sexual politics – class 4a

It is generally accepted that Western (eastern as well) patriarchy has been much softened by the concepts of courtly and romantic love.
While this is certainly true, such influence has also been vastly overestimated.
In comparison with the candour of “machismo” or oriental behaviour, one realises how much of a concession traditional chivalrous behaviour represents – a sporting kind of reparation to allow the subordinate female certain means of saving face !

While a palliative to the injustice of woman’s social position, chivalry is also a technique for disguising it.
One must acknowledge that the chivalrous stance is a game the master group plays in elevating its subject to pedestal level.
Historians of courtly love stress the fact that the raptures of the poets had no effect upon the legal or economic standing of women, and very little upon their social status.
As the sociologist Hugo Beigel has observed, both the courtly and the romantic versions of love are “grants” which the male concedes out of his total powers.
Both have had the effect of obscuring the patriarchal character of Western (and Eastern, as well) culture(s) and their general tendency to attribute impossible virtues to women, have ended by confining them in a narrow and often remarkably conscribing sphere of behaviour.
It was a Victorian habit, for example, to insist the female assume the function of serving as the male’s conscience and living the life of goodness he found tedious but felt someone ought to do anyway !

The concept of romantic love affords a means of emotional manipulation which the male is free to exploit, since love is the only circumstance in which the female is (ideologically) pardoned for sexual activity.
And convictions of romantic love are convenient to both parties since this is often the only condition in which the female can overcome the far more powerful conditioning she has received toward sexual inhibition. Romantic love also obscures the realities of female status and the burden of economic dependency.
As to “chivalry,” such gallant gesture as still resides in the middle classes has degenerated to a tired ritualism, which scarcely serves to mask the status situation of the present.

Within patriarchy one must often deal with contradictions which ale simply a matter of class style.
David Riesman has noted that as the working class has been assimilated into the middle class, so have its sexual mores and attitudes.
The fairly blatant male chauvinism which was once a province of the lower class or immigrant male has been absorbed and taken on a certain glamour through a number of contemporary figures, who have made it, and a certain number of other working-class male attitudes, part of a new, and at the moment, fashionable life style.
So influential is this working class ideal of brute virility (or more accurately, a literary and therefore middle-class version of it) become in our time that it may replace more discreet and “gentlemanly” attitudes of the past.

please see any of our box office hit movies like Dabaang etc

One of the chief effects of class within patriarchy is to set one woman against another,
in the past creating a lively antagonism between whore and matron,
and in the present between career woman and housewife.
One envies the other her “security” and prestige, while the envied yearns beyond the confines of respectability for what she takes to be the other’s freedom, adventure, and contact with the great world.

Through the multiple advantages of the double standard, the male participates in both worlds, empowered by his superior social and economic resources to play the estranged women against each other as rivals. One might also recognise subsidiary status categories among women: not only is virtue class, but beauty and age as well.

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