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What is the patriarchy?

kwilkinson's picture

"Importantly, whether feminist or not, we all need to remember that visionary feminist goal which is not a women running the world as is, but of women doing our part to change the world so that freedom and justice, the opportunity to have optimal well-being, can be equally shared by everyone – female and male." -bell hooks

In one of my other classes, we have been watching clips from the PBS documentary, "Makers:  Women Who Shape America".  Although I have not watched the documentary in it's entirety, I was not surprised that the images shown were predominately white women (except for fleeting moments of Oprah, Claire Huxtable, Melissa Harris-Perry, ie Black Exceptionalism).  This was (as per usual) a friendly reminder that mainstream-public sphere feminism/women right's STILL does not really include me. 

All of the women showcased in the documentary are amazing.  Many of the interviews included personal ancedotes illustrating "the moment" where in which the GLASS CEILING was shattered, examples of blatant sexist oppression and prejudice, and the solidarity that all of us share as women.  However I immediately grew bored--given that this is the same message just different packaging.  Of course I want these voices to be celebrated but if this documentary is about the "the women that shape America", then shouldn't it be asking--whose America? how have they shaped it? and why?

It was also interesting that one of the women interviewed was Sherly Sandberg, Facebook COO---who has been championed as a leader in the new wave of "feminism".  Recently bell hooks responded to Sandberg's novel and publicity in her piece for the feminist wire:


After reading hooks, I have a couple of questions...  Who is included in the partiarchy that we are trying to dismantle?  Can this patriarchy be subjective given one's lived experience?  Can women be in their partiarchy?  


juliah's picture

On that note...

I'm sure you have seen this, since it is infecting the internet, but this post reminded me of the recent SNL cold open with Kerry Washington. Not only is SNL's current cast predominently male, but they are almost all white. Even when Maya Rudolph was on, she was used to portray practically every minority.