Friday, March 23, 2012

Patriarchy: End It

This morning I was up far earlier than I normally am. I accidentally crawled into bed around 8:00pm last night and fell asleep. Somewhere around 3:00am my body decided that it had had enough rest and woke me from slumber. Getting up at three in the morning is hardly the way I would normally start my day, but it's how I started this day. With not much to do, I booted up the computer and began surfing my Twitter feed and found an interesting article about women and birth control. This was followed by another which proceeded to demonize these brave women. (UPDATE: response article to the Gawker blog I linked with 'demonize'.)

The first article, despite some of the very open and honest (perhaps too much for some) words of the women from this article, was a real insight into oral birth control contraceptives. The second article, well it made me a little sad to see anyone (especially a woman) tearing these poor women down for their openness and desire to bring to light critical information they were not given (yes I know the information was in the pamphlet that accompanies the pills but let's be honest, how often do YOU read all the instructions, if at all, or terms of agreement as another example?). So how does this all relate to the title? Well, I would be willing to make the bet that had this article been about men and their sexploitations that there would have been little to no criticism. The author of the second article missed the point and used what she wanted to create news; negative news.

This is the end of the discussion on these articles. I wanted to share this story with you as a lead up to the real purpose of today's post: ending the patriarchal way in which we live. First, in case you're unsure what patriarchal means, it just means: "Of, relating to, or characteristic of a system of society or government controlled by men." I'm sure any of you ladies reading who might have been unsure now know exactly what I am talking about; men, if you didn't know, time for a wake up call.

It is no secret that for the last few thousand years that our society has been a male-dominated one. From politics to education to religion to policing to laws to socialization women have always been give the short end of the stick. Men have abused them, lied to them, manipulated them, beat them, jailed them, denied them essential human rights (my all time favorite, for lack of a better word, is that men actually considered women to be non-human!) among many, many, many other terrible discriminatory and sexist crimes (and yes, they should be called crimes). This mentality has been bred into our language, our actions, our very existence; but like anything learned, it can be unlearned.
 
I do my absolute best to try and treat everyone equally. I do my best to see my brothers and sisters as the equals they are but sometimes, even in my vigilance, I fall short of my goal. Why? Because every day I learn or discover the patriarchal indoctrination in some action I perform or some sentence I may speak. I have been no less guilty than others but I have made the conscious choice to help end this specific form of discrimination. This sounds like a very daunting task for one person (I am aware that I am not the only person, but I am also one person) to tackle if you don't know how to help properly effect change. I will share my secret.

I am changing the people. I am teaching people. I am helping people, men and women, to end sexist discrimination. How? For starters, I have changed the way I speak and the way I write. No longer do I generalize people into words like 'you guys' or personify objects with a sex like calling my car 'her' or referring to God as a 'he'. I avoid terminology like this as much as possible and though I am aware I make mistakes from time to time, it is a work in progress; after all, I was bred from this patriarchal ideology.

I can already hear some of you saying something to the effect that 'this isn't going to change anything' or 'that's a nice fantasy but it will never happen'. I beg to differ. It is going to change things. It is going to change the way I think; it is going to change the way I talk; it is going to change the way I act; it is going to change me. Change is already happening; I am the living example of it. Again I can hear you nay-Sayers: 'One person changing isn't going to fix the problem." Yes it will. How? You are right, I am but one person but I have already changed and because I have changed, each person I interact with must also inevitably be altered by my change. 

In my own way, each and every day, I do little things such as simply being more consciously aware of my language. I do this so that I can learn to treat others equally and equitably because as with all things, unless we are able to help ourselves, we cannot ever hope to help others. Here I present a challenge to all of you, men and women, to try to be more conscious of your language. It may start with just changing one word a day to be less subconsciously sexist. You questioned how can one person make a difference? This is how. By talking about it; by engaging in discussion; by challenging the status quo.
 
You, each individual one of you, have the ability to create change. It doesn't require becoming an activist; you don't need to protest; you don't even need to leave your home. The only requirement to change the world is to the power to change yourself; the rest of the world will eventually follow you. Think of it like inertia except that instead of an object in motion, this is an idea in motion and like the object: an idea in motion wants to remain in motion and it will so long as just one of you keeps it going. Today it is me. Tomorrow, the world.