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Patriarchy Isn't Dead: Why Hanna Rosin Is Wrong

In an article which is no doubt doubling as not-so-subtle marketing for her book, The End of Men, Hanna Rosin argues that feminists should just accept the fact that the patriarchy is dead. Well, I guess that's that, ladies. Good job all around. The highest of fives. We can all go home and enjoy our egalitarian utopia. Time for victory sundaes. I'll buy the first round.


Wait, what's that you say? Women still make up only 18.3% of Congressional seats? Women still suffer from rape culture, street harassment, and slut shaming (examples so numerous I don't even have to cite them, but if I did, every single word would be a different link)? We're not even done with 2013 yet and already there have been over 40 new abortion restrictions enacted in state legislatures?

Yes, Ms. Rosin, clearly patriarchy is dead.

It's true, I can't help but be a bit snarky, this is Jezebel after all. I'm also being strictly Americentric, but I can also talk about issues in Japan or Australia, both countries I have lived in (I still live in Japan and probably always will), with competence and personal experience. I could address issues in the Middle East and Africa, but I prefer to allow women of color from those areas, countries, and cultures to address these issues for themselves.


I'm not a woman of color, but I am a trans woman, and telling me the patriarchy is dead seems to discount many of my personal experiences. I am aware of, and have addressed, the male privilege I've had applied to me over my life. I also have addressed how it was revoked, when its revocation caused me harm, and when situations where I was correctly gendered meant (and means) coming face to face with street harassment and rape culture. I was (and am at times) given more space when gendered as a man. My ideas were given more weight. Men feel they have a right to my attention and my time, especially in public spaces or on public transportation in a way which just doesn't happen when I am perceived as male.

And on the subject of communication, I was still perceived to be quite verbose pre-transition. Yet now, although my verbosity has decreased with my transition, many have perceived me to have become more verbose. I am not being compared with my previous levels of vocalisation, rather I am being compared to women's silence. Thus it seems that while I already "talked too much," now I "talk to much—for a woman." I speak less, but others believe I speak more. Assertion of ideas or criticism of the ideas of others is now seen not as being a leader, but rather as being a bitch.


But the patriarchy is dead, right?

These issues do not seem to be what Rosin wishes to address. Rather, she tries to stick to the idea of patriarchy in very classic liberal feminist language: that of economic equality.

For example, one figure that both Mundy and I cite in our books, and that has provoked much angry dissent, is how many wives earn more money than their husbands. We all agree that the proportion of female breadwinners leapt from only 4 percent in 1970 to nearly 30 percent in 2010...The United States is undergoing an explosion not of full-time stay-at-home mothers but of single mothers who are often, for better or worse, the main breadwinners for their families by default.


Sure, this is true. I won't argue with the fact that many wives now make more money than their husbands. I won't argue with the fact that the proportion of female breadwinners has substantially increased (although it still isn't on par with men). I won't even argue Rosin's last point about the increase in single mothers as breadwinners. These are all facts which point to a weakening of one aspect of patriarchy as a whole. Yet Rosin would like us to believe that these facts mean the end of all aspects of patriarchy.

Sorry, but no.

Indeed, it shouldn't surprise me that given Rosin's definition of patriarchy as confined to economic parity, at least in terms of work related agency, that she would use classical liberal feminist models which pretty much ignore mainstream feminism's (at least spoken) embracing of intersectional concepts. Rosin seems to be targeting women like her as the women who have benefited the most from the destruction of patriarchy (as she believes it to exist). She talks about the "academic Fempire," and says that "working class women" see truth in what she says. But she never explains what she means by "working class women." She seems to suggest that because white, educated, middle to upper class (and presumably straight and cisgender?) women have seen such gains and yet seem to be the angriest and most critical, that this indicates to her that patriarchy is dead.


...wait, what? So let me get this straight, Ms. Rosin. You're a white, educated, middle to upper class, straight, cisgender woman lecturing other women in your exact same position in society? And from that you're concluding shit isn't really so bad? Do you realise how that comes off?

Where is the discussion of how the patriarchy with its attendant misogyny affects women not just along the intersection of gender and class, but on the intersections of race, sexuality, gender identity, and gender and class? Where is the discussion of how race, sexuality, and gender identity play into our rates of poverty, inadequate education, level of health, etc?


Where is the discussion of how levels of violence, especially sexual assault and rape, affect women because we are women? Where is the discussion of internalisation of beauty standards? Where is the discussion of the sexualisation of children, especially girls? Where is the discussion of how all of these issues affect trans women—and trans men?

But hey, folks, look at that. Lots of women in the work force. Lots of women making more than their husbands. Lots of single mothers increasing the rate of women breadwinners. Economic parity is within sight! We should all just settle the fuck down and enjoy it.


We're well on our way now, ladies. Welcome to post-feminism!

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