Every week, I write an essay. Every week, I tell myself (and you) that this essay is about how the patriarchy impacts my life. The more essays I write, the more I question this assertion. Is Suddenly Suburban really about the patriarchy? Always? The dinner parties? The sad hydrangeas? The self care and beauty standards and makeup? Am I, sometimes, mislabeling? Am I sometimes talking about society? Or, more narrowly, about my own particular set of neuroses?
I’ve written three essays this week, all trying to suss out an answer. Each attempt grew longer. Grew messier. Each time, I returned to this:
Look at the third definition. “A social system in which power is held by men through cultural norms and customs that favor men.” We live in a patriarchal society. Those particular neuroses I’m exploring are based in a sense that I’m not living up to expectations set by a patriarchal culture. Or adhering well enough to certain cultural norms that I thought we, as a society, had outgrown but apparently haven’t. Or something. Every time I worry that I’m not keeping my house clean enough, my fridge stocked enough, my hydrangeas healthy enough to meet some invisible standard set by… who? That’s my life intersecting with the patriarchy. Every time I give my self-esteem a boost by putting on Charlotte Tilbury’s Hollywood Flawless Filter for a Superstar Youth Glow and making myself look like a beautiful angel baby who just *happens* to conform to classical ideals of female beauty. That’s my life intersecting with the patriarchy.
You’ll be happy to know that a week of second-guessing myself has led me to the totally (un?)surprising conclusion that I’m right about everything.
It took me 5000 discarded words to come up with that.