The question was posed: Is it possible to honor women without honoring the patriarchy that created the concept of women also? (This is really philosophical, so to any men reading this DO NOT go out and start disrespecting women on account of my writing...its just food for thought) Ok, here it is:
It is difficult to accept that, philosophically, it is impossible to fully respect and honor women without also honoring patriarchy. I say this because as a woman and a feminist, I live my life in hopes of breaking down the constructs of patriarchy in my life and celebrating my femininity. But if the definition of a woman and all she encompasses is constructed by patriarchy, philosophically, she does not exist outside its barriers. So, now I ask myself the question: who and what could I possibly be, if not a “woman”?
A woman, by patriarchal standards, exemplifies weakness, emotionality, motherliness, apprehension, and submission. She exists exclusively as the binary opposite of the man. According to patriarchy, without man, there is no woman, simply because she has no purpose outside of male pleasure and satisfaction. As farfetched as these claims seem, our society has reinforced these ideals of female inferiority.
We, as women, live our lives in false consciousness. We believe we are freely choosing any and every decision we make, whether it be what man to marry, which outfit to wear, or what hairstyle to sport. The problem is that these decisions did not arise from our own biological conscience; they are constructs of androcentrism. As children, we are taught that a real woman desires and eventually marries a man. The first problem with this is that women are forced into heterosexuality before we can even conceptualize sex. As a result, any woman who cannot conform to the hetero expectation becomes an “Other” in society (I say “woman who cannot conform” because I do not believe heterosexuality is biological but is forced, therefore, it can inevitably be resisted by those who are biologically inclined to do so). She suffers, not only the plight of all women qua women, but an added barrier of oppression as well: heterosexism.
The second problem is that marriage in itself is oppressive to women. The concept of marriage originated as a way for men to officially own women. In fact, women were literally considered to be property once a marriage agreement was finalized. Today, women believe we have more freedom than our ancestral sisters, but this is our own false consciousness of the situation. It is still tabooed for two women to be in a committed sexual relationship and the marriage between two women (and two men) is outlawed in most states in the U.S.
The choosing of clothing, as minute as it may seem, generally is a result of patriarchy. Our society (male-dominated society) tells us what to wear in order to attract men. This goes for hairstyles as well. We dress ourselves in what we believe is most attractive to men; therefore we are not freely choosing what we wear. We paint ourselves in chemical-based cosmetics to cover our true beauty and create what is beautiful in the eyes of men. This is not freedom! We have all been forced into this way of thinking, believing, and living.
To answer my earlier question of what I am outside of being a woman, I say that I am whoever my Creator created me to be, and by “Creator”, I mean the High Power who created us all. It is my new belief that the Creator fashioned me with a vagina, uterus, and birthing capabilities, but it did not create a “woman”; I was assigned my role once I entered into this world. My womanhood is social, as is the womanhood of most women. So, by this logic, it would be impossible to honor “women” without honoring the patriarchal force which created the concept of “women”. This is a very philosophical way of viewing this topic; I acknowledge the difficulty in coming to these realizations, both for myself and any woman who reads these pages.