One illustration of why: when I first became a feminist twenty years ago, I had an old-school feminist (wearing bright pink lipstick, mind you) ask, “What’s a feminist like you doing wearing a miniskirt?” I said to her, “I got out of the patriarchy because it was always telling me what to do. I’ll be damned if I let anyone else do it, either.” I told her that automatically rejecting everything the patriarchy demanded was allowing the patriarchy to control you just as much as if you did everything it ordered. As long as you were simply reacting, you were still granting the patriarchy all the power. Part of feminism, to me, was the freedom to choose for myself after carefully thinking out the issue, and I wasn’t going to cede that power to ANYONE, ever again. Besides, damn it, I had good legs, and I wasn’t above showing them off.
I have heard and read that patriarchy also hurts men, but I can't understand how. Can you explain or give me examples?
The main use of any culture is to provide symbols and ideas out of which people construct their sense of what is real. As such, language mirrors social reality in sometimes startling ways. In contem porary usage, for example, the words “crone,” “witch,” “bitch,” and “virgin” describe women as threatening, evil, or heterosexually inexperienced and thus incomplete. In prepatriarchal times, however, these words evoked far different images. The crone was the old woman whose life experience gave her in sight, wisdom, respect, and the power to enrich people’s lives. The witch was the wise-woman healer,
the knower of herbs, the midwife, the link join ing body, spirit, and Earth. The bitch was Artemis Diana, goddess of the hunt, most often associated with the dogs who accompanied her. And the virgin was merely a woman who was unattached, unclaimed, and unowned by any man and therefore independent and autonomous. Notice how each word has been transformed from a positive cultural image of female power, independence, and dignity to an in sult or a shadow of its former self so that few words remain to identify women in ways both positive and powerful.
When men feel inconsequential, it’s easier to blame women than it is to confront patriarchy - the true source of the diminishment and lack of meaning in so many men’s lives. When men feel unloved and disconnected, it’s easier to accuse women of not loving them well enough than it is to consider men’s own alienation from life. It’s easier to think of women as keeping men from the essence of their own lives than it is to see how men’s participation in patriarchy can suffocate and kill the life within themselves. It’s easier to theorize about powerful, devouring mothers than to confront the reality of patriarchy.
Beneath the massive denial of men’s power and responsibility and its projection onto women is an enormous pool of rage, resentment, and fear. Rather than look at patriarchy and their place within it, many men will beat, rape, torture, murder, and oppress women, children, and one another. They will wage mindless war and offer themselves up for the slaughter, chain themselves to jobs and work themselves to numbed exhaustion as if their lives had no value or meaning beyond controlling or being controlled or defending against control, and content themselves with half-lives of confused, lost deprivation. What men lack, women didn’t take from them, and it isn’t up to women to give it back.
There’s a poisonous double standard in our society which says that it’s reverse-sexist and wrong for women to feel threatened by creepy-awkward male behaviour because our fear implies that we hold the negative, stereotypical view that All Men Are Predators, but that if we’re raped or sexually assaulted by any man with whom we’ve had prior social interaction – and particularly if he’s expressed some sexual or romantic interest in us during that time – it’s reasonable for observers to ask what precautions we took to prevent the assault from happening, or to suggest that we maybe led the guy on by not stating our feelings plainly. The result is a situation where women are punished if we reject, avoid or identify creepy men, and then told it’s our fault if we’re assaulted by someone we plainly ought to have rejected, avoided, identified.