“Have any of you ever studied the origins of patriarchy at school?” Dilar Dirik asks. She is a researcher in Sociology at Cambridge University and activist of the Kurdish Women’s Movement. A series of meetings in Italy organized by ReteKurdistan.it passed through Roma in 2016 to talk about women conquering democracy. One of the new (and ugly) La Sapienza University blue classrooms is crowded and you die from the heat. The speakers are without a microphone. There is only one TV operator (italian Rai News24) who leaves just at the beginning.
The rhetorical question slips into silence and so Dilar tries to summarize only 6.000 years of humanity on Earth, when from the slow passage from the Habilis species to the “modern” Sapiens, halfway there was the discovery of agriculture and writing, which marked the last phase of Prehistory, the Neolithic. Then the first “modern” societies were formed in Mesopotamia, India, China… which were matriarchal organizations, where women carried out internal, social, economic and political functions, and men external, subsistence and defense functions. The Neolithic matriarchal societies numbered the first urban centers characterized by a high level of division of labor, social differentiation and culture. The clans developed in horizontal structures of cooperation and the importance of “social” paternity was already considered, in addition to the biological mathernal one. Indeed, the enormous prestige that women had, probably stemmed from the fact that they were considered the only procreative members of the group – the Paleolithic Venuses date back to 15,000 years ago with their “fertility archetypes”, the emphasized breasts and hips – prestige that it was taken away from them precisely when the men discovered their “real” paternity.
“Patriarchates are societies of dominion, and it is a myth that they are universal. It is only a cornerstone of patriarchal ideology. Explaining the birth of patriarchy means explaining the birth of domination, and this is not an easy task at all”, the matriarchal scholar Heide Goettner Abendroth stated in 2005.
“The Sumerians were the first to give birth to the patriarchy and slave civilization in Mesopotamia, gradually replacing the matriarchal and egalitarian one. It is true that up to that time there were no substantial differences between male and female rights, and it is also true that immediately afterwards the differences against women were heavily felt”. “Even in mythology”, Dilar says, “it is possible to see this tragic change: goddesses who accuse men of stealing their power”. “The myth of the Amazons is an emblematic example of a matriacal society and also confirms its presence in Greece before the arrival of the Achaeans. Religious rituals indicated a woman’s autonomy to generate life, and paternity was not held in any way “.
The processes that led to this reversal of powers were long and complex, due to various causes, but certainly a strong climate change occurred: the drought that affected central and western Asia 5.000 years before Christ led to the first migrations and therefore to the first attacks: “the struggle for survival in a land that was becoming increasingly inhospitable must have lasted for generations and in the long run led to the complete destruction of matriarchal agriculture and the assertion of war“.
According to Dilar, “looking at the Neolithic, does not mean going back, but just going at the origin of our humanity, it means putting back aspects that have become increasingly marginal over time: ecology, women’s liberation, philosophy… the same pillars of the Democratic Confederalism” by Abdullah Ocalan, the Turkish revolutionary with Kurdish origin, with 20 years in the turkish prisons behind him and a life sentence on the horizon. Only for his genuine ideal of a “democratical-ecologist society”. In 2005 he declared the official formation of a border-free confederation, among the Kurdish regions of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran: therefore a nation with its own identity, Kurdistan, but without a “State”, that means without lines on the globe. The “Charter of the social contract for the democratic self-management of Rojava” (Western or Syrian Kurdistan) is the first concrete example of this new social and political idea that could live and proliferate in other parts of the world (“We people who live in the Autonomous Democratic Regions of Afrin, Cizre and Kobane, a confederation of Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Turkmen, Armenians and Chechens, freely and solemnly proclaim and adopt this Charter…”) Women and men of all kinds who together establish a “new ethical community” (and non-ethnic): “even the HDP (Democratic People’s Party)’s members of Parliament, who have conquered a slice of the Turkish Assembly”, 67 seats nowadays, “are mixed from every country and religion”.
The democratic confederalism certainly reverses a consolidated stereotype, affirming that “the people do not need the State, it is the State that needs the people“. According to Dilar microcircuits of cooperation in the territory, in all areas, are able to meet any need, it is the State that instead needs people to govern, leaving them pale illusions of democracy with a less and less incisive decision-making power. “Confederalism makes a criticism on real socialism and above all on the people themselves, against the nation-state and its corollaries, patriarchy and capitalism, for gender equality, but only after liberating women…”
“In Rojava we have finally outlawed polygamy and criminalized rape and domestic violence. What usually happens if you report violence? Maybe even in Italy such things can happen: the man who tells you, ‘if you go around dressed like that, if you provoke, then you know what happens…’ so in our popular assemblies in Kurdistan we have also decided that Police and courts intervening in cases like these must be composed only by women “.
Against the ideology of patriarchy is necessary the study of Jinealogy, “a new science of women (in Kurd jin means woman) that dismantles the concept of homo oeconomicus (pillar of the western economic rationality) as dominant actor of social relations: it serves to understand that it is the State that creates an unnatural division between who is subject and who is object”, Dilar states.
“Freedom means returning to the mother, but also this is not studied at school”. Towards the end of the 19th century a series of stone tablets of Sumerian origin was discovered. Some reported news of popular protests against an overwhelming, omnipresent and growing tax burden. A word from these tablets, amagi, is considered the first reference to the concept of freedom in a written language. Amagi literally means “return to the mother”…
(The article continues next week…)