A feminist friend pointed out to me the other day that men seem to be the root cause of all of women's - and society's ills:
We have MENstruation, MENopause, MENtal illness, deMENtia,
...and it seems now we can add fundaMENtalism as well.
We talked about her marriage issues and the fact that some men can be such backward neanderthals, just short of actually dragging their knuckles on the cave floor and treating women as if they are somehow lesser beings just because they are generally smaller and are more evolved in that they have their sexual organs on the inside... and that was just about her hubby dearest.
We also made a few boisterous jokes around the saying that women come from Venus and men come from Mars - and should probably have stayed there.
Before somebody goes apeshit on me again for being a man-hater - please bear in mind that this is really not the case. I like men. I even loved a few in my time. My father was a man, and so once upon a time not too long ago, was I. (As you can imagine this state of affairs has gifted me with a unique point of view.) When it comes to fences and green grass, I have walked - and grazed - on both sides.
In fact, this adage seems to indicate to me the MENtality behind patriarchy-enforced gender roles. The only place this exists is in the mind, where the patriarchy has, through religion and manipulation, placed it.
There (really) is no fence!
It seems some people in SA are following a former potato farmer called Angus Buchan who is often the target of jokes concerning the red phone to God in his back pocket and his silly looking hat. Even sillier than his hat is the claim that this man has visions and speaks for God (hence the red phone) - and coincidentally preaches a chauvinistic conservative message that smells remarkably of compost. The topics this man so often addresses? Why, MEN taking back the world of course -starting with their families, getting women to "respect" them as the "god appointed leader" of 'the family", (I'm sorry, spud - but "respect" has to be earned) sticking to the biblicly defined gender roles with women staying home to fetch and carry after 'the boss' and encourages men to take charge of the raising of their sons as 'manly men'. It seems to me that this man is simply echoing - apeing, if you will - the conservative right wing biblical literalist rhetoric of his American colleagues, and his popularity is worryingly growing - like a cancer. He encourages men to stand up and 'take back' what was never theirs in the first place.
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Unsurprisingly, he advocates 'ex-gay therapy' for GLBT, saying that people should 'pray away the gay'. And millions of lemmings flock to listen to this nonsense - even, unbelievably, women. Worst of all, this fundamentalist oppressor of the female sex and hater of GLBT is also becoming popular in other places, such as the UK and (surprise, surprise) the US. What is wrong with these people?
It seems to me that Buchan has stopped farming potatoes - and has instead started talking to them.
Apparently gay people and feminists are seen as serious threats to "the family" and to civilization because they dare to drain and neutralize the power of the almighty patriarchy - which to my mind is overrated, obsolete and fairly inefficient anyway. The old adage that a world run by men is full of war and misery, while a world run by women would be well run by homemakers seems to apply quite well here.
How can anybody tie problems in the real world (whether these are made up or not) with men not fulfilling their supposed "mandate from god" and running the family with an iron fist? (Come on, they can't even run the world properly without f***ing that up, for Pete's sakes!) For three thousand years men have run the earth into the ground, fighting genocidal wars of attrition out of misguided ego and brute force. How will men supposedly taking over "the family" make any difference?
To add to that, what is this "the family" anyway? Is it some kind of geographic location, a military objective or an object locked up in a vault somewhere? The way Buchan and others such as James Dobson speak of this theoretical thing, it might as well be. They claim that "the family" is the building block of civilization, which surprisingly enough is quite correct - because for us as social creatures, this is the basis for the formation of groups and culture and society.
But what these nice people do not mention is that there are many different forms of family and that there is in fact NO "the" family.
The basic building block of any close relationship - and thus any family - is LOVE. And therefore, love is the true defining characteristic of a family - and what it means to be a family. Two men or two women with or without children, or a straight couple with their GLBT child - are all families. They will NEVER simply stop being a family just because a few nasty men thumping a holy book in their irrational and un-Christian disgust and anger say so. GLBT people are all part of a family somewhere - how do they possibly threaten anybody?
The only thing they may unwittingly pose a threat to is the totalitarian concept of the uber-male dominated society. The patriarchy. "The what?" I hear some asking? No, I am not kidding - do you think the patriarchy isn't a fact of life? Where do you think the phrase "It's a man's world" came from? Have you not heard of "glass ceilings" in your place of work, preventing women or people of color, or diverse gender or sexuality from advancing their careers beyond a certain level? Are women today not still discriminated against? Do women not get (inexplicably I might add) paid less than male colleagues with the same experience and qualifications as them? Are women in some countries not treated like talking cattle which their husbands take out of their closets to f*** occasionally? Are female rape victims not viewed with prejudice and have their misfortune blamed on the way they were dressed or on their previous sexual conduct, somehow excusing an 80kg male gorrilla from not understanding the simple one syllable word "no"?
For another matter, even the bible they are beating people over the head with does NOT subjugate women to the rule of men. The original texts show later translations to have been deliberately changed in order to give this impression - so it seems that from early on the patriarchy was up to its tricks. And for almost three thousand years this loose collection of seperate holy books have been used to force women into subjugation - and GLBT into the role of the scapegoat (aMEN to that). You think I'm making this up? Check here
To close, the patriarchy views us all as a threat to their supremacy - gays, lesbians, transgender - and even heterosexual feminists who would dare to challenge these relics of the dinosaur age - and to show them that their extinction is nigh! You know what this makes us?