Getting Savvy

I’ve included a section of Graham’s book _Loving to Survive_ here because I think these three pages, in their entirety, should be required reading for all women.

What follows is basically a guide to surviving in the patriarchy. Check out the tags to see what topics are covered.

Unfortunately, I was only able to find two of these three pages online. For the rest, I’ve just typed up the text from my copy (I don’t currently have access to a scanner).

button or in some way gotten too close to the truth for their comfort).

problem.” The patriarchal hope here is that not only will the scapegoated woman be intimidated and silenced but that other women will also fall for this splitting and will strive to show that they aren’t like her, in the hope that they’ll be safe from attack.

Co-optation is a form of divide and conquer. When a woman is effective in advocating for women’s rights, she may be offered a plumb position that will make her part of the men’s inner circle– with the implication that she needs to “tone it down” in order to stay in the power circle. Here, too, the other women around her, as well as the targeted women, should be wary, for they are being encouraged to sit back and let a leader do it all for them.
Acceding to some minor demands made by women is a time-honored patriarchal strategy. When men gallantly meet some demand that women are making, women should not be overly grateful for small kindnesses that we are due as human beings in any case. The implication often exists that because men already have done “so much,” they shouldn’t be asked to do more. Also, changes allegedly designed to increase fairness may be turned against women. This is especially true for changes that give women equal responsibilities while we still lack access to equal resources. For example, many states now require that the noncustodial parent pay child support when a couple divorces. As a result, women who must work for minimum wages (due to economic discrimination) can be required to pay child support to their former husbands, whose salaries are significantly higher. Women should be alert to setups such as these. We should notice, for instance, when women complain about such inequities, men respond, “Well, you want equal treatment, but then you whine when we give it to you.”

Patriarchal co-optation also can take the form of giving support to feminist-developed organizations serving women– but attaching sizable strings to their support. For instance, feminists started many rape crisis centers and battered women’s shelters in the 1970s and ran them using feminist principles. including egalitarian decision-making and task-sharing. When the staffs of these organizations, desperate for money to keep them going, applied for governmental funding, they soon learned that the “gift” of funds came with requirements to change from a feminist non-hierarchical organization to a social-service-agency organization with a hierarchical chain of commannd and preset rules that the women in need of services had to follow in order to receive services (Ahrens 1981; Pride 1981; Schecter 1981, 1982).

All these patriarchal maneuvers, clearly, work to invoke or intensify the four conditions producing Societal Stockholm Syndrome: they cause women to feel afraid, trapped, cut off from the support of other women, and at men’s mercy. They make women feel confused. Coming to understand how these maneuvers work, getting savvy to them, provides women with a sense of perspective and mastery, which encourages us to develop ways to expose, confront, and defy men’s maneuvers.

Women can practice the ongoing art of becoming savvy to patriarchy by learning how to identify and defend ourselves against verbal abuse (see Elgin 1989) –and by sharing this knowledge with other women. Women can talk with other women, comparing notes and engaging in group analyses of the patterns of speech and behavior we encounter in the men around us. Women can familiarize ourselves with feminist analyses of patriarchal institutions– analyses available not only in feminist political and philosophical writings, but also in women’s fiction (e.g., Cholmondely 1899/1985) and feminist humor (e.g., Russ 1980b). Asking oneself–and other women– “What’s going on here? What definitions are being slipped in on us unawares? How are we being set up to distrust and avoid each other? How are we being made to feel guilty or insignificant or inadequate? How are we being co-opted or bought off?” will always prove to be a fruitful source of understanding and action.”

Source: Loving to Survive by Dee Graham p 260-263