How did we get here? It’s an existential question that can be taken several ways. From the primordial soup emerged microscopic life forms that evolved across millennia until, in the Pleistocene Epoch, early humans walked the Earth. That’s one version of how “we” got “here.”
Now that there’s an established “we,” how do we find ourselves “here?” (E.g. in the hierarchical structures that human beings use to organize themselves into societies?) Bringing the question into sharper focus for those of us in the Western Hemisphere, why the hell are white men the self-appointed and seemingly unextractable chieftains of humanity? They act as if they hold up the world. It’s
turtles white men all the way down.
I know this: I am smaller than most men, less aggressive than most men, and physically weaker than most men. On average, this is true of women. We can also give birth — a gift to men that is inexplicably punished by so many of them because, somewhere in the lizard brain, key information is repressed: namely, that they entered the world through female reproductive organs. They should be goddamn grateful, but instead they turn on us. Historically, our biology has been our destiny, but this makes no sense in today’s world, if it ever did.
Beyond the male advantages of size, strength, and a hyena-like sense of fairness, men hoover up the spoils while empire-building, and even the nicest guys around benefit from the traveling carnivals of masculine leadership that come and go from our seats of government with the regularity of Japanese bullet trains. If you’re not in revolt, you’re in cahoots. If you’re not concerned that Foghorn Leghorn could get elected President of the United States before any woman could, you need a good proctologist to reposition your head. As they say.
One more thing. Do you know why I hate organized religion? Let’s put it this way: I reject with every fiber of my being any book of fairytales written by men thousands of years ago for the purpose of oppressing women and exalting men in the name of God. Weeping Jesus on the cross, Jimmy Carter nailed this issue:
“This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries. The male interpretations of religious texts and the way they interact with and reinforce traditional practices justify some of the most pervasive, persistent, flagrant, and damaging examples of human rights abuses. At their most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation, and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment, and influence within their own communities.”
So, NO THANK YOU, clever men who kept women illiterate and then codified their own power into religious texts! Here in America, I’m talking to you, white faux Christian men.
People ask all the time, “Why do women vote against their own interests?” or “Why do women tear each other down to the benefit of men?” Easy. Because the crumbs of patriarchy are apparently worth fighting over. That’s how the system works. Those women look sideways instead of up. I look up every damn day; and these days in the U.S. of A., there are a vast plentitude of men — almost all white, Christian, straight, and old — who preside over my life and my body and my future with the most hideous and pernicious arrogance, as if that role is unquestionably theirs — theirs to exploit at my expense and yours, women of all political persuasions.
I look at photos like this:
I am in desperate need of a shepherd’s crook to remove superfluous male bodies from the world’s stage. For every person who looks at these pictures and sees a terrifying problem, there are exponentially more people who don’t. It looks to them like the world we live in because it is the world we live in. But it doesn’t have to be.
Male violence and male entitlement are ruining the world we all share, and saying so does not mean that I hate men, but I don’t even care anymore if pathetic wankers enjoy leveling that charge at me to deflect from this colossal screw-up. Men are failing stewards of future generations and all life on this planet. So label me. Have at it. People who utter the word feminazi are broadcasting their support for our gendered caste system, not to mention embarrassing themselves by sounding like unpaid interns for Rush Limbaugh. Quoting Mr. T, I pity the fool. (I don’t only quote esteemed former presidents.)
But thank you Goddess, there is also this:
There are men like my friend John who see reality and seek justice. I’m also married to this kind of man. He understands that the erosion of privilege does not equal oppression. You’re either batting for #TeamEquality or you’re not — there is no other position, no other league. You either actively stand for necessary change, or your indifference places you on the opposing team. Progressive men, I am talking to you. Conservative men, you are not a lost cause. You can find your humanity and stop trading it away for fleeting power and everlasting shame.
What really pisses me off, though, is that women are innately, inherently, incontrovertibly equal to men, but circumstances force us to keep saying it, searching for ways to prove it, and busting our asses to legislate it. Why is all that hard work still needed? The sky is blue. THE SKY IS BLUE. It just is. Living in a fact-free universe is nothing new. Women have dwelled there since the dawn of freaking time.
I am no one special. I have raised a child and gone to work and paid my taxes and made the mistakes that humans make. I try to be a good person and I always say I’m sorry when I should. I am not sorry that I am angry with men. I refuse to explain #NotAllMen one more time. I join the chorus of female voices imploring men to step up to bat. It is baseball season after all. The bench is deep. It’s black men and white men, gay men and straight men, rich men and poor men, all the way down.
Lori Day is an educational psychologist, consultant and parenting coach with Lori Day Consulting in Newburyport, MA. She is the author of Her Next Chapter: How Mother-Daughter Book Clubs Can Help Girls Navigate Malicious Media, Risky Relationships, Girl Gossip, and So Much More, and speaks on the topic of raising confident girls in a disempowering marketing and media culture. You can connect with Lori on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.