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What if women ruled the world?

Monday 17-07-2017 - 03:50 PM
What if women ruled the world?
What if Women Ruled
What if Women Ruled the World?

Cairo - If women ruled the world, they would stop being fragile, they would stop being dependent, they would never be the victim, they would never be abused. I want women to be warriors. When women are free and happy, they will know how to rule the world.

An end to abuse, a law against mansplaining, and reparations for two millennia of injustice … as a new sci-fi art show imagines a female-led future, we ask comedians, writers, politicians and CEOs for their vision.

What If Women Ruled the World?, a film and performance project by Yael Bartana, was at Mayfield, Manchester, 5-8 July.

 ‘I want woment to
‘I want woment to be warriors’ … from left, Marina Abramović, Sofie Hagen, Frances O’Grady, Bridget Christie, Alaa Murabit and June Eric-Udorie

Reproductive sexual difference remains the villain of the piece

Supremacy based on gender has never been an attractive idea and patriarchal dystopias are no longer in an imagined future, or long buried past, but part of our present. Patriarchy makes us equal in one way, though: men are as arrested in their development as women. Given the challenges of being in charge, you would think they would be more than happy to hand over the headache and see what difference having women in charge makes.

Tory women prime ministers make no difference, because a system that is fundamentally based on the principle of unequal power relationships cannot, by definition, make us equal. Promoting the F-word without challenging the C-word has never worked: it is not possible to achieve the aims of feminism within the capitalist system. Our feminist foremothers warned us of this. Where we have got to so far is largely based on a limited agenda of establishing so-called “women’s rights” within stunted liberal democracies.

People take hope – and even experience some freedom – in successfully challenging the pantomime binaries of masculinity and femininity. However, reproductive sexual difference remains the villain of the piece. If women are to rule the world and make a difference, we either need to overhaul the social and economic system of reproductive exploitation (on which the system was built), or take control of the re-engineering of human design that is already under way.

We should design a reparations scheme that reorganizes parental and family responsibilities in such a way that men have the opportunity to pay women back for the last two millennia – the incentive being the universally agreed cultural value that raising families brings joy. The first job of the woman in charge is to liberate the men.

Men kill more people than women

There’d be less violence, we’d get things done quicker and we would solve a lot of problems by chatting – instead of bombing. We would think rationally. People think: “Oh, women can’t make decisions when it’s the time of the month” and all that, but I think we’re very decisive. We don’t waste any time and we would do things a lot cleaner and a lot quicker. There would be fewer people dying if women were in charge. It’s a fact: men kill more people than women.

 Jarring … experts
Jarring … experts in various fields share a table with actors (Natasha Gordon here) in What If Women Ruled the World? by Yael Bartana. Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian

Historically, women in power put men out

I am not a fan of biological determinism, even when it is working in women’s favor – so I am not sure I subscribe to the idea that women are innately caring and collegiate and men thrusting and ambitious. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve watched mothers coo over their daughters cuddling baby dolls, praise them for it, then declare that caring skills are instinctive for girls.


Historically, what we have seen is that when women achieve power in a man’s world, they often out-men the men. Margaret Thatcher was famous for rarely promoting other women. She got off on being the only woman in the room and did not want any competition. Nothing is more depressing than a successful woman who wants to score points for being the only one among the boys – reinforcing, rather than challenging, their views of other women.


So if you really wanted to see whether there is a difference in the way women would rule the world, you would have to have either all-female rulers or a critical mass. But, ultimately, I’m resistant to the idea of lumping us all together on the basis of gender: what about race, class, sexual orientation? Even men I like are fond of saying “women this” or “women that” as if we are all one amorphous mass. I am instinctively resistant to binaries. Hooray for ambiguity, nuance and complexity.

Women are taking their rightful place as equals

Having women in power makes a real difference. As the number of woman MPs has increased in the Commons, we have seen major steps forward in tackling gender discrimination. Women leaders in business make a difference too: helping firms embrace modern ideas like flexible working and job sharing.


Green politics has a history of woman leaders, from the inspirational Petra Kelly in Germany, to Vandata Shiva. I am proud to be part of a movement that has had women at the top table. Of course, having female leaders is not an end in itself. It is part of a broad movement that sees women taking their rightful place as equals at every level in society.

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