Tag Archives: patriarchy

I am afraid, or, 2017: Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here

I am afraid on the basis of all of my identities. That fear is not just of Trump himself, but of unchecked Republican control of the executive and legislative branches of our government, and likely soon the top level of the judicial branch as well.

As a black person, I’m afraid that Republican power will continue to deny that my and my people’s lives matter. That there will be no push from the federal government to hold police who kill unarmed black men and women accountable. That we will continue incarcerating absurd proportions of black and brown communities. That the fact that a businessman who was openly supported by the KKK was elected will give racists and white supremacists a larger platform, a stronger foothold, or even just make them more likely to take action in support of their beliefs.

As a woman, particularly as a sexually active woman of childbearing age who does not want to become a mother now or ever, I am worried about what full Republican leadership at the federal level means for reproductive rights. I have an IUD right now, that was made possible by the stipulation in Obamacare that requires all insurance companies to cover the cost of all forms of birth control. If (it pains me too much to say when) Obamacare is repealed, I will be required to pay for the medically necessary removal of my current IUD in 2018 and for the cost of inserting a new one, which can be upwards of $1000, if I choose to stick with this birth control option that has worked very well for me. If I choose to go with a lower cost, but also easier to misuse option, like the pill, I am scared that I’ll mess up and forget to take it one day, or forget to bring it with me on a trip, and then be faced with a potential unwanted pregnancy under an anti-abortion federal government. I am afraid of catcallers and other predatory men feeling emboldened by a president who has bragged about grabbing women by the pussy.

As a queer person, I am afraid that Trump himself doesn’t care about us, as he has released no policy plans for LGBT rights or HIV/AIDS. But I know how anti-LGBT the Republican party generally is: 2016 has seen pushback on marriage equality and adoption rights for same-sex couples, bathroom bills that have devastating consequences beyond just where we pee, endorsements of gay conversion therapy for minors, and a resurgence of “religious freedom” bills designed to allow businesses the ‘right’ to refuse to serve us. Trans women, especially trans women of color, are being killed every week in this country, and I have no hope that they will be protected under our new president-elect’s leadership. In fact, as the people who oppose QTPOCs very existence see how strong their numbers are, it’s hard to do anything other than expect the violence to get worse.

And speaking of the twisting of “religious freedom,” as a non-Christian, I am worried that a conservative majority in all branches of the federal government de facto pushes church and state closer together. I have extended family members who are Muslim (of the black power, Nation of Islam variety, but that didn’t matter to folks who abused and discriminated against them post-9/11). I am afraid for their safety in the red states of Georgia and Florida under a Trump administration.

As the daughter and granddaughter and niece and sister of people who have worked in the casino industry, literally for Trump himself and/or for people like him, I am worried that Republican control means even further erosion of what little safety net is there for our senior citizens who didn’t work fancy desk jobs with 401ks or pensions and now depend on Social Security and Medicare to literally feed, clothe, house, and care for themselves. I am afraid of what will happen to my father and my grandmother. I am worried that people who don’t make living wages will lose the scraps of support they are currently able to receive from programs like SNAP, TANF, and Medicaid, and won’t be able to literally feed, clothe, house, and care for their children. I am afraid that this administration will do nothing but widen the gap between the rich and the poor in this country, and further marginalize the voices of those being trampled upon.

As the daughter of a woman who has held down a full-time teaching job through multiple rounds of chemotherapy in order to keep her healthcare coverage, I am afraid that people will literally die as a result of this election. Obama was able to bring health insurance (albeit imperfect) to hundreds of thousands of people who did not have it before, and made it so that people couldn’t be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions. I am afraid that if my mom gets too sick to work, a post-Obamacare America will be one in which she cannot be insured, and my family will have to watch a disease she beat once before overcome her because we can’t afford the treatments.

I feel America’s distaste for people like me, a distaste that ranges from a lack of empathy to a straight-up hatred, writ large this morning, feel it in my bones and in my spirit more heavily than I’ve ever felt it before. This place was built by us, but not for us, and is about to be run by people who aggressively don’t support us. I feel unsafe and unwanted here on the deepest of levels. If I joke or even more genuinely consider fleeing, don’t tell me it’s my responsibility to fight through and fix this. I didn’t break it. I don’t know how to heal the divide between rural America and urban America, between white America and diverse America, between people who legitimately support Trump’s platform and ideas and people like me. I don’t know if it can be healed. I am not hopeful this morning.

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The question becomes, Whose femininity do we seek to question and most obsessively seek to uncover its “dirty secrets”? Are other women’s beauty so readily dissected and probed in private boundaries made public? Whose beauty is a deceit, needing to be uncovered, and whose is seen as simply an extension of an inherently beautiful and awe inspiring womanhood? And finally, what does it say about the way we view not only Black women, both cis and trans, but women across the board? What does it say about how mistrustful we are of our own femininity and unsure of our own standing in the context of a patriarchal gaze. When womanhood is so readily deconstructed by the very purveyors of its infinite power and mystery, what hope is there for a feminist revolution?

In a society in which womanhood, blackness, and trans womanhood are all pathologized we would do well to collectively challenge hierarchies. What would it look like if we as women collectively pooled our best cards and challenged patriarchy for the grand kitty? How do we expand the definition of womanhood to serve our lives and not the whims of a world that sees us as inherently less than human cut out dolls? Perhaps we can take the bra off womanhood so she breathes a little easier, knock out the wall, and make the powder room a little roomier. Its 2014 and we all need space to fix our makeup and fluff our Lena Horne inspired curls, to take over the World.

–Shaadi Devereaux, Rollersets & Realness: Black Womanhood Defined as Drag Performance

(via knowledge equals black power)

While I appreciate the carrots that the President continues to throw out to his liberal base, it is clear that Black women on the whole are being overlooked and actively dismissed by this administration. I say this, not in an attempt to set racial concerns at odds with LGBTQ issues. LGBTQ people are Black and Brown, too. But robust attention to discrimination against queer-identified people does not constitute a racial justice program.

And a program that focuses only on boys and men of color does active harm and injustice to Black and Brown women and girls. If President Obama wants his political legacy to be that he cared the least about the demographic that supported him the most, it should be clear that Black women are not going to lie down and take it. If our votes count, that means our issues ought to count, too. And this is why today, more than 1000 women and girls of color, including me, have signed a letter urging the President to include women and girls of color in all forthcoming My Brother’s Keeper initiatives.

When it comes to addressing racial justice issues, President Obama’s personal identifications with Blackness take center stage, trumping substantial attention to Black women as a political constituency. I used to believe that Obama’s personal racial identifications were powerful, that having a President who had experienced racism personally would help him commit to doing something about it when he had the opportunity to do so. But what has become apparent is that President Obama’s personal understanding of racism is deeply tethered to his position as both Black and male. The effect is that his personal experience has limited his vision of racial justice to just one gender.

–Dr. Brittney Cooper, “Not going to lie down and take it”: Black women are being overlooked by this president

(via the dopest ethiopienne)

Modesty culture is a ruse. More specifically, it’s a ruse that a man has the right to sexually violate a woman if she is not modestly dressed. It’s a ruse because women are not assaulted based on how they are dressed. We are assaulted because we are women living under patriarchy. It does not matter whether a woman wears a long potato sack or if she is nude. She is not safe from victimization so long as there are patriarchal men.

So then what is the purpose of modesty culture if it does not indeed protect women from sexual violence?

Modesty culture is a distraction. It allows women with internalized misogyny to trick themselves into feeling safer than they actually are. It allows folks to put down women and girls. And it allows male violence to be excused as it argues that it’s inevitable and out of their control.

Modesty culture does a lot. But it doesn’t protect or uplift women.

However, modesty culture has other implications. It promotes the idea that women do not own their own bodies. Our bodies are instead held captive by misogynist notions and by every individual man who has eyes to view us.

–Danielle, “On Rihanna Teaching Me to Say No to Modesty Culture” | One Black Girl. Many Words.

When you’re a trans woman you are made to walk this very fine line, where if you act feminine you are accused of being a parody and if you act masculine, it is seen as a sign of your true male identity. And if you act sweet and demure, you’re accused of reinforcing patriarchal ideas of female passivity, but if you stand up for your own rights and make your voice heard, then you are dismissed as wielding male privilege and entitlement. We trans women are made to teeter on this tightrope, not because we are transsexuals, but because we are women. This is the same double bind that forces teenage girls to negotiate their way between virgin and whore, that forces female politicians and business women to be aggressive without being seen as a bitch, and to be feminine enough not to emasculate their alpha male colleagues, without being so girly as to undermine their own authority.

–Julia Serano, Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive, p 28-9

(via spinsterette)

If you were a computer-loving male child who took a lot of shit from your peers, I suspect you heard something similar from the adults in your life. Maybe it was “Sure, things are bad now, but when you’re a little bit older, women will LOVE guys like you!” Or maybe it was “That kid who makes fun of you now will be working at a gas station when you run a big fancy computer company and marry a supermodel!” If you were once young, nerdy and male, it is not unlikely that your future sense of self-worth was funded with a non-consensual IOU from the world’s women. It’s taken me a long time, but at this point I genuinely believe that much of this “GEEKS SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH” rhetoric is little more than patriarchy’s bespectacled wingman. It excuses the pain that systems of power exert on children by promising little boys future dominion over little girls. It is deeply and massively fucked.

What (Else) Can Men Do? Grow The Fuck Up. — Medium

(via because i am a woman)

Selfies aren’t the problem. The problem is a patriarchal culture of judgment that is garbage for most women. And the ongoing conversation about how young women are damaging each other with their compulsive narcissism is a reprehensible red herring designed to deflect cultural responsibility for the harm done to them by a centuries-old cultural system of oppression—and instead task them with the blame.

Shakesville: Selfies, Again

(via because i am a woman)

Rather than attacking the institution of masculinity itself, several recent campaigns have attempted a sort of masculinity triage, trying to eliminate violence against women, while still flattering men with the label of protector. These campaigns, such as “real men don’t buy girls,”“my strength isn’t for hurting,”are various incarnations of “how would you feel if someone said that to your mother /sister /girlfriend,”and have proven to be enormously popular, achieving prodigious re-blogs, conferences, and media airtime.

They are, by many metrics, successful, and have gotten institutions long silent on the rights of women to speak up. I believe we are the better for them, but I also believe that they do not go far enough, and we all must, as feminists, radicals and progressives, push against our comfort zones.

In these campaigns, the masculine mystique is still very present, albeit a kinder, gentler version. By flattering men’s strength and asking them to use it to protect women, we once again place men in the driver’s seat of culture, asking for them to renounce violence and be less vile guardians.

Common to all these messages is that men CAN rape, hurt, buy women, catcall or what-have-you, but they SHOULDN’T. Men, we are told, shouldn’t hurt women, not because of any intrinsic rights women may have, but because other men might do it to THEIR women, and that would be awful.

Male privilege is re-defined, but not negated, in a way that leaves masculinity unchallenged and still dominant. The wonderful, complex, and multi-faceted language of generations of queer, trans, intersectionalist and sex-positive feminism and human-rights dialogues is thrown aside completely in favor of a request that straight, cis-gendered men join the rest of the world at the big-kids table.

Again, this isn’t to say that these campaigns haven’t done good, but rather, that they should go farther. There is certainly something to be said about using the language of the patriarchy to subvert the patriarchy, or of using privilege to end privilege, but it’s not clear that’s what’s being done. Rather, it looks as if men are given a privileged place in the feminist movement, one where they are praised for simply not being terrible and their much-vaunted power remains intact.

The Language of Dude Feminism 

(via because i am a woman)

When men feel inconsequential, it’s easier to blame women than it is to confront patriarchy-the true source of the diminishment and lack of meaning in so many men’s lives. When men feel unloved and disconnected, it’s easier to accuse women of not loving them well enough than it is to consider men’s own alienation from life. It’s easier to think of women as keeping men from the essence of their own lives than it is to see how men’s participation in patriarchy can suffocate and kill the life within themselves. It’s easier to theorize about powerful, devouring mothers than to confront the reality of patriarchy.

Beneath the massive denial of men’s power and responsibility and its projection onto women is an enormous pool of rage, resentment, and fear. Rather than look at patriarchy and their place within it, many men will beat, rape, torture, murder, and oppress women, children, and one another. They will wage mindless war and offer themselves up for the slaughter, chain themselves to jobs and work themselves to numbed exhaustion as if their lives had no value or meaning beyond controlling or being controlled or defending against control, and content themselves with half-lives of confused, lost deprivation. What men lack, women didn’t take from them, and it isn’t up to women to give it back.

–Allan G. Johnson

(via spinsterette)