Patriarchy as Usual

Just as a reminder, the patriarchy as usual, as practiced in our country, has been about propegating rich, white male hegemony.  In order for the rich, white men to maintain their hold on money and power, the system is set up to keep the rest of us fighting over the scraps handed to us under the guise of benevolence.

One black man attaining the presidency when half of the prisoners in the U.S. prison system are black men, when one in ten black men between the ages of 20 and 35 are in prison, and when one in three black men in their thirties has a prison record (which means that one in three black men of prime voting age cannot vote) is not going to fix the problems in the black community.  But it does suggest possibilities.

One white woman attaining the presidency when thirty percent of female murder victims are killed by a husband or boyfriend, when one in four hundred of us is a victim of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault every year, and when almost thirty percent of single moms live in poverty is not going to fix the problems of women.  But it does suggest possibilities.

Patriarchy as usual is never about suggesting possibilities to people who don’t have power.

Let’s not lose sight of that.

And let’s not do the work of being distracted from that for those of us who would prefer we be distracted.

27 thoughts on “Patriarchy as Usual

  1. Oh B, just when you showed hope – suggesting the other day that a conservative writer made a good point – you slide back into silliness.

    You see I am a father of children who tries daily to suggest possibilities, usually non-verbally, to my children that will “empower” them.

    Yes, just what the black folks need – less patriarchy, fewer men having a daily impact on the lives of their children. The women folk? I would suggest that the vast majority of women would agree that the men in their lives enhance their lives.

    Blacks and women would be so much better off with less patriarchy? Fear not, with reproductive technology where it is I think you can begin to get rid of us altogether.

  2. Pingback: Volunteer Voters » One

  3. Yes, just what the black folks need – less patriarchy, fewer men having a daily impact on the lives of their children.

    That depends on the men and the impact. If the men are police officers who treat every young black child as a criminal; if the men are prosecutors who are quick to institutionalize young black people for actions that might not even get white kids arrested; if the men are politicians who pour our nation’s treasures into prisons and needless foreign wars when our communities are dying for more constructive investment, then YES, I’d say we could do with fewer of those men having a daily impact on the lives of our children.

  4. What Church Secretary, if the men are decent hard working people who love their families and are committed to them? Is that a possibility?

    The question is what are most men like? Mostly good or mostly bad? And get off it with this foreign policy and criminal code crap. The men who are intimately involved in the lives of women don’t tend to have a powerful voice with respect to big policy issues.

  5. Martin, you might poo-poo patriarchy, but when you envision a world without it, you jump immediately to the conclusion that all men would lose domestic control, sexual access, and parental rights — that indicates to me that you understand patriarchy’s operations pretty dang well.

    I’d relax, if I were you. Heterosexual sex will survive because a lot of people think it feels good. Likewise, men and women parenting together has its advantages and is unlikely to disappear in this dystopic post-patriarchal world that you imagine. Patriarchy as a system of oppression is not necessary to sexuality, domestic intimacy, or the cherishing and rearing of kids. When I imagine (it’s hard to do) a post-patriarchal world, I see more opportunities for love, happiness, personal fulfillment, and spiritual satisfaction for men and women, one in which intimacy is not always tangled up in mastery.

    Mastery isn’t love and neither is paternalism.

  6. Pingback: Martin Kennedy, I Hereby Challenge You to a Duel « Tiny Cat Pants

  7. Mr. Kennedy, I don’t know where you live or what you see on a daily basis. But I have lived in some black communities, and I have dealt closely with people in these communities as a public servant. So I have a bit of first-hand experience about the impact that “this foreign policy and criminal code crap” has had on black folks. The success that most black people have had at maintaining loving families in reasonably stable environments– in spite of the structural hurdles many of them face– is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

    From where I’m sitting the questions you pose and the ideas you raise read like boilerplate conservative Pollyanna fuzz. Men can be as hard-working and decent as they want, but if their communities are overrun by the violent and debilitating effects of the illicit drug trade; if they have trouble finding gainful employment with which they can provide their families with adequate housing and health care; if they can’t keep their sons and daughters from being cast into the prison-industrial complex for youthful indiscretions; well, then, maybe everything won’t turn out shiny.

    Then again, this isn’t just a problem for black folks. That’s why what Aunt B. is saying hits home for me. The patriarchy doesn’t just hurt black folks and women. It rakes a lot of white men over the coals, too. What we need is government that is responsive to the needs of more than just a select few who happen to be mostly white, male, and wealthy. That can only happen if the vast majority of us reject the notion that being white, male, and wealthy entitles one to a share of the pie that leaves most of the rest of us fighting over crumbs (that notion is represented by the patriarchy). If we can somehow grow up enough to vote that kind of government into office, then maybe working hard and being decent will be enough to guarantee some stability and a chance at happiness for all men and women.

    While Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have surrounded themselves with advisers who don’t inspire a great deal of ‘hope’ for ‘change’ from me personally, I agree with Aunt B. that either of them reaching the White House will at least suggest possibilities. When you consider what we’ve had there for the last seven years– a man who was woefully incompetent at just about anything he ever tried, but was elevated to the highest office in our land thanks to his being wealthy, white, male, and well-connected– it’s hard to argue that continuing the patriarchal paradigm is good for any but those who’ve been direct beneficiaries of the Bush administration’s corruption.

  8. Right on, Bridgett. It reminds me of something Amanda Marcotte once said (that I always like to bring up) when she was talking about conservative opposition to gay marriage. She said that some people are terrified of gay marriage not for any arbitrary moral reasons, but because it represents an egalitarian model of relationships. That is totally at odds with the patriarchal default of male domination.

    I can say from experience, too, that egalitarian relationships rock.

  9. Yes, just what the black folks need – less patriarchy, fewer men having a daily impact on the lives of their children. The women folk? I would suggest that the vast majority of women would agree that the men in their lives enhance their lives.,/i>

    I can’t see how less patriarchy could do anything BUT create MORE men having a bigger daily impact on the lives of their children, and enhance the “enhancement” women feel men bring to their lives. I mean. Working as a team is generally more gratifying than competing and trying to beat the other into submission.

  10. I guess I can’t stop you’all from reading practically anything into what I wrote. Let’s keep it simple… the original post above is a “make-up” post because there were some differences revealed on a recent Obama – Hillary post. B was trying to say hey, let’s not get divided. Remember the fight against “patriarchy” unites us.

    It is human nature to blame other people, other things, and vague concepts, in the case of “partriarchy”, for one’s troubles and hardships. Remember though that “you are the change.”

    As far as the duel B… rotten fruit at 15 paces would work for me.

  11. I feel the need to say just a little more and then I’ll let this go. There seems to be a popular misconception among conservatives (or the more vocal ones, anyhow) that feminism is an inherently pessimistic way of looking at the world. Men bad, women good. That’s a pretty basic misunderstanding of what feminism as I understand it is all about.

    Here are some of the core assumptions as I see them — others may disagree, and that’s all to the good. Humans are basically good and want to live in a world free of hierarchy and coercive violence. Humans have the right to be treated justly by the communities that they live in and the right to be fully included as political, social, and economic actors in those communities. Humans have a right to live in a world where they have the opportunity to realize their talents, grow to their full intellectual and economic potential, and create happy, healthy, and independent lives. Humans have the right to love one another.

    Not a castrating knife in the whole of that, is there?

  12. I guess I can’t stop you’all from reading practically anything into what I wrote.

    Well you said:

    Blacks and women would be so much better off with less patriarchy? Fear not, with reproductive technology where it is I think you can begin to get rid of us altogether.

    I’m curious, how would YOU interpret that?

  13. Likewise:

    “less patriarchy, fewer men having a daily impact on the lives of their children.”

    Here you equate a reduction in patriarchy with a reduction in men’s ability to have a “daily impact” on the their kids. Therefore, you’re arguing that patriarchy underpins male parental rights. Is there a different way to read that?

    If your rhetoric isn’t accomplishing what you intend, that’s not always the fault of the audience.

  14. There seems to be a popular misconception among conservatives (or the more vocal ones, anyhow) that feminism is an inherently pessimistic way of looking at the world. Men bad, women good.

    You are right, bridgett. My religious schooling most definitely gave me that impression.

    I’m afraid it will take a long time to overcome that stereotype.

  15. Ha, ha, ha.

    I’m sorry, Ginger. I don’t mean to laugh. But of course the folks you’ve run into are going to try to drill it into young Christians’ heads that feminism is something wrong and evil. They have a lot invested in keeping things how they are.

  16. 1. Because you, dear ordinary white dude, don’t actually have a whole lot of power, not having enough money to generate it.

    2. Because we are the resistance and, as such, resist doing things.

    3. Because you’d have to catch me first and, really, if we’re going to run around your house, you chasing me, I could think of about five better ways that might end up than with me cleaning your house. Unless that’s a euphemism…

  17. But of course the folks you’ve run into are going to try to drill it into young Christians’ heads that feminism is something wrong and evil. They have a lot invested in keeping things how they are.

    Girrrl, you are so right about that.

    But srsly, that’s why I loved Ivy’s question about what the most “feminist” passage in the Bible is…the question alone would cause some people I’ve known to go into spasms (and not the good kind).

  18. It seems the concept of patriarchy is a function of one’s experience. Certainly in the Christan tradition we are told to call God, father. Now it is a mistake to impose gender on God because we probably all agree that God is not limited by gender. We also see many instances in scripture where traditional feminine attributes are used.

    I offer here a crucial distinction between how, I think, evangelicals (and muslims) view God and how Catholics view God… and by extension why the word patriarchy can mean different things to different people.

    My sense is the evangelicals see God as the judge. There are rules and God will render a decision – very impersonal. Muslims have no concept of God as father. In fact I think it would be blasphemy. God is master. The Catholic emphasis is on God as a loving father. Yes, he uses his rod and staff – one to chastise and the other to guide… but he loves us, wants what is best for us, and does what he does, or doesn’t do, out of true love.

    I can only imagine that feminists who do not like the concept of patriarchy are driven by a negative experience and understanding of that concept. Christianity did wonderful things for women. Before that Judaism improved the lot of women.

    I have no problem with the concept of patriarchy even as I recognize the reality of very bad men. My own father worked very hard for many years to provide for a large family. His work was often boring and tedious – as much work is. He treated my mother well. My mother had power and influence and respect, both from my father and her sons. The notion that he was part of some privledged segment of society is just laughable and a bit offensive.

  19. Christianity did wonderful things for women. Before that Judaism improved the lot of women.

    past tense being key in both instances. long past, even. centuries, at least.

    religion, once it’s established enough to become “mainstream” (about the point where it ceases being called a “cult” and starts being called a “religion”, in fact), appears to be an inherently conservative phenomenon. as a general rule, it resists social change in every instance it can, and argues against it in every instance it cannot. (cf. the entire history of the roman catholic church. when was it they apologized for Galileo, again?)

    the exceptions to this rule seem to universally be small, minority religions not yet mainstream, and especially newly invented ones — but not even all of those, not in every instance at least.

    occasionally, individual members of a majority religion will use their power and authority in the religious hierarchy to oppose the political position of the religion. many a catholic clergyman has distinguished himself this way over the centuries (just to keep focusing on that church), but the organization as a whole is never swayed from conservatism, once mainstreamed.

    i submit that the reason social progressives and proponents of social change often happen to be atheists is that religion wants them to shut up, sit down, and quit trying to change things. in fact, by this argument, it’s a bit surprising to find social conservatives who aren’t religious.

    so, the point: i don’t think that feminists want to dismantle patriarchy because they dislike the tenets and concepts of christianity. i think they dislike those concepts (insofar as they do, those of them that do) because christianity intensely wants for them to quit trying to change how society functions.

    (not that i, personally, think “patriarchy” will ever be dismantled. unless i’ve badly misunderstood what feminists in general mean by that word, i’m convinced that the social phenomenon that gets referred to as “patriarchy” is unavoidable, even necessary. but that goes back to my general lack of a feminism-to-english dictionary and resultant communication difficulties… and besides, even if it can’t be changed, that’s no reason to oppose people trying. more reason not to bother, if anything.)

  20. Well, then, Ex, it sucks to be you. Do you also worry about Sasquatches attacking us and stealing our pets? Or is your fretting about mythological possibilities limited only to some hangup about women taking over the world and turning you into some kind of worker drone?

    Martin, then go ahead and be offended, even though no one here is suggesting that, in your particular family, things must have sucked.

    And spare me the whole monotheism has been good for women argument. As compared to what? My people weren’t better off under Christianity than they were left to our own gods, period, and my women, especially, saw their lives and rights extremely curtailed with the arrival of Christianity (though to be clear, I’m not arguing that pagan northern Europe was some feminist utopia with gender equality, just that pagan northern European women had standing and rights they didn’t have after the Conversion).

    Has Christianity progressed in such a way that Christian women are now better off than they used to be? Hell yes.

    Are there some, even quite a few, women whose lives individually improved when they and their families became Christian? Yes.

    It doesn’t excuse stripping people of their cultures and making them convert or die.

  21. B, stop already. You’re getting silly. I am doing all this for your benefit… you’ll thank me for it.

  22. I feel ya., B. I think we had a discussion about this very concept a few days ago, only it was about another religion. I’d say that Christianity itself hasn’t been the real impetus of change. It is more likely that larger cultural and social changes have resulted in the general improvement of women’s lot in life, and that Christianity has been forced to adapt to those changes (wherever such forces of change have been so powerful). What you point out about northern Europe could easily be said about many indigenous American cultures; the lot of most women in these cultures (those few who survived the genocide, anyway) decreased markedly under the thumb of a predominantly ‘Christian’ culture. Likewise, Christianity provided few blessings for enslaved women of African descent in the U.S., even after such women ‘converted.’

    I could go on with the negative, but I will say that I believe the social and cultural evolutions that dragged Christianity along were good for the religion as a whole; it gave individuals (if not orthodox bureaucracies) the chance to leave the Dark Ages behind and embrace the teachings and example of Christ. That’s good for women and everyone else, too. If only we could get some of our more prominent Christians to get with that program.

  23. Martin, when do you suppose that will be? After I’ve suffered some kind of head injury and have lost my ability to call you out when you’re being an asshole. You have some kids. Go do shit for their benefit. I, myself, already have male relatives whose patronizing efforts to teach me lessons have to be endured for the sake of family peace.

    You want to treat me like a friend, fine. You want to treat me like some little woman you know better for her than she does, don’t bother.

  24. Pingback: Go Visit Your Auntie and A Question For You « mango hedgehog

Comments are closed.