After the revelations about The Voice women might just get the idea that only they can save the world. A small compilation of sound bites from the media: „Coming back with a all-female/non-binary jury, presentation, production and management and procedures to ensure equivalence and safety for all participants. That would be a statement with which this sinking ship might still be saved.” (Nadine Ridder in NRC); “In the evolution of the man, we have therefore reached the dickpic phase. Henceforth, please let us lead only women” (Erdal Balci on Twitter); the successful man is “primitive and sad” and social success is “increasingly a matter of mentally immature men […]: football players, singers, but also (tech) entrepreneurs.” (Sander Schimmelpenninck in de Volkskrant).
Go ahead, hand over power to women now, and quickly a little, before more women get involved after a call from Women Inc. Calling ‘Peter’ or more writers in imitation of Désanne van Brederode a he/him behind their name because they see no other way out than to change their gender identity with a playful magic trick.
Well, women know better. Whoever reverses the roles – only women in power, possibly supplemented by another sacred species, the non-binary – without examining the concept of ‘power’ itself, gets the same nonsense. It may be less evident in sexually transgressive behaviour, I dare not say that. Listen to the podcast Sisters of Mercy, about (sexual) abuse of power and intimidation among the nuns, or think of political parties that engage in politics on the basis of identity no time dealing with abuse of power.
I wrote it before: if transgressive sexual behavior is not about sex, but about ‘power’, then the term ‘power’ deserves further investigation. Power is the ability to influence the life of another by giving or withholding resources. Power is not something you have, but the effect you exert. This means that everyone has power – from the toddler who lies on the floor in the supermarket to the woman who tries to get something done in a lower voice. To be human means to enter into power relations. By definition. Powerlessness corrupts just as much as power.
Whoever calls women the better kind denies that women’round characters‘, including dark sides, and just like perpetrators can also have good sides, for example making beautiful music or being a caring father. The call of psychologist Iva Bicanic and lawyer Richard Korver in the program Beau however, avoiding words like ‘monster’ and ‘predator’ when it comes to perpetrators is emotionally difficult. Anyone who is justifiably angry is not (yet) ready for the humanization of perpetrators. However, it will be necessary in the long run. Because if the perpetrator is rarely ‘the man in the woods’, but the neighbour, the trainer or the uncle, then these are people with whom women live together, who are their partners, their fathers or their sons. With terms like monster and predator, you park perpetrators outside of humanity as aberration.
Admittedly, the worst of the #MeToo cases (Jeffrey Epstein, Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby) are so sickeningly criminal that ‘predator’ falls short in my opinion. Perhaps Bicanic, Korver, and others can teach us more about the shades of perpetration.
Because in the end something has to be done with the men, with the perpetrators. ‘Educate your sons‘ was, next to ‘women in power’, the second frequently heard solution. Sounds simple, is complicated.
Typically, women are overrepresented as their sons’ first teachers (as mothers, in childcare and primary school). What struck me in Ali B’s self-help book published in November, The Ali B-Method – he needs that very badly now – was the story of the absent father. Ali B in his teens had no available educator/coach around to handle him, became addicted to sex, drugs and money; addictions into which, we now know, he relapsed.
The educators are all of us. Women need men to educate, parents need teachers, and men need other men. raise your sons, our raising sons is not possible without good help, working groups, and a dialogue between the sexes.
From the statements quoted at the outset, that men like to hand over power to women and doubt their mental maturity, I gather that men – hooray! – have started that self-examination carefully and be open to that conversation.
Stine Jensen is a philosopher and writer. She writes a column here every other week.
A version of this article also appeared in NRC on the morning of January 28, 2022