The Homestead: #MeToo and Patriarchy

Michael Daly

This is not intended as a scholarly piece. I’m not educated in the field of gender relations. I’m not a historian or sociologist. It’s not intended to enlighten, persuade, accuse or defend anyone. It’s just some of the things that have been running around my brain recently.

The current #MeToo Movement is very unsettling. It appears to be cathartic for some, terrifying for others, but unsettling to most of us.

Many of us feel guilty about something having to do with Patriarchy and #MeToo. Maybe we knew it was happening, but didn’t do anything about it. Or maybe we didn’t really know and feel guilty because we should have known and done something.

Maybe we just figured that “that’s the way it is” in this world…it’ll change someday. If I had a dime for every time I heard the expression “well, boys will be boys”, I’d be rich! 

History reports the writer’s subjective perception of the wars we have had since the beginning of recorded events. Did men write those textbooks? Even if they were written by men, I don’t ever recall being taught about one war that was started by a woman.

I always wondered why the caveman was dragging the woman by her hair. Did he do that after she said “No”?. Did she even say “No”?  Did it matter if she said “No”? Was that because men are strong and women are weak? Or because men know better? Or because men get what they want even if the woman doesn’t? Why didn’t the woman have a club and hit him with it?

I’ve ruminated over what I may have done in the past that might have offended a woman. Have I ever not taken “No” for an answer? Have I ever been too pushy? Did I know that some men that I admired were using their position of power as leverage to take sexual advantage of women that worked for or with them? Who else that I may admire, or even know personally, has or is conducting themselves in this manner?

Most men accused in recent times have claimed that “the relationships were consensual”.  Is their definition of consensual the same as mine? Are they lying? Is that what Patriarchy is? It’s unsettling.

My mother, aunt and grandma were strong women with presence and they ruled the household. It just seemed normal to me. My dad was a terrific guy, perhaps the nicest man I’ve ever known.  I couldn’t see him forcing himself on any other man, woman or child and I’m confident he never did so. But I couldn’t imagine some of the men being accused today of doing so either. It’s not that I was as close to them as I was with my dad, but one of the accused men in particular reminded me of my dad and I was shocked and saddened by the revelations of what he may have done to women. Am I a bad judge of character? How could I have missed that?  If he could do this, well maybe anyone could do it. It’s unsettling.

What are the roles of men and women now? In business? In family? In the church? Why do some religions still only allow men to be church leaders? I know many women who could dance circles around some of the men standing before us and leading us in prayer.

How many times have you heard “Oh, all women are crazy”? And how many times has that been said by a woman?  Do women get crazy because we men push them over the edge? That’s too deep…sorry.

The definition of patriarchy by Merriam-Webster is 1 : social organization marked by the supremacy of the father in the clan or family, the legal dependence of wives and children, and the reckoning of descent and inheritance in the male line; broadly : control by men of a disproportionately large share of power.

I see patriarchy as the supreme form of racism and bullying. I see racism as being against someone weaker, of different skin color, ethnicity, religion, political beliefs, customs, intellectual skills, physical skills, geographic location,…where does it end?

The foundation that we stand upon is shifting. Being a middle-age white Christian male, I have floated around in a bubble of entitlement for my whole life. In a recent conversation with a Native American woman about the history of her tribe, she said “the white man is afraid that if we get the power from them, that we will be as cruel to them as they have been to us.” I’m still thinking on that one…and I’m thinking she might be right. Yes, it’s unsettling.

East End Beacon

The East End Beacon is your guide to social and environmental issues, arts & culture on the East End of Long Island.

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