I have finally got around to pulling together all of these separate thoughts on patriarchy and feminism together into one place.
What I suggest is needed is more dialogue. Between women and women, between men and men as well as amongst men and women. In addition, for effort to be directed towards developing a language so that men and women can have conversations that move past defensiveness and moral blame.
I am not asking women or feminists to be apologists, what I want to see is everyone moving past their fears. The fear of conversing with a feminist, women from calling themselves feminist or being associating with feminist opinions. Taking a broad-brush stroke approach to all of a person’s opinions as ‘just feminist’ minimises their voice and effectively ends any further meaningful conversation.
Patriarchy is a system that curtails the depths of and nuance of gender, that focuses solely on the most superficial of characteristics and their continuation fails and harms everyone. It cannot define or capture that what makes each individual person, their sexuality and gender is there own, each person can only exist once, the circumstances that shape them, the decisions they make. Man. Woman. These do nothing to capture the depth of our personhood. In my opinion, feminism represents humanities attempt to recognise the suppression of women under patriarchy, and patriarchy is a system that is damaging to the lives of both women and men.
We’re not going to solve the problem of violence against women with numbers or names. Names are just one person. Numbers have no names – and statistics are all fake? Or they are just a part of a political agenda? We cannot force people to care by expecting compassion or decency. Systems and minds only change when enough resistance is applied. I will not ask politely.
Feminism is not about ascribing individual blame, it is about identifying structural elements that support sexism and realising that they come from the top down – that is the powerful and wealthy members of society are the ones who benefit from and support the continuation of static constructions of masculinity and femininity.
What if I told you that things you say and the jokes you make are not harmless and they are not isolated? They are part of a continuum, a sad legacy that leaves women shut down, shut out and left for dead.
Focusing on making invisible structural problems visible by having conversations about them – about how political policies and the entertainment industry benefit from therefore continue to perpetuate damaging one-dimensional representations of masculinity and femininity. Once we tackle these issues on a broad scale – in film, music, television, policies (on national, state and local levels), in the and in the legal system – we will be able to dismantle the structures that facilitate violence against women in any capacity.
Calling out jokes about women being inherently irrational or casual rape and domestic violence jokes – and also understanding how these jokes feed into rape culture – is absolutely necessary for ending rape culture. Further, so-called harmless jokes about jokes about women being inherently irrational, ‘casts some bodies as inherently rational and others as incapable of true speech. This makes those with bodies most at risk for harm unable to protest’. (Mae-Yee, A. 2105 <http://thenewinquiry.com/essays/bad-vibes/>)
I believe that it is everyday conversations where these changes are most important. As Jimmy Carr (comedian) once said about offensive jokes:
“Lenny Bruce once said that the audience is a genius. The theory is that if you (the audience) don’t laugh at a joke, it isn’t socially unacceptable.”
Everyday conversations are our testing grounds for what is and is not socially acceptable to speak about and do. So what I am asking you to do is to be critical, be aware.
Support people who initiate these conversations or who point out that these jokes are harmful instead of vilifying them – allow these conversations to happen instead of shying away from them because they’re messy or too heavy. These conversations are going to feel uncomfortable because they will bring up deep questions about your own attitudes and understandings of how sexism and violence against women negatively affects the lives of all human beings.
According to Destroy the Joint (https://www.facebook.com/DestroyTheJoint) 79 women have died in Australia as a result of domestic violence. Just a final comment as 2015 comes to an end
Our perception of domestic violence is of a sudden raging fire – of a singular event easy to define and identify as a violent act. Its more akin to Chinese water torture, victims can feel they cannot take a single drop of water, a single tiny incident to a friend or family member and say: “help me I’m drowning” for fear of being turned away, of being the girl who cried wolf.