Weak men hate powerful women. Powerful men hate powerful women. And sadly, there are some women who hate powerful women too. Powerful women don’t hate those poor women; they feel sad for them. And when I say ‘powerful’ I don’t mean machine gun toting, muscle bound, super rich billionaires. Those barely exist in the female form. That kind of power isn’t threatening to patriarchy because it’s what they curate to signify ‘powerful’. It’s their language. No, it’s ‘quiet’ power – that which won’t be threatened or diminished – that the patriarchy find unsettling.
Difficult, defiant, smart, outspoken female disruptors make them angry. It’s why Alan Jones said Scott Morrison should give Jacinda Ardern a few backhanders. That was not a joke. It was not said in passing. It carried real intent. Those men share a bond; a distinct hatred and fear of women. Not quiet Christian women who are cardigan wearing wives, who smile nicely while holding their children’s hands in publicity photos. Those women have been subdued.
They hate women like Jacinda Ardern, women who call them to account. Jones’ backhander comment was a threat of violence. Violence is how powerful women have been subdued throughout history. It’s so ingrained in culture as normative that men are rarely held to account for expressing it – in words or deeds. Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young recently won a defamation battle with David Leyonhjelm when he tried to publicly shame her by saying ‘She should stop shagging men.’
Even though these men are being called to account, they’re not stopping. The recent #metoo movement saw such an outpouring of stories of men’s misuse of power – that the world stopped listening. It was too much. The #metoo movement has become a running joke. Possessing women, controlling women, diminishing women, hating women – it’s been what privileged men do when they’re not playing polo. Some of the world’s most privileged men are finally being called to account for it; Prince Andrew, Jeffrey Epstein, Harvey Weinstein. It must be unsettling for men like that to see the world start to tilt. To see the world turn and listen to an angry 16 year old girl in braids.
It’s ludicrous how so many old white men are scared of Greta. She isn’t scared of them. And that’s what really scares them. It’s not climate change they’re pushing up against. It’s her – and a new generation that has more to fear than the men who rule through fear. If you don’t fear them, then they’ve lost power. It’s why some men hit women. It’s why some of those men go on to kill women.
There’s violence in the way powerful old white men try to bully and diminish Greta. She has a certain Joan of Arc-esque fuck you about her. Four hundred years ago they would have burnt her. I guess by not responding to climate change they still get to burn her. It’s just slower and a less satisfying ignition, and they probably won’t be around to toast marshmallows on the pyre.
Powerful women have been feared ever since the mythical Eve cajoled poor widdle Adam into eating that apple. If it wasn’t for her insistence we’d all still be living in the Garden of Eden. Well, men would be – and they’d frack it thoroughly. It’s no accident the foundation story of the Christian faith places the blame for eviction from God’s paradise on a woman (and thereby on all women.)
The human condition is apparently all our fault. That’s how you seed misogyny. You make it ingrained in culture. The church has always feared women. It’s why the Catholics won’t let them hold power. It’s why so many of them were burnt as witches. There are parts of Europe where, below the ground, if you were to investigate a cross section, you’d find 6 inches of charred women’s bodies.
Ironically, as the heat gets turned up on Donald Trump, with two articles of impeachment carried by the American senate, he was quoted as saying ‘More due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials.’ Wow, he’s comparing himself to innocent, powerless women who were hanged or pressed to death without any evidence of guilt. He needs to shut up and take his seat at Pussy Grabbers Anonymous.
Apparently they stopped burning and hanging witches centuries ago, but sometimes, when I pick up a paper, or a story flashes across my newsfeed, or I get an abusive email, I wonder if they have really? Sometimes, I can still smell the pungent scent of burning women.