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.