When in the not too distant future, cultural digital archaeologists will dig into the remains of the legacy of sexual predators and large scale sexual abusers such as the UK entertainer and charity champion, Sir Jimmy Saville (1926-2011), Order of the British Empire, Knight Commander of the Order of St Gregory, they will find something at the engine of it all, and it’s not sex.
When we do the same with the human disaster around abuse at the hands of religious ministers (Catholic Church, Anglican Church, many other churches) , we will also find something as a common currency, and it’s not sex.
When the same digging takes place in all cases of sexual harassment, abuse, rape and combinations in universities ( as just now highlighted in the media), any campuses, undergraduate colleges and, for ever known boarding schools, we will equally find the same currency, again and again. And it’s not sex.
When the likes of Donald Trump have been scrutinized in a more forensic way, and people have really come to terms with his expressed on tape views on women being a target for anything; to be more precise ‘you can do anything to women; grab them by ( sorry, censured in Daily Thoughts), and I don’t even wait, when you’re a star’, we will find the same absence of sex as the main motivator.
Yes, there is sex in all of this, but, focusing on sex would be a fantastic smokescreen.
It is almost impossible to say this without upsetting anybody remotely close to the suffers, who saw sex, suffered sex and are still traumatized by sex.
But it’s not sex. It’s power. It’s all about power, the cultural digital archaeologists will tell us. Power over others, power over intimacy, power to access a body and a soul and get away with it in the name of power. Power that was exercised and self-reinforced because it worked. Power that could not be disputed or challenged. Power that made the sufferers guilty of not accepting it.
Power is power. The power of the uniform, the cassock, the pinstripe suit, the semi naked holy man, live coach, cultural celebrity, divine representation, prestige professor, life guru, or formal authority. Exercising power, because one can, is the real primal motivator of this rather flawed evolutionary product called Homo Sapiens. Who also does sex.
In psychoanalytic terms, it’s not Freud (sex) but Adler (power) who understood humanity. But we never paid attention to Adler as much as we did to Freud. The Freud anthropological concept of man, was more exhilarating, more headline grabbing, I suppose. Maybe the diggers will have to tell us why.
The same power mechanisms rule in any association of individuals, any organizational dynamics, any relationship between management and staff, any corporate rituals between those with hierarchical power and those with any other power, or no power at all.
Some would think that the comparison of the rotten part of the managerial world with those horrors of abuse is too risky and disproportionate. And that would be another fantastic mixture of alibi and smokescreen. It’s the some power, but I am not making any assumptions about the severity of the human impact, benign, malignant or terminal.
Power is at the core of any human relationship. I don’t think we need any cultural digital archaeologist to tell us. But anybody involved in any form of collective action, and managers, leaders, HR/OD tribes and others are, who want to make sense of what is going on, must leave the cultural-accepted sex glasses, or any other, on the table, and wear the power glasses. Believe me, these will serve to see reality with 20/20 vision. If you start with power analysis, you will have a head start. Then add in any other layer such as trust, empowerment, or any theory of leadership. Fine. But don’t lose the power glasses.
Perhaps it’s so simple, so obvious, so palpable, so present, that the big risk is the use of another so: so what? It’s human nature, people say.
But we are not condemned to this kind of humanity. We don’t have to. There is power for good as well, a topic for another day.
There is a whole industry about ‘emotional intelligence’. I want a bigger industry about power intelligence. Then, we will be talking.