048: The Patriarchy with Heather Higgins

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In October 2016, I went to the Integral Center in Boulder to speak at Relationship Leader Summit. I had the pleasure of talking besides 30 or so speakers on various topics around relationship, communication and authenticity.

When I was watching Heather doing her talk about the Patriarchy, I was impressed by many things but the one that was undeniable was her passion around the topic. She spoke about her experience of being a woman in today’s society. Her voice echoed through the room and I felt the effect down to my toes.

She received the only standing ovation that I witnessed for the entire weekend.

I am priviledged white, cis-heterosexual (mostly) male living an upper middle-class life. I do not what it feels to be a woman or other less priviledged class in today’s world.

I asked what her thesis for the show would be and she replied:

I believe that patriarchy is a system continually privileges masculinity over femininity and creates a self-reinforcing system that causes harm to everyone involved. Women are socially trained to be nice, polite, and quiet and to put the needs of others above their own. Men are trained to win, to conquer, to only show strength and to suppress anything that could be conceived as weakness.

Within this framework, we’re poorly equipped to interact with one another in a way that respects boundaries, holds dignity, and honours experience. I believe it’s possible to create a healthier society without rape culture, toxic masculinity, and othering through education about layers of oppression and how our society perpetuates and reinforces this system. If we’re given the opportunity to interrupt the unconscious patterns, we can create a world where we’re all able to set and respect healthy boundaries, learn to say and receive no, and express wants and needs, all while maintaining connection to self and others.