Pathology of Patriarchy:
A Search for Clues at the Scene of the Crime
“The great divide between humans and animals provided a standard by which to judge other people, both at home and elsewhere. If the essence of humanity was defined as consisting of a specific quality or set of qualities, such as reason, intelligible language, religion, culture, or manners, it followed that anyone who did not fully possess those qualities was “subhuman”. Those judged less than human were seen either as useful beasts to be curbed, domesticated, and kept docile, or as predators or vermin to be eliminated” (1)
What We are going to do here is direct your attention to the pathology of oppression, but not simply as you are used to reading about it. The obvious points of contention will inevitably be touched on as they relate, to attendant ills, to the subject at hand, however, We will try to keep our focus - and your attention – trained on the issue in play! Please bear with us as We move along to connect the dots. We want to talk about homophobia – the fear and oppression of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people. And We want to discuss this because as revolutionaries it is our duty to deal with all socio-economic and political phenomena that engages our reality (past, present and future). The obligation of the revolutionary is to make the revolution. That is to change oneself, encourage the people to change and then change the current system that oppresses. Of course, it would be ideal if, in 2012, We didn’t have to even deal with this matter. We wish that these issues had been resolved during the last hightide of consciousness. But sadly, that was not the case - and so here We are. No matter, the sooner begun, the sooner done, no? Right on!
We are learning as We go to recognize, overstand, isolate and deal with maladies as they arise, but have just begun to tie all these into the oppressive matrix of patriarchy as the origin of major ism’s that crush, kill, disrupt and destroy – as they oppress and exploit. It’s unfortunate, but We’re having to sometimes start from scratch every 30 or 40 years because We lack a continuity of consciousness in our struggle against capitalist – imperialism. And while issues of sexism have been dealt with in large part by women, it’s necessary We think to broaden the scope of the discussion of sexism to include homophobia and heterosexism. We are not in anyway, claiming to be experts on this issue. We are studying and struggling around the same things that most revolutionaries are – which is to say, We are looking for clues at the scene of the crime. Trying to connect the dots as they relate to individual, national and global oppression. We are, in essence, looking for ways to get free and stay free. Free, that is from all forms of oppression.
Here’s the thing, really, if people are being oppressed because of who they naturally are (and We know this to be true), which may not fit into a patriarchal gender box, then this is due to a “sex” (or gender) issue. So We feel this still covers sex-ism. In other words, that patriarchy (male dominated systems of oppression) create categories for people to fit into in order to exploit and oppress. Therefore, so-called genders then become classes. A class of men, the dominant – masculine, violent, god, father, king president, boss, etc. – and a class of women, the dominated – feminine, passive, holy ghost, homemaker, whore, etc. Oppression by “sex” is the oldest form of oppression on the planet. Older than institutionalized theocracies like Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Theocratic regimes institutionalized male dominant systems of oppression thru laws, state bureaucracies and social relations. In fact, men deal with women and children as they did livestock.
“Nowhere is patriarchy’s iron fist as naked as in the oppression of animals, which serves as the model and training ground for all other forms of oppression”. (2)
Pathological Progression of Patriarchy
Why is it necessary to speak about patriarchy if We are discussing homophobia? And, why begin with the oppression of women and children if this is about oppression of gender outlaws? Well, what We have to do is a bit of excavation – some radical anthropology, if you will, because the fact of the matter is, We know that things don’t fall from the sky or magically appear out of thin air. We are looking for connections, contradictions and from these We’ll be rewarded with the truth of origins and the internal dynamics in the life process of the thing. The “thing” in this particular study is oppression as manifested thru the system of patriarchy – which We contend is the origin of a vast array of other forms of oppression. Which is precisely why We brought in the domestication of animals. We are learning that the same techniques used to domesticate animals were also used in the colonization of women and children and eventually every culture they encountered. Breeding, birth control, castration, segregation, exploitation and mass murder were methods learned first on animals and then on humans. And there was always a symbiotic relationship of know-how used between the two areas of domestication of animals, including their mass killing for capitalist markets and the mass production of commodities, such as cars, in the development of capitalist industry:
“In his autobiography My life and Work (1922) Henry Ford revealed that his inspiration for assembly-line production came from a visit he made as a young man to a Chicago slaughterhouse. ‘I believe that this was the first moving line ever installed,’ he wrote, ‘The idea [of the assembly line] came in a general way from the overhead trolley that the Chicago packers use in dressing beef.’” (3)
Capitalism came out of patriarchy, but We know that it is not exclusive to capitalism. It was a good ol’ boy network before capitalism is recognized to have created modern classes. It was the same good ol’ boy network under soviet so-called “socialism” and it was a good ol’ boy network in the civil rights movement and to a large degree, in the Black Liberation Movement. Patriarchy positions itself above all as the reason, the answer and the solution – all to the detriment of women and children, but that’s not all. Patriarchy is a pervasive system of oppression that reaches far and wide into the minds and actions of all. It produces sexism, of course, but more insidiously it relies upon its victims to perpetuate and promote it. Again, there’s no magic involved here. These things are knowable - and it follows that if We can identify, expose and challenge these things We can defeat them. Or, be defeated. And, should We do nothing, this will most certainly insure that things get worse.
Often times We miss the boat on overstanding the subtle ways We go about reinforcing patriarchal relationships in our daily lives. See, because domination is but one aspect of patriarchy. That’s just the obvious aspect of it. You know, like when Conquistadors pushed up in the Inca Empire, or the English vamped on India. The domination was obvious. But then came the missionaries, the laws, the state – the colonial culture. These caused the second, corresponding aspect, of patriarchy: Dependency. The colonized were made to feel that they’d been chosen as subjects for a great, all encompassing “civilizational” leap forward. That the invaders were sent by the “Great Father” in the sky, who’d sent word to the King, who in turn instructed the invaders to save the heathens from their wretched selves! Bring them into the modern world – by dint of canon and bayonet if necessary:
“Aristotle maintained that man’s domination over animals extended to slaves and women as well, another view that mirrored the political reality of the day, since human slavery and subordination of women were the norm in Ancient Greece. In his Politics, Aristotle wrote that such ‘uncivilized’ people as the neighboring Achaeans and Thracians ‘are slaves by nature, as the body is to the soul, or as beasts are to men.’ Aristotle believed it was as permissible to enslave people who did not possess ‘reason’ as it was to enslave the common, and for the most part live at random.” (4)
Legitimized thru Longevity
The same patriarchy which first oppressed women, (after having perfected the methods on animals) as “inferiors”, went on to evolve into the judeo-christian and Islamic institutions or theology that have scorched the planet today. This is why in every major religion god is a he or him – Father, i.e. male (according to “gender”). The last messenger, prophet, offspring and the last one god supposedly spoke to – yep, you guessed it, men. Coincidence? Natural? Not a chance. To make matters worse, as if patriarchy could even be content with one form of oppression, Euro-Supremacists went a step further than some unseen spirit in the sky, they painted a picture of their god-father’s son in their image. They in effect became the prototype of the son of god image and thus in the direct lineage from god himself. Plato, Aristotle’s teacher created the idea of the Great Chain of Being this formalized the belief of the Greeks that they ranked higher than non-Greeks, women, slaves and of course animals.
“Medieval Christendom translated Plato’s image into a ladder which had God at the top and European Christian on the highest rung, a position that granted them a divine mandate as God’s overseers and stewards to rule over the rest of the ladder below. The idea that European man flawed and sinful though he might be, occupied a position on earth comparable to God’s position in the universe became a central idea in the religious and philosophical thought of Western civilization regarding man’s place in nature. Thus Europeanism had virtually unlimited authority to rule the natural world as ‘the vice regent and deputy or almighty God’.” (5)
And because of this “virtual unlimited authority” there’s a very dark, wretchedly oppressed and colonized Indian women, in Bombay with a picture of a prototypical European man on her wall who she believes is the son of god – her Lord and Savior – who died for her sins. And yet although he died for her “sins”, she is still paying a perpetual debt she never owed. And this scene is replicated a million times over across the planet in homes, hovels, huts, churches and prisons – in every colony. The theocracies are heavily invested in the business of patriarchy – in domestication and colonization. And the colonial subjects respond with fealty and dependency. Women tell their sons to “be the man of the house”. Men tell their wives to “stay in a woman’s place”. Men who show emotions are said to be “acting like little girls”. Women who exert themselves as humans are called “dykes and bulldaggers or butch”. Violence is masculinized and passivity is feminized. This is so because patriarchy has created two exclusive genders. Two neat little boxes to insert all of humanity. And this has been legitimized by theocracy and capitalism thru longevity and a corresponding dependency by the masses on a grand distortion of nature itself. The longevity We speak of here has to do with people divesting themselves of the responsibility of social investigation. Of simply allowing abnormalities to persist without challenge because “it’s always been this way” or “that’s just the way it is”. No, that’s not just the way it is – it’s the way it’s been made. It hasn’t fallen from the sky, or been miraculously blinked into existence. This oppression is man-made (literally) – it serves someone’s interest. The people relinquish their power to oppression when they default on social investigation of curious and questionable systems. Patriarchy and its attendant ills slither on uninterrupted:
“Patriarchy is a form of social organization that produces what we commonly recognize as sexism. But it goes well beyond individual or systemic prejudice against women. It is, first of all, the false division of all people into two rigid categories (male and female) that are asserted to be natural and moral. Patriarchy attempts to destroy, socially or even physically, anyone who does not fit into one of these categories or who rejects this “gender binary”. Patriarchy goes on to define clear roles (economic, social, emotional, political) for men and women, and it asserts (falsely) that these roles are natural and moral. Under patriarchy, people who do not fit into or who reject these gender roles are neutralized with violence and ostracism. They are made to see and feel ugly, dirty, scary, contemptible, worthless. Patriarchy is harmful to everybody, and it is reproduced by everyone who lives with it.” (6)
In addition to patriarchy going on to “define clear roles for men and woman,” it also set in motion the ill definition of races. In creating itself first as a class of men, to domesticate and rule over animals, women and children, it was a logical progression of patriarchy to define all humans as being of different “races”. For a plurality of races made it that much easier to justify, implement and sustain Plato’s earlier design of the Great Chain of Being. Because patriarchy is necessarily hierarchal, it was but a short trip to the lunatic fringe of racism, though actually it was really euro-supremacy. To call it “racism” would, in essence, subtly reinforce the false social construct of a plurality of races on the planet. When, of course, this is not true. So, We’ll call it what it is – euro-supremacy. Euro-supremacy is also euro-centricity. Though, just as patriarchy is not exclusive a capitalist thing, nor is it exclusively a European thing. It’s a man thing. It is highly contagious and must be combated constantly. It fastens a sense of entitlement that lends itself to taking liberties with other people’s lives and existence based solely on what is perceived to be “difference”. We focus our attention on euro-supremacy as an attendant ill/side effect of patriarchy because it was them (English, French, Spaniards, Portuguese, Dutch, Belgians etc.) who weaponized paternal relations in myriad conquests across the globe. It was the British Empire upon whom it was said “the sun never set”. In other words, its domination was global. And it is a fact that 99% of the borders between countries, nations and states were drawn by European colonialism.
What made euro-patriarchy weaponized, aside from the obvious, was that it created not only races of others, but made itself a race – a “white race” sitting atop the global food chain – the Great Chain of Being – doing their Fathers’ work on earth. “Whites” polar opposite became, of course, the “blacks”. Afrikans were made into the “black race”. Asians became “yellow” and North American indigenous nations became “red”. Having already had a few centuries of practice domesticating animals, women and children in Europe, it was but a small tactical adjustment to train their cutlasses, ropes and cannons onto the “colored” people they encountered. The pivot was such that it needed only to hoist the same inferior attributes it used against its own people onto the indigenous cultures it smothered. Everyone was demonized and maligned as “subhuman”, “animalistic”, “heathen” and in need of either elimination, colonization or paternalism. Genocide, oppression or protection (dependency). In any event all encountered cultures had to come under the influence of euro-centric patriarchy. Which is to say the culture of the invaders – the crown, the religion, the laws. Social conditioning and gender placement was, in essence the first human test run, the forerunner to, genetic engineering.
“People who do not fit into or who reject these gender roles are neutralized with violence and ostracized” – Who are the people who would reject these gender roles? Certainly they would be those who overstood patriarchy, colonialism, and who had a sense of self and kind so strong that they went deter-minded to assert themselves and be natural. Gender outlaws. Those who acted (and thought) outside of the box – the patriarchal gender box. However, when grand patriarchy came onto the scene, as a weaponized euro-supremacy, all indigenous people, male and female, became inferiors.
Indigenous men were domesticated under grand patriarchy just as women had always been. And to insure this, a constant, blatant and open hostile state of terror and siege was used to blanket any notion to the contrary. Euro-supremacy smothered everything. Every male not a European became “boy”, “buck”, “son”, or worse. They were explicitly forbidden to look a European male in the eyes. Grand patriarchy recognized one man – the European male. This was eventually utilized in the colonization of every encountered culture of the planet.
But not even this form of pervasive oppression eradicated patriarchy among those dominated. Oppressed men, those forbidden to be “men” under grand patriarchy, still would oppress oppressed women. Thus women felt a double blow of oppression under grand (on a national level) patriarchy and minor patriarchy – individually, in personal social relations. What’s more is, this individual patriarchy – now sexism – was compounded with the introduction of the colonizers’ religion into the mix as a chain of control. Western religion in the colonies became “force-multipliers” for patriarchy. Another weapon used in the war. Once indigenous men had been taught that this new god had given men dominion over women and children, these fell further down the Great Chain of Being (as created by Plato and reconfigured by Euro-Christians). Women, too, however reciprocated this travesty by believing this foolishness to be true, making it that much easier for their oppression to continue.
But isn’t it odd that the same religion that propelled the Euro-supremacists out of Europe and against the world in a war driven culture of conquest, made the people they encountered docile and meek? That instead of the indigenous males using the bible to oppress women they could have used it to push back against the invaders… what happened? It was perhaps the overwhelming military ability of that time. In any event, in a paradoxical twist, the colonized people served to reinforce the grand patriarchy with a spiritually ordained patriarchy of their own – even at the bottom rung of the ladder. Even under old colonialism where it is said that “Whole nations became as classes”, the ills of patriarchy persisted and found expression. Tho’ hardly to the extent it did on the grand level. Still…
Patriarchy in Neo-colonialism
Class, gender, race and bourgeois law all stem from patriarchy. The illusion that men (“Father”) knows best. To insure this doesn’t escape anyone, man created religion in his image as well and endowed god with all the human attributes of a brutish man: jealously, greed, vengeance, indifference, callousness and authoritarianism. When it’s said that “god created man in his image”, it’s actually the reverse of that: man created god in his image. Class, gender, religion, race and bourgeois law – homophobia and heterosexism too – are all created of patriarchy. These, to look at it in another way, are the walls constructed in the global mansion of patriarchy to keep the Great Father safely sequestered away from those buried under the floor, in the closet, used as domestics, maintenance workers and beasts of burden. To escape the gender box is, in essence, to become an outlaw of sorts. For one’s escape from such restrictive confines is a protest – for one’s ability to be natural. Out and away from the stifling confines of patriarchy’s colonialism. But to protest is but one side of the equation. To protest is to go away from for self’s sake. An overstandable thing. But to rebel is to go against the malady in an attempt to destroy it. Protests are usually non-violent. A tactical method using hope as a morality play on power to have it change itself. Rebellion however is an active and often violent lunge at the power’s heart to start the bleeding and stop the breathing. But even this is but a tactic and must be educated if the action is to bring about change.
Under old colonialism gender outlaws were smashed on by church and state. Sharp shooting ideologues riled up the masses to reject “ab-normality” for morals superior to such “deviance”. Old colonialism, the general representative of patriarchy, used to push a line of gender authoritarianism. Even on a socio-economic level, old colonialism squatting dominantly over internal colonialism, however, has changed everything, but altered the perception of most things in order to continue to hold its empire together and reap benefits from oppression. The U.S. ruling class has, in its new and enlightened age of colonialism, come out as the main protector of civil rights against sexual, racial and religious discrimination. It bills itself as the force to make all “citizens” equal. Of course the paradox here is what We must focus on to find the truth. You see because as the ruling class goes about claiming to be interested in protecting civil rights it is, in actuality, promoting and reinforcing patriarchy. It’s the tactic of problem-reaction-solution. It’s a Machiavellian ruse of traditional state craft. Patriarchy created “gender” which begot sexism that leads to “sexual discrimination”. Patriarchy created “race” which begot racism and leads to “racial discrimination”. Patriarchy created religion – male dominated theocracies – which leads to “religious discrimination”. In other words, the very problems the masses are running to the state (representative of grand patriarchy) to solve, the state created and will then offer a solution to. Which without question will only strengthen the grip of patriarchy. It’s the symbolic reapplication of the ties that bind which keep the masses tethered to the machine. Orwell anyone?
We, as seated so close to the epicenter of empire, patriarchy and all that this entails, are without question, thoroughly contaminated. Cross-pollinated social interaction and conditioning has exposed us all to such a degree that We can hardly recognize our sickness. It all seems “normal” and “natural” doesn’t it? That’s because We’ve gone to colonial schools, been socialized by its mass media, the propaganda of its many wars (even those against us), bourgeois elections, its culture of arrogance, smugness and indifference etc. Because of this, and our inability to make sense of it, We act as unconscious shock troops of its colonial edicts when confronted with ideas and actions which appear to run counter to its mores. Being homophobic is one such thing. And of course racism is another. The animalized names the dominant culture has used to denigrate us all with We'll turn around and use them on each other and ourselves to justify a sense of difference in imitation of patriarchy.
But you see, the neo (new) colonialism doesn't mind if its patriarchy is being imitated. That’s a plus for it. That means it's working. It means people aren't trying to stop it, they are trying to like it. They don't want to end patriarchy, they want to be card carrying members of the club. Have you seen the ex-correctional officer, rapper Rick Ross, with his shirt off? The idiot has huge tattoos on his torso of U.S. currency - complete with Franklin's face, Jackson and Jefferson! He wants in so bad he's a walking billboard - "Will Beg For Membership". That's how patriarchy stays afloat and operable - by being legitimized, replicated and practiced by the unconscious masses. Neo-colonialism has found it expedient to ease up on the blatant authoritarianism and to let the colonial masses "do their thing". As long as it is within the established framework of the game - of bourgeois law and order.
So, while breaking out of the gender role is objectively wrong in the eyes of the patriarchy, it hasn't the time nor inclination to pursue such outlaws at this time. Actually, what the state has done under neocolonialism is act as if it's okay and has gone on the offensive in trying to insure the people that all is well. First it was "smash on sight". Then it was "don't ask, don't tell". Now it's "come on in grab a gun and help defend the empire". Same way it did with New Afrikans, Mexicanos, Puerto Ricans and Indigenous Nationals. 'Member that? Sure, it went like this: old colonialism, black codes, jim crow, segregation, civil rights and neo-colonialism - as integration. Those who refused to join the club were what? "Neutralized with violence and ostracized". Today We call them Martyrs, Prisoners of War, Political Prisoners and exiles. Those who joined We call neo-colonialists, petty-bourgeois, sell-outs and collaborators - enemies of the people. The choice is now ours. What are We going to be? Projectiles for the people or projectiles against the people? That is the question.
Neo-colonialism has put the colonies on autopilot. And the masses have been confused by this, thinking that they are somehow on a flight towards freedom. Because the establishment forces aren't actively smashing on what used to be obvious causes for reaction, the people think a general sense of new freedom has blanketed the situation. As Oprah has her own TV network. Jay Z wines and dines with Warren Buffet, Magic Johnson owns the L.A. Dodgers and Rock Bottom is in the whitest house. But the usual reins of state control and reaction have not been relinquished they've only been delegated to accommodation intermediaries to run the flight plan for the ruling class. The coordinates have been programed into the console, the flight is on autopilot, those the masses think are in control are only maintenance workers and sky marshals, flight attendants and observers, as the jumbo dream liner continues uninterrupted across this neocolonial terrain of war and class, amerikkkan style.
In this era of neocolonialism the main homophobes are the masses themselves. Where it used to be the state, the church and other rabid ideologues of patriarchy, now it's athletes, rappers and the idiot down the tier who somehow feels as if his so-called "manhood" is threatened by how or who another person lives and loves. The unconscious shock troops of patriarchy become the gatekeepers for their oppressors. That's why patriarchy can feel so comfortable with putting the colonies on auto-pilot. The inmates have assumed control of the asylum and all is well on the Western front. Never mind that the very culture of oppression that they are holding up by becoming little oppressors themselves is the actual threat to them. It's an animal farm trip, really. Or a Stockholm syndrome type of situation. Where the entity doing you the harm you side step to attack the one on your side - while loving your tormentor. Psych meds, anyone?
Harmful to Everybody
To overstand homophobia and heterosexism as oppressive tools of the patriarchy is to come to grips with one’s own reality. A reality that shouts its existence not from the confines of your own head or intellect - or even your culture. It's a reality put on you by an offending order of parties who wish only to control and exploit you to their delight and benefit. Those "shouts of reality" We speak of are from a distance of centuries past, and their antiquity gives them an air of prestige and legitimacy, but you mustn't be fooled. For this is the culture that ripped apart your ancestors - this is it. It's shinier now, has more pixels and is in high definition, but it is the same culture that pushed up on those shores and was mistaken as god. It is the very same system of control, too. The gatekeepers complexions have changed - We can see the madness thru the lens of BET and Univision now instead of just CBS and NBC, but look carefully and listen, it’s the same old thing - patriarchy, class, gender, race, colonialism. The same slings and arrows aimed at gender outlaws today are the same ones flung at us first when patriarchy drove up. We were the ab-normal ones then. And now, what, We've become so "normal" (amerikans) that We are oppressors, too? We've been amerikanized to the point where We can't even recognize We aren't even ourselves anymore. Yeah, "amerikkkan me".
In prison, the concentration of the patriarchy pathology is on steroids - even tho there are no women in men’s prisons. Not as prisoners anyway. No need really, cause patriarchy is also homophobia and heterosexism, so it finds expression in this way. Whether thru predation or hate outright, ill vibrations play out against gays or transgender prisoners as, invariably, they are referred to as "punk", "faggots", "bitches" etc. The hierarchal structure of prison groups preclude any form of socialization or respect with, or towards, gay prisoners. They are treated as "abnormals" - as less than human. They are usually "neutralized with violence and ostracized". Groups forbid their members from aiding any such person. And even tho' the prisoners are placed with nationals from oppressed and colonized nations, oppression and prejudice of gays and transgender prisoners goes on uninterrupted as patriarchal "morals" are imitated and replicated across the board.
The odd thing, tho one which points up the patriarchal reality in vivid fashion, is in most prison cultures the only party in a gay encounter that’s considered gay is the one assuming the so-called passive or feminine role. The masculine one, the top, is considered "the man" which somehow excludes him from being gay, or bi. It's his prerogative to fuck something, huh? And, much like sexism, out in Babylon, where the woman is considered less than, so too is it in prison with the gay or transgender prisoner. Tho' moreso since the homophobia and heterosexism is driven by the "morals" of religion. Of course patriarchy escapes mention altogether. Nevertheless, the pathology of patriarchy plays itself out even in the most oppressive situations imaginable.
The fact of the matter is, We can talk about this until We are out of breath, but until gays and transgender prisoners, and people at large, take their lives and existence into their own hands, organize and defend their reality, they'll continue to be victimized and exploited and that goes for any form of oppression. The oppressed have the responsibility to get free. Freedom is not given or granted - it's taken! The federal government is not going to legislate your safety into existence. The prison administration cannot - nor will it - protect you from hostile homophobes or predators. You have to organize yourselves in concert with methods that reflect your reality. We know that in the state prison at Walla Walla, in Washington, the revolutionary comrades organized Men Against Sexist Shit (MASS) to combat homophobia and heterosexism there. Revolutionaries should be on the front lines of combating all forms of oppression. We have to organize with the oppressed to strike for freedom or the neocolonialists will organize. Them against us and continue on.
Pelican Bay - SHU
 Eternal Treblinka, Charles Patterson. [return to text]
 The Club, the Yoke, and the Leash: What can we learn from the way a Culture Treats Animals. Aviva Cantor, MS (August 1983) [return to text]
Man and the Natural World: A History of the Modern Sensibility, Keith Thomas (New York, Pantheon Books, 1983) [return to text]
 The Origins of Nazi Genocide: From Euthanasia to the Final Solution, Henry Friedlander, (Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1995) [return to text]
Eternal Treblinka, Patterson[return to text]
 How Nonviolent Protects the State, Peter Gelderloos, (South End Press, 2007) [return to text]