Arn't I A Woman?: Isn't it a pity?: Why men lose in a patriarchy, too



Feb 13, 2013

Isn't it a pity?: Why men lose in a patriarchy, too

An oppressive, patriarchal society eagerly feasts on the violent inequality of its citizens; indeed, its sole sustenance and nourishment is derived from it. That being said it would logically follow that this inequality need be disguised, nuanced, and complex to elude enemies and ensure maximum survival.

What seems to be lacking in much discourse on sexism is how a patriarchal society affects men. Just like racism and classism, the recipients of inequality are not exclusively impacted. Yes, men hold the dominant positions of power in America and are the apparent beneficiaries of a sexist system. In reality the system is the only part of the mechanism that truly benefits because it perpetuates its own existence. In this patriarchal society men overwhelmingly benefit economically and socially, but on an existential level they are deprived.

When men are denied access and the right to express their own feelings we strip them of ownership to their emotional property. And in that absence of ownership a collective anger begins to fester.

 -I want to break briefly and emphasize: I am not saying that women deny men this access but rather the system. I am also not attempting to justify or excuse the continued violence and oppression against women both in America and abroad but rather to create new strategies/paradigms to combat and alleviate these problems-

Displaced anger coupled with access to power aids in the dehumanization of women.  

There is of course not one solution. The lens of intersectionality is crucial to see the microbes moving on the threads of gender, race, class, and sex (et al.) relations.

But if we can reflect on gender identities as fluid concepts then why are we so terrified of changing them? Men should be allowed to be a little softer and women should be allowed to be a little harder. Repressing human expression is a dangerous method on both ends. 

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Sojourner Truth

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say.

Sojourner Truth

Delivered 1851 at the Women's Convention

Akron, Ohio