“Should I give up, or should I just keep chasing patriarchy even if it leads nowhere?”
It would be one thing if the United States was not a white-racist society. The United States is a white-racist society, and the coexistence of white-racism and patriarchy, produces a unique brand of patriarchy that only truly benefits few of the men in within it. Given that few men within the United States benefit from the patriarchal social order in this country, I wanted to examine why so many men chase pavement, even if it leads nowhere.
According to free encyclopedia, “Patriarchy is a social system in which the role of the male as the primary authority figure is central to social organization, and where fathers hold authority over women, children, and property. It implies the institutions of male rule and privilege, and is dependent on female subordination.”
On the surface that definition seems to indicate a social order that benefits all men, but when a further examination of how that definition works in the context of racial and capitalist exploitation in the United States, it becomes clear that chasing patriarchy is a pursuit that only a few men can afford without consequences.
One of the most striking things about the definition is its mentioning of the fathers authority over “property.” Slavery in the United States relegated African Americans, both male and female, to the role of property. African American men were no longer seen as men, but rather the property of white men. In an ideal patriarchal situation the white man and the black man would be equals, but white-racism always relegates the black man to the position of “other,” and thus not a man.
In a white-racist patriarchal society, the black man may be promised patriarchal power, but the fact that he is both man and black denies him the chance to fully benefit from that promised patriarchal power. Black men may chase patriarchy, but they will always slam into the wall of white supremacy which associates them with “other,” and not man.
There are countless historical examples of black men being relegated to the category of “other,” as opposed to man. Jim Crow was an entire system built on the viewing of blacks as others, even black men. The criminal justice system also shows what patriarchy in a white racist society does to black men. In their pursuit of patriarchal power, many black men turn to a life of crime, and that usually ends with them becoming slaves of a white racist society that punishes them unfairly for pursuing the same patriarchal power that white men do all the time.
So, the question has to be asked why do so many chase patriarchy if it leads nowhere, and what are alternatives for black men who do not want to chase patriarchy? One of the saddest consequences of systems of oppression is that they usually inspired the oppressed to want power over others.
While black men have historically been oppressed along with black women in the system of slavery, many have still come to believe that they should have dominion over black women, and black children. This need to have “power” in a society that strips them of power convinces many black men to chase patriarchy even at the expense of destroying meaningful relationships with the black women in their lives, and the children in their lives.
Many black men feel that since they are denied the role of primary authority in society, which they must make up for that lack of power by ruling in the black home. By choosing patriarchal power over their women and children, black men become complicit in the decline of the black family and the greater goal of racial uplift for the entire black community. We are able to see that patriarchy again leads nowhere because the result is greater rifts between black men and black women.
I would strongly suggest that racist and sexist oppression is inextricably linked to the African American experience in this country, and unless we fight both oppressions the black community will continue to remain as Nicki Minaj says, “at a standstill, mannequin.”
I encourage black men to create new conceptions of masculinity, and manhood that are not rooted in or predicated upon the attainment of patriarchal power in a white-racist society. We as black men must step outside of patriarchy, and stop chasing patriarchy that leads nowhere. The black man must not seek to rule the black woman, but work in conjunction with the black woman, respecting her as equal and ally, in black struggle. The black man must not seek to rule over his children, but be a compassionate, caring, and nurturing guide for their children, teaching them how to respect themselves, others, and the planet. The black man must recognize, and name patriarchy as a system of domination that exploits both men and women, and work to challenge and change the system of patriarchy. The black man must resist the values of patriarchy that insist that a man must be tough and emotionally vacant, and allow himself to be vulnerable, and emotionally available to black women and other black men.
I could go on and on, but I feel that the above tips for transgressing patriarchy are sufficient to begin the steps challenging patriarchy. Should black men keep chasing patriarchy, even if it leads no where? The answer in my opinion is a resounding no.