Patriarchy and the Supreme Court by Janet Maika’i Rudolph

I am pissed! I wrote this blogpost the day after Beltane when the leaked draft of the Supreme Court majority opinion regarding Roe v. Wade was leaked to the public. I was up anyway feeling the effects of PTSD. Lessons that Carol P. Christ wrote about and brought to my own consciousness were rattling around my head. The first is her definition of patriarchy: “patriarchy is a system of male domination in which men dominate women through the control of female sexuality with the intent of passing property to male heirs.” This definition was part of a 3-part series she wrote (and we recently re-posed in her legacy posts) beginning here.

They are all well worth reading.

I was raped in 1977 when I was 22 years old. This after being abused by my father. I never got pregnant, but I was suicidal after the rape. Had I been pregnant without recourse to ending it, I would without a doubt have stabbed myself in the stomach or reached for that metal coat hanger. (I was too young to face pregnancy when my father abused me.) Had the result been my own death, that would have been warmly welcomed on my part. To this day, I still self-mutilate at times when stress becomes too much.    

If I lived in the country with Roe v. Wade overturned, had I survived my imaginary suicide attempt, my body would have been criminalized and my choice weaponized against me. I would have been arrested and jailed. It is a horror just to imagine more power of the patriarchal system over my body sends shivers down my spine. For me, this scenario is imaginary related to my past experiences, but the emotions are not, and something our nation’s women will be about to face in droves. Think about this for a moment. The choice-denying anti-abortion law would allow no exception for rape, meaning that a woman who is violated in a way that completely takes her power away would then become a criminal herself for just seeking a solution. A solution that until recently was completely legal and is still safe. (I can say this because even though the Supreme Court decision is in draft form, in Texas, abortion has already functionally illegal for 8 months.) Let’s be clear, rape is a violent act, and so will overturning Roe v. Wade.  

RAINN writes that there are on average 463,634 rapes in this country alone, one every 68 seconds.

About 30 years ago my friend and I were both pregnant at the same time. About three months in, she began to bleed profusely and was rushed to the hospital. She was miscarrying. She was sent to a Catholic hospital and due to its religious “beliefs” they would not do a necessary health-related abortion. They watched as she suffered for five days without meaningful help until her miscarriage happened “naturally.” I remember the anger in her voice that she was forced to endure unnecessary suffering and possible death for someone else’s belief. She was left infertile. This happened in my “liberal” state of NY and this is what women’s healthcare is about to look like in many parts of this country. Patriarchy taken to its full and ugly manifestation. Women’s bodies controlled and criminalized. Miscarriage as a crime. A blossoming dystopia!

Carol P. Christ also wrote about Matilda Joslyn Gage who fought alongside Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton for voting rights. Gage’s two compatriots pushed her aside when she fought for rights that were not based on race, class or religion. A biography of her by Angelica Shirley Carpenter is titled Born Criminal because as she maintained, her only crime was being born female. Stanton and Anthony were so successful that before Carol wrote about her, I (and many others) had not heard of her. Gage’s biography is also worth reading. Here are Carol’s two posts about her. #1 and #2.

What does Ukraine and the Supreme Court have in common? In response to the war in Ukraine, the U.S. and other countries are creating new weapons specifically designed for this battle. There is serious renewed interest in updated and increasing our nuclear arsenal. In other words, weapons of mass destruction are multiplying. These are the choices that patriarchy forces on people. Patriarchy has no concern for real world suffering. For mass destruction. With a straight face, they claim a “love of life” at the same time they are creating and deploying fearsome destructive power.

There is also the matter of rape. Look at how many stories are coming out of the war on Ukraine about rape as a weapon of war. Rape is a weapon of patriarchy and women’s bodies ARE the battlefield.  

And on a final note: I am enraged that two men who have been credibly accused of abuse are weighing in decisively on the decision about what women can do with their bodies. They should recuse themselves, but that they do not is also a function of patriarchy. Power. It is the idea that men with a distinct religious belief will use whatever violent means at their disposal (weapons, indiscriminate bombing, words with the force of law behind them) to impose those beliefs on everyone else.

Oh never mind, that they are in such a position of power in the first place is disgusting proof of patriarchy’s reach. Did I mention how pissed I am?

Author Bio

Janet Maika’i Rudolph. “IT’S ALL ABOUT THE QUEST.” I have walked the spirit path for over 25 years traveling to sacred sites around the world including Israel to do an Ulpan (Hebrew language studies while working on a Kibbutz), Eleusis and Delphi in Greece, Avebury and Glastonbury in England, Brodgar in Scotland, Machu Picchu in Peru, Teotihuacan in Mexico, and Giza in Egypt. Within these travels, I have participated in numerous shamanic rites and rituals, attended a mystery school based on the ancient Greek model, and studied with shamans around the world. I am twice initiated. The first as a shaman practitioner of a pathway known as Divine Humanity. The second ordination in 2016 was as an Alaka’i (a Hawaiian spiritual guide with Aloha International). I have written three books: When Moses Was a ShamanWhen Eve Was a Goddess, (now available in Spanish, Cuando Eva era una Diosa), and One Gods

Categories: Abuse of Power, Breaking News, Feminism, General, Patriarchy, Rape, Rape Culture, Violence Against Women, Women's Rights

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

28 replies

  1. Hello Janet,
    Thank you for sharing how pissed off you are ……… so am I. Yesterday when I heard the news I was thinking of Carol and feeling into my reaction of disbelief ……….I then down loaded via University articles by Carol now available of the many BLOGS she wrote and I had made sure I had the article on the ‘New definition of Patriarchy- control of women’s, private property and war”- the control of Patriarchy and neo- liberalism politics knows no bounds. I am so sick and tired of men stomping on my body and trying to tell me what I can and cannot do with it!!!!
    And just before I read your excellent blog – Thank you for your articulate, out- raged and passionate post.
    I read by chance on line this article about an deplorable Victorian MP response to the leaked post
    I despair over the world at present …………. as women we hold up half the sky ……… time to shaky the sky to remind those – including Mr. Finn – WE DO!
    Love and big hugs to you Janet

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I am in a state of shock. I feel as if we have been transported back 60 years. I honestly cannot even believe this is going on.

    Like the presidency of Donald Trump – an abusive, misogynistic bully of a man but oh-so-good-at-making-our-economy-flow, isn’t that what is most important that I get mine that I have worked so hard for? Those other people, their fault if they are struggling. [heavy sarcasm] I choose to believe instead that all of these are the dying last breaths of the misuse of patriarchy and somehow/some way it will not go through.

    I will keep my eyes wide open on how to make that so.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Me too as to the shock Caryn although to be honest, we knew this was coming. Still it stings like nothing else. I don’t think it is misuse of patriarchy, that it exists at all IS the sin in my book. I, too, hope these are the last dying breaths. If so, it is certainly going down kicking and screaming.


  3. I remember telling my husband that Trump would cause the rights of women to go back 200 years erasing all the progress we had made, sometimes I hate it when I am right. Thanks for your essay.

    I have to add as a public school teacher, I’ve seen my brightest students drop out of school because of pregnancy. This is usually the first step in unrealized dreams. I’ve also witnessed students in abject poverty coming to school with sour milk, a stale bread and jelly sandwich because that was all there was in the house because of too many children and not enough money–and a religious belief you had to have all the children god blessed you with.

    All the pro-life people don’t see the life they are condemning the children to they are hoping to ‘rescue’. It’s all political fodder. Women know good and well if they should have a child. They know if they are suited for motherhood, if they can afford it, even if they’re in a safe place to have a child or emotionally mature enough. Perhaps, their bodies can’t bear up under the stresses of pregnancy. Then, there is the rape and incest factor. I remember hearing the story of a woman forced to bear the child of a rape. She hated the child and what he symbolized. (Do you think that child had a happy life?)

    While many a pregnant woman is left behind, the father goes on to go to college, travel, or wherever his dreams may lead him. Unfortunately, those who hoped to overturn Roe Vs. Wade are these same men who never suffered any discomforts due to pregnancy. Nor did they ever experience any gut-wrenching fear when their period was late and they knew they could be ostracized by family, church, and some friends. No–they never had to worry about being labeled. At one of my first jobs, an excellent worker was fired because the boss discovered she was pregnant. I remember pregnant girls being told thay had to finish school at home and for most, they never entered the doors of higher learning again.

    Not allowing women rights over their own bodies is turning the United States into a real live verson of The Handmaid’s Tale , which Hulu describes as: A woman forced into sexual servitude struggles to survive in a terrifying, totalitarian society.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Worth repeating: “Not allowing women rights over their own bodies is turning the United States into a real live verson of The Handmaid’s Tale , which Hulu describes as: A woman forced into sexual servitude struggles to survive in a terrifying, totalitarian society.” This is where we are now.

      Liked by 5 people

    • Margaret Atwood certainly saw the direction that things are headed. There are so many layers of pain involved in this. My story, yours, they only scratch the surface of the horrors this entails. I was thinking this morning of the abused wife or girlfriend who would be completely subservient to a house of horrors with no place to turn nor person to talk to if she got pregnant under these rules. I can’t even imagine.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh Janet, I am sickened by your hideous rapes – you have my heartfelt my deepest compassion…
    I too endured something similar –
    I am equally sickened by a system that seems hell bent on destroying women at any cost. The fact that abortion is even an issue attests to the enormity of the destructive power of patriarchy… what is there left to say except that for any creature human or otherwise to survive this system has to go and I don’t see that happening – in fact the opposite seems to be occurring.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you for your compassion Sara. And I’m sorry for yours. And isn’t that the point? Neither of our stories are unique. Didn’t Greg Abbot promise the end of rape? I wonder how that is going and more so I wonder why he isn’t be called to the carpet for it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That is the point-these stories are all too common- I was housecleaning listening to public radio today and ended up so enraged Ada result of listening to the abortion and war horrors that when I went to drs appt my blood pressure was up …


        • Good point Sara, what is that balance between knowing what is going on in the world and watching, listening to or reading so much news that it affects our health? I struggle with that, esp. in today’s world.

          Liked by 1 person

          • You know I think this is an important issue that we need to address – listening to this filth is a kind of poison and i think many people are addicted – why else the endlessly repetitive coverage?

            Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for so courageously telling your stories, Janet. For some of us, rage is infused with grief from memories of a pre-Roe world where we saw firsthand what happens to real people whose lives are ruined or ended when safe abortions are no longer accessible. It is so important for us to tell our stories so that it’s clear what this decision means, and for us all to be ready and willing to witness and support those telling their stories. At first I was thinking “after half a century of feminism, we’re back where we were when I was a child,” but then I realized this isn’t true. For half a century we have made progress and that progress will, I hope, help us regain what we have just lost.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I so hope you are right Carolyn. I hope that we as a society won’t tolerate going back. I remember back in the day, I lobbied for abortion rights. There were so computer graphics in those days so I (who can’t draw at all) perfected drawing a metal coat hanger with twisted metal and all for our literature.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Yea, I’m pissed too! And, dis-GUS-ted! The conservative, right-wing religious folk in this country have been actively working towards a federal abortion ban since the 1980s. They will not give up since their mission (if you will) is to align life on Earth with God’s blueprint for holy living and, of course, we all know that God is against abortion and homosexuality and birth control (sarcasm here) and whatever else fits their patriarchal agenda. We’re in for a bumpy ride.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. “Rape is a weapon of patriarchy and women’s bodies ARE the battlefield.” Absolutely right!
    The problem is that those who pretend to be feminists are not. The Ilham Omar Bill has introduced a precedent of blasphemy laws in the United States. Patriarchal Religious Law is now above Common Law.
    Please check all the laws enforced in Muslim countries against Sexual freedom, freedom of thought and women’s rights (they are usually together). Ilham Omar is not different from the religious right that supports Trump. She represents the religious right of another religion. The enemy of my enemy can be even worse, because you do not see it coming.
    So, if you thought that Trump was against women’s rights you were not able to see that anti-Trump activists had many things in common with him.
    Women are caught between two opposite groups that are in fact working together to crash civil rights. They are just using different speeches and arguments, but the result is the same: MeToo is following the fate of FEMEN in Ukraine. Real feminists are abandoned by almost every party and nation, as the feminist Kurds Mexicans or Ukrainians are. Raped, tortured by FGM and put in competition against new made-up minority groups.
    Women are not a minority. We are more than half of the population.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I bet every thinking person in the country–no, the world–is majorly pissed. I sure am. Well, I’ve been angry and unhappy since before the 2016 election when the Orange T. Rex was flying around the country. The America he and his followers–including the conservative idiots on the Supreme Court and their wives have created and are still creating–is losing respect throughout the world. And repealing Roe v. Wade? That makes it worse because it makes every woman a criminal because she wants to control her own body and her selfhood. Yes, rape is a weapon. Carol was right about the patriarchy that is destroying us.

    Well, my FAR friends, brightest blessings to us all. Let us all work to survive. And vote against Trumpism! Yes, bright blessings to us all. Janet, thanks for writing such a brave, honest post. Take good care of yourself.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I saw this coming too. That hasn’t made it any easier. Let’s put our rage into action!
    I actually heard about this through my employer. I work for a small business employed by women. She’s encouraging us to do whatever we can. Our jobs are secure. Feeling very blessed and hoping to participate on behalf of those women who can’t. We won’t go back.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Nice Kristin. Thank you for sharing this uplifting story of putting rage in to action. Amen to that and more! I just perused the website you reference. I won’t be buying anything on Sunday. And I’ll look for other actions as well.



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