That’s Some Toolbox You’ve Got There, Ladies
Those familiar with the self help world will know immediately what I’m talking about when I refer to one’s ‘toolbox’. It is a metaphorical toolbox that contains a variety of tools and techniques that one can use to cope and protect oneself. To run with the metaphor, basically the contents of one’s toolbox will allow the building of a fort or wall behind which one can stay alive and survive. The better the tools and techniques, the more protected one is.
Protection from what, you might ask? From seeing, questioning, defying, attacking and breaking free from Patriarchy, of course. To face Patriarchy head on is a very dangerous business, so women are encouraged to accept it. Unfortunately, it is hard to accept slavery without some defensive strategies in place.
Girls are provided at a very young age with a starter toolbox and examples of how to employ the contents within. The message that accompanies this gift is: Sorry. You’ve had the misfortune to be born a girl. This means you are worthless. But we need you to do a few things. You’re here to serve, submit, take abuse, and erase yourself. All in the service of Patriarchy and its prize citizens – boys and men. In order to help you accept it, affirm male dominance and violence, sing the praises of this system, and even ask for it, we are equipping you with the following tools and techniques. Now spread your legs and enjoy the ride. It will suck. Or rather, you will.
With this bright and shiny toolbox (with more sophisticated tools added over time), many women remain blind to their maltreatment and complicit in their enslavement; men are not forced to take responsibility for their actions and keep on doing what they do best – destroying; and the Patriarchy machine bangs on. Anyone with a background in psychology will recognize many of these tools as ‘defense mechanisms’. Let’s look at how they are employed by women under Patriarchy to ensure that they remain the slaves they were born to be.
Tools and Techniques (aka Defense Mechanisms)
The most unsophisticated of tools, denial is probably the most frequently employed mechanism women have. Very simply, it is the refusal to accept reality, even in the face of bald facts. Women may even deny having experienced something quite serious.
Example: A woman returns home after being raped by her date. Despite her bruises at the time and years of nightmares and PTSD, she refuses to admit she has been raped. In her mind, it is safer to pretend it didn’t happen. A lot of women also deny that Patriarchy even exists despite soaking and swimming in it every second of their lives.
Repression / Suppression
Both mechanisms serve to keep thoughts or memories out of consciousness. It can be done without realizing it (repression) or deliberately (suppression). The problem is that the memories still have influence even if we don’t realize they are there.
Example: A woman who was molested by her father as a child may have blocked out memories of that time, but ‘inexplicably’ has a hard time in relationships with men, especially regarding sex. She will be labelled frigid, but really, she is just repressing memories of horrific abuse.
Anger and frustration are taken out on less threatening objects or people than the actual source of these feelings.
Example: A woman works in a male dominated office under a highly misogynist boss who pays her less than the men, never promotes her, disparages her ideas and work, and makes sexually suggestive comments. The woman says and does nothing so as to keep her badly needed job, but goes home and verbally abuses her children following particularly tense episodes. We also see this commonly with the transgendered and with women who belong to other minority groups when they attack other women instead of men who are the true oppressors. Women are just less threatening and more easily attacked.
A technique where unacceptable behaviour is refocused into something acceptable.
Example: An economically desperate women may find herself with few options but to turn to prostitution, but faced with shame or other morally-derived feelings, may grasp at marriage (publicly acceptable prostitution) to survive.
The creation of seemingly separate representations of the self in order to survive ordeals. It can lead to a disconnection of self such that painful feelings don’t intrude for periods of time.
Example: Women who enter stripping or prostitution or even who are married may retract their feelings and personalities and thought processes while performing mandatory sexual servicing of customers or husbands. Outside of these servicing situations, they will maintain a different or a main identity.
The act of taking one’s unacceptable feelings towards someone and ascribing those feelings to them.
Example: Fully enslaved and compliant women may hate feminists for forcing them to realize their slavery. As a defense, the enslaved will believe that the feminists hate them, despite clear evidence to the contrary. This is the number one cause of the creation of the term ‘feminazi’. Feminists have absolutely NOTHING in common with nazis, but it is easier to project your hate onto people who just want to help you free yourself.
A mechanism that allows one to avoid the true reasons for a behaviour and instead come up with something that provides an intellectual or logical explanation.
Example: Instead of holding men accountable for rape culture, women will say things like ‘men are naturally aggressive’, ‘boys will be boys’, ‘men have needs’ or something thoroughly incorrect, but seemingly ‘rational’ on the surface. We also see arguments supporting the Patriarchal system using ‘God’s word’ (from the Right) and ‘natural law’ or evolutionary psychology (from the Left). These arguments are rationalizations.
Expressing the opposite feeling to that which you actually feel.
Example: Women, especially, are encouraged to show love to those who would do them harm rather than to address any justified anger that comes from being abused. It is a way to partially explain why battered women not only stick with men who routinely beat and rape them, but to insist that they love these men. The defense mechanism assists, but does not wholly explain, survival in a very complex, psychological situation.
Stockholm Syndrome (Identification)
This refers to supporting and even adopting the views and behaviours of someone who has power over you or is abusing you and whom you fear/hate.
Example: This is the mechanism underlying all “What about the men?” and “Not my Nigel” arguments put forth by heterosexual women. Instead of identifying with their oppressed sisters, they see weakness in and feel hatred towards them in much the same way the men they are supporting would. It also plays a heavy role in keeping submissive women in the BDSM scene enthralled (with a little rationalization thrown in for good measure).
Keep in mind, seldom does only one defense mechanism account for a woman’s participation in Patriarchy. The toolbox is one where all the implements can be inter-attached, and work together seamlessly. It is so incredibly hard for women to throw off the chains of slavery for this reason. There isn’t just one thing keeping women down – even if you stop denying reality, you may be engaging in other coping strategies. It also doesn’t help that few women have support in freeing themselves.
Stay tuned for “That’s Some Arsenal You’ve Got There, Gentlemen“.
Posted on October 30, 2015, in Feminism, Male Privilege, Misogyny, Patriarchy and tagged brainwashing, coping, defense mechanisms, denial, psychology. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on That’s Some Toolbox You’ve Got There, Ladies.