ISIS and the matriarchy

Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams has stuck his oar into a conjunction of the current fiery discussions around a) the treatment of women in the workplace and b) how to handle ISIS with a blog article titled, discretely, Global Gender War:

Now compare our matriarchy (that we pretend is a patriarchy) with the situation in DAESH[ISIS]-held territory. That’s what a male-dominated society looks like. It isn’t pretty. The top-ranked men have multiple wives and the low-ranked men either have no access to women, or they have sex with captured slaves.

There's no way this could possibly be controversial, amirite?

Adams has started a new blog series today on the question "Is the United States a Patriarchy or a Matriarchy?" where his evidence for "Matriarchy" is moderately compelling so far: "Women have the most political power in the United States because more women than men vote". True, we haven't had a female President yet, but it's not obvious that this is because they're being discriminated against. Personally, I'm astonished that Hillary Clinton has got as far as she has given all the shenanigans she has been involved in, which would have torpedoed any other candidate's aspirations before starting, and how astonishingly un-gregarious and un-likeable she is.

Anybody remember Democrat hopeful Gary Hart in the 1988 campaign? Sunk without trace by an accusation of marital infidelity. Michael Dukakis who eventually became the nominee? Lost mostly because of an insufficiently warm personality. Hillary should have sunk without trace by now, and the fact that she's still the Democrat front-runner by far is a sign of how much leeway the population - and the media - is giving her. One can only surmise that it's because she is a woman.

Returning to Adams' original article, he points out that the gender pay gap in the USA doesn't really exist - as the estimable Tim Worstall has pointed out time and time again with respect to the UK, which (if anything) is more traditional than the USA. He addresses the assertion that women are interrupted more in meetings by pointing out that people who talk more are more likely to be interrupted, and while this is not a slam-dunk answer it's at least a point that suggests a need for more analysis. He also points out the strong societal push to give sanctuary to women and children from Syria, as opposed to young single men.

It's quite possible that Adams is completely wrong and that women are systematically discriminated against in the USA, but it's not obviously false.

Anyway, the point of the article is to contrast the USA against the vast majority of Middle East states which are indisputable patriarchies - really, would anyone like to argue the opposite? - and to hypothesize that one way that the Daesh/ISIS leadership are controlling their low-level followers is to restrict their access to good nookie on Earth with the promise of wonderful nookie in Heaven if they blow themselves up in the right place, with appropriate Koranic citations to back this up. Again, Adams' thesis is not obviously wrong. These men seem to have significant "issues" with women and something is motivating them to suicide, while the harems for their leadership are a matter of record.

If you're in any doubt about the position of Western women in the Middle East, read the travel guidance for women in Saudi Arabia:

- Women traveling alone are not allowed to enter the country unless they will be met at the airport by a husband, a sponsor or male relative.
- Women relocating to Saudi Arabia to marry, study or stay with a Saudi family need to be aware that leaving the country requires the permission of the Saudi male head of their household.

So if the hormone-crazed late-teen ISIS recruits can't get access to women because of the restrictions that their leadership imposes, Adams' assertion that he as a teenager in the same position would gladly strap on explosives to get access to the forbidden fruit is not obviously insane. Deliberately provocative, yes. But can those piling on Adams provide a more plausible explanation of the current suicide bombers' motivation?