The Hidden Patriarchy

By Jaqueline Sephora Andrews

Being black in the United States of America is really difficult; we have been oppressed by a white supremacist culture which has been used to enslave black people for about 450 years. We are still oppressed as a race, so it is necessary to work toward completely abolishing white supremacy. However, if the focus is solely on race then we ignore a patriarchal structure which has been here for thousands of years and has infected the black community, where black men have chased after the “ideal man” which has been presented to them by their slave masters. In chasing after their masters, black men have also become oppressors. Black men who are oppressed because of race have found their dominance through sex. The patriarchy has denied black men the highest status within the patriarchal hierarchy, so many black men have held to the power they could obtain in order to dominate anyone they deemed as weaker. Therefore, I am left to admit a painful truth, that there are a few black men who I am afraid of; it’s not because they’re black but because they are misogynistic and in many cases homophobic. This was the case as I was told, “you shouldn’t be afraid because you’re both guys,” when I was faced with a man who charged me in full homophobic rage. They claimed that I was an abomination because of the “Word of God,” but the reality is that to them I represented the “emasculated.”

It is one of the conspiracy theories that some black people have chosen to believe, the emasculation of black men. Marque-Anthony writes about emasculation; he states that, “according to the Merriam Webster dictionary, emasculation is ‘to make a man feel less masculine, to deprive a man of his male strength, role etc.'”  Clearly, Marque-Anthony is speaking of the black man’s role in the patriarchal hierarchy.  Marque-Anthony then adds that, “Demoralizing African American men by having them wear dresses has become ‘funny’ and all too acceptable.”  My question is, who has determined that dresses are for women?  When faced with these questions, someone will quote the scripture which says that, “Women must not wear men’s clothes, and men must not wear women’s clothes. Everyone who does such things is detestable to the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 22:5 CEB).  But what are women’s and men’s clothes?  Many Christians let a patriarchal capitalist society determine what are considered men’s and women’s clothes, and claim that these beliefs come from God.  The truth is that clothes are clothes no matter who wears them, and the perception of what is considered for men or for women changes over time.  This belief that it is demoralizing for a black man to wear a dress is not based in reality but based in a system which has helped to keep black people in bondage.

Marque-Anthony further adds that, “They laugh and gain satisfaction from seeing and knowing that African American men can be bought off to the point of humiliation.”  Marque-Anthony is showing his misogyny as he has determined that dresses are for women and that it is humiliating for a man to dress like a woman.  Why is that?  Could it be that if a black man is “dressed like a woman” then he isn’t being the “man’s man” that his slave masters have taught him to be?  Marque-Anthony also talks of the black actors who have worn “women’s clothes,” saying that, “These are not men, they are compromising cowards who will drop the values and morals they were raised with in order to make a dollar. They are not examples for real African American boys to become men.”  So African American manhood is based in what one wears?  Wouldn’t that make African American masculinity fragile?  I am not understanding this logic.  Maybe African American men should look within themselves to find inner strength and not rely so much on the opinions of the patriarchal overlords.  Now that we know that real men are men who don’t wear dresses, Marque-Anthony further says that, “we must require our women to respect us or we must go elsewhere.”  Here is the call for black men to establish their patriarchal authority, which has caused some black men to become terrors in their homes.

After the misogyny is established, Marque-Anthony then adds an “important requirement.”  He says that, “He must not be a homosexual because such perversion distorts roles in the family, goes against God, presents an awful example, confuses the young male children, decreases reproduction within our ‘race’ and plays directly into the hands of those who want to take our manhood through emasculation.”  What does sexuality have to do with “emasculation?”  There are many “masculine” men who are still homosexual.  There is a belief among some that a man must be attracted to women to be considered a “real man.”  There is also the “preservation of the race” which is at stake, but honestly what does this entail?  The belief that we need to preserve our race has caused many abuses within the black community.  The belief that our race needs to be preserved has caused many black men to try to control who we date or marry, where we live, or who we associate with.  If we have this belief that our race needs preservation then how can we truly be free to be ourselves?  If our race needs to be preserved then I am one of the biggest violators for being attracted to men.  Race was created to establish an oppressed exploitable class.  We are not truly free until race is completely abolished.  I am not saying that we are to be “color blind,” but I am saying that we can’t be free while we still live within the structures which were design to oppress us.  The belief that our race needs to be preserved leads to homophobia, where homosexuals are considered a threat to the race.  Rather than worry about preservation, we need to learn to love and accept each other regardless of who we are or who we love.  We need to reject the patriarchy.

It is absolutely necessary to fight against white supremacy, but we can’t afford to fall into the trap of the black liberation movement.  Solely focusing our attention on black liberation will allow the patriarchal aspirations within the black community to go unnoticed.  It is important to speak out against the abuses of black people, but it is also important to speak out against the abuse that many black men have inflicted on others within our community as they have sought status in the patriarchal hierarchy.  It is imperative that we work toward abolishing the patriarchy.  Even among some black families, where women have held families together, there has been a desire to return to a patriarchal structure.  It was established, through slavery, that this is the “will of God.”  To be free, we have to break our master’s chain which can only be broken by completely rejecting the patriarchy.  It is only until then, when we can say we are truly free from the chains of slavery.  It is time to be free.



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