We all are, or at least ought to be, aware of the more brutal manifestations of patriarchy – a social, political, cultural, and economic existence for humanity that privileges men over women and gender non-conforming folk.
(Apologies in advance for any mansplaining transgressions in this essay btw.)
Physical and sexual violence often come to mind right away when thinking about the most commonly cruel fall outs from this system of male power and control.
But I know there is more than just those egregious forms of patriarchy. Many people, myself included, have viewed or continue to view those types of gender-based violence solely in a vacuum, separate from the rotten and fetid foundation that the violence stems from. For if it wasn’t apparent to me before, it certainly is now, that the foundation of this global system of oppression is ultimately kept in place via silence – a willfully tight lipped ignorance.
Most men, across the globe, close ranks when it comes to discussing patriarchy and sexism. Even the self-identifying “decent” ones, like many of the men I used to have in my life, tend to not be very open or concerned about gender injustice because it ultimately means looking into the unearned privileges they have accrued at the cost of the women around them. Now make no mistake, these are men who would condemn gender-based violence, maybe even with a lot of emotion, but cannot bring themselves to understand and engage with their own internalized sexism and male privilege.
The preservation of unjust privileges can often be a far stronger unifying force for those who benefit from them than the dismantling of those privileges can be for those who are oppressed by them.
(Fuck me, there I go mansplaining again – and with such long, boring-ass sentences too.)
But men closing ranks around the preservation of patriarchy is a real pain in the butt – especially if you’re trying to play even the tiniest of roles in effecting some social justice and real liberation (not to mention deal with your own internalized crap). Cos this shit happens across the board – cops, military soldiers, nationalists, religious crazies, cultural figures – all and more close ranks when the injustice of their existence is questioned. It’s men being men.
Petulant, cowardly men.
So when I find myself mired in rather depressing questions.
Why is silence so effective in maintaining this oppressive system?
Why are so many men so very scared of talking about these very real problems afflicting our communities and our homes?
What is it that prevents so many men from embracing true love and liberation and equality? And the enriching, but often difficult, struggles that are needed to keep regenerating those beautiful life forces?
When I get bogged down by such painful ruminations – I also remember to hold onto hope.
For I now have a beautiful new realm of bromance-building to find good men in my life.
It is the gift and all important responsibility of fatherhood.
(Which also often happens to be buckets of awesome, if occasionally irritating, fun in and of itself.)
Because a friendship cultivated with a man out of a mutual treasuring of that most liberating of life endeavors – that of parenting a child – is likely a friendship with a man who is caring, nurturing, and honorable.
And that’s a bro I can hang with.