We are conscious of the two different worlds – the real world and the utopian world. When the real world becomes instable or unsustainable, we resort to the utopian world. In the utopian world, we can design our desired or optimum world, which knows no instability or unsustainability under the ceteris paribus assumption. Such ceteris paribus assumption implies that the natural instability indicated by the natural catastrophes, and the natural stability indicated by the enduring equilibrium of various natural life support systems, are exogenously and autonomously determined. Our mental shift from the real world to the utopian world suggests how the “future” can be rethought being dissatisfied with the unsustainable “present”.
The “future” should never be the direct object of one’s thinking and concern. An intelligent enjoyment of the “present” is the only intelligent form of concern for the “future” (Feuerbach, 1846). Predicting the “future” is a fascinating game, which is especially popular in times of crisis. Actually, one cannot predict the “future” in any detail or with any degree of precision. There are too many unknowns, kaleidoscopic events, technological innovations, and other variables, which cannot be foreseen. Nevertheless, it is instructive to consider a range of possibilities, which can be actualized. We can estimate their probability, given the current conditions, understanding, and knowledge. However, we can/should undertake some adequate and apposite actions or activities to reduce the probability of undesirable “futures and losses” (Odum & Barrett, 2006).
In the 2001 and Beyond, Arthur C. Clarke argues:
Despite all claims to the contrary, no one can predict the future, and I have always resisted all attempts to label me a “prophet”: I prefer “extrapolator”. What I have tried to do, at least in my non-fiction, is outline possible “futures” – at the same time pointing out that totally unexpected inventions or events can make any forecasts absurd after a very few years (The Telegraph Millennium Magazine, 2000).
Yet Clarke’s extrapolation is as follows:
In 2040… agriculture and industry are phased out, ending that recent invention in human history – work! … Hunter-gathering societies are deliberately recreated; huge areas of the planet, no longer needed for food production, are allowed to revert to their original state. Young people can now discharge their aggressive instincts by using cross-bows to stalk big game, which is robotic and frequently dangerous. In 2090, large scale burning of fossil fuels is resumed to replace the carbon dioxide “mined” from the air and, hopefully, to postpone the next Ice Age by promoting global warming. In 2100, history begins…. (The Telegraph Millennium Magazine, 2000).
Further, in his earlier book Profiles of the Future (1962), Clarke predicts that man may become immortal by the year 2090.
Some scholars have depicted the face of the future by their own desired discretion (e.g. Muller, 1935; Huxley, 1946; Ehrlich, 1968; Fromm, 1968; Handler, 1970; Wain, 1970; Forrester, 1971; Potter, 1971; Toffler, 1971, 1975, 1980; Heller, 1974; Kahn, Brown & Martel 1976; Havrylyshyn, 1980; Peccei, 1981; Dyson, 1982; Frolov, 1982; Wilson, 2002). These scholars can be classified into the two schools – school of prophets, predictors, forecasters, futurists or futurologists and the school of extrapolators or projection-scientists. Most of the foregoing scholars suffer from pessimism. This pessimism implies the “feeling of fear of the future”, or “fear about the future”. It means that future threatens mankind, or future makes the humanity unsustainable. Alvin Toffler (1980) remarks that the “future will not necessarily arrive” (which suggests the end of human civilization?). Optimistic future sustains the present, while pessimistic future perishes the present. By any criterion, optimism about the future is always desirable, since it may help to create a self-fulfilling prophecy, while pessimism is synonymous with the “doom or death”. Optimism, as a philosophy of historic expectations, contains an estimate of the future as history.
Every few years, pessimistic scholars of the foregoing two schools warn the humanity that “the doomsday of the world”, “the worst date of the future fate of the world”, or “the end of human sustainability” is imminent. They base their dismal forecasts on the basis of the emerging ecological instability and the persistent social instability ceteris paribus. There are also other scholars, who have forewarned against the time, when it will be difficult for humanity to survive. It is true that modern cosmology speaks of a possible perishing of the universe through either combustion or freezing. On the contrary, for example, an optimist scholar emphasizes that through the law of adaptation, “forms of life and of intelligence must lend themselves to transfer without losses from one environment to another and this may ensure their infinity” (Dyson, 1982).
There are as many doomsdays, as there are their determinants. The nomenclature of doomsday is determined by the name/nature of its determinant(s). For example, if doomsday appears due to demographic instability or population explosion, such doomsday is called “demographic doomsday”. Analogously, we may speak of “natural doomsday” caused by natural catastrophes, “ecological doomsday” caused by human induced ecological instability, “social doomsday” caused by social instability, etc. But the term “social” consists of various “sub-socials” such as political, cultural, economic, religious, ethical, moral, spiritual, familial, sexual, ritual, psychological, philosophical, criminal, corrupt, terrorist, private, public, gender, etc. Thus the name of the doomsday may also be “sub-social-specific”. For example, if doomsday emerges owing to the globalization of terrorism, it is called “terrorist doomsday”. Similarly, “gender doomsday” may occur, if “woman species” (Burgess, 1988; Konar, 2007) goes through the four successive stages - rare species, vulnerable species, endangered species and extinct species, owing to the operation of “monopolistically masculinized means, mechanisms and methods” to bring about The War Against Women (French, 1992). The term “doomsday” can be equated with the term “unsustainability”, which, by the “principle of structuralism” (Barry, 2007), is opposite to “sustainability”. “Despite all the computer printouts, cluster diagrams, and mathematical models and matrices that futurist researchers use, our attempts to peer into tomorrow – or even to make sense of today – remain, as they must, more an art than a science” (Toffler, 1980).
Against the foregoing backdrop, this article emphasizes that the defamiliarization of the DDC is inevitable and such inevitability will occur owing to the operation of multiple determinants. Defamiliarization is a concept, which was introduced by Viktor Shklovsky, an important member of the Russian School of Formalism. It is translation of the Russian term “ostranenie”, which means “making strange”. According to Cuddon (1998), “To defamiliarize is to make fresh, new, strange, different what is familiar and known” The defamiliarization of the DDC implies the substitution of an “elongated J-shaped DDC” with an “elongated L-shaped curve” of dynamism of the global human population. While the J-shaped DDC shows that world’s human population increases exponentially and ultimately reaches infinity at some finite time-point (2026 A.D), the elongated L-shaped curve of world’s human population demonstrates that world’s human population will diminish steadily since the year 2026 A.D. and then it will stabilize at a minimum positive level since the year 2050 A.D. (present author’s projection). The secular constancy of global human population at a minimum positive level since the year 2050 A.D discloses that the global human population is locked/caught in a “low level population trap”.
2. Familiarization of the DDC
If the time-path of world’s human population assumes the form of an exponential growth curve, such a time-path or the world’s dynamic human population curve will not only be upward sloping, but also be an elongated J-shaped. It means that world’s human population increases exponentially over time, and at a finite time-point (2026 A.D), it will reach infinity. The exponential growth curve of world’s human population dynamics has been designated as DDC.
The significance of reconsidering the well-known DDC in the inchoate “sustainability revolution”, which has started its effective life since the celebration of the First Earth Day on 22 April 1970, is to demonstrate that the “elongated J-shaped DDC” will be substituted with an “elongated L-shaped curve” of world’s human population since the year 2026 A.D (present author’s projection) owing to the operation of the multiple determinants.
Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834 A.D) was the originator of the concept (not of the term) of the DDC. Because he claimed that unchecked or unconstrained human population of the world would increase exponentially over time and reach infinity within a finite time span. But he failed to predict/project the specific date at which the infinite population of the world would be reached. The exact specification of that date was confirmed through the introduction of the DDC by the three scholars of the University of Illinois in 1960 (von Foerster, Mora & Amiot, 1960). These three scholars were the most fundamentalist in insisting upon the prediction/projection that the global human population would reach infinity on Friday, 13 November 2026 A.D. Needless to say, the other three articles of Heinz von Foerster are also associated with the “demographic doomsday” (von Foerster, 1961a, 1961b, 1962). Later on, the DDC was adjusted to the more recent demographic data by Emiliani (1988). The DDC of 1960, based on the demographic data from 1650 A.D on, predicts that the world’s human population will reach 8 billion in 2000 A.D, 14 billion in 2010 A.D, 60 billion in 2020 A.D, and infinity in 2026 A.D (Figure 1). In fact, in 1960, Heinz von Foerster and his two co-authors made a projection that world’s human population would follow an “elongated J-shaped curve” from the extreme antiquity up to the modern period (Figure 1). This means that world’s human population must reach infinity at some finite point of time. They counted up the precise date of singularity – Friday, 13 November 2026.
Figure 1: Demographic Doomsday Diagram
The DDC has been supported by many scholars. The first example is as follows:
A continuation of the 2 per cent rate of world population growth from the present population of about three billion would provide enough people, in lock step, to reach from the earth to the sun in 237 years. It would give one person for every square foot of land surface on the globe, including mountains, deserts and the artic wastes, in about six and one-half centuries. It would generate a population which would weigh as much as the earth itself in 1,566 years…. Projections of this type, of course, are not to be interpreted as predictions…… As a matter of fact, in the long run, given a finite globe and excluding the possibilities of exporting human population to outer space, any rate of population growth would in time saturate the globe and exhaust space itself (Hauser, 1969).
The second example, disclosed by the British physicist and the author of A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking, is as follows:
By the year 2600 the world’s population would be standing shoulder to shoulder and the electricity consumption would make the Earth glow red hot. If you staked the new books being published next to each other, you would have to move at 90 miles an hour just to keep up with the end of the line. Of course by 2600, new artistic and scientific work will come in electronic forms rather than as physical books and papers. Nevertheless, if the exponential growth (of population) continued, there would be ten papers a second in my kind of theoretical physics and no time to read them (The Telegraph Millennium Magazine, 2000).
3. Determinants of Defamiliarization of the DDC
The determinants of defamiliarization of the DDC can be disclosed in terms of the following points:
3.1. Malthusian Checks
The DDC may be defamiliarized by Malthusian principle of population, which has two propositions: (a) an unchecked or unconstrained global human population growth eventually outruns the maximum possible increase in the global food supply, and inevitably leads to dreadful situation of overpopulation, and (b) the checks or constraints to population growth always exist, and they are of three types such as “moral restraint”, “vice” and “misery”. When geometric increase in human population exceeds arithmetic increase in food supply, at least one of the three checks must appear. Thus at least one of the foregoing three checks can defamiliarize the DDC.
3.2 Cultural Constraints
“Cultural constraints” can be substituted for “Malthusian constraints” to defamiliarize the DDC:
Man is the only culture-building animal on the face of the earth. He not only adapts to environment, but creates environment to which to adapt…. Man has the capacity, however, not only to build culture, but also to perceive the consequences of his handiwork. It is because he is becoming increasingly aware of the implications of accelerating population growth that so much attention is now being paid to population problems (Hauser, 1969).
3.3. Determinants Suggested by USNAS and RLS
In 1992, the United States National Academy of Sciences (USNAS) and the Royal Society of London (RSL) issued the following joint proclamation, in which environmental degradation was treated as the determinant of the defamiliarization of the DDC:
World Population is growing at the unprecedented rate of almost 100 million people every year, and human activities are producing major changes in the global environment. If current predictions of population growth prove accurate and patterns of human activity remain unchanged, science and technology may not be able to prevent either irreversible degradation of the environment or continued poverty for much of the world (Odum & Barrett, 2006).
3.4. Determinants Prescribed by the World Development Report
While the DDC (1960) shows that world human population will reach infinity in the year 2026 A.D, one credible study projects that it will reach nearly 10 billion in the year 2023 A.D, nearly 23 billion in the year 2160 A.D and since then, its declining trend will be started under the assumption of slow decline in fertility. But if rapid decline in fertility occurs, world’s human population will reach the highest level, nearly 10 billion in the year 2085 A.D and its diminishing trend will be started since the year 2160 A.D (World Development Report, 1992, p. 26, Figure 1.1). In this study, the determinant of defamiliarization of the DDC is the decline in the fertility rate.
3.5. Determinants Disclosed by the World Resources Report
Another credible study (World Resources: A Guide to the Global Environment 1996-97, p. 174, Figure 8.1 and Figure 8.2), which considers the trends and projections in world’s human population growth since 1750 to 2150 A. D., is also relevant. This study indicates that under the medium fertility rate projection (2.06 per cent), the global human population will reach about 10 billion in 2050 A.D, and 11.5 billion in 2150 A.D, and will ultimately stabilize at about 11.6 billion shortly after 2200 A.D. Under a medium high fertility rate (2.17 per cent), the world’s human population will be nearly 21 billion by 2150 A.D. At a high fertility stabilization rate (2.5 per cent), the world’s human population will reach 28 billion by 2150 A.D. In this study also, defamiliarization of the DDC occurs owing to the variation in the fertility rate.
3.6. Toffler’s Determinants
“It is scarcely necessary today to elaborate on the real dangers facing us – from nuclear annihilation and ecological disaster to racial fanaticism or regional violence…..War, economic debacle, large-scale technological disaster – any of these could alter future history in catastrophic ways” (Toffler, 1980). Thus Toffler emphasizes that nuclear annihilation, ecological disaster, racial fanaticism, regional violence, war, economic debacle, large-scale technological disaster, etc. can alter future history of the world’s human population in catastrophic ways.
3.7. Emiliani’s Determinants
Demographic doomsday, of course, will not happen, because (i) skyrocketing pollution, disease, and starvation (Emiliani, 1988) and (ii) environmental devastation, famine, and strife (Emiliani, 1995) will vitiate the nature or shape of the DDC (1960).
3.8. Sexual Determinants
The recent growth of homosexuality (e.g. lesbianism, gayism), as opposed to the (natural?) heterosexuality, can also defamiliarize the DDC. If the whole human species is lesbianized and/or gayized, the unending chain of human generation must be interrupted, and eventually, the sign of human will be erased from the “tiny little islet of life amid the boundless ocean of lifelessness”. Lesbians and gays claim that homosexuality is a matter of naturalness. They can be reminded that if homosexuality were a natural phenomenon, either the still existing spectrum of biological diversity would be wiped out much before, or the concepts of nature, natural and naturalness should be redefined obeying the principles of lesbianism and gayism. No species can be sustainable without genital or reproductive sexuality. Thus unilateral sexuality can be regarded as a grave threat toward the sustainability of any species. Owing to only sexual eroticism, enjoyment, fascination and/or fetishism, any kind of sexuality or sexism (e.g. hetero-sex, homo-sex, oral-sex, anal-sex, vaginal- sex or whatever sex one desires) can be adopted with discretion, and without considering moral, religious, ethical or spiritual sanctions or taboos (Konar, 2007). The naturalness of homosexuality is an issue subject to heated controversy. However, in truth, homosexuality is “naturally unnatural or abnormal” in the same way or sense as the birth of defective or disabled offspring is treated as “naturally unnatural or abnormal”.
3.9. Familial Factors
Some studies (e.g. Becker, 1991; Lundberg & Pollak, 2007; Stevenson & Wolfers, 2007) indicate that in many developed countries, both marriage and fertility rates have not only fallen to extremely low levels, but also have been falling at the increasing rate. The family in the western world has been radically altered – some claim almost destroyed – by the events of the last three decades (Becker, 1991). The grave status of American families has been described with subtlety by Bianchi & Casper (2000). In addition, marriage has become relatively unattractive in these countries. Moreover, aggregate fertility – whether married or not – is currently quite low in many European nations, a fact that, beyond portending changes in the family, points to a looming “demographic crisis” in many countries (Stevenson & Wolfers, 2007). In consequence, the populations of these countries have been diminishing at the increasing rate. These changes are also the vital determinants of defamiliarizing the DDC.
3.10. Garrett’s Determinants
Mario Garrett (2008) has clearly demonstrated that the following primary and secondary determinants are responsible for the defamiliarization of the DDC:
(i) Decline in the Birth or Fertility Rate: It occurs owing to the following factors: (a) the decline in men’s ability to produce sperm, (b) the decline in female’s fecundity, (c) the rise in testicular cancer, which mainly affects young men, (d) the increase in the number of women, who want to remain childless, (e) the reduction of fecundity of women by retarding the age of the first birth, (f) the problem of conception owing to the aging of women, (g) the increase in the obesity, which is associated with the decline in fecundity in both women and men, (h) the decline in future semen quality during the boy’s fetal life owing to maternal overweight. These parallel biological events - diminishing semen quality, testicular cancer, and reduced fecundity - can exacerbate an already shrinking foundation of children (Garrett, 2008). Fertility is also affected by the separation and re-partnering (Beaujouan, 2010), the pattern of asexuality (Poston & Baumle, 2010), the premarital cohabitation and divorce (Kulu & Boyle, 2010), and legalizing the same sex unions (Festy, 2006).
(ii) Aging of Population: The older adult population is increasing at a rate that we have not seen before in the history of our species. The fastest growing group is that of centenarians. Although the proportion of people, who live beyond the age of 100, is still small, the worldwide number is rapidly growing, especially in more-developed nations. If we look at super-centenarians (those over 110 years of age), we find that this figure in the developed world increases. As a species, our lifespan (the longest that we have ever lived) was arbitrarily defined in 1997 by the French woman Jeanne Louise Calment, who lived upto 122 years 164 days. There is evidence, which indicates that we are more likely to be reaching this outer limit of life. How sustainable is our life style, if we have a scenario where there are fewer children being born and that most older adults are pushing survival to the life span of 100 years plus? Harry Dent, an economist, has long maintained that “our demography is destiny” (Garrett, 2008).
Garrett (2008) asks: Is our population sustainable? The answer is negative. The argument, which still needs to be made, is of the evolution of our diminishing ability to procreate, colluding with demographic changes, and how these processes are likely to affect our survival. We are already seeing a tsunami of demographic change, which will submerge younger cohorts, and create an
increasingly older population. The added biological degradation will ensure that this process will continue for the long term. Being aware of such dynamics, the possibility of extending the life span seems catastrophic. However, that is where we are heading. With life extending research and the possibility (however slight) of extending the life span, sustainable population might be a concept that migrates from science journals to our history books (Garrett, 2008).
3.11. War Against Women
“One is not born a woman; rather, one becomes a woman.”
Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex (1949)
None of the earlier ten points suggests that the unprecedented “violence against women” (VAW) can defamiliarize the DDC. That is why this article has emphasized that the “elongated J-shaped DDC” will be substituted with an “elongated L-shaped curve” of world’s human population since the year 2026 A.D (present author’s projection), if the following precondition persists with intensification under the ceteris paribus assumption. This precondition is the unprecedented men’s VAW, deficiency in gender justice, “gender instability” (Konar, 2007), or The War against Women (1992) of Marilyn French. The inchoate sustainability revolution, under the umbrella of globalization, is being increasingly genderized against women. The inevitable and eventual consequence is the steady decline in the female-male ratio (which is less than unity), which is being coupled with the decline in the total female population in the world. This will continue due to the operation of the “vicious cycle of VAW” in the sense that more violence will create more decline in the female-male ratio, which will accentuate ongoing VAW due to the scarcity of women. A time will come, when no woman will be discovered to be called “mother of the children”, who will be born tomorrow. But the mothering process may persist for any other non-human species, if they survive. The causes, consequence and cures of VAW have been described in more recent studies (Konar, 2007, 2008). In the foregoing ceteris paribus assumption, “ecological instability” and “other sub-social instabilities”, which simultaneously constitute the following five “ecological-societal gaps” (Odum & Barrett 2006), are supposed to remain unchanged: (i) “income gap” between the rich and the poor, (ii) “food gap” between the well-fed and the underfed, (iii) “value gap” between market and non-market goods and services, (iv) “education gap” between the literate and the illiterate, and (v) the “resource management gap” between development and stewardship. But if the ceteris paribus assumption is vitiated or violated, the process of defamiliarizing the familiar DDC will be accelerated.
3.11.1. VAW from Historical Perspective
The VAW is not a new phenomenon. It strangely persists since the beginning of the primitive society. The VAW can be divided into two categories such as (i) age-specific or life stage-specific VAW between the conception and the death, and (ii) designation or brand-specific VAW. Life stage-specific VAW has five stages: (i) VAW in gestation (from conception to birth), (ii) VAW in childhood, (iii) VAW in adolescence, (iv) VAW in adulthood, and (v) VAW in senescence. But the designation- specific VAW is applicable to such attributes as daughter, mother, sister, wife, grandmother, nice, witch, widow, divorcee, prostitute, lesbian, etc. The VAW still exists since the time immemorial. The following three examples may be relevant:
There have been approximately 1,600 generations since the Homo Sapiens species first appeared on the earth……. Researchers combine the first several hundred generations under a common name that of primitive man….. In terms of time, primitive man’s history greatly exceeds that of modern man, for the former lasted several tens of thousands of years… The custom of infanticide on a truly appalling scale (15% to 50%) existed in the primitive society…. In accordance with primitive customs, two categories of infants were killed: first those who were weak and who developed poorly (especially girls) and second infants that were third, fourth, fifth etc…. The fate of small girls was especially tragic. While both boys and girls were ritually killed, if they possessed some physical defect, if their mother died, or if they were born in an “unlucky day”, girls were the first to be killed for economic reasons – a shortage of food (Tolstykh, 1987).
Secondly, the sociologist R. J. Rummel argued:
In the Greece of 200 B.C, for example, the murder of female infants was so common that among 6,000 families living in Delphi, no more than 1 percent had two daughters. Among 79 families, nearly as many had one child as two. Among all, there were only 28 daughters to 118 sons….. But classical Greece was not unusual. In eighty four societies spanning the Renaissance to our time, “defective” children have been killed in one-third of them. In India, for example, because of Hindu beliefs and the rigid class system, young girls were murdered as a matter of course. When demographic statistics were first collected in the nineteenth century, it was discovered that in some villages, no girl babies were found at all; in a total of thirty others, there were 343 boys to 54 girls…… In Bombay, the number of girl alive in 1834 was 603….. the death toll from infanticide must exceed that mass sacrifice and perhaps even outright mass murder (Bandyapadhyaya, 2008).
Thirdly, “suttee” as an ancient Indian custom persists from the 4th century to the present. In such a custom, a widow is culturally expected and indeed forced to throw herself into her husband’s funeral pyre in order to save his soul and guarantee the legitimacy of her children and future generations. In addition, this custom is believed in part to be due what is seen as the wife’s responsibility for the death of her husband. During the period 1815 A.D to 1824 A.D alone, 6,632 suttees died in Bengal in India. Though this practice was officially discouraged in India, yet it is still existent (Stein, 1992).
The inevitable and eventual consequence of killing female children (e.g. female foeticide, infanticide, etc.) is that it creates “negative externality” for the society as a whole. If the self-interest satisfying or optimizing (gain maximizing or loss minimizing) action or activity of an individual creates costs for the others, for which the individual does not pay or give any return, there occurs negative externality for the others and the society as a whole. The excessive preference for sons (Arnold, Choe & Roy, 1998; Das Gupta et al., 2003; Pande & Astone, 2007) creates excess supply of male or excess demand for female in the “marriage market”. In consequence, the marriage market is in disequilibrium, which implies that the family or household system may collapse in the sense that the marriage of sons of not only male-sex- selective families, but also the sex-unbiased families, may be impossible. Moreover, all sorts of marriage (e.g. traditional marriage, legal marriage, lifetime marriage, part-time marriage, remarriage, assortative marriage, covenant marriage, shotgun marriage, delayed or deferred marriage, normal cohabitation, shotgun cohabitation, live-together, and also the marriages of divorcers and widowers) may be an “imaginary concept” to the sons, who will be born tomorrow. A time will come when J-shaped DDC will be defamiliarized.
3.11.2. The Paradox of Women’s Unsustainability in the Global Sustainability Revolution
The age of sustainability revolution is almost four decades, because it started its effective life since the celebration of the First Earth Day on 22 April 1970. Sustainability revolution is a “new password” among the “tally of revolutions” witnessed by the global human society. The objective of sustainability revolution is to undertake necessary precautions, preconditions, principles and policies in order to bring about the Third World War against the emerging threat of global unsustainability, or in other words, to thwart the Second Tragedy of the tiny little Titanic of global life (the First Tragedy of the British Titanic occurred in 1912).
Sustainability is an “enlightened self-interest”, as opposed to “destructive self-interest”. Sustainability (or unsustainability) refers to the coexistence of ecological stability (or instability) and social stability (or instability), given the exogenously and autonomously determined natural stability and instability (Konar, 2007, 2008, 2009; Konar & Modak, 2010; Konar & Ckakrabortty, 2011). In fact, sustainability (or unsustainability) implies “ecologically sustainable (or unsustainable) social stability (or instability)” or “ecologically social sustainability (or unsustainability)”. But social stability (or sustainability) and ecological stability (or sustainability) are interdependent, neither independent, nor dependent at the cost of other. Sustainability is a social or socialized concept, and also a social learning process, where social sustainability is a quality of societies (Littig & GrieBler, 2005). Social sustainability (or unsustability) implies the simultaneous stability (or instability) of all the sub-social spheres (e.g. political, economic, cultural, ethical, moral, gender, etc.) of multifaceted social life of humans. “Gender instability” (Konar, 2007), indicated by “gender-fundamentalism, gender-gap, and gender-warfare against women”, is one of the diverse sub-social instabilities of human social life. It can bring about unprecedented social unsustainability leading to complete unsustainability of the humanity. The single most important feature of gender instability is the strange persistence of the socially undesirable means, mechanisms and methods of the patriarchal society for undertaking VAW, despite the continuing natural complementarity between the masculinity and the femininity.
So what is the significance of sustainability revolution, if “woman species” goes through the four successive stages such as rare species, vulnerable species, endangered species and extinct species? Because the total woman population, coupled with the diminishing woman-man ratio, which is less than unity, is diminishing at the increasing rate over time. Or in other words, what is the significance of sustainability revolution, if it is genderized against women in the social world? Is sustainability meant for men only?
The global scope and magnitude of VAW is found in an article (Watts & Zimmerman, 2002). The momentum of VAW will be obvious from the different studies (e.g. Barret, 1980; Stauss & Gelles, 1986; Tomaselli & Porter, 1986; Elshtain, 1988; Scully, 1990; French, 1992). The following few examples may be sufficient:
In personal and public life, in kitchen, bedroom and halls of parliament, men wage unremitting war against women….. Men start repressing females at birth: only the means vary by society. They direct female babies to be selectively aborted, little girls to be neglected, underfed, genitally mutilated, raped or molested….. The climate of violence against women harms all women. To be female is to walk the world in fear…..Women are afraid in a world in which almost half the population bears the guise of the predator, in which no factor - age, dress or colour - distinguishes a man who will harm a woman from one who will not (French, 1992).
Secondly, up to six thousand years ago, the status and power of women was either equivalent or superior to that of men. Women become male dominated with the establishment of first states. When women are not available, men turn other males into “women”. So male prisoners regularly rape other male prisoners, and many ministers and priests betray the trust of little boys or male teenagers by molesting them (French, 1992).
Thirdly, it is just as easy to envisage a world free from fears of the interpersonal violence, rape, and child sexual abuse which, in their most dangerous and prevalent forms, are the violent acts of men (Segal, 1990).
Fourthly, mass rapes are quite often perpetrated in times of war. Conversely, attitudes of adventurism found among some, who enlist in the armed forces, seem empirically linked to a tendency to violent behavior towards women (Scully, 1990).
Fifthly, the nature and intensity of VAW has been described with subtlety by an important study, from which five shocking incidents are given below (Lemmy, 1998):
(i) The shootings of girls by boys in the schools are increasing at the increasing rate. If the girlfriend of any schoolboy breaks up with him, he goes to kill her and everybody in the school. We can recall the Beatles song: “I’d rather see you dead, little girl, than to see you with another man”. Newspapers repeatedly report of ex-wives and girlfriends, who are hunted down, stalked and murdered, because they leave their significant other. Eighty five per cent of such killings occur because of refusals and cheating by schoolgirls (Chimbos, 1978).
(ii) Since the 1970s, women are the most frequent victims of “serial killers”. The incidence of “serial killings” is increasing in USA. Serial killers are almost always white men, and most of the people killed are women or girls.
(iii) The major motivations for sexual murders are rooted in fantasy about VAW displayed/depicted in pornography. Pornographic images of women are treated by some feminists as the extreme articulation of the objectification of women at the representational level (Coward & WAVAW, 1987; Merck, 1987). Other feminists (MacKinnon, 1979; Dworkin, 1981; Griffin, 1981) claim that pornography should not be regarded as a representational version of patriarchy, but as its exemplary moment of expression. They emphasize that pornography indicates how men really perceive or look at women through the “lens of sexual eroticism”. Actually, “pornographic image” is deliberately substituted for its “remote reality”. We resorted to the “images” so that our senses aid our thinking processes. If “reality” is likened to a “play, which can be staged in a theatre”, then “pornography” can be likened to a “play, which cannot be staged, but can be read only”. When we read a play, it makes a much weaker impression on us than when we see it in a theatre. This is the “tragedy of non-visualizability”, which encourages men’s sexual VAW. Sexual violence includes not only rape, but also words cut into skin, objects forced into vagina and breasts and fingernails removed. Wife abuse is the leading cause of death in the USA for African-American women, aged 15-34. In USA, two thousand women are killed by their intimate partner every year. Every murder is preceded by the woman wanting to leave. Adult males batter and threaten their wives and girl-friends because “If I can’t have you, no one can” (Campbell, 1992). The sexual violence, which is proliferating today in the media, emerged largely in response to the women’s movement during the 1970s.
(iv) The film, which shows the murder and mutilation of women, is designated as “snuff”. It started with a highly notorious film of such name. “Snuff” was first shown in New York City in 1975.
(v) We are not fallible about witch-burning and witch-hunting. Between 1400 A.D and 1700 A.D, both church and state tried, tortured and murdered tens of thousands of female lay healers and midwives. Ninety per cent of those accused were women. This is a method to control women (MacFarlane, 1970). The torture and murder of women as “witches” was glorified by the church, church-supported literature and even by the state. In addition, arts were designed to depict tortures of half-naked women in all those long centuries of profound discrimination and massive terror upon all women. One of the biggest influences of this gynocide was the anti-female “Malleus Maleficarum” or the “Hammer of Witches”, which became one of the first international bestsellers, because it went through the thirty-five editions in four different languages between 1486 A.D and 1669 A.D (Barstow, 1994). The Malleus Maleficarum advocated death to all witches, of which ninety per cent witches were female. Court rooms, prosecutors, judges and townspeople attended hearings, sneered and pointed fingers at the accused. “Luther’s Bible”, published in German, was an incredible setback for women. Under this Bible, approval for extermination of witches was given wider circulation than ever before. The Exodus 22:18 in the Bible says: “Die Zauberinnen solst du nicht leben lassen” (Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live), which means that “witch has no right to live”. How witch hunting inflicts cost to women’s sustainability is amply evident from another important study (Konar, 2008).
Sixthly, more recent studies (Chelala, 2009a, 2009b) demonstrate the deplorable condition of the VAW. In every country, where reliable studies have been conducted, statistics show that between 10 per cent and 50 per cent of women report that they have been physically abused by an intimate partner during their lifetime (Jewkes, 2002). According to the World Health Organization (WHO) data, the most devastating effect of VAW worldwide is that it claims almost 1.6 million lives each year — about 3 per cent of deaths of all causes. Domestic violence is the most common kind of VAW (Ellsberg et al., 2001; Kishor & Johnson, 2004). It affects women regardless of age, education or socioeconomic status. Its victims are women in both developing and developed countries. Few precise figures on VAW exist, but some of the numbers may be shocking. According to Mexico’s Health Ministry, about one in three women suffer from domestic violence, and it is estimated that over 6,000 women die in Mexico every year as a result. In China, according to a national survey, domestic violence occurs in one-third of the country’s 270 million households. According to the National Police Agency (of Japan), reported cases (of domestic violence) reached an all-time high of 20,992 (mostly women in their 30s) in 2007. In Russia, estimates put the annual domestic violence death toll at more than 14,000 women. Some studies conducted in the United States reveal that each year approximately four million women are physically attacked by their husbands or (intimate) partners. In the United States, 25 per cent of female psychiatric patients, who attempt suicide, are victims of domestic violence, as are 85 per cent of women in substance abuse programs (Chelala, 2009a). Further, although physical violence and sexual violence are easier to see, other forms of violence include emotional/psychological violence, such as verbal humiliation, threats of physical aggression or abandonment, economic blackmail and forced confinement to the home. Many women consider psychological abuse and humiliation even more devastating than physical violence. Even more disturbing, a large proportion of women are beaten while they are pregnant (Champbell, 2002). In India, a study of maternal deaths carried out in 400 villages and seven hospitals, showed that 16 per cent of all deaths during pregnancy occurred due to domestic violence. Frequently, fear keeps women trapped in abusive relationships. It has been found that almost 80 per cent of all serious gender violence, injuries and deaths occur when female victims of violence try to leave a relationship, or after they have left (Chelala, 2009b).
Seventhly, the perpetuity of the pathetic practice of female genital mutilation in Africa and Asia, and even in France will be evident from the recent studies of Andro & Lesclingand (2007) and Monagan (2010).
Eighthly, rape as a weapon of war continues to take a heavy toll on women’s lives in conflict areas around the world. A high proportion of the women, who are victims of rape, end up infected with sexually transmitted diseases and infections, including HIV. César Chelala (2010) explains why rape in Congo can be a death sentence for women.
Ninthly, the first French National Survey reveals the status of VAW in France (Jespard & the ENVEFF, 2001). France is not devoid of sexual VAW (Bajos, Bozon & the CSF team, 2008).
Finally, sexual violence against in-school female adolescents is rampant in the developed countries (Srinual & Archavanitkul, 2004).
Global sustainability revolution is being misdirected by the “exclusion principle”, which implies that along with non-human species, “woman species” is being excluded from the orbit of survivalism of men. This is how sustainability has also been masculinized owing to the monopolization of masculinized war against women. Thanks to masculinity for creating such an instable global human society, in which only survival, not revival of femininity, is deliberately bypassed. Thus the principle of destructive self-interest is equally applicable to the social world too.
4. Concluding Comments
In our social world, maleness or masculinity is innately ingrained in violence ranging from casual street violence to large scale war. Violence is a concrete expression of aggressiveness of masculinity. This implies that the set of means, mechanisms and methods of violence is the monopoly of men. In other words, violence has been universally masculinized in the social world. No society can be discovered, which is devoid of VAW, and where violence has not been masculinized. Recently, violence and crime are being substituted with terrorism and war. The diverse forms of crime, violence, terrorism and war are the indicators of various sub-social instabilities, which threaten the stability or sustainability of the social universe.
The plight of women in Muslim world is incommunicably worst. Muslim women rank lowest in the scale of social sustainability. The relation between man and woman in Muslim world can be likened to the relation between the predator and the prey.
Induced/influenced by the unprecedented cultural fundamentalism, fetishism or tribalism, Muslim world is trapped in the “low level of social equilibrium trap”, which implies the gloomy stationary state of the Muslim society. Social dynamism in the Muslim world is a hypothetical concept. Even in the present era of globalization, Muslim world has kept itself outside the orbit of social/cultural integration, exchange and/or interaction with the rest of the global social world. Gender warfare against women is so agonizing that Muslim women survive in suffocation. Trafficking of women in the poorest of the poor Muslim communities has become a normal phenomenon (Dutta 2009; Ghatak 2009; Khatun 2009). Unrestricted and uncontested unilateral divorce, which is based on or backed up by the discretionary power of husband, regardless of the willingness, consent, ability, fault, health status, economic condition, sexuality, etc. of wife, is extremely high in Muslim societies (Anandabazar Patrika, 2009). The concept of divorce in Muslim society is exclusively peculiar. “Similar divorce” is non-existent even in the pristine primitive or tribal communities. The right to divorce, the right to deprive the divorcee from the property right subsequent to divorce, and the right to remarry to a new female, are the monopoly of the husband. In fine, divorce in Muslim society is called “husband determined forced divorce”.
The fatal fate of women in the social world has been described by Delbes, Gaymu & Springer (2006) as follows:
“Women grow old alone, but men grow old with a partner”.
It is the appropriate time to break the Collective Silence for Collective Violence (Lemmy, 1998) for the restoration of the social sustainability via reducing or ruling out the unprecedented “gender instability” (Konar, 2007) created by men against women.
Misdirected feminism seems to have been one of the causes of the failure of the “feminist fight for fair future” (Konar, 2007). Feminism is subject to endless proliferation of its variants. Most of these variants are contradictory with respect to the achievement of their common optimal goals. That is why their “intersection” is badly needed. For example, lesbian feminism is a form of sexuality, rather than a form of female bonding or patriarchal resistance (Barry, 2007). Further, feminist fundamentalism or fundamentalist feminism insists on the relation of substitutability, instead of complementarity, between men and women. Against such insistence, an analogy is that the concept of “shoe” is pointless without a “pair of shoes”. There are many women’s journals, which are edited by women only. But most of the issues or journals are devoted to the “commoditization of woman’s body” (Winship, 1987). Some women’s journals may be regarded as semi-pornography (Watney, 1987). Similarly, some electronic Medias, channels and journals are not beyond exception (Hall et al., 1980; Rose, 1986; Betterton, 1987; Mulvey, 1989). The optimal goal of feminism is not to create antagonism between femininity and masculinity, but to create the “gender justice” for ensuring social sustainability.
When we are ardent to extrapolate that The War Against Women (French, 1992) can defamiliarize the DDC, some studies indicate that woman has been conceptualized from different perspectives as follows. With how much affection and reverence has woman been qualified as My Mother is beyond imagination (Augustine of Hippo, 1987). Woman has also been described as Mother of all Nations (Ashton, 1989). Some others have wanted: Let the Weak Be Strong: A Woman's Struggle for Justice (Ai & Nim, 1988). One has equated “woman” with “life” as follows:
All that we know about Woman is best described by the word “compassion”. There are words too ––– sister, wife, friend and, the noblest of all, Mother. But is not compassion a part of all these concepts, their very substance, their purpose and their ultimate meaning? A woman is the giver of life, she safeguards life, so “woman” and “life” are synonymous (Alexiyevich, 1988).
Despite the exploration of The Concept of Woman from 750 B.C. to 1250 A.D (Allen, 1996), the remarks of some authors about woman are surprising. For example, while Jacques Lacan (1901-1981 A.D) says: “Woman does not exist” and Julia Kristeva claims: “Woman can never be defined” (Barry, 2007), then Toril Moi has recently asked: “What is woman?”(Moi, 2001). But the French feminist Helene Cixous has rightly disclosed: “Such is the strength of women…, which acts for men as a surrogate umbilical cord” (Barry, 2007).
The Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the three women in October 2011 in this unsustainable world discloses our delayed realization/recognition about the relevant remarks of the following two Indian scholars.
Indian Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore argued:
[T]he moral rhythm in the exercise of male power is repeatedly flouted, causing power and progress to diverge increasingly……. On the other hand, the ideal of stability is deeply cherished in woman’s nature……. All her forces instinctively work to bring things to some shape of fullness – for that is the law of life……. Woman is endowed with the passive qualities of chastity, modesty, devotion and power of self-sacrifice in a greater measure than man is (Chakraborty, 2000).
Similarly, in 1918, “the Father of (Indian) Nation”, Mahatma Gandhi said:
Woman is the companion of man gifted with equal mental capacities. She has the right to participate in the minutest details of the activities of man and she has the same right to freedom and liberty as he. By sheer force of vicious customs, even the most ignorant and worthless men have been enjoying superiority over women which they do not deserve or ought not to have (Jung, 1994).
The objective of feminist revolution, initiated in the 1960s, is to substitute “women against violence” for “violence against women”. But this substitution process has acquired its reversibility due to the persistence of men’s monopolistic supremacy and misdirected feminism.
Following Swami Vivekananda, it can be reiterated with slight variation that “women’s welfare warrants world’s welfare” (Konar, 2007), since “it is not possible for a bird to fly on one wing” (Konar, 2007).
For “ending VAW” (Heise, Ellsberg & Gottemoeller, 1999), it can be emphasized by analogy of WHO’s (2001) suggestion: “Putting women first” that “let our mothers, wives, daughters and sisters empower to rule the world” because “by physical design and psychological temperament, women are more centripetal to compensate for the unruly centrifugality of men” (Chakraborty, 2000).
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Arup Kanti Konar is Associate Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, Achhruram Memorial College, Sidho-Kanho-Birsha University, Jhalda, Purulia, West Bengal, India. E-mail: email@example.com.