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There are women out in the world who seem to be working against women. Makes sense because we live under a patriarchal system and part of the design of patriarchy is for women to put women down. But let’s be real, it’s annoying and makes the job of fighting patriarchy and working toward a more equal world that much harder.

There are many examples we see in our every day life, in the media, and in politics.

Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman are political examples who continue to drive me crazy. They both say they are working for women. They are strong women, but they are strong women that the patriarchy has molded, nurtured and once they were good enough to push out of the nest, were set out to do “God’s work” of keeping women down. They have both bought hook, line, and sinker that it is their call from God to be political figures and to represent women. They have used religion to gain strides in their careers and to justify their conservative agendas to slowly crush women.

When Palin was mayor of Wasilla before becoming governor of Alaska, rape victims there had to pay for rape kits.

Why wouldn’t a woman understand:

-how many women are raped in the world each year,
-that rape is used as a tool of power and control,
-that women have a hard time coming forward because they worry that people won’t believe them,
-that we should do whatever we can to help victims seek justice if they want to
-that a victim of rape has no fault in what happened to them and shouldn’t have to pay to try to seek justice,
-that rape victims should have a choice about whether they pursue justice and financial situations shouldn’t determine that.

Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman both have put forth public views on motherhood as their strong stance for women. I am a mother. I love being a mother. But that is not all I am. I am also a therapist, a writer, a blogger, a partner, a sister, a friend, a feminist, a poet,… Their willingness to jump to box women into a motherhood role is dangerous to women everywhere. Interestingly, because of feminism, they have been able to be in politics as more than mothers. Their push for women to not have control over their bodies further enforces women to only be mothers and for women to accept that others make decisions for them.

Equinox gym, who has gotten some relatively mild backlash, most of it about their use of extremely thin models in their advertising, is a good media example for women in traitor roles against women. First of all, when I saw their ads, the size and weight of the models were hardly my main concern.

photo by Terry Richardson

Most complaints I saw were by people who said they couldn’t see this model lasting two minutes on a tread mill. I have a larger complaint. The gym said they are selling a lifestyle. Man with large “camera” looms over vulnerable woman in f@%! me position. Who are they appealing to? Rapists?

photo by Terry Richardson

Here’s another one. They might as well say: ‘Equinox: the lifestyle we are selling is dead women.’ We objectify women with the ultimate goal of them being raped and trying to escape naked through a car window because the doors are locked. Come to Equinox gym. Sexy, bold, and misogynist.

The objectification of women in advertising is an old trick, but the person who arranged to have this photos shot done and who hired the photographer who has been rumored to expect sexual favors from models is a woman, Bianca Kosoy.

My first thought was, “UH! How could she do that? Why? Women let’s not work against ourselves. Let’s work together. There has to be another way to sell gym memberships. WTF” I of course have had similar thoughts about Palin and Bachman.

But instead of blame Kosoy, the models in these ads, and an unfortunate number of other women who are working against women, we have to blame patriarchy. We can call them on it- and we should. But just looking at it and analyzing it, there is a survivalist thing too- women see what they need to do to survive under patriarchy and that may mean giving in to objectification or if we have power and money, objectifying women like women “should be objectified” according to patriarchy.

It’s not these women’s fault, it’s the system’s fault. The system of patriarchy teaches us to hate women, to use women, to objectify women, to see women as worthless unless we are with men. But I like myself and I’m a woman. Bianca Kosoy, Bachman, and Palin probably would say the same thing. But they’ve taken a bite of the wrong candy bar.

The  system also sets it up also for me to see these women as traitors because I see how the system is working against women and they are working under the system as the system expects them to. Patriarchy is all about ‘Divide and conquer.’ Somehow a lot of women missed class the day of the lesson that if we are made ‘less than’ then we lose rights. It’s not our fault. We just didn’t get the info.

So, for all the women who feminists might perceive as traitors, I don’t blame you, I blame patriarchy, but how can we catch you up? This battle for equality would be easier with you in it rather than against it.

The less choice we have, the more we are objectified, the more we are seen as stupid or only for sex or having babies, the less rights women as a whole have in the world and the more women are in danger of having violence perpetrated against them.

Grrl Code: Recognize that all of us are under patriarchal survival law, which means women are supposed to contribute to the downfall and second-class citizening of women. Women who do not do this are the anomaly. We are rebels and should be supported because the patriarchy also demands that women and everyone else criticize that behavior and look down upon it.

When I say recognize that we all live under patriarchal survival law, I mean work to understand it, and call women on what they do and say, but don’t put other women down for what they are doing. I see women do this all the time, even feminists. We should not work against ourselves. Feminism has been so into analyzing everything that we often fall into the patriarchal trap of seeing other women as traitors and hating on them for it. Let’s recognize aloud or to ourselves that women who are doing things that may be detrimental to women’s progress toward having equal status in the world are acting as they do because patriarchy controls them, much like the puppeteer controls the puppet.

Encourage things women do that help women, things that make them stand out as individuals or make women stand out as a whole because of an accomplishment or some sort of thing that is not connected to their bodies, sex, them being objectified, or something connected to making a men stronger. Encourage girls and women to be strong in themselves.