The Patriarchy Strikes Back by Janet Maika’i Rudolph

I suppose no one is all that surprised but it is still stunning how quickly certain politicians are rushing to pull back women’s rights. It’s become a race to regulate women’s bodies of with draconian and cruel laws.

Each law is more extreme than the next. In South Carolina it has even been proposed to make abortion a crime subject to the death penalty.

Commentators say the bill isn’t going anywhere.  But it was still proposed. It is now in the eco-system of abortion politics. It is being imagined and that opens up all possibilities of where it can go from here. We never thought, after all, that Roe would be overturned.

Wyoming became the first state to outlaw the pills that allow women to manage their own abortions.

I think this cruelty mission has a deeper point: Fear. These are laws that are aimed to keep everyone, and women especially, in a constant state of fearfulness and trauma. It can’t be a mistake that the race to claw back rights of all sorts, mostly for the most vulnerable among us, are hitting a crescendo at this time.

Think of the infrastructure needed to sustain such laws. Will mail now be censored? Will the police open packages looking for “contraband?” Will women of child-bearing age be subject to random searches of their medicine cabinets? Will the bodies of all women who have had miscarriages be treated as crime scenes? Will neighbors be impounded into spying and reporting on potential bodily crimes? The formation of a women’s sexual crimes task force?

Plus there will be all the newly minted “criminals” that these anti-abortion bills create.  These new “criminals” might be women having a miscarriage.  A woman leaving the state to access legal care elsewhere. A doctor prescribing medication. A network helping women to access care.

 States where abortion is legal are rushing to protect doctors from subpoenas from other states. Nice but what if said doctor wants to take a vacation in one of the 40 states that ban abortion? What if a family member lives there?  They wouldn’t be able to visit. This reminds me of the ugly era of prohibition where a police state was formed around a different issue – alcohol. It was ratified in January 1919 and finally repealed in December 1933. That is almost 15 years. Is the Dobbs decision even repeal-able? It gave rise to a hardening of police actions in an effort to control the sale of alcohol. It was brutal but not all that successful in the larger picture. In the 1970s Roe v Wade at least partially happened because wealthy white girls began dying of botched abortions. When their stories started hitting the press, public sentiment changed. Will such gruesomeness have to happen again? Truly, it already is.

Karen Tate and I were discussing abuse on her podcast. We both noted how hard it is for people to leave their abusers. As a survivor myself, I liken abuse to an old coat. The coat may be grimy, dirty, holey, but when you put it on, its comfortable, you know it. It fits, it conforms to your body. You may not even want to take it off. We also both noted, in that context, that our entire culture is traumatized.

I think of the Florida governor banning books and terrorizing teachers also through draconian laws. When he engineered a conservative take-over of New College, protests went on for a while. Perhaps they still are, but the news media has mostly moved on. Left behind is a traumatized school population. I believe that is the point. When people as a group are traumatized, they are off balance, can’t think straight, they crave the safety a purported strong-man can provide. I think people like the Florida governor and the former guy actually like when there are protests against them. It spreads the trauma that they revel in. They are also keenly aware that it gives them a wider foothold.  

No healthy society could have possibly elected a known misogynist and cheerleader of violence and cruelty. Nor one who supported him so whole-heartedly. And yet both their followings are large, to the tune of millions. A society that idolizes cruelty is a violent one. Another example of their allure is the cruel misogynist, Andrew Tate.

He is the one who preaches that women have to take responsibility for their own sexual assaults among other odious teachings. When I read that, my stomach drops. Is this really a discussion we need to have on repeat cycle? Tate is so popular among young boys that some schools have held programs to counteract his influence. He’s presently in jail for suspected human trafficking in Romania. And yet teachers still need to counteract his influence. Doesn’t that say it all.

To play off the title of Karen Tate’s book Normalizing Abuse, we are normalizing cruelty. People for get that even when it appears to be only affecting the marginalized, it is truly infecting all of us. Treatment of the LGTBQ+ community is as vicious as it can be. It is all of the same cloth. What is particularly chilling in this thread of cruelty is the god-language being invoked.

Recently private emails were released from Vernadette Broyles who is a lawyer and president of the Georgia-based Children and Parental Rights Campaign and fervid anti-LGBTQ+ campaigner. She wrote to the South Dakota legislature in the furtherance of her cause. Here is part of what she wrote:

“Know that many have prayed and are praying for you this day. Do not back down, nor should you be afraid. Know that the Lord is with you. The children of South Dakota belong to him. He is jealous over them. Let his jealousies be spoken forth in the House of Representatives of South Dakota today so that his children would be made safe. Know you are HIS representative today. Do not be afraid. Stand firm in what is right.”

This is the language of Christian Nationalism and holy war. It works. South Dakota Republicans have gotten three anti-trans bills signed into law by Gov. Kristi Noem.

On a final note, I can’t help but notice the ones formulating cruel laws sometimes (only sometimes) will bow to public pressure and “announce” their “compassion” by amending their rules. You can see this sometimes in rape and life-of-the-mother exemptions from abortion laws. But, I would argue, these are showcases for the most part. The life-of-the-mother exemptions always beg the medical question, how close to death does she have to be? If some lives are saved by this – hallelujah.  But does it have to be at such a traumatic cost? The right-wing answer is yes. As to the rape exemption. It just creates another cabal to sit in judgement of an already traumatized woman.

As I said trauma and cruelty is the point. We are witnessing patriarchy striking back at emerging voices of diversity. This time we don’t have 15 years to wait.

PS: Today is National Transgender Day of Visibility

Author: Janet Rudolph

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 four books: When Moses Was a Shaman (soon to be available in Spanish), When Eve Was a Goddess, (now available in Spanish, Cuando Eva era una Diosa), One Gods. and my autobiography, Desperately Seeking Persephone.

20 thoughts on “The Patriarchy Strikes Back by Janet Maika’i Rudolph”

  1. It’s interesting how the attacks on women’s rights are couched in language of Let’s protect the unborn, the babies, life, and how dare women kill their unborns, literally. I’ve had conversations with anti-abortionists and that’s all they see, is the rights of the unborn. The rights of women don’t matter to them. Very strange. And they are women too.


    1. These women are women haters…. of course they pit the unborn fetus against the mother – these women want to destroy other women and themselves – but the latter is unconscious..


      1. Sara, I think you hit upon the tool that patriarchy and fascists use to control a population. Create scenarios where people are pitted against each other. We see it all too often in racial relations, religious interactions, cultural differences. Only by being aware of the processes can we overcome it.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Janet you are right – the pitting is a tool not just to split women but to split the world in two – we try so hard but we have such monsters to deal with – despair is one of mine – I feed birds to save my soul if truth be told – and yes because I love them so


    2. Yes, Robin, I agree. Thank you for pointing that out. To me, that is the insidiousness of patriarchy, our entire thinking process is geared toward a type of “group think” that is wildly dysfunctional. Its the Cinderella story again and again. Its a woman who wounds her daughters so they “fit” into society.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Make abortion a death penalty? Just the idea throws me into panic – I can barely read the rest of this essay – tears fall – I see a titmouse – I jump up to get food to feed him, then realize what I am doing, – my body can’t handle what I’m reading – SO I FEED THE BIRDS. A desperate act….It’s not that I don’t know what’s happening – I don’t read the news but I FEEL these horrors -and-

    Oh you are so right Janet:

    “As I said trauma and cruelty is the point. We are witnessing patriarchy striking back at emerging voices of diversity. This time we don’t have 15 years to wait.”

    Most important is that this story needs to be told and re -told regardless of reactions like mine. This POWERFUL and COURAGEOUS essay must have been incredibly difficult for you to write – those of us who survive personal trauma have our backs against a giant wall of HATE that is oozing through concrete…


    1. I love your response Sara, thank you for that. That you go to feed the birds. I, too, found this extremely painful to write. I went to nature and to spirit work to balance pain. Annie Finch’s posts about abortion as a sacrament came up while I was writing this: AND

      It helped me to have the presence of mind to finish the blogpost.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s hard to see but we must. We have been continually brow-beaten as a society. We have been pitted against one another to benefit patriarchy and predator capitalism. And so many of us refuse to remove the blinders to see the normalized abuse. A traumatized society elects abusers to office and we are seeing the worst of the worst of patriarchy at the helms of power. The hatred of women goes back to Eve. We are insignificant breeders, caretakers and sexual tools to makes the lives of these types of men easy and pleasurable and nothing more. We die in pregnancy there’ll be another to take our place. And these brainwashed women enablers have never learned they deserve better and are so much more.

    WE MUST RISE UP AND MAKE THESE REPUBLICANS OBSOLETE if we expect to have a different world we all know we deserve. After the most essential things we need to see to in our lives, this must be our mission: Stop avoiding politics. Stop worrying if you’re ruffling feathers or being offensive in speaking the truth. Politics is killing us! MAKE THE GOP OBSOLETE! They are the party of sexism, racism, christian nationalism, violence, guns, environmental exploitation, homophobia, domination, exploitation….and they perpetuate ignorance, hate and divide us! Let’s stop pretending otherwise. The time to be nice has long past. Everything is at stake.

    I’ve been doing the podcast Voices of the Sacred Feminine for over a decade. As I looked back over the shows and played some of the content I sadly realized the problems are the same and have only escalated!


    1. I hear your anger Karen, it is righteous. The backlash to people expressing themselves has been intense and is likely to get more so.

      I agree that in the short term one party, the GOP, is the problem. But in the longer term, the Dems are patriarchs at their heart as well. The paradigms need to change. That is why I wrote the books that I did about exploring Eve and Moses and others from a more pagan point of view. Also the work I have been doing here on FAR to come up with new translations from the Bible. The name of Eve, after all, means life and her gift of the fruit was originally seen as a gift of life to all Earth-kind.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Its so much bigger than the problem with political parties- this is just a symptom – people cannot or will not d cross the isles- and where in hell do we go with that?


      2. Agreed. I remember the dirty tricks when Bernie Sanders was running against Hillary. And their turn away from workers toward corporate interests – but they’re getting more progressive now. However, we do have to be careful not to draw the false equivalency that the Dems and GOP are equally bad. Not even close. That just plays into the Right’s narrative and corporate media. Thom Hartman had a great article recently about the GOP Presidents after Eisenhower and their treasonous and dirty deeds don’t come close to lying about an affair with an intern.


        1. I am NOT saying that this party isn’t corrupt – but its no longer a party its like the moffia – bullies
          Killers liars – men and women both hiding under fucking morality


        2. Hi Karen, I have been trying to reply to you since last night but WordPress has been blocking me. I am splitting up my answer into 2 in the hopes that I can sneak both through their system. Let’s see:
          Part 1 Agreed and agreed, Karen. I hope I am not expressing what I also consider to be a false equivalency. I see no comparison between the rank cruelty of the GOP and what the Dems are trying to do. I am trying to express that our entire system was designed by wealthy land-owning whites, some slave owners, who were most interested in preserving their own interests, not those who are more vulnerable.


          1. Deep breath while I try part 2. Clearly our problems with WordPress need more work.

            For example, I am always surprised when decisions come down from the Supreme Court but I don’t know why, they always fulfill their mission, to preserve the rights of now the mostly white and wealthy. Here is what I wrote in another post:

            We have a court system that places financial and business interests over that of workers. In fact, according to the Supreme Court, the US Constitution is a document that protects business interests. There was a case involving the company Amazon in 2014. It involved workers who sued because they couldn’t leave the warehouses immediately when their shifts were up. Company policy was that they had to be searched. They were not paid for the time it took even as the process regularly took extended periods of time. The workers sued to be paid for this extra time because it was a workplace requirement. Their lawsuit went up to the Supreme Court in a case titled Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk. The Court not only sided with Amazon, but it was a unanimous decision (meaning that all the so-called liberal judges concurred). Amazon didn’t have to pay its workers because it was not considered productive work time.

            This was in 2014 when Ruth Bader Ginsberg was on the court. She didn’t dissent, nor did anyone else. That’s because the mission is to protect businesses not people. I believe the same beliefs are spread throughout our political system as well. That’s why I am calling for change. The whole paradigms need to shift.


  4. Some chilling information in this article Janet, particularly as it is on the doorstep of cultures that consider themselves to be civilized and I continue to think that there will never be peace without equality.


    1. Thank you for commenting Iona. Hopefully this reply will get through (I’ve tried a different browser). I agree with you. I see an inflection point where the personal meets and public or the political. I hope we can heal enough in both arenas to make substantive change.


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