The ‘p word’ and feminism’s weakness

Looking through history, there’s an ideology that has been passed down from the ancient civilisations to the modern world, but we as humankind have developed a self-awareness seen rarely elsewhere in the animal kingdom. With that comes the responsibility to challenge everything. That means challenge science, challenge philosophy and challenge society. Are we living in a system that really gives all minds the space to breathe and interact? It’s time we start thinking about change.

Patriarchy. That’s right- ‘the p word’ that so many feminists shy away from, for the fear of being labelled a man-hater. Using it in conversation, you might be met with whispers of “did she say that?”, or silently disapproving faces, but let’s talk truth. So a patriarchy is a system of government and society where men hold the power, but importantly, women are excluded from influential roles. When someone asks me, “what’s so wrong with the patriarchy? The world isn’t doing that bad with men in charge!” or stuff of similar substance, I have to take a breath before trying to explain what it really is that makes me, and thousands of others, so frustrated. The cinch is that women are excluded. That means systematic disadvantages in all spheres of life, perhaps most noticeable when we look at the statistics of women in state institutions. And the glass ceiling still hangs over women’s heads, as deceptive as ever, with women occupying only 3 in every 100 CEO roles. It’s time we started talking about change.

The problem with the patriarchy is that it is so deep-set in our society and the way the world works that we aren’t ever going to be able to pull a lever and bring about gender equality. It’s an uphill battle, no doubt. The weakness with feminism is that there is so much hesitation with beliefs. Too many women supporting a feminism that doesn’t really benefit anyone: whether that’s blatant misandry and misunderstanding the core concept of equality, or enjoying the ersatz ‘comfort’ and security that the patriarchy provides for women as appeasement. For many, it’s not a big deal; you can still get a job! It’s much better than it used to be, and we’re happy like this! They chirp. These women are blinded by privilege. Yet I will boldly declare that we are not always fighting for ourselves: we are fighting for the weakest parts of our society, those who can’t fight for themselves and the most exploited. We need to fight for the downtrodden. Isn’t that the best use of power? It’s time we started believing in change.

I want to dispel the myth that feminism and deconstructing of the patriarchy is solely to benefit women, because it’s not. The definition of feminism is social, political and economic equality for all people, regardless of sex, gender expression, sexuality or race. Men are prescribed these ‘gender pills’ at birth just as women are, dictating who you are, what you can think and what you can feel- from the colour of a baby’s bedroom to whether they can dance or play with Lego! And though it might say something different on the bottles for little boys to those for little girls, they aren’t healing anything. They cause the same sickness.
Feminism does not mean that women want the same privileges as men, the fundament is that there are no privileges in the first place. There should be no discrimination on the basis of sex, and that is why feminists go on about ‘the p word’, in a world geared up for equality since the second wave of feminism and the civil rights movement. It’s time we started working for change.

So what are we going to do right now? Rome wasn’t built in a day, and change does not happen overnight- but it starts with just one person. It starts with acceptance and openness, illustrated by a quote from the co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and Ghanaian diplomat, Kofi Annan.

“To live is to choose. But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to get there.”

So every day, we should educate yourselves and challenge the existing. Believe in truth, freedom and the power of humanity; if we can leave footprints on the moon, together we can start bringing about change.


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