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Mar 01 2007

Mission statement revitalization programme, part two

boots_highwire2.jpg
Today’s unrelated Kooky South Austin photo: All That Remains of the Drunken Aerialists. South Congress Ave, February 2007

What Patriarchy Ain’t

Nothing.

[Enjoy Part One: How the Blame Got Its Name]

64 comments

1 ping

  1. MikeWC

    Including this blog?

  2. Twisty

    That’s right. As somebody suggested in a recent thread, no patriarchy, no feminism.

  3. Orange

    I need to disagree with the first paragraph on theoretical grounds: I believe that roly-poly bugs and moss are not part of the patriarchy. Nor are volcanoes.

    (You can’t have a post without someone, somewhere, disagreeing with it, can you?)

  4. Meredith

    Orange, have you read Sontag’s The Volcano Lover? Because, spot on. Volcanoes are actually like passionate, oppressed women.

  5. BubbasNightmare

    I’m not sure why, but in this particular case Twisty’s ever-eloquent posting reminds me of Peter O’Toole screaming “NO PRISONERS!” whilst in flowing white imama and robe.

    Just an image…

  6. Rob

    Very essential.

    Watch the stock exchange have a meltdown.

  7. BubbasNightmare

    Dammit. That should have been kaffiya, not imama. He was in Saudi Arabia, not Iran. My bad.

    Lesson: never trust a single source of information.

  8. vera

    Just as I suspected.

  9. Lipstick-and-Birk-Wearing Momma

    I agree. The partiarchy is an environment that I cannot escape. It is a family of origin of sorts.

    Defining myself as a feminist requires me to define myself in a negative manner–creating a negative mother complex. I am anything but “too feminine” (as defined by the patriarchy). At its extreme, this complex causes other women to ruthlessly ban feminity in the workplace (a la pregnant bellies not allowed or a complete prohibition against reproduction). This makes me feel schizophrenic because I am a woman, wife, mother, friend, etc.

    The patriarchy gives me a negative father complex, too. I distrust authority (patriarchal institutions). The patriarchy controls resources (employment), so I have to decide how to “play the game.” It’s the only game in town. Do I wear panty hose, strive for the statue couch (LOL!), etc???

    I’ve got issues!

  10. Lipstick-and-Birk-Wearing Momma

    That should read “strive for a status couch.” Who knew that it was the couch that gave a person status? How many other unwritten rules have I missed?

    I can’t use the edit feature, dangit.

  11. norbizness

    You mean the call’s coming from inside the house? Edward Norton and Brad Pitt are the same guy? John Vernon is Mr. Big in I’m Gonna Get You Sucka?

  12. vera

    Getting a head start on the discussion that’s sure to ensue: Just because the patriarchy trains us from birth to perceive all through the eyes it gives us, does not mean a frame-breaking experience is impossible.

    I had mine back in college, when I read The Women’s Room. I got to the part where Val becomes a separatist, and as I read I understood, along with the narrator — this is true; I have always known this. And I went right down the drain, never to return to non-blissful ignorance.

  13. alphabitch

    It’s not as easy as you think to get a pair of shoes to hang over the wire like that. Never mind how I know this.

  14. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Here at your gov’t-funded space agency, it used to be curtains. You had the power if your office had curtains.

    Now we’re so underfunded no one has curtains, no one wears suits (except when they have to attend a funeral) and no one gives much of a fig leaf what anyone else wears, except for some throwbacks.

    Oops, there is one group of Sneetches remaining. The rest of us plebes joke about how our hips are too wide to work for this group, or our heels aren’t high enough, or we don’t wear enough eyeliner. They give themselves all manner of airs and graces, but we make ruthless fun of them.

    I can’t decide which group is more messed up.

  15. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    Lipstick-and-Birk-Wearing-Momma: I thought you meant “Strive for a status Coach.” As in, bag.

    Hey, it made sense to me.

  16. Spinning Liz

    My name is Patriarchy, king of kings: Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!

  17. the stripper...

    This site is pure genius. So glad I found such a valuable resource of wit and information. Love it…

  18. vera

    Spinning Liz, I love it! Now I can go off to work for the Man with my heart a little lighter.

  19. Lipstick-and-Birk-Wearing Momma

    HP, a Coach bag makes sense, too. I do own one Coach bag, which was a Christmas present. Do I get my feminist card revoked? This bag goes nicely with my Birk mary janes. LOL!

    I apologize to Edith, in advance, for the Jung references. Maybe Edith doesn’t like Jung because it’s part of the patriarchy. These references, however, gave me a framework to organize my thoughts.

  20. cycles

    I grew up with the urban legend that drug dealers flung shoes over telephone wires in order to show where you could buy drugs. This was during the Reagan drug paranoia years, so all drugs were the same and they were all evil, except the ones the patriarchy told you to use for cough suppression or psychotherapy. Wasn’t ecstasy legal (and thus not evil) until the mid-1980s?

    Since I had to find out about the shoe myth, I thought I’d share: Snopes says there are other urban legends about shoes on wires. None have been confirmed or disproved.

  21. vera

    MDMA, or “ecstasy,” was legal until 1985. Psychotherapists were using it and all was well until some Texas bar started selling it OTC. It was first discovered (and patented by Merck) in the early 1900s, and was re-discovered by Alexander Shulgin around 1976. There are a couple of ongoing studies to determine its efficacy in treated PTSD. Government propaganda to the contrary, MDMA has never been shown to cause brain damage or holes in the brain. There is a toxic dose, however, and it can be hard on the body and very dehydrating.

  22. manxome

    Damn, I love that photo! I refuse to accept that it has anything to do with patriarchy.

  23. Keeshond

    Why can’t we at least have one patriarchy-free vacation resort or campground or yurt in the desert? I’m not picky at this point. I just want a break from it for a little while.

  24. M The Pedagogue

    Keeshond,

    because it’s IN YOUR HEAD. Like a virus.

    Just because a fish figures out she’s in the water, that doesn’t keep her from getting wet.

  25. J

    “The partiarchy is an environment that I cannot escape.”

    I know it’s not what you meant, but the wording of this sentence stirred something in me, a question that is.

    Is the patriarchy merely a problem in human relations with one another, or is the same ideology of domination/submission at work when we think of how we relate to everything not human– call it the environment, nature, existence or whatever? Taking the (Lacanian) psychoanalytic perspective on this one, our attempts to dominate humans only reflect a more fundamental desire to dominate our experience in general. You could consider the position Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer took up in “Dialectic of Enlightenment”(Stanford University Press, 2002):

    “What human beings seek to learn from nature is how to use it to dominate wholly both it and human beings. Nothing else counts” (2)

    In other words, Twisty, you said you recently revised your global hierarchy of domination to include children (especially of colour) at the bottom. Perhaps there is room for a still lower step on this ladder– namely the ground on which the ladder is placed upon in the first place?

  26. J

    I should be fair to Adorno and Horkheimer. In that above quotation, they’re not asserting a fundamental fact of being human, but human activity that they identify as leading up to and now having its perfect expression in The Enlightenment (a la 18th Century Europe), from which in a certain sense we have not emerged.

  27. Elle

    M The Pedagogue,

    Well, the fish is OK as long as the water is OK, but once the water becomes toxic, the fish better grow some legs/wings and get the hell out. OR, take steps to detox the water. OR both.

    The good news is the toxicity makes her conscious of the water. The bad news is the toxicity makes her conscious of the water.

    I think there is hope.

    Consciousness is all.

  28. Elle

    J wrote “Perhaps there is room for a still lower step on this ladder– namely the ground on which the ladder is placed upon in the first place?”

    As an ecofeminist, I would certainly concur. It seems to me that patriarchy arose in reaction to a pagan world view which understood Nature as the source of life and Woman as the obvious symbol of that source. (I mean the analogy is pretty obvious: life comes forth from — and is nourished by — the body of earth, just as individual life comes forth from and is nourished by the body of woman.) Anyway, Patriarachal monotheism arrived on the scene in a reactionary and “anything but Clinton” frame of mind and declared that, au contraire, transcendent male sperm/spirit was the source of life and the Patriarchal Male (Big Daddy) became the symbol of that source. As a result, the moral imperative came to be Control and Exploit the Feminine (which included both Nature and Woman).

    The hitch to all this is that just as male babies are contained in the female womb, males of all species — even humans — are part of nature. So, having exploited nature/women to their hearts’ content, patriarchal male humans (and the rest of us) are reaping the whirlwind, the tornadoes (one is aiming for me as I write), the hurricanes, and all manner of other violent natural occurrences. And more and more women no longer believe it is a privilege to wash some guy’s dirty socks.

    Nature is fighting back — even the elephants have decided they have had enough. So can we.

  29. J

    “Anyway, Patriarachal monotheism arrived on the scene in a reactionary and “anything but Clinton” frame of mind and declared that, au contraire, transcendent male sperm/spirit was the source of life and the Patriarchal Male (Big Daddy) became the symbol of that source.”

    I don’t know. I don’t think religious ideology lines up exactly with patriarchal ideology. For one thing, the pagan-religion of the Celts, Norse, Sumerians, Egyptians, as well as the Greeks and Romans, was at best neutral when it came to the status of women. The men were typically in power in all of these pagan cultures. The same goes for Indian and Chinese theistic religions before the arrival of monotheism. Also, there is still a large swath of the world, mostly in China, that don’t practice a monotheistic religion. I don’t think these people necesarily treat their women a heck of a lot better for it.

    I don’t mean that what you said is wrong, but it flies in the face of the fact that women have been treated unequally well before and otherwise outside of the context of monotheism. It may be true that monotheism has brought with it flavour of patriarchy, from what I’ve seen argued patriarchy does not respect any establishment of religion.

  30. Bitey

    “I should be fair to Adorno and Horkheimer. In that above quotation, they’re not asserting a fundamental fact of being human, but human activity that they identify as leading up to and now having its perfect expression in The Enlightenment (a la 18th Century Europe), from which in a certain sense we have not emerged.”

    Yeah, “Enlightenment” my ass. The systems of thought developed in the Enlightenment are the cognitive equivalent of counting on your fingers. I guess we all have to count on our fingers at some point, but no serious thinking can be done with such limited methods.

  31. J

    “The systems of thought developed in the Enlightenment are the cognitive equivalent of counting on your fingers. I guess we all have to count on our fingers at some point, but no serious thinking can be done with such limited methods.”

    What does this mean?

  32. Twisty

    “Twisty’s ever-eloquent posting reminds me of Peter O’Toole screaming “NO PRISONERS!” whilst in flowing white imama and robe.”

    Yipes!

  33. MikeWC

    That’s right. As somebody suggested in a recent thread, no patriarchy, no feminism.

    If there is no “outside” the patriarchy, then aren’t you a bit like a fish complaining that it is wet?

    You’re claiming that you’ve identified the primary factor that underlies all social, economic, politic and (I guess) ecological relations. It all comes down to one group opressing another.

    Well, who makes up this oppressive group…? The thing is, there’s no way you can ever possibly answer this question without saying “everyone, and at the same time no one.”

    You can present as many anecdotes about men being jerks to women as you like; as long as you’re stuck saying “everyone and no one” you are putting forth a position that can neither be proven nor disproven.

    This opressive group – which is both full and empty – can never be anything other than a scapegoat. In other words, you’re using the exact same logic that racists and nationalists have long used – “group X is responsible for my problems.”

  34. Elle

    (while waiting for the tornado to hit, might as well stay up and write some more)

    J wrote, “For one thing, the pagan-religion of the Celts, Norse, Sumerians, Egyptians, as well as the Greeks and Romans, was at best neutral when it came to the status of women.”

    I apologize, J, I should be more specific: By pagan I meant the nature religions of the ancient near east which found the sacred within nature — and the sacred within nature was frequently represented by a goddess or goddesses. Which fact does not translate into matriarchal societies necessarily, but matrifocal societies where, early on, women carrying out women’s work were valued and society revolved around and supported them.

    By patriarchy, I meant the brand of patriarchy which has been the most successful and most destructive — our own western-culture hegemonic variety — which evolved from/arose in reaction to the immanent religions of that time and place — and literally blew humanity (male humanity) sky high in terms of our understanding of our relationship to this planet.

    For me, the sickness of western patriarchy arises from its belief that “man” is separate from, superior to, and in control of nature and has a mandate to exploit nature — and everything associated with nature — for its own benefit. Since Nature had a feminine face (various great mother goddesses) in the ancient near east, the oppression of women became emblematic of this right and mandate. But women are not the only targets of patriachal oppression. In patriarchal western culture, women, the laboring classes, indigenous people, all get lumped into the Nature category and are like flies to wanton boys. While non-human nature also gets raped and pillaged.

    (All of this may be true of patriarchy in other cultures, but I have not studied them and am in no position to comment.)

  35. Bitey

    Oh, for crying out loud, Mike, read the damned FAQ before you come in here waving your cock around. From Wikipedia, “patriarchy” as we are using the term is “a system that privileges men over women, and also men over other men. A pro-feminist analysis of patriarchy asserts that gender interacts with attributes such as ethnicity, power and social class. Patriarchy is seen as a hegemonic gender order imposed through individual, collective and institutional behaviours.”

    Here’s the link, culled from the FAQ you should have read:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patriarchy

    Here’s the entry for “Ideology” for good measure:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ideology

    Get a clue.

  36. Mandos

    1. That picture reminds of the movie Wag the Dog and that whole bit about “Old Shoe.”

    2.

    As an ecofeminist, I would certainly concur. It seems to me that patriarchy arose in reaction to a pagan world view which understood Nature as the source of life and Woman as the obvious symbol of that source. (I mean the analogy is pretty obvious: life comes forth from — and is nourished by — the body of earth, just as individual life comes forth from and is nourished by the body of woman.)

    I dunno what people were thinking of way back when, but I hope you aren’t imagining that we adopt this analogy now. Because all you’d have on your hands is a duel of analogies. I mean, why not take it further. The sun is ejaculating fertilizing photons at mother earth…

  37. Elle

    Mandos: “I hope you aren’t imagining that we adopt this analogy now. Because all you’d have on your hands is a duel of analogies. I mean, why not take it further. The sun is ejaculating fertilizing photons at mother earth…”

    You’re right. That’s where it leads. And why not? It takes both earth and sun for life. It fits in with a lot of sun god imagery. And sun-god attributes, conflated with some other characteristics floating around at the time, generated the symbol which we know as the JudeoChristian god — the “light of the world” and creator of all life. The problem is “life-giving” got heavily weighted in the male direction (the patriarach). All of a sudden, the male was the source and the female merely the baby factory.

    But, no, I’m not suggesting we adopt that analogy now. I just think it helps to be aware of it. And, it makes me feel some solidarity with nature — it helps me to understand the nature of patriarchal oppression.

  38. hedonistic

    “But, no, I’m not suggesting we adopt that analogy now.”

    Whew! Thank goodness because I don’t think I could take another minute of the fetishizing of female fecundity (bellies and boobies a la Willendorf, etc.). After 20+ years in the neopagan communities I’ve had quite enough, thank ye fairy much.

  39. Bitey

    J: “What does [this crack about Enlightenment thought] mean?”

    The Enlightenment saw the development of systems of classification, the scientific method, and the rise of the cult of individualism. These things don’t necessary seem bad at first blush, but they can only take us so far, and they can be and have been used in harmful ways. I’ll try to keep this short.

    Systems of classification are organized attempts to understand where everything fits. Not least of the problems with classifying the “natural world” is that it takes the notions that first, there is a separation between “us” and “nature,” and second, that “nature” is under “our” dominion, originally brought to us by the big man in the sky, and institutionalizes them into the new dogma of science. This habit of thought also revived that Great Chain of Being crap from medieval thought, which was immediately co-opted by slavers, helpfully allowing them to explain that the people they stole and sold as chattel weren’t really human, anyway, so don’t get your panties in an uproar. The Enlightenment also brought us classification in languages, in the form of dictionaries and grammars. These systems have value as descriptive tools, but, rather quickly, the descriptions became prescriptive. There is and always has been a great variety in spoken English, for example. People had regional accents, colloquialisms, etc., but when the prescriptive grammars emerged, it was suddenly possible to be “wrong” in your native language. One of the purposes of classification is the consolidation of power, and yeah, that worked.

    I am not a scientist, so I’ll leave real critique of the scientific method to the more knowledgable blamers out there, but I will hint at my sense of it. It seems to me that the scientific method is a useful tool, but limited in that it requires the artificial isolation of the subject of experimentation. Further, the method encourages one to believe that the outcomes of the method are “right,” and that anything that can’t be accounted for by them is “unscientific,” a.k.a., “wrong.” The aura of truth that surrounds the scientific method, elsewhere referred to as “truthiness,” can lead one down the primrose path to believing that, if you understand how the subject performs in the experiment, you know how it performs in its environment. Further, if an individual in its environment performs differently from previously described and approved individuals, there must be something “wrong” with that individual. The scientific method rose from the positivistic notion that everything could be known, and I sense that it leads to a positivistic view of the world. I don’t want to say that the method doesn’t have its uses, but it is frequently held up as the method of knowing truth when it is really only a method, and a limited one at that.

    Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther is arguably the seminal text in the cult of the individual. Without giving any spoilers, Werther is a young man who, in an culture of strict rules of behavior, bucks the system, runs around with his hair untied, weeps copiously, and does whatever he wants. This was a sensation, and youmg men started doing whatever they wanted. Now, of course Goethe didn’t invent the desire to do whatever you want, but he articulated it, and young men all over Europe started wearing yellow pants and weeping at sunsets, for God’s sake. The Sorrows of Young Werther was interpreted to mean that one’s identity as an individual is at least as important as one’s identity as a member of society. In the Romantic era, the individual became more important, and now we all think we deserve to be the next American Idol. This idea that the individual is the be-all-end-all is only not harmful if one recognizes that every individual is her own be-all-end-all; that you are not mine and I am not yours. We don’t seem yet to have made this cognitive leap.

    So how is all this like counting on your fingers? It’s too simple by half and narcisstic to boot. It reduces the world to what can be understood now, at this moment, by our humble brains and the tools we have before us. It has a very narrow horizon. It turns your focus to yourself, to the exclusion of others and their experience. You can’t do anything very sophisticated with it.

    Oversimplified? Maybe. Blamey? Certainly. Bitey? Always.

  40. hedonistic

    Wow Bitey, if you like reading about this stuff have you tried Spell of the Sensouos by David Abram? He explains (very poetically) how language emerged through human relationships with the other-than-human (i.e., the so called “natural,” as if humans aren’t? FEH!) world, and how the switch from oral to written records cut us off from nature, figuratively and literally. He gets into phenomenology (no artifical separation between subject and object) in ways that even (kind of) make sense to the layperson. You’d probably love it!

  41. hedonistic

    I mean Spell of the Sensuous. DUH.

  42. Elle

    (As you may have noted from my earlier post, I weathered the storm. But at 2:30 am with that horrible national weather service buzzer sound going off every three minutes or so warning me that a tornado was “on the ground” in my vicinity, I and my dogs were sharing some serious doubts. Nature is certainly stirred up. At 2 am, I felt neither separate from nor superior to nature. )

    Bravo Bitey for you post on the Enlightenment! I get so depressed when enlightenment thought is held up as the answer to our social ills. As far as I’m concerned enlightenment thought is just another form of patriarchal thought — especially insofar as it assumes and promotes the idea of Man, specifically Scientific Man, as separate from nature. In my book, Humanism is just as patriarchal as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The only difference is that the humanists have withdrawn the projection.

    Have you read Evelyn Fox Keller’s book “Reflections on Gender and Science”? Really good.

  43. J

    Bitey. I agree with you entirely. My point in asking you what you meant was to clarify where you saw my post coming from. It seemed to me that you were taking a crack at my mere mention of the Enlightenment, when I was actually endorsing a critique of it.

  44. Bitey

    Ohhhhh! I was just agreeing with you. I did think it was weird that you’d slam the Age of Entitlement–err, Enlightenment–and then ask me what I meant. My “yeah” was “yeah, you’re right,” not “yeah, whatever.” I don’t do sarcasm, so I’m kinda blind to the possibility of my writing being interpreted as sarcastic. Sorry about that.

  45. MikeWC

    From Wikipedia, “patriarchy” as we are using the term is “a system that privileges men over women, and also men over other men. A pro-feminist analysis of patriarchy asserts that gender interacts with attributes such as ethnicity, power and social class. Patriarchy is seen as a hegemonic gender order imposed through individual, collective and institutional behaviours.”

    Yes, thank you, which is exactly what I said. Everyone and no one is involved. Your flamely little response did nothing but repeat my definition in different words, while happily maintaining the same antinomy.

  46. CuriouserAndCuriouser

    The important difference in this game (aka ‘system’) is that men, whether winners or losers, are at least _in_ the game, as players; women, generally speaking, to cadge a gem from another poster in another thread, are _the ball_.

    Antimony, according to Wikipedia, “is a chemical element in the periodic table . . . Antimony is used in flame-proofing, paints, ceramics, enamels, a wide variety of alloys, electronics, and rubber.”

    “[. . .] maintaining the same antimony.”

    Does he mean ‘resistance to logic and reason’? Flame-proofing?

  47. Bitey

    “Well, who makes up this oppressive group? The thing is, there’s no way you can ever possibly answer this question without saying ‘everyone, and at the same time no one.’”

    No. The answer is everyone. Not no one. I am a member of the oppressive group. I am a member of the patriarchy. So are you, and Twisty, and everyone else. We all oppress ourselves and one another all the time. That’s how an ideology works. It takes an incredible strong effort of will not to oppress, and if you’re not trying, you’re oppressing, baby, and sometimes you’re oppressing even when you are trying. You know what I did a little while ago? I plucked my eyebrows. Why did I do this? Did I receive a direct order? Were they hanging in my eyes, obstructing my vision? Were they full of nits? The answer to these questions is “no.” I did it to be pretty. Have I thought about not plucking them, about leaving them to run wild, grow bushy, maybe colonize some underpopulated area? Sure, but that wouldn’t be pretty. Now, I ask you: Why am I not pretty enough in my natural state? Furthermore, why in the fuck do I have to be pretty in the first place? You tell me.

    And before you go there, no, I don’t want to be pretty. The last damned thing I need is a bunch of rapey frat boys propositioning me, or rapey damned construction workers hooting at me as I go about my business. My experience has taught me to equate prettiness with danger. And yet, I prettify myself. Tell me why I do this, smart guy.

    [Note: An unnecessary ellipsis was deleted from the preceding quote.]

    And another thing. Re: “little response,” way to trivialize. Nice one, patriarch.

  48. CuriouserAndCuriouser

    We prettify because human beings need to belong to a group. Right next to fear of death in the human psyche is fear of being an outcast, of being shunned, because it turned out that sticking together was key to survival.

    So while survival is not quite as dire a struggle as it once was, the drive to belong, to fit in, to be part of a group, still remains. Being rejected triggers a primitive, gut-level, basic survival fear. Most of us do whatever is necessary to avoid experiencing this fear.

  49. roamaround

    Bitey, I hope your eyebrows don’t hurt and you will accept a compliment on your beautiful Enlightenment post.

    I loved your thoughts on the ill effects of positivism. Education is full of the pseudoscience that has resulted from the over reliance on truthiness you so vividly described. The bottom line is now test scores (accountability!), but hardly anyone seems to question the fucking tests. Who makes them (at hefty profits) and how well do they actually measure anything? No one even asks. The aura of truth is impermeable.

    I’ve also seen the phenomenon used politically with bullshit surveys claiming to “prove” something expedient, complete with charts and pie graphs. The same could probably be said of industrial and organizational psychology testing that employees are subjected to, but I don’t know as much about that. Maybe more knowledgeable blamers will know the name of this kind of shit. I’ve seen the terms systems management and technocracy used. I call it evil dehumanization.

    I try to ignore people named Mike (Water Closet?) because 97.6% of them are idiots.

  50. J

    “I did think it was weird that you’d slam the Age of Entitlement–err, Enlightenment–and then ask me what I meant”

    I dig. If you haven’t already read or heard of it, I feel obliged to recommend “Dialectic of Enlightenment.” You might be good for this question: If patriarchy is a global system of ideas and practices that inscribe and act out various modes of domination/submission, why do we not simply refer to it as ideology; what is at stake in calling it patriarchy?

    If I look to Twisty’s spiel on the issue, you could say it is because white dudes are at the top of the system, while women/children of colour and nature are at the bottom. This kind of response relies on the fact that for the last 500 years we have more or less been a global species. Before then, white people had their areas of habitation, and so did pretty much everyone else. This doesn’t mean that patriarchy didn’t exist before this period, but obviously something else is at stake in whatever we could identify in those systems. If I ever got around to reading Jared Diamond’s “Guns, Germs, and Steel,” I’d probably be able to better articulate a reason for this.

    At any rate, I just wonder how we relate ourselves to revolutionary theory and practice when we take up the term patriarchy. Like I said: what’s at stake in this term over others?

  51. Mandos

    Wow Bitey, if you like reading about this stuff have you tried Spell of the Sensouos by David Abram? He explains (very poetically) how language emerged through human relationships with the other-than-human (i.e., the so called “natural,” as if humans aren’t? FEH!) world, and how the switch from oral to written records cut us off from nature, figuratively and literally. He gets into phenomenology (no artifical separation between subject and object) in ways that even (kind of) make sense to the layperson. You’d probably love it!

    What exactly do you mean by “language” and by “emerge” here?

  52. roamaround

    J: “…the term patriarchy. Like I said: what’s at stake in this term over others?”

    Check out Gerda Lerner’s “The Creation of Patriarchy,” also the Hammurabic Codes and Genesis, Abraham’s seed begetting so and so and all that with no mention of the wombman involved.

    It might be hard to digest if one theorizes sex as a figment of social construction, but class-conscious men wanted to know who their children were which requires the sexual control of women. Thus was devised a specific ideology around much more than dominance/submission: patrilineal descent, inheritance by sons and the division of women into “good” and “bad” classes. This is a far more universal construct than whiteness, which you rightly point out is contextual.

    I loved “Guns, Germs and Steel” though I was pissed off that he says virtually nothing about women. As for revolutionary theory and practice, let’s talk Shulie.

  53. MikeWC

    Does he mean ‘resistance to logic and reason’?

    Basically. An antinomy is a problem in which there are two contradictory, both valid, answers. I wasn’t aware of the other definition.

    And another thing. Re: “little response,” way to trivialize. Nice one, patriarch.

    Ask yourself why I didn’t call Twisty or CuriouserAndCuriouser’s responses to me “flamely” and “little.” If the fact that I’m a “patriarch” is the reason why I dissed your response, why didn’t I diss theirs?

    Look at roamaround’s comment about me. That is also “flamely” and “little.”

    We all oppress ourselves and one another all the time. That’s how an ideology works.

    The whole purpose of ideology is to be invisible. The real working of ideology here is probably better described as your resistance to “prettifying” in the first place.

    I suppose disputting the meaning of the world ideology just opens up a big old can of worms, but your example of prettying has more to do with power and resistance than ideology per se.

    And before you go there, no, I don’t want to be pretty.

    Yeah, you really cut me off there. Here’s a retort: your assumption that I would have said anything like that is a result of your own ideology.

  54. vera

    antinomy = two valid beliefs that contradict each other
    antimony = a chemical element

    Notice the reversal of the “n” and “m.”

  55. vera

    MikeWC, we are all our own oppressors, which is why the first task of revolution is consciousness raising. (I hate to sound old fashion.)

    Individual men are oppressed by the patriarchy. The failure of most men to realize this has always baffled me. Patriarchy is a set of beliefs that says that women and children are property to be monopolized by high status men, and low status, surplus young men are eliminated through warfare, through pitting them against one another, etc. What’s to love?

    I guess individual men can delude themselves in a manner that women cannot. But I find it hard to believe that most men with a modicum of intelligence don’t possess some small flicker of recognition that the system privileges in exchange for their cooperation. Yet I rarely encounter men who admit to, and reject, their privileged position.

    You can present as many anecdotes about men being jerks to women as you like…

    Thanks, I probably will. And I hope Twisty does. It makes for infuriating, but oddly calming reading.

  56. Bitey

    MikeWC: “The real working of ideology here is probably better described as your resistance to ‘prettifying’ in the first place.”

    Wow. You’re a deeply distressing person. I’m not going to talk to you anymore.

  57. Mandos

    I guess individual men can delude themselves in a manner that women cannot. But I find it hard to believe that most men with a modicum of intelligence don’t possess some small flicker of recognition that the system privileges in exchange for their cooperation. Yet I rarely encounter men who admit to, and reject, their privileged position.

    Alright, so why do you think that is?

  58. CuriouserAndCuriouser

    Vera, I did transpose the ‘n’ and ‘m’ in my head when reading that word, my bad (and realized it while reading WC’s post following my comment). Thanks for pointing it out so gently. And I learned a new word, antinomy! Cool.

  59. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    Mandos, as to what I by “language” and “emerge?” I meant the way humans developed from grunting and pointing to making up names for things, though in a more inebriated state I might admit to some magical subtext. Is this what you meant by your question?

    David Abram is much more eloquent than I am, and it’s been YEARS since I read his book.

  60. Mandos

    See, I’m someone skeptical of grunt-and-point-based theories of human language development, that’s why I asked.

  61. vera

    Mandos, damned if I know. Because it feels so good to be privileged? Even if one is privileged only in the sense of being able to lord it over a despised class? That’s my explanation. It’s the only one I can come up with.

    By the way, that should have been “I find it hard to believe that most men with a modicum of intelligence don’t possess some small flicker of recognition that the system privileges them in exchange for their cooperation.”

    Left out a pronoun.

  62. Tree

    Mandos, vera:

    How would men go about rejecting their patriarchy privileges? At least for the non-misogynists, most benefits seem to be passively received and not particularly rejectable.

    I’ve never made catcalls to women on the street, but I can’t reject the fact that I could do so with impunity (and, of course, some groups of men would even look upon me better if I did). Similarly, I will never have the same thoughts as a woman when walking down an empty city street at night.

    Expectations for me from our society/patriarchy in jobs and relationships are more flexible and forgiving, and I don’t see how to stop that from affecting me (to stop that from making my life easier, in a sense).

    An analogy, in my mind, is that a hetero couple holding hands on the street can’t reject the fact that they won’t be looked at in the same way as a same-sex couple holding hands on the street, no matter what the hetero couple wants to do about it.

    I’m not actually asking for personal adivice (or trying to say that I’m wonderful). I’m trying to respond generally to the question of why men don’t reject their privileges. Rejection doesn’t seem possible. The patriarchy is just that insidious.

    Also, I am thinking of the verb “reject” as a basically passive action. Perhaps you are thinking of rejection as being something active? But I am still unsure of what that would involve. Use of privilege most definitely reinforces the patriarchy.

  63. Mandos

    Well, we could just fall back on Twisty’s answer: There is no escape.

  64. Anna

    Hello Everyone,

    This is the first time I have ever emailed a link (or, paranthetically, made a post anywhere ever), but this one is hideously fascinating. Here it is:

    http://www.unheardtaunts.com/wir/index.html (same link)
    http://www.unheardtaunts.com

    Practically every female introduced in DC comics has been brutally murdered, raped, and/or permanently divested of her power.

    Kick-ass female characters generated a huge female readership. Despite this fact, cool, powerful women characters continued to be murdered/raped. So much so, in fact, that comic book fans coined a term for it: “WiR”. Women in Refrigerators. There’s another page where comic book writers can respond with their thoughts about the issue.

    They often wound up being killed without a chance to fight back. If they weren’t killed, they lost their power, unlike the male characters.

    The female readership was active in critizing the murders of the cool superpowered chicks who had gotten them reading the zines in the first place. As a result of their pressure, some reparation has been made in the form a few female charactes being allowed to live, but that doesn’t explain why they were all so brutually killed in the first place. I am really tired at the moment, so what is coming will probably be an only semi-coherent explanation of on the possible reasons. As I read the list and various fates of the formerly magical women, they were paralleled the fate of the female who existed in myths before patriarchy was firmly established- before that happened, the powerful women figures had to be systematically swiped out of the symbol system. So the goddesses were raped by their lovers, murdered by their sons; a long, long time later, the furies made a last, failed attempt at protecting the power of the first God(dess). Athena stuck up for Daddy, and the furies were sent to a ‘sacred’ grove, because the sacrality of women couldn’t be immediately dismissed.

    Where, I wonder, are the furies now?

    Warning: digression forthcoming:
    There was a time when rape didn’t exist in the world’s mythology. We look at sort of sensual depictions of Zeus raping Leda, in the artwork of classical antiquity. The Greek and Roman gods are always raping women and goddesses, so we are conditioned into thinking that it is something that has always existed. Before we all start dismissing this as a strictly pagan phenomenon, consider the immaculate conception of our Lord Jesus Christ: the Holy Spirit “overwhelms” the virgin Mary. I’m becoming sane in sick world. Can anyone but me see that the overtones of the ‘immaculate’ conception are distinctly rapist? Compare the cowering Mary to this sexy, sensual life force, the Mother-Lover Goddess Ishtar. This is an excerpt from a hymn written to her in 1600 B.C.E.
    “Ishtar is clothed in pleasure and love.
She is laden with vitality, charm, and voluptuousness. In lips she is sweet; life is in her mouth.
At her appearance rejoicing becomes full.
She is glorious; veils are thrown over her head.
Her figure is beautiful; her eyes are brilliant.”
    Instead of being clothed in pleasure and love we place the ignominious rags of martyrs around our body that we wished was thinner.
    This honored Goddess with the ‘beautiful figure’ sounds like a women who probably likes sex. Women’s’ sexuality used to be honored, by the way, although the Romans’ had their bouts of debauchery it wasn’t until modernity and christianity that “anorexia” appeared and women began having a mysterious phobia of eating. It’s because eating and appetite and satisfaction are all sexual. It’s because being sexual was no longer a source of power for women. I am sick of wanting to be thin. I want to be thin because I want power. And instead of being honoured for being full and sexual and strong, I gain power from carefully controlling my self and from being thin. I am normal, whatever the fuck that means. I don’t naturally have an eating disorder. I don’t technically have a weight problem. But I think about every fucking bite of food I (don’t) enjoy, imagining how it will grotesquely rearrange itself on my already imperfect body. I don’t want to be perfect. I want to be powerful. I’m angry! The world glorifies motherhood but I felt degraded every time I bought tampons. If being pregnant is sacred, so is the monthly menses and menopauses of all the women in the world, and, goddamnit, I should get chocolate and wine and congratulations from the cashier as he scans my tampax! Why aren’t there any cards in Hallmark just for the occasion of a girl’s first period? Why can’t it be a positive experience?
    The mutilation of every women in existence, whether in a comic book or in real life, is interconnected to an ancient loss. Clothe me in pleasure, please. Contemporary culture sucks.
    Specifically, when I mention world mythology minus rape, I am referencing the mythology of pre-patriarchal society, in which the major divinity was female, which we see can in the artwork and statues of glorified female figures. These statues are misleading referred to as being merely “fertility idols” by some historians. Here is an excerpt from a hymn to Ishtar circa 1600 BC:
    “She is sought after among the gods; extraordinary is her station.
Respected is her word; it is supreme over them.
Ishtar among the gods, extraordinary is her station.
Respected is her word; it is supreme over them. She is their queen; they continually cause her commands to be executed.
All of them bow down to her.
They receive her light before her.
Women and men indeed revere her.”
    Like it not, there was a time when GOD WAS A WOMEN AND WOMEN WERE NOT PLACED IN REFRIDGERATORS.

    Anna

  1. Mission statement revitalization programme, part one at I Blame The Patriarchy

    [...] Next: Mission Statement Part II: What Patriarchy Ain’t And after that: Mission Statement Part III: What Patriarchy Means To Me [...]

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