Dreaming of a post-deferential world

Leaving Babylon

While thinking about tribal structures, and at the same time arguing against the patronizing, patriarchal vision of the future some novelists irritate and intimidate women with, it occurred to me that those of us learning neo-tribal living patterns should pay attention to how tribes dealt with key gender issues: division of work, and power.

That in turn led me to muse over how modernity has assiduously promoted “everything coed.” Until relatively recently, even within western cultures, separate men’s and women’s worlds still existed. Then, an avalanche of pressure came from all those modernizers relentlessly pushing coeducation and comingling of the sexes in work, play, and everywhere. Anything less than enforced heterosociality — constant male-female interaction in virtually all spheres of life — was decreed hopelessly old-fashioned and outmoded, even unfair. I’ve decided to give it another look.

In tribal situations women’s society and men’s society tend to remain distinct. Sometimes…

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