Dissecting the Domination vs Partnership Paradigm Rather Than Bashing Toxic Masculinity

There is clearly a problem.

Over the years, and especially in the last decade, the discussion about what is not working in the world has exploded in a big way. But this problem goes far beyond the gender wars, beyond race issues, beyond the problematic structures that prop up income inequality, and deep into the fundamental structure of the REAL problem.

Meghan Daum just wrote a brilliant commentary on the topic that has resonated with me in a big way.

Conversations about gender, race, age, economic status, and the general lack of parity between people are an important step forward towards understanding what’s going on in the world. These conversations can also be pivotal in helping us all to address and fix inequities and injustice between people in all cultures.

As we expand our understanding of why so many things are so FUBAR, it is my hope that our inter-societal fixes will also extend towards our collective relationship with the natural world, and help us to find solutions to the pressing problems of climate change and the other, non-human inhabitants of our world as well.

It doesn’t mean we know how to have these conversations effectively. Not yet at least.

Why bashing “toxic masculinity” is a bad idea

I believe in this time of great transition it is incumbent upon all of us to recognize that, in large part, we have INHERITED this imbalanced culture.

We also unfortunately continue to propagate imbalance — sometimes mindlessly, and sometimes (it seems) with malicious or fearful intent.

But in the end, what kind of world do we ultimately want to create?

If we want to truly BE THE CHANGE we want to see in the world, we are going to need to make the choice to stop attacking nearly half the population for past (and current) wrongs, and start addressing what we can do TOGETHER to fix things.

Switching the Paradigm to Use More Accurate Language is a Good Start

Dr. Riane Eisler coined the concept of Domination vs Partnership many years ago when she started digging into questions about why there is so much violence in the world.

Coming out of a childhood experience of Hitler’s Germany, and a youthful flight from her native Austria for Cuba, she very much witnessed firsthand the power of violence and disruption in the world.

Seeking to understand the why of in-group vs out-group violence happens, and where it originates, she stretched her research both far back over time and deep under the superficial layers of culture.

She found that the fundamental problem stemmed not from paradigms defined as east vs west, or communist vs capitalist, or even men vs women.

The real problem was caused by the nearly subconscious development of the beliefs in each generation that might makes right, violence is the way to power, and a rigid hierarchy of power means someone must be on top while the rest of the group was on the bottom.

A domination system is based on the concept of one or some people having POWER OVER other people.

A partnership system is based on a more egalitarian system of creating POWER WITH one another, where everyone contributes and benefits from the health and happiness of the whole.

Here is a recent podcast of Dr. Eisler talking about her most recent book, and discussing the details of how we can choose to relate to the domination paradigm in a positive, progressive way.

And if you’re a deep reader and haven’t checked it out yet, this book is an eye opener! I’ve passed it on to more than one friend who reported back that they were blown away by what they read.

Sexy men who can grok this fabulous book are DEEPLY appreciated.

Disclaimer — academic readers will be delighted, but casual readers might find the book to be a lot to digest.

(his response when I asked permission to use the image above)

I Know Women Have Been Hurt by the Patriarchy, but…

Just because we have strong emotions about this topic, and trust me I know we do, doesn’t mean taking it out on the masculine half of humanity makes any sense.

We need the space to express our hurt, yes. We have a need to communicate our emotions about the trauma of many, many repressions over the centuries, absolutely.

But in the end, what kind of world do we ultimately want to create?

Can we honor our emotions and our experiences without leaking our pain all over the very conversations we are having in our attempt to improve things? Can we name and deal with our emotions without overwhelming ourselves and others with them?

Is it possible for us to realize that many men have ALSO suffered under the domination paradigm of the patriarchy?

Can we hold space for the potential beauty of the masculine and feminine energies working together in harmony?

As the concept of the gender spectrum continues to gain visibility and validity in the mainstream, we can see that we all have both masculine and feminine energies within all of us.

This has been known forever in the Tantra community, but is just now starting to make its way into the everyday conversations of the masses.

Domination = Toxicity,

Not Masculinity or Femininity.

So when we attack one energy or the other, and try to prove our points by WINNING or BEATING the “other side,” we are just perpetuating the unconscious propagation of the very thing that we are mad at on the deepest level.

The concept of “smash the patriarchy!” is actually a sneaky validation of smashing as a way to gain power.

We’re going to need to man-up, woman-up, and human-up to a new way of being if we want to start changing the world for the better.

So, consider the next time you write, if you can substitute toxic-domination-mindset into the language of your work. Let’s stop attacking the men who are trying to work with us.

Let’s get the argument against inequality onto more equal terms.

And let’s start working together to hold space for the creation of the better world we all want to see emerge.

Bring on the comments!




Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Kaia Maeve Tingley

Kaia Maeve Tingley

Woman, Mother, Wife, Goddess Worshiper, Priestess of the Dirt, & Queen Bee of the #TechHippies. I write essays & poems about coming back home to self. #onelove