French filmmaker Eléonore Pourriat has been getting a lot of attention for her short movie Oppressed Majority, about the travails of a man in a matriarchal society.
But something is different in Pierre’s world. Women are in charge. They run around barechested – hey, it’s hot! – piss in an alley, and offer sexual favours to Pierre when he is stuck at a red light. (He’s riding a bike, so his lack of physical barriers provides an opportunity if not a provocation.) Events culminate when Pierre is sexually assaulted at knifepoint. Inevitably, the police officer who takes Pierre’s statement is female. She raises an eyebrow, but only to check for accuracy: “She pinched my testicles … then she took my penis in her mouth and bit it”?
The movie is undoubtedly intended as feminist satire, and I suppose it works at that level even if it’s a bit heavy-handed and obvious. However, watching Pierre’s misadventures also appealed to my submissive side and left me thinking that his “world” might be an interesting one to explore, if only to solve the mystery of how the ladies maintained their power over the hapless menfolk. When my thoughts drift to daydreams of being an oppressed male in a country ruled by women, there’s generally at least a vague explanation for the power imbalance woven into the fantasy – a goddessy religion that even the men take seriously, a particularly capable female politician who worked her way into a position of near-absolute power and then began deliberately appointing other women to all the high-level posts, even a reversal of normal human sexual dimorphism.
In such a country there would still be women who were impoverished or otherwise down on their luck, just as some men are stuck in that position in even the most patriarchal cultures, but all or almost all of the most prestigious and influential jobs would be occupied by members of the female half of the species. Outside office hours, men would be expected to defer to their mothers, sisters and girlfriends until they were given away as blushing grooms, after which time they would begin deferring to their wives. A responsible wife, for her part, would provide her husband with direction and loving but firm discipline. Men who worked outside the home would expect to have a female boss, or perhaps a male boss who in turn answered to a female boss. Male athletes and entertainers might attract a following, but would still end up beholden to the female executives who owned the sports teams, record companies and movie studios. Nearly all police and customs officers would be female, and men who failed to show them sufficient respect would be given a hard time as a matter of course.
On a practical level, this might not be the best way to organise society, given that a lot of male talent would go to waste. If the sexes are more or less equal in their cognitive abilities and leadership potential, which seems more likely than not, then excluding either of them from positions of power and responsibility is counterproductive as well as simply unfair. In contrast to what card-carrying female supremacists like Saharah Eve and (to some extent) Elise Sutton might say, I don’t think that men in general should be subordinate to women in general, or that institutionalising this kind of arrangement would make the world a better or happier place.
However, I’m pretty sure that I would enjoy living under matriarchal rule, at least for a while. I submit to My Lady partly because I’m strongly drawn to female authority, so a society in which authority and femaleness were joined at the hip would suit me just fine. There’s also something intensely compelling about the idea of being automatically reduced to second-class citizenship, inescapably assigned to an inferior caste, because I happen to have a penis. I have no plans to help usher in the day when the world bows down before a cabal of Supreme Overladies, but I can’t help thinking that female supremacy would be a nice place to visit. Closer to home, I tend to be just a little more naturally supportive of businesses, political parties and other organisations that are run by women. Believing that men and women are about equally likely to make good leaders doesn’t mean, after all, that I can’t choose to lavish a bit of extra appreciation on good leaders who happen to be female.