Untying patriarchy's knots

A woman holds a banner during a gathering to mark International Women's Day in Lisbon, Portugal....
A woman holds a banner during a gathering to mark International Women's Day in Lisbon, Portugal. Photo: Reuters
I'm tying myself up in inarticulable knots this week, thinking about how to write about International Women's Day, writes Liz Breslin.

Liz Breslin
Liz Breslin

It's sometimes harder to write about something I care about to the core, but it shouldn't be this hard. After all, I'm a woman. An international one, even.

Maybe the problem is that this article will be unfashionably late to the party. Since we only get one International Women's Day a year it's kind of rude of me to land a day late. Everyone's moved on now. March 9th - A&P show day in Wanaka and National Barbie Day in the US of A. Maybe I'm bitter about that. Because in my mind every day should be Smash The Patriarchy Day. Saying that, though, I feel like a wiser-but-still-truculent teenage version of myself being offered a single chocolate and refusing it because I want the whole box. I do like chocolate.

Maybe it's because I'm tired.

Maybe the problem is that there are so many problems that it's hard to know where to start; reproductive rights, the gender pay gap, the unfunny jokes at the base of rape culture, Barbie's body proportions, Jordan Peterson and his sodding, sodding lobsters ... and how about the Belgian officials who made cyclist Nicole Hanselmann stop because she was getting too close to the men in front? Were they trying for the perfect patriarchal metaphor?

Maybe it's that every single moment, when I'm feeling the weight of this responsibility, could be lived as an occasion for understanding and education, or a departure for deep and rancorous divisions. Every conversation, every action, every move in every day exists inside or outside or in relation to the overarching, ever-present, archaic, smashable patriarchy. I know that as a white, educated woman I'm pretty hugely privileged under that structure. And still it makes me very, very tired.

I'm tired of toxic tosh like Married at First Sight and all the people on all the islands. I'm so tired that sometimes I sit and let the toxic tosh wash over me like reality. I'm cross with myself that I'm not constantly challenging all of this or spending my time watching self-improving and empowering documentaries about Ruth Bader Ginsberg instead. Or out there making an actual difference.

I'm tired of people who spell feminist "M-A-N-H-A-T-E-R". I'm sure the world would be a better place, for the lovers and the haters, and the ambivalent between, if we just Katnissed the Patriarchy like when they smash the glass ceiling in the second book of The Hunger Games, except without the battles afterwards and with a lot more breathing of free and equal air. I want so much for that to happen. But I feel like I'm in the middle of the game dome and there are preprogrammed threatbots at every compass point and I'm not sure where to start.

That's the thing about being in knots. I pull one strand and it seems to loosen. But while one part's unravelling, another is tightening, constrictor-like or transommed. I can spend hours teasing out the mess. Days. Eons. And so it is with equalities. And Barbie hair, come to think of it. (Totally Hair Barbie is the best selling Barbie ever. She looks like Rapunzel if Rapunzel had crimping irons and a boob job. I respect Rapunzel's rights to crimping irons and a boob job. I am not making any of this up.)

Maybe, since I'm feeling so tired, it would be a bit acceptable for a few of the days to be Unknot the Patriarchy Days instead. Kinder than smashing. Less dramatic than a Katniss. And possibly just as effective. Or knot.

International Women's Day was on March 8.

Comments

Don Knotts.

Well, ah, we've got this Gordian Knot. Not even the men can unknot it.

Knotts Landing

 

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