Patriarchy. It gets a lot of flack nowadays, that it’s responsible for this, and caused that. But does it, as a concept, deserve this intense anger? Before I jump on my feminist bandwagon and say yes, I will first state that the detachment of the concept from those who enact its theorem is more difficult than detaching me from Channing Tatum’s legs. There’s also the fact that no concept with a single word name is going to have a single-track ideology. There are 6 billion different versions of patriarchy that exist as we all possess different opinions on it. And it’s on those different opinions that we act, creating billions of clashing ripples that continue to grow even when met with opposition.
In fact, patriarchy as a concept seems to be one of those little twats of an ideology that gets stronger every time it’s challenged. The relationship between insecurity and guilt within the patriarchal hive-mind is a scary one. The moment one feels that they should be feeling guilty for something, especially in a case involving as large a parameter as this, in a desperate act to reinstate their sense of security, they act out. As we grow up, we learn different social skills and forms of diplomacy, but these are all acting as dams and lochs to stream our flowing natural instincts. At the end of the day, we are all that little kid who wanted the toy that other child was playing with because they were playing with them.
And so we have gone to great measures to protect what we think should be ours from being played with by other people. And that includes other people. Ridicule women for having a lot of sex, because suddenly you feel insecure about their sexuality. Bizarrely, it appears that male-induced slut shaming is a cultural manifestation of not wanting other men to fuck the same woman they fucked. The fact that the woman moved on from having the clearly earth-shattering sexual revelation that you provided and is now sleeping with someone else is such a challenge to your self-esteem that it’s just easy to label her a slut. Because of patriarchy’s placement at the top, the same mentality appears to be present in the male psyche, and anything that challenges this is to be oppressed and shunned in oddly manipulative ways.
But slut shaming isn’t enough sometimes. Let’s just cover the women up. Now, before fingers start hitting keyboards, this isn’t a question as to the choices being made by the women. This isn’t about the fact that in many ways both liberally dressed women and conservatively dressed women are products of patriarchal oppression, down your alcopop and go back to Tumblr. Rather, it’s the origin of this issue that reveals the problem. It’s historically agreed that the design of the burqa, nijab and hijab were done to preserve the physical humility of women – in an effort to control themselves around women, men decided women should cover themselves up. They threw the cake out the window because they didn’t trust themselves not to eat it. Except that this cake is alive, and has feelings and wants, and probably didn’t fucking appreciate being thrown out of a window. Rather than trying to control themselves, it was a cultural evolution that blamed the victim into covering themselves up for shame of daring to turn a poor innocent man’s eyes.
Now, firstly… Sex? Again? The burqa’s purpose is to prevent men from looking at women in a potentially sexual way. Why? Sex is awesome. The very purpose of having two different sexes is for the sake of, shockingly, sex. I’m not referring to the cold, cruel objectification of women that can lead to damaging their self-esteem, security and safety – that’s a side project of this whole shebang. Whilst it’s very human to desire attraction from something less carnal, and to reach a higher plane of spiritual attraction, surely it shouldn’t be manifested from the prevention of something else. Especially something else that is just nice.
Secondly, studies have been shown on the differing opinions of countries that generally embrace this cultural ideology, and much of it stems from male insecurity. In the 1970’s, Iran was an amazingly liberal nation – highly progressive in its approaches towards women, and then with new government, legislation birthed a new perspective on the roles of men and women. A recent reveal has shown that before the rise of civilisation as we know it, men and women were usually on equal playing fields; there were clear role fulfilments for the most part but no pre-emptive prevention of a potential encroachment on one’s own role. Many women now choose to wear these themselves, and it’s very easy from a white, middle-class western perspective to shake one’s own “enlightened” head in an incredibly ignorant manner and sigh that this choice is just a product of patriarch oppression. Men, too, in many of these countries also follow strict dress codes; they’re just not so glaring to our sensitivities that we feel compelled to comment. Yet, these men are given the choice to wear these – you just accept whatever cultural connotations come with such a choice. Whereas 56% of men in Tunisia voted that women should not have the right to choose their clothing, even the most liberal of these, Egypt maintained a 14% hold on this opinion.
There are men out there who will admit that they want to get with a girl whose a virgin because then they’ll be the best she’s ever had – and somehow don’t realise what a testament this is to their own insecurities. News flash: it’s not actually important to be the best. Why does being the best actually matter? How does it change anything? If something is a challenge to your sense of security or wobbles your pedestal, you should wonder why this bothers you before trying to shoot them down. Why blame the victim because you don’t want to realise you’re the guilty one? This regime is creating more friction than anything else. In almost any system of nature, there’s usually one side that takes the dominant role, and with humans, that developed at one point into patriarchy. But it never has to stay that way and staunchly resenting any progression of the “other side” is only going to fuel more flames. Rather than covering up your fears, stare them in the face and maybe realise you’re not actually that scared of them.
Words by Laurence Williams