Feminism 101: The Patriarchy

So it seems like I get a lot of heat whenever I post anything about feminism or feminist topics but the criticism I receive are almost always the same things and they are usually rooted in a misconception of what feminism really is. It’s not surprising that a lot (dare I say, most?) of people aren’t really in the know about what’s really going on with feminists because it’s not usually taught in public schools and the only other images we see of feminists are on TV and in the media. Guess who are in charge of most mainstream media? Rich white guys. That’s a pretty good place to start-

The Patriarchy 

So basically, a patriarchy is a social system in which men are the primary authority. In a country that is 51% female, women only represent 24.1% of the US Government (and that’s at an all time high.) Of Forbes’s Fortune 500, only 12 of the companies are run by women (in 2011.) The 1% that controls 39% of the world’s wealth? Pretty much all men. We live in a country controlled by white men. Globally, women own 1% of the world’s property, no joke. So just looking at the numbers here, it’s pretty clear that women are underrepresented pretty much everywhere, and the chances of a woman being able to rise above the statistics are scary slim. You’ve probably heard the term “glass ceiling” at one point in your life and this is where it applies. To women, there is a definite glass ceiling when it comes to gaining power, and without women in powerful positions there is no representation that allows women to fight for equality. If you’re a visualizer, you could probably picture a group of wealthy white men sitting in an office, the floor is glass and you can see women struggling to push it up, but their voices are muffled by all the men congratulating themselves on being successful. At least that’s what I see. And also to be clear, chances of breaking the glass ceiling are even smaller for women of color.

The Patriarchy is also used to describe how our world caters to men. If you watch a Victoria’s Secret ad, which features products used (almost) exclusively by women, why do we have super sexed women writhing around on beds? It’s really because the commercials are not geared towards women, they’re saying to men that you can turn any woman into a sex goddess by buying lingerie and it’s saying to women that men will find you more sexually desirable by buying their products. There’s that little pocket of hope that says “they want women to feel sexy and confident for themselves right?” but then we can use our cool Patriarchy Spykit to remember that men have the power and the money, therefore it is safe to assume that a company will gear towards the group that will buy the product. Another example of the everyday adventures of the patriarchy that ties into the Victoria’s Secret example is how the patriarchy sexualizes and objectifies women’s bodies pretty much fucking everywhere. We hear the word “objectify” a whole heck of a lot, so I’m just going to explain how we use it in this context: to objectify a woman’s body is to de-humanize the woman to make her seem like an object to be used, in this case sexually. Common ways women are objectified are to not show faces/eyes/etc in ads, and rather just showing parts of a woman, e.g. breasts, butts, legs. By not showing a face, the person loses identity and simply becomes a body to be used. You rarely see this sort of objectification with men (although it does happen.) For example, this is an ad for a male strip show:

All the men are fully visible. This is an ad for a female strip show: 

As you can see, there is only a part of the woman featured and it’s focused on the genitals.

This is really common and you don’t have to try to find ads like these. And they aren’t only reserved for things of a sexual nature. You can find this sort of objectification in ads for alcohol, clothes, cosmetics, events, etc. It’s actually everywhere because it’s an expectation of a patriarchal society to have women readily available for sex.

Feminism is about women reclaiming their bodies from the patriarchy. Feminism is about desexualizing women so that the pressure to be thin, hot, have giant tits and a good ass is erased so that women can go through life without the pressure of being sexually attractive to men and not have to worry about it. The whole idea of a bra burner comes from this idea: that a woman’s breasts are so sexualized that we’ve forgotten their main function, so if women stop presenting their breasts as sexual objects then eventually they can return to just being parts of a female body. Plus, I’ve never met a bra burner because that shit is expensive and going without a bra is really uncomfortable.

Since I’ve decided to make this whole thing a series instead of one insanely long post, I’m going to continue the post on sexualizing women separately, because it’s a fucking huge deal. Other huge deals include:

Equal Pay
Women in Government
Women of Color
Global Feminism
Mother Descrimination

and all the other things that keep me up at night.

So to concldue, fighting the patriarchy is essential if women ever want to be represented equally anywhere in the world.

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