Sunday, April 28, 2019

How to Live Well Despite Capitalist Patriarchy

Painting by Cheryl Braganza



Capitalist Patriarchy sucks for women.

I used to blame myself incessantly for everything that was wrong in my life. As I grew older and began to speak more openly and honestly with other women, I began to connect the dots that make so many of us miserable. My hope is that as more women begin to wake up and share with each other, we will heal ourselves and weave our way out of this hellish maze together.

Capitalist Patriarchy thrives when women shut up and do as they are told. While it would appear (for some of us at least) that if we play by the rules, we will be safe—those of us who begin to rock the boat with our questioning and refusal to STFU know how easy it is to be thrown off the boat altogether—children and all.

Everything within Capitalist Patriarchy is designed to keep your inner-knowing and body wisdom suppressed. Therefore, in order to thrive despite this system, you must come back into contact with the deepest parts of yourself. As females, we have been taught to deeply hate those parts of ourselves, so they are often the most hidden—buried deep within. As Monica Sjöö and Barbara Mor wrote:

Once we thoroughly understand how and why patriarchy acquired its power over us—the power of an entrenched mistake over the minds and lives of all people—once we understand and feel clearly that the fight of witch women is also the fight of earth’s people everywhere against mechanical subjugation and exploitation—once we reestablish the magic link between the individual psyche and the earth’s vital energy flow, between all-evolving matter and all-evolving spirit, and learn to encourage and teach others to do the same, in a loving return to what we always were—perhaps then, in the final time of crisis, the Serpent Goddess will shake herself loose from her deep exiled sleep in the earth’s belly. Perhaps the serpent of life’s flowing energy will begin to rise again, all luminous and of the earth, and the children of the Great Mother will rise up with it, and the universe will be our home again, as before. This flight is not an escape, but a return. The only way for human beings to survive the end is to return to the beginning.”2

We must reconnect to that Serpent Goddess energy in order to regain our vitality.

Painting by Cheryl Braganza

I'm not a financial guru by any means—and I don't believe women are financially disadvantaged by accident. I did, however, spend 13 years as a mortgage broker and earned my MBA in my younger years, so I do know a thing or two about money. I also spent many years as a broke single mother, so I know how to stretch a dollar better than most people. Being poor requires a sort of creativity that those who are middle class and above cannot begin to imagine.

But happiness isn't all about money. You can be happy with or without it. I've lived with just about every variation there is except the very far extremes on either side. I have come to believe in the importance of naming and claiming our own realityinstead of passively accepting the labels and perceptions of those in power. As bell hooks wrote nearly two decades ago:

Women need to know that they can reject the powerful's definition of their reality—that they can do so even if they are poor, exploited, or trapped in oppressive circumstances. They need to know that the exercise of this basic personal power is an act of resistance and strength. Many poor and exploited women, especially non-white women, would have been unable to develop positive self-concepts if they had not exercised their power to reject the powerful's definition of their reality.”3

When we examine how we are contributing to Capitalist Patriarchy with our own time, money and energy—we can reallocate our funds for things that contribute to our liberation instead of our subordination. As Arundhati Roy wrote:

Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness—and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we're being brainwashed to believe.”4

One of the best things that living in a different country has taught me is to question my assumptions. Many of us repeat the patterns of our families without questioning whether they serve us well. As poet Mark Gonzales asked, “Who told you the stories that taught you what it meant to be human, and did they have your best interests at heart?”





There is always a reason to worry and there is always something that you can be unhappy about. The last years have taught me to forget all that—as much as you can—and focus on what is right in your life and brings you joy. When you find that place in your being, it is much easier to give to others. You help no one by being a miserable person. The world has enough miserable people. Capitalist Patriarchy was designed with that very thing in mind. So, dig through all that nonsense—turn it upside down and on its head and kick it as far down the street as you can. Then, find your bliss and share it.

While this book is dedicated to the memory of Cheryl Braganza—whose words and art inspired me immensely—it is also heavily influenced by the memory of my grandparents, who taught me that you can live well no matter how little money you have in the bank. My Nano used to often say that it was rich people who were poor—poor in spirit. She taught me that no matter how much you have, if you are selfish and nasty about it, you are the opposite of rich. As my dear friend Andrew Gurevich wrote:

“A vitally-important and unspoken message of this failed American experiment is that even the so-called 1% do not seem to be comprised of balanced, fulfilled people most of the time. It seems that it's not just the 'losers' of this current system of unbridled, savage capitalism and its attendant institutions of repression and control that suffer all of the psychological, physical and spiritual fallout these systems produce. The elite themselves seem increasingly insecure, addicted, paranoid and discontent. Indeed, it is just as George Orwell warned us so many years ago when writing about British Imperialism in the Far East, 'When the White Man turns tyrant, it is his own freedom he destroys.' The ennui hits them with an unrelenting force because it exposes the lie they have believed for generations: namely, that all they possess will make them whole. The Hindus have rightly diagnosed this psychosis by claiming a person can 'never get enough of what they don't really need.'”5

I have had to learn how to redirect my energy and beliefs. That said, I have seen how New Age thought can be dangerous for women. We simply can't will ourselves out of this existence into a commune filled with rainbows and unicorns. Genevieve Vaughan did a brilliant job of explaining the subtle, but important difference in thought.

It has become commonplace in the US New Age movement to talk about the co-creation of 'reality.' It is said that, by our thoughts, we cause certain things to occur and others not to occur. I hope to be able to show how we are collectively creating a patriarchal reality, which is actually bio-pathic (harmful to life), and I propose that we dismantle that reality. Our values, and the self-fulfilling interpretations of life that we make because of them, are creating a harmful illusion which leads us to act and to organize society in harmful ways. This is one sense in which our thoughts do make things happen. If we understand what we are doing, however, patriarchal reality can be changed. First, we must have the courage to change the basic assumptions which serve as fail-safes to keep deep systemic changes from occurring.”6

This book will serve as a starting point to challenge some of our societal assumptions, in hopes of helping women become stronger and breaking their chains. As we begin to heal collectively, we can overturn this system altogether. 

Painting by Cheryl Braganza

When we are separated from our sisters by secrecy, we lack the keys to unlock our cages. As Beatrix Campbell wrote:

Capitalism does not do life. And that lie is never more exposed in the twenty-first century than when we bring to it the light of gender and the unsaid—the silences and secrets that are knotted in the articulation of capitalism and patriarchy.7

It is time to break the silences that enslave us. Just as Goddess was dethroned thousands of years ago by outright lies and defragmentation, many of the same weapons are used to weaken females today.

It is Capitalist Patriarchy's goal to keep women exhausted, ill, on-guard, numb, ashamed, distracted and defragmented so that we don't have the time or energy to battle the giant Himself. We must return to ourselves— and to Goddess consciousness—to regain our strength and overturn this abomination.

There was once another way. Let us begin to remember.







Endnotes:

1 El Saadawi, Nawal. Memoirs from the Women's Prison. University of California Press; Reprint edition, 1994.

2 Sjöö, Monica and Mor, Barbara. The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth. HarperOne; 2nd edition, 1987.

3 hooks, bell. Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center. South End Press, 2000.

4 Roy, Arundhati. War Talk. South End Press; 2003.

5 Gurevich, Andrew. “In Goddess We Trust: America's Spiritual Crossroads.” Jesus, Muhammad and the Goddess. A Girl God Anthology, 2016.

6 Vaughan,Genevieve. For-giving: A Feminist Criticism of Exchange. Plain View Press; 1997.

7 Campbell, Beatrix. “Neoliberalism: The Need for a Gender Revolution.” Questia, Spring 2014.



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