In a system dominated by straight white men, how do we get truly representative government? Can Patriarchy ever deliver the equity so many of us desire? I can’t see systemic change ever happening without an end to the big P. And before some of you start getting angry and shouting at The Echo that Mandy Nolan has gone on another man-hating rampage. I’m not. Calling for an end to Patriarchy is not saying you hate men. It’s saying you hate a system that gives privilege and purpose to one particular group at the cost of others. It’s saying that there has to be a better way.
Patriarchy demands a particular style of masculinity. It postures. It dominates. It invades. It controls. It marginalises. It’s violent. It creates war. It is the architect of so much of the world’s suffering. It’s not just women and the non-binary community, so many men are injured by a system that demands their brutality. The cost of passage to the Gentlemen’s Club is their heart. It’s their kindness. It’s their silence when men they know behave badly, or tell sexist or racist or homophobic jokes when they’re drunk, or bash their wife or partner. It’s the compromises they’ve made to survive in a system that crushes men who don’t ‘measure up’.
Patriarchy is the secret handshake. It’s the envelope full of cash. It’s the pat on the back. It’s the secret deal, the pay off. It’s the fucking disgusting privilege. Privilege that always comes at the expense of everyone else; the liberty, the equity, and the safety of everyone and everything else. It’s a mindset that says that everything is mine. It’s there for the taking. It’s the coloniser’s wet dream, bending Mother Nature over and raping every resource out of her.
Patriarchy is the man in the shadows. The drunk boy who drags a drunk girl to the couch of his boss and rapes her – because he can. Patriarchy is the silent hand on the shoulder that says ‘We’ve got this my boy. We wrote the legal system. Rape has a conviction rate of just over three per cent.’
My 21-year-old son grew up in a household full of women. Inside the home there was no patriarchy. With a feminist mother, a feminist grandmother and four empowered sisters he had the opportunity of finding a different masculinity. A masculinity that was informed by the feminine. That meant he could cry, that he could talk about his feelings, that he could be himself. He could also kick a ball and go to the gym.
There’s something terrifying about sending your son into the world of men. I remember when he left home I told him to be careful. It wasn’t the conversation I gave my girls about locking doors, dark streets and men who rape and kill. It was about being careful not to show too much of himself; to know when to be quiet and sneak past the gatekeepers of Patriarchy who sniff out ‘deviance’. Who hurt beautiful boys who don’t prescribe to the tenets of their club by ‘teaching them a lesson’.
One of my favourite sayings is: Nothing changes if nothing changes. And if Patriarchy isn’t dismantled, then we will never end domestic violence. We will never end the rape and murder of women and children. We will continue to live in a world of violence and war.
It isn’t peace if it’s a pause, just a tiny gap where we congratulate ourselves for our astounding humanity, and wear a white ribbon and run an awareness campaign and raise money for the traumatised… before we face the next atrocity.
We don’t need any more awareness campaigns. We are aware. The perpetrator is Patriarchy.
So I suggest a quota system, where we set a limit on straight white men that we are prepared to accept as CEOs, on boards, in courts, in governments. Then we open the doors to everyone else: The people who have been marginalised, First Nations, the disabled, the LBGTQI community, people of colour… and women. Then, and only then, systemic change will occur, when leadership isn’t from the pointy end of the trickle down triangle of neo-liberalism, but from beside it.
What does that even look like?
I don’t know about you, but I want to find out.
And I think most men do too.
Please join us at March 4 Justice this Sunday at 12pm at the Mullumbimby Civic Hall.