, the number of transgender people in the United States was estimated at 1.4 million.
- Among the transgender population are thousands of women who identify as more masculine than feminine; and they are more dynamic, more assertive, and more inclined to lead than is familiar to the patriarchy.
- As of the first of February, an unprecedented 13,000 women were planning to run for public office.
As we can all see, the sun is setting on the way things have been, and my perspective from Santa Fe, “The City Different,” may seem a little unusual. The culture here is extraordinarily open and creative; and it has had historic appeal for independent women, which I will discuss in a later blog.
At the same time, things occasionally seem a little chaotic and dysfunctional here, an increasingly familiar dynamic in the incoming Trump administration. This is not all bad. To quote a writer named Eric Weiner, the focus of an earlier blog, “Instability is one of the essential ingredients for a golden age.” That’s positive. Let’s go with it.
However, to be practical, we know that in the US and the world at large, many people, and particularly those deeply invested in the way things have been, react angrily to unwelcome change. Those who feel most threatened plunge into racism, nationalism, populism, misogyny, terrorism, domestic violence, bullying, sexual abuse, violent crimes . . . . Did I leave something out?
And ironically, those in the US who would like to return to the good old days in many ways have helped elect Donald Trump, a man who will, by action and example, probably be one of the foremost change agents in our history. I’m warming up to his presence for that very reason. I hope Trump’s presidency will endure until we’ve mobilized our best selves to create a new era that will actually eventually be to his unwitting credit.
But back to the moment and an opportunity for a little fun. To the right is an inkblot used in the Rorschach test for psychological analysis. Pretend that a psychoanalyst has asked you to relate it to your impression of Donald Trump. If you would like to share, I may record the results without names in my next post.
And a final note: Readers can see a trend afoot in my blog topics, and this will continue. I have a destination in mind, and I hope you’ll stay with me.