then came hairsplitting of the bald patriarchy

Daniel A. Foss (U17043@UICVM.BITNET)
Sat, 4 May 1996 06:09:47 CDT

/* *goodgoshgeewiz*, I brought these books down here, and it looked like */
/* too much work, the heck with it, you know, so I tried to do anything */
/* else, but Ended Up doing it anyhow. I'm sorrier than you are this is */
/* so long. For real! */
Adrienne -

The argument, as I recall, and my once-wondrous memory is in shadowy
remnants of something long forgotten, straggled on, from matriarchy to
patriarchy, once it was reluctantly conceded, when not bellowed chest-
thumpingly, that matriarchies are found with the same frequency as unicorns.
(Not all unicorns are utterly imaginary. The *qilin*, or Chinese unicorn, is
sighted, tis said, when a Sage rules on Earth. The Chinese Navy, which ruled
the Indian Ocean in the early fifteenth century under Grand Admiral Zheng He,
indeed captured a *qilin*, which was brought to emperor Zhu De in Beijing. In
the dutifully modest style of a Confucian ruler, the emperor feigned annoyance
saying, "Why do you bother me with *qilin*s when we have serious and pressing
practical problems to concentrate on." One of these problems was sexual impo-
tence. As befit his station, Zhu De kept an enormous human zoo of women whom,
in retaliation for his own deficiencies he killed with swords. Having nothing
to lose, the Palace women taunted him, "You have lost your *yang* force, why
blame us," which provoked him to further heights of gynocidal fury. This story
is told to magically transport us to China, Land of Patriarchy par excellence,
not merely in Imperial times, but to this very day.

In the haggling and disputation over the word "patriarchy," it was pretended
that the word was useless, for one thing: Call perfect gender equality, what-
ever guise that would take, the Center. Call the various, sundry, and assorted
possible, if never observed, societies wherein women exceed men in access to
the instrumentalities of coercion, hence have more power than men, the Left.
The reverse of the latter situation, where men have access to the mean of
physical coercion in greater degree than do women, the Right. All known
societies would accordingly fall, accordingly, to the Right of Center,
with some all the way over on the Extreme Right: the Yanomamo, the ancient
Athenians (who considered the Spartans, uh, henpecked, a sexist usage, but
then, the Athenians have been characterized as "the most misogynistic people
in Greece," or was that "all of Classical Antiquity"), the Chinese. However
gender hierarchy was in each society, however, the various exemplars of either
moderate or extreme form were nevertheless incommensurate; and the severity
of gender hierarchy as well as the institutional means of control would vary
over time.

Some posters affected, it seemed, never to have heard the usage "patriarchy"
in social science discourse. The Paranoid hypothesis was, this was contrived
for the discomfiture of Ruby, as nobody living in a Decent adademic-professi-
onal milieu, suffused by the heady scent of feminist discours since the 1970s
as it must have been, could have evaded the slinging-about of the word/usage
"patriarchy," such as when someone was cooking: Either the person who was
doing said cooking used the opportunity to politically educate the noncooking
party as to the dictates of patriarchy that the cooking party was doing the
cooking; or the party of the second part was cooking, on which account the
person watching either berated him, a man is meant, for ineptitude traceable
to trained incapacity dictated by patriarchal gender-role stereotyping, Else
he was accused of pretending his eggflip was some sort of artistic performance
due to his gender's exalting of anything or everything done by a man whereas
she, herself, was socially constructed as merely cooking, which reflected
patriarchal domination from time immemorial. It was not unknown for the man
to give the aforementioned lecture himself; and moreover to by the feminist
theory books wherein the most vitriolic denunciations of patriarchy were to
be found. This was a pre-emptive first-strike, and was greeted with contempt;
exceptional men apart. There were always exceptions. Feminism was a subjecti-
vist ideology, meaning that political identity was derived from an Experience
of intense Usness whereto the Me-ness was comparable; and it was posited that
the same Experience was Experienced by all the sisters present, if not all
the sisters ever to have Experienced the Experience of sisterhood. Which it
was not.

Not even the widely-rumoured tribe of Homeless deep within the Subway
tunnels never heard of patriarchy, which "causes" everything we do. Grosso
modo. That's 144 modos. Such as, girls are not merely nicer, but neater. This,
in any particular Case, is assumed, is the System Default, is True until
proven Guilty by a jury of hereditary Peers. Who's been insaner longer, me
or Doctress Neutopia? Good. Were I a girl, she's a mere slip of a girl, 40
years old, or even a female impersonator, I'd get away, just like her, with
*much worse* than I regularly Get Caught doing. That's patriarchy for you,
dictating sexist gender-role stereotypes, just like it's paid to do.

The difficulty, as you can see, is that in a "subjectivist ideology," as
I've been calling these Thingies for the last 29 years, the *meaning* of a
key subcultural term - recall that in the 1960s and since, social-movement
cohesion has been imparted by *subculture* and not *organization* - the
imprecision in usage is (or was) secondary to the Experience of sisterhood
which Experiencing one's Anger at one's Oppressor conduces to. Behind the
organism who is tentatively permitted inside the apartment, "may friends can't
understand what I'm *doing* with you," stands, like Old Man Adler behind *every
pair* of Adler Shoes, the System of capitalism, racism, and Judeo-Christian
Religion. (Here I defer to Doctress Neutopia, whose recent Experience of
Christianity has been that Episcopalianism and Dutch Reformed do not mix.)

Now, Adrienne, you know which one of us runs the Gun Museum of the National
Rifle Association; you also know that patriarchal gender-role brainwashing
requires that I play with the guns and war toys. (I've caveatted myself here,
specifically, that none of this will get out to Ruby, who is not among us at
this time. None of the rest of us, least of all me, have the slightest hangup
about your running the Gun Museum of the National Rifle Association. Secondly,
contrary to whatever I told you in private, I am *not* Son of Sam, who actually
did not even live in the Neighbourhood properly speaking; he lived seven, eight
whole blocks away, went to William Howart Taft High School where the Retards,
ie, those whose mamas never bribed the IQ testers like mine did, eg Sam and
Mildred Posner's kids, Ira and Stella, next door in 5R, went to Taft; I, in 5S,
went to Bronx High School of Science, so there. Furthermore, while both his
father and mine said, "I want you, you should get yourself a Nice Jewish Girl,
you should settle down," each of us aged 17, my father when he dropped me off
at Cornell freshman year, I *never* got the message as screwed up as the other
guy (you know, the one who said, "I only shoot pretty girls"). This was from
knowing Hebrew, which he couldn't do; praise the Lord, who hath not made me
female. Reminds me, Adrienne, doth the Lord pass thee the ammunition? Anyhow,
forget the historic Son of Sam, see the Oliver Stone movie, Full Metal Jacket,
where the boy is Private Gomer Pyle. Oliver Stone's Jewish, too.

Today, it is reasonable to infer, though no official announcement or policy
slip number has ever been given out, that the Personal is Personal; the
Political is Political. In other words, feminism is no longer a social
movement, as defined in Foss and Larkin, 1986. It is an institutionalized,
formally-organized, hierarchically structured entity representing, as well
as representative of, the upper middle class. The definition of the upper
middle class is, anyone who's not in it is said to be a Failure, have No
Future, and not be Paid To Think. The name of Elanor Smeal is associated
with the National Organization of Women, which sits astride organized feminism
like a Colossa (or Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct); no other name is known
to the public from NOW, provided Eleanor Smeal can help it.

Under this dispensation, what do we want to mean by "patriarchy"? Someone
adduced the dictionary definition. This is dirty pool. The dictionary will,
at best, give you the vulgar usages, the superficial appearances, of the
Thingie you are conceptualizing or reconceptualizing. You, as a social
scientist, are contrariwise a sworn Vestal Virgin committed to this faith:
"Yea, that I be ensnared and deluded by the Superficiality of Appearances, I
shall fear no distorting mirrors, gewgawed tinselly fakery, or aught Else. For
the Underlying Appearances are with me; yea, they are at the Bidding of the
Lord." You can Define in terms of the Type Case; the Maximization of Shared
Traits; the Ideal Type whereto conforms nothing empirically observable howbeit
admits of *verstehen*, or in terms of Functional Requisites of Another Thingie.
You can write about it till you drop dead, even, and let Friedrich Engels do
the defining; he was always good at irksome pedestrian details like that.

Let us turn to the wise MEN of the Orient, who surely knew what they were
doing, given the time and energy spend memorizing every word they allegedly
did, and without ever checking for authenticity of the records which have
Come Down To Us. The reason they Came Down To Us was, they got really tripped
out for a while. Talk about your deconstruction, a lot, an *awful lot* of these
texts were *writing themselves*, no doubt about it. From this mass of forgeries
Confucius spelled out the Three Obediences, Son to Father, Wife to Husband, and
Subject to Ruler. (The more rigorous version inserts Younger Brother to Elder
Brother between the first two; and Student to Teacher between second and third.
Teachers are clever at this. One Hebrew teacher in Grade School told us that
the reduplicated *v'eth* in the Fifth Commandment is there to tell us to revere
Teacher along with Father and Mother. This was backed up by painful blows on
the butt.)

Western scholars studying China, especially the periods of Imperial
dynasties, and most especially those who are feminists from the US or other
advanced Western countries, *never* have the slightest hesitation in using the
word "patriarchy" to characterize gender hierarchy in the life of everyday
people. China, if I haven't said this before, is a sinkhole of abuse of women,
by men and families alike, serving to proclaim the assurance, "*Yes, Virginia,
there is a patriarchy*."

It is observed, as ideal and as practical-objective reality, that women are,
in the Chinese kinship system and household, subordinate to men, as enforced
after marriage by these men qua husbands and by men-surrogates. Most feared of
these is the mother-in-law. While strength of character is variable, there are
limits to its prevailing against incantations of servile obligations; eg, in
the Medieval period, the wife's duty is to "serve my husband with mirror and
comb." She is subsumed into a patrilineal kin group, either a lineage or a
superlineage comprising a number of sublineages; all the males of whom records
are kept, or more importantly, ancestral tablets in the agnatic entity's
shrine, are decended from a, usually-real-ish, common ancestor, perhaps
centuries remote in time. Descent is patrilineal. Residence was
virilocal/patrilocal. Post-nuptially, a married woman is, for formal
correspondence and record-keeping, known by the surname of her natal
family, preceded by a term translatable as Miss. The wife was, in a
sense, identity-stripped.

To the lineage, daughters marrying out were a dead loss in bringing-up. The
natal community, patrilineal kin group, and in particular the parents (who'd
hopefully also have sons to do the real inheriting) would pay for the upbring-
ing of a woman whose labour, offspring, and dowry (which fluctuated over time
relative to betrothal gifts, growing most spectacularly in the eleventh
century) were lost to them, destined for subsumption in the wife-taking
family. "Naturally," and understand, we've seen some weird stuff already,
one would do anything, as the girl's mother, to render her marriageable.

Tell us, Adrienne, you change your socks and stockings a lot, correct? What
would you do about the odor from the pus and infection from footbinding? It
never can be got rid of. So important is the girl's marriage that you would
inflict the most horrible tortures, wherefrom she'd scream, to make sure you
did a really good job in creating a pair of three-inch Golden Lotus feet. With
classy shoes of the same lenth, just so nobody can miss the excellence of the
job, entailing the foot bones folded over double. Over the tenth century and
after, this custom spread down the social scale, explained by reference to a
Tang dynasty court dancer, who was agile and quite good at balancing on her
toes. Foot-bound women were, by contrast, crippled, immobilized. It was part
of the gender-role logic which sedentarized men; hence required more complete
immobility of, at least, elite women. Oh, and what do think of foot massage as
Nothing as bad as the Witch Craze, you say?
Why, Chinese women were suspected of foul play, including magical, syste-
matically, whenever a resident male got mysteriously sick, let alone inexpli-
cably died. For a very long time.

These were the behavioural indicators and correlates of gender hierarchy.

There is, too, the sense of "patriarchy" as an *ideology*. This, as
previously noted, has two levels:
(1) The level of the implicit, the taken-for-granted.
(2) The level of the explicit, the doctrinally-formulated.
[Note: If I haven't said so already, I'm terribly sorry; but there's nothing
original in this dichotomy. Pierre Bourdieu said it much better; this is the
vulgarization in Basic English.]
The implicit ideology becomes apparent if or when something scandalous
occurs; or there is a special kinship system created for the exclusive use
of the Imperial Family to handle anomalous situations whereby, say, an Imperial
Princess marries a man of lower status. To what extent is self-abasement by
the Princess required, considering that she's been brought up in fabulous
luxury and that she's "spoiled" far beyond anything we can associate with that

The formal doctrine explicitly stated that the subordination of women to
men was intimately bound up with the allegiance of subjects to rulers. That
doctrine had a long history within Confucianism, itself a much more complex
doctrine. The gender hierarchy was one of several or many hierarchies, each
of which, in the event of failure to maintain it, might set a bad example,
leading to generalized subversion.
Confucianism, from the beginning, had been what I call Paranoid Function-
alism. The purpose of of good government was the prevention of social revolu-
tion. The latter, social revolution, inspired a hysterical fear in Confucians
endeavouring to secure states and dynasties against peasant war. The rigidity
wherewith Confucians feared gender-hierarchy disorder was matched, over
prolonged historical periods, with Confucian governments' fear of peasant
war. Confucianism dug in its heels against change, as well as any intimation
of gender hierarchy, from the persistence, over the same enormous stretch of
history, of the favourable prospects, relative to Europe and other civiliza-
tions, of peasant wars for overthrowing the state. 1949 was not, as Theda
Skocpol's readers imagine, the *first* Chinese social revolution. It was the
fourth (207-202 BC, 865-907 AD, 1351-1368, 1927-1949). There were a fair number
of near-misses, as well as peasant wars ultimately put down, yet meanwhile
knocked the state's socks off.

Here is Xunzi (Hsun Tzu, d. 265 BC) to spell it all out. So blatantly did he
spell it out, developing a complete functionalist social theory in the process,
that the more utopian, mystical believer in Human Goodness, Mencius, was put
on the list of canonical texts; Xunzi wasn't. Too smart for his own good.

When his horse is uneasy harnessed to a carriage, a gentleman is not
comfortable in the carriage; just so, when the common people are uneasy
under an administration, a gentleman is not comfortable in his post. When
a horse is uneasy harnessed to a carriage, nothing is as good as calming it;
just so, when the common people are uneasy under an administration, nothing
is as good as being kind to them. Recruit the worthy and respectable. Ap-
point the sincere and respectful. Promote filial piety and brotherliness.
Care for the orphaned and widowed. Aid the impoverished. If such is the
case, the common people will be comfortable under the administration. If
the common people are comfortable under the administration, only then will
the gentleman be comfortable in his post. It is traditionally said, "The
ruler is like a boat; the common people are like the water. It is water that
supports the boat, and it is also water that overturns the boat." This is
my point. Therefore, if a ruler of men desires contentment, nothing is as
good as governing peacefully and loving the people; if he desires glory,
nothing is as good as promoting ritual and respecting his officers; and if
he desires esteem, nothing is as good as honoring the worthy and employing
the capable. These are the great principles of the gentleman. (Book of Xunzi
excerpt as cited in Charles O. Hucker, China's Imperial Past, 1975, p. 101.)

"It is traditionally said...." How old is the fear of peasant war in China?
Consider, the Roman Empire never had to worry about peasant war; there were, it
is true, the revolt of Ennius, 131 BC, in Sicily; and that of Spartacus sixty
years later in Italy. Yet these were slaves, recently forcibly imported to
the places they rebelled in, having been forcibly removed whence they came, in
a greater demographic rearrangement than that of the Assyrians. The problem
itself was transitory for Rome, as the period of mass enslavements ended with
Caesar's conquests; those in the East were long since over (the spoils of the
Jewish War aside). The slaves themselves had no objection to slavery as an
institution; they were merely outraged that such fate should befall the most
unlikely people for this to happen to, which they believed they were. The
Bagaudae of the fourth-fifth centuries emerged in the context of the disinte-
gration of the state, this far advanced. (Secure about the peasantry, a tough,
authoritarian emperor like Trajan, 98-117, feared the urban *collegia*, part
guild, part trade-unions, instead, as in his dealings with Pliny over a pro-
posed fire department for Nicomedia.)

In the tenth century the hereditary pedigreed aristocracy of Great Families,
the ruling class for centuries, was humbled by peasant war. John W. Chafee
During the Five Dynasties (907-960), many of the aristocratic lineages
disappeared under the repeated onslaught of wars and rebellions, rebellions
noteworthy for their class hatred. (The Thorny Gates Of Learning In Sung
China, 1985[1995], p. 14)

The Song Dynasty, which ruled all China from 960-1126; then ruled South
China, 1127-1279, was at first terrified of renewed social upheaval and
incessant military coups; ie, it feared going the way of the Five Dynasties.
What emerged was a thoroughgoingly doctrinaire Confucian regime; scholars even
sincerely claimed a new, *direct apprehension* of the Confucian classics; they
confidently pronounced authoritatively, as never before. A tremendous ideolo-
gical, political, and educational effort was made to get the rebelious animals
back in their cages; but this fell short of success due to the marketization
of the economy in this period, with all the dislocationary effects of proto-
capitalism, and the inability of the regime to defend the country notwith-
standing vast expenditures on the army, later the navy too. (Of all the wars
fought during the dynasty, for over 300 years, the regime won only two minor
skirmishes.) In 1125, the students at the National University protested state
policies, and the arty, Daoist emperor Huizong reacted exactly as did Deng
Xiaoping in 1989. (What discredited his repression was defeat and death by
the Jurchen tribes the next year.)

The strict hierarchy of gender was part of the repressive, doctrinaire state
policy. When the husband of the Cao-guo princess was married to Han Zhongyen in

Han was reportedly "lacking in decorum and disrespectful" toward his wife
and would spend the night away from their residence without warning. As a
punishment, he was censured and exiled to Qizhou in Huainan-i....
Then in a remarkable memorial, the outspoken Peng Ruli came to the
defense of Han JIayen....Peng begins with the familiar argument that the
governance of the state, the family, and the husband-wife relationship are
interrelated, stating: "If the distinctions between husband and wife are
not proper, then when [the ruler] desires that his family affairs be
ordered, the family's governance will fail, and as for desiring that the
state be ordered, such a thing has never happened...." John W. Chafee,
"Marriage of Sung Imperial Clanswomen," Ch 4 in Rubie S. Watson and Patricia
Buckley Ebrey (Eds.), Marriage and Inequality in Chinese Society,
California, 1991).

In the functionalist world, you have no idea what you might be Messing With,
should you allow anything to go off-kilter. Who knows, really, what's Function-
ally Irrelevant. Long live the Electoral College. And the House of Lords, too!

So goes the marriage, likewise goes the state. This, to repeat, is the
secret of Confucian immobility, where indeed it was immobile. Which left
plenty of room, actually, for sweeping changes within what couldn't *ever*
be allowed to change.

Daniel A. Foss