Patriarchy, a word, a symbol that frequently passes one’s mind and ears. Its traditional patterns and values, its history, and its normality provides us with a belief that patriarchy has always existed. And today, where are we, where are women in patriarchy’s lifespan? I’m sitting on my computer with a shot of vodka to the left of my keyboard and a wire stabbing my upper-right rib. Wearing mascara and eyeliner, a blouse tucked into a mini-skirt, and heels, ready for a night out. I am the female epitome of patriarchy, and am constrained by its pull.
The only time I believe I was not suppressed was during my semester in Europe. A time when I was ignorant to the language on advertisements, television, and spoken in bars and clubs. It was nirvana. I felt beautiful, free, and liberated. I would eat fresh tomato sauce with homegrown oregano, Italian mozzarella cheese, on young made dough, along with a glass of red Tuscan wine, at a small café in Florence. I saw there is life outside of patriarchy.
When I returned to the states, I sustained from exercise and did not limit myself from foods I could eat. I had grown exponentially, and would not let my nirvana go. Eight months later, my tranquility has trickled. I am in a haze; I am in the grey between who Diana truly is and what patriarchy asks of me. I have been fooled once again to embark on a journey to nothingness, to a place where I will take up less space. I consume numbers that add to less than twenty percent. My physical health gains as my emotional health ceases. I travel daily through the jungle of UREC and find at every corner patriarchy’s hold on men and women.
I remember a lunch I had with fellow feminist colleagues last spring where I made a mistake. In studying global injustices, I study places where there is an abundance of mutilation, rape, and enslavement of women by men. And during my studies, I became too concentrated on the lives of victims outside of my own country. At that lunch, I made the mistake of implying women of the first world are living in superficialness by attempting to achieve an ideal body that is unattainable. I then proceeded to rank women’s issues in the United States as less important than those of third world countries. I offended some of my colleagues and I knew it, but at that time I did not understand fully the torrent of patriarchy occurring in the United States. The abundance of eating and exercise disorders, self-hatred amongst United States women.
Body image may be a tiring issue, but its exploitation has become an misogynic epidemic. I don’t know why both sides of the patriarchal society follow its rules. Maybe because it is all we know, and it is easier to follow rather than to revolutionize.
Womanhood in United States:
The outer shell [Issues feminism] consists of constraints on child-care, employment opportunities and equal wages in a Capitalist nation, queer and reproductive rights in a Separation of Church and State nation. A place I renamed as The Divided States of Corporate America.
The Inner Layer, the layer containing sexual exploitations of women politically, religiously, educationally, upon billboards, advertisements, in films, television, magazines, novels, and pornography.
The Core, where women have no autonomy over their bodies from sexual harassment and assault by men to the daily actions of women exercising, eating, and shopping. The core is where patriarchy is invisible and most at work. Where women wear bras to have their breasts lifted, constrained, and effortlessly noticed. Where women wear heels to attain height, showcasing a semblance of sovereignty. And yet, ironically women cannot efficiently walk their independence. Where women are ashamed of sexual endeavors while alone or with partners. Where women mold their bodies to reach an idealized façade by wearing modern-day corsets called spanx. Where make-up becomes war paint.
Where am I? I have taken my shot and am now walking further into patriarchy where I will join other women. A place where women are broken down into further segregated groups based on issues discussed in the top layer of womanhood. But it doesn’t have to be this way. If we could move past abortion, past gay marriage, past racial inequality, past employment issues and see that though it appears these issues do not affect you, it does. See that there is a strain at our core that connects all women, regardless of ethnicity, race, creed, or sexual orientation. That we don’t have to conform to these body ideals. I understand I am simplifying my solution to this body image epidemic, but all women are pulled by patriarchy, more in similar ways than in none. We do not have to compete with one another, its what patriarchy wants. It wants to remain invisible, appearing as if we caused our own oppression and tricked ourselves. Look at the system as a whole. Oppression is the outcome of patriarchy, and empathy and unity is our to break out of its constraint.