Why do politicians kiss babies?

You don’t have to be a sociologist or a man-hater to notice that many of the world’s problems seem to arise in a gendered way (albeit that often we aren’t supposed to notice the gender pattern).

Think of global warming and the destruction of the Amazon, of the vulnerability of every country to be ganged up on by millionaire gamblers and stock markets, of multinationals and the international arms trade; of drug-dealers, gang-masters and pimps exploiting vulnerable illegalised workers.

Think of the many varieties of ideological fanatics, the labs of ‘heartless scientists’, the offices of PR men and advertisers and media moghuls; and the Men in suits meeting at Gleneagles to reform or tweak the system of global debt and slavery which their white male-dominated institutions give rise to (G8, IMF, WTO, World Bank, etc).
But also think local to the hard men in the pub, the local drug-dealers, the old boys’ networks, the freemasonic 'development' stitch-ups, the modern equivalent of the ‘smoke-filled rooms’, the chronic abuse and bullying in workplaces and barracks and prisons and care homes and schools and on the terraces.

Now of course some individual women are involved in these patterns as active perpetrators, not always as complicit or innocent victims! Girls at school can be every bit as vindictive as boys. So it isn’t a question of females being biologically better or essentially ‘pure’, or males being fundamentally flawed in ourselves.

’Fraternities’ or ‘Motherland’ - to whom our Loyalty?
Instead, as a society, we need to learn to notice the basic societal model of domination by all-male or mostly-male groups of all kinds. I call these FRATERNITIES or ‘FRATS’ or 'MEN’S HUTS’, and as well as oppressing women and their daughters they also destabilise every mother’s son if they are the ‘wrong’ age or class or religion or tribe or sexual orientation or body, etc, and/or if they refuse to go along with the various frat-approved forms of hatred and greed and delusion spun off from that core experience of being frightened by the big boys and trying ever after to keep in with them by acting ‘manly’, cool, successful, etc.

But underneath the nonsense I think there’s a bit of most of us which is still pretty sane and more or less knows the score. That part of us emerged in and from our earliest experiences of being loved and feeling secure in a home or community context (assuming we were lucky enough to know at least some such moments). As we come up against the ‘real world’ (the world dominated by men’s gangs, even if initially staffed by women teachers who are no longer allowed to cuddle us) we know something is the matter.

I believe that this is because as a species we still have a deep-down orientation to what I call the Mother-tribe, or ‘matri-sphere’ or ‘Motherland’ of peaceful community life.

This isn’t ‘sexist’, as it may sound to many people, because in a more-or-less loving home or neighbourhood context we really have lots of ’co-mothers’ (or parents if you prefer) - who could be loving dads or grans or aunties round the kitchen table or uncles showing us how to use a saw or big sisters or brothers or maybe mum’s lesbian lover, or the postie having time to show ‘our Johnnie’ a trick with rubber bands. And for some of us the 'co-mother' who kept us sane could even have been next door’s dog!

Just as the Fraternities are hell-bent on defining themselves by excluding others, one of the central values of the Motherland is social inclusion - there’s an underlying logic that says families and groups and nations don’t have to fight and can advance along with each other and not at each others’ expense.

If we leave voting and ‘politics’ to the politicians and the multinational lobbyists then it means that the world of the Fraternities will keep growing at the expense of our true Motherland of peaceful community life on/as Mother Earth.

But the more the ‘Real Men’ get up to extremely dangerous nonsense like nuclear weapons and electronically swindled elections and 9/11 and casino economics producing huge crashes out of thin air (just as the ‘Debts’ are created by adding zeros into a computer),  ....  then the more ordinary non-political people of good will of both genders (true daughters and true sons alike) will need to figure out how we can intervene to stop them.

Greenham Hope
One inspiring model is the Northern Irish Peace People, whose sudden emergence in Belfast in autumn 1976 showed the latent power which lies beneath the surface of ‘normal’ Male-dominated Politics as Usual.

Another is the women’s-led, mixed Peace march to Greenham Common which became the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp, which attracted women of all generations and backgrounds. In trying to ‘recall to loyal sonhood’ (my paraphrase) the alienated Fraternity-loyal Men they were up against, many Greenham women developed a creative repertoire of song, myth, symbol and ritual to express their love for their Mother Society and ‘Mother Nature’, which Cruise Missiles were threatening to destroy.

They were attempting to promote alternative values and to raise up an alternative principle of (nonviolent and egalitarian) moral authority and they realised that their very diversity, especially the presence of three or four generations of women together (Crone, Mother, Maid some called it), could lend a special symbolic power to their cause: ‘You remind me of my son’, some would say to the policemen they reached out to.

I believe with those Greenham women that there does exist an underlying moral and symbolic ‘grammar’ which we will need to tap into and express in our politics. In fact this little-talked of moral authority at the root of our social inter-being is what the politicians know they must try to tap into when they come calling at mothers' and babies' clinics and want to kiss the baby in shopping centres!

They are asking to be certified as ‘true sons’ of their community, who can for a moment ‘co-mother’ to the satisfaction of mother and baby and onlookers, so that the word goes around: that Ian Wright (or whoever), he’s OKay, we can trust him to go up to Westminster and put us Hartlepool folk first.

But when they join up with the Westminster lot they too often put their loyalty to the Big Boys first - the Whips’ office and the multinationals and all the rest of the Men’s Huts we instead need them to be countering and constraining. Rather than those politicians (of both genders) being primarily loyal to the Party, we need them to be loyal to the people.

We need them to help us resist and gradually constrain or dissolve or turn around those male-dominated gangs and institutions, transforming them into so many arms for hugging the downtrodden and husbanding the Earth.

’Vote with a Kiss’
Vote with a Kiss to tell such good but sad and lost men that you can’t defend our local motherland by blowing up or starving other mothers’ children under the guise of protecting us from whoever the present bogey man is that we should all be terrified about!