“If Cis Women Stop Wearing Makeup, I Will Never Pass”

A powerful tool in our fight to preserve women’s rights may be staring us right in the face.

Vanity

The answer was inside me all along!

It’s easy to take the obvious for granted, and confronting this social norm is a flashpoint for many of us. 

But why is makeup mandatory? It’s obviously a holdover from older, stricter ideas of what women should be. What a corset does for the waist, contouring does for the face. And we all know it’s at least as bad for us.

I’m not going to lecture anyone about harmful chemicals or animal testing. There are plenty of other people more qualified to take on these very important issues. 

I want to talk about Womanface, and how we begin taking back our identity.

In one of her many excellent videos, Vanessa Vokey spotlights an episide of a Jubilee video series called Middle Ground. Her featured episode showcases a diverse panel discussing makeup, the pressures, practices and their personal feelings.

Vanessa points out the clear double standard: “Both of the males, even though one is presenting as a man and one has altered his body to appear more like a woman, they still have basically the same attitude toward wearing makeup.

“And it’s almost a childlike attitude, this idea that putting on makeup is sort of like dress-up, putting on a costume, putting on a cape like a superhero would.” 

Vanessa cuts to a woman who says she felt sorry for people having to see her bare face. Her cognitive dissonance is clear: “Makeup makes me feel very empowered and beautiful, but then I resent myself more when I take it off.”

Radical feminists in South Korea have it right: “I realized that the makeup and outfits [were] not my decision and I do not actually like it, so I choose to take off the corset.”

Their Take Off The Corset movement rebels against a culture of unattainable goals so intense, it’s driven some to take their own lives. Western culture is trending in similar directions, but circumstances have given us a moment to step back and ask ourselves if this is what we really want.

Pinned

Hey, this wasn’t part of our agreement!

2020 brought many lessons, like how lipstick is completely pointless behind a mask. Foundation is invisible over Zoom and contouring looks heavy in bad light.

Masks aside, no one should be ashamed to show her natural face. We are pushed to conform and given short-term rewards if we do, but it’s time to coordinate for the long game.

Everyone everywhere has been forced to reevaluate our priorities at the same time, and we should take advantage of the chaos.

Through the new tears in the social fabric, we can glimpse strange new possibilities that were unthinkable even a few years ago. Maybe we can bring back cloaks. Maybe we can be more self-sufficient. Maybe the consumerism we were raised with is toxic bullshit.

Makeup is a multi-billion dollar industry that supports child labor, which Vanessa also covers. If we all abandon it together, we can hit capitalism and the trans movement at the same time!

It would be so simple to demonstrate that women are whole individuals. Female impersonators of all shades rely on us perpetuating the impersonal stereotypes that they steal. 

If enough of us stop adhering to the standard, it’s no longer standard. Normalize your real face. Peoples’ perceptions will adjust. Challenge them to see you as you are.

The Bareface Challenge is especially harrowing for those of us who like our War Paint, but you only feel naked until life distracts you. You don’t need the Painted Veil to be presentable.

Let your presence as a woman in the world speak for itself. It’s something no man can imitate or own.

Tempest In The Wi Spa: A Case Study In Mass-Gaslighting

“If you are concerned with other people’s genitals, that is a *you* problem.”

Girl And Wheat

As if we could have one conversation that doesn’t somehow come back to your dick!

So concludes a response to women’s discomfort with men in our spaces. This was the first justification I saw trotted out in the aftermath of the Wi Spa viral video. Since then, the narrative has hopped from victim-blaming to saying the incident was staged, and finally to insisting OP made the whole thing up!

The latest coverage in the Los Angeles Blade wants to be conclusive: “Anonymous sources within the LAPD tell the Blade they have been unable to find any corroborating evidence that there was a transgender person present on that day.”

“Treatment at the Spa is by appointment only, and a source at the Spa told the Blade there’s no record of any of its usual transgender clients on its appointments guest list on the day in question.” 

But I hear so many of them pass so well! Maybe no one noticed, right? 

“Cubaangel’s Instagram account is almost exclusively Christian memes, which begs the question why she chose to go to a spa well known for being LGBTQ friendly.” This doesn’t neccessarily follow. Some people cite their Christian faith as their motivation for being more tolerant – imagine, following Jesus’ example! And this woman lives in LA, not exactly a conservative town.

But her religion and her failure to film inside a nude sauna means we can disregard the whole thing. “No transgender person can be seen, and no other witnesses have come forward to confirm the allegations made.”

To obscure the very similar and more detailed story another woman wrote in 2018, the Blade throws the link to her complaint in here: “It’s also not the first time Wi Spa has been targeted for catering to transgender people.” 

Let’s see what ‘catering to trans people’ meant in 2018.

“I would give this place five stars a week ago but…. Last night I had the most disturbing experience in the women’s locker room.

“Upon checking in, the clerk advised us that “there was a transgender male in the women’s locker room” … Ok… No problem, I’m not the type to discriminate people, but once in the women’s area, I saw the mentioned “transgender” individual naked in all his glory, and he still had a male organ hanging there…ok…no fuzz… That surgery is very expensive

“Anyways, so I go on my routine and I get to the shower room, he was almost next to me showering too when I start to overhear hearing the conversation that he is having with a lady that was also in the shower area.

“I clearly heard him say that he has had sex with probably one hundred women and that he was looking for a female girlfriend to share his time with…. He also mentioned that he uses cocaine and LSD to “relax” … Ok…not my business what he uses to relax…”

This woman wrote this in a Tripadvisor review, and doesn’t mention informing the police. The man in her story acts totally inappropriately, but his behavior just triggers the No True Trans subroutine in her programming.

Haunted Bed

I feel a presence watching me!

“But hey, a transgender person does not act like a guy around women nor they state how much they like women nor how much they like having sex with them! This guy is Not transgender, he seems to be just a “pervie” and given his accent he is from another country, Europe I believe.”

Oh yeah, those dirty Europeans, amirite? American snobbery aside, this man’s bad manners are what qualifies him as male in her eyes.

“I heard from other ladies there that he goes there quite often.” They must feel like the luckiest ladies in LA!

“I have nothing against gay people or transgender etc. but every gay guy I know uses the men’s locker rooms when in the spa.” Most female impersonators are straight, just twisted.

“Management said that according to the Law there was nothing they could do.” And this is where we find ourselves in 2021. “Yes, they can reserve their right to provide services to anyone, that’s not against the law. They can deny entrance to this person based on his behavior, not on his gender.”

How exactly this Picasso portrait of the Marquis du Sade doesn’t get him the boot I can’t quite wrap my head around. Our intrepid author has a hard time with it, too.

“I enjoy going to the Wi Spa and it is not fair to me or other women to be put in this position where you basically have to leave the Spa because you feel uncomfortable in such situation. I wouldn’t have minded the situation at all if that guy was really transgender, but obviously he is not.” Because transgender people are all delicate flowers!

But isn’t gatekeeping transphobic?

“I’m concerned about my safety and the safety of other women in the spa.” TERF! “Like I said, I wouldn’t have minded if he was really truly transgender, and preferably without that wig he took off to wash…

Oh for fuck’s sake. That man had no right to make those women watch that.

“This is a call to the owners of the Spa to protect their valued customers, thank you.” They have apparently less than zero interest in doing this.

And the Blade has no interest in objectivity: “After the alleged, unconfirmed incident, Wi Spa was deluged with 1-star Yelp! and Trip Advisor reviews.” Oh, the humanity! This writer takes great pains to downplay any possibility of such a thing having ever happened, anywhere, ever.

But if this is what qualifies as ‘catering to transgender people,’ it’s obvious why women are upset!

Unfortunately for us, since white nationalists are also angry about the trans movement for their own reasons, no woman has any reasonable objection, ever. “The video quickly made the rounds in far-right, and Trans-Exclusionary Feminist (TERF) sites. Anti-trans ‘feminist’ websites like Mumsnet, Ovarit, and Spinster were sharing content by far-right provocateurs known for disinformation, like Ian Miles Cheong, by June 27th.”

The shoutout is nice (complete with links!) but I spend probably too much time on Ovarit and ‘TERF’ Twitter and have no idea who this person is.

However, a few prominent feminists have been getting chummy with the right, home to fundamentalists of every flavor. In a game with only two teams, falling out with liberals doesn’t make flirting with conservatives suddenly a good idea.

Eve

He says he’ll keep me warm!

Because those people are still nuts! When a suspect in the latest incident was floated, the worst elements took aim: “She received multiple death threats and harassment, including a picture of a masked man brandishing an assault weapon threatening to shoot her.”

And this is where hanging with conservatives comes back haunt us. The picture and accompanying caption are terrifying, a lot like things I have received from self-appointed TERF-hunters. The line between Mainline Republican and Conservative Nutjob has been washed away in wave after wave of corruption and pandering. Is this who we want to be seen with??

“All of this fits into an emerging pattern of the alt-right, anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists,” Woa, where did this come from? I have dug into how they connect the dots from radical feminists to white supremacists, but the logic is strained and this reference comes out of nowhere.

And our Blade writer runs with it. “Violent far-right groups like the Proud Boys, the religious right, and anti-trans ‘feminists’ are collaborating and coordinating as they share the same media streams.”

As evidence for this, the Blade links to a Dame Magazine articleThe Far-Right And Anti-Trans Movements: An Unholy Alliance. This in-no-way-clickbait title heads a pile of interesting data points, such as, “violent white nationalists are separate from, but adjacent to, the Christian right.” I think we’ve all seen enough evidence in the past year’s news cycles that they are two sides of the same coin. They’ve been pretty blatant about it for a while now.

Then there’s this chestnut: “At the 2017 Values Voters Summit hosted by the Family Research Council, Meg Kilgannon outlined the religious right’s plan to co-opt anti-trans feminist groups, and use their feminist-sounding language to seem more secular while hiding the true motivation behind their animus.”

This is an unflattering paraphrase of a mutual agreement. But has it ever occurred to us that the religious right are not coming into this blind? Those who tend the flame of Colonialism are not the simple folk they present themselves as.

Considering how anti-religion radical feminism is, and its absence from pretty much all radfem spaces, it doesn’t seem like this has had much internal, practical effect. But when the opposition stubbornly refuses to look into things, optics become vital to communication.

Back to the LA Blade: “Rhetoric against transgender people in popular right-wing media like Fox News has grown both more frequent, and more extreme. In April, Tucker Carlson (who serves as a gateway to the far right) declared that transgender people are a threat to the “perpetuation of the species.”

Tucker Carlson’s populist gibberish is only a gateway to anything if you pretend he’s not heir to the Schwann’s Frozen Foods fortune. And it’s recently come out that he’s a well-known source for dirt on his colleagues, apparently an open secret among reporters.

Wink

Snitches get stitches, right Tucker?

Most of the radfems I know are leftists, and not the kind of person who watches Fox News.

But the LA Blade quotes Dr. Joe Mulhall, head of research at the UK’s anti-extremist watchdog group Hope Not Hate, “If you talk about trans issues it opens the doors to the mainstream.”

Who knew you could run a watchdog group from under a rock? Fox may have the best ratings in cable news, but that’s the penthouse of a burning building.

Feminists appearing on right-wing platforms to defend women’s existence only to be undermined and reinterpreted shows how the left has abandoned us. These days, speaking up against anything Trans is the fastest way to lose your job, your friends and even family members.

Still, Dr. Joe insists, “The far-right are saying things they know will be echoed in the comment pages of the right-wing press.”

Plenty of things in this situation are still confusing, not least of which is this comment. Since when is there a right-wing press? What happened to the liberal media??

Rich governments, Amazon, The New York Times, The LA Blade, the World Health Organization, The Olympics, GLAAD, libraries and school boards and the stuffy old BBC are all behind this. Still, they see enemies everywhere.

Regardless of right or left, things are moving forward quickly: “Flyers are circulating online advertising a second protest against Wi Spa on July 17th. “

Hey, that’s today! Police are mobilizing to prevent a repeat of last time, and I’m still not convinced that the first protest wasn’t a TERF trap.

But we can all look forward to continuing unbiased coverage in the LA Blade: Robert Lansing is a pseudonym for a long-time investigative trans researcher and writer-journalist.” 

I have my own biases, of course, but sharing a sex phenotype with half the planet is not a mental illness. Biases born of material reality are stubborn things. They don’t stop being true just because you don’t like them.

Such as women’s objection to males in our private spaces.

“It does not matter AT ALL if the person peeing next to you is doing so with a penis. If you are concerned with other people’s genitals, that is a *you* problem.” How we wish this were true! Right ladies?

Dreamy Seamstress

If only the world were perfect!

It would be wonderful not to worry whether any men were around. To just go about our business and pay them no mind. What bliss!

But of course, we’d have to be ignorant of all of human history. How men decided their penis was a weapon and wielded it to terrible effect. How they systematically raped us, locked us up as broodmares, and killed many who disobeyed.

Ignorant of how, to this day, night jogging is not a good idea. How the leading cause of death for pregnant women is murder. How ‘rough sex’ is a common defense for it.

To suddenly insist that an uninvited penis is not a flashing neon warning sign is to deny the entire history of civilization. And the most ambitious gaslighting play of all time.

Feminism Really Does Need Moms, Though


The pandemic has demonstrated how little has actually changed for women. 

Lantern 1

I think I might be lost!

We spent the past year getting used to being at home. Many lost their jobs, or quit to take care of the kids. Many more soldiered on, playing Mom, Wife and Worker on a single, ramshackle set. Meanwhile, Joe Biden executive-ordered us out of legal existence.

Adding insult to injury, #NotAllMen refuses to go away.

The response #TooManyWomen was pretty satisfying, but it exposed some confusion in the feminist conversation.

How Many Men?

No one is saying that it’s all men, wrote one commenter, “so we don’t need to say ‘not all men.’

But I have seen plenty of women saying this. Some of them are pretty casual about it, even labeling themselves misandrist in so many words. How exactly one side is unaware of the other I’m really not sure.

Out of one side of our mouths, we bitch about all the handmaidens and how brainwashed they must be. Then we meet suggestions for broad action with disdain and male-bashing out the other.

I get it, of course. It’s not hard to understand how rage pickles into bitterness. It would be so easy to hate men, the mind reeling from trauma lurches for easy categorization. I’ve been screwed with and over by my fair share.

But cultivating personal agency isn’t victim-blaming.

Maybe you’re familiar, but I recently heard that when you’re pointing the finger at someone, three fingers point right back at you. Women have our own role in things. When we own that is when things begin to change.

#TooManyPeople Have Victim Complexes

If you carry that common female bitterness, what happens if you do have a son? How many disinterested moms sow fertile ground for anger towards women? Sad to say I have known a few.

I’ve seen it said that all violence is committed by men, who are soulless, callous beasts. Really. And there’s no point in trying to get through to beasts.

Pistol Packin

But you love an eye for an eye, remember? Don’t be so dramatic!

And they will play into it – Imagine having a Get Out of Jail Free card, and the temptation to use it! Patriarchy’s pandering has made men weak-willed.

But let’s remember how they love to brag about their accomplishments! With all their crowing, they don’t get to turn around and pretend to be stupid.

Seems to me most men are pretty badly mentally ill. Suppressing 90% of your emotions will do that to a person. I don’t see how we can just demand that every individual get better. One thing about mental illness is you often don’t realize you have it. And when so much of your world is similar, it’s easy to miss just how fucked up it all is.

Which is not to excuse them, but are we actually trying to solve anything? Or are we just riffing here?

This is important because, lest we forget, most women are straight! And most of us will have kids.

Mommy Blogs Or Marx?

Regardless, I’m pretty tired of this fantasy of a woman-only world. Women-only groups? Camps? Businesses? Hell yeah!

But a woman-only world would be unsustainable. It would make our lives easier and solve nothing.

As a straight woman, I have dealt with this stuff for years. The only workable solution I have come up with is to insist they behave like human beings.

I’ll call them out, and if they don’t get with the program they will be without my company. Simple as that.

On the other hand, I’m American and kind of a bitch. I understand this approach may not work for everyone.

I have worked hard to teach my sons empathy since they were little. Empathy and boundaries. This includes helping them establish their own. I have a theory they go hand-in-hand. Reaching out to others requires a place to reach from.

Reluctant Dishwasher

Don’t make me go in there, it’s a disgusting mess!

But it’s easy to preach parenting generalities. I have seen so many mothers either deep in patriarchy, too stressed to think straight, or both. Feminism has left mothers unsupported for ages, leaving it to conservatives to indoctrinate the next generation.

That sure is going well!

This seems to be an unpopular opinion. Marxists are the only ones talking about how childbearing is still a huge burden on us. Their solution, however, is to take our children from us. The ‘nuclear family’ is just a prison! You should be free… to work for the State!

I support separatists, but it’s just not feasible for all of us. And I’m not sure either option supports the future of the species. 

Amazingly, I still have yet to find an alternative that isn’t brutally destructive to current structures. Replacing one form of cruelty with another isn’t progress.

I’m Tired of Complaining! What Can We Do??

It’s a high hill to climb, but I refuse to give up on my sexuality or the future of humanity. Women have to pull together and demand better. Teach our sons better.

Pick our mates better. Female Dating Strategy is so important and, frankly, revolutionary in their determination to serve women’s best interests instead of just telling us how to get men. This is exactly the kind of thing we need. A lot of those women will go on to be mothers and raise their kids with the ideas and attitudes that have succeeded for them.

Passing The Lantern

Thanks for the illumination, sister!

We have to think about this on a long timescale. Your friendly neighborhood misogynist won’t live forever.

These kinds of attitudes don’t change overnight, but look at what’s already been done! Remember, just 150 years ago it was commonly accepted in our society that educating girls was a waste of time. Now we outnumber them in higher education.

The pushback is so strong because we have come so far! Our granddaughters deserve the opportunity to build on this legacy. We can’t let our leg of the relay be remembered as a giant backslide.

Mother As Leader

I think activating this quick route to real change would send feminism into overdrive. Every successful ideology in history has known you have to get them while they’re young! Why not leverage this for good for once??

While the conscious mind may rebel against what we were taught, we all know how pernicious the messages implanted during early childhood are. The man may build the house, but his mother is responsible for the foundation. Certain attitudes ingrained in childhood never leave us.

Men need to care. We like to forget that we can’t really do this Humanity thing without them.

But I keep being told mothers aren’t that important. A mental block seems to stop us from seeing Mother and Child clearly.

Everyone has a mother, even men. She is almost everyone’s first teacher and has an opportunity to shape the mind of a child like no one else. How exactly this isn’t a potential operative over every male born I just don’t understand.

Science keeps telling us how vital early experiences are. Viewed through a feminist lens, this is an amazing opportunity. We should do everything we can to give them empathy and boundaries. It might not be all men, but it could definitely be fewer!

And I’m gonna keep poking at this, because I think it’s inevitable – Feminism can only ignore the keystone of women’s oppression for so long.

Moms and Feminism Need Each Other

I think men convinced themselves women were just a little too stupid for all those centuries, so they wouldn’t have to face what they had done to us.

Pinned

Thanks for bringing me to this swell movie, Gary!

Exploiting a natural weakness to strip an intelligent, self-aware person of their individuality, and put them to work for the benefit of others – Well, that would be pretty evil. One might be tempted to empathize with such a person, to imagine what it’s like to let go of any thought of personal achievement.

To have no dreams, plans, or hobbies of your own. That’s a miserable existence for any mildly intelligent person, without some serious brainwashing.

But, then, those women were always told they’d never amount to much. Women’s Liberation came about after Enlightenment thinkers (Read: Men) decided an educated mother was a better mother. Suddenly young women got to dream, but only for a few years. Marriage was still the only serious goal.

My generation? We were told we could Have It All – A kickass career, a loving husband, smart kids, a beautiful home and a tight ass – We just had to work a little harder. Never mind that at least two of these are full-time jobs. You’re gonna need at least two jobs to keep that house, anyway…

My daughters are being told that womanhood is a feeling.

The dirty truth, of course, is that a woman birthed every person on Earth. Many of them died in the process. Most of them bear physical scars, and psychological ones are common. All of them were extremely uncomfortable or seriously inconvenienced at least once.

All so humanity could carry on. A job so vital, no able-bodied woman is truly eligible for anything else!

If Only

Sorry, I can’t learn to fly today, I have too much work to do!

But to keep us all there, we had to be held down. Mothers are simultaneously the most important and the least important people in the world. Both a precious resource and totally ordinary, whichever undermines us more effectively.

And it doesn’t really matter, because we don’t have much to say. We’re too busy juggling hats. When women do speak, it’s seldom as A Mother – We have been taught not to identify with that aspect of ourselves, or risk being disqualified from life.

Ironic, since mothers give life.

This is our biggest mistake – Motherhood is both our greatest power and our moment of weakness. The modern, rational mind isn’t interested in mystical contradictions, but we ignore this at our peril.

And children are not just babies. That moment of weakness is followed by at least a decade of preoccupation. Of living two lives simultaneously. Of knowing that, when that cry goes up, your feet better hit the floor because you’re the one on-call 24/7.

Of missed deadlines and internal conflict. Of dumping energy into running two minds – Mommy and Boss Bitch. There’s not as much overlap as you might think.

And moms will never unite and rise up, because we don’t see ourselves as a group. To stand up and be counted is to admit we ought to be at home. And women will never be free.

We may be freed from motherhood, as artificial wombs become a reality. But if freedom hinges on giving up mothering, we will have paid with a precious piece of ourselves. We will have admitted that being free means being like men.

With the majority of women isolated, the only route to liberation will continue to be rejection of men altogether. Straight women cast as sleeping with the enemy, rather than those with the most at stake in the battle of the sexes.

Each of us sits in a corner of her kitchen wiping lonely tears, because she doesn’t know she is legion. We struggle to be Secretary and Cheerleader and Sex Goddess and Boss Bitch and Housekeeper and Cook, never mind who we are!

Vacation

When does my vacation start?

We grope for the support no one can give us. The support that should be there – The network of mothers that raised our ancestors for thousands of years. 

The network that has been destroyed by centuries of putting women In Our Place – A case of slander so intense, the insecurity driving it is obvious.

Men of influence fear women’s power because their precious dominance depends on installing a worthy heir. We are the doorway to the future.  We are the biggest, most influential group in the world.

But not if we don’t know it.

Motherhood is the doorway all of us pass through, in one direction or the other. We don’t need to agree on parenting styles, we just need to stand up and be counted. The strength in our numbers will shake the world.

 

 

Jesus Is Not Your Friend

There has been some confusion lately regarding radical feminism and Christian conservatives.

It dawned on me recently why it’s all so hard to clear up on our end. But, once in a while, I meet a liberal Christian.

Girl Let Me Tell You

Sure, he’s a sweet talker, but wait till you hear what he’s done!

Liberal Christians are the ones who try to square believing what Jesus said – About the meek inheriting the earth and all that – with what their religion actually teaches.

They’re the ones who will slip into a loud whisper while reminding you that Jesus hung out with lepers, prostitutes and losers. The huddled masses yearning to breathe free were kinda his thing, really, and if someone tried to convince me the US was a Christian nation on those grounds, I might listen.

Regardless how you feel about him, Jesus was still a man. The faith has always been run by men and they have not wasted words letting us know how they feel about us, BC or AD.

A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man, she must be quiet.” – 1 Timothy 2:11-12

When exactly should I stop giving my son advice? His first chin hair? Graduation? High school, or college? When exactly does someone become an adult these days? I’m 37 and still waiting.

It doesn’t matter anyway, this religion is not interested in anything we have to say:If they will learn anything,” Oh, I see what you did there, “let them ask their husbands at home. For it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” – 1 Corinthians 14:35

I sure hope the bathroom is easy to find…

Despite low expectations, I was surprised how much material I found. There’s even BiblicalGenderRoles.com, a fascinating blog by a lay preacher that’s the most informative train wreck imaginable. Just in case there’s still any confusion after all these years about what they expect of us.

Little Girl And Leopard

He would never hurt me, he’s such a pussy cat!

It’s more of the same. Jesus is not our friend.

Testifying for bills we support, or accepting media slots when no one else will let us speak, is as far as any of us should go. Ongoing alliances give energy to one group of people it doesn’t feel like an exaggeration to call oppressive.

If we align ourselves with them in any material way, we will regret it. Jesus is not our friend, and most people don’t actually listen to him, anyway. I appreciate the few who do, y’all should get a different name for yourselves.

Call it whatever you want, modern religion was founded on controlling women and only pays lip service to making amends. So a female priest can recite for me the ultimate princess fantasy – All I really need is the right man, and his name is Jesus.

I believe what we need doesn’t exist yet, in so many ways. We’re not going to get there by running back into the waiting arms of the most famous patriarch in the world.

Why Do Men Run the World?

The film begins with a man in a kitchen. It’s the scene of a revolution, he says, where men and women are renegotiating the human power balance.

By The Wrists

This isn’t what I meant by ‘holding hands’!

When you don’t get much time to sit and read, a good documentary can be the greatest thing.

I found one that really pulls it all together. And it’s over 25 years old!

Dr. Gwynne Dyer is another new name to me. He’s getting up there these days but still maintains an active publishing and speaking career. He even has a Twitter.

He’s a journalist and historian who’s taken his education and experience and synthesized a unique perspective. He uses it to spell out the origins of Patriarchy.

He explains why it first emerged and how it’s become an outdated handicap.

Filmed in 1992, the backdrop of the inaugural festivities of President Bill Clinton provides its starting example of The State. Militarized, hierarchical.

Then he takes us all the way back to the cave times. Hunter-gatherer societies were different depending on their circumstances. Some were warlike boys’ clubs, but others were egalitarian.

Dr. Dyer tells us that, before agriculture, there is little evidence of one sex being considered superior. Then with the advent of farming – “probably invented by a woman” – men suddenly lost their role.

A Men’s Revolution

During the village time, the members of the village discussed things and came to a consensus of how things would be. But women oversaw the homestead.

Hilda Reaps

What can I say? I make things grow!

Fertility goddesses reigned supreme. Hunting was no longer necessary, and men took a back seat. He tells us archeologists find 100 female fertility figures for every one male figure from this period.

But perhaps most gut-wrenching of all was that, at the birth of the concept of Wealth, a man’s property was passed to his sister’s child when he died, not his own.

You might not know who a child’s father is, but you always know who the mother is.

Dr. Dyer tells us about “the makings of a revolution, ….so old it’s not in the history books.” Men took over and spent thousands of years taming the power of female sexuality.

As agricultural villages coalesced into nation-states, a full quarter of the early Mesopotamian laws were restricting what women could do.

Huda Lutfi taught history at the American University of Cairo in 1992. She had many amazing things to say in this film. She was studying women in Medieval Islam, which meant reading between the lines.

Women in Medieval Islam are invisible. They wrote nothing and left no records. She says she knows what they were doing by what the scholars wanted them to stop doing.

Why Would Our Men Do This to Us?

Why did men, who basically cared about their mothers and wives and sisters and daughters, cooperate in such a scheme?

As civilization became bigger and more complex, tyranny was the only way to keep everyone together. Ruling by terror was the only way to communicate to the masses.

Dr. Dyer shows us how the great pharaohs’ tombs are surrounded by hundreds of other graves belonging to servants and slaves. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Welcome to civilization.”

Despair

How could you do this to me, Babe??

Defending Their Country Gave Men Status.

These men who stepped up to fight other aggressive men offered men in general a much-needed status boost.

“Sure,” says Dr. Dyer, “you’ll have to obey us but you’ll have control over your women. And your property will go to your sons when you die.”

And Patriarchal religions tied it all together, the Universe a perfect hierarchy with God at the top. Then man, then woman.

The tyranny necessary to create and defend a nation is fueled by soldiers. If women have freedom, the birth rate drops because babies are a lot of work. And women develop other interests.

Reducing women so our only place in society is childbearing is how you get enough soldiers to win.

“Men Were Never Oppressed.”

Dr. Dyer tells us how global mass communication is chipping away at “the old ways.” Global culture is, by its very nature, more cooperative. More feminine, I suppose, if only by virtue of women participating at all.

One thing that hits me that Dr. Dyer doesn’t really dwell on is, “men were never oppressed.” When women have freedom we don’t use it to lock men away. A woman-lead society is a more equal society.

I believe part of this is because of innate differences in perspective. The interconnectedness of people can be a brutal force in your life when you make people with your body.

And when that body and the world remind you of this possibility incessantly.Film Capture

Patriarchy Will Fall

A record number of women were elected to Congress in 1992. One of them was Elizabeth Furse from Oregon. She tells the story of taking the group picture on the steps, she was at the top, in the back.

Just in time, two white men stepped in front of her. “There’s no me, it’s almost like I’m not there.”

Above the pageantry of the 1992 inaugural parades, Dr. Dyer tells us that Patriarchy is slowly collapsing.

After 5,000 years, Patriarchy is not just in our institutions, it’s in our heads. But it is not in our genes.

“The problem is not ‘human nature,’ it’s that mass societies are still trapped inside the ancient machine they built thousands of years ago, to deal with the problems of thousands of years ago.

Lifeguard

Just stay right there, okay, cutie? You know, forever.

“The machine called Patriarchy was the only way to run an early mass society. It was refined into both a killing machine and a breeding machine as the early mass civilizations started fighting one another. And we conquered the whole planet with it.

But now, our weapons have become so destructive that we can no longer afford to fight major wars. And we don’t actually have to live in patriarchal dictatorships anymore. Mass communication means that we can be democratic.

“Patriarchy no longer makes sense as an institution.”

From Soldier To… Daddy?

As a white man and military historian, he has no ax to grind here. I think this makes his words that much more insightful.

He leaves us in the kitchen where we began, saying men and women are renegotiating the most fundamental human partnership. He offers this as reason for hope.

He doesn’t specify what partnership he means but, as he shares a bite with a little girl in the final shot, the meaning is clear.

Reproduction and raising the next generation is both the biggest burden and the biggest opportunity we have to impact the future. In modern times, women have asserted our rightful place of power in the system.

We don’t want to enslave men. We want our reproductive capacity to not be weaponized against us.

Dr. Dyer’s hopeful tone stands out to me because many of us are good at pointing out where Patriarchy fails us, but so few have an inkling where we are going from here.

He leans into snark a few times, making his own feelings clear: Patriarchy is on the way out, and everyone will benefit. Just as a natural result of the evolution of society.

This information should be everywhere. It should be in children’s books and kitchen conversations.

Understanding our past will enable us to consciously create a better future. So few of us have any real understanding of the causes or the effects of the societal structure we live in. We tend to take it for granted (or even claim it doesn’t exist!)

We can’t afford to go stumbling into the future without a strong understanding of ourselves.

Watch the movie, it’s less than an hour long. It explains everything.