Da Ortosociale.


by Angela Giuffrida

I have said for some time that reconceptualizing is a categorical imperative, considering the widespread disasters produced by a completely inadequate way of thinking. Revising the concept of maternity is surely one of the primary and most sensitive objectives, also because it leads to the revision of other fundamental, intrinsically connected concepts.
Reduced to mechanical reproduction, a simple animal activity without intelligence and considered an inconvenient obstacle to human progress, maternity in androcratic social organizations does not receive the attention it would deserve, given its decisive and irreplaceable role in the existence and evolution of the species. On this discredit men have based their claim to supremacy and confined women to a domestic dimension, lesser, separate and outside the political sphere. The split is evident in Ancient Greece with the advent of the city-state. In the polis the shameful exploitation of women and slaves, that is the majority of the population, left only a small number of citizens free to develop their thoughts, exercise democracy and live the “good life” that Aristotle found in freedom from effort and work, necessary for rising above the instinct for survival and detaching from those fetters which restrict organisms to the biological processes of life.

As can be seen, the goal to aim for was emancipation from the life a war had been declared against, a lasting war, tenaciously resisting any change, and which today has achieved unthinkable dimensions, thanks to more and more sophisticated technology. The under-valuing and subordination of women, the idiosyncracy with regard to maternity and care are the principal aspects of the general underestimation of life and its value. All male-centred societies are in fact based on exploitation and the simultaneous obscuring of caring activities, usually carried out by women, and these societies pursue power in the most negative sense of dominion.
The living, and the need to support them, are not included in the foundations and aims of the whole construction, which therefore offers an almost infinite range of examples. The first is the cancellation of the vision of the world and of women's knowledge which has put life definitively outside the door. There are, however, other significant ones: every 3-4 seconds a child dies of hunger despite the overall production of resources being double the needs of the world population; the gap between rich and poor is increasing; global military spending is the most conspicuous expense, while states struggle to find funds to feed the living.
In my opinion not enough thought has been given to the senseless system of male knowledge and power which disparages and despises life to the point of putting its own species and the nature that nurtures and houses it in serious danger. The time has come to ask why men, who are also living, consider life extraneous. This apposite question is usually avoided and replaced with accusations without any conclusive solution since the real cause of the problem eludes them.

Having dedicated myself for years to thinking the thought, the question asserted itself and also found an answer, thanks to the theory of the thinking body [Note 1] which retains the absence of life is intrinsic to the male conceptual system - this thesis moreover confirmed by philosophic thought which, from its beginning, chose as its subject an immaterial entity – reason, soul or spirit – not the human being as it is, that is a concrete living organism.
A different cognitive approach to reality has enabled the organism to be placed in the centre, no longer divided into contrasting parts, but seen in its unity and integrity as an intelligent and responsible subject. Being able to self-govern and self-regulate, the organism is necessarily a cognitive system. Since it feels it can fulfil, the experience produces knowledge and hence thought. In other words, the sensitive-affective dimension not only does not obstruct thought, as men believe, but is what makes it possible. The mind is thus a process in the biological body, not an obscure entity which opposes it.
What ensures the thought its form is the reproductive experience, the most important of all, as it guarantees the existence of the species. It is precisely men's limited experience in the field of production of and care for the living which drastically reduces their cognitive field, giving them a partial point of view, inclined to grasp a single fact unconnected to the whole it is part of, and set it against an opposing fact in a radical conflict which ends by eliminating one of the two. Atomized, exaggeratedly conflictual, abstract, the male world does not correspond to the real world which the living have been constructing for millions of years, linking together in an insoluble network. The human male reproduces the same scheme in his perception of himself: the soul conflicts with the body, reason with emotion and so on. Taken to pieces the living body disappears as a unit, able to accomplish, to produce thought and make autonomous choices; no more a fount of knowledge it is relegated to the world of opaque material and recedes to being a mere object. This is why man lives projected externally, outside his body; among his senses he favours sight, reducing himself to an eye which sees the world, but does not see himself – he stands in fact at the window and flattens reality onto a screen where objects pass, including his own body, which he manipulates as he pleases. The living do not lodge in the cognitive landscape of men because they do not have knowledge of themselves.

In his study Das Prinzip Leben Hans Jonas comes to the same conclusion when he says about science: “since mathematics represent the ideal of knowledge, this means that real science is only of the external being and not the interior one” therefore “the one who knows is among his objects, that is in the world, the unknowable par excellence.[Note 2]
Since women produce bodies, they suffer the same ostracism as the living body. This is, I believe, the principal motive for the absurd, unjustified and unjustifiable treatment reserved for human mothers by their children. The lack of acceptance of dependence by women, the refusal to occupy a position suited to the role performed in the natural order and the consequent revanchism, are necessary conditions, but not sufficient to explain the irrationality of the choices adverse to life made by men, singly and collectively, choices that also rebound against them. Boomerang, the title chosen by the editors of the journal, is highly appropriate as it shows an curious aspect of the patriarchy, that is that it is the bearer of a kind of particularly senseless individualism, being harmful even to its supporters. Egoism is not, as they would have us believe, a symptom of strength, but an indication of profound weakness, the content of a monocular mind which, investing in a single element, ignores the complexity of life and thus generates self-injuring ideas and actions.
If a truly effective critical theory of the patriarchy is to be elaborated, its interpretative paradigm must be abandoned because, remaining inside it, its mechanisms are reproduced and it ends by being reinforced. The substantial modification previously brought to the concept of organism sets off an authentically revolutionary process. If in fact the biological body stops being an inert container of thought and is considered, as it is, the thinking subject, author in its entirety of knowledge, women and their maternal function will recover the priority and centrality they are entitled to and will reassign life its inestimable value.
It is indeed bizarre the need to convince the human male of life's imprescriptibility, known to all living beings, when he considers himself the unique possessor of reason, with a capital R. Women also need convincing, however, as, after thousands of years of patriarchy, they are not fully aware of what they represent for the species and, after all, the need to penetrate the male world leads them to gloss over the essentiality of life and underestimate the importance of maternity. Unfortunately even those of them who retain it indispensable to take the community back to the mother to stop the species' mad rush towards annihilation, despite recognising the priority of the mother, do not yet permit themselves to attribute to maternal functions that cognitive value the theory of the thinking body has recognised and sustained for years.

The procreative function is paradigmatic for knowing the world for women too, as they have given origin to their own species beginning with self-construction. The extraordinary experiences faced and the myriad of abilities acquired have naturally conferred to the mind form and properties, such as breadth and flexibility, so as to include the abundance and richness of reality and to comprehend its tendency to change and unpredictability. In short, women have developed a rationality which is favourable and functional towards life, thanks to a system of categories which reproduce the capacity of their bodies to contain, build and connect. And it is precisely the creativity of the body and the centrality of its position within the species which enables them to stand with integrity in the world, take it on globally using all their senses. This vision permits them to perceive as an indivisible whole, for example, the organism which men, not using that perception, liken to a machine.
Since it is her creature, the woman knows that the living organism functions and develops in its entirety right from the beginning. Man's creature, on the other hand, is a machine which only functions at the end, when the pieces, built separately, have been put together. Male domination of the planet has made the machine emerge as a model for every creation, thus transforming a world of the living into a world of the dead. After all, it is a common experience that death, not life reigns all around in the form of destructive conflictuality, the responsibility, as we know, of the analytic-deconstructive-oppositional mechanisms of the male mind which radicalize every conflict transforming it into war. In my study 'Female Rationality the only Antidote to War' [Note 3] I show how relations based on antagonism produce a permanent state of war that turns into open warfare. I also show how the only possibility of eliminating war in all its forms from the face of the earth consists in substituting a system of thought which has conflict as its life's regulation, with another which gives priority to connection and cohesion, able to grasp interrelations and interdependence between the parts. Situating, for instance, the poles – on which the male gaze is focused – in their context, the unifying gaze of women can use other variables to find solutions to conflicts without having to eliminate one of the two.

The scientific world is providing us with an abundance of evidence confirming and reinforcing the theses constituting the theory of the thinking body, about the primacy of the female sex and the impact of female experiences in the production and nurturing of life on the psychological and physical evolution of the specie. I shall cite some of the most significant evidence. The discovery of the “chemical brain” [Note 4] has provided a physiological base for the thinking body intuition not only by demonstrating that the brain is not the exclusive seat of the mind, as pure brain function, but rather that the mind originates precisely in the sensitivity of the organism, the body as a whole. The whole body is the seat of a chemical process of communication, a non synaptic communication between cells, due to ligand and receptor unit which constitutes the biochemical basis for emotions. Emotions set recollections and activate memory, making knowledge possible.[Note 5]
The primacy of the female sex is by now a fact established by science which defines female as the basic sex and male as the secondary one based on the fact that differentiation in the male direction takes place by regression of female parts. The Y chromosome itself is a contraction of the X chromosome and has fewer genes, some of which are essential for the development of the embryo. Because of this, there are no individuals in nature who are endowed only with Y chromosomes. Evidently, the X chromosome is a distinctive sign of the species, in the absence of which there would be no humanity. For the same reason, the early stage of development, immediately after fertilization, takes place using the XX genetic pool of the mother. This implies the fact that all embryos are female until the eighth week of pregnancy when the changes needed for differentiation towards a male individual start taking place, due to the expression of genes present in the Y chromosome.
Clonation research shows the important role played by cytoplasm of the egg cell in controlling and directing the activity of the embryo’s genes toward development. Prof. Dulbecco, winner of the 1975 Nobel Prize for Medicine, in an interview underscores how this phenomenon is interesting not only from a biological point of view but also from a philosophical one, because it shows how fundamental the mother’s contribution is from the very start and reinforces the idea that the development of humanity is due to mothers. [Note 6]
Mitochondria are also exclusively maternal in origin because they are contained in the cytoplasm, the mithochondria being organelles that enable all cells to breathe and perform all their functions. Because they have their own DNA that reproduces independently, scientists have speculated that the species descended not only from the same mother, but even from the first female creature – a mother cell- that appeared on Earth. Even though such research is known, it remains in the realm of theory, without making a dent in male domination. However, among the data revealed by this study, there is one piece I deem to be of basic importance, i.e., that women’s knowledge about life embraces the whole span of time the species has been on earth, starting from its beginning. Preserved in the depths of their bodies, female organisms retain the remembrance of the countless experiences through which they have built themselves as well as the species.

Studies confirming the close link between motherhood and activities tied to nurturing, on one hand. and mental evolution on the other (a relationship that is clarified in the thinking body theory), have not received the same degree of attention. Some studies conducted on mammals have shown that during pregnancy, birthing and nursing hormonal fluctuations produce beneficial structural changes in the mother’s brain lasting well into old age. Researchers have begun to understand that “the development of maternal behavior was one of the main engines for brain evolution in mammals”. Thus, the hand- or paw - that rocks the cradle is the very same that holds up the world. [Note 7] But the mental benefits of nurturing activities extend also to females who are not mothers yet as well as to males. This finding is particolarly poignant for men, as it implies that taking care of themselves and others would allow them to draw at least some knowledge about life.
While some studies on brain sexual dimorphism [Note 8] have been released, they have also been minimized; they have often been presented in a trivial way and emptied of their true meaning. The mental map that scientists have drawn with the aid of new technologies in actuality assigns a lot of extra points to the female brain, thus placing women at an advantage. So great are the differences marked in this map that Prof. Pancheri was led to speak of “a race of sexes” [Note 9]. Studies show that female brains are more developed and endowed with higher plasticity; the areas pertaining to behavior and critical assessment have a greater extension due to a greater percentage of gray matter found there. Female brains are more active whether at rest or under stimulation and are characterized by great balance, due to greater symmetry in the distribution of gray matter, as well as enhanced inter-hemispheric communication. [Note 10] This can translate into a broader, organic and balanced vision of herself and the world and the ability to provide more complex answers to emotional stimuli.
It is believed that this type of brain is capable of keeping aggression at a low level. This assumption has been confirmed by recent studies on emotions, focusing on the orbitofrontal cortex which is involved in aggressive behavior. A mixed group pf males and females was asked to evoke aggressive behavior. What emerged from the experiment was that females inhibit aggression much earlier than males, practically just as the thought of aggression crossed their mind. This explains why aggressive behaviors are so infrequent in females [Note 11]. The enormous implication the female mind’s ability to inhibit aggression holds for civilization can no longer be under-estimated because it represents, I believe, a line of demarcation between civilization and barbarism.
Studies concerning genomic imprinting have received scarce attention and it is not difficult to understand why that is. In 1997, the geneticist Keverne [Note 12] published genetic experimental studies revealing the different roles maternal and paternal genomes play in the development and growth of the brain. It is a sensational discovery because it attributes the formation of the cerebral cortex exclusively to maternal genes. The part of the brain that plays a central role in complex mental function is coded only by the maternal DNA. In brief, it is women who have developed and given a tool that is essential for the emergence of the distinguishing features of the species. Moreover, the above studies recognize that the creation of embryos is a power only female have, thus confirming once again female primacy. As we have seen, the cortex is an expression of maternal genes, now one can no longer ignore that such creation is intelligent. If it is true that the ability to be born, stay alive and evolve has depended in our species, as well in the others, on the creative and active work of organisms that are capable of reproduction, procreation and nurture, such activities cannot but be those that are undeniably the most intelligent.
The whole picture deriving from the studies reported above reflects back an idea of the female body that is truly different from the image the patriarchy has been giving. Among the countless studies produced all over the world, I have purposefully chosen the ones that literally turn upside down the male representation of females and maternity. In my opinion, they must be taken seriously because they match our concrete experience and because they come from a source that is beyond suspicion, meaning not from that male world that has never stopped pursuing the goal of annihilating women. I have included these studies in my books, with the belief that the knowledge they supply can be of vital importance in strengthening women’s confidence in themselves, which has been greatly weakened by the thousand years old governing of the world by the fathers. Actually it is healthy to position oneself in the cracks of their contradictions and discover how males have been forced, in spite of themselves, to recognize the lie upon which they have based their whole system of power.

But, generally speaking, instead of using the unhoped for help that accidentally such scientific studies provide for them, so as to be able to recover autonomy and authority, women reject these studies accusing them of “biologism”, thus showing their willingness to continue moving within the parameters of male interpretive frameworks. What is left in the background is in fact the whole separation between nature and culture and the consequent inferiorization of the latter. Using male mental categories which spoil, distort and turn reality upside down making it unintelligible, women end up supporting male existential designs, which reduce the living body to an inert thing, thus rejecting life in favor of an artificial world.
This problem concerns all women, not only the ones who openly support the insane male option for a world of the living-dead. To fulfill themselves and overcome the war of the sexes, the supporters of homo cyberneticus suggest that women “unburden” themselves of the body and give up the exclusive right of procreation, entrusting themselves to “bio-electronic wombs capable of carrying out the gestation of human beings”. [Note 13] According to all of them, we women should give our consent to that male wish for our self annihilation once and for all. Now we know that at the base of male efforts to free themselves of women there is abysmal ignorance of life and the confusion about the living and non living. The relation the mother has with the foetus goes well beyond mere feeding. Thus, entrusting embryos to machines, in the shape of artificial “conceivers” and wombs means consigning them to the cold embrace of death. The male mind produces monsters because it is utterly unfamiliar with the experience of that long and tiring path which has given shape to our organism and has guaranteed our survival and evolution. This knowledge is, in fact, stored in the depths of the female body and lends it structure from within. In order to recover such knowledge it is necessary to replace male thought as the only thought possible – a thought that reflects a partial, reductionist, untrue vision of the world – with a conceptual system that holds the realm of nature in much higher consideration. In my first book, I wrote; “ in order to find the courage to attack the citadels of male thought we need to acquire consciousness of our own strenght and centrality, so that we can divert the species from conflict to connection, from death to life. We must center our gaze upon birth and motherhood, thus, in the last analysis, on the corporeal. Woman’s body, her biology are all inexhaustable sources of development for her mind, they are her winning card”. [Note 14].
Having identified and described the perverse mechanisms that feed the system of male thought which is contrary to life, the theory of the thinking body offers formidable tools for overcoming it and reconstructing a cognitive order of women, the only ones who are able to understand and speak the language of life.

  1. Angela Giuffrida – Il corpo pensa. Umanità o Femminità? - Prospettiva Edizioni
  2. Hans Jonas – Organismo e libertà – Biblioteca Einaudi – pag. 105
  3. Angela Giuffrida – La razionalità femminile unico antidoto alla guerra – Bonaccorso editore 2011
  4. Chapter V of Il corpo pensa is devoted to the discovery of the chemical brain.
  5. Candace Pert, Molecules of Emotion, Simon and Schuster,Pocket Book, 1999
  6. Il corpo pensa, op. cit. pag. 35
  7. Il cervello materno su Le Scienze di marzo 2006 commentato ne La razionalità femminile da pag. 326 a pag. 334
  8. Il corpo pensa op. cit. cap. IV
  9. La razza dei sessi – editoriale del Giornale Italiano di psicopatologia dic. 1999 n. 4 vol. 5
  10. Greater communication between neurons was found, due to a more developed neuropil. The term neuropil describes the space between cell bodies containing the synapses, dendrites and axons, and is responsible for communication between neurons.
  11. Ricciardi, Gentili, Watson, Petrini – Verso la comprensione delle differenze di genere – in Problemi in Psichiatria n. 3504
  12. Eric Barry Keverne, “Genomic Imprinting in the Brain”, Current opinion, in Neurobiology, n.7, 1977.
  13. Arianna Dagnino – Uoma – Mursia pag. 28
  14. Il corpo pensa pagg. 247, 248
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