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Talking About Patriarchy May Be The Start To A Feminist Revolution

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“A woman is our property; we are not hers because she produces children for us — we do not yield any to her. She is, therefore, our possession as the fruit tree is that of the gardener.” – As stated by Napoleon.

The above may sound to have a very fascist overtone. Still, if we look deeper, we can draw some analogues to gender biases and structural oppression of women in Indian societies.

I was raised in a liberal family, unlike the prevalent. In my family, rules and regulations were more governed by calibre rather than gender. In the same vein as my brother, I was presented with gratifying opportunities to study and promise myself a professional career. Until I stepped out in the real world (in my case, matrimony), I never could associate with patriarchal oppression and its subtle but endemic existence.

This image shows some women depicting feminism
The role that the marriage institution plays in constructing this multistory patriarchy system has never been systematically investigated. | Photo: Surabhi Yadav/Feminism In India

Patriarchy is wafting the Indian social structure in a disguise of socio-cultural values. Furthermore, its allegiance with prescribed gender roles propagated through epic, Godly kathas and fairy tales makes it in-submersible.

The role that the marriage institution plays in constructing this multistory patriarchy system has never been systematically investigated. Thus, most women cannot even identify the patriarchal oppression, which is generally misunderstood as synonymous with ‘cultural values.’

The social system works on the basic assumption of sex being the predictor of an individual’s skill set. To begin with, the patriarchal system seeps into our everyday affairs as early as childhood. For example:

  • The TV remote is a proprietary right of the elder brother.
  • Driving is for the boys, not the girls.
  • Boys can come home later than 8.00 PM girls have sunset related curfew.
  • The brothers’ studies are more important, the girls should learn cooking and sewing, so finances are weighed on the same.
This is an image of a woman depicting feminism and how patriarchy is harmful
The deep-rooted presence of patriarchy makes the women feel more like property | Image Source – Feminism In India

In some Indian households, the sabzi (vegetable) to be made is also the brother’s choice, while the poor sister doesn’t get to make a choice. As early as childhood, they are made to give up their agency.

This doesn’t stop here but rather aggravates with age. When a woman gets married, she is obligated to leave her house (which is her home with fond memories) and leaves her family to adjust and adopt a new set of parents, brothers and sisters to live with. To argue, yes, the man too gets a new set of family, but it’s not a live-in family.

This tradition is such a farce. Even while adopting a child, it’s advised to adopt young. Yet here, the deep-rooted presence of patriarchy in this almost ‘inevitable’ custom in the society makes the women feel more like property-

  • where they are expected to tend to the majority of household chores without any pay,
  • where educational qualifications have to be replaced with creative cooking & laying tables
  • where her professional/personal ambitions coinciding with family beliefs or values are to be laid down,
  • where her desires her ambitions are inconsequential in comparison,
  • where she is obligated to dress in a specific way, wear sindoor or mangalsutras, while the men can evade the display of their married status.

Not far back, we were supposed to title ourselves as Mrs / Ms Reckon our marital status while men were always addressed Mr irrespective.

Despite all the above, women never had any inheritance of actual property in either household (parental or husband) until recently. Commonly heard of, the sexual abuse of women in marriage is prevalent in every stratum of the economic structure of the society.

If we look back and reflect, the worst has been that they are expected to create an empathy-love bond with their silent perpetrators in the society, with a very rudimentary prescription of sabke saath hota hai” (everyone goes through this) or “adjust to karna padta hai ” (you have to learn to adjust).

Those few who get to paraglide to their professional ambitions the sky cloudy. They are still expected to multi-task by raising children with no help from their partners.

Women work two-thirds of the world’s working hours and produce half of the world’s food, yet they earn only 10% of the world’s income and own less than 1% of the world’s property, according to World Bank’s World Development Indicators.

Women still don’t recognise what victimises them with one hand in the wok and the other in children’s grade books. Stigmatization of the ask for economic independence by women brings on them the blame for the detriment of joint families.

 

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Attrition of women from corporate power positions is owed to the discrimination against them at workplaces, which is casually said to be justified by the physical inabilities of their sex.

They aren’t given night jobs due to fear of them falling prey to a precarious male. However, it doesn’t occur to me to defend his thought that IT IS THE MALE who preys on the female. How does it justify making a woman suffer for the same? They are often subject to symptomatic dismissive or perfunctory acknowledgement.

I have even had men justify their preference of employing men over women justify it. I have heard them say, “Women are susceptible to menstrual irregularities and pregnancies which in turn affects their man-hours put in.”

We are aware patriarchy is centuries old. It has not just been the way of life; instead has been embedded in our genes too. My question here is, just because it’s commonly practised, does it make it okay?

We all know that our father or husband is the head of the family. Yes, it has its advantages and disadvantages. It is only to consider which one outweighs the other. Don’t we all know some examples of successful women running the country’s economics or the political lobby?

Why is gender role such an exemption to them? The more profound impact on social transformation will only occur when this ideological support system watering the roots of patriarchy is shaken away.

In today’s male-centred, male-identified and dominated social structure, the natural trajectory of women suffering and discrimination can only be grappled with the feminist revolution.

Patriarchy harms women and equally weighs down the men with stereotypical behaviours expected from each.

Men don’t cry; men have to be strong; men can’t have long hair; men don’t dress up. Aren’t these all children of patriarchy? So then why is it that soreness spreads like a stench in the room with the slightest mention of’ patriarchy?

It’s always considered a battle between genders, where both men and women start preparing their army of thoughts. Men and women start defending and attacking the other with reason beyond doubt.

As we drop the word ‘patriarchal’ in the conversation, it is enculturated to arch the bow with the ‘feminism’ arrow. But, If you look back at your best moments, the other gender is involved, maybe in the form of father, brother, boyfriend, or husband, and most men would have their best moments in the company of women in some form.

How do we justify our belittling the effect of the goodness of the other gender and establish a more expansive and ever-widening gap? To conclude, yes, I am a feminist. I advocate upholding equal rights for women, but I am trying to prove to the men around me that I am not opposed to the other gender.

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