A ranking system that organizes itself based on arbitrary values. Hierarchies posit one kind of thing at the “top” of the system and have a set list of gradations that end at a “bottom” point. What is at the “top” is generally what has the most power and that which is at the “bottom” has the least power, and is a poor subsititute for the highest ranking thing. Hierarchies allow people to view other human beings as if they exist on a “scale”, making it easy to identify the value (or worth) of someone based on how far away or close they are to the highest point. Race and gender hierarchies are often justified with concepts such as evolution and mental or physical difference. Hierarchies exist within all social spheres and vary according to the culture and values of each group.They can be dependent on multiple determinants; for example, a straight white male (the authority) might be at the top of someone’s hierarchical scale and a black lesbian woman (the subordinate) might be at their bottom. A gay white male could be posited as higher than a gay black male because “white” and “male” are factors that make up the person at the top of the scale. Hierarchies contribute to a narrow world view and both form and are formed by oppressive ideologies, making them ultimately untrustworthy.
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Posted in activism, feminism, feminist theory, heteronormativity, heterosexism, hierarchy, homophobia, human, identity, liberation, natural, nature, normality, norms, oppression, Other, praxis, queer, right, supremacy, unnatural, wrong on July 16, 2007 | 1 Comment »
The Natural is the social explanation for strict and conservative governing of human life. The term itself has much to do with forming and sustaining normativity—what is OK and what is not OK. Claiming that something (an object or an act or a phenomenon) isn’t “natural” often ensures society passing unfavorable judgment on it. First we need to break down what “natural” means and how it transitions into the political weapon I will call “the Natural.”
Let us take “natural” to mean that which is necessary to reproduce the human species. (Or, from a Darwinian standpoint, the actions that maximize a creature’s reproduction success.) In this way, “natural” are the qualities and characteristics of animals that bring about reproduction of the species.
How have we arrived at this definition? Does it not seem rather esoteric? Let’s apply it to our current political and social world and, as a result, it ought to make more sense:
If we take “natural” to mean that which is necessary to reproducing the human species, it should then be taken as truth that homosexuality and other non-heterosexual practices are unnatural. Homosexuality is constantly decried as being ‘unnatural’ (and therefore unnecessary) and should be criminalized, discouraged, punished. With the above definition of ‘natural’ at hand, it is a truism that homosexuality (read: all non-hetero sex practices) is unnatural. But, then again, so are countless other daily activities that we practice in an unthinking manner. For example, driving or riding in a car is a profoundly unnatural practice. We can note that driving a car is unnatural because it poses a much greater risk to the driver while on the road than if she left the car at home and walked.
The US Department of Transportation reports that:
There were nearly 6,420,000 auto accidents in the United States in 2005. The financial cost of these crashes is more than 230 Billion dollars. 2.9 million people were injured and 42,636 people killed. About 115 people die every day in vehicle crashes in the United States — one death every 13 minutes.
We can then ask, how many of these 42,636 dead or 2.9 million injured would still be reproductively viable if they had instead walked rather than driven a car? Using our standards of ‘natural’ as it applies to homosexuality (that it is an unnatural act that does not reproduce the human species and should therefore be discouraged), by all accounts, we should be criticizing driving and homosexuality equally for being ‘unnatural’ human acts.
We then have arrived at the crux of the problem of ‘natural’:
How is it that the natural suddenly became synonymous with the good and right?
We can see then that ‘the Natural’ becomes that rare occurrence: the irrational idea which (horrifyingly) simultaneously assumes the role of the authoritative idea. Like religions rooted in dogmatism, the Natural defies logic and steamrolls any criticism of itself, so ingrained is its authority and rightness in the minds of uncritical human beings. This is the inception of the Natural as a political weapon: when it is used to batter those individuals and practices that do not reside firmly in the ‘natural’ realm.
When we see that the Natural is ambiguous and nigh-irrelevant to our daily lives and social interactions, why do we persist in being governed by its irrational ‘laws’? This is the point at which we part ways with the Natural. Combating the Natural should not be done by attempting to “explain” homosexuality in such a way that it fits into the narrow framework of ‘natural.’ No, instead we need to reject the Natural as a force entirely. Pleasure governs us, not nature! We respond to reason and discourse, trading of ideas and dialogue, not some politicized concept of what nature decrees as “right” and “wrong”! This is our praxis…
A society or system which is ruled or controlled by men. Generally, patriarchy is a system of roles that women do housework and that men work outside and support their family. Patriarchy is a hierarchy in society such as women earn less money than men. Patriarchy is not just formed by men. It has a connection with a social economic system such as capitalism. According to Heidi Hartmann, patriarchy is “Controlling women’s access to resources and their sexuality, in turn, allows men to control women’s labor power, both for the purpose of serving men in many personal and sexual ways and for the purpose of rearing children.
Patriarchy can not be separable with capitalism, however, how the division of labour which is women work at home and which is men work outside started is not clear. I think that the system of patriarchy is a social dominance by men, however, I don’t think patriarchy is directly constructed by men, because men don’t necessarily try to form patriarchy.