Sunday, January 1, 2017

Ripping out the Rotten Roots of Patriarchy by Irene Sanchez  

Fury by Bettina Dupont

I WALK INTO HIS OFFICE TO PLEAD. The prosecutor tells me when I am about to get up to leave that if he lets him off and doesn’t do anything he is putting a target on my back. I want to tell him, Mr. Prosecutor, I am a woman and I was born with a target on my back.

I think back to how it wasn’t all about my son’s father, my son’s father who was the reason I was in this office pleading with the prosecutor, not saying he didn’t do it. Did he assault me? Yes. I was there because he was the only support I had for my son. To think my son could grow up without his dad and that my whole life could collapse, but the thing is I was also barely holding it together. I was a single mom running from courthouses for a separate stalking case, this assault case, to daycare, to work, to do my research on my dissertation to finish my Ph.D. and back to daycare wondering how would I survive. How am I still here?

I think back to before these most recent years to before I had my son. I think about my ex-husband, my high school sweetheart who cheated on me. I think where did I learn my first lessons on misogyny and patriarchy? We learn them young. We learn that it is normal. We learn this is how you get and keep a man. We learn obedience. We learn obedience willingly or have it unwillingly forced upon us through abuse. I was told at a young age, I wanted to do what I wanted to do as if it were a bad thing and that I didn’t know when to be quiet. I learned at a young age, we don’t even own the right to our bodies, to say no and feel safe. They had taken innocence from us at a young age. We learn patriarchy through speaking and by speaking we also learn that there is a consequence to speaking up or speaking out. For many of us this happens in the home and if this oppression happens there first, this is also our first battleground and where we must fight against it in order to win. We are at war. Our homes are the battlegrounds and too many of us have been causalities.

I remember back to when I got divorced to that high school sweetheart, how I was asked by family if he had hit me, as if that would be the only acceptable excuse for getting divorced, but the thing is he didn’t and I wanted to pursue my goals. Then there came a time when men did hit me and I stayed. I stayed for fear. For threats my son would be taken from me and I kept rising and fighting every single day for him and myself.

I think back to those days and wondered how I even survived. I returned to my hometown with new battles that were really old ones. My son watching me now, reminding me how he remembers when he sees men treat me poorly or when I see women also reinforcing patriarchal behaviors. I realize I will have to fight patriarchy the rest of my life. I am raising a son who I want to know this is not the way it should be. I am a single mother on welfare. We came back to no stable housing and very little financial and emotional support. It is a vulnerable position to be in, but that doesn’t mean I accept, submit, and stay silent. I think to myself what kind of system allows this to continue happening. It is not only patriarchy; it is a system that dehumanizes women and particularly women of color and our labor. It is a system that tells us we are not enough, that we are wrong, that we need to be silent when what we really need to do is speak, write, yell, dance and sing. Patriarchy kills, but as a single mother I have learned silence has killed far too many of us already. My son is watching and I have had enough. Ya Basta. 

- Irene Sanchez, an excerpt from Single Mothers Speak on Patriarchy


  1. Thank you so much for writing this!

  2. What a beautifully brave woman to stand in the face of her fears. Even after she feels(rightly so) all has been stripped from her, she still rises. A story I will share with my own son.