Saturday 26 April 2008
Patriarchy (part 1)
[Edited to add (05/01/2008): I was just trying to mean "a withdrawal from reality into fantasy" by using the word 'schizophrenia', basically, BTW. I didn't mean using that word in any kind of offensive way, but I can understand why some people would get upset by it. I think I was somehow searching for a word that would describe, metaphorically speaking, the way I felt about patriarchy and its social influences on people and so that was the word I came up with. However, I now understand that using the word 'schizophrenia', even in a metaphorical context, may still seem offensive to some people but I'm leaving this post as it is so that the following comment thread (containing reactions to my usage of that word) makes sense.]
It is something we're living in. Something that is ever-omnipresent. We live and we breathe in it.
There is not one single hour, not one single minute, not one single second, without it existing.
It is what this world is ruled by. It is also what underlies the oppressive system that is called capitalism, among so many other systems of oppression. It is what is at the root of all systems of oppression as a matter of fact, whether political, economic, social, sexual, emotional, psychological, etc.
Yet, it is not visible to most people living on this earth. And that is the most painful part: it not being acknowledged as (still) existing by most people.
I used to to be amongst that majority of people. I used to be ignorant of its existence. I used to believe that we were somehow "post-feminism", that women were now equal to men. . .
. . .until that day. That day I "woke up" and noticed it. The oppression of women and girls. I saw it raw, undisguised, inhuman and also searing, distressing, upsetting, heart-breaking.
It had been there all along. I just hadn't noticed it. The oppression of women, the unfair system keeping them as a class in a position of inferiority to men, had been there all along. I just hadn't noticed it before because it had been hidden, somehow away from public view and pushed more toward the private sphere in people's lives.
In this patriarchal world, I walk around the streets, places, my workplace, my home or my college and I see all those people not knowing that patriarchy (still) exists.
Sometimes I find myself fidgeting, worrying, walking back and forth, wondering "When will people (especially women) will ever see it is there?". On the other hand, I absolutely don't blame them. I used to be in the same position as them, i.e. not knowing it is there.
Most of the time, the only moment I get peace in mind is when I sleep so I don't have to think about it then, as it's haunting me.
It's haunting me like remembering the voices of ex-boyfriends who abused me.
There is something I remember Gail Dines saying at the end of one of her speeches when I was at the Wheelock College anti-pornography conference in March 2007. It was:
"We are very, very close to losing it all. There is a point at which it is very hard to pull back on. What's going on in environmental destruction is very similar to cultural destruction. There is a point where it is over. People are too robotic. They have lost what it means to be human and they are thoroughly colonized by the corporate pimps. This has to stop. We have to fight back. It is not in my nature to play dead. I will fight to the last breathing word. And you will have to join in, because unless we do something, there is nobody else who is going to do it."
I'll say, it is not in my nature to play dead either. I am here and I will speak and carry on speaking.
Let me talk about that private sphere in people's lives.
In it, most men are watching a certain kind of images to which they masturbate. And those images are mainstream, popular in male culture.
In those images, women are portrayed as being worthless "fuck-objects" who are being degraded, humiliated, roughly penetrated in every possible way, choked, bruised, slapped, handled callously, hurt, ejaculated upon, etc (the list goes on) while they are also being portrayed as either saying they enjoy all these things being done to them or eagerly seeking all this kind of insensitive and debasing treatment.
The day I noticed those images in a way I had never noticed them before, I saw the oppression of women raw, undisguised, inhuman and also searing, distressing, upsetting, heart-breaking.
Those images, among other things, made me notice how much I was living in patriarchy.
Similarly, the day I paid attention to the fact that my abusive ex-boyfriends had often been using those images and I connected the dots, I saw how the ways I have been oppressed had been enforced by patriarchy.
Patriarchy is a totalitarian and reactionary oppressive system. It colonizes us as women. It trains us to "please men", to be "sexy" by fitting male-defined "feminine" roles and appearances.
Patriarchy is not inevitable. The root cause of patriarchy is gender socialization, i.e. what it means to be "masculine" and what it means to be "feminine" and how we are trained to "fit" those constraining and constricting roles.
Patriarchy is also what engineered these environmental and cultural destructions that Gail Dines mentioned.
Patriarchy is what makes people become too robotic, what makes people lose what it means to be human.
Patriarchy is the state of schizophrenia. Now, by "schizophrenia", I mean to speak in the figurative sense, NOT the literal one.
"Schizophrenia", metaphorically speaking, to me, means a withdrawal from reality into "fantasy", a refusal to engage with reality.
I have chosen to be wide awake. I have chosen to refuse living into the "this-isn't-happening-we're-post-feminism-women-are-now-equal-to-men" fantasy realm that patriarchy wants to keep us asleep into.
But because patriarchy is the state of schizophrenia, the few people who are fully awake are (metaphorically speaking) accused of being "schizophrenic" as they notice this oppressive system.
What I mean by that is that most people on this earth who cannot see the truth, i.e. that we live in patriarchy, accuse radical feminists and pro-radfems of "talking nonsense" or "not knowing", etc (the list goes on).
I have chosen to face reality and firmly hold onto my humanity, even though most people say that the reality I see is somehow "not reality".
I can see patriarchy. It is deeply entrenched within our society. Sometimes, I wish I were able to alert all women and girls out there that we are living in this male-supremacist system.
I wish I could tell them all about the risks we take within patriarchy, how much we have been so perniciously trained, socialized, brainwashed by this male-supremacist system and that we are very close to losing it all.
Unfortunately, radical feminism gets little or no malestream media attention, unless to be misrepresented, vilified and lied about by liberals and members of other political wings.
As a rad fem friend of mine said, I don't believe it is because radical feminism is somehow "wrong" or "evil" or anything like that (as detractors would have us believe).
It is rather because radical feminism is so revolutionary and progressive that it is threatening not only to the patriarchal status quo but also to every single other political faction that calls itself revolutionary or progressive while expecting to preserve the same basic unfair hierarchies.
In this world we're living in, I walk around the streets, places, my workplace, my home or my college and I KNOW that patriarchy still exists and is ever-omnipresent, dangerous, ominous.
I can see the oppression of women raw, undisguised, inhuman and also searing, distressing, upsetting, heart-breaking.
I can see that women are not perceived as human beings by many men.
I see women being objectified by many men and this inhuman objectification being perceived as commonplace in this soon-to-become completely robotic society.
As I'm firmly holding onto my humanity in this patriarchy we're living in, I can see so many forms of abuse happening and all the proofs that those horrible things are happening.
Because I am wide awake and have chosen to face reality, it is painful.
But I am glad I know about the fact that we still live in patriarchy as it makes me able to speak out about that fact and all the harms and oppressions that patriarchy caused, causes and will cause.
It is not in my nature to play dead and I will not withdraw from reality into fantasy.
Like other radical feminists, I seek the abolition of patriarchy.
The oppression of women now occurs in their personal lives and I believe that the personal is political.
The unbearable patriarchal system has to be stopped before it's too late. We have to stand up, speak out and fight back.
Postscript: Dunno when I will write "Patriarchy (part 2)" but I will someday. . .