Who’s to Blame for Patriarchy? by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

Vanessa Rivera de la FuenteA 16 year old girl was drugged and then gang raped by 33 men in Brazil. The police arrested the boyfriend as a suspect. A 30-second video recording the suffering of the girl was uploaded to social networks, as a display of the “omnipotent” power of patriarchy on women’s bodies; a power that not only destroys wombs or bladders but also unbearably wounds the soul.

A woman was attacked in Chile by her ex-husband. Her name is Nabila. He raped her and then ripped out her eyes, in a jealous rage, because she attended a party. Months after they broke up, she dared to have fun without him.

Each day the body of a murdered woman appears somewhere in Latin America. They appear in the middle of the road, in garbage dumps, wrapped in plastic bags, among the woods or on the shore, cut into pieces, impaled with brooms, burned with acid. And as outrage grows, so violence rages with women.

Who’s to blame for Patriarchy?

Not the rapists, it seems. Justice systems tend to release them. Not the wife-beater. Since the police never take seriously all those allegations of domestic violence. Not the killer, because he only acts to restore his sullied honor. Not the harasser, what is he suppose to do, anyway, with all those girls in miniskirts?

Who’s to blame for Patriarchy?

Girlfriend dreaming for a husband to obey
Boy singing a reggaeton where he will “nail you against the wall”
Mother educating “Males” and “Princesses”
Boss saying “She’s in her days”

Coworker whispering: “Like this, you won´t get any boyfriends”
Wife saying, “I’m not a feminist, I am feminine”
Fatphobic suitor, obsessed with “Being Fit”, the one your dad considers a son

Mom dressing her only in pink, because it’ s a girl
Dad buying dolls and washing machines for her and chemistry sets for him
Boyfriend checking your phone and Facebook account
A woman saying that another woman looks like a whore in those clothes
Mom dreaming of Prince Charming as a son-in-law
Daddy paying for sex with girls the same age as his daughter

Father saying “no man will love you because you’re fatty”
Boyfriend “respecting you a lot” and sexting with your female acquaintances after he drops you at home
Fellow professionals asking you to serve coffe, instead of listening to what you have to say

Brand of washing soap talking to you only, the woman
Doctor denying you birth control, because in HIS opinion “Maybe HE could want a baby”
Midwife yelling “Bear the pain, bitch, as you loved fucking out of wedlock”
Your dad forbiding your mother to work: Sheikh said he has authority over her, and she believed it
Page 3 of all newspapers, everyday, in the world

Sister in law muttering “But she is not a virgin”
The Church protecting life, while our lives escape, bleeding to death, in illegal abortions
Sexist joke, advertising, soap operas, beauty pageants,
Media outlets excusing killers saying that women “Appear dead” or “Just die”

PhD in Gender Studies saying to your fiance: “She’s exagerating and childish, control your woman”
Who right now is forcing you to do/say something you did not want
Lover using you only to get their own orgasm
Boyfriend laughing off the comment of his friends about your body
The one saying: “You’re leaving me after all I did for you?”
Whoever humiliates you, despises you, calls you names.

The one who introduces you to his family saying: “She’s not a Pin-up, but at least….”

Woman stating “Maybe she did something, women are liars”
The one breaking your self-steem every night with his fists
Who isolates you, controls you, follows you
Guy telling me the first rude “compliment” at age 12
Mom forcing the girl to wash dishes and clean her brother’s room
Man thinking “focusing too much on VAW is discriminatory”

Granddad rubbing himself against me when I was 8 saying “not to tell Mommy”
Comrade sending you to clean the floor after the political meeting
Partner not questioning their privileges
Imam saying I have to take emotional harassing as a test of faith from God
Gay ally mocking my rape with other gays, while other gays are listening in silence

Muslim saying “Don´t accuse your husband to the police, pray for him instead”
Brocialist attending March 8th event but receiving bigger payment only ’cause he has a penis
Women accepting being sent to the bottom at the mosque
Taxi driver looking at my tits

Your cousin blaming you for the divorce because “You didn´t know how to keep your man happy”

Who mocks that I don´t wear make-up
Who mocks that I am not married at 40
Who mocks that I am a single mother

All of them, in front of the TV wondering
What is wrong with people that another woman was attacked today?


Thanks to Itatí Schvartzman for the inspiration.


Vanessa Rivera de la FuenteVanessa Rivera de la Fuente is a Writer, Mentor and Community Educator in Capacity Building for Grass Roots Female Leaders and Advocates. A Feminist who is an Independent Researcher of Gender and Islam on Feminist Hermeneutics, Muslim Women Representations, Queer Identities and Movement Building. She blogs in Spanish at Mezquita de Mujeres, a site dedicated to explore the links between Gender, Religion and Feminism as well to Women from the Global South as Change Makers in their communities. 

Author: Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

Global Consultant and Community Educator in Gender, Human Rights and Development.

22 thoughts on “Who’s to Blame for Patriarchy? by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

  1. On the gang rape, CNN quoted women in Brazil saying it wasn’t 33 against one, it was 33 against all of us.


    1. Yes. Rape culture is major issue here in Latam and if is something we can take from this horrible things is a greater awareness about what they say: Is against all of us. There are two “slogans” I love used for feminists in Latin America against rape culture: “Machete to the Macho” and “Rapist dick to the bendler”. They sound sticky in spanish.


      1. Wow, great post and as you point out, we are all children of patriarchy and as such we perpetuate it and all the horrible violence against women. By the way, what does “bendler” mean?


  2. All of us are culpable to some extent. Patriarchy has taken root in our bones. It feels “normal,” even “right.” That’s why Donald Trump gets a “pass” spewing misogyny and has become the “presumptive Republican candidate,” running for president in the U.S.


    1. I agree with you. The same mechanisms allow the right wing to win in Argentina and religious fundamentalist politicians to take down Dilma in Brazil. Both are expression of how society attach to Patriarchy and how fragile are the advances in the struggle against.


  3. I agree with your blog, and like your poem, except for one thing. I am a midwife, and our education and philosophy belie the comment that you put in the mouth of a midwife. I have heard doctors berate women in words similar to those you ascribe to a midwife, but I have never heard a midwife say anything like this, and I sincerely doubt that any midwife would utter those kind of words. Our philosophy is to listen to women, and to assist them in the work that they must do. Midwives are easy prey for those who denigrate us. Doctors are always assumed to be better, but statistically, this is not the case. When you write an article about who promotes patriarchy, add your name to the list. We as midwives fight patriarchy every day with everything we do.


    1. Add you name below mine. That’s how you listen to women? I feel pity for them, then. You reprend them when they say things you dislike? How is that compassionate? I was told that for a midwife. You won’t “Put me in my place” about my own experiences. OK? In Latinamerica, obstretic violence is a FACT, especially in public services. Has been reported, investigated and exposed and is backup for research. You don´t fight patriarchy, denying the experiences of other women just because they dont represent you. EDUCATE YOURSELF before coming here and pretend you can lecture me about how things are in a world that, of course, you are totally ignorant about. Keep that arrogance when the doctor belittle you. Not with me.


  4. Words fail. What can one say, and more importantly, what can one do? Here in my little area we have an agreement to be aware and look out for each other. It treats the symptoms, which I guess is a start.


    1. I always said that the fight against patriarchy is one of Awareness.
      Awareness about the fact we have been educated on it, so we reproduce it at some point, so the struggle starts with ourselves.
      Awareness to think beyond our navel because if something doesn´t happen to us doesn´t mean it doesn´t exist,
      Awareness that we don´t have the right to deny how patriarchy affect other women only because we don´t see oppression on it.
      Awareness that the fight is hard, intense and is in our daily lives: The net that sustains patriarchy is made of the daily occassions where we use our power to silence other women
      Awareness that this fight demands people fearless and able to be angry enough
      Awareness to point, name and ashame any expression of patriarchy on you, no matter where it comes from, no matter how little or big.


  5. I agree with you..But u forget about mentioning matriarchy and women were omnipotent.
    The fact is that because of innocence, trust in relationship we easily get trapped in this kind of crime.
    Even bank account & email account have two/three authentication protection but in humanity ?? Be aware of society
    Look Before You Leap…


  6. I think it’s useful to think that on some level we are all to blame for patriarchy because we are still acting out this destructive script unconsciously – not our fault – but it’s up to each individual to root out the poison s/he carries – no small task when patriarchy is mirrored by our respective cultures.


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