Friday, 14 March 2014

On Patriarchy.

(*updated 03/04/14)

"Patriarchy, like any system of domination (for example, racism), relies on socializing everyone to believe that in all human relations there is an inferior and a superior party, one person is strong, the other weak, and that it is therefore natural for the powerful to rule over the powerless. To those who support patriarchal thinking, maintaining power and control is acceptable by whatever means."
— bell hooks, All About Love

Feminism is directly opposed to Patriarchy.

Bell Hooks defines Feminism as " the movement to fight sexist oppression". I would propose to define Feminism as the philosophy and movement  to fight and abolish Patriarchy as part of human liberation.

I would argue that at it's best Feminism encompasses all of the liberation struggles of our times- Anti-capitalism,  disability, LGBTQ, environment, animal rights etc - and is a lens which helps to view them.

What is Patriarchy?

Patriarchy is a form of systematic oppression.Its  systematic male supremacy in thought and acts which forms a culture of oppression. Patriarchy is pervasive- there is almost no space free from it-  being centuries old and  is involved in everyday interactions( micro-aggressions), feeding and  fed by institutions. Patriarchy is widespread: It is in Government  and it's institutions especially law, courts, education, military, media, streets, the market, the family, marriage, politics etc.

 Patriarchy is one of the oldest systematic oppressions in human history. Contrry to reductionist accounts,  It seems clear that Patriarchy predates capitalism even if they are intertwined. I do not think it is possible to have capitalism without Patriarchy, However I do think Patriarchy can exist without Capitalism.Patriarchy  has developed historically long with other kinds of oppression and is not universally expressed in the same ways .

Patriarchy is normalized by repeated instances of sexism which become habits and form a culture of patriarchy but it is encouraged and bolstered by institutions and it's existence inside of them/ expressed by them.

It's important to understand Intersectionality. Patriarchy is intersectional with other forms of systematic oppression. What this means is that it intersects and is interdependent on other forms of oppression. Our identities have various facets and no one facet stands alone.You cannot talk of racism and white supremacy against a black women without consideration of Patriarchy. You cannot talk about a Trans person with mental health issues without discussing the gender binary.

Andrea Smith shows how Patriarchy ties in with Colonialism, Capitalism and Imperialism through her investigation of Indigenous history. Silvia Federici draws on history to examine the links between the development of Capitalism and Patriarchy considering how the two intertwined in Witch hunts.

Most feminists accept Intersectionality and it has radicalized the movement and philosophy. A majority of feminists are moving towards a more radical position particularly an Anti-Capitalist one.

It's clear the implications of not accepting Intersectionality. It leads to over-simplification and na├»ve  one sided understandings. It allows for feminists to be co-opted by systems of oppressions whereby under the lure of allegedly ending one form of oppression feminists are made to buy into another kind of oppression  e.g. the idea of female politician in power in a capitalist patriarchal white supremacist society only means that now a woman heads that system of oppression it does not change or end the oppression. The system of oppression is bigger than any one individual. It is a grave mistake to think otherwise and so many liberation movement have been crushed or defeated by sailing onto these rocks, rocks they were directed to by co-option by the systems of oppression at play in society.

Furthermore there is unfortunately a section of so called feminists who express patriarchial attitudes
regarding trans women among others. These TERFs(Trans Exclusionary 'Radical Feminists') as the acronym is called opposed Trans women effectively supporting the gender binary and enhancing Patriarchy's power. This proves the point that women can be led to be as patriarchal as anyone else and that it is not limited to men or male identifying. It's not about your identity but the attitudes you express and your behaviours.

Talking about Intersectionality requires us to bring in Privilege theory.

Finally Feminist 101 explains,  "Privilege, at its core, is the advantages that people benefit from based solely on their social status. It is a status that is conferred by society to certain groups, not seized by individuals, which is why it can be difficult sometimes to see one’s own privilege."Privilege is complicated by your identity making privilege  relative. You may be privileged in one sense- being a male in a society in which male supremacy exists - while disadvantaged and oppressed in another sense e.g. having a mental illness.

Patriarchy and it's intersectional oppressions are protected by privilege of various kinds- male privilege, straight privilege, cis privilege, White privilege, Monosexual privilege etc.

Patriarchy is constituted by/ expressed in/and intersectional with

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(in no particular order)
rule by straight cis gender able bodied white rich men ,

 rape, rape culture, victim blaming
gender binary transphobia,homophobia
domestic violence, child abuse,
, biphobia,  , monosexism,
 heterosexism,heteronormativity, homonormativity,
 marriage, compulsory monogamy,  ,gender roles,
 slut shaming, fat shaming, thin shaming whore/virgin,
control of bodies,
forced sterilization
white supremacy
monosexual privilege
classism/class war
environmental problems
honour killing
forced marriage
forced prostitution
glass ceiling
other oppressions...

How to challenge patriarchy?

It needs to begin with education, with explaining what feminism is and figuring out what it requires. That means giving the oppressed a central voice and letting the oppressed lead their own struggle themselves and either being directly involved or working as an ally to them.

In terms of what men specifically can do,  the article tired of talking to men gives good advice
""I’m going to call on all the men out there who consider themselves to be allies and ask them to step up to the plate and walk their own talk. When you see a woman being mansplained, you be the one to step in and call him out. When you see a bunch of men making misogynistic jokes, you be the one to tell them to fuck off. When someone asks for “proof,” don’t wait for a woman to provide it – you be the one to offer resources. Show us what a good ally you are by standing in the line of fire for once, and when you do, don’t immediately turn around and ask us for praise".

we should work to develop a culture of feminism everywhere. We should oppose hierarchy since it quickly is co-opted by oppression and is harmful to feminist values. We should work for the development of  safer spaces policies in all institutions across the world(since no institution or space is free from patriarchy and it's relations or the potential arising of them),  Fight rape culture. fight street harassment,challenge gender roles and the gender binary, oppose patriarchal laws, promote safe sex with enthusiastic consent, teach about consent and about rape,  challenge privilege- yours and others and  challenge micro-aggressions so that they become unusual and a culture of intolerance towards oppression develops.

Ultimately I would argue what is required is  abolition all  systematically oppressive institutions and   the creation of  a  society with institutions and practices following from the principles of freedom, equality and solidarity during and as part of that process developing networks of  Mutual aid and build alternative institutions.

Further Reading:-

What is Anarcha-Feminism?
Quiet Rumours An Anarcha-Feminist Reader
Feminism Is for Everybody by bell hooks
Yes means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti.
Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center By bell hooks.
combahee river collective statement.
white privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.
What Is “Monosexual Privilege”?
TransFeminist Manifesto by Emi Koyama.
Queer Theory: An Introduction  by Anarcha-feminism and Animal Liberation.
Articulating a Contemporary Anarcha-Feminism By Deric Shannon. Key terms of Postcolonialism

A primer on privilege: what it is and what it isn't-

Isn’t "the Patriarchy" just some conspiracy theory that blames all men, even decent men, for women’s woes?-

How To Talk To Someone About Privilege Who Doesn’t Know What That Is -

Why I'm an anarcha-feminist

Towards an introduction: Why anarcha-feminism?

A collection of essays on feminism and sexism in the anarchist movement


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