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Byron Shire
May 29, 2022

Imagine no religion

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Oh dear, it seems I’ve been excommunicated from another religion. I considered myself a Christian for a while, because I thought all that stuff JC said about love and forgiveness was pretty cool, but it turns out that I couldn’t quite get behind all the funny rituals and the men in silly hats. Then I went with Buddhism, because I thought the guy was like a spiritual version of Santa Claus, but I couldn’t give up on my big juicy steak.

Finally I settled on being a pagan, god revealed through the wonder of creation, hug a tree, sex as prayer, worship in your own way and all that – or so I thought. I’ve just learned that I’m not a ‘true’ pagan because I don’t bury perfectly good fruit in the backyard (why?) and, yes, I’ve been known to judge other people on their religious beliefs, something that ‘real’ pagans apparently never do, unless they are writing letters to the editor criticising people for criticising people.

So while I’m on a roll I’m afraid I need to kick myself out of yet another cult of belief: Feminism. You see, I agree with just about everything that Robin Harrison (The Echo, January 24) had to say about religion being a tool for the elites to control the rest of us plebs, except the bit where it all stems from this mysterious thing called ‘patriarchy’. I just spent four years at university studying the social sciences where patriarchy is pretty much taken as fact (everything else is still a theory, hmmmm), but I’m not buying it.

Certainly, the dominant religions of the current world seem to be patriarchal, and many of the social power bases of the last couple of millennia have excluded women, but that doesn’t mean that ‘patriarchy’ is the root cause of power seeking. Patriarchy implies that the will to have power over others is somehow endemic to the psyche of the masculine. I don’t know about you, but when I look around me there are plenty of women who seek and use power to the detriment of others. (Just look at our PM.)

A better explanation, I think, is that the will to power indicates a deficiency in the ‘human’ capacity for empathy, which might be considered one of the more ‘feminine’ aspects of our psychology. On the other hand, the simple fact that as a society we still condition our boys away from their feelings better explains why men display lower levels of empathy generally. We do this so that they might be better workers, more able to do the dangerous, hard and dirty jobs in disregard of their own wellbeing. We do it so they will be better soldiers, more able to kill and to risk their lives in war as the first line of defence for the women and children and, of course, the tools of aggression for the elites.

Patriarchy has a certain amount of ‘face validity’; it seems to ‘describe’ the situation, but as a theory of power you don’t have to scratch it very deeply to discover that it fails to ‘explain’ things very well. You’ve done a marvellous job of deconstructing everyone else’s beliefs, Robin, now I suggest you turn your attention to your own.

Adam Blanch, Mullumbimby


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