PATRIARCHY AND CAPITALISM ARE SIAMESE TWINS

©DEV VIRAHSAWMY FOUNDATION
The Management Company of the Foundation is OCORIAN, 6th Floor, Tower A, 1 Cybercity, Ebène, Mauritius.

If matriarchal or matrilineal societies existed in the past, there is no doubt that in our present world, patriarchy, a male-dominated system allied to capitalism, is the main source of all our troubles and worries. It has total economic, political, social and cultural powers, including religious powers. This explains why in spite of progress in the field of gender equality, we are still horrified by events all over the world. Did we not believe, to some extent, that Hollywood was the land of greater gender equality, that female actors were symbols of sexual, social and cultural emancipation? Recently, it became shockingly clear that ‘labraget’ culture was still going strong. Did we not think that the great international institutions were symbols of freedom and equality? How wrong we were. Recent findings have revealed how entrenched sexism and phallocracy are. Gender equality must still top the political agenda and we must beware of lip service. We must also beware of opportunistic women who jump on the band wagon to satisfy personal interests.

Why is that so? Patriarchy is a crafty system, expert at make-believe and concealing the truth and as good as capitalism in mind-conditioning. A few examples will help to make this clear.

Look at “Pater Noster”, the main Christian prayer which begins with “Pater noster, qui es in caelis” (Nou Papa dan lesiel) So God is male with beard, balls and all. Where is the Mother in all that? Patriarchy believes that the male ‘gives’ life but strives to forget that the female nurtures life, that males and females are complementary. This message is passed on generation after generation at home, in schools, at work, everywhere. It will certainly be argued that “Pater Noster” was the prayer said by Jesus. No doubt! When through ‘avatar’ God takes a human shape, they (He/She) will use the language of the day. Jesus was born through a woman in a patriarchal society in which a slave had more rights than a woman. The fact that God chose to come to us through a woman is full of meaning. Remember that, after resurrection, He first visited Mary Magdalene who called Him ‘Rabbouni’ (according to some scholars it also means ‘beloved’ and not only, ‘master/teacher’). Lord Jesus brought us a powerful pro-gender-equality message but patriarchy chose and still chooses to ignore it.

Look at Lord Jesus’ speech style. It is full of maternal idioms of the type “How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings” (Luke 13:34 and Matt. 23:37). In my humble opinion we should pray “Mama-Papa dan lesiel”.

Language also is loaded with terms and rules which reinforce the sexist reflex. Look at this sentence in French: “Un million de femmes et un chien sont VENUS” (masculine/plural). Children learning this rule of a prestigious language, will conclude that one male dog is grammatically more-weighty than a million women. English, as a language, is slowly moving from gender-sensitivity to gender neutrality. ‘Chairman’ has been replaced by ‘chairperson’; ‘fisherman’ by ‘fisher’; ‘fireman’ by ‘firefighter’ etc. Very often we hear a woman say, of herself, “mo pa travay, mo res lakaz” or “je suis femme au foyer”. Macho males love this for women are indulging in self-deprecation. These women are in fact ‘home-managers’, a title which men deny them.

Caryl Churchill was among the first scholars to suggest that the struggle for gender equality and against capitalism should go hand in hand. Feminists and socialists should bear this in mind.

26.02.19

A JOURNEY FROM MELODRAMA TO TRAGICOMEDY

A JOURNEY FROM MELODRAMA TO TRAGICOMEDY
THROUGH SOME SHAKESPEARE’S WORKS
©DEV VIRAHSAWMY FOUNDATION
The Management Company of the Foundation is OCORIAN, 6th Floor, Tower A, 1 Cybercity, Ebène, Mauritius.

‘Romeo and Juliet’, an early play, written towards the turn of the 16th century, is a tragedy of fate, of star-crossed lovers, based on the ancient belief that:
“As flies to wanton boys are we to th’ gods.
They kill us for their sport.”

The play since its creation has been very popular, not because it is a great tragedy but because of the beauty of its poetry (for parting is such sweet sorrow); because of the blend of humour and seriousness, where the comic and the tragic are back to back; and specially because it is a brilliant tearjerker, a superb melodrama of the ‘kari brile’ type.

The two young lovers are not damned by some tragic flaw but are mere victims of fate.
The tragedies which later followed are marked by a new concept: the tragic flaw – I stumbled when I saw. Mauritians have much to learn from these plays as they will help us to move away from “pa mwa sa, li sa” to “pa li sa, mwa sa.” This is clearly shown in ‘Othello”. At the end of the play, there is a temptation to look for a scapegoat. The protagonist resists that temptation, takes his dagger and plunges it in his heart to kill the beast in him. Hell is not the other people as Sartre would say; hell is in oneself.

‘Hamlet’ is different. In the past, there was a tendency to look for Hamlet’s tragic flaw. Some said it was indecision. There is now a different approach. The play traces the growth of Hamlet until he understands what his real mission is: “There is a special providence in the fall of a sparrow.” He is now a Christlike figure, ready for the great self-sacrifice to purge the world.

It can be said that classical tragedies are ruled by Greek gods and the God of the early books of the Old Testament and not by the God of Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love (W. Blake), God of the New Testament. Shakespeare felt that surely for towards the end of his treatre career, he moved to a new type of plays which has the ingredients of a tragic end but which through a benevolent providence ends in reconciliation and reunion and not in separation and death. It’s the triumph of love and forgiveness. ‘The Tempest’ is a good example of the tragicomic mood.

My version of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ entitled ‘Ramdeo ek Ziliet’ gives the play a tragicomic twist and the lovers are saved by a Sufi Sheik. In my own way, I try to walk in the steps of the great bard.

21.02.19