I’m probably what people would consider a secular womanist. I don’t own a pink pussy cat hat but I’m fairly vocal on instances of injustice against all humans including those against my own gender. I tend to have moderate views as I can see clearly that politics is one vicious cycle that will perpetually leave the have nots having not, but you don’t have to be [ insert name of non canceled political pundit] to understand right is right and wrong is wrong. So as far as I am concerned the idea of dismantling a system that leaves women largely without power, i.e. the Patriarchy, isn’t a bad idea. Now, if only people including a large amount of women really wanted that. Because the tea is, it’s kind of hard to completely toss out a system you unknowingly or secretly have been benefiting from, and reveling in.
Don’t be alarmed. You still believe in equal rights, you just might not realize you’ve been benefiting from things not being equal. I didn’t know either. I’ll give you a prime example. The other day a man asked me how tall I was. When I responded 5’5 he informed me that this was the perfect height for a woman. I wasn’t offended…but something deep inside me told me not to respond to this as a compliment. A bit later I figured out what was not sitting right with me about the statement. What’s the perfect height for a woman? Is my value as a woman tied into my height? I asked my friend who happens to be a man and he simply said “Yes.” He then informed me I have been benefiting from my height.
By not crossing 5’6 I am universally considered dainty, worthy of protecting and free french fries from my waiter. So according to this flat earth logic apparently above 5’6 your testosterone spikes and you got it sis. You can wrestle that suspicious dude in the alley to the ground and fix your own flat tire. My more gangly girlfriends have confirmed. And the Patriarchy did all of this. By oppressing women a system has been designed that sets some women up to be more “worthy” and others not so much. And apparently, every time we giggle and let a man tell us how cute we are and all we did was…be short…we’re playing right into it and some of us like it. We want the rights to our bodies, but we don’t really care if our taller counterparts can’t get into the club, or are some perpetual fetish men seek so they can wear a t-shirt that says “Just Climbed Mt Everest and Boy is My Penis Tired!”
I have to admit as a heavy Black Woman this was kind of hard for me to understand. I believed my friends but I was so used to the idea that the whole system is set up to oppress me I couldn’t even remember one instance really where my height had done anything but made it hard for me to get something off the top shelf. But that’s acknowledging and dealing with privilege right? Not dismissing but taking a step back and thinking about how you can be aware of what’s going on around you and try to change it.
I think a good example here is my family. Yes, tooting my own horn. My nephew can cook, he asks to cook. And we collectively as a family take the trash out. I rarely hear my sister tell my nephew he has to do anything because he’s a man or that he can’t express himself a certain way because he’s a man. He shovels the walkway when it snows because he truly in the depths of his heart thinks everyone else is actually inept at shoveling. So we let him have it. This isn’t happening because there are no men around. This is happening because the reality of it is if you don’t want a patriarchy you have to stop assigning gender roles to everything and we unilaterally have to stop abusing what small amounts of power we do have. It has to be okay that there is a tall woman who can get the cheerios off the top of the fridge. It has to be okay that a man is the primary caretaker for his child based on his own character and ability not just exed out by the court system because “a child needs their mother.” If you’re not striving for this you don’t want equality, you want privilege. Think about that the next time the garbage has to go out. Is a man taking it out because you’re busy or is it just his job because of his chromosome set up? It is what it is but we might lose our rights to complain if we don’t fix the small things first.