Watching Brexit: The Uncivil War last night brought home to me again what the Brexit referendum really embodies: the dominance of patriarchal values.
In the red corner, was a demand for control. In the blue corner was a demand for, er, the maintenance of control. The appearance of having self-control and control over others is a tenant of masculinity. Men have been taught that their excellence as men will be judged by the way they control people, by how well they promote themselves, and by whether or not they stay ‘on top.’ Control has been a central value of patriarchy since our history books began. Control is what we reach for when we feel fragile, and powerless, when we are scared and seek to preserve our ego above everything else.
This TV show has dubbed Brexit a ‘war’ and that is what it has become. Patriarchal societies value the fight more than they really value the outcome. It is not so much what you win, as long as you do win. The reverence for competition in our society is endemic. Competition or fight is meant to achieve the greatest outcome. However, competition ensures only that if you win, you did a better job than the other side. It is clear that the red side did better than the blue side at the competition and so they won. But the winning didn’t achieve an outcome that was actually good for the country.
Maybe the programme was biased towards white male actors, but on the assumption that it was not, clock the massive majority of white, wealthy and privileged male ‘elite’ on both sides. One thing all of them were concerned about was preserving their place in the elite. Showing themselves to be the strongest, the smartest, the best. There was very little working together, both sides were fraught with in-fighting because so few of them were really thinking about what matters, which is the people they are meant to be protecting.
Masculinity doesn’t allow much room for being ‘wrong’. When your primary impulse is to protect your reputation and status, you cannot be seen to have made a mistake or change a path. Even if that path is destructive and harmful. Even if that path might destroy you and everything around you that you love.
Patriarchal values are destroying our society in many ways, and Brexit is a prime example. Patriarchy glorifies hierarchy, duality, liner and separateness thinking. It divides everything in two: masculine and feminine, winner and loser, dominant and passive, Linear thinking rates and grades people and is the notion that all accomplishment lies in defeating people and that the world is that it is eminently controllable. These values have been harmful to us over centuries and they continue to destroy us.
Values that have for too long been seen as lesser, or weaker, because they have been associated with women such as trust rather than control, cooperation rather than competition, and interdependence rather than independence need to be injected into our judicial, political and media establishments as soon as possible if we are ever going to create a society where we can heal this terminal divide.
The values of trust, cooperation, and interdependence are those that Justice Studio embodies in all our work. We uphold these values when working with our government and not for profit clients. We also strive to ensure they are recognised and esteemed within the business itself.