It's no joke that the patriarchy is coming for us HARD, y'all. I mean, it always has been -- but in the last couple of years, misogyny and many other forms of dickishness have felt even freer to unmask themselves and run amok in the hearts and minds and political philosophies of many people who once seemed rational but now seem like low-functioning bots.
This is a heart-breaking development, especially because we were *this close* to having a badass grandma as our president instead of an evil game show host.
But, even with our broken hearts, it's important to remember that we still have power. We have the power to resist, to refuse to comply with what patriarchy demands of us, to allow ourselves to grow bigger and stronger and even less pliant to what our culture would ask us to be.
Because fuck the patriarchy. Fuck white supremacy. Fuck the coalition of haters that now constitutes the Republican party. Fuck the thousands of years of history that tell us no one is as smart or good as a rich white dude.
We don't have to go along with their game. We can instead choose to live our lives on every level as a glorious living example of FUCK ALL THAT SHIT RIGHT IN THE EAR. Here are some ideas on how.
1) Categorically refuse to hate your body as a political act.
The patriarchy wants us to hate our bodies. The patriarchy wants us to think that our worth is decided by dudes thinking we are hot or not. The patriarchy wants us to look upon our stretch marks and fat rolls as failures. But fuck that. Our bodies are nothing more and nothing less than vehicles that allow us to experience life and contribute to the universe. Plus, middle fingers are part of the body, and they are VERY IMPORTANT.
So, next time you feel yourself starting down the shame spiral about how your body does or doesn't look, realize that Donnie Johnny himself is the one who wants you to think that way. That should be enough to shut that shit down. (If not, download my book and work through it -- it will help!)
2) Look for and build plenty of love in your life outside the confines of "romance."
Romantic love can be a beautiful outpouring of support and cuddles and laughs, but it can also be a hamster wheel that you run on your entire fucking life for absolutely nothing.
The patriarchy raises us girls to see romantic love as our only viable path to happiness, like we are locks that need a special key in order to fulfill our life purpose. And this super heavy emphasis on one particular narrow form of love can spin out so many troubles in our lives.
- It can make us feel incomplete if we haven't found a Special Person yet.
- It can make us settle for shitty relationships and suck up years of our lives trying to make those shitty relationships work.
- It can make us feel devastated when a partnership comes to an end, because who is going to want us now, old and fat and weird as we are?
If and when you catch yourself thinking like this, please remember that all of that is bullshit designed by the patriarchy to get you to abandon your own dreams in order to serve others. Patriarchy relies on the unacknowledged and uncompensated labor of women in order to run. It literally needs us to abdicate responsibility for our own well-being in order to contribute free labor to society. So let's not.
How do we untangle this and move forward from it? That's the topic of my ENTIRE next book, but it boils down to this.
- Remember that your life is YOURS. You may choose to join it to others, but no one else is entitled to it.
- Remember that romantic love is optional, and there are many paths to happiness that do not involve it at all.
- Recognize and foster all forms of love in your life -- friendship, fellowship, hanging out with babies, making conversation with folks in line at the grocery store. All kinds of love are equally nourishing to the human spirit.
- If you want partnership, hold out for a trustworthy and compatible partner. Bad relationships are sooooo much worse than being alone.
3) Make your own money and find a way to save some.
Different families have different arrangements, and they can all work fine, but the thing we want to avoid here is anyone feeling like she can't get out of a shitty situation because she doesn't have the means to do so. Because that was the boat that women were in for literally hundreds of years and it's a shame to end up in it again, here in the 21st century.
4) Hold up and protect people who have less power and privilege than you.
Show up for DREAMers. Learn about systemic racism and work to dismantle it within yourself. Speak up at work when someone tells a gross joke. Uplift the voices of people of color, women, folks with disabilities, indigenous groups. Whatever levers of power are within your reach, use them.
5) Recognize and maintain some humility around the fact that we are all participating in the shit-showiest parts of society.
All of us who are alive right now are part of what's happening in the world. None of us is purely outside it. Whether we like it or not, we are embedded in our culture's unjust structures of commerce and power. (Yes, this even includes Bernie Sanders.)
That means that, yes, white people benefit from systemic racism. Men benefit from systemic sexism. Able-bodied and neuro-typical people benefit from the fact that our culture doesn't really think about the needs of folks with disabilities and different ways of thinking and being in the world.
Acknowledging the fact that you benefit from systemic inequality doesn't make you a bad person. Nor does recognizing that you have unconscious bias. In fact, acknowledging our privileges and our biases is the first step towards becoming useful in the struggle to dismantle them. Read up on this, and try not to become defensive about it. Practice humility. None of us knows everything.
6) Pay attention to politics, and not just on the internet.
Hook into a local activist group, or maybe several. Call your Senators and representatives. Learn about local elections and issues in your town and region and state. Donate money and time to candidates who you think will do a good job.
By and large, the Republicans are much better at this than we are on the Left. We've been stepping up our game lately -- Indivisible has been a huge galvanizing force -- but we need to keep it going and take back our cities, states, and federal government for people who believe in facts and also give a shit about other people.
7) Listen to people, especially those whose stories you haven't heard before.
I'm not that interested in hearing what Nazis think, personally, because I'm pretty sure we all know what they stand for. And I've spoken with and read about enough Trump voters to where I'm good on that, too.
But there are many folks in our society whose points of view are not well covered, which means it's easier to stereotype them. Try not to fall into this trap.
- If you are white and a black person tells you something about their experience, listen to them, because otherwise you will sit in your stereotypes forever.
- If you are able-bodied, listen to disabled people when they describe how difficult it is to navigate world that wasn't designed for them.
- If you are not fat, listen to fat people when they tell you about how they went to the doctor for a sore elbow and were told to lose weight to solve it.
- If you are a dude, and you don't want to be "that dude," listen to women when we tell you our stories of being assaulted and ignored and devalued.
It's not easy to listen to these stories because many of them are painful AF. But that makes it even more important.
8) Feel and express as much joy as you possibly can.
The bastards want to grind us down to where we just give up. They don't want us to feel joy. They want us to be overwhelmed and depressed and feel like "whatever I do doesn't matter, they are going to win anyway, so, eh, I'll just be over here yelling into a sheetcake."
No. FUCK THAT. The fact that they don't want us to dance and live our lives and be free makes me want to dance and live and be free EVEN MORE and I hope it has the same impact on you.
To be alive is to have the capacity for hope and joy, so exercise it. Do whatever you can to keep going. Make a point of it. Write a list of all the things that bring you joy, and do them as much as you can, possibly while also waving your middle fingers in the air like you just DO CARE.
Because this world is OURS. I believe that what we are witnessing is nothing less the death rattle of white supremacist patriarchy. And we can hasten the demise by reclaiming our time and our space -- in our minds and our bodies and our relationships and our towns and the whole wide world.