Our Obsessive Fear That The Future Is Female

Gentlemen, Countrymen, All My Homies:

I need your fullest attention. Take a moment and pause what you are doing. Turn off the football game. Or press pause on the latest episode of Atlanta. We need a moment to reflect. Make sure there are no ladies around. When you are finally all alone I want you to close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and imagine an alternative world: WOMEN ARE IN CHARGE NOW. It’s ok don’t panic. Just continue to breathe slow and visualize.

Imagine for a second looking out on the horizon, and for as far as you can see, women are in charge. A woman reigns supremely over your great nation, and the nations to the north, the east, the south and the west. Every where you look women seem just a little bit more powerful, a little bit more successful, a little bit more human than you are. You want desperately what they have. Go ahead and feel the vagina envy that is welling up in your loins. Do not suppress this vision like your instincts are telling you. Just take a minute to look around in this strange world. Explore the far reaches of this matriarchal realm. What do you see?

Do you imagine women being physically larger than you?
Do you imagine them raping you?
Do you imagine them voraciously pursuing careers with the aid of a supportive invisible partner that makes their beds, makes their lunches, and makes them come?

If you are like me brethren, as you imagine this scene you notice that the images that are flickering in your head are shocking, maybe terrifying, but also eerily familiar. As you dream of this matriarchal society you can’t help but feel that maybe in a past life you lived in this world.

This is probably because, for a very long time, us menfolk have been imagining this scenario and how it would play out. Deep down in our psyches we are obsessed with it. We have created myths, novellas, and episodes of Star Trek Next Generation about it. Century after century the menfolk before us have fixated on a paranoid possibility that one day shit could be different. We wonder restlessly, what happens when the jig is up?

[The N’Nonmiton (which means “our mothers”) were an all female military regiment of the Dahomey ethnic group in what is presently called Benin. They maintained significant military and political power in their region ]

Our forefathers dug into the historical record in search of the possibility that maybe one day, way back when, there was a land where gender was flipped and it was women who led. What was it like? There are myths about gynecocracy (governed by women) written by many societies, from the Kikuyu of Kenya to the Ancient Grecians. Early anthropologists proposed theories about human prehistory being an era ruled by women. But every theory that we come up with is later disproved. Most current historians and anthropologists with any credibility say that there is no convincing evidence to support a time or place in human history where women dominated political and social life. But even with zero evidence, we still feel the sneaking suspicion that the matriarchy is somewhere out there.

Maybe it is not in the past. Maybe it is somewhere in the here and now, just out of plain sight, on some remote exotic island that we haven’t discovered yet. These were the thoughts of Spanish men in the year 1500. They voyaged out into the ocean in search of the matriarchy. They were inspired by a novel written by Garci Rodriguez de Montalvo, who depicted an enchanting island ‘to the right of the Indies’ ruled by a clan of boss bitches. The island went by the name of California. Voyage with me on a trip to California island to meet these fierce sistas. They have built a civilization. Garci called these women Amazons. They call themselves the circle of sisterhood. They are dark complected warrior women led by the majestic Queen Califia.

Garci imagined Califia to be flawlessly chocolate, and thicker than a queen sized snickers. Can you see her sculpted arms, and her curvaceous powerful figure? Think Serena Williams, but a foot taller. Instead of a racquet she swings a solid gold sword studded with precious jewels. In fact, everything she rocks is gold — gold chains, gold rangs, gold grillz.

Donned in all gold everything, Califia and the sisterhood stroll around the lush island in formation chanting spells of Black girl magic:

“I Slay,
I Slay,
I Slay.
With the power vested in me, I slay”
Queen Califia and her clique of enchantresses. Wasn’t that what Beyonce’s Lemonade was about?

And they do in fact slay. They slay any creature that comes across their path, from albino alligators to anacondas. But they save their most ferocious slaying for the menfolk. On this island we are slaughtered mercilessly. How do they torture us? Well, the sisterhood raises fierce ass pets called griffins. Imagine huge elegant creatures with the body of a lion and wings of an eagle. From the time they are little griffin puppies, the sisterhood toughens them em up like pit bulls, feeding them the raw flesh of menz. So by the time they are full grown they have been programmed to devour any men they come into contact with. We are not tolerated on the island of California. Except of course as sex slaves. And after the act is done, right after her heavenly climax, the men are immediately tossed into a pit of griffins. The babies born from these unions, are welcomed into the village if they are girls and sacrificed to the griffin pups if they are boys, torn limb from limb.

You would think that this is a story written by women, a manifesto of radical girl power. But the matriarchal myth was created by us, the brothers. I am reciting it to you now because the island of California is already deep within YOUR psyche. You wrote it. But why? Why do male authors paint pictures of enchanted islands where the sisterhood lives lavishly and everyone with a Y-chromosomes is relegated to sex objects, devoured as pieces of meat? Why did Garci imagine this diabolical story when the reality of Medieval Spain was the complete opposite, a society where women were second-class citizens?

One guess is that maybe these myths reveal the authors’ unconscious desire for a feminist future. Maybe our obsession with warrior princesses comes from a guilty realization that we really need to honor women more. Perhaps our inner feminist is expressing itself when we write characters like Jessica Jones and Xena the Warrior Princess. That is part of the answer, but it’s certainly not the whole thing. It can’t be, because most of the time the moral of matriarchal myths is not feminist at all and can basically be summed up as “NEVER EVER LET A FEMINIST REALITY HAPPEN.”

[Left] Kajahl Benes’ depiction of Queen Calafia. [Right] Susan Shelton’s depiction of Queen Calafia cast in Bronze.

In Garci’s tale, the Amazons are the arch villains of the story, representing a rogue culture that real men must defeat. The Christian men are in an epic battle with these wild Amazon women. Imagine the terror. The Amazons have left their isolated island and travel all the way across the ocean to invade civilized society. Feel the fear in your heart at the idea of a band of femme fatale terrorists coming from overseas to overthrow your way of life, and establish the gynecocratic caliphate.

Califia and her griffins are the most formidable opponents that Christendom has ever faced. Imagine like Garci did, the Amazons sicking their griffins on your platoon and one by one your fellow men are being ripped to shreds. These women are heartless savages. Crisis arises in your spirit as privilege slips from your grasp.

Not to worry. Most matriarchal myths are a dystopic nightmare but they usually end with the defeat of Femmelandia. Eventually, led by the heroic knight Amadis de Gaula and his son Esplandian, the Christian Empire prevails in conquering Califia and her troupe of bad bitches. Esplandian wins by seducing the Queen with his manly charms. She eventually loses the battle because she is distracted by deep romantic feelings for him. After years of ruling the Californian island with brutal violence the wild women are defeated because Califia can’t resist the swag of a handsome knight. (When we write these myths we are obviously not bothered by how cliché they are.) On the spot, Califia is converted to Christianity so that she is acceptable for marriage. She returns to California, a married housewife and helps to usher in a civilized Christian society on the exotic island. The matriarchal society has been toppled. The Christian order is preserved, and woman stays submissive to man. In the words of Alison Taufer, “The only good Amazon is a converted Amazon.”

This is a fascinating story with romance and tragedy, but what is it’s impact? Would it surprise you if I told you that it inspired an entire generation of colonists to try to conquer the fiercest woman of all; Mother Nature? Most of the Spanish ships setting out to conquer the New World had this enchanting novel in their naval libraries. The woman has long been a symbol of the untamed wilderness of nature and the wild natives that inhabit it. These conquerors often believed that it was the white man’s burden to civilize these regions, tame the wilderness, and replace them with evolved manly societies. What they loved so much about the myth of Queen Califia was that it showed order prevailing over disorder; and justified their dominion over mother nature.

One of those ships with Garci’s novel in its library was manned by Hernando Cortez, the destroyer of the great city of Tenochitlan and murderer of more than 3 million Aztecs. This genocidal Spanish explorer was deeply inspired by the fantastical isle of Amazons. So much so that he named his new territory in the New World after the mythical island. In his quest for booty, he “discovered” California. To be real, his crew sort of stumbled on something they thought was an island but really turned out to be that skinny peninsula of land jutting out of the west coast. Now we know this area to be part of the Golden State, the land of hollywood movies and gangsta rap. Cortez was wrong about it being an island. But that didn’t stop him from recognizing that this lush land fulfilled his lust for a fertile territory to domesticate.

From a mural of Queen Califia at the Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco painted by Maynard Dixon and Frank Van Sloun. It shows Spanish explorers going head to head with Califia and her matriarchal dynasty.

At this point you are probably asking yourself a number of questions. “I thought that this was supposed to be a meditation about my own fears as a man? What does Hernando Cortez have to do with me? I’m not a genocidal maniac. I thought this article was supposed to explain why I am nervous about having a lady as the leader of the free world.” Well I am here to tell you that there is a Cortes in all of us. And like him, your fear of women’s rule is also a fear of mother nature prevailing over civilization.

Be real with yourself. One of the reasons you have nightmares of women in charge is because you have a deep-seated fear that women leaders will devolve our society back into a wild, aboriginal, living-off-the-land-type-place, based on intuition and feelings instead of calculation and objectivity. Part of you feels that in a society ruled by women, leaders are going to make decisions based on astrological signs and motherly instincts. This will be devastating! Haven’t all of the advancements of Western society been accomplished with calm and collected rationality, a quality of men. How can we trust a woman with the nuclear codes on her period? Do women really have the emotional stability to make the do or die decisions necessary to compete ruthlessly in an era of global capitalism? If the patriarchy falls then so goes our civilization.

We are scared. And when you are scared it is important to admit your fear so that you are not ruled by it. What scares us the most, even more than the collapse of civilization? The possibility that society will not collapse at all. That it will actually improve under women’s rule. Wouldn’t it be devastating if all of this time we thought we needed to fight mother nature and conquer the weak but in actuality none of the fighting was unnecessary.

When we envision women in charge we imagine them within a few weeks finding resolutions to age old conflicts. Palestinian women leaders will get together with Israeli women leaders and cry together mourning these past years of death and destruction, and triumphantly they will emerge from the collective grieving circles one unified nation, with a shared vision for nurturing the youth. While ending war seems like a good thing, once our women leaders figure out how useless all the violence is, they will suppress our most prized rituals; Monday night football and Marvel comic book movies. We have insecurity deep down that these are both pretty useless rituals and that a society run by women will make fun of our hypermasculine games.

We worry that the women leaders won’t value the manly characteristics that have for so long been our biological birthright. We are born bigger and stronger, with a knack for combat. Our society gives us purple hearts and championship rings for our physical prowess. What if being strong in the matriarchal world becomes as superficial as being pretty is today? What if the NFL was covered with the same frivolousness as a Miss America beauty pageant? What if statues of great military conquerers are taken down and replaced with figurines of women nursing children? Deep down we are not scared that women will brutalize us. We are scared that brutality will go away for good. We are not scared of 7-foot warrior women sexually harassing us. We are scared of manliness becoming much less relevant.

Thank goodness we have admitted this fear. Deep down we are insecure about the hyper-aggression that rumbles in our chests. We feel silly for punching walls sometimes when the emotion bubbles over. We know that the environment is not just one big beast to be tamed. We worry that our strengths may actually be weaknesses. Doesn’t it feel like a tremendous weight off of our shoulders to confess it? Take a few deep breaths.

The next President of the United States.

Maybe this woman in charge thing won’t be so bad. First off we have to remember that there are multiple ways for women to lead and probably very few of them will include throwing us into a pit of griffins. As the future becomes more female there will be nurturing women leaders and there will be hawkish women leaders. There will be those who are scientific thinkers and those that are intuitive thinkers. The future feminine will be as complex and diverse as the women that you know.

And maybe we can keep our football. Many of the women we elect will not question the aggression too much. They will fully support the war machine. And there is reason to believe that our society will only elect them if they pass the gold standard of toughness; tough on crime, tough on terrorism, tough on Russia, tough on welfare moms, and tough on immigrants. However some of our women leaders will realize that we are better off investing in softness and compassion. They will realize that the future survival of this country lies in making a dedication to providing universal access to early childhood education and maternity/paternity leave. Which type of leader will Hillary be? Her policy agenda contains elements of both. It will be us (the citizens) who will force her one way or the other.

To be honest it is on all of us, both men and women to deescalate our investment in war and toxic masculinity. For starters, we men can stop writing myths about vicious Amazonian women. They are only based on our own insecurities. We write matriarchal myths about Queen Califia and Jessica Jones because they help us induct a few token women into the cult of patriarchy while keeping it in tact. We love watching these women kick ass. Because in the end they just make brutality look sexy.

So vote for Hillary because she has broken through a glass ceiling that you have been reinforcing for generations and somehow after suffering all of the mansplaining, double standards, and rape culture she has graciously decided not to feed you to a pack of griffins when she takes the throne. Vote for her because in a couple of months after she wins and there is no talk of Trump’s tweets or of email scandals the story will be about the first woman President. Maybe the story should be about Black Lives Matter or Syrian refugees or college debt but for a while it will be ALL about the first woman President. And during that conversation, when you are talking to your colleagues, your friends, your daughters and your wives, you will say that you voted for her, even if you didn’t.

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