“Many men who harass women say their intent is to compliment them, but why do they usually not “compliment” women who are accompanied by other men and often only do it when a woman is alone? Why do they tend to object to other men “complimenting” their female significant other (if applicable), female friends, or female family members? Why do some men grow hostile and violent when women do not thank them and act flattered? Why do they feel compelled to compliment women at all? Rarely are they expecting a date. Many times they do not even wait to see a woman’s reaction as they fly by in their car or as they turn to start harassing the next woman. They are doing it to exert their power, to entertain their friends, to relieve boredom, or do demonstrate that they can evaluate a complete stranger to her face, just because she is a woman.”—
Because we don’t have the brute physical and social power that men have.
Dad, like all men—even if he is as gentle as a fawn—implicitly has the power to take your life, beat you up, and take away your rights. Even if he would never hurt a fly, he has the implicit ability to punch people’s lights out and mow them down with his brute strength. He also has the power to marginalize those with less brute power than he has. This is patriarchy. He doesn’t have to want it, ask for it, like it, or even use it once. He just has it.
Mom, while yes, she COULD kill, does not have the archetypical social backing to do so. Even if she is as tough and warrior-like as Queen Boudicea, she does not have the same kind of sway. She does not have that brute physical and social power. Accordingly, she has a lot fewer options for surviving and getting what she wants and needs in the world, and for her children.
This relates, in a way, to the saying “men fear women will laugh at them. Women fear men will kill them.”
In terms of personality problems, men tend to go antisocial (stealing cars, dealing drugs, raping, getting in fights) while women tend to go borderline (threatening suicide, self-harm, self-destructive promiscuous behavior, rages followed up with frantic efforts to make you stay and promise you love her, changing identity to conform to what you want).
Dad wields a different kind of authority within society even if he personally is a groovy hippie pacifist who would never raise a hand at you. He has the right, according to society, to control you with some force, even if he doesn’t do it. Mom finds herself in a position more akin to that of an overgrown child. She has no right to do anything, but she can be, as the movie says “the neck that turns the head.” She can manipulate, from backstage.
Feminists who don’t want to look at this head-on are wasting their time because if you can’t deal with this basic issue, your feminism will be nothing more than male liberalism with a girl power armband on.
“Male fantasies, male fantasies, is everything run by male fantasies? Up on a pedestal or down on your knees, it’s all a male fantasy: that you’re strong enough to take what they dish out, or else too weak to do anything about it. Even pretending you aren’t catering to male fantasies is a male fantasy: pretending you’re unseen, pretending you have a life of your own, that you can wash your feet and comb your hair unconscious of the ever-present watcher peering through the keyhole, peering through the keyhole in your own head, if nowhere else. You are a woman with a man inside watching a woman. You are your own voyeur.”—Margaret Atwood, The Robber Bride (via sphincter)
“You know that most women are hurt in their homes. You know most women are murdered in their homes. A political movement, as I understand it, exists to change the way social reality is organized. And that means that we need to understand everything about the way this system works. And that means that every woman who has had experience with sexual violence of any kind has not just pain, and not just hurt, but has knowledge. Knowledge of male supremacy. Knowledge of what it is. Knowledge of what it feels like. And can begin to think strategically about how to stop it. We are living under a reign of terror. Now what I want to say is that I want us to stop accepting that that’s normal. And the only way that we can stop accepting that that’s normal is if we refuse to have amnesia everyday of our lives. If we remember what we know about the world we live in. And we get up in the morning, determined that we are going to do something about it.”—Andrea Dworkin, Terror, Torture, and Resistance (via amazonfeminist)