Recently my partner and I were discussing/arguing about the role patriarchy plays in our relationship. I had been letting some things he was saying slide despite my better feminist judgment, and it eventually built up and things got pretty heated.
Partially in jest, but also partially in seriousness, he often told me he wanted to “make an honest woman out of me”. At first it seemed so ridiculously archaic that I could only respond with hilarity. Being an enlightened boy, I figured being scoffed at was enough to make him reconsider this sentiment. Obviously it wasn’t, so I finally said something along the lines of “What the fuck is an honest woman anyway?” and “Do you really think I would let a man ‘make’ me into anything?”. Blah, blah, blah.
I expected his response to go something like, “I’m sorry, you’re right. I’m so lucky to have an awesome feminist partner who will call me out on all my misogynistic bullshit and patriarchal conditioning.”
No such luck. Instead he said, “But you wear makeup and like to be dominated in bed! I’m so confused!”
Poor boy and silly me. I suppose I should shave my head, wear a burlap sack, and give male lovers bloody noses to achieve orgasm so as not to confuse anyone about my status as a feminist. I understand that when I wear a cute little dress and let my leg and armpit hair hang out, it may seem a little inconsistent and look a little uncanny, but get over it for fuck’s sake.
The thing we all know and hate about patriarchy is that it’s fully formed and completely saturated condition. The former signs and symbols of male domination and female oppression don’t even matter in a fundamental sense anymore. There are no more Don Draper’s patting secretaries on the ass, or Betty Draper’s imprisoned in their home because there are so few options for even upper class women. Today our archetypes are a lot less cut and dry. Take the left’s theoretical sweetheart, Slavoj Zizek, admitting to being an anti-feminist, or Katy Perry singing about getting her kicks by kissing a girl, but still the whole time worrying about if herboyfriend will mind.
With both supposed radicals and liberated women consumed by the all encompassing facets of patriarchy, can there be a clear intellectual and aesthetic defense against it?