Patriarchy. We’re ALL Soaking In It.

It happened again the other day.  It keeps happening.  It really needs to stop happening.

A very intelligent man I know said, “Gee, I’ll never understand why white women voted for Trump over Clinton.”  He was referring the fact that :

[N]early twice as many white women without college degrees voted for Trump than for Hillary, and of college-educated white women Hillary won by only a narrow margin — 51 percent supported Hillary, compared to 45 percent who supported Trump.  Overall, 53 percent of white women voted for Trump, alongside 58 percent of white men who did so as well.

Every time someone questions this I just want to stop and say, “REALLY?  You really don’t understand that?  Gee, Patriarchy, how DOES that shit work?”  But smart people keep asking the question so I’m going to answer it.


OK.  Apparently, this will come as a shock to some of you, but girls, every bit as much as, if not more than, boys, grow up soaking in Patriarchy.  They breathe it in, from the moment that the doctor says, “It’s a girl,” and they are swaddled in pink blankets , have constricting headbands with bows put on their heads to make sure we all know that they’re girls, and are taken home to pink bedrooms , decorated in lavender and lace.  They absorb Patriarchy through the Disney princess  movies, toys, underwear, and pajamas that they must obtain, through the “toys” that are actually training for housework that they receive, on through books about meeting other people’s needs and all the time they spend watching movies and reading books that show men, and not women, chewing up most of the dialogue, making most of the decisions, and doing most of the things that need doing.  They breathe it in when almost every single superhero they watch is a man and every single woman is just a sidekick.  (Wonderwoman is such an anomaly that I know grown women who have seen it half a dozen times and cry  every time it is mentioned.)  Little girls soak in it with every history lesson that not only focuses on men but that also ignores women.  They consume it on tv, where men’s sports are the “real” thing and women’s sports are the substitute, the one where people are paid less and where ads don’t cost as much.  They learn it in school and the workplace, where they are interrupted by men on a regular basis and still chided for talking all the time.  They grok that, even with more education, they will get paid less   than men and that they will, in fact, retire with less net worth than men.

So, gee, how ever do those girls grow up and vote as if men’s lives matter more, as if only men should be in charge, as if there’s something wrong with a woman who imagines she could be in charge?  What’s wrong with them?

Let me, in my never-ending devotion to Muriel Rukeyser, tell you a story.

Back in America in the 1950s and 1960s, racial segregation was widespread.  African Americans had to use separate rest rooms, drink from separate fountains, get their hamburgers at separate drug store fountains, and had to attend separate schools.  Not surprisingly, African American children grew up absorbing society’s notion that they were inferior,  just as America’s girls grow up absorbing Patriarchy’s notion that they are inferior.  In a blindingly simple set of experiments, Dr. Mamie Clark and her husband (you see what I did there) used a set of white and black baby dolls to test how African American children perceived color in America.  Based upon Dr. M. Clark’s earlier studies, they

designed and conducted a series of experiments known colloquially as “the doll tests” to study the psychological effects of segregation on African-American children.

Drs. Clark used four dolls, identical except for color, to test children’s racial perceptions. Their subjects, children between the ages of three to seven, were asked to identify both the race of the dolls and which color doll they prefer[ed]. A majority of the children preferred the white doll and assigned positive characteristics to it. The Clarks concluded that “prejudice, discrimination, and segregation” created a feeling of inferiority among African-American children and damaged their self-esteem.


In the experiment, the Clarks handed black children four dolls. The dolls were identical except that two had a dark-colored skin and two had light-colored skin. The Clarks asked the children questions such as which dolls were “nice” and which were “bad” and “which doll is most like you?”

The results of the test showed that the majority of black children preferred the white dolls to the black dolls, the children saying the black dolls were “bad” and that the white dolls looked most like them. To the Clarks, these tests provided solid proof that enforced segregation stamped African American children with a badge of inferiority that would last the rest of their lives. The argument swayed the US Supreme Court[.] Chief Justice Earl Warren, in writing the Court’s opinion, noted that the legal separation of black children gave them “a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely to ever be undone.”

Dr. Clark asked the following questions

“Show me the doll that you like the best or that you’d like to play with.”

“Show me the doll that is the ‘nice’ doll?.”

“Show me the doll that looks ‘bad’.”

“Give me the doll that looks like a white child.”

“Give me the doll that looks like a colored child.”

“Give me the doll that looks like a Negro child.”

“Give me the doll that looks like you.”

African American children who had been subject to segregation were even more likely to associate black dolls with “bad” characteristics and white dolls with “good” characteristics than were African American children not subject to segregation, although all were somewhat more likely, having grown up in a racist society, to prefer the white dolls to the black dolls.  In other words, and to the surprise of no one, African American children who grew up in a racist society were likely to have absorbed racist attitudes.

These studies were, in fact, one of the key reasons why the Supreme Court, in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, struck down laws that segregated school children along color lines.  Justice Warren, writing for the Court, looked to the studies and explained that segregation, and the racist ideas that it perpetuated, engendered within African American children “a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely to ever be undone.”

Now, let’s revisit those white women without college degrees who were far more likely to have voted for Trump than for Hillary.  Women in states more steeped in Patriarchy — for example, in the South — were, comparably to the children in states with more segregation, more likely to vote for Trump.  Those women grew up in steeped in Patriarchy and, no surprise, were, just like the African Americans who thought that white dolls were “nicer,” more likely to believe that a man should be president.  They voted accordingly.

I can’t imagine why that’s surprising to anyone.

In What Works for Women at Work, Joan Williams discusses well-constructed studies that show that both men AND women, steeped in American Patriarchy, judge women by much more stringent and demanding standards then they judge men.  For example, both men and women require female candidates for a job to “prove it again.”  In other words women, far more than men, must provide more evidence of competence in order to be seen as equally competent.  Ms. Williams provides studies that show that:  (1)  Men are judged on their potential, while women are judged on their performance; (2)  Women’s mistakes are noticed more and remembered longer than men’s mistakes; (3)  Women’s successes are considered to be luck, while men’s successes are attributed to skill; (4) Objective requirements tend to be applied strictly to women, while they are applied more leniently to men; (5) Women experience polarized evaluations, and, finally, (6) Women are, far more than men, subject to the “stolen idea,” (if you’re a woman in America, you’ve experienced this) where a woman proposes an idea and it’s ignored, but, a few minutes later, a man says the same thing and everyone says it’s a great idea.

I’ll let you walk through each of these issues vis-a-vis how Hillary Clinton was judged.  It’s not difficult.  And, yes, women raised in Patriarchy made the same biased judgements against Hillary — requiring her, but not Trump, to prove it again; requiring her to be judged on her performance while Trump was judged on his potential; requiring her to deal with her mistakes being remembered longer, while his were forgotten almost within hours; forcing her to cope with her successes being attributed more than his to luck; insisting upon her having the objective requirements for president being applied more strictly to her than to him; forcing her to deal with more polarized evaluations, and subjecting her to her having her ideas stolen — as did the majority of men and it hurt her in the end.


Patriarchy.  We’re ALL FUCKING soaking in it.

And it’s toxic as shit.  Let’s quit blaming the victims of Patriarchy for being the victims of Patriarchy.  Let’s start asking why white men, who benefit from Patriarchy, voted overwhelmingly for, well, duh, Patriarchy.


Words for a Wednesday Solstice


Summer is, obviously, a favorite topic of poets, but this is the one poem that says Summer Solstice to me.  And I find its call to courage particularly appropriate for these times. May the longest day of the year bring great joy to you, may the sun shine on your crops, whatever they are, and may we bring to fruition that which we most long to obtain.  This is my will.  So mote it be.

Little Summer Poem Touching on the Subject of Faith
Every summer
I listen and look
under the sun’s brass and even
into the moonlight, but I can’t hear

anything, I can’t see anything–
not the pale roots digging down, nor the green stalks muscling up,
nor the leaves
deepening the damp powers,

nor the tassels making,
nor the shucks, nor the cobs.
And still,
every day,

the leafy fields
grow taller and thicker–
green gowns lofting up in the night,
showered with silk.

And so, every summer,
I fail as a witness, seeing nothing–
I am deaf too
to the tick of the leaves,

the tapping of downwardness of the banyan feet–
all of it
beyond any seeable proof, or hearable hum.

And, therefore, let the immeasurable come.
Let the unknowable touch the buckle of my spine.
Let the wind turn in the trees
And the mystery hidden in the dirt

swing through the air.
How could I look at anything in this world
and tremble, and grip my hands over my heart?
What should I fear?

One morning
in the leafy green ocean
the honeycomb of the corn’s beautiful body
is sure to be there.

Picture found here.

Bonus Solstice Music

Monday at the Movies

Sunday Ballet Blogging

The Magical Battle for America 6.17.17


Thank you so much to everyone who has been doing this work.  It isn’t always easy, but I believe that it is always necessary.  We can’t stop working to save America from her present dangers.

Today, we’re going to work some more with the power and energy of the Underground Railroad.


Now’s probably a good time to remind everyone to check/refresh the wards on your home or wherever you do this work.  Be sure that you’re rested, grounded, and in a comfortable position.


Anchor yourself firmly to your landbase.  Notice a small detail that will call you back when this working is finished.

Ground and center.  Cast a circle.


As you move astrally to our American plain on the astral plane, you can see again the safe hillock where you do your work.  You can see the five giant banners, shining in the sky:  Walden Pond, the Underground Railroad, the Cowboy, the Salmon, and Lady Liberty.  Do they seem more defined since we began our work?  Do they have anything special to tell you this week?

For a few moments, just sit on your hillock and allow yourself to become comfortable. This place should be feeling very real to you by now; we’ve been working together to create it for months and months.  As you sit, begin to listen to the wind; it comes from the SouthEast and carries a whiff of coastal salt marshes, humidity, and magnolias.  You can rise and follow those scents straight into and through the banner of the Underground Railroad.  As you pass through the banner, you find yourself in a foggy coastal swamp, surrounded by cattails that rustle in the gentle salt breeze.  You can hear frogs and insects and you’ve already begun to sweat a bit in the heat and humidity.

The Underground Railroad was a loosely-organized Resistance movement.  Getting ready to escape from slavery must have been nerve-wracking.  You had to wait for someone you probably didn’t even know to show up and guide you into the unknown.    They couldn’t tell you the names or locations of the homes that were stops along the route; the less you knew, the less you could tell if caught.  How could you prepare without attracting attention?  What secret words or hand signals did you need to learn?  And how did you find the courage to leave behind everything you’d ever known and set off towards an unknown future?

In many ways, traveling on the Underground Railroad was similar to the journey of initiation that is central to many Pagan and mystery paths.*  You do what you can to prepare, but, in the end, you have to trust, to want a new life more than you want safety, and you have to step into the darkness, not really knowing what’s to come.  Yet,  in spite of these obstacles, some estimates indicate that, during the 1800s, as many as 100,000 enslaved people escaped through the Underground Railroad.

As the fog clears, you see a small group of people carefully and quietly walking North.  They are guided by a small, powerful woman who has learned this route by heart.  Some carry small bundles but others have nothing except the clothes they were wearing when the call came.  As they pass, they leave footprints in the swampy soil, footprints that will soon fill with water and disappear, especially as the heavy rain that now begins to fall washes them away.  Before you leave to get out of the storm, stop and gather a bit of that soil.  It’s sacred soil, soil that still carries a bit of the courage and determination of the people who were willing to brave dangers for freedom.  Do you have a gift in your pocket that you want to leave in return for the soil?  Is there anything else nearby that you know you should gather?

Return now, before you get too wet, through the banner of the Underground Railroad.  Return to your comfortable hillock on the Great Plains.  Hold the soil in your hands and feel it beginning to dry out here on the sunny plain.  It’s like clay and you can mold it into any shape you like.  What will you do with this sacred soil?  Into what shape will you fashion it so that it can help to make you, and perhaps others in the Resistance, brave enough to risk what must be risked?  Or will you shape it into Patriarchy, allow it to dry all the way out, and then smash and crack the brittle thing, grinding it back into powder?  As you sit on your hillock, holding the soil, the answer comes to you and you mold your figure of clay.  Will you bring it back with you?  Bury it in beneath the grasses of the plain?  Scatter the bits to the four winds?  Burn it so that it is fired into an even more lasting shape?  Offer it to a deity?

Say, or sing, or dance a prayer of gratitude for the brave souls who journeyed on the Underground Railroad, for those who conducted others to freedom, for those whose homes provided shelter and safety along the way.  They all helped to make America more free.

Know that you are a powerful worker of magic, rooted in your very own landbase, working with the strong archetypes of this land, assisted by countless unseen others who labor in league with you.  You are brave and growing braver.  You will survive this journey of initiation, this desperate scramble towards freedom.  You can help others to do the same.


Return to your own body, your own landbase.  Open your eyes.  Rub your face, move your arms and legs.  Notice the detail you selected to call you back from the astral.  Open your circle.  Drink something, maybe cold water or a tisane made with mint from your garden.  If you like, have something to eat, maybe some slices of tomato or a fresh peach.

During the course of this week, you may want to visit the bannered prairie several times in order to strengthen its presence on the astral.  You may want to repeat this working several times.  You may want to draw a picture of, or make from clay, the figure you molded on the astral plane and place it on your altar.  You may want to journal about it.  Are you inspired to make any art?  Can you sit beside a warm fire, or light incense, or stare into a candle?   What actions are you inspired to take for the Resistance?  If you’re willing, please share in comments what happened and how this working went.

Picture found here.

*  The journey was similar to initiation in another way.  Harriet Tubman is reported to have said, “I freed a thousand slaves.  I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.”


Would You Rather Be Right Or Effective?


With LGBT Pride events happening all over the country this month (other, of course, than in the White House, where so-called President Trump couldn’t even be bothered to acknowledge Pride month), a group called No Justice No Pride has been staging some protests, parade blockades, and alternative events.

NJNP contends that Pride events have gotten away from their radical protest roots (remember, Pride originated to commemorate the Stonewall uprising, when drag queens, butch lesbians, and other LGBT patrons of Greenwich Village’s Stonewall Inn fought back against police harassment driven by NYC’s anti-gay laws) and have devolved into corporatized, shallow parties that cater primarily to well-off, white, cisgender gay men. And they have a point.

This column isn’t specifically about arguing the merits of either side, though. I wanted to use a timely example to illustrate some key points about learning how to work together for change.

The Resistance has many streams and eddies and tributaries. We’re all working with some strange bedfellows these days, and those marriages of convenience are not always particularly comfortable. But there are some good practices that we can all follow to try to ease those relationships and stay focused on what we’re really trying to accomplish.

First, and probably most important: Remember who the real enemy is. I’ve written about this before, but we on the left are pros at attacking each other first for insufficient purity, eating our young, and losing track of what we’re really trying to accomplish. Don’t do that.

Relatedly, you need to focus on what’s relevant to the group you’re trying to ally with. Different organizations work on different issues, so pressuring a reproductive rights group to invest resources protesting DAPL, or pressuring an LGBT rights group to invest resources protesting Trump’s moves to privatize our public infrastructure, or pressuring an immigrants’ rights group to invest resources protesting Trumpcare is just trying to pound a square peg into a round hole.

You also need to realize that the group you’re allying with on one issue may not agree with you 100% on every issue. Asking Pride groups to forbid military personnel in uniform from participating because your group happens to be pacifist is not appropriate. You might not approve of military service, but gaining the right to serve openly was a HUGE win for the LGBT movement. I disagree – STRONGLY – with “pro-life” Democrats, but I still supported Tim Kaine for VP, because while he might be personally against abortion, he strongly supports my legal right to have one.

Know your history. You might think that defense contractor sponsorship money should be refused, but many defense contractors were early adopters of employment non-discrimination policies and domestic partner benefits. From the other side of this particular dust up, Stonewall was led by drag queens and butch lesbians. They weren’t necessarily transgender, but they were definitely gender non-conforming (and thus were early and obvious targets, because it was much harder for them to “pass”). Look at your leadership, your volunteers, your participants and make sure everyone’s history and contributions are being acknowledged and honored.

Be aware of timelines. As someone with professional experience putting on large-scale events, I had to laugh when NJNP talked about giving Pride event organizers “plenty of time” to respond when they first showed up with their list of demands…in April. In most major cities, Pride is a multi-day, six to seven figure budget, hundreds of volunteers type of deal. Six weeks is NOT enough time to make any sort of major changes to an event of that magnitude, which likely took the better part of a year to plan, that’s about to step off. Don’t come in asking for major new efforts related to anything in the 11th hour. Don’t try to get the organization’s attention for something on your activist wish list while they’re in the middle of their board elections or largest annual fundraising campaign or a major technology upgrade. If your childhood taught you nothing else, you should’ve learned that sometimes WHEN you ask makes all the difference in the answer you get.

Offer solutions, not just demands. Correctly identifying problems is important, but if you want to get traction on fixing them, being able to offer some specific, concrete plans of action helps. And make sure the solutions you offer are reasonable. Many LGBT people of color have reasonable concerns about police presence. And again, going back to the roots of Pride, the Stonewall protestors were fighting the cops that June evening in 1969. But one year out from the Pulse massacre, asking Pride events that draw thousands of people to public gatherings to “scale back” police presence without offering an alternative that has been proved to work for security and crowd control is just foolish.

Have some skin in the game. Think about how your organization would respond if some group of virtual strangers who had no existing relationships or history with you showed up and started making demands, no matter how just and “right on” they seemed to be. Probably not all that well. So don’t you be that person either. You want a group to change? Get involved first. They’ll be WAY more likely to listen to the ideas of someone they know.

Assume the best until proved otherwise. Don’t make the relationship adversarial unnecessarily. Sometimes people we’re trying to work with will show themselves to be ill-intentioned or untrustworthy or dismissive of your concerns or stubborn or uncompromising. But don’t walk in assuming that they’re going to be those things.

Be willing to compromise yourself. You might want ten things. But you’re not necessarily going to get all ten. Know what your real bottom line is, what’s really most important to you, and be willing to give a little to get a little. Negotiation doesn’t mean “I get 100% of my way all the time.” It might mean “I get X but not Y.” Or “I get X today, but we can’t act on Y until next month – or next year.” That’s OK. That’s how this works. And it shouldn’t result in either party grabbing their marbles and stomping out. Marbles and stomping may satisfy your ego, but that’s probably not what you’re really trying to accomplish. I mean, if it is, stomp away, but if not, remember: you care more about being effective than being “pure.”

Treat each other with respect. Actually, you could just do this and skip all the other advice, and you’d probably come out at about the same place.

In the months to come, you’re probably going to find yourself working with people you never would have guessed you’d ally with. But in trying to protect our country, our Constitution, our fellow citizens, and the planet from the depredations of the Trump regime, getting shit done is WAY more important than remaining ideologically pure.

Image found here (and isn’t it perfect that it’s a Rock Hudson movie, if I do say so myself?).