The language of patriarchy is distinct, unmistakable, and thus, most importantly, recognizable. Patriarchal language reveres and enshrines double-talk, spin, lies, vitriol, deceit, and deception. Patriarchal language shows itself by being itself: demeaning, debasing, hateful, angry, vulgar, ugly, racist, violent, taunting, controlling, bullying, objectifying, tyrannical, vile, sexist, divisive, and cruel. These various distinctions help us be aware and conscious of the range of patriarchal language—generally known as “hate speech.”
This is the language of a rape culture, a racist culture, a culture of the 1% against the 99%, the “elites” against the masses. Patriarchal language actively shuns truth, vulnerability, connection, and empathy.
Patriarchy does not send out any true and affirming “we are all human” messages. No, it runs a loop of speeches, posters, tweets, videos, memes, “news” stories, slogans, sound bites, radio rants, etc.—all shouting “us versus them.”
The body language of bellowing, blustering patriarchy offers stereotypical displays of intimidation and dominance: outstretched fingers always pointed at others; “giving” someone else the finger (the hand substituting for the angry penile f*#k-you); the voice raised to screeches, or lowered with whispers and eyelids to narrowed, arrowed threats; the objectifying leer and prowl of a sexual predator; the squared shoulders with the boxer stance ready to administer blows; the snarl with the disdainful curl of the lip, or the mouth thinned and pressed to a rigid flat line while the heart shrinks. Even with the sound turned off, the body language of patriarchy is obvious.
Characteristic of the language of patriarchy are propaganda, demonization of others, and speech that incites fear and hatred coupled with suspicion and insularity. Characteristic—meaning this type of speech defines the character of people who defend, promote, and adhere to patriarchy. We need to recognize this type of language in all its forms and name it as such!
A Poster Boy of Patriarchy
United States patriarchy has a prominent squawk-box representative in Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate with his consistently misogynistic, racist, classist, and violent rhetoric. Because Trump is literally on national and world stages, and because he epitomizes patriarchal language (as well as behavior, perspective, and privilege) so thoroughly, patriarchal language has been thrust into the floodlights with no shadows or murky haze to disguise it.
Take a good look, because Trump, regardless of the presidential election outcome, has been working with other recognizably virulent patriarchal voices to create a media network in their likenesses.
Standing right behind and with Trump are other notable and influential patriarchal elites. Trump benefits from the monies and disturbing worldview of Peter Thiel of Paypal, who is on Facebook’s Board of Directors. Mark Zuckerberg evidently thinks Peter Thiel just brings “diversity” to Facebook. And as a follow-up to that kind of blind loyalty, Zuckerberg/Facebook recently hosted a trial of a Trump TV and now appears to be a permanent platform for Trump talk.
It’s logical then to look at Trump’s other mass-media staff: former FoxTV mogul, perennial sexual harasser, and Republican rainmaker Roger Ailes, together with Steve Bannon from the radically patriarchal Breitbart news. CNN points out that Bannon has been called “the most dangerous political operative in America.” Patriarchal language is their stock in trade.
The Perverse Twisting of the Storylines
Control the narrative. Patriarchal language must control the stories, the beliefs, the mythologies of people in order to keep fear, loathing, and divisiveness in the culture and society. Control the narrative—meaning embed a morsel of truth into stacks of dry ice lies, propaganda, spin, and double-speak. Blend that together, call it “news,” and start feeding empty slushies of garbage to people.
The dictate is to control the narrative, stay on message, on point in order to promote a patriarchal hegemonic ideology; an ideology which typically denies the actual lived reality of the world in order to try to literally create a twisted controlled version of reality. History and our current times are replete with examples. Here are just a few:
- The wrathful, angry God of the monotheisms who created bonds of patriarchal language contracts, i.e. covenants and commandments, solely with males. Oops, chosen males! Any sacred commandments or agreements that deliberately excludes women as well as other men (who have been deemed lesser) should be completely suspect.
- The Akkadian and Babylonian empires deliberately had scribes copy the epic of Gilgamesh onto new clay tablets so that this savage narrative would be the “state literature” for conquered peoples.
- The violent slander, oppression, and degradation that is racism and sexism—a long-standing historically based patriarchal war on the “other.”
- Hitler’s state propaganda machine that twisted symbols, demonized others, and spun him as a national salvic warrior/hero.
- Climate change and the Republican party’s aggressive denial of this reality.
- Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement by Kathryn Joyce is a chilling account of the Christian language of sexism that is married to patriarchal right-wing war ideology in the United States.
- And finally, this example from Reverend G. David Korsen, a Christian minister. Here is his thoughtful essay regarding his experiences encountering such patriarchal language and attitudes.
Why Does This Matter?
In case anyone who has read this far and doesn’t understand why it is so important to recognize, name, and resist patriarchal language, here are the main crucial reasons. Patriarchal language is the expression, the voicing, the communication system of an incredibly brutal social system that humans invented that is based on control, war, and separation and that gives de facto privileges first to males over females, and also to white or lighter-skinned males over darker-skinned males. Patriarchy is a savage social system.
I use that word deliberately. Savage has historically been used as slur against most indigenous cultures around the world as a way to demean, degrade, and dismiss them as people! Savage has also been used as a slur against independent women of all stripes to shame them and paint them as “beasts” who threaten “mankind” in general.
And yet, it is patriarchy that makes any one of us start to lose (or, in horrific cases, definitively lose) our humane-ness, our humanity. Patriarchy savages us; it rips us asunder with a thousand cuts. Each one of us.
Patriarchy has preached over millennia now that males are superior, that white males are akin to God, and that “mankind” is separate from Nature, the environment, and even, Earth. Patriarchy ties females to Nature, the environment and Earth, but not for anything positive. No, patriarchal labels earthy females as “dirty,” “sexual” (which is sinful), “wild” (and thus, uncontrollable, or not tamed yet), etc. It also marks females as all kinds of animals: dog, pig, bitch, cow, nag, cougar, vixen, catty, pussy. [More on this in a future post!]
Patriarchal language has defiled our philosophies, our world views, and much of our religious traditions and scientific observations. By deliberately twisting reality and declaring over and over ad nauseum that overall, females and people of color are automatically inferior—even “sub-human”!—patriarchy brainwashes people to regard other people as things. As worthless. As inherently sinful. As garbage.
And patriarchy, in separating us from Nature and our planet—our HOME— has successfully transferred the trope of “woman is only nature” thus reducing our planet to garbage and, causing more and more of us to become HOMELESS physically, symbolically, emotionally, or mentally. Our entire world is at a breaking point. How much more proof does anyone need that patriarchy, the messages that it sends, the vitriol that it spews, the torn web of stories that it spins is actually the real garbage?