This rant has been building for a long time, years even. It has the potential to be highly charged and triggering due to the nature of the subject. Before I begin I would like to make a few statements:
I am an equalist. I speak from my own experiences. I am not writing this as an attack on men. If you come at me with comments like ‘not all men’ they will be deleted. I welcome debate but have boundaries around when I engage in such debates as I am an emotional person and a survivor of domestic abuse. My experiences seem extreme compared to some. This is due to living with unresolved trauma for years and repeating those trauma responses. If you find this triggering and want to talk to me about it I am open to doing so. You can reach me via e-mail or DM me on my socials.
Right, now that’s done I want to clarify what I mean by the patriarchy as it can sometimes feel like it just means ‘men’. When I say ‘the patriarchy’ I am referring to the societal structure we live in today. I believe at one point we (humans) were a matriarchal society. With women being deemed as more powerful/magical/responsible for the choices of the tribe. This doesn’t mean men were lower or lesser than. I believe we were equal. Men were equally valued, had the same rights and were honoured for their own gifts. This theory is supported by some historians and archaeologists and I have a fuck tonne of reading to do on the subject before I begin backing this up with references. This is my as yet, unsupported theory so bear with me.
Anyway, I feel like something happened and there was a shift in power. We became a patriarchal society. Maybe this was forceful, maybe not. As time went on the introduction of monotheist religions added to the oppression of anyone other than men (or arguably the imagined idea of ‘men’ and what they are/should be). Add to that mix, historical events such as the witch hunts, wars and expansion through colonisation and we have the modern construct of the patriarchy.
Personally, I don’t feel it matters how we got here (though it is interesting); this structure exists now. It is how we have operated for centuries and in recent years it has come under scrutiny as the oppression of anyone other than cis, straight, white men has been challenged (in western cultures). For me, it comes down to toxic gender roles. The patriarchy is designed to benefit a small group of people who couldn’t hold power without taking it from others. This was done by stripping rights, demonising, animalising, conquering and murdering other humans. Women were seen as weak, emotional, easy to corrupt, sneaky (because it weren’t strong enough to be bold) and hysterical. We must be managed and controlled for our own sake and who should manage us? Men, but in order to do so; men have to be strong, emotionless, driven, successful (in everything, whatever the fuck that is measured by, I still can’t work it out). The genders are split into these ridiculous impossible roles of women are ‘this’ and men are ‘that’. There’s is no flexibility and you are not a ‘real man’ if you show emotions. I mean, the ‘real man’ thing really sticks in my craw.
This system is toxic to both genders. It has limited what either can do for centuries. And if you challenge it by simply being yourself you are at risk. So people pretend, forced to hide who they are to fit into these imagined gender constructs to keep themselves safe. Only to become a risk to themselves. Look at the statistics for suicide in men. The men I talk to speak of having to hold things in, questioning their most basic feelings and functions for fear of scrutiny and worse. Like wise, women are fed this bullshit ideal image that was created to keep them under control. That we can’t speak out, our value is only as mothers, objects, servants and you can only do that a certain way too. Don’t even get me started on third genders, LGBTQ+ and the people who don’t fall into the 2 constructed boxes! These people (valid fucking people who feel and see and love and create) who are told there very existence is abhorrent. Everything happens for a reason. We are a spirit put in a body, to have a human experience. None of us are here by accident and whatever you feel you are that is who you are meant to be. The sickness that comes from pretending to be something we aren’t is life threatening. We feel it in our most basic wants and needs and some feel it about everything they are. Why? Because the patriarchy deemed it unacceptable. It is unacceptable for a man to like musicals when music and rhythm is in our bones. It is unacceptable for women to be warriors when we are built to withstand pain and hardship. It is unacceptable to love who you love, be who are and believe anything other than what we have been beaten into. No more.
Actually, while were here, I just want to touch on the fact that we are all a mixture of masculine and feminine. As Pagans, we talk of the Goddess and God. Two divine energies, the union of which bring about all life. The union of it in ourselves is liberating. This is a subject I want to write about all on it’s own but I feel like I have to address the patriarchy subject first. Or at least try to define it.
Recent events have outlined just how dangerous this construct is. The murder of Sarah Everard has fuelled the conversation and further outlined the urgent need for change. Someone asked me why I think this change is happening now when so many other women have suffered the same fate. My response was this: We are on the brink of huge change. This system no longer serves us. It is not only women at risk. People are waking up to the fact that we need change. What makes some men dangerous? I have been thinking about this a lot.
I have suffered abuse at the hands of men (and women actually) since I was 6. Firstly by a man who was hiding his sexuality and felt weak. A person who thought he had to be ‘a man’ and deep down, didn’t match up to that construct. So, he pushed it all down. When we have these internalised traumas they affect they way we behave. In this instance the person felt weak and needed to feel powerful (because that is the mans role). That need lead to him taking power. Using it to oppress others and ultimately attack a little girl, emotionally abuse her family even the dogs. All because he couldn’t be honest about who he was. Because he couldn’t create that power for himself. I know he was abused too and it gave warped ideas about how to be a person in this world because the patriarchy told him he had to be ‘a man’ instead.
I have suffered mental illness and anguish because I thought (because I was told and shown by society) a woman couldn’t be all the things I felt I was/know I am. The conflict between “be yourself, be brave and outspoken and strong” only to be shamed and put down when I did, to be told “not like that”. “That’s not very ladylike”. I submitted. How else was I meant to survive?
Some of it comes down to entitlement. The harassment, abuse and murder of women comes down to entitlement. People with warped views on what it is to be ‘a man’ feeling like they are entitled to treat others badly because they are men or that it is the only way to fulfil needs. Note the use of quotations on ‘a man’. This is because it is imagined. It is a made up idea of what makes a man. The hate being aimed at men at the moment is actually only aimed at the minority of men who enact this entitled view. “I can touch a person without consent because I am a man.” “I am entitled to sex because I am a man” “women exist to please men”. The rape of another person isn’t even about sex it is about power. Forcefully overpowering another. Again, taking power from another because they feel powerless.
The conversation around rape puts all the blame on the victim. What were they wearing? What were they drinking? Were they ‘asking for it’? (If I want it, I will ask. That is what asking is, with words not the shape of the body I was given). Rather than, what led the attacker to believe they were entitled to do that? The conversation should be; what abuse and unhealed trauma lead that person to attack? What ideas and information gave that person the idea that taking power from another was ok? What need could they not fulfil and why couldn’t they fulfil it. I am a survivor of rape. I didn’t speak up for years because I knew I would be blamed and yes, I blamed myself. I blamed myself for allowing it to happen. Because I am a woman and the blame is on us. The responsibility is on us not to get raped rather than on others to make sure they don’t become rapists.
I was attacked more than once by a man I was in a relationship with. When I look at it from a place of love and understanding I know that he suffered his own trauma. The situations that led to him laying hands on me where always ones when he felt afraid or weak. Not having healed his own pain he acted from this place of powerlessness and fear. None of us are born attackers and rapists it is created by generational trauma, suffering, triggers and it seems clear to me that the toxic gender norms we have had to uphold play a huge part in that.
So what is the way forward? I don’t think it is to add fuel to the fire by taking it out on one gender. Would the world be a better place today if women were in power? Not if we did to men what the patriarchy has done, by exerting force. There’s a brilliant book called The Power by Naomi Alderman that explores this very concept. I highly recommend it. I think the way forward is to open a dialogue about toxic gender roles and how they impede us all. Take away the power struggle.
This has been an ongoing discussion in my house. I live with 4 guys, non of whom are predatory but we have discussed how the conversations among men need to change. I think the conversations need to be started and held by men. Not by simply shaming other men but by educating, by talking about trauma and mental health, sexuality, gender roles and how its all just an idea. Yes, call out the toxic behaviour but offer alternatives. Offer a different perspective. And if you think a friend is at risk of harming someone else, point them in the direction of a service that can help (the police force is a service). If 1 in 10 men are predatory, then it takes the men around them to call it out. As a woman, I feel my role is in supporting the men in my life in doing so. When they feel they are being attacked, being grouped in with these predator statistics; It is our role to speak up. To share our experiences, even when it is hard for them to hear. I was speaking to the men I love and an interesting example came up: At a party (in the before times when parties were allowed) a male friend of mine was sick, so I stayed with them in the toilet. We were in there for a while and my partner started to worry where I was. He put two and two together and realised we were both missing. In this instance, My partner knew this man was trustworthy so knew I was safe. He expressed this to me and our male friend. He was grateful he knew he could trust us. He knows he can trust me in these situations. The changeable factor was the guy I was locked in a bathroom with. If he thought about other men he wouldn’t feel I was so safe. I asked him If I went missing on a night out and he couldn’t find me what would he be worried about? Yup, It was that a man would attack me. That I’d be the woman missing and found dead in the woods. These are the conversations we need to be having. If there is a man in your group who is misogynistic, call them out. Point out to them that they have mothers, sisters, daughters who have a right to feel safe. Ask them why they feel it is ok the have these views? Where did they come from? What are they going to do to change their ways? What will happen if they don’t?
The rage that women are expressing is palpable. It is a massive feeling. Feelings are wisdom they identify that something needs to change. If we go back to honouring emotion, It is clear to me that we are still in the ‘feeling the feeling’ stage. This is important, we have to feel it before we can begin to identify it and decide what we want to do about it. We embody the divine feminine and that energy is in all life. It is ever expanding. The divine masculine gift is to hold space, (not contain or restrict) and direct that force into action. I feel like I could write about this all on its own. Men can do this, they have to be the ones to do it. Woman have tried and look where it has gotten us! I attended a reclaim these streets event and there was a woman who had been attending them for 40 years! And it still isn’t safe! As women we need to speak up about our feelings, our experiences, our rage. Particularly to the men in our lives. Even though they don’t see themselves as part of the problem.
We need transformation. If my generational curse comes from giving up my power, the flip side is those who feel so powerless their only option is to take it from someone else, thus repeating the same cycle. Gender aside, healing your trauma is your responsibility so that you don’t go around traumatising others. Break the cycle. We are the curse breaker generation and this shit stops with us!
Phew, It feels good to get it out. I will admit Darlings; recent events stoked a rage in me that has been burning for a long time. Fuelled by every cat call, every manipulation, every ass grab in a club, every bullshit sexist comment. I know that if I can only come at it from that place of rage I will be part of the problem not the solution. But first I needed to rage. There is a lot to talk about on this topic. And I intend to talk about it. I Don’t feel like I have an option to stay quiet.
I know that change is coming. I know that there is a life, death, rebirth cycle in all things. Are we living through the death of the patriarchal construct? I fucking hope so.
Rant Over (for now). Peace Out Witches!
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Love Kate xxx