Recently, a few real world interactions with women got me thinking about how oblivious we as Women can be to the reality that Patriarchy and Woman-Hating informs every move we make and every thought we have.
Hopefully, readers of this blog have already accepted that Patriarchy damages every last one of us, that this damage influences how we act and who we are, and that we should work to correct this damage, if only to live life as honestly as possible under Patriarchy.
Another way of coping with this damage is to pretend that the damage is avoidable or to neutralize/sanitize it. In other words, to lie to ourselves and pretend that we control how Patriarchy damages us.
If Patriarchy is avoidable, then wouldn’t it all behoove us to avoid it? If there was an anti-Patriarchy Spray we could use to sanitize woman-hating imagery, why wouldn’t we?
Well, some of us do, apparently.
So, I have a friend who is a Democrat and lives in the same city as I do, and is from the same city as I am. An ardent, passionate Democrat. I have much respect for this friend. While watching the Vice Presidential Debate last week, she said “Joe Biden is pimp slapping Paul Ryan.” Hearing this made me sigh – Pimp Slapping is violence by Men against Women that they exploit. There is a rich and sordid history attached to the expression, all of which is rooted in Male violence against Women.
This is the history of Male violence against Women.
I pointed this out to my friend, who quite defensively said that in her culture, the expression does not mean Male violence against Women. It simply means beating “someone” severely. So, a Woman can pimp slap a Man.
In Her Culture, Pimp Slapping Does Not Mean Male Violence Against Women.
No doubt, I said. Except that the expression itself is rooted in Male Violence against Women. And as a Democrat, rooting for Biden, she employed is favorably, as in, it’s good that Biden pimp slapped Ryan.
I have other friends who talk about “whiny Bitches” quite a lot. I wince and cringe and correct. They say “I’m reclaiming it.”
Reclamation! Liberation by Neutralizing One Word At A Time.
Another example stems from a workshop my girlfriend and I recently attended. Much discussion at this workshop ensued about sexuality and feminism, and a Woman who attended took great umbrage at the idea that her pro-BDSM, pro-pornography views were rooted in misogyny and that her family would be influenced by these views.
“My family is raised in a patriarchy-free zone.”
A Patriarchy-Free Zone.
A Patriarchy-Free Zone.
A Patriarchy-Free Bubble!
She believed, passionately, that she has CONTROL over the effects of Patriarchy. That she, lone woman, is powerful enough to shield her family from the damaging effects of societal structures DESIGNED to be insidious and to negatively impact every aspect of Women.
WOW! That Woman should be President. That Woman should teach us what she knows so we ALL can live in our own individual Bubbles of Women-Loving Space.
And, of course, we have the “Feminist” Porn Consumers, who are similar to my Bubble friend, and the Feminist Porn Producers. Because Porn can occur in a bubble space that is “For Feminists, By Feminists.” Oh, and you can have Feminist Porn Awards, to recognize the great, liberating work done by Feminist Pornographers.
Except, of course, there is no Opt-In to, or Opt-Out of, Patriarchy.
In an Opt-In system, a Person must voluntarily decide to participate in an activity. So, for example, some states have laws that require consumers to affirmatively Opt-In to receiving telemarketing phone calls. If you don’t Opt-In, you CANNOT receive telemarketing calls.
Opt-In only works if you have an actual choice as to whether or not to participate in an activity. And even then, it doesn’t work well (although consumer advocates prefer Opt-Ins to Opt-Outs, because the Opt-In at least has the illusion of control).
Living in Patriarchy is not an Opt-In system. You cannot Opt-In to this thing that is so insidious, that we are born into, that many of us never even consider in our lives. If there is an Opt-In, it happens when you are born – and of course, no one “chooses” to be born. You just are born, soaking in Patriarchy.
So, no. There is no Opt-In.
So what about an Opt-Out? Can you really create a Patriarchy-Free Bubble?
In an Opt-Out system, you, the individual, need to take an affirmative action to remove yourself from an activity. So, by way of analogy, consumers can Opt-Out of receiving telemarketing calls by registering their telephone numbers with the National Do Not Call Registry. That is, the DEFAULT is that you WILL participate in an activity, and only through an affirmative act on your part can you (hopefully) decline participation (although anyone who had registered on the Do Not Call Registry probably knows how poorly it works).
So, is Patriarchy an Opt-Out System?
Well, for certain the default is that you WILL participate in Patriarchy. Patriarchy is all around us.
Can you make a choice to escape from Patriarchy?
No. You can pretend that Pimp Slap means something other than violence against Women by Men, and you can pretend that your home is a Patriarchy-Free Zone, but these are defense mechanisms, wishes, hopes, dreams. The fantasy of an Opt-Out – the escape hatch – is just a trick that allows you to believe that there is an escape if only, if only, if only.
“Porn isn’t bad when it’s made by Us. BDSM is feminist when we do it. Misogynystic language is ok when I say it because reasons.”
It is understandable that Women want to control, to manage, to decide what happens to us. I get it. Try to “reclaim” slurs like Whore, Bitch, Slut. It’s “empowering.” Sure. If you are getting objectified anyway, do it “on your own terms.” Feminist porn is not like “the really bad porn.”
Except it doesn’t work. Pretending words aren’t rooted in Male Violence against Women, pretending that you can create a Patriarchy-Free Bubble, making “feminist” porn – these are an individual coping strategies. They do not represent a path to liberation of the class of Women – because in order to “work,” we’d all have to lie to ourselves and all decide to believe the delusions (kind of like Gender Identity).
You can live your life in a bubble, if you choose. You can also develop a drinking problem. But please don’t expect the rest of us to go along with your delusions or pretend that you aren’t an alcoholic.
The least you can do for Women is to be honest.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: A feminist blogger recently wrote an excellent post about not lying to yourself as you can. Please read it.