Patriarchy Dies Hard

I am not officially on the Hillary bandwagon, but I am officially following after the Hillary train as it leaves the station. I plan to be on it soon enough. I don’t know when exactly, but I know I will be. I still feel a little ambivalent about Hillary Rodham Clinton.

That ambivalence started with the hotly contested South Carolina Democratic primary in 2008 when Bill and Hillary’s campaign was not shy to ‘go there’ about candidate Barack Obama’s blackness: they were dogwhistling — making racist innuendo — loudly, and in the South, about the great black menace creeping in on her campaign. But time, like water, marches on; she and President Obama kissed and made up, and she became Secretary of State.

Here we are almost eight years later. Now before we plunge into who is more liberal, progressive and left-leaning than Hillary, let’s start with where we’re at as a nation. Though my bouts of ambivalence about Hillary are slowly fading, I am not ambivalent about the state of disrepair of public discourse in America.

There are serious lessons we have yet to learn from the current administration and its social aftermath, which will probably affect the next administration, whoever will be leading it, and the possible reactions to it. It’s that potential aftermath that concerns me — unless a white man wins the office — and that feeling is more intense and focused than my ambivalence towards Hillary Clinton.

We’ve seen what kind of backlash nearly eight years of President Obama’s administration has inadvertently created: elected officials in Congress publicly using racist and demeaning language undercutting the President and his actions. When our leaders — a state representative, a congressman, senator or even a presidential or vice-presidential candidate — use terms like “terrorist,” “Muslim,” or “welfare-loving” in describing the President and his actions, it filters down to the rest of us that it’s okay to openly express this type of ignorance.

These words matter. The president’s opponents’ words act as a tacit sanction. It gives ‘permission’ to feel that way. The people who most feel that way will not only use those terms, some will use them as an excuse to act on them — especially if they themselves feel fearful, powerless and victimized. It also serves an agenda. You don’t have to go that far back in our recent history to see it happen. Check the news: Tampa, Ferguson, New York, Baltimore, Oakland. Look at the new voting prohibition laws in many states.

Under these circumstances what would a Clinton 2 presidency mean in 2016? Since Bill was president, Hillary Rodham Clinton has been called everything in the book. Yes, she’s a grownup and can more than handle it: she slams her detractors right back and doesn’t give a whit what they think. I think that’s what scares her enemies the most. So scared they start a whisper campaign two years before she even gives an inkling that she’s running. Check the news: Benghazi.

With the breathtaking number of new anti-choice laws in state legislatures around the country just in 2015 alone, the likelihood of backlash against women in a Clinton 2 administration is high. Reminding women of their place is a basic tenet of the extreme conservative agenda and has been for years. This includes how much you’re worth, whether you can press charges against your rapist and have them stand in court, and what you can do with your uterus. In short, the 21st century conservative backlash is in a 1950s overdrive.

Am I over-reacting? Maybe. But in the American experience these last eight years — starting with George Bush II’s twilight and moving into the current Obama Administration — we have scraped the veneer off the aging patriarchal monster that holds the reins of power. Tightly. And it still wants more. I don’t have a lot of faith that our leadership in Congress and in state government are going to evolve out of their current state of ignorance, racism and misogyny anytime soon. 

Yet, their fearfulness is the clue. The patriarchy is seeing its demise ever more likely on the horizon: eight years of a black president, followed by the possibility of a woman in the White House. With the steady voting block of the elderly — a conservative mainstay — diminishing, followed by younger, more progressive Millennial voters coming up, the patriarchy is driving harder and faster on a track we’ve covered long before. But we’ve been there, done that.

Patriarchies like Rome, like ours, die hard. That said, the campaign to put the patriarchy on palliative care needs to begin so that it can ease into hospice. We need to not only get out the vote, but educate the younger generation — starting from 16 years and on — to encourage them to get involved early and vote when they come of age. And maybe we can learn a thing or two from them on how to use our electronic devices better to master social media.

We could get our brothers and sisters up on our arthritic knees to post flyers and signs, because soon enough — less than six months before the real primaries begin — the rhetoric will start in earnest. It’s already begun as a new not-so-subtle whisper campaign dripping with condescension. Let’s see what we can do to punch back. Ambivalence over. Check.

This entry was posted in Fe-911 on by .

About Fe Bongolan

Planet Waves writer Fe Bongolan lives in Oakland, California. Her column, "Fe-911," has been featured on Planet Waves since 2008. As an actor and dramaturge, Fe is a core member of Cultural Odyssey's "The Medea Project -- Theater for Incarcerated Women," producing work that empowers the voices of all women in trouble, from ex-offenders, women with HIV-AIDS, to young girls and women at risk. A Planet Waves fan from almost the beginning of Eric's astrology career, Fe is a public sector employee who describes herself as a "mystical public servant." When it comes to art, culture and politics, she loves reading between the lines.

13 thoughts on “Patriarchy Dies Hard

  1. Barbara Koehler

    . .aging patriarchal monster. . that’s good Fe! Where’ve you been lady? Good to see you back in print. “Eight years of a black president, followed by the possibility of a woman in the White House”, otherwise known as the old one-two punch; yeah that should do it. Brings us up to 2024 and a new social/cultural playing field. Uranus will be in Taurus by then, horsewhipping the tar out of our Patriarchal Values, and Pluto, having thoroughly plowed the institutional fields of Capricorn, will have entered Aquarius following the new cycle of Saturn and Jupiter.

    That in itself, the initiating of a 20 year societal cycle, still with another 15 years to go, we may by then find ourselves voting for the first trans-gender, bi-racial same-sex married couple to lead our country. It we still are voting for presidents by then. Who knows? It’s the dawning of the Age of Aquarius and the old patriarchal guard will have ceased their silliness, and there won’t even be a MSM by then I reckon.

    Keep fighting the good fight fe, we’ve come this far, we can make it another decade!

    1. Fe Bongolan Post author


      I have been working feverishly these last three months on our company’s production. It’s a collaboration with Planned Parenthood which we want to go national as a means to surface what is obscured by all the anti-choice rhetoric in the MSM. We wanted the voices of those who actually use PP for actual healthcare which includes among many other things, the right to choose to have an abortion — 3% of the healthcare PP provides. It’s been a project three years in the making and we did it, with great critical reviews. A project that has taken a lifetime of doing this type of work leading to this culmination.

      But I am definitely returning on a weekly basis to be a voice about Hillary, Obama, women’s issues, social issues and culture. In other words, I’m back!

  2. Chase

    I wonder if alot of Republicans and a few Democrats who are either involved with, or identify as Christian Dominionists, Christian Reconstructionists and other Christian Fundamentalists Politicians, and their wealthy right-wing supporters, and advisors might be behind alot of the really bad stuff that’s been going on of late like all the negative and disrespectful comments about our President, all the latest state level-‘Religious Freedom Law’ proposals that are very controversial, and the increasing over-the-top police violence and murders against African-American males.
    I think it’s safe to say that Right wing Christian fundamentalists have a lot to do with wanting to legislate total control over women’s body’s by eliminating abortion rights, as well as all those ‘sinful’ LGBTQ rights and recently hard won freedoms.
    Then there’s all the right-wing conserv. Corporations, CEO’s and Military Contractors that appreciate our perpetual state of war in the Middle East for the increasing profits while helping to eliminate non-Christian populations to prepare the way for taking dominion over every corner of the earth in order to prepare for their long long awaited ‘end times’.

    1. Fe Bongolan Post author


      You’ve got it. The military industrial complex, corporatist and Christian dominionists forged their perfect trifecta with Bush’s ascendancy, starting with the Florida recount. It has been a free for all until the bottom dropped out and our democracy kicked in with the vote of a charismatic leader who appealed to those center and left of center.

      The power players were on a roll until the Affordable Care Act was made law. Obama proved himself crafty, like it or not when he killed Osama Bin Laden. But again the fast tracking of Citizens United and involvement of Big Corps like the Kochs stayed the momentum, funded a pseudo movement called the Tea Party which set any likelihood of an actual working Congress underfoot.

      Roadblocks and the unfortunate disaffection in the 2010 and 2012 midterms did the rest. Same with state elections, bringing slates of hyper conservatives into power.

      Women and millennials need to stand up. Though our numbers improve after the age of 55 amongst likely voters, men still have a slight lead in every voting group up until then.

      But I seriously believe we can push her over the top, especially with the Repubican push to end Social Security, continued wars which none of us want, and the culture war issues of same sex marriage, choice and LGBT equality, which are values of our younger generation.

      I view Corporatists as one and the same with Dominionists, the Corporatists looking to drain the lifeblood from the planet for profit, and the Dominionists believe we’re doomed anyway, with the military along for the ride. Racial injustice and women’s issues–human values are a convenient distraction tool. Though one could imagine a Margeret Atwood forced birth scenario for women easily happening. Prisons are factories with cheap labor and governments have been sucked so dry over the 90s and early 2000s that they contract out for everything, including policing and prisons. Making bucks off of bodies is the current game used to destabilize our communities. They must all be stopped.

      It all feels like one run on sentence, but empires are complex and difficult to break down. We can do it with some determination, and some celestial alignment as B described. I would rather do it now with our current semplance of a republic before our values get completely thrown out.

  3. Len Wallick

    Fe: Please allow me to add my voice to those welcoming you back to regular service here at Planet Waves. Please allow met to aver that you are not overreaching, that the martial patriarchy IS AFRAID of losing its dominion over the US. They will do their best to make the rest of us afraid. They will position themselves as the sole salvation from domestic unrest and international terrorism when in fact the heavy-hand of dominion-oriented patriarchy and corporate Plutocracy brought those problems on to us. i’m looking forward to you helping us sort out the AC’s from the DC’s when intentional confusion and insidious derision threaten to cloud our minds and influence our political decision in the crucial years to come. Yes, welcome back. We missed you. You are just in time.

  4. Michael Mayes

    Words are the manifestation of spirit, which is why they must be used mindfully. One of the reasons I take issue with how it’s become acceptable for white kids in my community to say the n-word with an “a” on the end in lieu of the “er” is because some white kids, for whatever reason, now feel so comfortable with the word that they are actually using in its original form and intent. When words are spoken by our “leaders” that encourage or at the very least normalize racist, bigoted or sexist language, it contributes to devolution.

  5. dharmagaian

    I hear ya sistah! Patriarchy’s evil head is definitely watching with jealousy and indignant wrath. I totally agree that “the campaign to put the patriarchy on palliative care needs to begin so that it can ease into hospice.”

  6. Leilani Curry

    Great to read you again, Fe!

    As a big fan of Julia Gillard, Australia’s first woman prime minister, from 24 June 2010 – 26 June 2013, who suffered through so much sexism and jealousy during her time as PM, I can understand your reasons for wanting to follow HRC’s train so closely.

    Despite being one of the hardest working prime minister’s in Australia’s history, passing 532 pieces of legislation through both houses of the hung parliament she inherited in the short time she was there, her male colleagues and much of the Australian public still thought it was okay to vilify her. One celebrity shock jock even had the gall to openly insinuate that her husband must be gay because he was a hairdresser! They would never have treated a male prime minister in that way.

    “We treated our first woman prime minister disgracefully while she was in office and now that she has been driven out, it seems she is going to be denied even the solace of having her extraordinary range of achievements recognised,” commented journalist Anne Summers on the day of her sacking.

    Ms Gillard’s feisty parliamentary speeches against misogyny and sexism are now legendary, but did not save her from the bullying and treachery of her own party colleagues, and ultimately, her downfall.

    Sadly, this may be what Ms Clinton has to look forward to.

    Thanks again, Fe!

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