A Theory About Patriarchs

I have a theory………….it’s just a theory. I’ve heard of so many females whose father raped them at the age of twelve or thirteen. In fact, a large number of males and females had something traumatizing that happened when they were that age. It has always intrigued me. Why then? Then I began thinking of the changes that go into a twelve or thirteen year old, especially in females. They go from being daddy’s little girl to the beginnings of woman hood. A flat chest begins developing breasts. The long legged, tomboy body starts developing curves. While he used to like watching her gymnastics abilities for the pride in her athletic abilities, now his focus is on her long legs as they fly into the air while she does cartwheels or handstands. He finds himself asking her to do a few again. The shorts she’s wearing slip upward to her buttocks and he notices her panties sticking out. It didn’t used to bother him. Now, he has knots in his stomach and he doesn’t know why.

Daddy begins to notice the changes. Either someone else points them out to him or he is startled into making the discovery as he watches her at play. At first it’s, “What happened to my little girl?” Soon he feels uncomfortable around her and can’t get out of his mind the site of the long legs or the budding breasts.

If he’s the son of a womanizer, if his wife is co-dependent and it’s a patriarchal household, if his wife has cut him off from sex because she’s tired of getting pregnant and they’re Catholics so birth control doesn’t work, even if they aren’t Catholic and can use birth control pills, maybe she’s tired of sex……..but he’s not.

If it’s a patriarchal household, his young daughter hasn’t much of a chance of eluding his sexual advances. The majority of Catholic families are set up in a patriarchal style. Dad is the boss. He knows everything. You are not allowed opinions of your own and no matter what he tells you to do, you must be obedient in all things. I can even remember as a young and very devout Catholic, at the age of 13, with plans to enter the convent, as we got ready to go to our weekly confessions telling my mother I didn’t have any sins to confess as I hadn’t done anything wrong since the last time I went to confession. Can you tell why I was the one in the family that got my mouth washed out with soap? My mom countered with, “Young lady, I’m sure if you think on it long enough you’ll come up with something.” Since I said my prayers more than once a day, worked hard at chores around the house, got straight A’s in school, never told a lie or lost my temper and took care of my three year old sister as if she were my own child, I couldn’t think of anything to confess. I’d study the Confessional Guide thoroughly hoping I’d find something I did wrong. Finally, the only way I could get out of it was to make up sins that I hadn’t really done. The good news was that now I had something to confess the following week.

The Old Testament set up the patriarchal system, originally meant to be a scriptural father of the Hebrew people. It appeared to work so well that by the time the Catholic Church entered the scene, it was continued, but expanded. In addition to being all wise, the father had the right to make all the rules, instill all the beliefs, make all the major decisions and decide the punishments. Opinions of their own were not allowed by either mom or the children. I can remember reading my mother and dad’s letters to each other during World War II while he was in the Marine Corps. His were full of dictates as to what she could and couldn’t read, how she was to raise the children while he was gone and what opinions she should have. Hers were full of strings of endearments and comments on how she was being so obedient and doing exactly what he told her.

When I was eighteen and still living at home I was told no I could not go to college, no I could not have any friends, no I could not wear makeup, date, read any books that weren’t approved by my parents or listen to any music that wasn’t on their approved list. They also told me I had to go to work to help support the family. They chose the job. They chose the man I would drive to and from work with (who later tried to seduce me, something my mother said I had lied about), and on the weekends I would clean houses for the neighbors and all earnings would go to my parents.

When I got my back up and said, “If you don’t stop treating me this way I will lose all the love and respect I have for you” (keep in mind my father was entering my bedroom in the middle of the night to force sex on me), my mother told my father to get the belt. During the subsequent beating my 19 year old brother grabbed the belt from my dad screaming, “You’re killing her Dad, stop it.” My father knocked him out, sent him splattering against the wall and continued to beat me until I passed out. A week later, I ran away from home.

Can you blame me? This was the result of a patriarchal family.


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