Some thoughts on patriarchy
I read a long thread of comments of a (by Internet standards) old blog post I stumbled upon at Second Council House of Virgo, and because of my own interest in the topic, wrote a comment too. I’ll post the main parts of it here in case the blogger decides not to publish such a late comment, and I had to do a lot of thinking before writing, to get my thoughts in order.
[Patriarchy is], so I feel, harmful to people of all sexes and genders. Because patriarchy is harmful to every person living, it is in reinforcing stereotypes of “person” as oppressor and “person” as oppressed, that even this “radical feminism” of yours is in fact ridden by the system it tries to fight.
It seems to me that patriarchy (just as a matriarchy, or a “skolioarchy” would be) is harmful to “people”, “people”, “trans people”, “genderqueers” and everybody else, because it maintains that there are such homogenous groups to choose from. Patriarchy is a set of power relations according to which it is OK to define any one person by just one characteristic, inborn or otherwise.
What this means in practice is that because of patriarchy, children learn at a very young age what it is to be “a person”, “a person” – that there are certain normative characteristics for “each” category, and that if you qualify for one (of “the” two), you must fit the mould completely or be ridiculed and worse. Because of patriarchy, we learn to control our sayings, gender presentation, even thoughts, to fit the prescribed (yeah, medically too) box. And this leads to people doing not what they would like to or would be good at, but what they think they “should” be doing.
As you can see, the unhappiness (I like to call it oppression) patriarchy is causing, is not just for people, but in people of all genders.
And so, I would like to argue, feminism (despite having a name rooted in the historical pro-people’s rights movement) is a movement for everybody interested in social injustice. To be a feminist is to fight against oppression in its every form, because all oppression boils down to one thing: power, and who wields it. And so every person is oppressor and oppressed at the same time.