The Unmasculated Agents of Change
Women do give freely from their breasts to their
children (and in infinitely many other ways) but, since the penis is
over-emphasized, we are seen as giving from a 'lack' of the 'mark'
and, since scarcity has been created to privilege having, we are
often actually giving in an economic situation of lack. All of this
is exacerbated because men give up the gift economy.
Exchange 'gives' the gift of not-giving, while breasts embody the gift
We could speculate that the breasts are the original model
for the index: the nipple is the index, and the baby's mouth is
the 'object' which is singled out for attention. Then the 'points'
of view are turned around. For the baby, her mouth is the center
of attention, and the nipple is the 'object' that is singled out.
Then the 'object' does actually point back--and gives milk. Or for
the mother, if the 'object' is not pointing back with mouth
and tongue, it at least 'gets the point' and receives milk.
Let us look at having as having breasts, having something
to give.1 We are mammals. Though males have small breasts,
there are, of course, many ways in which they and women who are
not nursing babies can nurture others. (The penis is only
actually 'given' to another person when boys become adults, but it is
given to view and to comparison much earlier.)
These ways have been misread, hidden and disguised by
the discrediting and isolation of mothering in infancy and by
the patriarchal focus on the sample, exchange, reflection, having
and keeping. The ways of giving include, among other
things, language, problem solving, and producing goods and services as
a supply for needs without the intermediate mechanism
exchange--itself derived from masculation. 'Having' is
also having hands, the instruments which can be used for giving
and for giving care. They do not serve only for tool-making (or
The Self-replication of the Sample
The gift the father appears to give to the boy (the gift of
the penis) is the gift of similarity or equality, and the value given
to equality--to the equation itself, to the boy as equal to the
father as the non-nurturing norm who was related to the grandfather
in the same way. It is a loaded gift because its psychological use
in the society, its misinterpretation, creates an artificial need.
Then the child has to try to satisfy the need by becoming like
the father. Moreover, the father needs the son to be similar to him,
so that he can achieve his position as sample, his own
gender mandate as the equivalent to which not only all women but
other (smaller) males are relative.
In patriarchy, the father has to show that he has
reproduced himself. He has to show that, with the penis index-sample,
and being himself the male sample he also has the creative power
to make others like himself (showing that the creative power is
not all in the mother sample whom he has eclipsed.) It is thus not
just the relation of possession that is at the basis of men's
obsession with paternity, but carrying out the mandate of the concept
form as the realization of their individual, gender and species
identities. Although this 'logic' functions across generations, it makes for
an altogether false agenda.2
I think it is probably the superimposition of the different
one-many incarnations of the concept upon each other that has
been the Frankenstein which has created the white monster
of patriarchy. In societies where the mother's brother has
educational paternal function, the phallus does not have to
be emphasized as the sample which actually 'creates' the boy.
In these societies the transmission of culture through teaching
and discipline is distinguished from sexuality; the person playing
the disciplinary role (the mother's brother) does not have to
require that the boy be like him. In societies where this is the case,
it appears that there is little violence, and that rape is
Males, like females, need to remain in a giftgiving
and receiving mode, so that their identities can be formed by
material and sign co-munication, creating a subjectivity constructed
upon an ever-changing nurturing interaction with others
(an interaction which also includes a great deal of
reciprocal modeling and turn-taking), rather than upon an artificial
and absurd injunction to achieve an abstract position of equality
with the sample. To make matters worse, this position of equality
has hidden within it in a contradictory way two levels of
superiority (inequality). It creates a superior category of those who are
unlike giftgivers and like the sample (and might, therefore,
become samples), and those who are superior because they are
already samples. The injunction instates competition where it need
not have been, and makes dominance and over-taking the
validated mode of behavior for half of humanity.
Because it imposes itself as norm, this mode then
extends to all of humanity, making those with other values
subservient, invisible and not quite human. It places those who are
'equal' in a category which is given to then by the giftgivers,
and which appears to confer upon the 'members' a right to
make others give to them by the use of violence and/or
organized hierarchies--armies or police. By reapplying the same
concept logic (which requires a 'one-to-many' relation to
develop generality) to this situation, we find that what is
most appropriate to the logic, though not to the happiness of
human beings, is that a few be the general samples for their
categories--which means, of course, that the many do
not become 'samples.' Thus we have, for example, many
people organized into national groups, each of which has
internal hierarchies led by a few men, with one man at the head.
By taking the agenda of the concept form as the logic of
the species, and those who succeed in it as the sample for the
species (forgetting that women are doing things differently),
dominance, over-taking and the attempt to become the concept sample
and the species sample become the validated forms of behavior.
Sadly, women have nurtured this state of affairs and
the efforts of the sons and husbands who are trying to succeed in
it. Now, we have begun to participate in it ourselves.
Fortunately, our lack of the penis has shown once more that it is not the species sample and is not necessary for success in the
system. While this may have rendered suspect male superiority, it
has not dismantled the agenda and the logic, but only
displaced them onto other categories. Now, for example, all the people
in privileged nations can consider themselves as privileged,
or 'samples,' regarding those from other nations who
'should' therefore give to and serve them. All those of one race,
both males and females, can consider themselves superior to
other races, and they can 'prove' it by dominating other races (and
by making them give to them, taking on 'womanly'
While all of this may produce horrible and
opprobrious behavior of individuals of one group against others, they are
all carrying out a male mandate that has been considered 'human'
by Western European and many other societies for centuries. It is
thus a system based on a false logic that must be held responsible,
not the individuals, and it is the system that must be
dismantled. Changing the individuals without changing the logic and
the agenda only leaves room for other individuals to pick it up. As
the old saw has it: "If everybody started out with the same amount,
a few people would always get to the top." This just means that,
until we understand the sickness and heal it, some people will
continue to act out the agenda to the detriment of the others who
have the 'drive' or 'ambition' (read: 'who don't have the need to
be samples'). The sickness is a kind of self-replicating 'virus'
(deriving perhaps from 'vir,' the Latin word for 'man').
An example of the imposition of one group as sample
upon others is the European invasion of the Americas. It was not
just the technological superiority of the Europeans that caused
their genocide of the Native people, but the fact that the
Europeans were carriers of masculation at many levels: misogyny,
private property, language, economics, religion, philosophy, child
rearing, law, architecture, agriculture, etc.--all of which were
very different in Native cultures. It could have gone the other
way. The Europeans could have learned from the Native
peoples instead of destroying them.
After imposing themselves as the 'superior' category
with regard to a whole hemisphere, our forefathers also took on
the one-many property of other human beings as slaves, forcing
them to give the gifts which created their profit and allowed for
the slave owners' (phallic) capital accumulation. The category
of 'superiors' needs to be easily identifiable by large numbers
of people. This is the function having a penis has served
in categorization. White skin serves the same purpose. In both
cases, the 'mark' of 'superiority' reverses the role of the mother,
making the deviant become the norm, and the giftgiver appear to
be inferior and deviant. In a society in which masculation
and exchange are not the modes of life, this dynamic would not exist.
The hypermasculated Europeans killed and enslaved the
less masculated peoples of the Americas and Africa, thereby
'proving' that they were in a 'superior'(more masculine) category,
which was the norm and which permitted their infinite symbolic
priapic growth--which masculated them again into an upper class of
the 'superior' category. Having a lot of money also allowed them
to buy and produce and build objects by which they could again
be identified as belonging to the 'superior' category--the
among the privileged. Houses, vehicles, clothes,
jewelry, skyscrapers, guns, education, travel can all be bought and
are perceptually clear and macroscopic evidence of 'having,'
which locates the 'havers' in the privileged category again and again.
Now I believe that the so-called 'First World' countries
have become the 'superior categories,' identifiable by their
physical location and citizenship documents, and they are forcing
the 'Third World' countries to give to them through political,
cultural and economic mechanisms, which are generally invisible to
the citizenry. The exploitation that is occurring might continue to
be invisible were it not for the influx of immigrants who are
wisely trying to locate themselves in the geographically
privileged category. The danger is that, through the mechanisms of the
'Free Market,' we will intensify the pattern of
male-dominating countries and female-serving countries--finally developing
into slave countries and slave master countries. Masculation is
being writ large on the earth. (And I have always marveled at
the appropriateness of Castro's name.)
Mothers' other-tending gives us, among other things,
bodies, language and socialization towards our gender roles.
The possibility of receiving more through definition motivates us,
like the possibility of being named 'male.' Profit-takers make
others into their masculating mothers. They make others give to
them, showing they 'deserve' the profit by giving to others
conditionally, using them as means.
Perhaps it is also because of the lack of access to the system
of a qualitatively diverse langue, and thus our inability to explore
a variety of enunciatable values in their relation to each other,
that money and exchange value maintain their social
hegemony--while appearing and disappearing very quickly, as they
change hands in the exchange process itself. The thing 'signified' by
the material word 'money' is the product (the would-be
gift) undergoing the shift of the substitution of the logic (and the
of substitution for the logic (and the act) of giving, i.e.
the exchange. The value-in-communication of that 'signified'
is exchange value, expressed in a particular quantity of
money. Although the langue is not present to maintain a totality
of qualitatively different value-mediators, the self-similarity of
the substitution of the money for the product and of the logic
of exchange for giving creates a self-validating mechanism
which continually puts exchange in evidence while hiding
Capitalism unites masculation and exchange, giving each
a new goal. For masculinity, the new goal is to accumulate
wealth priapically; for exchange, it is to repeat the process of
masculation again and again, thus accumulating and having 'more,'
deserving an ever-greater quantitative equivalent or masculating
'name,' and putting the owner into the category to which
ever-more unseen free gifts are given.
Existence is identified with masculation, and thus
becomes quantifiable. This gives people an incentive to have more, so as
to be more. Power and potency are merged in a negative
upward spiral, by which some 'successful' men (and women) can
become more masculated than others--exist more--by having
more quantitative 'value.' This makes them seem to deserve to
exist more, which allows the upper class to self-validate and to
judge those whom they exploit as 'less deserving to exist,' or
perhaps already 'less existing.'
Thinking is taken as the basis for the
adversarial authoritarian (exchange) identity. The capacity to
perform definitions and substitutions is a recognizable constant
process, which provides internal constancy (I = I) and focus in
the situation of mutual exclusion necessary for private
property, and also for the success of competition and ego-oriented activity.
(A positive internal identity would otherwise be created through
the repeated and variegated processes of giftgiving and
receiving.) Exchange instrumentalizes the satisfaction of the needs of
others for the satisfaction of one's own needs, and it is valued again
again above giving. Those whose will is involved in having
(and having more than others) appear to think and to be
rational, while those who are still practicing giftgiving (and deriving
their identities from it) appear 'irrational.'
Capital is Masculated Will
Capitalism is masculation by accumulation. It is less
sexist than the definition of gender because it allows some women to
be 'haves' (even 'self-made haves'). However, even successful
women may still seem to exist--and to deserve to exist--less
than masculated men. Their greater contact with emotions, which
we might call the internal presentation of needs, places
women partly outside the rationality of capitalism. Then
emotions appear to be the 'reason' why women (and men) who have the
emotions are not well adapted to the exchange economy.
In a situation in which humans are adversarial
and dominating as a community, using each other as means, human
e-motion is only a sketch of what might have been possible
outside the self-similar 'ratios.' It is our ir-ratio-nal
emotion that continues to go out to others' needs, even when we are
blocked, cut off from the actions that could fulfill the needs.
Perhaps women do continue to feel these feelings more than
masculated men because we are still doing giftgiving. They are a way
of plotting a course towards a better world. Joy is the celebration
of needs fulfilled, the divinely-paced dance of the soul freed
from the cage of exchange, living in harmony with itself and others
Emotion--rage--also surrounds harm, which is the
damaging creation of new needs, and much emotion opposes injustice
as institutionalized harm. However, the question of justice is
bound up with the need to define some kinds of actions as harmful.
It would be possible to create such definitions without the
reprisal that is part of the exchange paradigm, and instead to
prevent crimes by satisfying the needs that cause them before
the motivation to commit them has had a chance to develop.
This kind of solution is made impossible by the scarcity required by
the exchange paradigm, and by the glaring injustices that remain
un-defined or appear to be part of an unchangeable system.
Capital is the masculated ego. It is incarnate
value-attribution to the shift into exchange, the masculated will,
which directs energy towards amassing more wealth and power. It is
the desire and ability to be more. In fact, more money is more
being (more ability to substitute, to take-the-place-of). The 'free will'
of capital, like the free market, isn't really free. It is
channeled towards the survival and supremacy of itself, according to
the mandate of masculation. In other words, it is not free to
practice giftgiving and nurturing (contradicting itself, self-sacrificing,
not creating scarcity for others, not creating its own increase
of abundance). Giftgiving is irrelevant to it. No value is given
to giftgiving because value for exchange is caught in its
self-similarity, and the irrelevance of giftgiving covers up
the oppressiveness of exploitation through 'equal' exchange.
Both the free market and capitalistic free will
are oxymorons, if you consider the term 'free' as 'gratis.'
(Even shopping is free labor, but unrecognized--the labor of
'free' choice. We are not free not to shop and not to
choose--because we will not eat. If we do not have the money, we are not free
to shop and to buy. We do not 'deserve' to be.) But
even understanding 'free' as 'liberated from constraint,' the
market and the will are free for their practicers at the cost of
greater constraint for their victims. The perpetrators of the
free market and of capitalistic free will are free from 'other-orientation,'
from the commitment to serve others' needs, and they have to be
if they are to succeed. Some of our multinationals are even
more masculated than our individual sons.
What we think of as the ethical stance of free will is just
the possibility of individual masculated egos to choose according
to gentler values in contradiction to their socialization to power,
or allow themselves to be restrained by the equations of
'justice' (while most women already choose according to a
'different voice'). By availing themselves of their discarded ability
nurture, men contradict their masculated wills to dominate,
and to be more, accepting the 'constraints' of other-orientation.
Meanwhile, those who have been socialized to nurture
are free to imitate masculated ways, adapting to a sick society.
They can develop an exchange ego through working within the
social projections of masculation like the market, espousing the
values of patriarchy. However, women continue to be
socialized differently, towards nurturing and, therefore, are
always potentially in a situation of dis-ease within the system and
in conflict with themselves internally.
Women also tend to choose 'humility,' criticizing
themselves for a masculation that does not apply to them, ridding
themselves of a defect they do not have. They criticize masculation as if
it were a part of themselves, rather than recognizing it as, at
most, their own internalization of a self-similar pattern of males
(with whom they are not 'equal') and of the society at large.
Thus, women fill churches, therapy sessions and self-help
groups, inspecting their souls for trace-elements of arrogance and
power-tripping, when in fact they are the victims of that
masculated behavior by husbands, bosses, schools, universities,
businesses, governments, and other patriarchal institutions. While
providing a community and common values, most 'healing' approaches
still hide the giftgiving values which give them life behind a
male-dominant smoke screen of the masculated values of
individual independence, responsibility, guilt and retribution.
If we look at capital as the masculated will, we see it as free
to gain power, to 'be more' at others' expense to
infinite accumulation. The practice of philanthropy allows the
capitalist to make the 'free' choice of 'other-orientation' after the
fact, while s/he continues to 'make money.' Charity allows
the capitalist to become a 'more complete' person,
balancing exchange with giftgiving and, at the same time, satisfying some
of the needs that have been created by masculated patriarchal
ways and institutions.5 While these attitudes may be better
unmitigated exploitative moneymaking, they only improve
the lot of a few individuals, while making the individual
charity-giver a better individual. The ego-orientation of the system
captures our giftgiving as it encourages us to use our gifts to others for
our own self-improvement.
It is only by giving to social change from a meta
level--with a meta message that says, "This co-municative gift is made
to change the system towards giftgiving," that the
capital-will becomes general, liberated and liberating--giving to change
the (exchange) system that created it. This choice frees
capitalism from masculation and, by providing the financial resources,
frees everyone finally to be nurturing, to practice a gift economy,
a women's way. Those who are in positions of privilege
cannot create change by pretending they are not privileged, or by
simply giving away their 'marks' to become individually
unprivileged. Rather, they need to find ways to use their privileges at a
meta level to validate the model and logic of giving rather than
the model of exchange.
There is a phrase which I heard as attributed to
Winston Churchill: "The point is not to distribute poverty equally but
to distribute wealth equally." Apart from the use of the
word 'equally,' I think that the idea is very important. What we need
to focus on is wealth for all, not a new system of poverty for all. It
is not by making ourselves equally poor that we will change
the system for the good of all. In fact, only abundance
allows giftgiving to flourish. Therefore, we must use our wealth
of resources, the money accumulated in capital, our land,
our education, experience, communicative skills,
political, psychological, and business savvy, our groups and networks
to create an intelligent, non-violent transition from the
system based on exchange to a system based on giftgiving in abundance.
A step in the right direction would be to stop the
waste spending that is now taking place on armaments and the
military worldwide. Another step would be to for-give the so-called
'Third World' debt, realizing that the debt is an artificial,
exploitative mechanism which has actually already been paid back many
over. At the same time, stopping the destruction of
the environment would ensure that abundance could continue
to accrue in the future, rather than disappearing into an
artificially impoverished and toxic ecosystem. The well-planned reduction
of exploitation and waste would allow the accumulation of
wealth which would permit giftgiving among individuals, as well
as among groups and nations.
Because of the way the categories of masculation
have proliferated, many of us belong to several different categories.
We are privileged as white, but unprivileged as poor. We
are privileged as wealthy, but unprivileged as women. We
are privileged as male, but unprivileged as persons of color. We
need to unite across the unprivileged categories because we
are conscious of suffering, but we also need to unite from
within privileged categories to remedy the suffering, to change
the system for all. In fact, if we re-establish the mothering model
and equip ourselves with the logic of the gift economy, we will
give attention to others' needs and satisfy them, not only at
an individual, but at a social level. The true overturning is not to
put one category in a privileged position in place of another, but
to put into effect the general norm-al mother-based
other-orientation that bridges and breaks down categories altogether.
Masculation validates self-interest at all levels (even group
or category self-interest). We must also be able to validate
other-interest at all levels. The answer does not lie in categories at
all, but in giving and receiving, co-municating with each other
as human beings, and collaborating to solve the general
problems, the needs of all, by changing the system built on masculation.
This is the paradigm shift that the New Age and
other spiritual movements have been longing for. It is not based only
on consciousness--though consciousness plays an important part
in the necessary change of perspective--but on the real
and practical satisfaction of needs and solutions to problems. Such
practice must be aided by cultural sensitivity and
foresight, devising ways of satisfying psychological and spiritual needs,
such as the needs for dignity and respect, for the
independence and self determination of everyone who is transitioning out of
the exchange and into the gift mode. The paradigm shift can
be created by women, crossing all categories. Its operators are
already everywhere in the international women's movement.
The unmasculated agents of change are already planted in
1Is that why we are required to cover them, because they bring up the issue
of abundance and the gift paradigm?
2Women can also follow their father's footsteps here, by competing with and
eclipsing other women who are in a mother role. They are themselves, then, usually
eclipsed by men. Feminists need to realize that it is not by taking more hidden gifts
and obliterating the giver that we will ever make the world a better place. Rather,
we should promote the gift logic and honor the model of those who practice it in
all areas of life.
3See Maria-Barbara Watson-Franke, "The Lycian Heritage and the Making of
Men," in Women's Studies International
Forum, 16, 6, 1993, pp. 569-579.
4Money is attached to an image of itself. The president or king's face on coins
is perhaps the very image of self-similarity.
5Even groups like United Way which collect millions of small contributions from
the many funnel them into projects that take care of individuals and do not rock the boat.