Patriarchy becomes you

Nothing seems to inspire people to look at ‘both sides of the story’ so much as a story where a woman has been disenfranchised.

[That’s the thrust of all of this, if you want to stop now. I’ll go on; I was encouraged to stop passing off tweets as posts.]

This year has been an education. A hard one, but I have been schooled.  One of my biggest ones has been a blast from the past of sorts: Ideological communication. That’s Anthropology 101: This notion that if we operate on the same cultural level, we can say things without saying things. The classic one is saying “Fine” when you’re asked how you are: you and the asker know you’re going through certain steps, it’s not an invitation to bare your soul.

Stay with me.

Almost every time I have had a conversation with men -and women – about matters like child support, the invocation to hear both sides of the story has not been in a woman’s favour. It’s gnawed at me a lot but once I saw it for what I now think it is – classic ideological communication – it stopped throwing me off.

The ideology the speaker assumes I subscribe to is so firmly rooted in patriarchy, even self-declared feminists will tell me that very phrase. And it is this: women are crazy and out to get men. They just won’t let men prosper. Or as the kids would say,

This could be them, but they’re playing.

Yes, folks, this could be those women, being ‘strong women’ who bring up kids on their own. This could be women who spend nights up trying to figure out how to pay the bills and being ‘independent’. But they’re demanding child support or telling their ex-partners to take the child over a weekend.

They’re playing.

Well, I’m here to say some of us wear patriarchy really well. It looks like a balanced view, a nuanced take. Also to say: I do not subscribe to this idea and be assured I shall call you out on it.

Just to make it really clear: I am pro-children. I want them to be happy, healthy, educated, to have a fair chance in life. I think that everyone who should make this possible should do their part. Barring that, they should be compelled by law, by risks to their reputation, by honour, to do their part. I’ll not be co-opted into shaming a woman into not doing right by their child.

Now, bring on some ideological communication.


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