How Did I get here?
In the Talking Heads song “Once in a lifetime”, lead singer David Byrne echoes this very line. This lyric came to me many a time as I withdrew from Patriarchal fundamentalism. Like a Nautilus Shell rising to the ocean surface, my ascent was marked with the emptying of successive chambers; first I decided to take control of my future by going back to work, soon I no longer confined myself to skirts and dresses in public. Sometime between the first step and the final exit, I went from rebelling against what I saw as “extreme patriarchy” to questioning the belief itself.
Now that I am out-out of the Christian Patriarchy (but not Christianity itself), out of a bad marriage-I feel ashamed for having sunk so low in the past. I catch myself thinking ‘just how far up my #$% was my head when I believed that?’ I don’t have any good excuses. I certainly wasn’t raised that way, both my parents were well educated and believed in gender equality. My father was a gentleman in the truest sense of the word. My mother had instilled me with a feminist sensibility.
In fact during both my early involvement far right groups, I fiercely retained those sensibilities. It was a litmus test for various individuals, groups and ideologies. It may be surprising to some, but there are quite a few men and women who hold far right views on various issues, but who have no problem with equality between the sexes.
Of course, I ran across many who yearned for a return to some sort of patriarchy. Some were in reality, having problems with the excesses of feminism, but there were many who wanted Patriarchy restored. You could always tell because if it wasn’t at the center of their ideological universe, it was right there orbiting furiously on the inner most ring.
An encounter with such a fellow usually sent me running the other way. Most were pretty bombastic about it, but the slick ones took the opposite tack. They oozed gentility and always insisted on calling women “ladies”. I took off just the same, I could smell a trap beneath all that sickly sweetness. Deep down it was the same old line; men are supposed to be head over women in all facets of life.
For a long time, I hung with those who were receptive to equality between men and women and avoided allegiances with those who didn’t.
It worked for me back then so what happened? How did I get from there to over here? From reading my story, most of you guys and gals can already guess. I’m sure that despite ideological differences, it was a journey that you took at some time in your life.
You see selling Patriarchy to women is sort of like selling prostitution to women. Right here is one vital difference. At least some readers here may have not had a choice; they may have grown up in a Patriarchal household, may have been stuck in an abusive marriage. In my case, I’m talking about a woman who in varying degrees accepts or embraces Patriarchy.
It starts with something sweet, something that appeals to a need, an appetite. …
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NLQ Recommended Reading …
‘Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich
‘Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland
‘Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce