An Open Letter to the Patriarchal Paradigm

To the Patriarchal Paradigm:

Throughout the course of history, you’ve lived quite the double-standard life, haven’t you? I’m sure you already know this, but really. What is it with you and your borderline paranoia with the chasteness of women and your insane obsession with “dominating” the female sex? What’s that? Something about asserting your masculinity? Yeah . . . no. I’ve got another word for it: machismo. For goodness’s sakes, you ostensibly achieve masculinity by going around and making so many babies you couldn’t even begin to count, and then you turn around and beat your wives the minute you think they’ve been unfaithful, because heaven help them if they so much as look at another man. Please.

Now, there are many firm believers of the paradigm that I could choose to single out, but let’s stick to one of the epic heroes of Greek literature: Odysseus. Can you say douchebag, much? For being a hero, your friend was actually pretty sleazy and hypocritical by modern standards (see: taking ten years to get back home, being ridiculously cocky and arrogant, sleeping with countless other women, and then finally getting back home and killing all the [unmarried] maids who got it on with the suitors at his house, even though he wasn’t even married to them in the first place). And yes, I know you’re saying that being a hero back then was more about having an extraordinary attribute as opposed to attaining perfection, but come on. When Odysseus gets back home, he pretty much treats the women like. . .well, trash.

See, he’s determined to find out whether or not his wife, Penelope, has been unfaithful, even though he’s the one who’s been having trouble remembering who he’s married to (never mind the fact that he claims to have remained true to his wife in his heart; it would have been nicer if he could’ve remained true in all respects). If she wasn’t faithful, he’d probably have killed her. Note the fate of all the unfaithful maids. If further proof is needed, look at his treatment of his longest servant, Eurydome, and note how harshly he speaks to her in all the scenes they’re together. I could probably go on, but I think this should suffice for now. Perhaps some more modern example is now in order. Let’s jump ahead a few thousand years, shall we?

So we’ve got two extreme ends of the spectrum to look at here. On one hand, women are sexually exploited, stripped of all their humanity and being and transformed into an abstraction, often exemplified in the form of money. There is no longer any beauty or goodness here, only a debased and bestial attitude towards the female sex. The male sex here objectifies—and often fetishizes—every aspect of the female, which in turns lead to the woman becoming hardly any different than that pair of pants in your closet. Sure, there’s no shame here about the female body, but really, patriarchy? This is what where we are? You fail to treat women with the dignity that should be a no-brainer, and this lets young men well on their way to becoming full-fledged patriarchal jerks spout such ludicrousness as, “Well, she really meant yes when she said no” and “Oh, come on, she was just asking for it; what was I supposed to do?” Words cannot convey the anger I feel when someone says that. I suppose because women are practically animals, they can’t tell what’s good for them, and the all-knowing macho men do, giving to them what they ask for. Thus did the people justify their wickedness. Pardon me while I headdesk.

Now, let’s look at the opposite side of the spectrum. There’s objectification going on here, but just not of the same kind. Instead of parading women around like playthings, women find themselves being constantly told that must mask their femininity and remain virtuous and chaste for all eternity. So, what’s wrong with being chaste? Nothing . . . until the concept of chasteness transforms into a blown-out, disproportionate ideal that tells women to cover up everything and make sure to never tempt the opposite sex, lest they wind up like the previous example I gave. So, enter potato sacks.

Not literally, of course, but you pretty much get there. Let’s take a look at what often is and isn’t allowed. Jeans are a big no-no, obviously. Because . . . uh, oh yeah, because they . . . reveal that you have a figure. Right. You know, because apparently it’s a surprise that women have legs, just like most other people on the planet. Therefore, an ankle-length skirt comes in. (While an ankle-length skirt will do, I’m told, it’s much more preferable to wear one that almost touches the floor.) Also, no makeup. At all. It’s unnatural. And since unnatural equals devilish . . . let’s not go there. And about hair? If it ain’t natural, then you’re doing something wrong, girl. Just let it grow out and give it a trim every four years or so, and you’ll be good to go. And above all, what’s quite possibly the most important rule: DO NOT LET THE MEN STARE AT YOU. EVAR.

Look, I know you’re saying that the patriarchal paradigm respects women, which is why you beat the living daylights out of women who fail Femininity 101, but really. I’m all for self-respect and modesty, but there’s a point where it’s simply ridiculous. You focus on the women, and forget the other half of the equation. Some of you men, I’m sure, would lust after a woman in aforementioned potato sack and skirt, and yet somehow . . . it’s still her fault. Reminds me about that picture circulating around on the Internet about a car accident in the last century purportedly caused by two women wearing pants in public for the first time. It’s the women’s fault, right? You know, for wearing . . . pants. Not the bloody driver’s fault, of course; it’s got to be the woman. And what do I say to this? I reject this.

I reject the notion that women must be reduced to an abstraction and be stripped of all their self-respect and dignity in order to ironically gain some twisted form of worth. I reject the notion that women must be taught that the fault lies within in them and that they must go to extreme measures in order to achieve what you, the patriarchal paradigm, labels femininity. (Side note here, but if you get to decide on what masculinity is, shouldn’t it work in reverse?) Instead, I look to equality and an abandonment of the “us vs. them” mentality. This isn’t about men vs. women or masculinity vs. femininity, some hopeless attempt at trying to see who is better. The fact is, there is no us, and there is no them. We all encompass humanity, and seeking to create more division than we already have takes us nowhere. Progress cannot be made until this mentality is adopted. And I really do hope you start to realize that.

Maybe, with time, you will.

With regards,

Josh

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14 thoughts on “An Open Letter to the Patriarchal Paradigm

  1. *claps* Thank you. Excellent post.
    “We all encompass humanity, and seeking to create more division than we already have takes us nowhere.”

    ~IrishTiger

  2. You must have witnessed some awful experiences. A life modeled on Christ would never be as abusive as this. I am very sorry for your experiences. As a woman empowered by Christ, risen to newness as a daughter of the almighty King and Lord of lords, I will not allow anyone to take advantage of the temple of the Holy Spirit or be abused. This patriarchal paradigm you discuss is bogus. It is simply an excuse for abuse.

    • Whoa there, just breath for a sec and think about what you just said. You will now “allow” anyone to take advantage of the temple of the Holy Spirit of be abused? I apologize for being blunt, but what can you do personally versus what God allows to happen to you?

      That aside, this patriarchal paradigm is exactly as it is named, it’s a pattern after real sociological behaviors in a WORLD society. Believe it or not, this pattern does actually exist. It is not bogus. To call it such is to rationalize that there is no such pattern to begin with. However, in America for instance, it is largely thought amongst CHRISTIANS that the male is the dominant figure in a family unit. Suggesting anything else would contradict the words of “the almighty King and Lord of lords”. However, this discussion is about how both extremes should be avoided, is it not? The reality is, there is abuse and there is a pattern to this abuse that cannot always be avoided. The fact that you think you have any power whatsoever over your own life is, respectfully, a bit absurd, let alone other people’s lives and actions.

      I don’t mean to be harsh, I know you mean well. And you have a good idealistic point. Again, if you believe my words to be accusatory or offensive I sincerely apologize. I am simply stating a free opinion of your words in response to this idea. Hope ya have a good one!

    • It’s hard for me to believe that one can simply “not allow anyone to take advantage of the temple of the Holy Spirit.” While that would clearly be ideal, that’s simply not the case–more often than not, people are taken advantage of or treated as if they’re of lower social standing. This applies not only to gender, but, for example, to the systematic opression of people for no reason other than their skin color. The patriarchal society is very real and still exists, the fact that we’re in the 21st century notwithstanding. Women have material worth–some yards of cloth, a couple of goats, boom, deal done, you can marry her. That’s all they’re worth.

      I understand where you’re coming from. I’d like nothing more than for minority groups to have equal social rights. But unfortunately, more often than not, it’s not the case.

  3. As in anything that man, or mankind, creates, there is room for abuse. Many Christians in their zeal to live lives that please God rely on man-made rules and standards. Although we are not supposed to be silent about it, let us leave out the horrors of the extremists for this conversation. I know those horrors as I was the victim of a violent crime at age 14. It was a crime, not the effects of a movement. I have grown beyond that and been healed. However, the victimization you described can be best addressed from a strictly biblical perspective.

    Let me lay out some items that may clarify my thought process better.

    1) Some Christians (I am among them) believe that it is vital that we be in the world and not of it because we live in a wicked and perverse generation. We are called to see children as a blessing from God and train them to honor Him. Because of this, we take our responsibility to carefully make sure that there is nothing (person, activity or material thing) between them and God (Deuteronomy 6).

    2) Many Christians can quote from memory Ephesians 6:22 and 23 but forget 6:21 (“Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God”) and 6:25 (“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it”). This memory lapse leads to elevation of a man (specifically the husband/father figure) to the level of idolatry. Although there must be a decision maker in a household (like the CEO of a corporation), and I do believe that the male is the ultimate spiritual authority, elevating a man to the point of infallibility is to make him an idol. There are to be no other gods before our Savior. While the man is the spiritual head of the family, he is not the intermediary between family members and God. I believe that all of us, Presidents, Emperors, Popes, Moms, Dads and even young children are called to develop a personal relationship with Christ. Christ is the ultimate One to whom we submit and are beholden to. “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.” Hebrews 4:14

    3) In conclusion, real men don’t dominate. Since there must be a decision-maker with ultimate authority, my willingness to submit to my husband is an act of love towards not just my husband but Christ. This is not abuse. However, it does not abdicate my responsibility of respectfully communicating with him concerning the matter. This protects me and my family as we live through this tumultuous generation. Actually, sometimes I really feel sorry for my husband. In the event that he makes the wrong decision, he is ultimately accountable to God for it.

    Does this clarify why I feel empowered and strong?

    P.S. I’ve done a lot of studying on Ephesians 5 and compared it to my decades of experience. I’ve come to the conclusion that God had to emphasize different things to men vs women because of the difficulty each had with it. In verse 22 we wives are told to submit because we have trouble doing it. In verse 25 men are told to love their wives because they have trouble doing it. I’ve discovered the word submit in 22 really means respect, to respect their decisions. The word love in 25 is sacrificial; it is to desire to please the woman, above his own desires, to the point of death. Just figured I’d give my two cents worth of what I’ve learned.

    • Yvette, Thank you for clarifying your position. Although I don’t completely agree on you, I see where you’re coming from now, and I am in agreement with you on much of what you say. Thanks for commenting.

  4. Reblogged this on Josh the Normal and commented:

    With the year drawing to a close, I’d like to share my most popular–and, as could probably be expected, arguably the most the controversial–post I made in 2014. Enjoy, good readers.

    Less than three,
    Josh

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