Saturday, 18 March 2017

The patriarchy in hiding

If a man harasses me on the street I confront him.

Occasionally, when I feel unsafe, I let it slide, but so often, when it happens in the light of day in full sight of many, I take the opportunity for a face-off.

I do it out of principle, but I also do it for pleasure. Calling someone out for misogyny can be thrilling. That moment - when the cat-caller thinks I am going to walk away, but I don't, and they don't know where to look or what to say - is satisfying and it can heal the wound that they might have inflicted upon me in the first place.

Confronting an aggressor can be bitter sweet. If I challenge a man who has called out, touched or threatened me, it is a reclaiming of power and ground. It feels good. However, I still wish for a world where I don't have to fight for space and respect.

I also have begun to realise, in my growing confidence, that there is another tone to the bitterness of these encounters. Not in the shape they take, but in who I am confronting.

The true patriarchy is rich, white, privileged, in power and guarded.

The men I confront on the street are, most often, poor, brown, un-priviledged, marginalised, immigrant, homeless... etc.

This doesn't feel good.

Picture me, a white woman in a busy street, shouting down some guy who has, his whole life, been violated by society and has in turn violated me with his words. Meanwhile, the real patriarchy rolls by, behind shaded glass windows of chauffeured cars.

We are all pawns.

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