In contemporary parlance, “The Patriarchy” has become a catch-all term to explain the pervasive, seemingly ineradicable inequality that cuts global societies along the lines of gender, race, sexual orientation and class. Over the past 10 000 years of recorded history “the rule of the father” has emerged as an invisible mechanism that encodes white male supremacy into law and state, home and workplace, and underpins cultural norms through education, religion and tradition.
Out of place and out of time
In “Jurassic Patriarchy” I have put together, in no particular order, a visual listicle of my top ten favourite figures who have challenged the patriarchy throughout history – through their bodies, beliefs, actions and struggles. These figures aren’t necessarily self-identified feminists, nor perfect idols of a feminist agenda, but people who have revealed the farce of patriarchal power and its subjugations.
Juxtaposing these pop art comic-style character portraits with some of the first illustrations of dinosaurs to enter the public domain (from “Extinct Monsters”, 1892) I offer my metaphorical imagining of the Patriarchy as monsters of an antique world: out of place and out of time.
Continuing the practice of reclaiming and remixing public domain artworks, I appropriated “Extinct Monsters” – one of the first illustrated handbooks featuring dinosaurs to enter the public domain. The artist, Joseph Smit (1836-1929) was a Dutch zoological illustrator who worked closely with paleontologists to imagine how the fossils of these dinosaurs would have looked when they were alive. In the introduction, the author, Reverend Hutchinson writes,
“We shall, perhaps, find this antique world quite as strange as the fairy-land of Grimm or Lewis Carroll. True, it was not inhabited by “slithy toves” or “jabber-wocks,” but by real beasts, of whose shapes, sizes, and habits much is already known—a good deal more than might at first be supposed. And yet, real as it all is, this antique world—this panorama of scenes that have forever passed away—is a veritable fairy-land. In those days of which geologists tell us, the principal parts were played, not by kings and queens, but by creatures many of which were very unlike those we see around us now. And yet it is no fairy-land after all, where impossible things happen, and where impossible dragons figure largely; but only the same old world in which you and I were born. Everything you will see here is quite true. All these monsters once lived. Truth is stranger than fiction; and perhaps we shall enjoy our visit to this fairy-land all the more for that reason. For not even the dragons supposed to have been slain by armed knights in old times, when people gave ear to any tale, however extravagant, could equal in size or strength the real dragons we shall presently meet with, whose actual bones may be seen in the Natural History Museum…”
This quote could be as true of the patriarchy (with some metaphorical liberties), as it is of the dinosaurs to which the good Reverend refers.
The entirety of the book, along with its illustrations are available for use, by anyone, for anything, here.