When you hear the word patriarchy, what images and thoughts come up?
For many raised in a post-feminist world, images or thoughts of oppression, violence, anger, intolerance, abuse, toxic masculinity, and victimization may come to mind.
Yesterday I saw an example of patriarchy that defied all those images and labels. An example that perhaps more truly reflects the true concept of patriarchy.
I noticed the children first, at a small local family fun park where the girls and I had gone to spend a beautiful summer afternoon.
The kids ranged in age from about 17 down. There were lots of them, and they beamed with happiness and joy, good naturedly joking with each other, playing tag, and clearly enjoying themselves. There was a distinct innocence to them, a carefreeness and sense of absolute security.
They were all tastefully dressed, not overtly any distinct religious faith but also not in the latest fashions. Timeless but not at all out of fashion either. The girls wore girl cut T-shirt’s and skirts with Capri leggings underneath, and their faces were glowing and fresh but make-up free. The boys wore T-shirt’s and shorts.
I could tell they were likely related because of their similar appearance and obvious close ties, I figured perhaps they were cousins.
A man not much older than myself followed the youngest girl, a cute and spunky little blond. She scrambled up to the top of a tall slide and fearlessly barreled down, calling to and waving to the man the whole way.
He laughed and beamed with pride. “Hard to believe she only weighed three pounds when she was born,” he said to me out of the blue. “She was 9 weeks early.”
“I was just thinking what a daredevil she is,” I replied. He beamed even more.
”She’s the youngest of 12,” he said, gesturing to the other kids who bounded around happily, playifully. “She’s three.”
“That’s fantastic!” I replied. “How old is the oldest?”
”Twenty-six,” he replied. “Ages 26 to 3!”
”Any grandkids yet?” I asked?
”The first is on the way this January,” he said.
”Congratulations!” I replied. He smiled a lovingly proud smile.
The little girl then dashed off to the next activity and he followed at a close but not hovering distance.
Later in the evening I saw him and his wife. He tenderly held her arm as they steered through the crowd of people gathered on the grassy hill to enjoy a performance., heading back to their brood. They looked very content and happy.
I reflected on this couple and their children and thought how this patriarchy wasn’t as so often described — looked nothing like that, actually. It was remarkably refreshing, this family’s dynamic, I found myself wishing more families (of any and all sizes) today looked like that. Happy. Joyful. Secure.
Perhaps the patriarchy isn’t as it’s been portrayed? Perhaps there’s a much more positive side that is rarely celebrated or acknowledged today?
What do you think? Please share in the comments.