Palatable patriarchy 1 – Introduction

“I wish for all feminists – radicalism, unrespectability, radical rudeness and Stella Nyanzi’s audacity. May we continue to speak with our damn chests, shake these tables, silence our fears, unlock our [voices], decenter the male gaze, understand the manifestations of power and rest. Let this be the year we grow together in our feminism.” Vivian Ouya, Feminists in Kenya

I hate that patriarchy teaches women self-preservation at the expense of everyone and everything else. This self-preservation often results in the softening of our tongues to explain away systems and situations which are, by themselves, protective of (mostly heteronormative) men, and masculine authority and control. Until recently, I thought this was a softer form of feminism – permissible in certain circumstances for those who unlike some of us, are not ‘radically rude’ – even though I myself did not fully have a grasp on it. So when I would be called “aggressive” for being assertive; or when I would be told that when negotiating with men, their egos must be preserved over the safety of women, or their comfort, I would usually back down, thinking, this, perhaps is the face of feminism I am yet to understand – one which strategically negotiates diplomacy with patriarchy. I couldn’t quite wrap myself around the idea that there is room for respectability politics, and the insistences to mind my tone, lest one comes off as too hostile or lacking peace in my approach. Not only could I not wrap my head around it, I didn’t agree with it. These are often the same foundations which insist that women dress more appropriately and in less revealing manners, because our society is conservative and sexy in real life, is an invitation, that is of course when we are not on twitter trolling the “women should dress better” brigade.

I am realising, however, that there is no such thing as softer feminism, in a patriarchal system and society. There will always be a need for an aggressive claiming, and reclaiming. There exists, instead, what we can refer to as ‘palatable patriarchy’- a form of patriarchy which dangerously allows those who think patriarchy can favour them the opportunity to exist in it, until it strikes because like every other narcissist, patriarchy has no real friends.

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Bravo police for prompt action

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