Bob Bailey

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Inclusive Teaching & Learning – Gender – Task 2: Bell Hooks – Understanding Patriarchy

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Never having heard of Bell Hooks I read this with huge interest and mild frustration. Huge interest in that it first appeared to be a piece that seemed to hark back to the 1950’s and suggesting that nothing had changed till it’s writing in 2013. Huge interest in discovering my own ignorance of enforced Patriarchy within the family – no violence committed against me or my older brother but perhaps we formed traditional roles within our family; my older brother being sports minded and therefore one to take over the baton from my Dad – I was more happy to wash up and bake cakes… (maybe this has something to do with not recognising the gay signs during my youth). For both male and female Parents to unknowingly reinforce the role of men in society being above that of women seems quite alien to me but as a male perhaps this is ‘normal’.

Mild frustration comes from my own professional experiences that show little comparison to Bell Hooks’ view – mostly working with women as my Director (me as Designer), Female bosses at the University where I teach where the standards of Patriarchy do not ‘seem’ to appear. Where Females are comfortable in their roles of authority, with no patronising, no gender biasing, no radical feminism… people may read this and suggest that this viewpoint is patronising in the extreme but it is one where I have no feelings of superiority but only of collaboration or joy to be advised what I’m doing well, what can be improved…

I can say that I faced no forcing of Patriarchy on me, I went to a mixed gender Primary School where we were all taught equally, all treated as equals, could play with toys of both gender bias… (though I’m sure that this might have changed for some children when they went home). The girls were not taught to be weak or free from the burden of thinking (as Bell Hook states she was taught by her Parents to be).

Perhaps it is not the violence to reinforce our indoctrination and acceptance of patriarchy but the refusal to acknowledge it’s existence.

Considering that out of 67 students in my class there is only 1 male student (possibly gay). Out of 4 staff there are 2 female (both Straight), 2 male (1 Straight, 1 gay); perhaps I can ask all the students how their Parents see them i.e: studying to make a difference, studying a subject as it seems a nice past-time, maybe see if there is a difference between Home and International students attitudes to Male domination in Society (Theresa May, Angela Merkel, Jacinda Ardern compared to most other countries).

Patriarchy seems to have few mentions in todays society. It seems that a more vocal and interesting point of view is about increasing female roles in authority. Our own Parliament has some way to go to reducing the bullying, overtly masculine atmosphere; this is about power, though, as the House of Lords has 587 Men and only 206 women but the atmosphere seems more equal maybe due to the maturity / age of the members and the lessened draw of Power hungry Members.

Nicky Morgan is pressurising more City firms to sign up to the Gender Equality Charter. It is a shame that City firms need this pressure; though most of these City Firms are run by Men and have a predominance of Males on their Board. I seem to be living in a bit of a feminist bubble now that there are a huge amount of women Designers and Directors and all Female Companies treading these boards.

One Comment

  1. Bob, allow me to play devil’s advocate for a moment. Perhaps art and design is a bit less patriarchal than other fields because it is considered a less ‘serious’ or lower status occupation than others, such as say engineering or banking? And perhaps the fact that Foundation is such a predominantly female environment is down to something similar? I’m reminded of the fact that when I was a kid primary school teaching was seen as a mainly female thing and secondary school teaching as mainly male – I don’t know how much this might have changed over the intervening centuries.

    I’ve not read the bell hooks yet but I will.

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