GLOSS Issue 21 APRIL 2015 - Page 24

It would be really useful to get rid of patriarchy right about … NOW. Yesterday would be even better. International Women’s Day would have been perfect. Billions of girls and women, countless boys and men, plus the odd ocean and forest would all be doing cartwheels. adversarial, and their pathological desire to dominate and exploit. Indeed, the strategy of divide and conquer was historically used in many different ways by empires seeking to expand their territories. Gloria Steinem broached this subject of division most Clearly the best way to accelerate the dismantling of eloquently: “I want to talk about an imbalance that has patriarchy is via a totally united, sharply focused women’s led to division, hierarchy and alienation from nature. It has movement of unprecedented proportions. So where is it? led to governance by ranking rather than linking. It has led We all need it – desperately. What’s preventing universal, to worshipping various gods who look suspiciously like unconditional support between women? What’s hindering a the ruling class. I'm talking about the division of human massive eruption of global female collaboration? beings into the cults of masculinity and femininity, into false divisions that conceal both our shared humanity and our What would be amazing would be if we could wildly individual uniqueness. We are trained in this division very increase the number of men and women willing to install young, usually in our own families, and it normalizes later a new app – let’s call it the Unity App – into their mental divisions into leader-and-led, subject-and-object, rich-andoperating system. This Unity App will kick in every time a poor, even conqueror-and-conquered.” person is about to make a decision, and it will simply pose one question, “Will this bring women together or keep What this means is that, if we were to pick two women (or them apart?” men) at random from around the globe, it’s quite possible The Unity App Apart = Problem. Together = Solution. Here are some of the ways in which I feel ‘divide and conquer’ pushes women apart. Perhaps the most obvious, deliberate and dangerous is the tactic of the bully and the abuser, gradually isolating an individual woman from her sources of support. Most damaging in the hands of male perpetrators of domestic violence, but also an alienating tactic used by girls and women against each other. How can heightened awareness, plus knowledge of preventive strategies, enable women to help their peers avoid this trap? A hugely divisive consequence of patriarchal systems emanates from their obsession with being competitive and Graeme Bowman there may exist, between them, numerous artificial wedges pressuring them to distrust, dislike and dismiss each other; such wedges relating to race, ethnicity, class, religion, nationality, values, seniority, age, physical appearance or level of education… not to mention those gender-based wedges that artificially splinter, within each one of us, the naturally occurring range of masculine and feminine traits. Then there’s social exclusion. If girls and women within a certain culture are kept out of school, kept indoors, kept away from their peers for whatever reason, opportunities for collaboration and mutual support are diminished. Where such women have internet access, can we now expect to see empowerment by stealth, bypassing traditional male structures of control? The extraordinary work being done by World Pulse is an outstanding example of giving voice to