Wednesday, November 29, 2017

I Will Not Enforce Patriarchy

By a combination of necessity and choice, it's up to women to enforce a lot of cultural norms.  Sometimes they're horrible, like restrictions on girls' dress in school, sometimes they're good, like maintaining social bonds (Who last sent you a birthday card?  A man?).  This enforcement power is something we need to use in this moment where we're routing creeps out. 

I'm stoked to see a lot of famous creeps get their comeuppance, but I'm nervous about how sustainable this movement is.  As it stands, nothing in particular has changed.  There's a new mood, but we'll see how long it lasts, or who actually falls from grace. 

There are a lot of traditions that women pass on to each other in hopes of protecting themselves and others (the best explanation I've heard for why female genital mutilation is performed and encouraged by women is that it's so accepted it's basically mandatory.).  A lot of these are nonsense at best and cruel at worst.  Off the top of my head, I can think of a dozen things women do to protect themselves from being raped that boil down to superstition. 

I don't panic if a man happens to be walking down the street at night behind me.  Not that panicking is going to help if I'm being hunted.  The weird thing is that I feel like I'm betraying the sisterhood when I disagree with anyone who insists you need to be bristling all the damn time.  I resent that feeling, and I resent victim-blaming coming from women like Angela Lansbury and Donna Karan.  I understand that people are scared, and they have some reason to be, but fear is not a penance we can pay so we won't be raped.  It is counterproductive to uphold the useless and confining norms that don't actually keep people from being assaulted. 

Because of the way these things get baked into our culture (i.e. passed from older women to young ones), I will not excuse Angela Lansbury or any other old fool for a second.  Well-meaning or not, she seems determined to prove that it's too late for her to do lasting damage to rape culture.  In this moment that has such potential for fundamental change, it's crucial to actually change what we do.  No quarter for enforcers.  On any given day in 2017, it's probably simpler to just follow the dress code, but the heads are rolling now and we need to seize the moment.  We're the ones to finish the job.