patriarchy rewires the body23 Sep 2020
patriarchy, like all systems of oppression, removes sensation from the body. the primary mechanism by which it does this is violence. it is primarily physical violence but emotional harm via shame and rejection/exclusion/punishment are also used.
the general pattern i have observed looks like this:
- child/adult has an experience.
- that experience generates some sensation in their body.
- that sensation pushes the child/adult to react or respond in an out loud or physical visible way.
- a nearby enforcer of patriarchy observes this breach of patriarchy. this enforcer, sometimes afraid to be seen by other enforcers as too leniant, inflicts physical or emotional violence on the child/adult. this secures the place of the enforcer in the enforcer (“normal”) group.
- the child/adult now associates their original action, which was a response to an inner sensation, with pain.
- [the above steps repeat as many times as needed until…]
- the child/adult associates that inner, naturally arising sensation with pain and now suppresses that sensation whenever they notice it coming.
i believe this mechanism is the primary reason why people socialized as men are so bad at noticing our emotions and also terrible at taking care of our bodies. we have literally had the original, natural sensations removed or rewired.
as a little boy, here are some ways i experienced or observed this (often to younger people from older people, but not exclusively):
- one child punches another when enough toughness isn’t presented (usually both “boys”)
- one adult hits/spanks/flicks a child when that child is showing too much emotion (sadness and anger most often, but sometimes joy). this often happens when the child’s emotions are deemed inappropriate in the context and, therefore, embarrasing to the parent. “boys” have this violence inflicted on them more often girls, but it is inflicted on all children.
- a group of children shun a “boy” child if he demonstrates too much femininity (too much hip swinging, too much enjoyment of making visual art, too much pleasure found from wearing clothes beyond the dominant “boy” lane)
- two “boys” display affection towards each other. other “boy” children inflict violence upon them until they stop. nearby “girl” children join in by adding verbal shame. “ew, that’s gross. boys don’t [insert action].”
[to be continued…]
words / writing / post-processing
293w / 15min / 10min