In this article Ben offers the reader a clear rationale regarding the control, oppression and abuse of women as a class by men as a class and a heartfelt plea to end it.
By Ben Warner
“The power exercised by men, day to day, in life is power that is institutionalised. It is protected by law. It is protected by religion and religious practice. It is protected by universities, which are strongholds of male supremacy. It is protected by a police force. It is protected by those whom Shelley called “the unacknowledged legislators of the world”: the poets, the artists.” Andrea Dworkin I Want a Twenty-Four-Hour Truce During Which There Is No Rape
Members of my family have been raped and abused. I know the consequences are devastating, long lasting, across the generations. As someone who wants to be a good brother, son, and uncle I am writing this for all men who do not believe in patriarchy. I am writing for men who do not believe women when they talk about their experiences and how it makes them feel. Patriarchy is the system that objectifies woman. It is the same system that offers woman the choice of either unpaid careers or lower paid and harder working jobs of the workforce. It is the system that tries to blame woman for their own rape and which, in England and Wales, prosecutes less than 2% of rapes.
The fact that men rape in alarmingly high numbers, should be enough to convince you that patriarchy exists, and it is a cruel and disastrous system. Men rape women in alarmingly high numbers. Men also rape children, babies, and other men. How many of you know a rapist? Shockingly, we probably all do. Most of us just do not realise it. Many men have ‘used’ a prostitute. What makes paying someone for intercourse anything other than rape with financial compensation? That means for sure, we all know a rapist.
You may not believe in patriarchy, because it is hidden.
It is in our language. Hidden in plain sight. The word semen comes from the same root as the words sow and seed. Men often talk of planting their seed. Despite the fact that patriarchy prides itself in its rational scientific mind, this is unscientific emotional wish fulfilment, in other words a lie. As Stephen Buhner points out in Plant intelligence and the Imaginal Realm, human semen is biologically more like pollen. So, men are more like butterflies or bees delivering pollen in exchange for the nectar of orgasm and companionship. A woman is not a passive receiver of the seed. She is not earth for man to dominate and neither is Earth.
Patriarchy encourages men to see themselves as farmers dominating and controlling the land as he dominates and controls his woman. His dominance is either resisted or impossible. This leads to the murder of women and the murder of Earth. It is literally happening right now, and men under the direction of radically politicised women can stop it.
If we see ourselves as butterflies or bees, how would we treat women, trees and Earth?
If you do not believe in patriarchy, it’s in the fucking dictionary. Dictionaries are mainly written by dusty old white men, who dwell in small Oxford or Cambridge rooms. So the Oxford dictionary offers words like; bitch, bird, wench and bint for woman. Bint is still a neutral Arabic word for girl or daughter. It has meant whore in English since soldiers brought it back from Egypt. What do you think these soldiers did to girls and daughters, while they were there? The same thing they do wherever they go. The definition for man is longer and the synonyms are human, person, individual, personage, soul.
Bint is an example of pejoration, which is when a word starts with a neutral or positive meaning and devolves into something negative the opposite is amelioration. Buddy and sissy now mean friend and weak or effeminate man. They used to simply mean brother and sister. Master and mistress both used to mean a person in a position of authority. Now to master is a verb that means to gain control of and a mistress remains a noun but now means a sexually promiscuous woman. Can you see a pattern here?
The list of formally neutral female words that have pejorated and male words that have ameliorated is almost endless.
Let us take another one pussy. For four hundred years it was a metaphor for a vagina. Then male, of course, writers started using it to mean tame weak males. Another patriarchal lie. If your penis bled once a month you would run crying to a hospital. Every. Fucking. Time. That is only if it bled, what if it was preceded by intense abdominal pain and unwanted feelings of distress, anger and anxiety?
Even if your mother is not a ‘good’ mother (rare in comparison to the avalanche of bad fathers). Even then she risked her life for yours. She was born with the egg that became you. It was there fully formed with all her other eggs, before she was born while she was still in her own mother’s stomach. She carried it in her, until your father, the butterfly donated his pollen at just the right moment. Your mother went through the discomfort of pregnancy and the body changing life-risking pain of childbirth. Make that mean something. Do not let that birth be so you can spend one single moment of your life denying that patriarchy exists.
A few years ago, I read a I Want a Twenty-Four-Hour Truce During Which There Is No Rape by the thinker and writer Andrea Dworkin. She asked for men to stop raping woman for just one day. She wanted the “nice” men to use their fabled physical strength to stop the bad ones from raping. Since I read it, I have been wondering how to do this. Violence is not something that comes easily to me, so I am writing this instead. If you are a man, who is physically braver, stronger and more skilful than me, if you want to use your physical prowess for something good, use it to stop rape and rapists.
Ben Warner is a long time DGR Guardian in the UK and a teacher.