What is a theory? I went to the dictionary and found six different definitions, but all of them similar. So, I chose two to use here:
A wordy one: “proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural and subject to experimentation, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact.”
And a simpler one: “contemplation or speculation.”
Unaware, I have been building a personal theory about a set of particular circumstances being played out, here in the U.S., as well as in other places around the world. Although I have written about the Matriarchal and Patriarchal realities in past posts here, I wasn’t really aware of how much that writing was affecting my own sense of things. In affect, changing the way I viewed what was happening right in front of me. So much so that I have been hesitant about coming here and writing about all of it. Until a few days ago, when I ran into the word theoretical.
That’s when I realized that I was creating a theory about certain present day occurrences. One that at first surprised me, but then began to make a whole lot of sense. A year ago, I wrote several essays about the Patriarchy and its need to discredit any notion that a Matriarchal system might be a better way, thereby doing a disservice to both genders, never really allowing them an equal partnership. And let me be very clear at this point. I do not think a Matriarchy would be better. Power does have a tendency to corrupt.
What I do prefer to consider is that both genders be given equal rights under a law that clearly states they are, in fact, equal. Yes, I know that we “say” they are equal, but nowhere does that prove more false than in the matter of sexual abuse, assault, and rape. I grew up knowing that I was prey, that my body was up for grabs, simply because I was female.
When, as a child, I complained about a family member touching me, at first I was not believed. Not until my younger sister, by thirteen months, stepped forward and said that she didn’t like it either. But then, we were taken aside and told two things: we were never to allow that to happen again, and we were never to speak about it. In other words, we were on our own, and it was our (at the ages of 9 and 10) responsibility. The man continued to be welcome in our home and it was totally up to us to prevent further contact.
Many years later, I learned that my Mother had been through the same type of situation and was only repeating what she had been taught. With three daughters of my own, I let them know they could talk to me about anything. And they did. We spoke openly about sexuality and body responses, and about the freedom to choose what they wanted. Eventually, that led to my becoming a divorced, single-parent advocate for abuse and incest victims. I wasn’t officially “trained” to do such a thing, but life as a curious female individual had taught me a great number of things. At the age of 45, I graduated college with two degrees: one in History, the other in English with a concentration in Creative Writing.
One of the most important lessons I learned was that life, for a female living in a Patriarchal society, no matter how democratic it proclaims itself to be, is never easy or simple. There are rules (silent rules), one set for men, another set for women. Men are encouraged to go out and have ‘experiences’ that will help them in later life. Women, on the other hand, are told that they must restrain themselves, especially in the sexual sense, so that they can ‘give’ themselves ‘purely’ to one man for life.
Does that even begin to sound “equal” in any sense? What is most chilling about all of this, is that it is done for only one reason. It is meant to allow men to know that her body is his sexual turf, and only his. And it has been handed down through the centuries in numerous ways. If the Patriarchy can control her body, he retains ultimate control.
Please take the time to watch this very simple video about how myths can and do sometimes work, or not. I found it when I first decided to write this essay. I am a sucker for synchronicity. A myth can be mistaken for a theory, or even become just another reason for unjust actions that soon become a cruel and senseless inequality.