The Patriarchy and Me: We’ve Agreed to See Other People

In order to lead men and women into happiness and intimacy — intimacy with others and really a good relationship inside your skin as well — we have to lead men and women out of patriarchy, because the old rules were not built for intimacy and happiness.                                ~ Terence Real

It’s been a long and rocky relationship between me and the Patriarchy, starting way back in the mid-fifties, when I was about three years old. Like many relationships, it’s been on again/off again. It’s worked for me in some ways. In other ways, it’s caused great pain. We’ve tried to make it work, but at long last I’ve discovered that my motivation to continue is just not there. It’s time to say goodbye. While I’ll probably keep in touch with that part of me, we’ve finally agreed to see other people, other parts of me. While the Patriarchy is probably not happy, I know that I am. This is where I want to be.

You’ve probably heard something about the Patriarchy. It’s been much in the news lately what with all the outings of sexual offenders in high places, the much-needed feminist movement continuing on, and Millennial men living a rather different lifestyle. Let me say something about who the Patriarchy is to me and what it’s all about from my viewpoint. Your mileage may vary. To do this, I’m borrowing the following description from Terence Real, a male family therapist whose motto is something like: “Dissolving the Patriarchy, one client at a time.” I guess we know how he feels about it.

Mr. Real described the psychological form of the Patriarchy as having three aspects, or “rings.”

  • The Great Divide: Masculine and feminine qualities are separated and distinguished within the individual.
  • The Dance of Contempt: The masculine holds the feminine in contempt.
  • The Core Collusion: The feminine protects the disowned fragility of the masculine, even if they’re being hurt by it.

You may wish to debate these points, come up with your own definition, add to this one, or whatever. Yet, I believe this model forms a useful starting point for discussion. It works for me in any case.

Please notice that the statements above don’t mention men or women or boys or girls, just “masculine” and “feminine.” So, this process of division, contempt, and collusion can occur not only between males and females. It can occur between two males, two females, even within one person as the masculine “part” of one person holds the feminine “part” in contempt, and so on. It can even occur between ideologies, religions, and professions. For example, I work every day within a very feminine profession, often held in contempt by other masculine professions, such as psychiatry (although that’s changing). More about this in a few minutes

While each of us swims every day within the Patriarchy pool, we each have our own story and our own relationship with it. Each man, each woman, each boy, each girl, each person of color, each Christian, each atheist, each gay person, each transgendered person, each intersexual person, each … well, you get where I’m going with this. There is not just one story of the Patriarchy, there is your story and my story and their stories.

As I reflect back on own story, I realize that I have always felt the tension that I’m sure most boys and men feel as they constantly try to prove that they are not feminine. The Patriarchy was not as strongly enforced in my family as in others. Rather than being overt, it was covert. I’m not sure whether that’s good news or bad news. But, is was as it was. Now, as I approach my mid-60s, like many men of similar age, I’m realizing that “I’m tired of this sh*t.” In my case “this sh*t” includes my relationship with the Patriarchy.

I hereby let go of my relationship with the Patriarchy in favor of spending more time with my real self. Said in another way, I’m talking about spending more time with other parts of me, including the disconnected parts that some might describe as “feminine.” In other words, I’ll be “seeing other people” instead of the Patriarchy. If anyone has a problem with that, I will consider it just that, their problem.

I no longer care to act out or act in when I feel shame. I choose to feel it and deal with it as it is. I choose to come back into contact with my own body, with my anger, with my grief. I intend to use these to energize connection with others, rather than disconnection.

I no longer care to claim dominion over anything or anyone. I can see that doing that has provided material benefits in the past. Yet, like King Midas, who was given the “gift” of the Golden Touch, I’ve come to understand that one cannot be fed by nor feel love from nor feel connection with “gold.” I am an equal being within this universe, no more and no less than anyone else.

I no longer care to hold anything or anyone in contempt. I choose to feel empathy, compassion, and love toward my “fellow man.” I’ve had plenty of experience in doing this with women. They have taught me how to do this and I thank them. I have that equipment available to me. When I have been able to do this with men, on those rare occasions when I can be “relational” with other men, the rewards on both sides have been amazing. Gimme more of that!

I no longer care to feel any shame about what I do for a living, even though some view it as emasculating or feminine in nature. I choose instead to embrace my balanced, androgynous nature and provide appropriate guidance to those who feel motivated to live better lives, whatever that means to them.

Having said all this, I now bring closure to my relationship with the Patriarchy. Goodbye.

 

Copyright 2017 Daniel J. Metevier