In the event that you are ever called upon for proof that patriarchy is alive, all you have to do is consult the internet, where there is always a new post arguing that it is dead. Nobody would bother writing such posts if patriarchy had actually died, since that happy contingency could only obtain as the result of a lengthy revolt the deets and consequences of which would already be painfully familiar to everyone and their dog. If patriarchy were dead, “Patriarchy is Dead” would be old news, like “OMG! Twerking is a Thing Now!”
Yet down the pike they come, every so often, just as though their declarations were based in fact. No matter; such posts provide a happy excuse for spinster aunts and anarchists and cheese-makers and noted wits to air out their old-skool feminist ideologies. Today’s example: this article by The End of Men author Hanna Rosin. Rosin has declared, as the modern patriarchy-invested woman will feel compelled to do from time to time, the end of patriarchy. She illustrates her declaration with a photo of three white, blonde, female members of Congress.
Even so, you will note that you have not yet received an invitation to the bra-burning victory party on the Lido Deck of the good ship Vagina Dentata. I hate to say it, but that’s because not only is patriarchy not dead, it isn’t even sick. Rosin’s proposition is merely another in a long line of oblivious white lady arguments calling for the shrill, outdated feminists to take it down a notch so the OWLs can enjoy their fantasy “new era of female dominance” and take care of their emasculated husbands in peace.
These OWLy arguments are as alike as curds on a tuffet, and Rosin’s is no exception. Here’s how it goes:
A writer upon whom Fate has lavished a bit of education, as well as the financial wherewithal to insulate herself from some of the more dire ravages of the Global Accords Governing Fair Use of Women, Rosin posits that contrary to feminist narratives of doom, women are doing just fine nowadays. Feministe blogger Jill Filopovic, she notes, is a New York lawyer; how can she cry foul when obviously patriarchy hasn’t held her back? Clearly the militant radfems have outlived their usefulness.
But uh-oh, the theory goes, those stubborn feminists won’t disperse. Turns out we’re neurotically nostalgic for the patriarchal victimization of yore, harboring an “irrational attachment to the concept of unfair.” So dedicated are we to detecting oppression in every crevice that we can’t comprehend our own deliverance, even as it stares us in the face, calls us irrational, and tells us to smile. Otherwise we would surely see that, what with The Vote and a “revolutionary” 19% of Congress now comprised of Vagina-Americans, women have won. Rather than getting our undies in a bundle, feminists should “treasure” it when cooler heads label us “strident,” since it is our only vestigial connection to the glory days when our beloved oppression was still in effect. Apparently, in this new post-patriarchal paradise, women can not only screw who we want, we’re also free to “quilt and can fruits” at will. Triumph is ours! Feminists, stand down!
It remains unsettled whether or not stridency-treasuring, quilting, and fruit-canning should be considered the ultimate goals of feminist revolution (so few of the world’s women live in Portlandia, after all). I’ll say this, though. The inspiration of these feminist-go-home arguments may be easily understood when one considers the source: the assimilated woman who doesn’t quite grasp what patriarchy is. To wit:
If, despite the fact that she has just called you “irrational,” you care to slog through Rosin’s article, you will come away with the sense that her comprehension of the concept patriarchy lacks nuance. She seems to see it as a sort of cabal of actual “patriarchs” (i.e. a boss or a dickhead boyfriend), rather than as an automated, self-replicating world order — in which participation is compulsory — that strictly enforces femininity compliance for the benefit of a male-dominated megapornotheocorporatocracy.
How has Rosin arrived at this unsophisticated worldview? In her article she avers that neither her husband nor her boss — “patriarchy,” presumably — have personally oppressed her overmuch, so apparently she doesn’t view women’s oppression as especially exigent. On the other hand, maybe she just doesn’t feel like fucking with it. Maybe she just wants to stay home with her kid, worship her man (“the God-ordained head of the household”), can her fruit, and not take a bunch of heat for it from the Internet feminists.
OK. Fine. The Hanna Rosins of the world have made their choice. They’re only gonna work 4 days a week, and their friends will all be getting jars of pickled pineapple for Christmas. It’s no skin off my nose. Be my guest! But this is what I would like to know:
Why they gotta get all up in our grill? What’s it to them if a few feminists wanna continue to agitate on behalf of the real, material liberation that the Hanna Rosins of the world have decided they’re willing to live without? When we point a gnarled claw at the discrimination, misogyny, and violence that still lingers, despite patriarchy’s purported “demise,” who exactly are we hurting?
Just get out of the way already, Hanna Rosins of the world. You may justify your antifeminism by fantasizing that the woman who picks up your trash when you leave at 5 secretly “yearns to bring back at least some aspects of patriarchy.” However, if you really think that a person who isn’t oppressed by patriarchal forces beyond your privileged bubble would be caught dead picking up your fucking garbage, you’re delusional, lady. There’s been no feminist victory. Patriarchy is not dead. Not globally, and not here in the US. For instance, by the time you finish reading this post, about 7942 entertainment rapes will have been broadcast on US television. That’s bad, but this is worse: at least two real, live American women will have been sexually assaulted.
Epilogue: Is “it” getting better, as Rosin postulates? “It” is clearly comfortable for privileged women like Rosin, whose circumstances permit the opportunity to view fruit-canning as a trendy hobby rather than as compulsory drudgery necessary to forestall winter starvation. But for proof that patriarchy isn’t dead, she need look no further than the comments on her own piece. Such as this one, authored by a patriarchy-invested mansplainer. This sterling dude defines feminism, as dudes are wont to do, as “based on a false premise: the equality of men and women.”
Dude. Get over it. Feminism posits no such dreaded “equality.” Godferbid. Feminism seeks to dismantle precisely that bogus equality crap to which the mansplainer alludes, and indeed any paradigm under which women are defined in terms of men. Feminism, it turns out, has nothing to do with men. Astonishingly, feminism is concerned with women. Specifically, the emancipation of women from an oppressive world order that hijacks our bodily sovereignty and controls our personal autonomy. And as long as there are jacknuts out there who believe otherwise, patriarchy will be alive and well and owning our uterus and making damn sure that 70% of the world’s poor are women.