Patriarchy doesn’t go away that quickly- it has survived centuries by keeping its “others” ignorantly deviant through hegemony- “consensual” oppression. Don’t be fooled into thinking we’re free.
For every skinny woman that gets more attention than a “not” skinny woman, for every woman whose looks are put on display and for every man’s who aren’t, for every man that gets paid more for the same job, for every assault against a woman, we should see that we have not won. A few glimmers of hope, a few changed minds, a few “well he’s not so bad”s are not enough- they are merely glimmers and nothing more so long as the majority maintains its own truths, in whatever form they may take.
You may think “Sex & The City” is progressive. You may think it’s cool that we’re seeing more “bigger” models. You may cheer at Dove’s Campaign For Real Beauty (used to push its anti-aging product). You may be all for Angelina Jolie’s “rebel” image.
That’s what they want you to think. They want you to think it’s the new feminism, when really it’s the new sexism, formed by coopting and degrading the real, third-wave feminism. They want you to think the mainstream can be cool and hip and progressive, so you won’t bother looking anywhere else. But let’s face it: in a world dominated by patriarchy, any real progressive feminist thought will be obscure, hard-to-find, genuinely “indie”.
I do not see people- specifically other women- who fall for this as blind, or dumb, or even necessarily wrong. It fooled me for years as well, and continues to once in a while when my defenses are down. In order to keep that from happening I have developed a semi-permanent barrier of critical questioning for anything new that comes into my view.
I try to keep this from others as much as possible, to keep them from what many see merely as cynicism, but it gets through on occasion. When it does, I am invariably accused of being paranoid, of “reading too much into things”, or, better yet, of “taking things too seriously”.
But I can’t help it. Once you see one truth, or one lie, you can’t help but see it everywhere, see how it permeates, until it bombards you every day, and you can’t make it stop, and sometimes you wish you could be blissfully ignorant like so many others seem to be, and yet you are grateful you are not, most of the time, because you understand that you often need to sacrifice contentment for awareness, and you want to think outside of yourself for the common good, and you know that in order to even attempt any change, large or small, you need to break down your own paradigm and baggage and, though this can never be fully achieved, live your own life and think your own thoughts in accordance with your beliefs. But that’s just me.*
(*Much of these views could be easily applied to theories of the more subversive and sinister elements of racism, classism, heterosexism, ageism, ableism, lookism, and the many other forms of oppression and othering at the hands of the so-called norm.)