For some of us that originated in evangelicalism, the patriarchy was the default and what we expected. But, as we move into different circles outside of that, many of us like to imagine that we have somehow subdued the Patriarchy and it surprises us when we see it again.
Just because a few more women are allowed to speak doesn’t mean the patriarchy is dead. A conference with 10 White men, one Asian, one Black person, one queer or trans person doesn’t mean the power has shifted at all.
Here are a few things I notice about the patriarchy that still troubles me.
1. They subtly expect to be respected.
They and their close followers will mention, when you speak up, how mean or disrespectful you are. This usually means that you are not allowed to address their inconsistencies in public because they are important.
2. They consistently point out and remind you how much they sacrifice for you.
Even though their organizations are full of people that give them money and donate their time to help them succeed, they take extra credit when they have to go out of their way to help you.
3. They expect you to support them.
Not only do these leaders expect people to do most of the work for them, they also expect all of us to pay them since they have a hint that their time is super valuable. Many times their talents boil down to charismatic speaking ability and good looks. Again, everything about them is assumed to be super valuable by them.
4. They routinely court and defend their close friends.
Most of them don’t even realize they’re doing it. But when issues come up, they brag that they have known the person for years and that we should trust them because they do. That is a subtle assertion that their judgment is way better than ours.
5. They exaggerate their contribution
Most of the people involved in their organizations have jobs, families, and responsibilities. They donate time and money to these organizations in their free time. The patriarchy not only asserts that they need to be paid for their efforts, but demands free time, which Is the space where most of the organization is doing all the work, in their “free” time.
6. They will do anything not to give up their space on the platform.
The patriarchy may have women on their board, or allow women on panels, but it’s a totally different thing to give up their seat on the elevated stage. They feel like they’ve earned it in some way, even though other people have done most of the work to get them then.
7. They don’t realize their extreme privilege.
There is not a more privileged type of person than a white male that is handsome and able to speak convincingly. We see that example in politics when we elect people without examining their character at all or we simply overlook it. The same happens in all kinds of religious situations.
8. They talk about their mental health, but they rarely address it and often dismiss these discussions about others.
The Patriarchy is famous for ignoring their mental health, and then blaming it on too many demands from their congregations or followers. We are usually in danger of being gaslighted if we mention that what they are doing is traumatizing because they are trying to subtly assert that it is us that are traumatizing them.
In other words, they rarely really listen to people that have an issue. They mostly gaslight and accuse because they assume their judgment is somehow superior to the rest of us. Depending on the circle, trauma, concerns, differences of opinion, etc. cause a circling of the wagons and a squashing of all whistleblowers and those that would attempt to gain a voice in the organization.
9. They narcissistically produce videos instead of engaging in conversations.
Again, it is because they assume their time is more valuable and they need to totally control the narrative. It’s part of why they love to speak on stage, total control.
Personally, I wonder whether we should ever platform anyone. Constantine started this madness because of a need for control. People long to have connections, but then we choose to do it in such an ineffective way. We know the best thing to do is to have face-to-face conversations, but then we opt for venues where someone just speaks at us, not with us.
We talk about the fact that everyone has a voice, but then only the 10 or 12 most popular people are the ones that get the stage. The majority of all the people in any given community, never get to speak their peace or when they try to, they are silenced by the close friends and supporters of the celebrity.
The white male patriarchy is alive and well. I’m proud of the progress some groups have had, but patriarchy is the default, and narcissists at the top rarely get up their seats.
There are tons of bad assumptions and reasons for all this behavior that someone else will have to expand upon. Let’s use our voices to call out inconsistencies and insist that the people in charge do better or step down.
Or maybe, let’s do away with the platform altogether. The fact that there is an elevated stage has always been part of the issue.
Be where you are,
Be who you are,
Be at peace!