Recently I sent an essay, 14 Rules of the Dark Patriarchy, by Larry Pesavento, a psychotherapist specializing in male psychological development, to four smart, highly educated, and enlightened female friends. None of them responded. My wife today explained that women now “just want men to shut up.” The mediator in me always thinks dialogue and collaboration should be central to problem solving, but she says not now; women are tired of hearing from men.
So I write to you, men, to invite your consideration of my friend’s insightful critique of patriarchy (which can be seen at http://www.christoscenter.com/14-rules-of-the-dark-patriarchy).
The article briefly describes the history of patriarchy from the ancient Greek notion of male as head of family to its inclusion of male power in political, social, legal, and economic realms. It goes on to illuminate the impact on men and society of what he calls the “Dark Patriarchy.”
While it’s impossible not to see Trumpism and current political dynamics in this description, Larry says “Mr. T” is as much a product of this Dark Patriarchy, starting at the hands of his father, as a proponent of it.
The 14 Rules:
Rule #1 of the Dark Patriarchy (DP): Obedience Is The Core Value
The DP is hierarchical. As a budding patriarch moves from the lower levels he first realizes that he must obey anyone on a level higher than his. Obedience is a test of his ability to adhere to the DP rules. Action outside of the patriarchal box is seen as betrayal. Obedience means good order. Obedience also insures loyalty to a patriarch and not to the truth, unless the truth is patriarchal truth (see Rule #2).
Rule #2 of the Dark Patriarchy (DP): Truth Flows Downhill.
Truth’ is patriarchal. It emanates from the top. Nobody down the hierarchy has to look for their inner truth. They are handed it. This truth ‘trumps’ any other perceptions of reality. Loyalty to the patriarch means loyalty to patriarchal truth.
Rule #3 of the Dark Patriarchy (DP): The Law Is For Little People
The law is a way of keeping order for people who don’t know better. However, the law does not apply to those wise enough to know how to handle power and create order (evidently golf rules don’t apply to Mr.T. either). Both democracy and the rule of law are ultimately a danger because patriarchs may lose control to those much too low on the hierarchy scale, people who don’t understand either power or order or patriarchal justice (see Rule #12).
Rule #4 of the Dark Patriarchy (DP): Show Me The Power.
The DP has a goal of creating a society that is run by benevolent patriarchs. These patriarchs feel they should be the new philosopher kings. They deserve the ruling power for they are the only ones who understand how to use it well. And ultimately they know that little people want and need the DP exercise of power. Money is only a means to power. Dark Patriarchs are really addicted to power. In this sense Trump is really a clumsy patriarch because he seems to have no coherent ruling philosophy or practical sense of the ultimate order he alludes to.
Rule #5 of the Dark Patriarchy: The Only Reality Is Marketplace Reality.
The DP lives in a reality where ultimate values are marketplace values. Success in the marketplace reflects success as a human being. So it becomes clear who are the most human of beings. In this reality lack of financial ambition is a sin. Values of a spiritual nature are not seen as relevant to being fully human. But once in power a dark patriarch will often see himself as a benevolent, loving human being with his own sacred calling.
Rule #6 of the Dark Patriarchy (DP): Winning Is The Only Thing.
Competition makes better human beings. Winning competition is the litmus test of value as a human being. Competition is a zero sum game where the winners move up the hierarchy and losers prove their lack of worth. Competition brings out the best in people. Morality is subsumed under winning and winning is automatically moral. Power is the end and the winning in competition is the means.
Rule #7 of the Dark Patriarchy (DP): Fear Is The Best Motivator.
Losing is shameful. Shame comes from being a ‘loser’. Men, especially, are easily manipulated by the fear of being shamed by older men. The DP uses shame and fear to keep those lower in the hierarchy obedient and motivated. Loss of status by loss of job or income is the ultimate shame. Demotion, or even lateral movement, is only a little less shaming. Management by intimidation is the norm in a DP organization. Any organization that uses fear and shame as motivation is a DP organization.
Rule #8 of the Dark Patriarchy (DP): The Hierarchy Supports The Top.
The DP is structured to serve the 1%. But it must be seen as serving the other 99% (minus the 10-20% not worthy of being treated as human beings as in Rule #10). Even the Dark Patriarch inexplicably sees himself as serving all the others waiting in the line behind him. But he ultimately has to become a dictator to consolidate the power to create his ‘just’ vision of society. The 99% need to serve the top for justice to happen (see Rule #12).
Rule #9 of the Dark Patriarchy (DP): The Consensus Reality Is The DP Reality.
The modern consensus reality is patriarchal and has been growing for 5,000 years. DP rules have become the cultural rules for worldly success. And worldly success is the only real human success. And worldly success is a high worth chasing.
Rule #10 of the Dark Patriarchy (DP): The Poor Are Mostly Takers.
The wealthy deserve as much money as the government can get for them. The poor are ‘takers’ and don’t add to culture or they would be successful. The wealthy deserve because the wealthy serve. They create the successful marketplace. If not for the wealthy there would be no uplifting marketplace. All would be poor. Some wealth like truth flows downhill to the deserving middlers because they are obedient and productive though they don’t understand how to gain or use power.
Rule #11 of the Dark Patriarchy: Justice Insured For Those Who Deserve It.
Justice is the order in which resources and power are given to those who deserve it. Justice first to wise men, then to other obedient men, then to obedient women, then to children of obedient ones, then men and women ‘takers’ (if anything is left).
Rule #12 of the Dark Patriarchy (DP): The Earth Is our Property.
If there is a God He gave us the earth to use. The only seeming lesson from Nature is that it has an order based on the survival of the fittest. Otherwise, the only order that is relevant is human order. Nature is irrelevant unless it adds to resources or needs to be controlled. There are other planets when this one is used up. Wise men are planning this planetary flight, with DP’s first on the waiting list.
Rule #13 of the Dark Patriarchy: If There Is A God…
Just in case. If there is a God He is a He. And He smiles on the wealthy and successful, blessing them with wealth and success for their wisdom and hard work. God is the ultimate patriarch.
Rule #14 of the Dark Patriarchy: Women, Like The Earth, Are There To Use.
Women, like the earth and nature, are there to be dominated and exploited. Women are lesser humans than men and there to obey men in return for protection from a disordered society. Every man deserves one woman who is motherly and creates home and family while he also deserves a sexual playmate to destress him. Being a responsible, successful patriarchal man is very stressful.
It’s pretty clear that unbridled pursuit of power and wealth, typically by men, is overwhelming our democracy. Republican support for Judge Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination before, and preferably without, and perhaps even after listening to serious and credible challenges to his suitability, is just the most recent and a poignant example.
I think Larry would say the antidote to this soul-crushing cultural condition lies in men listening to their deepest inner callings, rather than the demands of patriarchy, and following them to benefit their communities.
In any event, it’s hard not to see aggressive, dominating men as the cause of most of the crises of our day. Maybe that’s why women just want us to shut up.