The Inhumanity of Patriarchy

In the [intlink id=”904″ type=”post”]last post[/intlink] I talked about the controversial nature of the United States’ pro-natalist policies. Policymakers such as Phillip Longman have admitted that these policies will only be effective under the influence of patriarchal marriage. The implication is that patriarchal marriage eliminates a woman’s control of her own fertility. Patriarchal marriage is sexual coercion. In trying to address the hostility of recent events it has become clear to me that the attitudes about women demonstrated by David Albo, Darrell Issa, and Glenn Grothman, constitute common abuse. Abuse doesn’t deserve an explanation. However, it does have a purpose. The feelings experienced by victims of abuse include anger, sadness, depression, betrayal, hopelessness and helplessness. Victims tend to be distracted, they can’t think clearly, they have trouble sleeping. These feelings are useful to an abuser because they give him control over his victim.

The tactics used by abusers include verbal abuse. Name calling–for example, calling someone a slut, a term applied only to women–is common. When a student was called a slut in the national news media it victimized everyone who heard it. Likewise, the denial of women’s rights by tyrants who use the occasion to act out their contempt, is emotional abuse. Finally, when someone with authority to make the law threatens women with involuntary vaginal penetration and then laughs about it on the evening news, that is an act of sexual aggression regardless of whether it ever becomes law. The fact that we have trouble seeing it that way reveals much about the nature of patriarchal society.

Divide and conquer is a major tenet of patriarchal rule. The spouses of these legislators, among others, may feel they are exempt from hostility because they have been told they are morally superior to the unfortunate targets of the legislation. However, sexual morality is only part of it. According to the beliefs of Quiverfull, if a woman controls her own fertility she is somehow immoral. This belief is meant to influence married women. The fact that the policymakers don’t have large families is probably an indication of class division.  

Contrary to patriarchal propaganda, victimization is not a natural part of human experience and like other humans on the planet, women resist subjection. However, public humiliation is a powerful method of control.  The perception that some of us are exempt is a dangerous delusion, if a very persistent one. The latest attack on reproductive rights should teach us that no one is immune, but perceptions are manipulated in powerful ways.

The punch line of my life was given to me by a professor of humanities at Arizona State University. I assumed because of what I had seen in the national media that feminism had changed attitudes and earned respect for women, at least from men outside of my tradition.  So, I told this professor that I didn’t understand why the philosophers denigrate women, since they supposedly use logic to arrive at their opinions rather than religious dogma. I understand it better now, but this was in 1994.  Without hesitation he said, “They don’t want to be polluted by the world.”

Like a fool I stayed and asked him another question. “Why are women treated so badly in Muslim countries?”

He said, “Those governments know how to control their subject populations.”

Apparently, governments that don’t execute women for minor offenses are failing to properly control their subject populations? More to the point, women are a subject population regardless of whether they are properly controlled. We should have known. When one human being serves another without compensation, and when cultural attitudes and customs and even the law make it difficult, if not impossible, for her to leave, that is bondage. The problem is, we don’t call it bondage. We call it patriarchy. We have seen that even single women are defined by patriarchal standards and subjected by the state.

It is important to repeat that the subversive definition of reality often goes undetected and results in the loss of our humanity. For example, how many of us believed the things we were told about “Octomom”, Nadya Suleman? In retrospect, it seems this may have been a patriarchal hatchet job.  She is a poster-child for single motherhood. Recently it was reported that she has declared bankruptcy. In the accompanying picture of her family I imagined I could see in the faces of her children the effects of the harsh things said about their mother and the withdrawal of public affection and support. Ostracism is a vicious punishment but it is dished out to young mothers all the time. Children are an inevitable casualty of this treatment. They are a family in danger. They need help.  Hopefully they won’t get the kind of attention that the social workers offer.

Another mother who needs support is the Texas women who was fired from her job for becoming pregnant before her marriage. [ref name=”Former Coach of the Year Fired from Christian School for Out of Wedlock Pregnancy”]Former Coach of the Year Fired from Christian School for Out of Wedlock Pregnancy. Yahoo! Sports. cited May 12, 2012. Available:[/ref] Judging from the things I observed in my traditional ‘community’ she can expect shunning from her church congregation. She should also be made aware of the possibility of mistreatment when she gives birth.  This could be anything from cold indifference to physical and emotional torture. 

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