Every time someone says they want to smash patriarchy, I get this little thrill of naughty excitement, a desire to punch the air. I get this sense of daring to rise up and meet that anger we feel as women. I feel the frustrations of a society that belittles and demeans women for no reason except some arbitrary difference in biological sex. Yes, I feel all of that. But stronger that all that I feel a rejection, a desire to say no.
I don't want to smash patriarchy because I respect men as individual people with their own struggles, and I'd rather work collaboratively to create a better society where everyone is respected.
"Patriarchy lives in all of us, in real everyday people... and I don't want to go to war against them."
I don't want to smash patriarchy because I recognise that patriarchy is not an abstract evil to be smashed by a hero with an iron fist. Patriarchy lives in all of us, in real everyday people, who each face our own complex oppressions and difficulties. It's in our fathers, our sons, our cousins, brothers, uncles, and friends. And it's in women too, in our mothers, cousins, sisters, aunts, teachers, and freinds--as well as in ourselves. And I don't want to go to war against them--or against myself. I want to respect the men in my life, respect the women in my life, and show them how to respect me in return--even if that is more complex and dificult than just getting angry.
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Patriarchy is in our laws, our history, our school curriculums. It is part of the very fabric of our society and, yes, that needs to change. But I don't want an all-out revolution. I don't want to reject everything we have built as a society and start again on a utopic island for women only. I don't want segregation. I want to work together for a shared and better future where equality is a long term goal that we must always strive to achieve.
"I don't see this as a war where some people are bad and others are good, where I get to play the righteous underdog who can do no wrong."
Most importantly, I don't want to smash patriarchy because I know I am not innocent. I am complicit in systems of dominance and oppression from which I benefit. I'm a white, middle-class Australian. I can get a visa almost anywhere. I am able-bodied and fit. I can speak a clear and mainstream English. I can communicate well and I've studied at Oxford. And I know it is not easy to give up our privileges.
I don't want to smash patriarchy because I don't see this as a war where some people are bad and others are good, where I get to play the righteous underdog who can do no wrong. As far as I can tell, we are all complex and flawed human beings, and the best starting point for collaboration and intersectional feminism is to recognise those flaws, acknowledge the guilt of our own micro and macro oppressions, and get on with the business of working out how to live well together. We need to put down our weapons and start talking to each other as equals. Will you join me?