Feminist No More
For a couple of years now I have been identifying as a Feminist. How could I not when Patriarchy was granting me seemingly unlimited privileges off of the oppression of Femme's everywhere?
During a recent stint of treatment, I was asked to list a few adjectives that come to mind about women and men from my childhood. This was the easiest question I had answered in a long time. Here was my exact answer:
Women Are Strong
Women Are Hardworking
Women Are Creative
Women Are Empathetic
Women Are Everything
Men Are Protectors
Men Are Providers
At first, looking at this list I was filled with pride at an accidental feminist upbringing, despite my parents upholding Patriarchy in our household. Then I realized the true meaning behind what I had written. I was saying that women had to be everything, while men simple had to be protectors and providers, the epitome of Patriarchy.
The definition of Patriarchy, according to the incredible bell hooks is "Patriarchy is a political-social system that insists that males are inherently dominating, superior to everything and everyone deemed weak, especially females, and endowed with the right to dominate and rule over the weak and to maintain that dominance through various forms of psychological terrorism and violence." imaginenoborders.org/pdf/zines/UnderstandingPatriarchy
Men are taught that our role as men is to be Protectors and Providers, and by doing so we are dominant. We know best. Survival is our challenge, and ours alone. Human survival is because once upon a time a man protected us. Women are companions, sidekicks, according to most religions, an afterthought.
Patriarchy impacts ever aspect of our lives, from education, workforce, gender roles, family structures, love, and everything else, all around us. If we believe, as a society, that a man must be the provider, then why would they not get paid more? If we believe that men are the protectors than why would men not be the decision makers in homes? If women are there to just birth other men then why shouldn't men control women's health? These are not assumptions, these are realities, worldwide. Even in places where women are far more educated than men they are still paid less, and accumulating far less wealth, and this just gets worse the more intersectional the women are. Again, this is a reality.
The part that really ticks people off is the following: what happens when men are unable to be providers and protectors? And what happens when women are not going with the program? And, if men are giving so much to the world by providing and protecting women and those weaker than they are, then what is their reward?
Surprisingly, the answer is very simple. Men can not be providers and protectors, and thus are in a constant cycle of failure due to their inability to protect those around them from everything. Within our capitalistic society, very few households are able to survive on a single paycheck, so men can not be the sole providers. During our webinar last Saturday, we discussed how this makes men angry, and fills them with rage. As a protector, you do not go and cry about your failures or seek help, instead you react violently, because men are supposed to be aggressive. That aggression is predominantly targeted towards women and children, providing us with the following terrifying statistics of 1 in 4 women having to deal with Domestic Violence. This violence is justified entirely within Patriarchy, after all, men know best for our survival. That brings me to the final question. Why would men sacrifice so much of their lives for humanity? What's in it for them? Patriarchal sex, and ownership of everyone weaker. From the youngest of ages, men are taught that they have a right to women's bodies through sex and/or marriage. We are taught that to be a man you need to F**K, a word that's used for violence in every case, and sex at the same time. Then we're surprised when men react violently when women refuse to give them what society has promised them. Here are a few examples. 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime and almost half as many men, most of whom are sexually assaulted by other men. That is the reality of the Patriarchy.
So, why am I saying that I am feminist no more? If anything, I should stand more solidly behind that label. I stand more solidly behind feminism today, and always, but I can no longer claim the title Feminist when I, as a male, will still benefit from the oppression caused by Patriarchy, regardless of how loudly I speak out about it. How can I put myself on the same level as a feminist who will suffer due to this oppression and can never turn their back on it? I can not. So, instead, I am going to start saying that I am advocating for feminism, because until Patriarchy is dismantled and I am no longer benefiting from it then, and only then, can I truly say I am a feminist.
Why is this distinction important for me to make? Because without this distinction I am denying my complicity in this system in which I will continue to benefit, and denying the experiences of those that are impacted everyday by it.
I've written many lists for Feminism and Patriarchy, but I'm going to repeat some of the main things on here:
1) Learn about the Patriarchy
2) Understand your male Privilege
3) Do something about it, for yourself and everyone else.