The Fucking Patriarchy, Part 5

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, this is the end of Fucking Patriarchy Week. Whatever I still have to say on the subject after this post (and there’s still a lot more) is just going to have to wait for another opportunity.

It’s probably fair to say that things are getting better, at least on average. There have been lots of pushes by various misogynist groups in the last few years, and I’m hopeful that the reason for this is that they know that they’re losing. And as far as I can tell they’re still losing, for the moment. The biggest ally the fucking patriarchy has is the indifference, and the silence, of the masses.

Remember, silence implies consent, silence implies approval. If you see someone disagree with a woman by saying “Bitch oughta be raped” and you hold your tongue, he’s going to assume you agree with him. Probably any bystanders are, too.

I have no illusions that I’m making a difference here. This blog is only read by a handful of people, and frankly this week has featured some of my worst writing ever, so I’m not going to be changing any minds with this series. And that’s ok, I’m just another small voice in the vastness of the internet, I know this. But if we’re going to make a better world for the future we need to talk about these things, in big public conversations and small private ones and everything in between. “Did you see Leo’s blog this week? What a trainwreck!” may not be the kind of talk I’d prefer, but at least it’s something.

Because I spend far too much time on the internet, it was internet stuff that started this series, for example this blog post and the #mencallmethings hashtag on twitter which came from it, and also a story a friend told me from her life, and the heap of links in this blog post. And of course the incident with Rebecca Watson in the elevator, I’m just going to link to this since I’m sick of looking for a good summary of that hooplah. There’s more still, but those are the concrete ones, the bits that are still in my mind as discrete incidents that haven’t yet faded into obscure feelings. But it’s worth mentioning that this isn’t “just the internet”, and I don’t think it’s fair to say “just” when talking about the internet anymore, and not since the turn of the century. The internet is a part of humanity now, it’s no longer a subculture, it’s culture.

The internet is probably the most powerful thing we’ve invented since writing. It takes the potential of writing to its logical extreme by giving everyone an equal voice. Anywhere on Earth, or even in orbit, anyone with a connection and a device capable of using it can read my words. The greatest kings of old could only dream of such power.

We are living in what that famous Chinese curse would call “interesting times”, as the various societies across the globe try to adjust to this unprecedented degree of communication. We can’t pretend that how we use this technology doesn’t reflect ourselves or that it doesn’t affect anyone. The social standards we set now will determine the issues the next generation has to face, and will also outline the way future history books remember us. The internet is not just a mirror that shows us our true face, should we dare to look, it is also the camera taking snapshots of that face for posterity.

If we, as a society, choose not to fight this categorization of people into simple stereotypes, and the diminishing and even dehumanizing of fully half the population that goes with it, then at best our children and grandchildren will have to take up that fight. At worst, things slide backwards, and the debate stops being whether or not health insurance should cover birth control or abortion, but whether or not they should be banned altogether. Eventually we’re back in the darkness where women are property, men who are insufficiently “manly” are chemically castrated, and lesbians are raped into submission.

If you think I’m being melodramatic, well, perhaps you’re right. But this isn’t hyperbole, on Tuesday Mississippi’s “personhood” amendment only failed 57/43. 43% of Mississippi voters thought it was ok to put a single fertilized cell on equal footing, legally, with the woman whose body it inhabited. Whatever they may claim rhetorically, from a practical standpoint this isn’t exalting an ovum to a higher status, it’s reducing women to a lower one.

The next generation is watching. Over the summer I saw a little girl declare herself “Batman” while playing. Her mother said, “She always has to be the boy“, which surprised me because I’d assumed the kid had wanted to be the hero.

About Leo Tarvi

Mostly fictional.

Posted on November 11, 2011, in Daily Post, Nonfiction, Personal and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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