I am angry.
I am angry because I cannot walk down the side of the street or go for a run by myself without being yelled at by men in confederate-flag-covered pickup trucks. I am angry because the men in my classes speak so much and so fervently that women can hardly get a comment in edgewise. I am angry because men feel threatened by women when we win an argument. I am angry because a man thinks that it is okay to grab a woman in the fraternity houses, even when she tells him to stop.
I am angry because the only way to get a man to stop hitting on you is to say, “I have a boyfriend,” because they respect another male-bodied person more than they respect your rejection or your lack of interest.
I can go on for pages and pages, disclosing the single instances in which women are systemically degraded by men, but I won't. I could give a speech about the times that I, or a friend of mine, has felt personally victimized and intimidated by a man while walking down the sidewalk, in her school, or in her own home, but I won't. I will speak my mind and call attention to the deeply patriarchal and misogynistic culture in which we live and I will fight for every right that I and all other women have. The small instances that we experience only reflect a broader misogynistic culture that we are all a part of and now we reveal it.
It is systemic.
Rebecca West said, “I, myself, have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.” When a man disagrees with a man, they argue it out. When a woman disagrees with a man, the argument escalates until the man feels as though he has won, whatever it takes to do so. It is embarrassing for men to take second to a woman. None of this is fair to men either. Why are skinny men seen as weak and "wrong" if they need help lifting a heavy box? Why are men who are not into sports and guns seen as "girly?" Feminism isn’t for women, it's for everyone.
It is ingrained in our language.
Think about your conversations with your friends. What do you call someone who is being a jerk, taking things for his own, or treating women poorly? You call them a "dick." Now, what do you call someone who is weak, or wimpy, or afraid to talk to a woman because he likes her? You get the idea. We are blind to the patriarchy because it is literally ingrained in the most basic cultural feature that we all have in common: our language.
“Many women, I think, resist feminism because it is an agony to be fully conscious of the brutal misogyny which permeates culture, society, and all personal relationships.” (Andrea Dworking)
It is only getting worse.
The leading candidate for the GOP, Donald Trump, only further illustrates my point. Why is it that his main voting constituency is male, those with less formal education, and lower-income? It's because it is these men who do not fit into the patriarchal portrayal of a "man."
In 2013, Donald Trump tweeted: “26,000 unreported sexual assaults in the military- only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men and women together?” Why shouldn't we expect men to not assault women? If women weren't afraid to report the assaults, then maybe something would change. Trump is and will only fortify the walls that are built around women to keep them out of power.
This isn’t about Trump. It is about the fact that Trump’s popularity is only a reflection of a broader misogynistic (not to mention racist, fascist, and the list goes on) culture that we are all reinforcing every that time we do not stand up against it.
Call me a crazy feminist. The only way that there will be any real change is if we act against the structure that society has put into place and acting out against the structure is crazy. Call me a "feminazi." If you are so intimidated by the power of women that you must equate our demand for equal rights and equal power to Hitler’s invasion of Poland, then call us whatever you want to make yourself feel better.
“…the older I get, the more I see how women are described as having gone mad, when what they’ve actually become is knowledgeable and powerful and f***ing furious.” (Sophie Heawood)
I do not know when or if the system will ever change. I do not know if men will care when women begin to call them out for all of the small misogynistic elements of their conversation, rules, and actions. I do not know if women will even be able to ever see the oppression under which they live.
I do know one thing, the patriarchy will not end until our acceptance of it does. It will not be over until our acceptance of it is over.