Blaming the patriarchy or feminism for societal ills has had its day.
Granted, America doesn’t do nuance. Look at our politics, the choice is between red or blue, there’s no official purple or green for example. Everything is polarized: You’re either for something or against it, there’s no room for the middle ground. Or indeed alternatives. While they do exist, they’re always portrayed as fringe and thus seldom credible or indeed viable.
For everything that’s going wrong, there always needs to be a scapegoat.
Rather than look at our individualistic, capitalistic culture, we’re quick to point the finger.
Someone has to take the blame but it never occurs to us we might be responsible for whatever ails us or might have engineered a context that’s become harmful to us.
When meeting your own needs means disregarding everybody else’s, sooner or later society will pay the price even though you are part of it, too.
If you need an example, look not further than the anti-vaccination movement. To protect their kids based on some bullshit they read on the internet, some parents have no qualms about putting everyone else at risk. Ignorance becomes a public health hazard, as is the case in my home state, Washington, where there currently is a measles outbreak.
According to some fellow feminists, women are at the forefront of the anti-vaccination movement because of doctors and society at large not taking us seriously. And with this kind of spurious argument, who would?
I call myself a feminist because I believe in equal opportunities for all humans, whatever gender they identify with. I do not call myself a feminist so I have a ready-made scapegoat on hand.
Sure, it’s an incontrovertible fact that the patriarchy has been holding women back but clinging to susceptibility for dear life isn’t helping us move forward, is it?
Gender, too, has had its day.
Thanks to science, we know now that nature is imperfect and that one’s genitals don’t always match one’s gender identity. Sometimes, there’s a glitch, which modern medicine is thankfully able to correct so all humans can live their best life and reach their full potential.
In other words, your genitals do not define who you are, your heart and your brain do. Whether you have any capacity for empathy and care about your fellow humans matters far more than the content of your pants. There are feminist men, much like there are women who worship the patriarchy.
And yet, men and women are still at loggerheads, still clinging to the same reductive viewpoints, each blaming the other. This is the intellectual equivalent of running on the spot and getting nowhere fast as we devote all our energy to proving we’re right without advancing the debate.
As long as one side seeks to prevail, we will never effect change, whatever the issue.
Who cares about being right when there’s so much at stake, all the time? What if instead of shouting at each other we joined forces and minds to see what we might achieve together?
Until we find it in ourselves to transcend our differences by looking for common denominators, we will continue to struggle.
Embracing our shared humanity is the only way forward.
You don’t exist in a vacuum and neither do I. No one does, no matter what American culture would have you believe. To understand what this “Me first and screw you” mindset can do, look no further than the current White House occupier and his ludicrous wall idea.
In many more ways than one, the orange aberration is an honest representation of what America stands for, a nation so devoid of self-awareness it still believes itself to be exceptional in every way.
And it’s because we’re so exceptional that we’re putting children in cages and banning fellow humans from setting foot on US soil.
It’s because we’re so exceptional that we let sick humans die in pain when they can’t afford health care.
It’s because we’re so exceptional that humans who have toiled their entire lives can’t afford to retire and need to keep working well into their 80s.
American exceptionalism is country-sized self-delusion made manifest.
If that’s what being exceptional means, please let me be ordinary, for I am a human like all others, albeit one who values and cherishes solidarity. Looking out for others isn’t an act of charity but an intrinsic part of what it means to be a human in the world. As a member of society, offering help is a duty, not something I do to garner praise, kudos, or bragging rights. There’s nothing more nauseating than philanthropy singing its own praises.
Decency isn’t who you say you are, it’s what you do and how you behave among others.
I’m a French-American writer and journalist living out of a suitcase in transit between North America and Europe. To continue the conversation, follow the bird. For email and everything else, deets in bio.