Women’s Month Series: Cracking the Patriarchy Nut

By Khothatso Kolobe

Photo by Rodgers Otieno on Unsplash
Photo by Rodgers Otieno on Unsplash

Our author enunciated that her reconciliation with her father began with her recognition that she wanted and needed his love. Failing which, then at least she needed to heal the wound in her heart his violence had created.

She accepts that she does not want her father to die, the dad whom she can hold in her arms, who receives her love and loves her back. Understanding him, she understands herself better. To claim her power as a woman, she has to claim him. They belong together.

Now to my father, we have gotten to be excellent friends over the years. We reconciled our differences until he shared his stories of ambition and success to encourage me to follow the path I desired. He is a great father.

The examples I made have no malicious intent towards men. We are just expressing issues with no goal of offending anyone. This is a safe place. A healing place. Now that the purity of our plans is in the open, let us progress.

Chapter 2: Understanding Patriarchy

Hooks views patriarchy as the single most life-threatening social disease assaulting the male body and spirit. She regularly uses the phrase “imperialist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy” to describe the interlocking political systems that are the root of America’s politics. People disguise their shame for the accuracy of her statement through laughter.

She further translates that patriarchy is a sociopolitical system that insists on males being inherently dominating, superior to everything and everyone deemed weak, especially females.

It considers men as endowed with the right to dominate and rule over the weak and to maintain that dominance through various forms of psychological terrorism and violence. She insists that both her parents were indoctrinated into patriarchal thinking through religion.

To shed light on psychological terrorism, Hook quotes family therapist Terrence Real in his book How Can I Get Through to You? he explains how his sons were initiated into patriarchal thinking even as their parents worked tirelessly to create a loving home in which anti patriarchal values prevailed.

He tells of how his young son Alexander enjoyed dressing as Barbie until boys playing with his older brother witnessed his Barbie persona and let him know by their gaze and their shocked, disapproving silence that his behavior was unacceptable. He calls such moments of induction the “normal traumatization” of boys.

On violence, Hooks recounts the incidents that transpired when she was five years old. She loved playing with her brother’s marbles. Her mother would let her play with warning when her father was away.

One fateful evening, her brother was granted permission to play with them by their dad. She expressed her desire to play and was reminded by her brother that girls did not play with marbles. Her dad told her to stop. She did not listen. She insisted on her right to play by picking them up and shooting them.

Her dad intervened and gave her a lashing so intense that his rage and violence captured everyone’s attention. She recalls her family spellbound, rapt before the pornography of patriarchal violence.

The beating was made to register by banishing her in a dark room alone. Her mother entered to soothe the pain by telling her that she tried to warn her. Affirming that she should accept that she is a little girl and girls do not do what boys do. How many of you have had experiences along those lines?

My mother one day told me to stop letting our sisters to playfully touch us because it would bother our girlfriends. I laughed. The message was the same, I was too easygoing, not aggressive enough for my sisters to know to keep their distance. If I cannot befriend my sisters, what assurance will a girl have that I will treat her kindly?

Just got reminded of one incident where my younger brother had bought a skinny jean that was a bit too tight. Our mother threw a fit, slandering homophobic statements. Given how sophisticated she looks, I would never have thought she was homophobic. That taught my brother a good lesson, use the fitting room even if you are certain of your size.

Females are seduced by myths of romantic love to dream of a strong, domineering, take control, dashing and daring man as a suitable mate only to find themselves trapped in a bond with a punishing, cruel, unloving patriarchal man. Those are the words our writer uses to describe her mother and countless other women like her.

Hooks borrows psychotherapist, John Bradshaw’s clear-visioned definition of patriarchy in Creating Love. Bradshaw clarifies that patriarchy is characterized by male domination and power. He further points out that patriarchal rules govern the majority of the world’s religious, school and family systems.

Putting in the open the most damaging rules, Bradshaw underscores blind obedience, the foundation upon which patriarchy stands; the repression of all emotions excluding fear; the destruction of individual willpower; and the subjugation of thinking whenever it departs from the authority figure’s way of thinking.

As we read further, it becomes apparent that that patriarchy is perpetuated by both males and females. You might think children from a female headed households are safe. To the contrary, they receive the largest dose of patriarchy as the female overcompensates for the absent male.

The male dominance model of patriarchy blends it well with the support, promotion and condoning of sexist violence. Sexist violence gets on people’s lips in public discourses about rape and abuse by domestic partners.

The alarmingly common and untold forms of patriarchal violence are those that occur at home between patriarchal parents and children. Sealing the lips of males and females about what happens to them in families is one manner patriarchal culture is maintained.

Terence Real is called upon once more to elucidate that the patriarchy damaging us all is embedded in our psyche:
Psychological patriarchy is the dynamic between those qualities deemed masculine and feminine in which half of our human traits are exalted whereas the other half is devalued. Psychological patriarchy is a dance of contempt, a perverse form of connection that replaces true intimacy with complex, covert layers of dominance and submission, collusion and manipulation. It is the unacknowledged paradigm of relationships that has suffused Western civilization generation after another, deforming both sexes, and destroying the passionate bond between them.

What a mouthful! The compelling argument continues, joined by Hooks. She maintains that by highlighting psychological patriarchy, we see that we are all guilty and freed from the misperception of men as the enemy. She cautions that there are folks who are able to critique patriarchy but unable to act in an anti patriarchal fashion.

We conclude with a valuable insight from Terrence Real. So that I may not spoil it with my remarks afterwards, tomorrow we will be on chapter three, the heading is Being a Boy.

Real appeals that the reclamation of wholeness is a process even more fraught for men than it has been for women, more difficult and more profoundly threatening to the culture at large.

Hooks adds that if men reclaim the essential goodness of male being, if they are to regain the space of openheartedness and emotional expressiveness that is the foundation of well-being, we must envision alternatives to patriarchal masculinity. We must all change.

What do you think? (I know I promised to withhold my remarks but I had to be a typertive and ask) Does this sit well with you? Why?