Mansplaining the Patriarchy

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Hello, ladies!

Let us first define our terms. “Mansplaining” describes a situation in which a man is required to explain a complex concept to a woman, or “female.” Unfortunately such tutelage often goes unappreciated, as it is perceived by girls to be a particularly condescending form of pedantry, and even somewhat patronizing.

Ladies, did you know that the term “patronizing” comes to us by way of the Old French patron, meaning “a lord-master, protector”? Well now you do. And that “patron,” of course, is etymological offspring of the Latin pater, or father, which is itself a close kin to patria–the family head–which as some of you may have guessed by now is connotatively embedded in today’s subject at hand: the patriarchy. The more you know!

Ladies, we know that you desire masculine input when discussing sexism, misogyny, and so on and such-and-such. It’s natural: women have an inbred need to discuss and articulate and share (feelings, mostly); men need to do.  We need to act. We need to solve a problem, not salve a problem (with yackety-yack).

As doers and solvers, not sayers, men face a conundrum. We don’t talk much, but nearly every online or real-life discussion requires our speech, our manly input. Mostly we need to say one thing that women need to hear: whatever it is you ladies are discussing is actually about us, the men. More precisely it is about a man. Perhaps you realize that fact intuitively, but it is still something which needs saying from time to time, lest your discussions get derailed. You’re welcome!

Which brings us to the next mot du jour, “gaslighting.”  This term references the 1944 film Gaslight, in which murderous rogue Charles Boyer tried to make his hot young wife Ingrid Bergman think she is going cuckoo-bananas. A certain kind of feminist–the ones who don’t realize that, deep down, they really want to talk about men–will accuse a man of “gaslighting” when he is merely correcting her misstatements. Not every corrective comment is equivalent to making you think you’re crazy, you know.  Here’s what these kooky feminists get wrong: it was actually Charles Boyer who played the crazy one!  (See what I’m saying? It’s always about a man.)

If you wish to understand the patriarchy–and we think you do, or you wouldn’t invoke the term at the drop of a hat–you must first disabuse yourself of the notion that the patriarchy is something that happens to you. It is not something that men do, notwithstanding that men are beings of action.  No, ladies. Patriarchal systems are emergent properties of human communities. Perhaps a few of the ladies reading this page know a little science, but the vast majority of you will not fully grasp “emergent property,” which is basically a way of saying “stuff happens” without further explication.

But explicate further I must.  Mansplicate, if you will. The male gene carries an aggressor component called the “dominant allele.” The female gene carries a recessive or “servant” allele.  These are scientific facts.  From these building blocks of life did the patriarchy emerge. We don’t know exactly why every human society since the Dawn of Man evolved into a patriarchal system, but we do know the general reason: because such delegations of power increased a group’s chances of survival.  These are the facts, ladies.

Now, you might say, perhaps such brutish arrangements were necessary back when Homo sapiens were competing with sabre-toothed what-nots on the savanna, but shouldn’t we have left all that aggressive masculinity behind us, what with the advent of the Enlightenment, the Nineteenth Amendment, and the invention of the dishwasher? To which I say, we still need the patriarchy, as it is still our best chance for survival. We’re still here, aren’t we? Q.E.D.

Nor is it true that all which emerges from the patriarchy is bad.  (#NotAllBad)  Think of all the fantastic inventions and scientific discoveries that were made by men, but for the benefit of everyone.  Without men at the helm, who would have invented such manly ingenuities as: the rotary engine,  Kevlar, the medical syringe, the elevated railway, rocket propulsion technology — some girl? Who would split the atom, discover the structure of DNA, isolate the HIV virus?  A housewife?

I will leave you with one more fact about the patriarchy: it has a starting point, an initiating event. It all began when the Earth’s climate changed so drastically that by about 4000 BCE, a devastating drought and attendant famine wracked the civilized world–the Sahara, Arabian peninsula, and Central Asia. The erstwhile egalitarian peoples turned to a more aggressive and warlike dynamic (read: manly) in the interest of finding–and taking–food. Apparently the brute efficiency of the arrangement caught on. It’s amazing how an empty belly concentrates the mind.

Maybe all we need to do to flip the patriarchal paradigm, then, is wait for the next cataclysmic change in climate to reboot the system. Business as usual should just about do it, so it’s probably prudent to leave the men in charge.

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