Posts Tagged ‘patriarchy’
A quick and friendly disclaimer to start this post before I step on any toes: I’m not saying you should live your life based on the Bible, nor am I saying you should not. What I am saying is that if you claim to live, word for word, by what the Bible says, you are expected to do exactly that. If you, like me, believe that this is a book, perhaps divinely inspired but ultimately written (and then translated) by fallible human beings two thousand years ago, and that therefore some of this stuff just isn’t relevant any more now that we know better and just think that what matters is that Jesus wanted us to love our neighbors, that’s totally cool. It’s the hypocrisy of cherry picking what matters while simultaneously insisting that the cultural context it was written in doesn’t matter and God wants us to obey every single rule laid down therein that gets me.
Without further ado: I found s’more handy Bible knowledge!
This won’t be news to any of you who actually know jack shit about the Bible, but it was new to me.
First off: I Corinthians 11:5-6, which says “But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.” So at the very least, women should cover their heads in prayer (and, by extension, in church). I don’t wanna hear jack shit about literal Biblical living* from any woman who doesn’t do that, because otherwise she is a hypocrite and/or a liar. This passage is full of heinously sexist bullshit, much of which I am sure they use to support their patriarchal society, but if you’re gonna say that you can’t pick and choose, you can’t pick and fucking choose.
I’ve tried this before by quoting Leviticus 19:19, but was told that, because Jesus made a new covenant with God, many of those rules don’t apply any more (e.g., Christians don’t have to keep kosher). This argument pissed me off for two reasons: one, as far as I know (and correct me if I’m wrong), Jesus never says anything about eating bacon (&c.) outside The Gospel According to Biff†. Funny, though, how they have no problem keeping Leviticus 18:22. See what I mean about hypocrites and liars?
Also, continuing the anti-family theme in Corinthians that I talked about earlier, Luke 14:26, wherein Jesus basically says that if you have ties to your family, you’re not worthy of him. Ironic, considering the Biblical literalist/fundamentalist obsession with marriage and babies, ’cause these two passages (both New Testament, mind you, and therefore – according to what I’ve been told about why Christians don’t have to keep kosher – more relevant/important than their favorite passages about replenishing the earth (Genesis 1:28)) make it pretty clear that Christ likes unattached singles.
I did find two verses – and here I am, picking out what I think is still relevant, but I never claimed to do otherwise – that I liked: Joel 2:28-29: “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit” and Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” So fucking play nice with each other, kiddies, or Our Father may have to come down here and kick some unrighteous ass: yours.
*I’m not referring here to “What Would Jesus Do?” but to the Quiverfull and related movements that interpret the Bible literally (or so claim to) and live (or say they live) by what the Bible says, word for word; by all means, protect adulterers from being stoned to death and whatnot – be nice to widows and orphans, pet kittens, whatever!
†I went there.
In this post, the app in question (it tracks menstrual cycles – for men in heterosexual romantic/sexual relationships) has “a female symbol …sporting devil horns.”
For those of you who failed Greco-Roman mythology and/or astrology or just plain ol’ fashion do not give a damn about either subject, let me remind you: the female symbol (♀) is the astrological sign for Venus. (The male symbol (♂) is the astrological symbol for Mars.) However, the Venus symbol with horns (☿) is no longer the Venus symbol at all, but is, instead, the symbol for Mercury, and it’s used to represent intersex individuals the way the Venus/Mars symbols represent ciswomen and cismen.
Whoops. (KNOWING STUFF: It helps!)
You know that whole “women are distractions” theme I’ve been harping on lately? Well, the new Allstate commercial is the most blatant example I’ve seen. There’s a guy who is supposed to be the embodiment of reasons you need car insurance; in another one, he’s a guy driving an expensive car that your current insurance won’t fully cover, so he’s going to sue you. In this one, he’s “a hot babe jogging on the side of the road” which causes “you” (in this part, a youngish (late teens/early twenties) man) to crash his car into a tree or a sign or something.
So what do we get from this commercial? Two things: first, women exist to be looked at (“woman as image, man as bearer of the look”*) and second, women are distractions.
*Laura Mulvey, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema“
Women (and men, but I mostly see this from women) who make it sound like feminists are stealing femininity, or devaluing it. Newsflash, that would be the Patriarchy. Some radfems, like Twisty advocate for renouncing femininity, but in case you missed it, radfems are a minority (a vocal minority that’s right about a lot of things, but saying someone like Twisty is representative of all feminism is like… I don’t even know what, but it’s inaccurate and unfair).
Even the radfems like Twisty aren’t the ones who originally made femininity of lesser value than masculinity. People like Twisty advocate for trashing it because it is, under the current system (i.e., the Patriarchy), devalued and therefore being “feminine” devalues us by association. (I’m not saying I agree with this, I haven’t made up my mind on femininity yet, but roll with it.) They’re saying femininity is hurting us because the Patriarchy is using it to hurt us. (Maybe there’s a way to trash the Patriarchy and keep the fun trappings of femininity, like hair dye and cute shoes, and maybe there’s not. Maybe post-Patriarchy, hair dye and cute shoes won’t seem fun any more because we’ll have stuff that’s way cooler. I don’t know.)
You know who made it so women have to act more “masculine” to be accepted in the workplace or w/e? Wait, wait! Maybe you know this one: the Patriarchy, because it values masculinity over femininity (although unlike men, women have to keep up a precarious balancing act of masculine and feminine traits, which I think is one of the reasons women have to be “pretty” to be successful in fields completely unrelated to their looks). If femininity was valued equally, we could all wear Lolita to work if we wanted to. (See, this is kinda related to my paper.) All of us, and that includes men! because, if masculinity and femininity were equal, men wearing skirts would be as acceptable and normal as women wearing pants. (Okay, we’re not counting reactionary weirdos like LAF in that last statement. They’re beyond help.)
So please stop blaming feminism for the Patriarchy’s fuck-ups.
… and before you jump to defend it, remember: the Patriarchy hates you. Yes, you. Personally!
(It definitely hates you if you’re female. It probably also hates you if you’re male, unless you meet a list of criteria as long as your arm. Even if it doesn’t hate you, you still suffer.*)
Feminism is trying to destroy that system of oppression, so stop getting in the way. It’s scary, because none of us have ever lived in a Patriarchy-free world and because we rely on our oppressor to protect us (oh, the irony!), but feminism isn’t out to get you (unless you’re a douchebag, in which maybe we are… me, I am, but I can’t speak for all feminists (funny how that works, us ladies having opinions!)).
eta: Anna, in her unending geniusness, has come up with… the solution! (to my failed metaphor, not the Patriarchy… yet) saying Twisty represents all feminists is like saying PETA represents all vegetarians.
*list of “ways the Patriarchy hurts men, too” available on request! (even if it didn’t, it’s still bad and it would still have to go, but you know)
“I’m not a feminist, but [insert complaint about the patriarchy here].”
Am I the only one who is filled with rage at this? It’s collusion of the highest order. “Oh, I’m not one of those people working against you, but since I’m working for you, could you reward me as one of you own?”
Hint: they won’t. The patriarchy does not love you. It sees you as a disposable object, one of many interchangeable, identityless bodies. The patriarchy thinks you are flawed and defective and dirty. It tells you to be quiet and then blames you for not being loud enough. It tells you to be demure and then blames you for not fighting hard enough.
If you’re white enough, rich enough, skinny enough, straight enough – in short, if you’re privileged enough – you can get by. They might take you seriously if your skirt isn’t deemed “too short,” if you weren’t “too drunk,” if you didn’t know him. You probably won’t go without eating.
Perhaps, if you’re compliant – if you’re pretty and nurturing and don’t complain – you can eat the crumbs of their pie, if they’re feeling generous. What the hell? Why don’t you give up begging for their table scraps and help us make our own damn pie? I know you’re afraid of going hungry – we all are – but we’ve got the ingredients, between us all. It might not taste the same, but we’ve had the same pie for two thousand years or more. Don’t you think it’s starting to go a little stale?
D’you know what word fills me with rage?
Every time I read it, I just want to stomp around like fucking Godzilla.
It just… ew. The connotations are disgusting: submit to him, damn it, because he’s the man and you’re the woman, he’s smart and you’re stupid he’s right and you’re wrong.
A few men are born with more than their share of dominance and, on the surface, a deficit in gentleness. (source)
… but that’s okay, because he will “exalt” (and presumably stop abusing*) her if she just sits down and shuts the fuck up (and if he’s not exalting you, it’s your own damn fault, fucking uppity whining harpy bitch).
If you are married to a king, honor and reverence is something you must give him on a daily basis if you want him to be a benevolent, honest, strong, and fulfilled man of God.
Yeah: do as your told and he’ll be nicer to you.
This is the sort of apologist bullshit I expect from, well, abusers; it takes on a whole different level of disturbing and upsetting when the victims are going on about how this is totes okay because God says so. (They probably have some bullshit caveat about how “this isn’t really abuse” (the same way beating your children with PVC piping is also just good upbringing “training,” or how a good man of God would never harm his spouse (bullshit, I say, and here’s one example)). They might say that’s not the ~intent but people love abusing their power; that old truism “absolute power corrupts absolutely”? they call them truisms for a reason. I mean, c’mon people: if your husband’s word is law and you’re not supposed to challenge his authority, telling him to stop abusing you is breaking the law… and this, my friends, is what we call a Catch-22.)
If you’re not a wife yet, being your husband’s helpmeet, you should stay at home and help your dad, since you’re his property until you get married, anyway. No, really. There’s tons of bullshit about glorifying your [male relative]’s achievements and doing a lot of legwork but taking no credit and just being glad your [male relative] gets all of this cool stuff done, or something, and the most important part is that you never once complain about doing arduous and menial labor for no thanks, let alone pay. This all comes down to stroking male egos (many of the articles are about how a woman should never chastise or correct her husband, even when his behavior is out of line or he’s just plain old fashioned incorrect) and ensuring that their fantasy of what women are or should be (unpaid laborers who do so without ever striking and demanding better workplace conditions and thirty days of paid leave each year). It’s win-win if you’re a man: you have a penis, so you’re always right and the whole family belongs to you and exists for your pleasure. If your wife says otherwise, just remind her that if she doesn’t follow your directions explicitly, immediately and cheerfully, she is rebelling and will go straight to hell for daring to disagree with you. That’ll shut her up. (It does, too; these men exploit religious beliefs and deeply held fears of damnation to their own, ultimately self-serving, ends and they never have to examine what that means because that’s just how God made it, and us uppity, hairy feminist bitches need to shut up and get back to the kitchen, already.)
No, let me tell you how it is: women are people, too.
We all have the right to pursue our own dreams. I do not exist merely to serve some man’s every wish and whim, to suffer abuse for failing to be “cheerful” about performing arduous but menial tasks for no thanks, let alone recognition. Subjugation is, by nature, never joyful; it breeds resentment and discontent. Collaboration and compromise that takes the needs of both partners into account is the only way to a truly joyful relationship.
… but I forgot, didn’t I? These people aren’t talking about respectful, loving relationships between people, they’re talking about the relationship between a man and his property, because women aren’t really people in their minds, just nameless, faceless mothers and wives at best, and nameless, faceless “incubators” at worst.
This whole patriarchal religious movement is just a way to ensure that male fantasies about the role of women continue to be fulfilled, at the expense of actual women.
I know I’m taking potshots at easy targets, here, but I run emotional and intellectual laps every day. It’s a great workout for my brain and I’m a better person for it, but sometimes I get tired. Sure, all this makes me see red, but I can say, with 100% certainty, that I am right and they are wrong, because I am human and female and I know that I am human and that my desire to be treated like one is not sinful rebellion, it’s righteous outrage. This isn’t even moral high ground; right now, I’m on the moral Mount Everest and they’re at the bottom of the deepest, darkest ocean crevasse of morality. This feeling of being right, with no nuances or disclaimers, is not one I am afforded often, and I’m going to take it for now while I relax. I’ll get back to the grindstone tomorrow.
*a “deficit of gentleness”? c’mon.
I used to think of the patriarchy as this monolith, this awesomely huge stone wall that stood between us and freedom from oppression. It was hard and tall and cold; it kept us in when we wanted to be out, and out when we wanted to be in. It told us lies about each other, and about ourselves.
Together, I believed, we chipped at this stone monolith; if it was diamond, we were pure Lonsdaleite. One of the lies the patriarchy tells us is that we are weak, and we are soft.
This is bullshit. We are human and we hurt, but we deal with that hurt and we deal with it every day. This makes us strong. It is bigger than us, but slowly, I believed, we could chip away at it, and we did and we do.
We have carved niches for ourselves, but those niches have become molds. The patriarchy has taken our own weapons and used them against us. We demanded the right to pursue sexual pleasure, and the patriarchy told us we must be sexually available (for men, and men only).
We have carved niches for ourselves, but we have often excluded each other. The patriarchy lies to us about ourselves and it lies to us about each other, because only by keeping us apart – fighting against each other struggling for our own individual freedoms in an oppressive system – instead of together against it – for everyone’s freedom in a free system – can it survive.
It is a terribly clever thing, the patriarchy. It’s weakening over time, blows struck against it have caused cracks, but it grows other defenses; allows us in at one opening and traps us, or takes away another option.
A veritable Hydra, there is no one way to kill it. Cut off one head and it grows three others. It binds us in seemingly inescapable Catch-22s, twisting everything we do into some grotesque parody of our intentions and blaming us for the pain that causes.
A vast, unchanging wall of oppression. Little by little, as we realized the truths about ourselves, we began to realize the truths about other people. If it lied to us about ourselves, surely what it told us about each other must also be lies?
So, in my naiveté, I believed that we would start listening to each other instead of it, and we have. This is what allies are. We are imperfect; still tangled in the spider’s web, we trip over ourselves, over our own privileges and oppressions, and we stumble into the paths of those who we should be working with, for ourselves, for each other.
We exist in the framework of the patriarchy and it casts a shadow over everything we do. It informs our actions, our very ideas about how to best combat it, but we are inventing our own battle plans. We are working to bake a whole new pie, so that we no longer need to hope for a small slice of the existing one just to survive and that’s why, even as we are tangled and overshadowed, I have hope.