I’m at a party. I only know the host. I decide to start to chat to a boy there. He’s friendly and we talk for a while. When it’s time for me to leave, I bid goodbye to him and I give my friend and her mother a quick hug and turn to leave, when he pipes up.
“Where’s my hug?”
This takes me by surprise. He was nice, but I hadn’t known him for more than an hour. Why would I hug him?
“What, I don’t get one?!”
I am immediately uncomfortable.
Now I know that you don’t see this as much. It was a just a hug, Why are you so upset? don’t be so dramatic! you’re overreacting!
At the time, I was 12. He was 18.
On the surface is may not seem like much of a story. What’s the big deal? Well I’ll tell you. His request was an unbridled assumption that not only could he approach me for physical affection, but that it was reasonable, and he was entitled to do so, after barely knowing me.
This is one of the many ways in which the patriarchy manifests and rears it’s ugly head in our daily lives. Many deluded individuals will have doubts that the patriarchy exists, or that it only exists in obvious circumstances, such as the wage gap and limited gender diversity.
In reality, the hidden agenda of the patriarchy goes much deeper. The patriarchy is an insidious force which permeates our lives, and has rapidly become an overbearing undercurrent of toxicity in our world.
Now I know my party experience may not seem so compelling to the majority of you, so let me provide some more examples of hidden patriarchy.
I’ve always been an assertive person, I’ve always had a commanding presence. Thus, I’ve always been told I was bossy. Friends, family, teachers. They’d always comment that I was bossy and condescendingly warn me that I shouldn’t get too ahead of myself, assuming power like that.
What a load of nonsense.
Boys my own age never got told they were bossy. They were never told to tone it down. Boys acting like I was were praised and told to keep up the good work.
Why? Because we celebrate the command of men and attempt to quell that of women.
If you go into target and observe the girls and boys sections, you’ll find two very distinct messages. Girls shirts are often adorned with captions such as “Mummy’s little princess”, “too pretty to do math” and even, “future trophy wife”. Juxtaposing those of the boys clothes, which are adorned usually adorned in NASA logos, “Future Hero” and “future president” captions.
Why? Because due to the clandestine nature of the patriarchy, we teach boys about power, and influence, whilst simultaneously impressing upon girls their stereotype of weakness.
How do we protect women from a culture which is uncomfortable with their voices?
The patriarchy socialises women to be lesser, to be meek, and we see the damage of this daily. When a a female employee is too afraid to ask for a deserving raise, lest she seem greedy. When an opinionated teenage girl, such as myself, expresses herself confidently, and are branded by our peers and made fun of.
The patriarchy does not only exist overtly. It lurks, it lingers in the recesses of society and forces it’s ongoing agenda of male superiority onto society.
Every single female in this room has been victim to it, either knowing or unknowing.
This is the true nature of the patriarchy.
I’d like you to think critically about your response to my article. Do you agree? Do you disagree? Are you going to come up to me later in the halls, and harass me about how I’m a raging feminist? About how I’m a crybaby? A special snowflake? Perhaps you’ll ask if I’m triggered by what others perceive as an entertaining joke?
Or are you going to remain silent, choosing to remain blissfully ignorant to what you know is the truth?
Are you attempting to combat the oppressive undercover regime I’ve discussed today?
Or are you contributing to it ?
(This was originally written and performed as a speech for the Baron Snider Speaking Competition)