A discussion of the damage done by the patriarchy

by Erin Brandt

I was going to write about anal sex for this upcoming column. Instead, as I read the news that Elizabeth Warren has dropped out of the Democratic Primary for President of the United States, I realized there is more that needs to be done to talk about equality, misogyny, privilege, patriarchy, and the vital work that needs to be done to shift our culture.

It is not possible to do the work that I do without discussing the damage done by the patriarchy.

You’ve heard me talk about the myths that promote the positive sexual performance of men. I talk about this as a detriment to men (it is) and to bring awareness to an imbalance in sexual relationships. Men who perform poorly in their sexual lives very often blame their female partners using terms like prude or frigid. Yes, I argue that men who’ve only received education from porn are victims of a non-existent educational space.

However, who is responsible for learning and growing — the individual. Womxn have been learning, growing, and carving out spaces for centuries. And when I say carving out spaces, I am calling attention to the exponential extra work required to become experts in their fields, to be leaders of companies, to have their voice heard in the world.

Exponential.

When I am working with womxn clients, they want to know what they are doing wrong. Why is it so hard to ask for what they want? Why can’t they just love their bodies? Why can’t they please their lovers?

Why are orgasms so hard to have? Why are their bodies broken? I remind them that every day — every damn day — they have to wake up and fight to ignore thousands of messages telling them that they are not good enough. (If you have yet to watch Be A Lady directed by Paul McLean and performed by Cynthia Nixon, find it now and watch it.)

It is fucking exhausting to show up as a womxn in our culture.

Emotional labor.

Misogyny.

Bias.

Sexism.

Mansplaining.

Oppression.

Privilege.

Incels.

Equal pay.

Glass ceilings.

Rape.

How appropriate that this is Women’s History Month. A reminder that younger generations have access to more because of the womxn who came before us. Who fought. Who grieved. Who got up the next day to fight again. What does it look like for womxn now to keep fighting, to love themselves, to truly be who they are despite the judgments of others? Well, I don’t know about you, but today I’m taking a break. I’m going to grieve another lost opportunity. I’m going to scream, yell, curse, cry, and live my emotions today.

Tomorrow I’m going to wake up and fight. Fight for change. Fight to be heard. Fight for space.

This looks like leaning into my business, which makes people uncomfortable because, you know, sex.

This looks like calling attention to the lack of sexual education for men.

This looks like helping clients find their sexual power.

This looks like teaching younger generations about positive sexuality, including consent.

This looks like supporting other womxn.

This looks like calling out misogyny when I hear and see it.

This looks like speaking up over a man’s voice when they interrupt or talk over me.

This looks like honestly talking with my lover about the extra emotional labor I’m carrying during some difficult times.

This looks like supporting businesses that pay their employees equal pay for equal work.

This looks like lifting up womxn, in my head and out loud, rather than judging them.

This looks like taking action for feminist intersectionality not just talking about it.

Which means we have homework, folks!

Here are must read books on feminism and intersectionality. (I found this amazing list put together by Crystal Paul for an article in Bustle from 2016):

— Women, Race, and Class by Angela Y. Davis

— Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg

— Woman, Native, Other by Trinh T. Minh-ha

— Assata by Assata Shakur

— Random Family by Adrian LeBlanc

— Sex Workers Unite! A History of the Movement from Stonewall to Slutwalk by Melinda Chateauvert

— The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions by Paula Gunn Allen

— This Bridge Called My Back by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa

— Women and Gender In Islam by Leila Ahmed

— Gender Trouble by Judith Butler

— Brick Lane by Monica Ali

— On Intersectionality by Kimberlé Crenshaw

Here’s the kicker — reading this column, adding these books to your to-be-read pile, getting angry or sad or both is not enough; change requires action every day, every hour, every minute. We don’t get to pick and choose when we are intersectional feminists. We don’t get to pick when we call out the misogynistic joke told in a group of friends. We don’t get to pick when we are an ally to a womxn coworker who is being harassed by a colleague. We must elevate voices that are different from ours and learn more beyond our own safe and same groups.

When I say we, I mean men.

The privilege a man has in our culture allows for an abundance of opportunity to take action as an intersectional feminist. It does not hurt your career to not speak up and allow for womxn’s voices to be heard. You won’t be in physical danger if you tell a colleague to stop sexually harassing a womxn. When you call out a misogynistic joke, you create safe spaces and help teach other men. For my work, when men choose to learn more about their sexuality, they become better lovers and safe relationships for womxn.

If you are a white, heterosexual man your privilege is top of the food chain and I implore you to do more.

Are you angry that I used this space to talk about politics and feminism? Do you think that I should stay in my lane? Schedule an appointment and pay for an hour of my time to talk about what you want in my lane of positive sexuality.

Be at the Durango Public Library on Tuesday, April 7th at 6:30pm for my free workshop on Consent.

Erin Brandt (she/her/hers) has been a sexologist for 15 years. When she’s not spreading sexual knowledge, Erin can be found learning from her child, hiking with her partner, cuddling with her pitbull, knitting with her cat, dancing with friends, and searching for the nearest hammock and ocean breeze. Want more? Visit www.positivesexed.com.

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