We Need To Balance our Masculine Global Economy With Feminine Global Governance

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Discussion

Excerpted from John Bunzl, founder of the International Simultaneous Policy Organization:

“The feminist movement of recent decades has certainly brought major changes for women; more equality in the workplace, more sexual freedom and control, and a more equal social standing alongside men. But one can’t help noticing that women who achieve high positions of power, whether in business or politics, often seem to end up behaving much as men do. That is, they tend to adopt a masculine, power-oriented, competitive, logic-based approach which seems to leave little space for feminine intuition, compassion and feeling. This brings into question whether much has changed at all. For if women’s liberation has resulted in women arriving in business and politics only to behave in much the same competitive fashion as men, we can hardly claim to be on the cusp of a new paradigm!

So what’s going on?

Maybe there are larger, systemic forces at work which subtly set the narrow behavioural parameters that business-people and politicians—whether male or female—have little choice but to conform to. Rather like fish that cannot see the water they swim in, we all seem to be swimming in a culture that honours and accepts only one half of who we really are; that is, the macho-masculine, competitive, risk-taking, go-getting half. As psychotherapist, John A. Sanford, notes: “Masculine achievement, power, control, success, and logic are rewarded in our society by prestige, good grades in school, and generous paychecks. The feminine principle, which tends to unite and synthesize is undervalued culturally both in men and in women.”

Women newly arrived in the world of business or politics are perhaps still too in thrall to their newfound independence to realise that the system largely excludes the very feminine qualities they were perhaps hoping to inject. Only with time will they discover, as a few men have, that the worlds of business and politics are not quite all they’re cracked up to be.

For most men, this is a realisation that, having for millennia been inured to the competitive world of warfare, work and politics, we’re yet to fully wake up to. Some of us—perhaps you, since you’re reading this article—are one of the few who sense a deeper malaise: that the worlds of business and politics are failing to offer either men or women what we both really need; that is, the opportunity for wholeness: for expressing all—and not just half (the masculine half)—of who we really are.

It’s the system, stupid!

How, then, is the system tilted towards the masculine principle of competition? Well, here is where we veer into a bit of simple political-economy. For the dominance of masculine competition over feminine cooperation, I’m suggesting, trickles down from the global level; from the fact that, today, we have a global economy, but we’re trying to manage it with only national governance. That might sound weird. But when capital and corporations move freely across national borders from one national economy to another, governments must do whatever is necessary to make their economies more attractive than other countries to ensure capital and jobs come to (or don’t leave) their country—that is, they have to keep their economies internationally competitive.

As a result, government policies tend to favour the interests of corporations and markets while consequently disfavouring the interests of society or the environment. So it really doesn’t much matter which party is in power, because longer working hours, downward pressure on wages, less care for the environment, more pressure to perform at work to keep your job, more pressure to perform at school to get a job, more pressure to pass exams to get into a good school, and more pressure on worried parents to frantically push their toddlers to learn the three Rs before they’re really ready for it, are the inevitable outcomes! Such is the top-down pressure of international competition, it’s hardly surprising that in almost any walk of life, only our competitive, masculine sides end up being honoured. The culture of competition that permeates almost every aspect of our daily lives starts, then, right at the top; at the global level.

But it would be wrong to think this pressure was created by corporations or investors bent on lining their pockets. There are, of course, some greedy business people out there. But this doesn’t alter the general truth that, rather like nations, investors and corporations in today’s global market cannot afford to lose out to their competitors. As the investment manager, George Soros, aptly pointed out: “As an anonymous participant in financial markets, I never had to weigh the social consequences of my actions. I was aware that in some circumstances the consequences might be harmful but I felt justified in ignoring them on the grounds that I was playing by the rules. The game was very competitive and if I imposed additional constraints on myself I would end up a loser. Moreover, I realised that my moral scruples would make no difference to the real world, given the conditions of effective or near-perfect competition that prevail in financial markets; if I abstained somebody else would take my place.”[ii] So it’s important to understand that the masculine, competitive principle is enforced all the way from the global level down to our everyday existence. Logically, it’s to the global level we must look if the feminine, cooperative principle is to have any chance of a look in.


A global perspective

The really silly thing, here, is that if we look at this from a higher, global perspective, we see that all nations, and all corporations, are stuck in a vicious circle from which they can’t escape; that this whole problem isn’t really down to any individual nation or corporation, but to the overall system itself. Since any nation (or corporation) that moves first to do the right thing will be punished by capital, investment and jobs simply moving elsewhere, it’s easy to see how politicians in whatever country don’t act on so many pressing global issues such as climate change, top people’s excessive pay, and financial market regulation. It’s little wonder, then, that “feminine” policies that foster greater equity and social inclusion, as well as environmental sustainability are largely excluded or too often watered down to the point of insignificance.

But here’s the point: the vicious circle all nations find themselves in, and the one-sided, damaging competitive pressure it exerts can only worsen until governance—the feminine principle that “holds” masculine economic competition and keeps it within healthy bounds—catches up and operates on the same global scale. Yes, you heard right: we need to balance our “masculine” global economy with “feminine” global governance. For until we do, the vicious circle that honours only our masculine sides can only continue—and it’ll worsen. Until we have global governance, feminine qualities in both men and women cannot have any real chance of widespread enculturation.” (http://simpolinternational.blogspot.com/2012/08/men-power-and-politics.html)