Every day, all I see, hear, and experience is sexism. When I watch TV I see women being objectified, sexualized, and turned into negative stereotypes. When I walk down the street wearing shorts I hear men whistling at me from cars. When I take a step outside my door I never feel completely safe because I am a woman.
Benjamin Franklin said there are two certainties in life: death and taxes. Well, if you’re a woman, there are three: death, taxes, and sexism. Of course, there are many people who would disagree with me, most of those people consisting of a breed of human called “meninists.”
Although there are no exact studies done on this particular species, my instincts would have me believe they are all white, cisgender men who either live in their mom’s basement playing Call of Duty all day, eating Totino’s Pizza Rolls, or else in their parents’ multi-million-dollar penthouses, biding their time until their next chance to say: “You’ll be hearing from my daddy’s lawyers.” Either way, their main goal as meninists is to undermine feminism, oppress women, and promote an utterly ignorant and misogynistic perspective. Most important, though, is their willful denial of the fact that the patriarchy exists.
I suppose it makes sense that meninists don’t believe the patriarchy exists, considering they are both ignorant to and utterly unaware of the male privilege they experience. Truth be told, our society makes it pretty easy for them: how often have you brought up a sexist or misogynistic experience in your life, only to be told that you were exaggerating or “making something out of nothing”? In the eyes of meninists, MRAs, or even just friends and cousins who think “feminist” is “too strong” a word, subjective experience won’t cut it: nothing less than cold, hard proof of the patriarchy’s existence will be accepted.
Fortunately, I’ve got their proof right here. If you want hard and fast evidence that the patriarchy exists, look no further than these three global epidemics of misogyny.
1. Male-Dominated Governments
Let’s take a look around the world and see how many countries have governments dominated by women. None. Okay, how about any governments with a female majority? Hmm, well, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Rwanda is the only country that has a female-majority national parliament. That’s one out of 196 countries. Let that sink in for a second. Humans have existed for about 200,000 years. In that time we have been to the moon, created the atom bomb, founded 6,909 languages, cured polio, invented pizza, and figured out how to make a freaking iPhone, but we haven’t allowed women, who make up half of the population, to govern countries equally with men? I wonder what could be the cause.
Meninists might say it’s because women are not as intelligent or as capable as men. If this were true, and women were somehow genetically inferior to men, wouldn’t we have discovered this by now? Wouldn’t our considerable knowledge of human genetics have pointed out this gaping gender disparity? Presumably so. So when it comes to why women aren’t able to govern as equally as men, I’d put my money on it being a sociopolitical issue. We are not inferior to men; we just live in a world that disadvantages and inhibits us.
2. Continuance of the Male Line
When a heterosexual couple gets married, the woman in the relationship is always asked if she will be taking her husband’s name. But if someone were to ask if the man was going to take his wife’s name, people’s heads would explode. In fact when I was a little kid I didn’t even think it was possible for a husband to take his wife’s name. And according to the beliefs of my fellow kindergarteners (you better believe I took a poll), I wasn’t alone in my misconception. What does it say about our cultural practices and traditions that American children often don’t realize it’s even possible for the female line to continue rather than the male line? A whole freakin’ lot.
The origins of this practice are derivative of an even more insidious tradition: historically, a marriage marked the commencement of a husband’s ownership over his new wife. She literally lost her identity to become a part of his. Obviously, this is not what this practice still means today: it is now seen as a symbol of partnership rather than ownership. Yet the woman still has to give up her name for the sake of the union. Why not the man? Because even though this tradition no longer signifies literal ownership, it does signify a society that normalizes male dominance. The male line is favored for no particular reason other than that it is male. That’s pretty patriarchal, if you ask me.
3. Trafficking of Women
Human trafficking, also known as modern-day slavery, affects every country of the world. It’s a $32 billion a year industry, ruining millions of lives. Although men and children get trafficked as well, 71% of human trafficking victims are women. Why? Because 80% of human trafficking is related to sex exploitation. Women and girls are taken and sold for one sole purpose: so that men can have sex with them. Excuse me, I meant: so that men can rape them.
I wonder how people can deny the existence of a patriarchy when women in every country in the world are sold as sex slaves for men. Is it because women are inferior that they are kidnapped and kept prisoners in brothels? Is it because women are inferior that they are drugged into complacency? Is it because women are inferior that their price will go up if they are virgins? Is it because women are inferior that 12-year-old girls are raped all over the world? That’s why women are trafficked, right? Because we deserve it, because we are inferior? Or is it because there is a system that ingrains this false belief of female inferiority in all of us--a belief off of which some men choose to profit?
Now, these are big, meaty, patriarchal issues we all need to contend with. But don’t get me wrong: patriarchy is all around us--it’s in every catcall, every refused promotion, every female student sent home from school for having the gall to expose her ankles in the dead of summer. And the sooner we’re willing to recognize that, the sooner we can move forward--together.