Raffi on Barbie, the patriarchy and Taylor Swift

A long-time feminist, I am still learning about the considerable challenges faced by women living in a patriarchal era. Recently, while reading Rebecca Solnit’s memoir, Memories of My Nonexistence, I realized that the chapter “Wartimes” is not about World War II or Vietnam (or some other regional war), but about how women must stay alert for your own interests. personal security every day, something confirmed by my close friends. This shocked me to the core. That and decades of reflection lead me to one conclusion: patriarchy is the original sin of our species. Most of our social and global problems arise from its absurd illogic.

No man has ever become pregnant or had to give birth. However, it is still taboo to openly talk about the menstrual blood that women shed each month. We know that women excel in any path they choose and that they can perform any task that men can perform (from the most mundane to being an astronaut on the international space station), albeit at a lower salary and while menstruating. But in some countries, women still fight for the human rights of education and free expression.

The notion of male supremacy, the toxic masculinity we used to call sexist, is ridiculous. And dangerous. The curse of patriarchy is the devaluation and suppression of more than half of humanity, the half from which we are all born. Its beast is misogyny, a fearful hatred of women.

This idiocy is patriarchy. An insult to intelligence. A colossal lie.

“The curse of patriarchy is the devaluation and suppression of more than half of humanity,” Raffi on Barbie, patriarchy, and Taylor Swift. @raffi_RC #feminism #patriarchy #capitalism

Consider the unprecedented global success of the movie Barbie, the first billion-dollar-grossing film directed by a woman, and the success of superstar Taylor Swift’s Eras tour, the first to gross more than $1 billion. . Barbie director Greta Gerwig and Taylor Swift fought against the patriarchy and triumphed. Gerwig’s Barbie takes on the patriarchy. Swift’s song All Too Well has “fuck the patriarchy” lyrics that you can’t miss. She is the most successful pop music star of all time. In an entertainment industry that puts men first, Gerwig and Swift are champions. They have mixed things up.

Why is this important?

Gerwig and Swift’s success opens doors for many who are deeply moved by their defeat of male supremacy.

The truth is that it is matrilineal love that has driven human societies for millennia. As Dr. Jen Gunter says in her book Blood: “The menstrual cycle is the wheel that drives humanity.”

And yet, patriarchy shows contempt for generative systems, both women’s physiology and the Earth’s ecosystems.

What’s more, capitalism echoes that contempt. Our economy has a measure of progress (gross domestic product or GDP) that only counts money exchanged. GDP ignores the social and environmental impacts of doing business in its monetary account, calling them “externalities,” as if our social lives or the health of the environments we depend on can be ignored. As if the labor of maternal love (pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum stress, breastfeeding) were nothing. It has been widely noted: GDP tells everything except what makes life worth living.

Let’s dig a little deeper and look at the babies of our species. How does patriarchy affect children?

All of us begin life completely vulnerable and totally dependent on the care of our caregivers, without which we would die. And all babies, regardless of race or ethnicity, have the same developmental needs. These needs (for love, shelter, clothing, food, clean air and water) are universal and irreducible to healthy growth and learning.

Breast milk, a baby’s first food, would have been an interesting scene in Barbie. At the end of the movie, in her search for a gynecologist, Barbie becomes real. But in what world would her offspring be born, if she decided to have a child? What kind of world would Taylor Swift’s children face?

Capitalism, the amoral economy of patriarchy, cannot take care of our young people. Corporations are legally obligated only to benefit their shareholders. Therefore, there is an inherent conflict between how society is organized and the irreducible needs of the youngest. Capitalism is simply obsessed with monetary growth. And that growth primarily benefits the rich one percent at the top who need it least, primarily men in positions of power.

In desirable cities, market forces raise the cost of living beyond what most people can afford. The demand for housing creates housing bubbles, puts rental prices out of reach for families, and most cannot even dream of owning a home. Most families struggle financially month to month. Full-time minimum wage workers cannot make a living. Parents suffer chronic stress even in two-worker households. Their children are negatively affected by the continued lack of resources. This is also patriarchy.

The Barbie movie brilliantly walks a fine line between entertainment and teaching. Her lush imagery and fantasy characters offer insightful perspectives on “women living in a man’s world.” The reaction is not subtle. Opening scene: “In our assessment, money is not speech, and corporations have no right to free speech to begin with. So any claim on your part to be exercising a right is just your attempt to turn our democracy into a plutocracy.” Oh. Goliath falls.

Corporations wield undue powers that overwhelm democracy’s creed of “one person, one vote” and turn a country into a plutocracy: rule of the rich. A sharp political point that you don’t expect at the beginning of a pink doll movie.

When you think about it, hypercapitalism’s “only the rich prosper” bias is, simply put, indifferent. Cruel. And as women become increasingly aware of the falsity of patriarchy, they gain power over it and speak with emboldened voices.

Taylor Swift’s phenomenal success reflects Barbie’s message that women can be and do anything. And the lyrics of her song “Fuck the patriarchy” say it all.

When girls played with Barbie dolls, not baby dolls, they were in a world of adult imagination. The adult doll with the thin waist and fashionable shine was not a feminist icon. But the movie transcends a love/hate version of the doll when Barbie’s feet lose their arch and she hits the ground, then ventures into the real world. Barbie’s journey toward self-awareness is one that dozens of women go through, judging by the comments about how relevant this story has been to them. That is the fire that awakens at this moment.

And there is baby power in all of this.

As newborns arrive and learn about life (both external and internal), evidence shows that their early years set the tone for a life full of results. Will their parents and society at large recognize their status as persons, affirm their dignity and intelligence, and respect and address their developmental needs? From a healthy growth standpoint, that’s the question: Do I feel seen and respected for who I am? Capitalism totally ignores it.

In a patriarchal construction, children do not count. They are not seen as people. (Punitive discipline in the home is still legal, although it is a crime to hit adults.)

Patriarchy’s colonization of children’s psyches and spirits is a cold refusal to see their personality. In my work with him Raffi Foundation to honor childrenA pact for Honoring children exposes the sin of patriarchy, declares that “…all children are created whole, endowed with innate intelligence, with dignity and wonder, worthy of respect.”

Children’s early years experience should be respectful and life-affirming, not coercive obedience or punishment. Early experience lasts a lifetime. When you are positive and supportive, children thrive. When it is negative and hurtful, your true self cannot flourish. This is well documented and undeniably true.

So what would Barbie say? What would she and Taylor Swift vote for? Not patriarchy.

Cultural historian Riane Eisler wrote in her groundbreaking book: The chalice and the sword, that the basic human choice is between domination and association. In prehistory, before patriarchy, association marked the human bond, not domination. Partnership is love, human love. Patriarchy is fear, lack of love. The intergenerational trauma of misogyny is enormous. It needs healing on a grand scale.

Patriarchy is an unsustainable calamity and must end. That’s what the movie Barbie points out, what the spirit and energy of Taylor Swift is about. We need a rapid shift from patriarchal domination to a spirit of partnership: between men and women, with our children and, for our survival, embracing a liveable, low-carbon future. Both logic and sentiment agree: cancel the patriarchy!

Imagine. If we honor the blood that women shed monthly, we could avoid the colossal fear of military bloodshed. If women and mothers are fundamental to all of our lives, why not organize societies around this fact? Our best chance of surviving the global climate emergency is to respect the humanity of all citizens, especially women and young people.

From A Pact to Honor Children: “We commit to peaceful ways and promise to protect these, our most vulnerable citizens, from harm or neglect. As guardians of its prosperity, we honor the generous Earth whose diversity sustains us. That is why we promise our love for generations to come.”

Raffi Cavoukian, CM, OBC, is known to millions of people by his first name. Singer, author and ecology advocate, Raffi is a world-renowned children’s troubadour. He is founder and president of the Raffi Foundation for the honor of the child, promote the honor of the child as a universal ethic. Raffi’s just released new album is penny penguin, with Toronto trio The Good Lovelies.

Photo by Troubadour Music.
The author, Raffi Cavoukian, in a photo by Troubadour Music

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