The Two Revolutions of Feminism

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By Leonardo Boff*

Women bring to the public space the values ​​of their experience in the private sphere: solidarity, sharing and care. Altruists, they defend more cooperation in the world of work and the reversal of the process of destruction of nature and the human species.

International Women's Day, which is basically women's day, offers us the opportunity to think about the challenge that the world feminist movement is throwing at us.

This movement, more than others, made two revolutions: it questioned machismo and patriarchy. Machismo as the domination of the man over the life of the woman that already has centuries. The women's struggle awakened us to the gender issue that involves power relations. This cannot be just the man. It must be shared between the man and the woman. Avoid the sexual division of labor and prioritize the logic of sharing and co-participation in the whole project of life together. Hence arises a more just and harmonious relationship.

Second, the feminist movement made perhaps the most consistent criticism of the patriarchal culture that organized all of society and the various instances of life and also of religion. Man assumed the power through which he submits others, heads the State, creates the bureaucracy, organizes the army and wages wars. Almost all heroes and most deities are male. He occupies public life and relegates women to private and family life.

Patriarchy, by feminist critics, was theoretically dismantled, although in practice, it tries again and again to dominate women. A special refuge from patriarchy is the media and marketing that use the woman, not only in her entirety, but parts of her, her breasts, her legs, her private parts. It is a way of turning women into objects.

Feminism's great contribution was to have shown that all or almost all cultures existing today are patriarchal. It has as a consequence the maintenance of inequality in the man-woman relationship in all areas. Whether in the USA, in Germany or in Brazil, a woman can do the same job, even the most competent one, because she is a woman, she earns at least 20-30% less than the man who performs the same function. The awareness of the theoretical overcoming of patriarchy is not enough, but the demolition of its habits maintained in social institutions and behaviors.

But it was not always so. Human beings have existed for 7-8 million years. In the first phase, which lasted millions of years, male-female relationships were based on harmony and balance with nature. Contrary to what patriarchal thought believes, true human coexistence was not governed by the violence of some over others, but by solidarity and cooperation.

Violence is recent in the process of anthropogenesis. She started with the gay faber two million years ago, in the search for food, especially hunting, people began to use instruments and force. Then the masculine becomes the predominant gender. It gained hegemony when agriculture, towns, cities and empires appeared 8 thousand years ago. Man-woman relations become unequal: he occupies all of public life, governs alone and relegates women to the role of procreator and caretaker of the home.

The changes that were always sought culminated in the 50th century with the second industrial revolution, when women entered the public domain because the competitive system made more machines than men. At the end of the XNUMXth century and today, women are the majority of humanity and practically XNUMX% of the world's workforce. With this, the patriarchal cycle ends, in a way, and a new paradigm of valuing differences and the search for equality yet to be achieved begins.

Women bring something radically new to the productive system and to the State. It won't just be competitive and authoritarian. The woman brings what she experienced in the private domain: the values ​​of solidarity, sharing and care. Millennials she was educated for altruism. If a baby doesn't have someone selfless to take care of it, it won't last even a few days. In this way, the entry of women into the masculine public domain is an essential condition for humanization and more cooperation in the world of work and, what is fundamental, reversing the process of destruction of nature and the human species.

This was made clear in the collective conscience in the UN Report for the Population Fund (UNFPA) which argues: “the human race has been plundering the Earth in an unsustainable way and giving women greater decision-making power over their future can save the planet from its destruction”. Note that here we are not talking about “participation power” that they always had, but about “decision power”.

They are the ones who understand life, because they generate it. They will be the main protagonists in the decision for a biocivilization based on care, solidarity and the logic of the heart, without which life cannot thrive. They, along with the men who unearthed their dimension of “soul” (care, kindness and lovingness) that articulates with the dimension of “animus” (reason, organization, direction) present, in their own proportions in each person, will be able to give a new direction to our existence on this planet and keep us away from the path of no return, the path of perdition.

*Leonardo Boff is a theologian, author with Rose Marie Muraro of the book Feminine & Masculine: a new conscience for meeting differences (Record).

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