Bonfire of the Patriarchy
For the next three and a half weeks, we will bear witness to something that is exceptionally ugly but perhaps necessary for us to enter a new era.
I’m calling it the bonfire of the patriarchy.
Patriarchy is a loaded term that many non-feminists dislike but it is an accurate description of a long era of human history where men and masculinity ruled our public sphere.
There is perhaps no better marker point for the official end of the patriarchy than the election of a woman as President of the United States, the single most powerful person in the world.
Now that Hillary Clinton’s election has become likely on Nov. 8th, partially due to Trump’s history of sexually assaulting, objectifying, and demeaning women, what I believe we must now face is dozens of disclosures and chilling testimony from women who have been harmed, both by Donald Trump himself and, as the Trump campaign has now promised, by Bill Clinton.
Yesterday, three more women came forward with stories about Trump. And Trump campaign CEO Steve Bannon has now promised to “turn Bill Clinton into Bill Cosby.”
The dam has broken. It is going to get much, much worse.
Normally, women who have been victimized are silenced by the threat of legal repercussions or media smears but now will be their moment to speak with the safety that comes in numbers
It will be very hard but important to witness.
The abuses of women by men in power has been the dirty secret of the patriarchy since time immemorial. Many titans of industry, political leaders, and powerful figures have each done their share, including those we still celebrate. It’s been part of the “spoils” of victory and the perks of power to use that power to take sexual advantage of women.
This propensity towards sexual conquest, groping, and rape lingers from our genetic line; when alpha male primates experienced a surge of testosterone as they advanced in the social hierarchy, they often took females sexually by force.
I believe this biological history is part of why otherwise reasonable men have done this again and again as they ascend into power.
In today’s world, this is no longer tolerable. It is time for a permanent end to accepting this behavior on any level, which, in turn, is a prerequisite for women to feel honored, respected and safe in the world.
This is not a women’s issue. It’s a human issue. As a man, I am committed to ending sexual assault, not just because I have women in my life that I love but because it’s crippling our ability to create a healthy society for all, including men. Once powerful men are comfortable taking advantage of women sexually, they become prone to many other kinds of abuse as well.
So what we must now go through, on the cusp of the dawning of a new era beyond the patriarchy, is witnessing the terrible trail of trauma that lies behind some of the most powerful and respected men in the world.
The silence must be broken fully so that it really becomes clear that we simply cannot allow this any more.
It will be ugly, sad, demeaning, and demoralizing. It will be a kind of Armageddon of our cultural shadow.
And yet, I want to encourage all of us to hold open our hearts, have compassion for both Donald Trump and Bill Clinton as they go through this bonfire (as well as Hillary and Melania).
It will be painful to witness as both of these powerful men have their shadowy history exposed.
And, this may be exactly the medicine we need right now - an exposure of the ugly side of male dominance and exploitation of the feminine in order that we can truly enter a new era, one in which respect for women, true equality, and safety for all is non-negotiable.
Witnessing this bonfire will send a strong message to the gropers, abusers, and rapists of the world. Subconsciously, they will know that the gig is up and the era in which that is permissable is coming to an end.
We will, as a whole society and world, come to the point of saying, “Enough.”
With that said, we must also forgive in order for the whole pattern to truly heal. If we remain in righteous moralization on what we witness, we will also forget that these powerful men are also divine souls on a path of maturation.
There will need to be healing and reconciliation, but after they have fully faced what they have wrought with humility and contrition.
I am convinced that Hillary Clinton will emerge from this bonfire as our first woman President. But she will likely be scarred in the process.
Let us hold her in the light so that she can govern in this new era with wisdom.
And let us all be willing to witness the bonfire with as much love as we can muster and recognize this as an historic moment in which an old patterns of domination and exploitation are dying to give rise to a new era in which women and men together create a more just, peaceful, and loving world.
That is the phoenix that can arise from the ashes.
Follow Stephen H. Dinan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/stephendinan