A while back, an NBA player made outrageous, egregious remarks against WNBA players. He called his women colleagues “#beanpies” and “#donkeykong”. He said if they were physically attractive by his “standards,”they would be more successful in the sport and draw more fans.
He really did.
He went further by posting a photo to clarify his “standards” of beauty. I guess the post was to ensure no mistake about what body type he’s decided is beautiful, sexy, and worth his time to behold. I guess it also clarifies the only way women who are athletes can be successful and draw more fans.
His post added to the already long established ideology that supremacist patriarchies are operating across race, class, and gender lines. They’re affecting all women, of course. They just affect Black girls and women in particular ways.
When Gilbert Arena, and people who share his perspective, remain unhealed of the toxicities of supremacist patriarchal thinking and behaviors, we all suffer. And when this suffering happens, it’s very, very, very important to refrain from helping the patriarchy.
I repeat: Please. Do Not Help The Patriarchy.
We end up helping the patriarchy by doing the following:
- Circulating misogynistic, sexist, degrading messages like Mr. Arenas’ (especially when shared as a joke)
- Defaming people who are drunk and sick with supremacist patriarchal ideology (especially when they’re emotionally stunted, attention-seeking, and willfully ignorant)
- Missing opportunities to understand how these “minor messages” hurt and kill people
- Ignoring comments and conversations littered with evidence of racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, ableism, and other forms of hatred
I write about how supremacist patriarchies hurt and kill people. I know that sounds dramatic. Nonetheless, it’s true. Supremacist patriarchies hurt and kill people in a few different ways. Supremacist patriarchies:
- Dehumanize marginalized people, implicitly and explicitly defining us (regardless of class distinction) as objects, toys, necessary evils, or non-entities
- Render men (and some women) blind to women’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences, which causes dangerous social and cultural disconnects, at best, and erasures, at worst
- Make women subjects (and objects) of men’s derisive whims, which can often lead to emotional neglect and mental abuse, in addition to physical and sexual violence (i.e. t/Terrors)
- Cause intergenerational confusion by teaching new generations that a) one gender is more valuable and credible than another b) one gender is nothing more than fodder for titillation and c) freedom of speech includes senseless degradation
All these toxicities (among many, many others) hurt and kill people. They begin to do this through death by a thousand paper cuts (i.e. microaggressions). These effects of supremacist patriarchies hurt and kill people figuratively (causing persistent stress, anxiety, low self-esteem, skewed self-concept, chronic anger, even rage, sadness, and resentments). These effects of supremacist patriarchies hurt and kill people literally (prompting terrifying behaviors of some men with wrongheaded ideas that normalize hate mongering and brutality against the souls and bodies of women while also prompting terrifying behaviors of some women with wrongheaded ideas that normalize hate mongering and brutality against the souls and bodies of women).
So, NOT helping the patriarchy needs to be a priority (if you’re not working to actually dismantle it altogether).
Based on my understanding NOT helping the patriarchy means:
- I will not circulate misogynistic, sexist, degrading messages like Mr. Arenas’ and I won’t accept them, ever, as jokes.
- I will not defame people who are drunk and sick with supremacist patriarchal ideology because they’re emotionally stunted, attention-seeking, and willfully ignorant.
- I will not miss opportunities to understand how these “minor messages” hurt and kill people.
- I will not ignore comments and conversations associated with sexism and hatred.
Join me. Please don’t help the patriarchy.
Let’s build Supreme Love, instead.
Jeanine Staples is Associate Professor of Literacy and Language & African American Studies at the Pennsylvania State University. Her book, The Revelations of Asher: Toward Supreme Love in Self, is an endarkened, feminist, new literacies event (Peter Lang, spring 2016). In it, she explores Black women’s terror in love. She produces research-based courses and methodologies that enable marginalized girls and women to realize internal revelations that fuel external revolutions.
Dr. Staples’ next book details the evolution of her acclaimed undergraduate course, The Philadelphia Urban Seminar. In it, she explores Supreme Love in schools. She shows how she generates curriculum and methodologies that incite anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-ableist pedagogical stances among teachers interested in urban education and equity for all people in schools and society.