A Pox on the Patriarchy
Pubic hair. Always guaranteed to generate debate. Always guaranteed to make me cross. And this morning’s debate, instigated by the release of this article in the Independent was no different, and has left me so cross I am writing a post for the first time in weeks. Don’t worry it’s a short one, and basically consists of two points.
First: there are *no* subjects that are irrelevant or unworthy of discussion by feminists. Saying that is a step away from patriarchal silencing of women and their “issues” because “there are wars on don’t you know?” Or “there are starving children in Africa” – so why should we care about discrimination at work, abortion rights, sexism in the street? This is the strategy that has been used since time immemorial by those in power to silence those without it – and to make this clear to those who don’t “get” feminism, it’s like people saying we can’t care about people in the UK on less than a living wage, because, you know, they might not be starving like, again, those children in Africa. The first issue with this strategy is that it’s nonsensical, because, as we all know, the human mind is a wonderful thing that can care about many things and all at the same time – I can care about rape *and* pubic hair. More than this, if I care about rape, I *have* to care about pubic hair, because the same society that dictates what a woman’s body should look like is the same society that says a woman’s body is public property, available to all – although of course if she gives it freely, she’s a slut. Patriarchy is a system. You can’t pick and choose what you want to care about, because if you want to bring one thing down, you have to bring the whole edifice down.
Second: talking about the huge pressure patriarchy puts on women to conform to a certain beauty standard is *not* the same thing as telling women who conform to that standard that they are worthless, that they have failed, that they are to blame. No woman is to blame for patriarchy. We were born into this system and we have to do the best we can to survive within it. Some women will do this by conforming, some women are just lucky enough to match / like patriarchy’s standards – although of course more often than not then they face the problem of being denounced as “easy” or some other such patriarchal rubbish. But silencing women who feel actively oppressed by the system and want to be able to express that, is not the answer. Hearing every attack on patriarchy as an attack on you and your lifestyle, is not the answer. Granted, articles like the one above don’t help matters with their rhetoric of “Barbies”, but to stop women talking about these issues at all, because the mainstream media gets it wrong is frankly bizarre – when does the mainstream media get it right on anything? Women need to stick together or we will never defeat this system that oppresses us every single day. Divide and rule is exactly what patriarchy thrives on.
So women, a plea to all: no more silencing, and a hell of a lot more listening.