End Patriarchy: For Geeks Only?

// 17 March 2008

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I’m guessing that most of you will be aware of the rather clever End-Patriarchy thing that Jessica Valenti has drawn attention to on Feministing today. I’d also guess that most of you will have got the hook inherent in the format. Time for a confession from me: I didn’t. Well, not fully anyway…

Yeah, I know. As a blogger, HTML commands ought to be ingrained in my brain. And, as a geek of sorts, I ought to have been right on the money with this one. And, yes, our Lynne’s take on the design (see below) meant I had already figured out this most definitely wasn’t some advert for patriarchy and that the code had something to do with that. It’s just that, if I’m honest, I have to admit I did need Jess to remind me exactly what those symbols mean.

I know I’m probably being an old spoilsport. It’s just that the thought of walking around in a T-shirt that could potentially be read as just plain old “Patriarchy” makes me nervous. We already have to contend with accusations that patriarchy is nothing more than a feminist fantasy so wouldn’t this potential misunderstanding be just the sort that anti-feminists would love? Also, isn’t a T-shirt that could alienate feminists who aren’t familiar with HTML just a little bit elitist?

I’m basically looking for some reassurance here because I do really, really want to like these T-shirts and I do think it’s a clever joke (indeed, the very act of wrapping the code around the word quite literally makes it disappear). I’m just not sure if a large enough number of the people we want to reach will get it.

First photo by Brocco Lee, shared under a Creative Commons Licence.

Comments From You

Lynne Miles // Posted 17 March 2008 at 10:29 pm

But, Holly, I *love* the geeky in-jokeness of it all!

Lynne Miles // Posted 17 March 2008 at 10:36 pm

I might add, the code is not our only worry. I showed my t-shirt to my mum and step-dad and they looked confused. I hastened to explain the joke about the part but, still bemused, they asked “but what does patriarchy mean?”

Laura // Posted 17 March 2008 at 10:40 pm

I didn’t get it either, Holly!

I bet that was a fun talk, Lynne…

Leigh Woosey // Posted 18 March 2008 at 8:58 am

Actually, I would be suprised if you were to find more people under 25 who didn’t get the joke than did. In anycase the idea of someone advertising patriarchy is bound to invite questions that lead to explanations.

Jo // Posted 18 March 2008 at 12:24 pm

Errr… all for the cause, people, but this one has gone straight over my head! Understanding is surely the key to progress, not esoteric ‘in-jokes’… SORRY! That really wasn’t meant to be mean, I’m just not sure how useful it would be! Maybe it’s just me… nevermind! Keep up the fight, kids!

Cara // Posted 18 March 2008 at 1:16 pm

I didn’t get it either!

I mean, I figured it was *not* favourable towards patriarchy, and I figured it was HTML…which I do know a bit of…

nothing wrong with “elitism” as long as people are happy to let others in on the joke. I read the Feministing piece and comments, and was pretty surprised no-one asked what it was, or explained the joke.

Alex O'Brien // Posted 18 March 2008 at 1:38 pm

I am surrounded by people who would get the coding aspect of the shirt and would thus get that it’s a joke… however I’m willing to bet that only a very few would understand the term “patriarchy”. I had to explain it to my flatmates the other day when I was met with bemused looks during a discussion on marriage.

I really want the shirt though.

Leigh Woosey // Posted 18 March 2008 at 2:33 pm

Me too, Alex! I want one in pink, though. You can get them in red/white/black and grey from Radicalrags.

I think I might put a pink version up on Zazzle for myself, though.

Catherine Redfern // Posted 18 March 2008 at 5:05 pm

I don’t think every t-shirt a feminist wears has to convert someone to feminism – sometimes in-jokes are fine! All other groups seem to have in-jokes, I don’t see why we can’t!

Also, you could have it say instead. Pretty much everyone knows what sexism is. :-)

rosie // Posted 18 March 2008 at 5:21 pm

I am a women who teaches geeky stuff to lots of boys on a digital art course. I would love one of these to see whether my students are savvy enough to get the ‘in-joke’. Like Alex, I suspect no problem with code – but they may struggle with the definition of patriarchy.

Catherine Redfern // Posted 18 March 2008 at 6:52 pm

I realised my comment above didn’t come out right due to html processing in the comment box!! I meant to say that you could use /sexism instead of /patriarchy. But the html made the /sexism disappear… hmm, ironic…

Laura Morris // Posted 18 March 2008 at 7:07 pm

“I don’t think every t-shirt a feminist wears has to convert someone to feminism – sometimes in-jokes are fine! All other groups seem to have in-jokes, I don’t see why we can’t!”

Exactly! I do think about the image my clothing sends out, but don’t feel the need to reach out to everyone with everything. And personally, I would love to wear that shirt around non-feminist-inclined geeks and start some conversations – or babble about HTML to feminists!

In conclusion, where can I buy one?

Anne Onne // Posted 18 March 2008 at 7:27 pm

I love it.

The thing is, I see it as another one of those ‘in-joke’ type t shirts, and good in that capacity.

It’s not ‘This is what a feminist looks like’, but if it makes the wearer feel good, then it’s good. Whilst I think that it’s good too have t-shirt slogans that encourage discussion and boldly reclaim feminism, I don’t think they’re the only type of clothing worth having. So yeah, I agree it wouldn’t be gotten by a lot of people, but there would be times when I’m in the mood for an in-joke, a subtle middle-finger at the patriarchy rather than a big all-out battle.

Plus, if someone hot gets it and is feministically inclined, it’d be a great discussion starter. And aren’t we ladies just interested in marriage?

(sorry, had to do that… ;) Spirit of the thread, see? though I still find it annoying when people *end* something, like sarcasm, but don’t *start* it… and I’m not even that knowledgeable about coding!)

Danielle // Posted 18 March 2008 at 10:25 pm

I’ve seen this t-shirt before, but I didn’t get it at the time, never having used formatting before.

I’d love to buy one! Unfortunately my student loan is unable to stretch to it at the moment, but I think a fabric pen and a bright coloured t-shirt would have the same effect.

paiwings // Posted 19 March 2008 at 3:40 pm

Awesome t-shirt. I don’t think it matters that only a minority of people will understand it. There are very many many types of feminists and there should be very many many methods to get our views heard. Not everything has to convert someone, we can use in jokes just to make ourselves feel happy and smile. In conclusion, *want*

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