January 10, 2019

In 2019: writing post patriarchy

Hello everyone, indeed, patriarchy is a big theme in all of my books.

I’m wondering if I’ll ever get to writing and living post-patriarchy. It feels unlikely. You can do all this “clean up,” in your own personal life, and walk out the front door, and immediately have patriarchy inflicted upon you.

Anyway, I’m writing about this today, as part of an explanation for what I’d like to come after Letters to a Young Brown Girl, whether it’s possible to ever be post-patriarchy when the writer is writing, fully entrenched in critically examining those value systems.

Those of us who have chosen hetero marriages, I wonder what is our relationship to the traditional institution of marriage — are we changing anything if we’ve examined and shifted towards equal sharing of “power,” or by virtue of our participation in the institution, are we still perpetuating its traditional values. I wonder this, after having been subjected for years to people — from relatives to total fucking strangers — chastising me one way or another for not having children. When I’d put on a few pounds, relatives would ask me if I was pregnant. I’ve had folks overwhelmed to death with their kids, struggling paycheck to paycheck, rabidly shouting at me, “YOU SHOULD!”; when I was single, in grad school, financially unstable, and not seeing anyone of reliable reputation, I had people telling me I could totally do it, be a single mom, I should just totally do it. Why would anybody wish this upon me? I guess they were worried that I was single, in my 30s, biological clock, yadda yadda. I guess they were really, more deeply worried that my choices could have also been their choices, if they had chosen differently, they too could have gone to grad school or art school, prioritized learning and creativity, had their time be their own. Incidentally, I’d also been told by some of these same people that grad school was bad for me because it caused me to have acne. Pretty skin, or taking an opportunity to really write and earning a graduate degree, thus opening up possibilities for fulfilling employment.

Anyway, worlds are turned upside down because some of us choose not be defined, or define ourselves as wives and mothers.

Articulating any kind of rejection of these values always results in me being a bitch.

So in Letters, I do write about how, no matter what choices we make, we will always be chastised for having not made the right choice. There is never a right choice, in the eyes of folks fully invested in perpetuating patriarchal values. We’re supposed to just accept people’s impositions into our personal lives. We’re supposed to accept people speaking of our bodies as hyper-public common property, cattle, specimens to prod and magnify and display.

So now, I am seeing major media news outlets’ articles voicing this concern: “millennials” are not having babies, and so America is in trouble. And I’m like, don’t we have a population and resource crisis. We can’t house and care for our own citizens, and how y’all want to keep having babies, for moms who may be saddled in debt, who may not have health insurance, who may not have job and housing security, so that the next generation can also struggle to get an education and not have health insurance, and so on. End rant.

I say all this now, to talk about the “crisis” being one of patriarchal concern. Is our culture shifting, such that traditional roles defined by patriarchal standards are eroding. I ask this as an optimist. Is this us inching towards post-patriarchy. Speculative poetry must now happen, to imagine/envision that post-patriarchal society. This is where I want my poetry to go. What is this poetry going to look like. Better yet, what would my poetry look like, if I were to write as if there were never patriarchy, as if it’s not even in my mind. No bitches, no monsters, no creative survival mechanisms. Just interior lives of those living in non-patriarchy. Or is this uncompelling. Is it the struggle we in the real world appreciate reading about, precisely because we take these to heart for ways to conduct ourselves and cope in the real world.

Anyway. Would love to hear your thoughts.

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