Sunday, April 25, 2010

Patriarchy and Seduction

There are numerous ways to obtain power. None of them are easy, and all of them require Will and brains. A select few are merely born into their station. Others are elevated through a hierarchical system for reasons other than their being fit for the positions they hold, which would be a sign of a diseased hierarchy. We need not concern ourselves with either category for the purposes of this discussion.

Most of the upward movement in any power structure, but particularly in a Patriarchal power structure, happens because of seduction. If we grew up in a family unit, a parental paradigm forms the psychological backdrop for our understanding of authority. This paves the way for two forms of seduction: father/son seduction, and daddy/daughter seduction.

When we hear the words “seduction,” and “Patriarchy,” most of us probably think of daddy/daughter seduction. The young, beautiful woman who fucks her way to the top is a myth. To really advance by using seduction in this way is demanding for several reasons, not the least of which because sex is the natural termination of the parental paradigm. Sex is a key rite of passage in the west. It is also the natural end of the symbolic daddy/daughter relationship, making it fairly easy for the man in power to walk away without giving up any more than he already has. He has initiated a symbolic child into adulthood, and although sex may be his objective and it certainly may happen more than once before this process is complete, this sort of seduction has a beginning, a middle, and an end. If the seducer doesn’t have a plan for what to do at the end, or doesn’t have the Will and brains to make that plan work, they will not get far. Because this relationship imposes a condescending power structure, it is inherently poisonous.

Father/son seduction is different. This form of seduction is the core of any Patriarchal system, and it is inherently a nourishing power structure because it is based on the "father"'s recognition and encouragement of the strengths of the "son." A young man sees a man in power and learns about his ideals, his aspirations, and what he considers good potential. That young man then seeks to demonstrate those ideals to the man in power with his own behavior, becoming a sort of symbolic son. This form of seduction is far more prevalent, and more effective in Patriarchal hierarchies, than the tricky daddy/daughter seduction. It takes advantage of the natural human inclination to pass on one’s knowledge to a person one feels could put it to good use. The death or retirement of the man in power is the only natural end. This is not regarded as manipulation in the way that daddy/daughter seduction is, but it is a form of seduction just the same.

I can’t imagine what would dissolve this sort of power structure, but I can imagine its values significantly changing. The father/son relationship is not, as we might assume, gender-specific. A woman who can demonstrate the ideals and aspirations held by someone in power is perfectly capable of this form of seduction, provided that the person in power can see himself or herself reflected in her. The argument against Patriarchy has been that men in power do not see themselves in women, who they regard only as potential sexual encounters or distraction from “man’s work.” This is not so much an argument against the system itself, but a case against the way that it is run. This sort of prejudice is naturally injurious to any hierarchy. Hierarchies can only be healthy if the people who are the most effective at managing their layers, realizing their goals and values, and demonstrating the ideals of their leaders are promoted into positions of authority.

What does this shift in value demand of people in power? Nothing more or less than that they built the most capable and effective hierarchies as possible. Nothing more or less than that they cherish strength and abolish weakness.

But most importantly: Nothing more or less than that they let the ends justify the means.

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