While working on my novel, I’ve been doing research on the patriarchy — that time-honored tradition of passing power through the penis. You aren’t a member if you don’t have a member.
I uncovered some questionable (but fascinating and honestly believable) etymology on the word testify. In ancient times, vows (and deals) were made by laying hands on (or beside or below) the testicles –take note of that root (and yes, pun intended…) — and then swearing. Women had no testicles, so no testimony for them. They couldn’t take a sworn oath. As a result, they weren’t in the membership. Literally.
(On a sort-of-side-note… all my life, my father has told me not to swear. Curse words out of a woman’s mouth turn it ugly!!! Well, rest assured, if there’s a double-standard, I’m going to fight to liberate it.)
And speaking of fighting, I’ll fight when somebody tells me I should keep quiet — especially when it comes to my opinions.
I’m not sorry for having opinions. I never tell anyone not to say what matters most to them. And neither should you. I have seen — in an up-close-and-personal way — how absence of dialogue, absence of voiced opinions, breeds dangerous dogma.
When only one perspective is heard, that’s when things can go horribly awry. That’s when cults emerge. That’s when fascism reigns supreme. When there’s only one voice shouting from the rooftops over the top of all the others — that’s the only time I believe it’s okay to say, “Will you shut up, man?”
This country was built on freedom — of all sorts. And should’ve been built on freedoms for all kinds of people. But we’re just now getting to that. We’ve made tremendous progress. We’re closer than ever.
And that’s why some sorts of people keep telling other sorts of people (people like me) to be quiet.
You know what kind of people want people like me to be quiet? Two kinds. The kind of people who have nothing to lose if the status quo is maintained… and the kind of people who hide behind the kind of people who have nothing to lose. Those who support them and hold them aloft and give them praise and feed their egos because they’ve been conditioned and brainwashed for a very long time to believe that the status quo is the only way to go. That if we rattle the cage, we’ll cause it all to fall down.
Well, let it. I’m tired of being caged. And hushed. I’m ready to rage against the machine, against the patriarchal juggernaut.
You know who I admire most? The ones who have escaped the smothering muzzle of the patriarchy and have come to speak out against it. And the people who still struggle under the massive gears, yet rail against it nonetheless. And the people running as fast as they can away from it, screaming warnings about it to the rest of us as loudly as they can. And the people running behind it, casting stones at it as hard as they can. I’m one who has escaped it, and still struggles under it, and runs away from it, and goes after it. I am all of those. And until it falls, so many of us are.
You know who I do not admire? The folks who ride atop its motorcade, waving flags of past injustices and touting its greatness. I do not admire the ones who ride its coattails like it’s their divine right to be pulled along because they wear the color of their forefathers and support the prejudices it fosters.
The patriarchy is really good at denigrating people who don’t align with their likenesses. They love to label so many. But today, I speak for me. For women. They judge us by our physical appearance — label us dogs, liars, bimbos, pigs who are ugly, fat, and horse-faced (to name a few). Or deem us weak because we bleed and have nothing dangling between our legs. Or call our voices harsh and our motives nasty. If we wield power, they call us monster.
They separate us from them… the members from the member-less. They love to make us the reviled Other.
Well, I will embrace the Other. I will wear my Nasty Woman shirt to Kroger proudly, despite the looks I get — from men and women alike. Like I should keep my opinions to myself.
I’m tired of being tried under the patriarchy’s rules and shamed for being a woman with a voice. Tired of being told to shut up.
You know who tells me to be quiet? No one. I will wear shirts, post signs, write blogs, and sing out for all the world to hear. My voice, my body, my opinions, my choices.
They are my rights — and should’ve been from the beginning of this great nation. We’ve been slowly gaining ground. And we cannot lose it now.
So watch out, patriarchy, the monsters and nasty women are coming — not for your member, just membership.