God’s Impotent Patriarchy
God, like the patriarchy, is either impotent or masochistic. Why might he intelligently design a lion, the magnum opus of all his predators, the tension in each of its bulging muscles configured to sprint in survival-sized bounds, only to have it strike its unforgiving paw into the flesh of an antelope designed with equal intelligence – its long limbs loping rhythmically across african grasslands it is camouflaged against? What benign force, resting in the comfort of his all-seeing throne at the apex of the world, looks upon this brutal battle with impunity, without sympathy, while nearby humans watch the struggle and invoke the divine plan in his name? If the fate of such a conflict must’ve been forelaid by the omniscient god, then in what sense does he have the omnipotence to save either mammal from their respective perils, from starvation or predation, or to tinker with his finely-tuned creatures and alter the preconditioned fate of his best made plans?
The shriek of the ungrateful prayer rings out with comparable duplicity as it begs for trivial alteration to the supposedly divine blueprints. It relies on omnipotence and doubts omniscience, gives obsequious thanks for the fine-tuned gift of life but wishes the tuning had been all the finer when it came to constructing the wretched circumstance it seeks to remedy. But either the all-knowing God already knows what we’re about to ask for but wants to watch us beg anyway, or must wait to be beckoned and thus isn’t all that all-knowing. Perhaps it is the death of a loved one that has us kneeling at the pew, or simply the insolent fear of death itself; why harbour such apprehension at the prospect of acquiring the only agreed upon qualification required on the matriculation form to heaven?
From an ineffectual God comes the impotent patriarchy, a supposedly nefarious force of manipulation and efficacy but one equally prone to powerlessness; like holy father, like son. The patriarchy remains unable to attract subscription from those who stand to gain the most from its existence: ask the families of the men who make up the 93% of workplace deaths, or the friends of the men who account for the worst male suicide rate since 2001, a statistic that often comes out four times higher than the female equivalent. These men and boys are not even around for radical feminists to ask just how they exercised their privilege today or how long they’ve been a member of the patriarchy club.
It is true the male-dominated cohorts that ruled parliaments, provinces, pulpits and the elite professions of the past did much to alienate and oppress the women that fell under the cosh of their social monopoly and insufferable self-importance. But as secularism and democracy have come to imbue all citizens with, at the very least, complete legal equality, society’s patriarchal sails have shifted tack. In an overreaching attempt to rectify the misdemeanours of the past, the supposed patriarchy has granted women the apparent necessities of government enforced gender-quotas, the ‘Ministry for Women’, exclusive tax benefits for female entrepreneurs and £45m of funding that is the ‘Women and Girls Initiative’ – as well as numerous offices for women’s health and all-women’s councils that have no male counterpart. For a system purportedly run by and for males, it is alarmingly obsessed with throwing money at women’s issues. It is also inscrutable as to why women would ever accept such assistance, after all, as the maxim of the feminist critic Camille Paglia goes:
It is anti-feminist to ask for special treatment for women.
Of course, gender equality is not a zero-sum game, initiatives and government funding for at risk groups should be available for both men and women on the basis of need, tailored to respective societal problems. However, the skewed inclination towards backing women’s foundations comes across as a little rich at a time when men cannot even freely partake in International Men’s Day without vilification or, much worse, being completely shutdown. And so the patriarchy – if it can still be said to exist at all outside the minds of the self-victimising, microaggressed and systematically oppressed – is weak and lame, carrying itself down the corridor of old age towards the terminal bright light.
In the same breath that most third-wave-feminists accuse the patriarchy of oppressing vulnerable minorities, they indict it with the charge of self-flagellation, perhaps masochism, and the pathetic inability to follow its own simple narrative, the latter being the most insulting of the charges. It would be trivially easy for the male powers that be to implement legislature and manipulate culture to benefit all men everywhere, had it the unflinching and omnipotent powers of oppression that an increasingly histrionic group of radicals believe it to have. Unfortunately, our incompetence outweighs our wishful thinking and we manage to orchestrate a society in which boys fall behind girls at every level of education; our impetuous prescription of Ritalin and feminisation of behavioural standards no doubt playing something of a role in the underperformance of ‘overactive’ and neglected young men who become a part of the male-majority of the homeless and imprisoned populations. If you don’t really believe me, just take a look at this study which shows it is young white men who qualify for free school meals (a demographic I myself belonged to) who face the greatest educational hardships. It is research such as this that begins to dismantle the ‘male privilege thesis’; indeed, the recent surge of studies that reflect male disadvantages tied to class are stark reminders of the vapidity of such pseudo-scientific thinking.
A Plea to Neofeminists
With this in mind, it is to third-wave feminists (at least those who are equal parts obsessed with and offended by #allwhitemen) that the following is addressed: in the sorority of your collective grievances – confined to the inflexible boxes of identity politics – you cast many of your brothers out in the cold, individually treating them how you would lament to be treated. If it isn’t top-down trampling of the white man on the cannon fodder at the bottom of the pile, then no oppression has taken place; if no privilege has been exercised then blatant wrongdoings are unified under the banner of justified rebellion. You can create your hypocritically hateful hashtags, ban an innocent man from certain parts of campus just for resembling a rapist, bankrupt and try to imprison a man for exercising free speech on twitter , make a scientist at the apotheosis of his career cry in apology for his choice of attire, castigate a man of equal scientific prowess into unemployment for making a self-abasing joke, mar an illustrators career for depicting a female superhero facing the same hostility all male superheros face and expel legions of young men from university who have been fully abrogated of their rape allegations, and you can do it all with frivolous impunity. You should be disarmed of your ‘victimhood’ weaponry and disavowed of your freedom to flout due process, guiltlessly persecuting the guiltless no longer.
I urge you to abandon your victimhood complex, and to stop arbitrating membership to your exclusive club along racialised and genderised lines, but instead on the conditions of human suffering: have an unblinking intolerance for the burning torch of injustice, on whatever face it casts a shadow, whichever body with whatever permutation of sexual organs and skin pigmentation it afflicts. Then perhaps your attempted embrace will extend further and attract a few more arms. Drop the laminated, bubble-wrapped membership cards to your nominal strata of oppression, suspend your reflexive cries of sexism, racism, misogyny and transphobia, and equip yourself with the lexicon of unbiased, undiscriminating solidarity. Harbour empathy that commits itself as an ally whenever the sound of sorrow rings out, opposing itself to the flames of unfairness wherever they might flare.
I suggest this as I fear you are so deeply entrenched with the poison of your own narrative that you don’t have the capacity to accurately identify racism and sexism where it runs across the grain of your societal expectations or against the new tide of an en-vogue injustice. As you shout freely up the perceived hierarchy of privilege – using your self-regulating position at the bottom as an excuse for overt hypocrisy and latent bigotry – those emancipated from the restrictive rhetoric of identity politics shout back, crying for you to join them in the non-exclusive club of common humanity. As Steven Pinker suggests in his lucid, erudite book ‘The Blank Slate’, embracing our shared human nature should encourage us to:
Treat people in terms of how they do feel rather than how some theory says they ought to feel.
Similarly, perhaps it is time to treat feminism in terms of how it does act instead of how feminists claim it acts. Indeed, when 82% of Americans believe in gender equality but only 20% are feminists, it is evident the apologia that promises us feminism is for everyone is simply not being believed. So perhaps it is time to tell feminists how we really do feel about them, to disavow the sanctimony of the socially conscious and to renounce the authoritarian snarls that tell us how we must feel based on our position in a fabricated hierarchy.