Most women in the United States believe they live in a patriarchy. Most men (as far as I can tell) believe they live in a matriarchy.
They can’t both be right. Right?
But they are both right. Because we all experience our own reality. As a wealthy, single male over 50, I live in a patriarchy bubble for sure. Let me give you a perfect example.
The other day I was picking up my stepson from school. When I arrived, a policeman was writing him a ticket on the sidewalk. As I approached the scene, I didn’t know the ticket was a benign warning for jaywalking. My stepson had crossed the street at the same corner where a jaywalker had died a week earlier. The police officer was doing good work, getting out the word in a school zone to be careful at a dangerous spot.
But when I first saw the scene from a distance, I didn’t know which side I was going to be on. I walked about a block, imagining the worst. And I wasn’t in the mood to take any shit from either one of them.
So what happens when a white male my age gets out of an expensive vehicle and walks up to a policeman doing his job? Answer: The policeman gets nervous. He went to great lengths to explain his actions. (And did it well.)
In other words, he was afraid of me, at least in terms of keeping his job. And he should have been. If the encounter had gone in an unpleasant direction, we both knew his job was on the line.
That’s the patriarchy. And I have to say I enjoy that part of it. I am completely aware of being the most powerful person (society-wise) in nearly any room.
But it wasn’t always this way for me.
When I was young, poor, and penniless, my experience was that of a being in a matriarchy. My mother was my dominant parent. My first teachers were women. And I later failed at two careers because of my employers’ gender preferences for women. I tell those stories in my book. In both cases my bosses told me – in direct language – that the company had a diversity problem to fix and the executives had ordered them to stop promoting white males.
I’m not complaining, just reporting, for context. That was a long time ago. Obviously things worked out well for me.
When I was a young, unattractive male with no money, I had no social power, no dating power, and some very real career obstacles because of my gender. My subjective reality was that I was living in a matriarchy, even if those around me were not. I knew a lot of women my age, and they seemed to be living the dream. That was my subjective impression anyway.
When I got older and richer, I had an option to reinvent my reality as a bubble of patriarchy, but I chose marriage and parenting instead. I was aware that I was entering the situation as the lowest-ranking member of the family. My status was below the kids, because that is the modern way. And as a stepdad – in a situation where the natural dad is co-parenting – the mom is the top-ranked parent. And obviously I was ranked below the family pets because I was the one picking up their poop.
So marriage was a total matriarchy (and childarchy) for me. But as soon as the kids got old enough to be somewhat independent, my wife and I pivoted to be best friends living a block away. I live in my patriarchy and she lives any way she wants. It works great.
So here’s my bottom line on this. If you accuse me of living in a patriarchy, and being one of the more powerful elements of society, you are absolutely right. That is my current reality, but it is not the reality I experienced for most of my life.
Likewise, the so-called “angry white men” who support Donald Trump are not all living in a patriarchy. That group are mostly second-class citizens being punished for MY CRIMES.
Let me say that again. The patriarchy is guys like me. But we are rare. The younger men without money – and most of the men with wives and families – are living in a matriarchy. That group of men doesn’t have anything left to give.
As a mental exercise, pay attention to which demographic group almost always plays the idiot on television commercials. It is usually a young male who is not wealthy. That group is the shit of society.
If you hate the patriarchy, take it out on me. I actually live in one. But let’s not drag the young men with no power into this. They are not living in my patriarchy bubble. And they don’t have much left to give.
Note: A tell for cognitive dissonance is debate over the definition of words. Look for that in the comments.