We’ve heard the reified stories of men brutalizing men. A rehearsal of patriarchy. In fact, hyper masculine bullshit permeates our lives. We see in the media, if not in our daily lives, the ramifications of patriarchy unchecked. So what’s the answer? Men are being called out now more than ever and violence continues. Wars haven’t stopped. We hear about a mass shooting in the U.S. almost everyday. In my debut novel, Unsettled Between, Ever Geimausaddle faces his own brutality with the help of an underground matriarchy.
There are subcultures who maintain the values of matriarchy throughout the U.S. I’ll speak here about tribal matriarchy because my experiences are based in Cherokee and Kiowa communities and culture. I’m also fortunate to belong to a family of matriarchs, where women in our family make the major decisions and delegate responsibilities.
“Our mothers echoed words they had echoed before—this time we listened. ‘Being Kiowa will forever be about how we dance together.’ Seemed like, being sisters, those words were a song that made them family, but more important: it made all Kiowas come together.” — Unsettled Between
Ever Geimausaddle finds himself being witness to brutality and subjected to abuse, where he develops deeply aggressive behavior. We also see this occur often in poor and disparagged communities. Ever’s circumstances are no different. He encounters numerous examples of violence and domineering masculine attitudes, whether it’s violence handed down from his father or colonial violence handed down from a history of conflict.
How does Ever handle these challenges? Better yet, how do the matriarchs in his family direct him? Moreover, are there matriarchal males present in his family to be role models?
“I ran into the living room, calling for my mother—ready to tattle, tell, and cry—but there was an old man sitting on the couch. He held this heavy coffee colored cane at his side. His skin had the texture of a turtle’s hide. His jaw seemed to hang lower than normal. My mother was at the store, he told me, introduced himself as an uncle, he claimed, a Bird Clan member, someone distant but a relative.” — Unsettled Between
At the end of the day, issues revolving around this current version of patriarchy needs to also be addressed by men. We, men, need to understand and then purge the violence we’re trained to rehearse. Those of us who are more progressive, or who are willing to change, understand the ultimate self-destructiveness hyper masculine constructs bring.
“We were known as messengers. Cherokees depended on the Bird Clan to care for children who delivered original instructions between the spirit and material worlds. Bird Clan mothers protected birds in practical and ceremonial ways.” — Unsettled Between
Ever Geimausaddle was born into violence, rehearses violence, but he doesn’t have to perpetuate violence to the next generation. In fact, if he can learn the lessons from the matriarchs in his family, he could potentially become the answer his tribal communities need: a male standing against patriarchy.