“Is there a Mr. Patriarchy S. Infantalizer in the waiting room?” research assistant Jamie Jayne asked. “I want to make sure I have the name right.”
“That’s me, but you can just call me Patriarchy.”
“It’s so nice of you to join us all the way from the 19th century, Patriarchy. I’m very grateful for this opportunity.”
Patriarchy adjusted his waistcoat, twirled his waxed mustache and made a quick bow.
“Mr. Patriarchy,” Jamie said. “Please follow me to the first waiting room. I’d like to show you a couple of videos about domestic problems. Then I’ll have you express your -”
“Video?” Patriarchy asked.
“I’m sorry, I’d almost forgotten how outdated you are. We have some magic moving pictures to show you.”
“Not at all,” Patriarchy said. “I look forward to it.”
Jamie Jayne and Patriarchy S. Infantalizer walked together into the windowless, nearly empty room labeled “interview room #1.” A table with a microphone stood in the center, accompanied by one chair Patriarchy twisted the frame of his monocle and puffed his pipe while Jamie checked the feed on the old, cheap television.
“Just wait here for a second, Mr. Patriarchy,” Jamie said. “I’m going to show you the magic pictures on this box.” Jamie points to the T.V. “Then, after you’ve had a minute to think, I’d like you to speak into the microphone here.”
Jamie then left to welcome the next guest. Femnitude McModernity wore her hair in neatly kept dreadlocks over a power suit and finished her look with a set of square rimmed glasses. Jamie Jayne rushed to shake Femnitude McModernity’s hand.
“Femnitude, old friend” Jamie said. “It’s such an honor to have you here. I am so looking forward to your thoughts on these videos I’ve prepared. You see, I’ve invited Patriarchy W. Infantalizer from the 19th century, and I’m excited to listen as you show us all how far we’ve come with regard to gender relations.”
“I’m sure we can do that,” Femnitude said. “But I’m afraid we’ve not beaten misogyny in the modern world as much as we think.”
“Only one way to find out,” Jamie Jayne said. “Just take a seat here, in interview room #2. I’ll be in a third room, switching back and forth between you and Patriarchy, but you won’t be able to hear each other. Relax and have fun.”
Jamie Jayne clicked on the microphone and spoke to Patriarchy Infantalizer over the connection.
“Patriarchy, can you see the magic pictures clearly?”
“Ah yes, quite fascinating,” he said, speaking into the television. Luckily, the microphone is sensitive enough to pick him up regardless.
“All right, Patriarchy, this is a video of a man and his wife arguing outside a market. Please let me know your opinions.”
The T.V. flickered and revealed the following scene:
“What do you think of this?” Jamie asked.
“Absolutely horrific,” Patriarchy said. “The brutal way that beastly (long string of 19th racist Social Darwinism deleted) man beat his wife is demonstrative of truly low (long string of racist 19th century Social Darwinism deleted) he is!”
“What, specifically makes you think this is so wrong? Is the woman not equally adult, equally human? In other words, is this not a fight between equals?”
Patriarchy laughed so hard his pipe flew out of his mouth.
“Equal! Ha! Everyone from the 19th century knows that women are weak and infantile! Equality! My Lord, what incredible nonsense!”
Patriarchy took a moment to collect himself and then turned serious.
“The lack of equality is precisely why the beating you just showed me is so reprehensible. It’s like watching any of the varieties of cruelty where a higher species pointlessly abuses a lower species. That man, as a consequence of being a man, is stronger, intellectually higher and fully responsible for his actions. The woman, as a consequence of her femininity, is weak, childlike and incapable of responsibility. What you’ve just shown me is no more sporting or fair than a cat toying with a mouse or woman beating an infant. I’m appalled, truly repulsed by that display of savagery against a helpless woman. Pardon me, I was repetitive, helplessness is a property of womankind. Helpless woman is thus a redundancy.”
“Thank you for your thoughts, Patriarchy,” Jamie Jayne said. “I’m going to switch our connection off briefly while I speak with another of our guests.”
The switch clicked and Jamie readied to record Femnitude McModernity’s opinions.
“Are you there, Femnitude?”
“Yes,” she said. “Though I must say I’m really disturbed by what I’ve just seen.”
“Why?” Jamie asked.
“Violence against women is positively beastly. Millions of women everyday are victimized in the exact same way. That brutal man is a monster and should be locked up for a very long time. What an evil, evil man.”
Jamie checked the notes from Patriarchy’s interview. Jamie wanted to make sure Femnitude got the same questions.
“What, specifically, makes you think this is so wrong? Isn’t the woman equally adult, equally human? In other words, didn’t we just watch a fight between equals?”
“A fight between equals?” Femnitude asked. “You can’t be serious. You must know that there’s thousands of pages of research showing just how strong the abusers are and how trapped the victims are. We can never assign responsibility to the victims in these situations, NEVER! I’m actually a little offended by this question. We need to encourage women to come forward and holding them responsible for remaining in abusive situations is just going to push them back under the domination of abusive men. Like when the woman in that video tries to protect her abuser from the crowd, we shouldn’t hold that against her. The victim is, as a consequence of being a victim, never responsible. The abusive man is the only one with responsibility in these situations.”
She paused to emphasize her sense of outrage.
“Hold the abused woman equally responsible! What bullshit. Women are fundamentally helpless to make men do anything.”
“Thank you for your thoughts, Femnitude. I’m going to switch back to Patriarchy for this next video.”
Patriarchy was still poking the monitor screen when Jamie addressed him.
“Mr. Infantalizer,” Jamie said. “This is another magic picture. Just like the first time around, I’m going to ask you for your opinions when it’s finished.”
“I certainly hope it isn’t as savage as that first magic picture,” Patriarchy said. “I’m still upset about that man’s dishonorable treatment of his lessers, if I’m honest.”
The T.V. clicked onto this video:
“What good sport!” Patriarchy says. “Those minstrels sure put on a great show! Hip-hip hooray! Encore! Encore!”
“Doesn’t the violence of the woman against the man bother you?” Jamie asked.
“Of course not! Haha, what could a woman ever do to a man? Cook his food improperly? Delay the laundry? Hahaha! What sort of a fool would take violence from a woman seriously? Some of your magic moving pictures are monuments to absurdity, my friend!”
Jamie switched over to Femnitude McModernity’s feed and asked the same question.
“Well, that was pretty funny,” McModernity says. “In order to pay lip service to the ideal of equality, I have to say that the young lady was wrong, but I do admire the fighting spirit. I do wonder what the man did to make her flip out that way? He must have done something, after all. Women don’t just attack men for no reason. That’s not an excuse, but I’m sure the man had at least some responsibility. In fact, we should probably invite the attacker to explain herself in a woman’s magazine puff-piece that complements her strength so we can get the story in her own words. Actually, I think I know what it was and, frankly, if the man doesn’t want to get smacked, he needs to stop sexually tempting other women. Whatever the outcome, it was pretty funny.”
Jamie flipped a third switch, allowing the research assistant to speak to both guests at the same time.
“Thank you both for participating in my study. I’ve learned a lot. Please travel safely and I hope to see you again soon.”
As the guests got up and headed for the doors, Jamie Jayne looked down at the notebook and wrote the following:
“19th century patriarchal beliefs – Women are incapable of responsibility in situations of abuse and should be protected due to their inherent powerlessness. Abusive men are solely responsible for violence. Female on male violence is a joke.
21st century feminism – see above.”
I want to emphasize that I am not a so-called masculinist – mostly because I find the notion of someone else thinking of me as a victim humiliating and repulsive and partly because I think the movement is silly. I join most of the world in shuddering at images of male on female violence and laughing at female on male violence. If you want to see why, on a philosophical level, I’m both okay with the double standard and frustrated with the current justifications for said double standard, please click here.