Alice Evans on Nordic gender egalitarianism

So what’s the connection between hierarchy and patriarchy? It is my contention that if everyone is equal, it is much more acceptable for women to get to the top. No one is special. ‘Leaders’ are not due unique perks, privileges or power. Queuing by the roadside, they board the bus like commoners. Since everyone is respected, it is much more permissible for (low status) women to become politicians, clerics and bosses. What’s there to envy? The status gap is meagre. The rest of society acts as a reverse dominance coalition – keeping her power, esteem and ego in check.

By contrast, in hierarchical institutions, where status gaps loom large, it would be enormously unsettling for a (low status) woman to command prestige. If men must always bow and let her first speak first, it may grate their egos. Even for men who are perfectly supportive of female employment or gender equality in abstract, it might still be uncomfortable to literally kow-tow. The larger the hierarchy, the more distressing it may be to see a woman soar…

My theory helps explain why Scandinavian countries were quick to elect female leaders and share childcare. It also explains why management and politics remain so male-dominated in hierarchical Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Russia and Nigeria.

Here is the full post, and here is Alice’s more recent post on what paintings can tell us about British patriarchy.



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