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The Death of Patriarchy & Birth of the Female Oppressor

the-slave-mistressFor the first time in history, with equal access to the ballot box, women had a clear and unambiguous choice. They could choose between a man many label a misogynist who, if not a misogynist, clearly enjoys treating women as sex objects first and trophies second. He has also made clear his desire to reverse Roe v, Wade. Rather than believing women have the right to make reproductive choices for themselves, Trump believes women can’t be trusted to make the correct choice and the only permissible choice, even when raped or when their lives are in danger.

Clinton, on the other hand, represented the opposite of Trump in every respect: empowerment, feminist bona fides, was pro-choice and a woman. What choice did women make? They preferred, a majority among some groups, the embodiment of the patriarchy. Compared to Mitt Romney, Trump lost only 1% of women’s vote.

The lesson is clear.

There has never been such a thing as “the patriarchy”—a social system defined as a system in which males hold primary power and predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege and control of property. Despite the claims of Feminist critics and historians, the argument can be and needs to be made that women have benefited as much from any given social structure as men; and inasmuch as women have suffered oppression, so too have men. And inasmuch as men have benefited by the oppression of both men and women, so too have women. Women are equally complicit in any so-called Patriarchy.

In short, the decades long portrayal of women as victims of male oppression is no longer tenable or supportable. Based on the Trump-Clinton election results, we can extrapolate that if women had been given the opportunity to vote 200 or even 2000 years ago, we should likely expect the same results we saw on November 8th— an endorsement of whatever societal system was dominant. Why? Because there’s no reason to think that the women of ancient Egypt and Rome were any different than modern women, or any less clear-sighted in respect to what benefited them.

Feminists may counter that women were and are taught to assume a submissive and deferential role, adopting the cultural traits and social patterns of whatever group they’re born into, but the same can be said for men and is no excuse. I recently watched a video of women and Trump supporters. Asked about Trump’s comment that “putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing”, a middle-aged white woman agreed with the statement, strongly supporting the belief that a woman’s place is in the kitchen, with the children and in the bedroom. This voter has undoubtedly benefited from this power structure. And one could even go so far as to dispute whether a woman in such a relationship is truly “subservient”?

In a 2014 article entitled: Women’s Greatest Enemy is Evangelical Women, Not Republican Men, the author calls America “a paradise for patriarchs”, then expresses dismay that:

“What is stunning beyond comprehension is that women who support Republicans, particularly evangelical women, know full well that their support for Republican patriarchy is inflicting second-class status, and certain misery, on their own mothers, sisters, daughters, and other evangelical women. It leads one to assume that evangelical women either suffer from Stockholm Syndrome and adopted their patriarchal masters’ cult belief that women are born to be subservient to men, or they just hate other women; there can be no other explanations.”

But the explanation is simple. Like the wives of slaveholders in the antebellum south, women have historically benefited and continue to enjoy the benefits of oppressing not just men but other women (it wasn’t just men who were enslaved). And it’s in that sense that the patriarchy, as a social construct, is dead. It never existed. Men have never oppressed women without the willing, if not driving, consent and cooperation of other women who benefited equally. The story is as old as Lady Macbeth.

If nothing else, the election of 2016 brings the Female Oppressor to the forefront of political discourse. The notion of man as oppressor and woman as oppressed no longer holds, and that this comes as a shock to many feminists is nicely captured in the latest article by the same author linked above: The Shockingly Stupid Reason “Educated” Women Gave For Voting For Misogynist Trump”. The author may call the vote stupid, but those women who voted for Trump may well stand to benefit from their vote inasmuch as any racism, xenophobia and bigotry directed at other women may benefit them. Their vote was a calculated vote and understanding the nature of that calculation is key to fighting the oppression entailed therein.

Maybe it’s time feminists stopped thinking of power structures in gendered terms, lest they continue to assume a candidate like Hilary Clinton is entitled to women’s vote simply because she’s a woman. Based on the evidence, their assumption betrays a glaring ignorance and misunderstanding of the ways in which women have and continue to benefit from the oppression of other women and men (no less than men who oppress other men and women).

It’s long past time we recognize and define the Female Oppressor.

“My dam old missus was mean as hell,” former slave Henrietta Butler announced in a 1940 interview. Butler was born in Bayou Lafourche, Louisian, sometimes before 1860. At the time of the interview, she was unsure both of her birth date and her age. “I was born in slavery,” she stated, “I’m not ashamed to tell it either, and known somethin’ about it.” Butler witnessed horrendous atrocities during her time as a slave on the Haidee plantation in Luouisian. Emily Haidee, her mistress, forced Butler’s mother to conceive children with enslaved men on the plantation…

Plantation mistresses used violence on a daily basis to manage and control enslaved people on their plantations.” ~ Katie Smart, Female Slaveholders, Violence, and Slave Management in Louisiana.

Will Crimson | November 16, 2016

5 comments on “The Death of Patriarchy & Birth of the Female Oppressor

  1. stephaniesubmits
    November 16, 2016

    We – women – are absolutely complicit. I believed women would overwhelmingly vote Clinton/Kaine. But…your theory that the patriarchy never existed… I don’t know how to respond to that. My mind is blown.

    • willcrimson
      November 16, 2016

      Well, you know, I don’t expect everyone to agree, but I stand by my argument. I think the whole notion of “the patriarchy”, after the 2016 election, has to be questioned. I think the label essentially turns a blind eye to the ways in which women helped cultivate, contribute to, and exploit the quote-unquote “oppressions” of a given “patriarchal” system—and to their own benefit. With that in mind, I just don’t think anything termed a “patriarchy” has ever truly existed. To make the assertion is to believe that women were at some point powerless and in no way contributed to the power structure. I just don’t buy that argument any more. It risks limiting or misunderstanding the nature of “power”; and no system that women helped to perpetuate can really be called patriarchal. I’m also skeptical when it comes to calling Trump misogynistic. If nearly half the nation’s women voted for him, then clearly they have a different definition of misogyny and an entirely different take on their place in society.

  2. stephaniesubmits
    November 16, 2016

    //I think the label essentially turns a blind eye…// Yes, I agree. “Patriarchy” places all the responsibility & blame on men, and none on women. This implies that women have/had no power whatsoever. That everything is just done TO us and AGAINST us. You’ve given me a lot to think about. If anything, “patriarchy” should not be used as a catch-all for every instance of sexism.

  3. jh
    February 11, 2017

    There are plenty of feminists who recognize the existence of female oppressors. They tend to be women of color, though. I’d recommend reading Feminism: From Margin to Center by bell hooks.

    • willcrimson
      February 12, 2017

      Yeah, but I don’t think it’s recognized to the degree it should be. If you’re a Doctor Who fan, there’s a brief but fascinating introduction to a race called Tivolians. They could almost be straight out of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. They’re noted “cowards” who readily surrender to any invading conqueror. In the show, Gibbis (a Tivolian) was a town planner “engaged in a project to line all his planet’s highways with trees so invading armies could march in the shade…” Dr Who doesn’t like the Tivolians. He finds them bloody and murderous in a self-serving, manipulative sort of way. Naturally, as with all “alien” races, they’re really us in disguise—subjugation as a means to power. Of course, it’s always more complicated than that, but I do think the patriarchy, as such, is dead—if it ever was ‘a thing’.

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