Patriarchy This WeekNov 07, 2020
BY A TEXAS WOMAN OF COLOR
The quotes here are things that were written to me by males of apparent European descent this past week. I collected them because these dynamics are typical of my interactions with … The Patriarchy.
I have agreed to name these moments when they happen, and I’m finding it tiring to name each time it happens in the moment. It’s exhausting. So I decided to write this piece.
Things I’ve been told this week:
YOU TOLD ME HOW TO THINK.
“I encourage you to consider how not taking comments personally might alter your experience and your perspective.”
“If … learning, doesn’t interest you then I suspect you will continue to deflect and discard information that doesn’t comport with your reality.”
“I encourage you to watch this video and consider how the information may apply in your life … then humbly retract your judgment that ….” Title of video link: “Why incompetent people think they are amazing.”
I need to consider not taking things personally, consider learning, and consider how I may be incompetent but think I’m amazing, and then humbly retract my statement the gentleman did not appreciate. Hmmm … ok I’ll make a note of these to-do’s right away.
YOU TOLD ME HOW TO SPEAK.
“Beyond that, we're lawyers, all three of us (perhaps more). We know that characterization is a pre-eminent tool for advocates. But the rhetorical tool of characterization does not necessarily rely on truth or factual accuracy.… your characterization has gone too far. … Not all of your followers are lawyers or even mince words this way. They rely on your transparency. You don't provide that, instead favoring provocative statements. I demur.”
For plain English speakers, “I demur” means “I object.”
“Yet you provided no explanation or context … You have the expertise to lay out a real explanation, but all you provide is a provocative statement. … I see this approach to discussion as deliberately provocative. I also see it as deliberately less informative than it should be in light of your expertise. … I see this rhetorical approach as extremely fallacious in nature. “
Plain English translation of “fallacious” is “false.”
So here the gentleman has lodged his objection to my way of speaking, and then gone a step further and called my way of speaking false.
Actually, I spent 20 years as a trial attorney with my own office by the courthouse. I know how to speak Patriarchy. I’m not ignorant of it. I reject it.
YOU TOLD ME WHAT MY INTERNAL EXPERIENCE IS.
“So I'm surprised that you hide behind this claim that you don't understand. I don't buy that.”
“[Y]ou don't generally read the articles posted by others in threads you started.” [After I let him know that, actually, I do read the articles, he conceded an inch!] “Maybe you read some articles posted by others. I hope so.”
Here the gentleman has decided that my statement that I do not understand what he is saying is … false. He will not be buying my own account of my experience on this one. Further, he has decided what I do at home and he will not be budging much on this one, no sir.
WHEN I ASKED A QUESTION, YOU CALLED IT AN ARGUMENT.
“You responded … saying, ‘…What are you trying to say with this post?’ [He] asked, ‘did you read the article?’ Your answer was, ‘the one you posted? NO. I'm waiting for you to tell me what your point is. And I don't hear it yet..’ Why you persisted in arguing without first reading the article he offered is still a mystery to me.”
Patriarchy sees questioning them as an argument. Look at my words, I asked one question. To them, anything other than compliance is “being difficult.”
YOU DOMINATED ME WHEN I DID NOT AGREE TO YOUR DOMINANCE.
“I’m happy to address any non-rhetorical, open ended questions you might have, with this qualifier - you are willing to accept my response even if my response doesn’t comport with your understanding, i.e. reality. Follow up questions are welcome if the follow up is designed and intended to provide clarity, not as a rebuttal or to otherwise argue a position in an attempt to promote or persuade the adoption of a different perspective. If you’d like to proceed in that manner, ask away.”
This gentleman has graced me with the roadmap of how I am permitted to address him … on my feed.
YOU POINTEDLY PONTIFICATED, HINTING A CUTDOWN WITHOUT EXPRESSING ANYTHING IN YOUR OWN VOICE.
“I encourage you to watch this video and consider how the information may apply in your life…” Title of video link: “Why incompetent people think they are amazing.”
“[O]h what a difference factual accuracy makes.”
“I’ve said nothing TO YOU. I simply share information. … I ‘believe’ very little. I ‘know’ even less.”
What an interesting way to avoid personal responsibility. You didn't say I’m incompetent. You didn't say my words are not accurate. Nothing could ever be pinned on you.
My wise teacher Raven said "You are not responsible for anything. You are responsible for your relationship with everything." But this approach ensures the speaker is not responsible for any statements in his links. He’s just posting general information!
I was imagining living with someone who is constantly pontificating, never committing to any one position. It seems like this dynamic could result in a lifestyle of inaction. Taking action means we have to discard every other option and choose one. Commit. Take a stand. Believe in something. Live it. Do it.
Dreams and ideas without implementation are hallucination. I spent four years inside the idea space earning a philosophy degree in college. I left it for action.
YOU ARE ALWAYS INNOCENT, YOU ARE ALWAYS “RIGHT”.
“I have not accused you or anyone else of any offense or impropriety related to any topic or subject you have introduced.”
“I simply share information and perspective and ask non-rhetorical open ended questions without expressing opinion or otherwise advocate for a position.”
[After I said you do not get to tell me what my internal experience is.] “I’m not yet clear on what you want an apology for. But I didn't apologize. I wasn't trying to. … If you are insulted, I don't know why. … What is it that you want an apology for?”
I understand. Asking for acknowledgement will be … futile.
YOU MANSPLAIN THINGS TO ME, INCLUDING MY OWN CULTURE.
“Non-rhetorical, open-ended questions do not include assumption. Non-rhetorical, open-ended questions are earnest inquiries offered in an attempt to gain information and expand understanding. In other words, they are not tools of persuasion or promotion of ideology or agenda.”
“I fully embrace Don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements: 1. Be impeccable with your word 2. Don’t take anything personally 3. Don’t make assumptions 4. Always do your best. I especially appreciate agreement no. 2 - Don’t take anything personally. I encourage you to consider how not taking comments personally might alter your experience and your perspective.”
This one happens so often it might be impossible to track. But that last one takes the cake. I started my study of the Eagle Knight lineage of Toltec Nation, Don Miguel Ruiz’ lineage, fourteen years ago. I apprenticed with my teachers and was initiated into the lineage around 2012. I am Mexican. So … perhaps the gentleman was violating number three and making an assumption, an assumption that I am not a Toltec. In this lineage.
AND OF COURSE THE CHERRY ON TOP: A BACKHANDED COMPLIMENT.
“If you have concluded that I've called you a liar because … then I'm very surprised. I don't consider my conclusion about your characterization to be on the level of rocket science or an application of the language that is difficult for people to understand … apparently I think you're a lot smarter than you think you are. My opinion that you're so smart is unlikely to change.”
This one is classic. And common. Look what happens here. Notice the gentleman says his words are not rocket science and they are not difficult for people to understand, so he is surprised I do not understand him (I’m dumb.) And then finishes with a compliment (I’m smart).
This is sort of the Texas two step. Texans have made the weaponization of politeness into an art form. Everyone in Texas knows the biggest cut down is “Bless her heart.” If the fine Southern gentleman gives the little lady a compliment, well then, how on earth could she take offense to anything about him after that? In fact, you see what she owes him now, right?
A “thank you.” Yes, after an interaction like this with Patriarchy, I am expected to say “thank you.”
SO, PATRIARCHY, IN THE END,
you assume I’m ignorant. You don’t leave space for the possibility that I understand what you’re saying and I reject it.
Patriarchy is not one or more humans. Patriarchy is a field of consciousness. It’s a false mental concept that males are superior to females. It’s easy to see when it’s blatantly stated. It’s less obvious when it comes out subconsciously in old patterns handed down over thousands of years of male dominance that usually accidentally reinforce the system today.
Some might say that what they are doing isn’t perpetuating male dominance, it’s just the best way to do it. But what if it’s just the best way males could think of to do it? There might be whole other alternatives.
Every time I tell somebody how to think, talk, feel, each time I pointedly pontificate, each time I take part in one of the behaviors outlined here, I’m perpetuating dominant culture, dominance culture, the patriarchy.
An alternative view would be that I don’t have power over you. I have no right to tell you how to think or feel, I honor your autonomy and agency. I don’t want or need to dominate you.
The answer is for each of us to look for these unconscious patterns inside ourselves. I was riddled with these patterns after my 19 years of education plus 20 more years of training inside The Patriarchy. It’s taken years to remove these patterns from my own behavior and I’m still removing them.
The patterns named here from this week are a list to explore if you’d like to be more aware of your own behaviors. There is hope. With awareness comes choice.
I can imagine some of my friends thinking “well this is just how I am, isn’t everyone like this?” The answer is “no.” There are many people, I would say most people, who are not like this. They do not tell me what to think, say, or do. It’s mostly you guys. As if you are trained inside a system that encourages you to act like this so you think it’s normal. … Well, it’s not. It’s becoming less and less common and, frankly, it’s going out of style.
Look around. It’s a new day.