What Will Make the Change: Conquering Institutionalized Power

In our readings, we’ve come across the phrase, “institutionalized power” in relation to male privilege and patriarchal dominance. The readings by Andrea Dworkin (I Want a 24-hour Truce During Which There Is No Rape) and by Audre Lorde (The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House) express similar views in the continuance of a dominant power that men have over women. Both authors want those who possess this “power” to realize that this leaves room for no change in how society views women. Two quotes from these reading stood out to me. “Only within a patriarchal structure is maternity the only social power open to women” (Lorde) and “Power protected by the unacknowledged legislators of the world is what men have. The Men’s movement suggest that they don’t want that kind of power, but find reasons not to do something about changing the fact that they have that power” (Dworkin).  With these quotes in mind I began to question, how exactly do we handle this patriarchal structure that exist? What tactics are necessary to change this power that men have?

I was having a conversation with some of my friends about male dominance and the affect that it has on women. In the conversation, someone questioned what would you do if you found out that a male friend or someone you know sexually assaulted a female. The men in the group instantly deemed this action as a deal breaker, where they wouldn’t want to associate with the guy who committed the act because it isn’t something that they agree with or would ever condone. From that reaction so many questions arose for me like “Why not make him aware of the seriousness of his actions?”, “Why not report his actions to an authority?” or “How do we make sure that he doesn’t do this to someone else?”. To only disassociate yourself with someone who commits an act like that only leaves room for them to continually do it again and again and again. Although my male friends have never had to deal with a situation such as this, I believe that if you know someone who feels comfortable taking advantage of women, a morality check should take place. It is important to acknowledge the act that person has committed and make it known that what has happen isn’t right in any way, shape or form.

Although this is just one issue, there are so many other issues that arise from men using power over women. This topic gets tough to talk about because it seems that all men are being categorized in this group of “male supremacist” where they use male privilege and patriarchal dominance to oppress women. That isn’t the case, every man doesn’t but some men do and that is where the problem lies. I don’t think that I have a concrete answer to my initial questions, but what do you think needs to be done to make a change in the ways that men use their power or change the power that men have?