28 November 2017

Precious Natural Phenomena, or Backlash: The Sound of Patriarchy Dying


They think they replaced the world.
They hijacked our attention and tried to make us think the “real world” was all represented on the tiny screens (big ones, too), so we didn't have to care about the earthly world anymore.
Women and children were small and defenseless and men were big and mighty, making sex and violence explosions everywhere to protect their loved ones, or just to survive the big, bad, wild world.
And men kept telling women, “Hey, you, your women’s work is mundane, too boring to be considered important. You step aside now and let us consider the serious candidates.”
They went on, mansplaining, “If you’re a woman writer, for example, perhaps we will deem you deserving of a spot in an annual section full of capsule reviews of books deemed to be by and for women. If you’re writing about housework and fighting with your spouse, we aren’t going to put you on the list for the Nobel Prize for Literature. Unless you’re a man, of course; then we’ll call you daring, experimental, and edgy.”
And women kept saying, “But I can do this just as well as the guy in charge – and far better than the asshat who wastes his time ogling me every time I walk over to the printer.”
But we kept hearing, “Oh, no, we don't have resources to invest in you and your little pet projects. We’re putting all our eggs in his basket, so you just go back to your little cube or pit and put your head down and be a good cog. Just keep cranking out those materials for our illiterate/innumerate-yet-charming male staff who are going out to bring in the bacon.” (Never mind that we said we’d gone vegetarian a few years back, upon reading the umpteenth wave of alarm about climate change.)
I imagine the trolls’ response: “Boo hoo, little snowflake, you don’t get anything if you don’t ask for it, or demand it. Or work twice as hard as a man for it.”
But these are the things that have happened and are still happening to experienced, competent professional women every day.

My friend asked in a Facebook post for help understanding why such hatred is stirred up in the tempest that is people’s ideas and ideals around Christmas, sparked of course by the annual cultural paroxysm in response to Starbucks’ introduction of their holiday to-go cup. (Never mind that these cups are a menace to the environment.)
All I can think of is fear of obsolescence.
I see a patriarchal backlash to women’s and to racial equality. Religion and land ownership and laws tilted the playing field in the favor of white, Christian males over centuries; who wants to give up privilege once they’ve got it? Hands in the air! Surprise, not that many of us here!
The people close to me know one of my favorite statistics is behavioral economicist Dan Ariely’s discovery that within two weeks, people who receive huge windfalls or increases in their income feel they deserve it.
A friend in college observed this attitude of entitlement among some rich mutual friends and it unnerved us both; it was a glimpse at how money could corrupt one’s thinking, could be counted as some kind of proof of character or self-discipline, when sometimes, as in this case, it was a simple accident of being in the right place in the right time and inheriting from a rich family.

I think many of us women and differently abled people and neuroatypical people and multicolored people and gay people and every gender of people now know too much. We can’t go “back” to when “America” was “great.” (See? I can’t even type those words without doubt-quotes!)
We can’t unknow what we saw in others and ourselves when we started discovering just how clever rooks truly are, listening to elephants communicate across great distances, and finding joy in the playful intelligence of dolphins. 
The men who depend on archaic power structures to maintain their privilege see in our eyes that we can’t unknow this, but maybe they haven’t noticed that we also can’t simply turn away from our deep desire for fairness, social justice for our planet and all its living inhabitants: people, animals, biological diversity, water, air.
When they see this in our eyes, that's when we get the worst of the backlash. That's when they denigrate us, or masturbate in front of us, fruitlessly hoping our discomfort turns us on as much as it does them. That's when they call us snowflakes, as in tiny, fragile, unique things that melt – but remember, snowflakes cumulate into storms and blizzards. As with proclaiming “draining the swamp” to be a good thing, using "snowflakes" as an insult only displays more obliviousness, this time to melting snowflakes as an integral element in our earth’s water-cycle. Masturbating in front of a disempowered and squirming-to-escape person also falls strangely outside of the circle of life.

They thought they replaced the world with what is in the little boxes. 
But some used the power of the screen to create intricate allegory. Stranger Things, a serial show on Netflix, is a great example of modern allegory, with the support of terrific casting and characters who are distinctive, lovable, and predictable-yet-unpredictable – it was a beautiful thing to get to know them and each of their heroic natures in binges of the two seasons of nine-episode seasons.
I find myself thinking about the shadow monster in Stranger Things and what it stands for. Sometimes I think of it as capitalism or industrialization. The Patriarchy works, too. [Spoiler alert!] In Upside-Down World, the shadow-monster spawns terrifying and bloodthirsty-creatures while men, women, children, animals, and plants are subjugated to their awful appetites. We’re seeing the same chaotic and consuming force bleeding into our world here in the US in our greed-run-amok kleptocracy.
Now it’s late November: a year since the evil clown was installed as President by his craven capitalist cronies. 
Now it's time to coalesce into snowstorms and blizzards across the land and to stand up for our rights – not only for our loved ones but also for the world’s creatures, plants, oceans, water, and air. It’s time to value something other than money, something more than growth, something different from white supremacists who think they can tell everyone else what’s best for everyone when they really mean what’s best for them.
Now it’s time to let them know that while they may think they replaced the world, we’ve still got it in our hands. And we’re not letting go.



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