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Byron Shire
June 14, 2021

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: An Un-Suitable World

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The suit that creates an anonymous patriarch out of every man. Let’s ban it. Let’s start though, by setting fire to it.

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. 


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12 COMMENTS

  1. “Feminism is a preemptive strike of prejudiced ”
    “Piety on manhood , in this case there is a radical” “shade to it to ” this Article is as fucked up as it gets .

  2. Barrow… you do continue to misread what is
    & turn it into what it wasn’t. Patriarchy is on
    the wane; high time too. The dills who think
    they represent us when they are not up to
    the job we’ve paid them to do, be, & most
    of all – includes trust – is a scandal. The
    ‘suited’ look can be seen as power play.
    The mouths that refuse to speak the truth
    can be recognised by anyone of any age
    & country either here or the US. It’s time
    the ‘big boss man & his likes’ left the room.
    Hell, not all men are jerks. Those of you
    who genuinely care about today’s society
    do need to make a stand against what’s
    gone so terribly wrong & help fix it.

  3. Something authentic ? Something real ?
    Just thats exactly what the people of NZ were
    Hoping when this young mother was voted in
    I will eliminate HOMELESSNESS from NZ
    Iam your climate change leader
    Promised to build 100.000 homes for the
    Homeless got to 980 , lectures the world including Australia on Global warming, dos not sign onto
    The Kyoto agreement because the diary industry
    In NZ is so important for there economy. Hypocritical ? Elections are coming soon to NZ
    If so popular the world over , one could only assume Ardern would no doubt be returned for a second term ? Surely?

  4. Women have been unscrambling their societal conditioning for the last 50 years. Many of us have done the hard yards. This article asks for that conditioned societal dress code that men have to also get unpacked and unscrambled. There is no blame .

  5. I do hope those across the ditch vote
    the same leader in. At least she does
    not spin the line that all’s fine & faces
    up to doing what’s needed. I cannot
    imagine that leader buggering off on
    a holiday while her country burns,
    floods or chokes on dust storms.

  6. I wanted to say ‘thank you’ to Dennis F. for those lovely supportive comments. We have a lot of lovely balanced men in our community here. It makes life nice!

    Love & blessings

  7. I find Barrow’s comments unfortunate – that’s about as diplomatic as I can be on that score. But Mandy, you’ve nailed it again. I’m all for burning business suits. I have them, I wore one for many years as part of the capitalist priesthood. They are wrong on so many levels, not to mention the fact that they’re expensive – which is the point of wearing it I suppose – and they are uncomfortably.
    I’m surprised that women keep putting up with the crap that they have for so long.
    While we’re on the subject, let’s ban shoes as well. The world would be far better off if our collective decision makers actually had to tread lightly and be grounded.

  8. Love the sentiment and energy of your comment, John! But remember: women have been fighting against that crap longer than we’ve been putting up with it. We fight and fight and fight – but we need a helping hand from men, too. Solidarity!

    Great article, Mandy –– articulate and fearless, exactly what we need more of! Love to you.

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