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Evolution of 'Patriarchy' in our Society & the concept of Feminism.

Updated: Dec 11, 2022

(The curation and accuracy of this content is at the discretion of the author)

What year is it ? Yes, It is 2022 , but are we still over the age old pedigree of the long standing debate of patriarchy ?

Some might argue that the position of women in 21st century is way better than it was before. This is true to some extent but has really our hard-wired patriarchal psychology changed over time?

What comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘Cricketer’ or a ‘Standup comic’ or a ‘Doctor’ per se. Our mind automatically creates image of a man in most of the professions we hear , you can try it for yourself and see how our brains are in the mirage of patriarchal images.

It is not our fault to think that way , we surely need a prefix ‘female’ to specify the job to a woman. A female cricketer or a female standup comic is necessary for the designation, but have you ever heard of ‘male’ as a prefix so often ? That’s how deep rooted the system is .

No matter how hard you try to smash it , it comes around one way or the other . Men had been in position of power from the Paleolithic age , and why would someone give it all up or share it with another gender of the same species. People back this notion by calling it natural . It is all made up ! There is nothing natural about it . It is all socially constructed and conveniently practiced from time immemorial. We have been breathing this patriarchal air right from our births.

In most of the developed cities , majority of the women are working at par with their husbands if not more. To cope with the financial stability of the family and for their own good women are there in every profession today ,but the sad reality is while women have rampantly taken stride to earn , men failed in taking equal ownership of household nearly as much. Look around you and you will find plethora of such examples and women don’t even raise their voice against it , as , they have adapted to it , and household chores and raising their kids has become a daily routine which is their responsibility . You will see women preaching this thought . They often say that women bodies are designed genetically in a way to be better at household chores . Then how come women do professional as well as household work with efficiency and men are doing just half of it ? Aren’t men supposed to be the bread earners and the one who are physically stronger ? This dynamic is completely messed up .

As the quote says :

‘‘The enemy of feminism isn’t men . It’s patriarchy , and patriarchy is not only men. It is a system which women support as much.’’

Where did this system of Men being the bread earners and women being domesticated stem from?

It dates back to the hunter gatherer society when life was all about survival. Men being physically stronger used to go out and hunt for the family , While women’s central role was to bear children , so they stayed in to take care of their off springs . The responsibilities were equally divided as the male brought flesh to the table while the female helped it to cook and process . The physical abilities of both the genders assigned roles as the main motive was to survive and be safe from the wild animals . Both the genders lived in harmony as they commanded equal power and respect , the scale was perfectly balanced . Hunter gatherer tribes operated on egalitarian basis.

Until 10,000 years ago, when mankind discovered agriculture and the dynamic of survival changed. The dawn of agriculture came with an imbalance and the roles changed. It is amusingly explained in the book ‘‘Why men don’t listen and women can’t read maps’’. The authors Barbara and Allan beautifully draw comparisons between the hunter gatherer society and modern world by juxtaposing men and women in different situations. It is well proven that the genetic memory over time has still been there in humans and is depicted in various situations .

For e.g.- people used to sleep under trees and in dens in a way that their head is protected by a support behind , the trunk of the tree , to say , so that they don’t get attacked from behind during slumber hours . It can be seen even today when almost every bed back has a support , it gives a feeling of safety and comfort even though there is no fear of attack as such today. It is all genetic memory carried down from our ancestors.

There has been a drastic change in the standard of living and no comparison can be drawn in the style of living today and the stone age .

The need of the hour is not to hunt animals but to work in a sphere of intellect minds , which both men and women are good at . Women are coping with the times and have gotten into the working world , the struggle behind which is a different and a long story altogether. The share of responsibility is not even considerable as women bear the brunt of everything and some don’t even realize it. If a woman can go all out to earn for her kids like a man then why can’t a man be responsible for taking paternal care of his kids and run errands? Is it really so hard for those well built muscles ? Today’s woman is a bread winner and also bears the mental and physical load of family management.

As Jane Austen’s character Anne Elliot says: “Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands.

Fathers are happier, less stressed and less tired than mothers, finds a study from the American Time Use Survey.

Time and again, the power that men held has been used to degrade women in umpteen ways. There are so many controversial statements and quotes by so many ‘great‘ philosophers and ‘great’ men that don’t hold water in today’s world. Such misogynistic quotes can make any sane mind furious.

“Women have the right to work whenever they want to – as long as they have dinner ready when you get home ” - JOHN WAYNE
“The words and works of God is quite clear , that women were made either to be wives or prostitutes.” – MARTIN LUTHER
“Nature intended women to be our slaves . They are our property.” – NAPOLEAN BONAPARTE
“One hundred women are not worth a single testicle.” – CONFUCIUS
“Women with their two-fingered wisdom, have difficult time understanding what I teach.” – GAUTAM BUDDHA
“A woman does not become holy by offering charity, by observing hundreds of fasts, or by sipping sacred water, as by sipping the water used to wash her husband’s feet” – CHANAKYA

Anyone readings these might think that the world has gone to the dogs. If people who are admired to such great extent worldwide have such thoughts on women , what can we expect from an average man. It is really strange how a man who comes out from a woman can make such statements . These thoughts and ideas create a stringent image of society’s expectation towards women and in return they are demeaned for no good reason. Women have been fighting these misogynistic ideas to make a place for themselves in this world. Life long oppression and mountain sized expectations sounds like a normal woman life . Movements such as feminism has tried to bring about a change and educate women about their rights. Even such movements have been tried to root out by the society by naming them as ‘Misandrists ’.

Image Source: Smartasset

Every step taken forward in support of women rights , comes with obnoxious minds trying to pull them down .

The equal participation of women in every field still seems like a utopian dream .Workforce inequality is a major issue that affects gender imbalance in a great way. For the same profession and in the same position the pay cheques of both the genders might not be the same. Men in certain jobs are valued more that way, and a woman raising voice against this is a rare sight as they are told that this is ‘normal’. They struggle to overcome the battle of not fitting in to the profession , the psychology works in a way that they either settle for the said amount or they might lose their jobs. Disparity in remuneration and promotions is ubiquitous , even if a woman is paid her dues , people will credit it to the way she looks. It is disturbing when someone’s hard work is neglected on the basis of the façade of the person. Women are far too often shamed for demanding to be paid for their work. It is so doleful to see that how many women struggle and compromise due to structural inequality and oppression in our families as well as the workplaces. Some women who try to speak are tagged as ‘wannabe’ who are doing it just for attention sake .

Men who try to support and uplift women in their families are laughed upon by the society , calling them a uxorious or a hen pecked husband and how absolutely entitled and triggered can male ego be. We live in a world that is structured and built to chastise and penalize anyone that isn’t a cisHet man. A mere thing such a paying a restaurant bill can be sexualized in way that demeans a man if he is not paying it . Some women jump on to the bandwagon and expect the male to make the payment just because he is a ‘man’. It again boils down to the same thing – the hard wired patriarchy . We have grown in a society where the man is supposed to be the head of the family , taking care of our expenses . Even though women are earning today , the major responsibility is still thought to be on a man’s shoulders . People often make remarks like-‘It doesn’t matter how educated or financially stable a girl is, as long as she is unmarried , her life is incomplete’. That is not true other way round though . Denying women from basic education , electing , participation in important decisions was a common age old phenomena . Women had to fight going beyond their ways to ask for their rights. The first wave of feminism took place in the late 19th century . The main objective of this movement was to open a door of opportunities for women . Elizabeth Cady Stanton drafted the Seneca Falls Declaration , which more than seven decades later ensured women the right to vote . How infuriating is that , seven mighty decades to claim a basic right!

The second wave went on from 1960s and into the 90s . Feminists spoke against pageants that reduced the image to women to objects of beauty , dominated by patriarchy that sought to keep women in homes or in dull low paying jobs . Gender was then recognized as a social construct and sex as a biological construct.

The third wave of feminism in the mid 90s saw a shift in ideas , the first wave was to overcome the male oppression , whereas the second wave claimed destabilizing the notions of body, heteronormativity , and gender equality . It was a success to some extent , access to education, position of women in business and politics , abortion rights were some victorious landmarks.

The ongoing wave of feminism is met with a lot of criticism and hatred by the society . Women are still trying to make a place in this world where they can be seen just as a same species just a different gender. A woman today has proved her worth by doing every unthinkable task , from going to the space to being a intellect in every profession , we will see women excelling in every sphere.

Even after the shackles of patriarchy binding the spirits of a woman , She rises like a phoenix . In every profession , in every sphere of life women shine like a solitaire.

If someone asks me, is feminism still needed today , the answer is a an absolute YES , we still have miles to cover , we still have continents to tap on , we still have to reach every nook and corner of a town to give a woman what she deserves.

“Feminism isn’t about making a woman strong, Women are already strong .It is about changing the way the world perceives that strength.”

Stay tuned for more..

By our Member - Sophia Kundu, Views are her personal. (Get membership and feature your article. Check here)



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