Hopeless: Life Under Patriarchy

“Men who want to support women in our struggle for freedom and justice should understand that it is not terrifically important to us that they learn to cry; it is important that they stop the crimes of violence against us.”  –Andrea Dworkin

There are just days I feel so fucking hopeless. Today is one of those days.  There’s not one thing that causes it, but there’s usually a single event that sets it off.  It’s rarely something major.  It’s usually just a final straw situation.  Too many things pile up, then the last one breaks that camel’s back.  Today, it was a couple of them.  One was a man pushing sexist jokes.  The other was a man who doesn’t see how the very concept of modern porn is hostile to women.  It’s not about how it’s produced; it’s about what it says about women.  Together, they just brought that feeling of helplessness welling up within me.

As much as I may disagree with separatism as a mandate for feminists, at least I know that separatists are coming from a righteous place: a place where the torture, murder, rape and oppression of women is so repulsive, that the only hope they see is to get as far away from men as they can. Even when I think their methods are extremely suspect–and there are some separatists whose ideas are not just suspect, but are downright pathological–I completely understand the motivation. The atrocities are too numerous and too long-lived not to. I cannot say the same for the male-dominated movements of the Left or the Right, no matter how much they try to explain away their behavior–religion, “jokes”, sex, “nature”, what the fuck ever. They come from a place of pure selfishness: a place of what they want, no matter how it hurts and destroys women and girls. Their hard-ons. Their comfort. Their self-importance. Their right to hold women in contempt and use them however they want. Their right to put us down with their hateful “jokes”. Their right to our bodies.

I believe that there are good individual men. I know some of them. I love some of them. I politically organize with some of them. It just breaks my heart that so many men–even men who claim to be all about social justice–are more than willing to sell women out to satisfy their own selfishness. Whether they try to sell it as a “joke” (the kind of “joke” they’d never make about a minority male, by the way) or as their sexual “right”, it’s all the same. It’s woman-hating. It’s selfishness. It’s what makes many women feel there is no hope but to separate completely from men for their very survival.

Women don’t make this a world where men are more at danger from sexualized violence than war, although those women who chose to play the patriarchal game often end up in positions where they support men who commit such atrocities. Men, as a group, do that to women. They make this world a violent, unsafe one for us to live in. They are the reason we have to worry about whether the doors are locked. They are the reason we have to think about where and when we can go outside, especially alone. They are the reason I can count on one hand the women in my life who have not been victims of sexual violence.

I never will be a separatist. I don’t think it ultimately solves our problems, and I think it leaves too many women in danger. However, my hatred of what men, as a class, have done to women overwhelms me some days. There truly are some days when the only male I want to see or even think about is my son. There are just too many days when I remember the injuries–to me and to women I love–and want to lash out, to rage, to let all those males who make excuses know that they aren’t just passive bystanders. They are active participants in the world of woman-hate and violence.  If you are not actively working to stop the crimes of hate and of violence against us, you are complicit in those crimes.  No matter how much you may ramble on about the evils of capitalism and the horrors of racism.

3 responses to “Hopeless: Life Under Patriarchy

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