“Remember, son,” he said with an earnestness that boggled my 10-year-old brain, “girls love it when you open the door for them.”
It was my friend’s dad, and he was teaching his son to be a gentleman. As the only girl around, this was news to me. I knew for a fact that I hated it when people opened the door for me. Or held the door. Or said, “Ladies first.” Gross. I don’t want you behind me.
I grew up in Shreveport, La. My formative years were steeped in traditional gender roles. My dad worked nights, so he cooked, and my mom had a business, so I had that going for me at home. Society was another story. When I stepped into myself in my late teens, loving a woman meant treating her the way a Southern gentleman would. Open doors, do the “man” things, defend her honor, and, whatever you do, don’t let her light her own cigarette.
I know a slew of dykes that grew up like this. Some are still like this. The butch/femme dynamic is incredibly balancing for a lot of people. I want couples (or throuples, and so on) that fit together to fit together. I’m not here to say it’s right or wrong. I am here to say that I can’t reflect* on my formative years and my own evolution as a human without acknowledging (1) how pervasive the patriarchy is and (2) my part in it.
Like, literally, my pussy was patriarchal.
I was a woman living contrary to any expectations of womanhood, while assuming the feminine women in my life were Stepford Wives.
In my defense, a few of them totally got off on that. So. That was hot.
I was the masculine version of the Karen. Basic and boring. I was a Kareman. What is a Kareman, you ask? It is the middle-aged white lesbian who thinks it’s OK to tap a woman’s ass, because they are “friends.”
To be clear, she isn’t racist. Her biases present themselves in a more Chad-like state. Kareman isn’t afraid of men of color, and she is way too woke to call the cops in any situation where not-white folks are involved, but she definitely thinks they might steal her girl. Kareman is the woman frequently spotted at the executive level of a male-dominated industry, or she owns the bar.
In mixed company, a Kareman will make a derogatory joke at her wife’s expense. These are the women who absorbed the patriarchy around them like a sponge. You did it, Kareman! You are the boss. Your ability to climb the corporate ladder proves that women aren’t less than, yet you struggle to believe that is, in fact, possible.
Yes, the patriarchy is about men. But some of us ladies need to check our misses-ogyny. The patriarchy is about masculinity, no matter the gender. What it means to be masculine, and what role feeling masculine plays in how we treat those on the opposite end of the spectrum and outside the binary. As a self-described fella-girlie, I have found myself joking about bending over feminine men. Like what? I wield my masculinity like the magic wand it is. So much patriarchal privilege.
We see it in gay men, too, who think their “masc” is somehow superior to another’s “femme.”
Call it out.
We see butches who take pictures of feminine women’s asses without their consent (consensual butt pics: recommended).
Call it out. (If you can’t smooth talk a hot girl into letting you take a picture of her butt, just accept it, dude.)
We are entering a new phase of society, where current constructs are questioned. Let’s leave all the bullshit that hasn’t served us here, and step into the future as the most badass humans we can be.
* reflect = eat a bag of mushrooms in a small southern Arizona town