I’m not proud of this, but I got into an Instagram fight with a teenager. How does something like that happen? Twitter fights, sure, Facebook spats, yeah maybe, but Instagram? That’s like trolling on Pinterest, it just doesn’t happen.
So the thing which sparked this argument was a photo posted by a popular celebrity figure:
The caption attached to it was: “When Men’s Rights Activists talk about equality.”
In all seriousness, I get the perspective of the celebrity who posted. He is LGBTQI after all. Like a lot of people, he’s had to deal with some crap from the faceless scourge known as The Patriarchy.
My comment was about amalgamating all the movements into a Human Rights movement and actually getting equality for everyone, including men who have been victims of abuse. The teenager in question pointed out that we already have human rights and I should look it up.
Apparently irony was lost on that one.
Anyway, I learnt my lesson; never reason with an idiot.
However, it did get me thinking about all the various movements happening right now:
Why is this such a thing at the moment, and why are all the various groups not actively supporting one another?
It’s almost like the Tower of Babel all over again. The problem isn’t that they can’t agree, its that they don’t understand one another, and that’s exactly how The Patriarchy likes it.
Now, don’t think of The Patriarchy as all men or any man. It isn’t just men and it certainly isn’t every man. Instead, think of it like fat-cats in suits and ties. They are predominantly men, but there are also women who perpetuate the system, just like the teenage girl on Instagram who was all like; “but we have human rights… duh!”
The Patriarchy is you, me, your parents, your school teacher, your doctor and probably your Uber driver.
It’s all the people who like the system just the way it is right now because they think it serves them. It’s the people who will protect the system even if it costs other people their freedom or even their lives.
It is society as a whole.
If we want to smash The Patriarchy, we need to change how we think about everything and be willing to let go of false security nets supplied to us by the system in order to keep us docile.
We need to re-think everything.
In psychology this sort of de-programming is called re-framing and is based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It is manually changing your default view of a situation in order to gain new perspective and to break old patterns of ingrained programming.
Most people run on unconscious thought programs. We’re taught them from a very young age and they have to do with whatever society, era and religion we’re raised in. Some people are smart enough to see through the lies and don’t buy into them, but most people aren’t. It takes too much effort, and they don’t have a motivating factor to prompt them into action.
Motivation such as abuse, discrimination, loss of basic human rights or loss of life.
Take the kids from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for example; do you think they would ever have marched on Washington if they hadn’t been shot at? Possibly not. They would have quietly gone about their lives, happily playing along with the system which had yet to fail them.
We put so much faith in our faceless overlords in government, religion, education and medicine that we never question the basics. Things like, why there are so few men who work in childcare. Is it because men get paid more and its a low paid field, or maybe they deem it “women’s work” and therefore beneath them? The Patriarchy would like you to think that way, but men do a lot of menial work for low pay and we never discuss why women don’t want to be sewage workers.
Perhaps it has more to do with the societal unconscious idea that men are incapable of suppressing their sexual urges and would therefore become predators if allowed to care for kids. Or maybe we unconsciously believe that men cannot be caregivers because only women are “nurturing” enough for the task.
Why do we place so little value on the career of childcare? Is there an unconscious belief that children’s lives don’t matter, or that a predominantly female workforce cannot be skilled? Research would suggest that the first 5 years of a child’s life makes or breaks their future learning capacity and job prospects.
If you examine the societal beliefs closely, you can see that something like gender norms is derogatory to both sexes. Men are sexual predators and women’s work is not of value. That’s the belief which underlies how we set up a system like childcare.
How many other norms are we completely blind to?
The good news is that all of these movements are highlighting different facets of the same problem. People are starting to wake up.
The key to waking up is to not just speak out about the one thing which you’re managed to notice, but to start listening to all of the different groups when they talk about their issues. You’ll probably find that you have more in common than you thought, and that can lead to bridging the gaps between different demographics.
My favorite example of this was made into a movie a few years ago called Pride which was based on the true story of gay activists in 1980’s London supporting the miner’s strike in Wales. On the surface these two groups had nothing in common and were almost at odds with one another. But in the most important and real way they had everything in common; they were decent human beings wanting no more than the right to live equitably with the rest of society.
When they supported each other, they got things done.
Collectively, we have the power to make or break one another. Which way we choose to go will determine the kind of society we end up having.