Male Marginalisation Revisited

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In, Gender in the 21st Century: Caribbean Perspectives, Visions, and Possibilities. Editors:  Barbara Bailey and Elsa Leo-Rhynie Editors. Ian Randle Publishers. Kingston. 2004. Pp 99-133.

The phenomenon of Male Marginalisation was first described by Miller as an aspect of gender in the Aubrey Phillips Memorial Lecture on April 30th, 1986. While some embraced the concept as an original contribution to the study of gender, others were highly critical claiming that it was a male chauvinistic attempt to divert attention from women’s issues. This latter view was refuted by the prediction that the phenomenon described would become more evident and widespread in the future thereby confirming its reality.  Seventeen years later, on the Tenth Anniversary of the Gender Studies Unit of the University of the West Indies, Mona; Miller was invited to revisit the phenomenon of Male Marginalisation. The approach adopted in the Chapter further detailed the historical and theoretical foundations of the conceptualization of Male Marginalization by the following. It:

  • Agreed with much of feminist scholarship that conventional sociological theorizing is universally and uniformly unisex
  • Critiqued theorizing of gender by Weber; radical feminists, white and black; post-modernists; structuralists; and essentialists for either conflating gender and patriarchy or for omitting patriarchy from their formulations
  • Defined patriarchy as a social system of domination/subordination involving genealogy, gender and generation, where genealogy defines the external borders of a kinship collective while gender and generation determines internal rank within the collective.
  • Defined gender as the sexual division of power.
  • Established that genealogy created a covenant of kinship which consisted of shared identity, group solidarity and reciprocal obligations.
  • Traced the brutality and cruelty inflicted on alien genealogies that fall outside of the covenant of kinship, especially on their men since women and children were more easily incorporated into lineages.
  • Defined marginality and centrality in society and showed that these were social facts of all societies.
  • Argued that inequality was the reality of human society but could not be justified on ethical and moral grounds. Further, while equality is ethical and moral it is utopian and not practical. Accordingly, human societies must contend with this inherent and fundamental contradiction
  • Argued that whatever criteria are used to justify inequality in one era can be successfully challenged subsequently, hence the criteria on which societies are structured are perennially renegotiated.
  • Argued that the asymmetries in power in society is resultant of renegotiations of the structure of society and that male marginalisation has been a consistent feature of societies ancient and modern.