Patriarchy is broken. Its grand structures of phallic dominance are crumbling. The conviction of Harvey Weinstein last week is a sign that the empire is finally falling. The condemnation by the Senate, and call for Bettina Arndt’s Order of Australia to be stripped, owing to her ‘blame the victim’ commentary – in reference to the recent murder of a Hannah Baxter and her three children (Aaliyah, Laianah, and Trey) – proves that the power of patriarchy is waning. The world’s love of a new voice, the fresh inspiration of a young mother prime minister like Jacinda Arden illustrates that people want something real. Something authentic. They no longer trust the judgemental, angry, self-interested patriarchs we have previously awarded with power.
Patriarchy, or the system that enshrines male power and privilege is the toxic structure that promotes the economic, cultural and social dominance of a select group of men over everybody else. Patriarchy has been the architect of poisonous binary depictions of violent masculinity and victimised feminity – patriarchy underwrote the stories we were told about how to occupy our gender. It is a force for alienation: from self, from each other and from society. The gender debate has split the nut-shell wide open: gender is not binary, it’s not linear; it’s fluid, it’s personal, it’s as unique as your thumb print.
Patriarchy has become one of capitalism’s chief conspirators, re-inforcing trickle-down power structures where very little ever trickles down. Forget trickle-down, we need a raging river to facilitate fully actualised co-operative lives in harmony with each other and nature. Patriarchy serves neither women nor men. It certainly has never served nature. The same violence enacted on women has been enacted on our planet. Men have raped and plundered the planet with the same violence they have raped and plundered women.
It’s no coincidence that we face the devastating impacts of climate change at exactly the same time as we are trying to grapple with men killing women, and in turn themselves. Death by suicide happens three to four times more for men than for women. Patriarchy clearly isn’t working for men either.
Patriarchy is an angry, miserable, old man. When I think about what patriarchy looks like, I see Rupert Murdoch. He will die soon too. The king-maker is mortal. Even his son James has been publicly critical of his father’s coverage via News Corp and Fox of climate issues and the obvious allegiance with climate denial. Climate denial, by the way, sounds a lot like domestic violence denial.
Patriarchy has always been about power – about dominating the natural order. The only way to change the system is to break it. There will never be equity, or parity, within a patriarchal system. It’s not co-operative, it’s not in its interests to power-share. So let’s break patriarchy. Let’s start with something symbolic.
In the ’70s, early feminists used bra burning as a symbolic act of liberation from ‘enshrined’ patriarchal ideas of beauty. So let’s burn something meaningful to patriarchy; the business suit – that mandatory, anomalous, bland uniform for aspirant and powerful men everywhere. The suit creates the illusion of power, even when there is none. It stifles the voice of a good man and makes him part of a mob. It is the suit of armour for the patriarch in a world where battles aren’t fought on the field but in the boardroom, or courtroom, in parliament, or behind closed doors.
This is the suit worn to win economic dominance. To incarcerate the poor and un-‘suitable’. The suit that creates an anonymous patriarch out of every man. Let’s ban it. Let’s start though, by setting fire to it. If a woman and child were incinerated in a car, in full view of their neighbourhood, let’s burn the symbol of what put them there. The symbol of why nothing has changed.
The suit is the uniform of the capitalist captains of patriarchy. Let’s see what sits beneath it – expose the soft crab flesh to the hot water of the truth and see what happens. Sorry patriarchy, absolute power no longer suits you. We need to know what a non-patriarchal man actually looks like.