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Systems of Power

Nobody would really try to argue that we don’t live in a patriarchal society- just look at your last name.  Yet a lot of people still refuse to acknowledge that our society is male dominated.  Patriarchy is a social system that regards men as authority figures– inherently perpetuating the idea that leadership and power positions are reserved for men.

Perhaps at one point it was appropriate to blame men for the oppression of women because of commonly held beliefs about female subordination.  Today, however, when most (not all) men believe women should share equal rights, you have to question what is causing the sustained inequality.  How can so many people agree on equal rights for both genders and yet live in a culture where so few females have positions of power? Either the men currently in power today do feel the same way men used to or there is something going on about the way we are taught to view women that is systematically perpetuating the inequality (maybe a little bit of both?).

We believe the constant message that a woman’s value is in her body has a lot to do with our subconscious acceptance of power distribution.  If we are taught (mostly be the media) that a woman’s value lies in her appearance, we won’t really focus on what she has to offer intellectually.  We think it almost natural for a woman to be successful off of her external beauty. The most extreme example of this is in the sex trade industry.  What we hear a lot is that women choose to be porn stars, exotic dancers, (or prostitutes for that matter) and that they should be able to work in that area if they want to.  The problem with this theory is this: something must be wrong with our society if a woman’s best option to accessing power is to exploit her body.

Ok, let’s talk about this theory that girls actually hold all the power because everything men do is to try to please them (i.e. nice cars, wealth, working out etc.).  Well… that’s all very nice, thank you. But women’s power should not be rooted in the male quest.  This way of thinking can really only lead men to resent women for the illusion of women holding some sort of sexual power over them.  This isn’t healthy or fun for anyone. Instead, we want women to have the power to stop racism, to end poverty, to make sure everyone has a home, and to create a better world for our children.  That kind of power comes from leadership positions and intellectual respect, and that is power that we think both men and women should have.

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