These days, many people believe that women have gained their equal rights such that feminist activism is no longer necessary. Yet statistics and the lived experiences of people all over the world prove that this is not the case. From the ongoing objectification of women in cinema to the prevalence of sexual assaults and domestic violence, the war on women continues with ugly vim. For this reason, people who are interested in creating communities marked by equality and freedom for everyone need to know which strategies they can implement to smash the patriarchy. Here are six of them:
1. Emphasize Accountability.
One of the primary reasons that patriarchy thrives results is that we live in a culture of male entitlement. This culture is marked by the belief that men, on virtue of their gender, are entitled to treat women in a sexually dehumanizing manner. By maintaining a “boys will be boys” mentality rather than holding men accountable for sexual violence, we teach women to tolerate male aggression or modify their behavior in order to avoid it. This is not the right approach.
Instead of requiring those victimized by male aggression to accommodate or avoid it, we should hold men accountable for their actions and attitudes and require them to interact with women in a manner marked by respect and recognition of our shared humanity.
2. Question Conventional Gender Paradigms.
In addition to emphasizing accountability, progressive people need to place primacy on questioning conventional gender paradigms. As many feminists know, these paradigms include the idea that men are active, naturally aggressive people while women are innately passive, submissive creatures. These types of paradigms create an attitude of tolerance towards a wide range of oppressive male behaviors, including but not limited to violence against women and sexual assault. As opposed to upholding this dichotic, limiting view of what men and women can be, it’s time to encourage people to embrace the full spectrum of individuality so that people do not feel the need to conform to constricting paradigms for personhood.
Rather than upholding macho paradigms that encourage men to be aggressive and refrain from showing emotions, we should create a culture in which both sexes are free to express their feelings and adopt an attitude of gentleness and sensitivity to the feelings of others.
3. Challenge The Traditional Nuclear Family.
Although the contemporary world is marked by greater acceptance of nontraditional families, the nuclear family is still presented as the ideal in numerous cultural mediums. This reality is dangerous given that the traditional nuclear family model is profoundly, unapologetically patriarchal. Specifically, it situates the male father as the leader of the family while situating all other members as subordinates who are required to obey his edicts. When women and children grow up in these types of households, they oftentimes internalize sexist ideals that teach them to view men as natural leaders who can and should have the authority to determine the shape and substance of their lives.
By presenting people with alternative models for the family unit which do not celebrate patriarchy, we can help them think about gender in new, unconventional ways that enable them to move beyond the destructive realm of power binaries in which one person holds all authority while others are required to maintain a position of passive submission.
4. Change The Conversation Regarding Consent.
Feminists have done an incredible job of explaining how rape culture operates and the role it plays in making women vulnerable to sexual violence at the hands of men. However, existing discourse is oftentimes limited to advocating for a definition of consent based on the “No means no” principle. This principle is problematic because it creates a realm in which an individual can interpret silence or passivity as a yes. With this reality in mind, feminists such as Jessica Valenti and Jaclyn Friedman argue that the concept of consent should be reframed within a “Yes means yes” context. In this sphere, consent can be more easily read because it involves enthusiastic, unequivocal desire to engage in sex acts.
Defining and gauging consent through a “Yes means Yes” lens is powerful for many reasons, including the fact that it challenges the idea that female sexuality is an innately passive phenomenon.
5. Hold The Media Accountable.
The media is an unequivocally male-centered sphere that glorifies patriarchy while degrading women in a wide range of deeply troubling ways. For this reason, individuals who are invested in doing deep damage to the patriarchy should concentrate on holding the media accountable for things like its ongoing, unapologetic objectification of women in films and male-dominated journalism.
By challenging forms of media that glorify the dominant culture and emphasizing the importance of representing women in nontraditional ways, progressive people can help create a world in which we are not constantly bombarded with normative, male-glorifying representations of reality.
6. Do Not Confuse Nonparticipation With Activism.
When we use a phrase like “smash the patriarchy,” the action verb “smash” implies that we’re actively working against the existing power structure that oppresses us. Yet in many cases, people argue that because they don’t conform to patriarchal values, they’ve done enough. While refusing to participate in patriarchal activities—like watching sexist films or subjecting an individual to sexual violence—is a step in the right direction, it is not the most effective way to challenge and end sexism. Activism is.
If you’re serious about creating a more equitable world, be sure to move beyond the realm of simply not participating in patriarchy and start partnering with organizations in your local area to attack and end the patriarchy!
Let’s Smash the Patriarchy Now!
If you recognize the profoundly negative impact that patriarchy has on society, it’s time to do something about it. To start smashing the patriarchy now, you can partner with LiveYourDream.org. Doing so will help you empower women by providing them with knowledge and resources they can use to lead more independent, authentic lives.Pledge to TAKE ACTION >>