So… I was scrolling through IG the other day (living my best life, minding my own biz 😜) when I came across an innocent post that a friend of mines husband had put up of a makeshift family totem.
The wall arrangement depicted the the father at the top, followed by the mother, the child and then of course the family pet. Cute right?
On most days I would think so too and just leave it at that.
However, this time my typical response was accompanied by annoyance stemming from a single question…
Obviously their placement of the totem figures was based on traditional western interpretation of hierarchical order (top down, with the top being a position of authority and dominance).
Now before you get your nickers in a twist. I am not trying to paint this as a horrific act against feminism or undermining their family/personal expression. I respect it. Which is why I didn’t make it my business to evoke this specific conversation with them directly or leave any remarks regarding my thoughts on their post. By all means do you as long as you aren’t going out of your way to hurt people.
I am sure they probably weren’t even remotely thinking about their post in terms of patriarchy vs. feminism. To them it was probably just a cute way to depict their family. And it is. Adorable even. I am simply using this as an example of how patriarchy has been so normalized in our culture. In fact it has been so normalized that I actually feel like I have to defend myself to point something like this out to avoid being painted as a crazed feminist (I’m not, just a raging one at times lol) #ridiculous
Most of us wouldn’t even think twice about this totem formation. Most probably would set it up the same way by default and maybe even do it with a quizzical look on their face when asked to do it differently: wondering why it’s even a question. They would place the male figure (in a hetero-sexual house hold) on the top; explaining it’s perfectly normal and follows tradition (this is usually accompanied by a look of pride that I never really understood). All the while this tradition is based on the dated belief that the man is the head of the homestead and the woman his subordinate.
However, by no means is that an accurate or even acceptable assumption anymore. It may seem harmless enough but maybe we need to start considering implications of mindlessness such as this. The underlying message carries a lot of weight. The message that it sends to girls and boys equally as they grow up and form their sense of self. Clearly I’m not saying a simple wall totem goes up and a little girl will be enslaved to the patriarchy as a result or that a little boy will become a sexist entitled pig (extreme I know). But the society that SHE grows up in, that mindlessly depicts such a hierarchy through a million other constructs aimed at her, makes it a hell of a lot harder for her to be equal to her brother (in her mind as well as others).
I think it’s a conversation worth having. I don’t think I’m being petty or the “politically correct” police. All I’m asking is that we start being a bit more aware, at the least, of the implications of the not so obvious and maybe even be open to having a convo like this.
Peace and Love,