How to Pierce the Veil of Patriarchy
So you’ve opened your eyes and mind to the reality that our world is dominated by a culture of patriarchy – now what? The journey doesn’t end there. As a long time feminist, I have seen my own worldview and feminist identity go through many iterations. I have learned that as a straight, white, middle class woman, my experiences are not representative of all people who call themselves feminist. It is important to continue challenging yourself by learning about other people’s perspectives.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of ways you can reveal patriarchy in all its forms:
- Movies: Seek out films that pass the Bechdel Test, as well as movies that pass the POC (People of Color) Bechdel Test. In order to pass the Bechdel test, a movie must have two named female characters, that talk to each other, about something other than a male character. In order to pass the POC Bechdel Test, a movie must have two named POC, that talk to each other, about something other than a white character. These tests are helpful to show how dismally rare it is for women and POC to have good representation and relationships with one another in our media. However, be wary of those who would seek to say a movie is feminist (or not racist) merely because it does pass the Bechdel Test. Too many people get hung up on this test as the end all be all of critiquing a movie’s feminist/racist content. I don’t like some movies that pass the test, and I like movies that don’t pass the test. However, I still like to use this as a tool to spur discussion and raise awareness of the problem.
- Online Sexism: Unlike generations before, the internet dominates our daily lives. To make sexism stand out in the virtual world, turn on the Jailbreak the Patriarchy Google Chrome add-on. It swaps pronouns around, and you quickly realize how differently men and women are treated on the internet. I especially recommend reading the news with it turned on. Just don’t forget to turn it off again when you are getting back to work!
- Commercialism: Do you have a twitter account? You should make one, even if you don’t think you have anything worth tweeting about (which I’m sure isn’t true!). The #NotBuyingIt campaign on Twitter is heavily used by people everywhere calling out sexist products and advertising so that others can help them take action against the companies producing them. It doesn’t take long scrolling through the #NotBuyingIt tweets to see how pervasive sexist products still are. The next time you are out shopping and notice something that is sexist, consider snapping a photo and tweeting it to raise awareness.
- Support Feminist Men: As a feminist, it took me a while to understand that our culture is also harmful to men. Sure, they reap large benefits, but they come at a cost. I recommend the website “Good Men Project” for reading articles on the male perspective and see how men are grappling to find a better definition of masculinity. The Representation Project will soon be releasing a documentary entitled “The Mask You Live In” which will be focused on young boys and the harmful stereotypes of masculinity they consume.
- Network: Use Meetup to find a local feminist group or find other events to attend, such as WisCon, the world’s leading feminist science fiction convention. Meet other men and women, share stories, and build a support network. This is especially important for new feminists, who may find their beliefs constantly challenged by their existing social circles.
- Critical Thinking: Read “How to Suppress Women’s Writing” by Joanna Russ to help you recognize the different ways that women’s contributions and voices are diminished with false arguments and derailing statements. Too often women are diminished in the public sphere due to the reasons listed in this book.
- Share your experiences with people who don’t identify as feminist, or who struggle with the definition of feminism. We often make assumptions that they already know what we deal with (or have dealt with) and you may be surprised at their reaction. You may learn something about their experiences. However, never feel that you have to share everything. You have power over your own experiences, and it is always your choice whether or not you want to share them.
If you have any tips for new and old feminists, please share them in the comments below! If you are new to the movement and have a question, fill out the contact us form and we’ll dedicate a blog post to your question.