(Patriarchy) There is No Opt-In; You Cannot Opt Out

“Patriarchy damages every last one of us, that this damage influences how we act and who we are, and that we should work to correct this damage, if only to live life as honestly as possible under Patriarchy.

Another way of coping with this damage is to pretend that the damage is avoidable or to neutralize/sanitize it.  In other words, to lie to ourselves and pretend that we control how Patriarchy damages us.

If Patriarchy is avoidable, then wouldn’t it all behoove us to avoid it?  If there was an anti-Patriarchy Spray we could use to sanitize woman-hating imagery, why wouldn’t we?”

In an Opt-In system, a Person must voluntarily decide to participate in an activity. So, for example, some states have laws that require consumers to affirmatively Opt-In to receiving telemarketing phone calls.  If you don’t Opt-In, you CANNOT receive telemarketing calls.

Opt-In only works if you have an actual choice as to whether or not to participate in an activity.  And even then, it doesn’t work well (although consumer advocates prefer Opt-Ins to Opt-Outs, because the Opt-In at least has the illusion of control).

Living in Patriarchy is not an Opt-In system. You cannot Opt-In to this thing that is so insidious, that we are born into, that many of us never even consider in our lives.  If there is an Opt-In, it happens when you are born – and of course, no one “chooses” to be born. You just are born, soaking in Patriarchy.

So, no. There is no Opt-In.

So what about an Opt-Out? Can you really create a Patriarchy-Free Bubble?

Patriarchy Free Bubble?

In an Opt-Out system, you, the individual, need to take an affirmative action to removeyourself from an activity.  So, by way of analogy, consumers can Opt-Out of receiving telemarketing calls by registering their telephone numbers with the National Do Not Call Registry.  That is, the DEFAULT is that you WILL participate in an activity, and only through an affirmative act on your part can you (hopefully) decline participation (although anyone who had registered on the Do Not Call Registry probably knows how poorly it works).

So, is Patriarchy an Opt-Out System?

Well, for certain the default is that you WILL participate in Patriarchy. Patriarchy is all around us.

Can you make a choice to escape from Patriarchy?

No. You can pretend that Pimp Slap means something other than violence against Women by Men, and you can pretend that your home is a Patriarchy-Free Zone, but these are defense mechanisms, wishes, hopes, dreams.  The fantasy of an Opt-Out – the escape hatch – is just a trick that allows you to believe that there is an escape if only, if only, if only.

“Porn isn’t bad when it’s made by Us. BDSM is feminist when we do it. Misogynystic language is ok when I say it because reasons.”

It is understandable that Women want to control, to manage, to decide what happens to us.  I get it. Try to “reclaim” slurs like Whore, Bitch, Slut. It’s “empowering.” Sure. If you are getting objectified anyway, do it “on your own terms.” Feminist porn is not like “the really bad porn.”

Except it doesn’t work. Pretending words aren’t rooted in Male Violence against Women, pretending that you can create a Patriarchy-Free Bubble, making “feminist” porn – these are an individual coping strategies.  They do not represent a path to liberation of the class of Women – because in order to “work,” we’d all have to lie to ourselves and all decide to believe the delusions (kind of like Gender Identity).

You can live your life in a bubble, if you choose. You can also develop a drinking problem.  But please don’t expect the rest of us to go along with your delusions or pretend that you aren’t an alcoholic.

The least you can do for Women is to be honest.

Read more:  There is No Opt-In; You Cannot Opt Out by Cathy Brennon

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Shared Girlhood

From Shared Girlhood by Smash

What is shared girlhood?

Shared girlhood is the idea that girls growing up under patriarchy are all oppressed based on their being treated as girls when they were younger.

For example, we’re told we exist to please men and be pretty, or we experience unwanted sexual harassment or contact, or we’re told to be small and eat less than boys.

There are obviously huge differences based on race, class, nationality, etc. But there is shared oppression based on sex.

When we grow up and become women, our experience as women is shaped by the way we were oppressed growing up.

Thus, growing up as girls is an important part of being a woman.

 

 

 

 

Shrinking Women

Across from me at the kitchen table, my mother smiles over red wine that she drinks out of a measuring glass.
She says she doesn’t deprive herself,
but I’ve learned to find nuance in every movement of her fork.
In every crinkle in her brow as she offers me the uneaten pieces on her plate.
I’ve realized she only eats dinner when I suggest it.
I wonder what she does when I’m not there to do so.

Maybe this is why my house feels bigger each time I return; it’s proportional.
As she shrinks the space around her seems increasingly vast.
She wanes while my father waxes. His stomach has grown round with wine, late nights, oysters, poetry. A new girlfriend who was overweight as a teenager, but my dad reports that now she’s “crazy about fruit.”

It was the same with his parents;
as my grandmother became frail and angular her husband swelled to red round cheeks, round stomach,
and I wonder if my lineage is one of women shrinking,
making space for the entrance of men into their lives,
not knowing how to fill it back up once they leave.

I have been taught accommodation.
My brother never thinks before he speaks.
I have been taught to filter.
“How can anyone have a relationship to food?” he asks, laughing, as I eat the black bean soup I chose for its lack of carbs.
I want to say: we come from difference, Jonas,
you have been taught to grow out,
I have been taught to grow in.
You learned from our father how to emit, how to produce, to roll each thought off your tongue with confidence, you used to lose your voice every other week from shouting so much.
I learned to absorb.
I took lessons from our mother in creating space around myself.
I learned to read the knots in her forehead while the guys went out for oysters,
and I never meant to replicate her, but
spend enough time sitting across from someone and you pick up their habits-

that’s why women in my family have been shrinking for decades.
We all learned it from each other, the way each generation taught the next how to knit,
weaving silence in between the threads
which I can still feel as I walk through this ever-growing house,
skin itching,
picking up all the habits my mother has unwittingly dropped like bits of crumpled paper from her pocket on her countless trips from bedroom to kitchen to bedroom again.
Nights I hear her creep down to eat plain yogurt in the dark, a fugitive stealing calories to which she does not feel entitled.
Deciding how many bites is too many.
How much space she deserves to occupy.

Watching the struggle I either mimic or hate her,
And I don’t want to do either anymore,
but the burden of this house has followed me across the country.
I asked five questions in genetics class today and all of them started with the word “sorry.”
I don’t know the requirements for the sociology major because I spent the entire meeting deciding whether or not I could have another piece of pizza,
a circular obsession I never wanted, but

inheritance is accidental,
still staring at me with wine-stained lips from across the kitchen table.

Why do we not see that there is a war being waged against the female sex?

From Male Violence Affects Us All, by The Artic Feminist

Why do we hesitate to see male violence and the male sex caste for what they are?  Why do we not see that there is a war being waged against the female sex that has been going steady for thousands of years and that we are losing, badly?  Why do we not see that all women, no matter what they achieve are always under the threat of some man getting to define them (as victim) forever?  We desperately need to build communities that function away from men.  Refuges for our refugees.  We need to stop acting as if all of this is just a misunderstanding and get serious about putting an end to male violence, for good.