On Facebook, I met some high school classmates, and sometimes we talk, some have said, "Oh you were so sweet and nice!" I was quiet, of course but I thought "Oh no I was too nice" Being so Aspie, I never was able to cement down the "Games People Play" to win them. I wish I was more of a risk taker. Sometimes I get in strange conversations with my husband, "I don't want people to think I am weak!"When I was young, I vacillated between Peter Walker's fawn or fight. Sometimes I froze. Many people wonder why does life have to seem a constant battle? What has brought this upon us?
This is a society that is based on control and punishment. Conform or suffer. If you don't fit the norm, you also are punished even if it is for things you can't help. The most dominant societies are ones who have the strongest police states while those who lean more towards persuader culture believe in cooperation. Think of the difference between USA under Trump and Russia which would lean towards Dominator status and northern Europe countries like Sweden which would be closer to the Persuader end in comparison.
Dominator culture refers to a model of society where fear and force maintain rigid understandings of power and superiority within a hierarchical structure. Futurist and writer Riane Eisler first popularized this term in her book The Chalice and the Blade (Harper Collins San Francisco, 1987). In it, Eisler positions the dominator model in contrast to the partnership model, a more egalitarian structure of society founded on mutual respect among its inhabitants. In dominator culture, men rule over women, whereas partnership culture values men and women equally. Other theorists, including Terence McKenna and bell hooks, have expanded on the implications and impact of dominator culture. They, among others, argue that adherence to the dominator model over the partnership model denies the possibility of a more equal society, systematically allowing for the persecution of those who are “dominated”—including racial and ethnic minorities, LGBT people, and women.
As a result, dominator culture not only accepts but justifies the pollution and destruction of the environment. Daniel Quinn, a philosophical and environmental writer, takes on these issues in his novel Ishmael, characterizing dominator culture as Taker culture and detailing its incompatibility with the environment.
I got into a discussion online, with someone from a message board that was centered on religion and how Christianity was centered on a parental/punishment paradigm and arose out of the new ways of living for humanity based on nation states and needing a "strong man" to be in charge which influenced the "nature" of the God they created. They recommended I read the book Ishmael which I did. This book Ishmael, talked about Taker vs. Giver [Persuader] culture and seem to warn back in the early 1990s about the environmental devastation and decline of culture now happening. This book blew my mind and helped to describe some of the issues we are facing. This person online wrote this to me to explain it all:
"Korten and Quinn both posited that all cultures and societies fell into one of two types. Many names for both. One is Dominator/Taker/Empire/Abuser/"Civilized" societies, as they seek domination, very coercive and authoritarian, and seek to take. The other is Persuader/Leaver/Tribal/"Primitive"/Non-Abuser societies, where authoritarian rule doesn't exist and those societes are based on persuasion, not coercion, and they don't seek domination.
Today the dominator style is global and the persuader style exists only in a few primitive tribes in remote areas. Few people even know persuader societies exist.
At the core of the dominator mentality is the view that humans are basically wicked and must be restrained and controlled. At the bottom it is fear-based. Such societies are highly controlling and punitive. This creates all sorts of pathologies. You're either victim or victimizer, the option of being neither is closed off, and you get marginalized if you don't want to participate in the dominance game. Such societies are lacking in empathy. Conquer or be conquered. If you're not on top, you're on the bottom, which means you get the worst of everything. It's the fear of being abused that drives people to become abusers.
The fear of poverty and homelessness that drives greed. It's the fear of powerlessness and helplessness that drives the lust for power. The fear of violence that drives the buildup of huge militaries and Police States. And because these things are mere substitutes for what people really seek (lasting inner peace, inner security, inner fulfillment, tight knit connections with others), there is no such thing as enough. So they are very expansionist, and they hate "leaving well enough alone". And they tend to believe "there is one right moral way to live and everyone must conform". Such societies are inherently coercive and abusive. Fear and pain are the governing emotions.
Persuader Societies are based on the idea that at heart, humans are basically good, and most wrongdoing comes from ignorance, misunderstandings, and a sickness in the head, rather than malice or evil. They don't divide people into "good" and "evil" the way Dominator societies do. The leaders of such societies don't have coercive powers. This is one of the fundamental misunderstandings of Europeans whey they first encountered Native Americans in the New World. They thought the tribal chief was a king. He is not. He does not have the power to command anyone to do anything. Most of the famous chiefs of history only commanded war parties, not tribes.
Persuader society tribes did have leaders, but their role was advisory, not coercive. In other words, they were the tribes' chief counselor and advisor, not a commander. Persuader societies didn't have commanders. Even in war the warriors were free to abandon the battle and leave and the war chief couldn't do anything about it. No executing someone for desertion, for example. So Native American warriors lacked the discipline the White Man armies. The chief was the person everyone in the village agreed was the wisest man they knew. It was a duty, rather than a privilege. There's no special wealth or power in being a chief. Chiefs had no servants and their tents didn't look any better or bigger or nicer than anyone else's. They didn't seek power or wealth as there was no power or wealth to seek. They tended to be very egalitarian societies by our standards. Domestic abuse was unknown in those cultures. They didn't treat their children like property the way we do.
Children weren't segregated from the adult world like they are in ours, but were well-integrated. And children weren't the exclusive responsibility of their parents like in our society; they were responsibility of the entire tribe. "It takes a village to raise a child". So the burden and stress placed on parents was far less. And children got to observe the inner lives of a great many people, not just their parents. Children from age 6 on were viewed and treated as full adults, with the full choice of whom they lived with. The kids themselves chose, not some judge in a court who are strangers to the family and knows nothing about the dynamics going on beyond a few sheets of paper written by other strangers.
Dr. Stanley Greenspan, author of "Growth of the Mind" is a child psychologist who specializes in working with autistic children (he utterly rejects the standard ABA therapy for autistics, favoring a far more humane approach). His main contribution to my worldview is his "6 Irreducible Needs of Children".
The needs are: 1. The Need for Ongoing Nurturing Relationships
The Need for Physical Protection, Safety and Regulation
The Need for Experiences Tailored to Individual Differences
The Need for Developmentally Appropriate Experiences
The Need for Limit Setting, Structure and Expectations
The Need for Stable, Supportive Communities and Cultural Continuity
The are the basic emotional needs of all children, everywhere. All must be met if the child is to grow up psychologically healthy and capable of being fully functional adults, who can hold down jobs and be cable of healthy non-abusive relationships.
Persuader cultures did a superb job of meeting all 6 needs. Our own culture, by contrast, does an abysmal job. The poorer you are, the less likely it is that all or any of these needs will be met. And when these needs aren't met, what you get is damaged dysfunctional adults. And they tend to go in one of two directions; either they become criminals lacking in empathy, from gangsters to sociopathic narcissistic leaders of any and all types of organization (notice all organizations in this society follow the same dominator authoritarian stratified pattern?), with anger problems and don't care about the suffering of others.
Or, they retain their empathy but turn into timid withdrawn types, fear and pain-ridden, seeing other humans as hostile and untrustworthy. Often very easily emotionally hurt, prone to clinical depression and suicidal thoughts, and often very poor advocates for themselves, because all the self- words, like self-esteem, self-confidence, have been smashed to bits.
The environments they live in is anything but nurturing, with few or no visible means at getting emotional needs met in a healthy way (including the need for stable reliable long term housing, food, clothing, heat)....they often end up seeking pathological escape, via drugs, alcohol, and creating massive drama, and crime.
In other words, the drug problem is a social issue, not a personal failing. Notice how it's worst in economically devastated areas where stable living wage jobs are lacking?"
I think they summed up the main problem with our culture. ACONs come out, and escape and go no contact, but and then ask what the hell happened? We ask questions like why does it seem like the narcissists always "win". Many of us ended up losing the whole families because of walking away. Why did this happen? The Domination society supports the Dominators, the controllers who are often the narcissists.
Some of us who are abuse victims, come out of it all, and then look outside the box realizing the whole system brings abuse. Why are so many of the bosses abusive? Why are work places still run like 19th century fiefdoms? We aren't led in many places by the intelligent and kind but the plotting and evil. We also ask in dealing with our own anxiety issues, why do we feel inside always constantly under "threat?" While I've had kind friends come to my rescue and help me out many times, I've pondered those feelings of fear I have. What I was I so afraid of? I got tired of being afraid. As I sought to separate myself from my abuse, there was many who wanted to replicate the punishment and fear factory my parents got started. Too high of expectations married to insane demands, based on too low of resources seems to be how things are run with accompanying threats if one does not comply. Being different is equaled with being inferior. Diversity is not acceptable in a dominator culture. Racism and other forms or prejudice are integral to it.
Our entire society seems to be based on abuse. Few admit the system is messed up, to do so can earn one rancor. Conservatives always seem to vote out of their fears. Liberals vote out of more hope. Notice how Trump whipped all those up, with the constant threats. The authoritarianism is conducted via the two prongs of fear and punishment. The lust for power bringing control and dominance, is achieved via scapegoating and built in hierarchies of domination.
Religion can serve as some of the centers of control. At UU church, I got into a conversation basically saying God was an "so cruel" in some versions of Christianity, because the societies moved into nation-state status and were ruled by "Strong-Men" so we got a Strong-Man Dominant "God". Hell became the punishment to keep you in line while heaven was the carrot on the stick in the hereafter. This is why Christians and evangelicals are so authoritarian where they want a government that rules by punishment and control. Their authoritarianism is growing with the disconnection in society and the increased hyper-capitalist competition. This is why they desire a theocracy and tell you that this life is supposed to be all suffering while they tell you to hold out for anything good after death.
There is a connection between Western Europe's more free societies and more secular thinking. The Dominator mentality seems married to Christian beliefs about the depravity of man and inner sinfulness. I had major cognitive dissonance as a Christian writing against dominionism online when I realized the whole religion was oppressive and most of it centered on domination.
Ever wonder why in our society everyone is led to analyze themselves for how "bad" they are? And it's not just the extreme Christians and their rules, there's plenty of arenas this is played out on. The human reason for living seems to be nothing but the addressing of flaws. Health would be one. Are you a "bad" fatty? Are you wearing your fitbit? Did you got to the gym enough times last week? Work would be another. Are you working hard enough? Did you make enough money? Consumerist society leads one to always look at themselves for short-comings. There's plenty of arenas where we are told we don't measure up outside of religion especially in American society. So why is everyone so focused on how wicked they are, not just in religion but failing to be healthy and wealthy enough? Even happiness itself often becomes a measuring stick. Are you self actualized? Even if the Dominators don't beat you directly, they definitely have succeeded in getting people to beat themselves up constantly. This way they can control you from within. People who blame themselves for everything that has gone wrong, don't ask too many questions of who is in charge.
While one doesn't want to romanticize tribal culture, they had their "wars" for most life was different. There's a reason native people's protested greatly at being forced into western society. While there was a push to convert and modernize them, no one realized or seemed to admit that they loved their former way of life and did not want to leave it. They were cut off from everything that gave them meaning and dragged into a new more brutal world. Yes the tribes operated differently, societies were COOPERATIVE. Life was to be enjoyed not to be under total punishment and control and profit via labor. They were close to one another and one's fellow man was to be a support not mere competition. The natural world was not something to conquer or dominate. It was seen as one's home with man part of the world instead of separate and at war with it.
Being in touch with the natural world instead of fighting it also made things different. Our planet is dying but very few are noticing. People are clueless about the natural world and so are separated from it. The scientists warn and show studies and statistics, outside nature lovers who ask where have all the lightening bugs gone or notice far less birds in the sky, people can't discern that our eco-system is sick and dying. Too many are out of touch, and they don't care. We have people in power now who are assaulting the environment. They believe the world is to be conquered not lived in peace. When I was a fundamentalist Christian, they repeated constantly how God gave humans "dominion" over the earth, but then we weren't supposed to get into "green" causes because God was going to give us a "new earth" anyway. Persuader or [Native] cultures, knew our very existence was intertwined with the earth, seasons, other animals and nature. They knew our physical and emotional health and human beings themselves were dependent on the earth not separate from it.
“The mythology of your culture hums in your ears so constantly that no one pays the slightest bit of attention to it. Of course man is conquering space and the atom and the deserts and the oceans and the elements. According to your mythology, this is what he was BORN to do.”
― Daniel Quinn,
So we are in a culture that wants to conquer, not only the planet itself which by the way is doing worse and worse but to conquer each other. When I was young, I was given a version of the future that was far more liberal in outlook then what we have today. We were told technology would free mankind and not enslave it. We were told technology would make our lives all better and more "free". Has this happened? If anything technology has been used to enslave more then free like the amazon ware-house workers under constant electronic surveillance. Work places have not advanced. We got screens instead of more gadgets to lighten the load of daily life. People work many hours not to keep them busy or happy but under the threat of starvation and homelessness. Conformity is demanded more in the work world where to be a little different means you are out. I remember when there was HOPE regarding the future, and now it seems to be nothing but dystopian visions that seem to have looming prisons and guards and darkened skies. This is where the increasing focus on domination has taken us. Where are our dreamers or those asking "What If"?
Yes punishment and fear runs the whole show. The winner's win and the worse thing is to become a "loser". That's America, punishment city with the most incarcerated people ever before in history. Check out some travel videos onYoutube, Mark Weins is one and Mikey Chen on the Simply Dumpling channel, and you will notice how much HAPPIER people in other countries look then Americans. They are poor, don't get me wrong, but the smiles speak for themselves. While their lives are far from easy, I wonder how many retain at least some Persuader qualities in their lives instead of Dominator ones. It will make you wonder about this place.
The narcissism is woven into the whole game, screw or be screwed. My family would get angry at me telling me I was a sucker and once my father smacked me around saying "You are too idealistic, you will never survive this world" and that I was a "damn hippie". I see him as someone who massively sold out. Both parents worked for the government as bureaucrats counting body bags for all the Middle Eastern wars. Dominator cultures award those who share in the domination games.
Yes there's no empathy in such societies, Sums up the USA doesn't it? And things are growing MORE Domineering and cold. In older days I think you could be detached, and "drop out" easier--the places to do that are very rare and limited now nor just live a nice quiet life in peace, but now it seems they want to own your soul too. I do truly believe the narcissists are rising to the top country wide, like normal good people are just being shoved aside. What will change these trends, I am not sure. We need a new counter-culture. There are empathetic people out there, who are questioning the status quo too, to ally with, but there's some deep problems to face.
It is the fear of being abused that turns people into abusers. I've felt that tug at me, that says "well you may as well be a bitch because no one gives a damn". Thankfully I have kind people around me who have helped me out and been there for me, so these tendrils haven't wrapped themselves around my heart like they have so many others.
Probably every ACON in the world has felt this. Fighting the narcissists by becoming a narcissist yourself and we know too clearly how many golden children they succeeded in this with. I noticed in my own family, even the cousins and extended relatives seemed to push feelings of guilt and empathy away like they were nasty gnats to be squashed. The majority were shut down. I couldn't be one of them. For many of us ACONs, predominantly narcissistic families will hate those they see as having "soft" feelings. They will smack the scapegoat around telling them to "harden" up. Tears are not acceptable. I know mine was mad, because I had not conformed, and questioned the fear and punishment running this society. The fundamentalist and evangelical Christianity fits into this, where they do believe there is only one moral way to live and everyone must conform. It is abusive. This is one place where hell fits in. A God as "police man" to a destructive society, who tells you that you must conform or you'll burn after this place too. There was one person who wrote on a deconversion board Christianity was formed a "self policing" religion, the powers that be couldn't keep tabs on everyone 24-7 so it was a form of mind control to keep people in line.
I wonder if some feel this difference with Persuader societies, I always had an interest in Native American societies, and while primitive societies had their hardships and own forms of violence, definitely the whole structure of the society is different. Not everything was based on fear and control. People were not seen as evil but seen as sick or not understanding. Yes they were egalitarian by our standards. It was true the tribe helped raise the children, it wasn't all divided into family units.
With Dr. Stanley Greenspan, his needs are more specific then Maslow's but we can all agree with them. We see many family ills, related to the neglect and those needs not being met. Many children today just seem traumatized. They are told they must measure up. Authoritarian parenting has worsened with many praising spanking or sending irate teens to troubled teen centers where the focus is on "breaking their wills" [breaking their spirits]. There's too many lost and lonely by early ages. Our social structure of divided nuclear families that now all compete within each other is breaking down. While there are still some loving parents out there, many are facing narcissistic and destructive parenting. One disturbing trend is people being against the 'self-esteem" movement or those various selfs like self love. In Christianity they instructed me that "the self esteem movement" was selfish and destructive, I have now abandoned that. Many ACONS are required to go no contact to recover what little of their self-esteem is left. Dominator societies want to dominate their children too. There is a scary point of pride now among those with a dominator mentality who seem eager to destroy their young and deny them economic survival.
Becoming aware of the concept of Dominator culture has been interesting for me, because it has led to me ask what are we afraid of? We can stand against the dog eat dog games, and the destruction and oppression of anyone who is "different' or does not "conform". It leads one to question the "domination" games, and to ponder the ability of finding connection with others, and rejecting false values a society full of narcissists has given us. Ever wonder why narcissism is such a problem in American society? Learning about the dominator culture concept has helped explain it.