Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A bit closer...

Okay its time to get back into blogging.

As I've said in the past I've never really put as much stock in the term patriarchy as the people that seem to not be able to complete a sentence without using. Well thanks to some really good (civil in fact but HORRIBLY offtopic) conversation over at Feminist Critics over the last few days I think I'm a bit closer to why don't.

Simply put the word doesn't fit the system that is currently at work.

Okay a patriarchy is supposedly a system that seeks to keep men above women. Well as we can see with all the harm that society does to men that is simply not true.

For example if a man wanted to be a primary caregiver why does the system actively work so hard to shame him out of wanting to do? In the unfortunate event of divorce the husband wants visitation so he can spend at least some time with the kids. In a lot of cases men literally go broke and break their families trying to get and keep visitation rights just to not have them enforced with anywhere near the tenacity and determination that child support is (if you don't believe me ask yourself what a man that doesn't pay child support is popularly called and what a woman that interferes with visitation is called). If a man decides he wants to wear a dress and make up to go clubbing on a night that is not Halloween or costume party he can expect to have his manhood questioned. And the list goes on.

My question is if this system supposedly seeks to support and look out for these men then why do they face such hardships? I mean if this society is supposedly all about "the rule of the father" you would think that a man would have the freedom to be the primary child care giver, have visitation rights, and wear whatever he wants.

Now chances are this will be met with assurances that "Patriarchy Hurts Men Too" (which is basically lip service) and to that I ask, "If this system is about looking out for men why are so many of us kicked to the wayside?"

So next I think there are assurances that its not about lifting all men over all women but rather men "as a class" over women "as a class".

Okay if you look up at the ones at the top you will notice three things. First yes it is true that most of those at the top are men. However some just saw that, ran off, and started going off on how those few men at the top represent men "as a class". I call bullshit and the second reason is why. If you look up at the top AND look down at the bottom you should notice something. As far as men are concerned there are a whole hell of a lot more of us at the bottom than there are of them at the top. And third as is painfully obvious to many of us those few at the top are not looking out for us they are looking out for maintaining their own power.

Now despite this it seems that the few at the top despite not looking out for all men and being a very small numeric minority of us they are the ones that are held up as the representation of our gender. Even despite the fact that for every Bill Gates there are 50 guys collected garbage that we will never know the names of Bill Gates is still referenced when speaking men or "men as a class".

Now don't get me wrong there are certain patriarchal practices at work. There are job places that discriminate against women in favor of male workers. Now bear in mind that while this looks like a benefit to men as a class at face value the sexist heads of the company are doing that for the benefit of men they hire, they do it to consolidate their own power by surrounding themselves with like minded people. Just to name a common one.

So while there are things going on in society that benefit some men over some women to flatly say that our society is dedicated to keeping men over women ignores a lot of the damage that happens to men and favor that is given to women. And when you throw in other things like race, religion, etc... the intersectionality gets even uglier.

I think I'm just gonna go with kyriarchy. It's so much more accurate.


Elle Suchier said...

Kyriarchy is definitely a more accurate decription. I get a view of how different circumstances affect the genders differently on a pretty regular basis.

My husband is unable to work due to a combination of a serious back injury and a chronic health condition. I encouraged him to quit his job over a year ago, because I could see his condition worsening. It took a while to convince him to do so, because he knew he would be viewed as lazy and a leech if he didn't earn money as well. Eventually, he was left no real option, and had to quit.
When we told our families of the choice they were all aghast *you can't NOT work* they said. They're still aghast, although slowly coming around to realize just how critical the health situation was and is.

In the meantime, my sister-in-law was a stay-at-home whatever (no baby in the picture) for years, while my brother worked AND cooked and cleaned more than his fair share. I never, ever heard boo about it from anyone. Nobody ever insisted she *had* to work. She is viewed as a leech and lazy by my family, but the view stems from the things she does (lays in bed until noon, expects my brother to cook for her, expects my brother to chauffeur her), as opposed to the things she doesn't do (work).

Interesting blog you have here Danny. I hope I didn't get too off-topic for you.

Danny said...

The examples in your family are part of what I speak of Elle. I wish I could find it but a year or so ago I recall reading an article that actually tried to encourage men to put off retirement so that they could leave more money for their wives in return for all the horrible behavior they put their wives through during the years. Okay (in America at least) women on the average already outlive men but that's not enough?

Yeah society's expectations need to go.

Elle Suchier said...

I would have to read the article for myself to get a good grasp of what their justification, and audience, is for that "advice". While I can think of several reason why a spouse of either sex might want to work well into retirement, doing so as an apology for bad behaviour presumed simply because you're a man, isn't one of them.

As far as I know, world-wide, women outlive men -- but think about what kinds of lives many women have in the end, especially if they don't have money, or family willing to help: living in poverty on a puny pension, state-run nursing homes with inadequate care, homelessness. Living longer doesn't sound like much to crow about. Personally, I'm petrified of outliving my husband for exactly those reasons.

Danny said...

True. Part of what I'm sick of in gender discourse is that only the "good parts" of men's lives are highlighted as if being a man is all candy canes and rainbows. I by no means am trying to imply that women have such an easy life but I do grow tired of people using it as justification to steam roll men.

Like that annual Global Gender Gap Report. This is a report in which the economies of different countries are graded on gender gaps on various things like life expectancy, political power, and education. Did you know that this report explicitly ignores any factor in which women have the advantage over men? How can you measure equality when you are only looking at one side of the scale.

Paul said...

This is one of my main criticisms with the gender "debate" as it currently stands. It absolutely sets my teeth on edge whenever somebody brings up how many fortune 500 CEOs are men, but completely ignore the fact that for every CEO there are literally thousands of men that barely make a living, or worse.

One also has to wonder, if the male life is so fine and dandy, why men commit suicide at what, five times the rate of women?

Elle Suchier said...

You're right Danny, it definitely doesn't foster the social good to highlight one side of the equation and ignore the other. It's taken me a long while to realize that, and I learn more every day. While I still identify as feminist, some of feminist orthodoxy, and a fair amount of extremism doesn't sit right with me, especially when it comes to very serious issues that affect men which are willfully ignored or even erased in some circles. Life just isn't easy, although some people do experience fewer roadblocks than others, for various reasons. And, frankly, I resent being told I'm always a victim, regardless of wether that's true in my day-to-day life. I know tat I ave advantages tat others don't, and I don't have to look very far to see that -- my partner has experienced so many roadblocks in his life, it sometimes blows me away that he's managed to make it to where is now.

What factors would you like to see explored in the Global Gender Gap Report? I'm asking that seriously, not facetiously. I know tone is sometimes hard to read online.

Danny said...

How goes it Paul?

Yes this is one of the things that gets me too. Despite male Fortune 500 CEOs being a numerical minority of the male population they are still held up as "proof" of how well off men are.

As for suicide specifically I think the problem is that as far as society at large is concerned when a man commits suicide he is said to have been weak and unable to handle life whereas when a woman does it people crowd around to figure out "what made her do it". Don't get me wrong I have no problem with people being concerned about women that commit suicide but what I do have a problem with is that people tend to run a gender check before deciding how to react.

Danny said...

"Life just isn't easy, although some people do experience fewer roadblocks than others, for various reasons."

That's what I'm getting at. If you look at people, I mean really look at them and not just sort them some sort of characteristic (religion, gender, race, etc...) then start drawing conclusions you will see that while certain groups have advantages over others being part of a specific group is not the jackpot some make it out to be.

"What factors would you like to see explored in the Global Gender Gap Report? I'm asking that seriously, not facetiously. I know tone is sometimes hard to read online."
Well it seems like when looking at different factors while collecting data for that report there were some categories that were examined but once it was noticed that women had the advantage over men those categories were ignored. I would like to see flat statistical honesty instead of the cherry picking the makers of that report engaged in. We will never be able to fix the inequalities of society if we bury things that don't suit certain arguments. Which is odd. People saying they want equality for all but then actively downplay inequalities that don't support their arguments.

Elle Suchier said...

I'll have to take some time in the future to read the report carefully to get a better understanding of it. I did read a critique where the blogger went into more detail about what I think you're talking about (correct me if I'm wrong)-- he stated that in the stats where men were advantaged, it was rated as inequality. In the statistics where women were advantaged, it was rated as equality (apparently it's very apparent in the section about the US and education). Huh. That doesn't sound equal to me.