Feminism

Feminism

Feminism is the radical notion that women are people , said someone famous. That sums up feminism better than any long winded defin...

Saturday, 17 September 2016

What is Patriarchy?

Patriarchy is a system of government in which the father or the oldest male is the head of the family and descent is traced through the male line. Lineage passes from father to son, females are excluded from all reckoning of bloodlines. 

In such a society men wield power and authority and women are excluded from it. Power is wielded through violence, or simply its threat. The social structures we see all around us are steeped in patriarchy. They are structures built over centuries, with painstaking, methodological building up of systems which keep women oppressed and men in positions of power. This didn't happen overnight.The systemic oppression and objectification of women by men is a key feature of patriarchy. 

How was patriarchy built?
  1. When early man moved from being hunter-gatherer took up agriculture, mankind moved away from shared labour towards segregation of labour. Simultaneously, women's child bearing ability coupled with long and helpless infancy of human babies kept women tied down. The productive years of a woman's life become devoted to child rearing.

    With settled agriculture and movement of social structure towards ownership of land and property, came an end to the free mingling of the sexes. In order that men could ascertain the passing down of their property to their own offspring, sexual promiscuity came to be curtailed and women's sexuality came to be controlled. Patriarchy thus came into being with the subordination of women, through control of their sexuality.

How does patriarchy work?

The oppression of women isn't just economic. It's reflected in language, kinship, religion and culture. Here are a few pointers:

1. Women are overworked and society doesn't acknowledge it. modern society, women often do double the work that men do- usually holding down paying jobs while taking almost full responsibility for the care of the home. 

2. The assumption that the home is the domain of the woman alone and that nurturance comes naturally to her. Men, on the other hand, indulge in activities in the external sphere, 

This leads to the situation where "men's work" or masculine pursuits are valued more than the feminine one, and all labour in the domestic domain is pooh-poohed.  Women often accept their 'natural' roles as care givers as a fact. However, a new born is as much a revelation and a mystery to a new mother as it is to a new father. The "maternal instinct" is a myth.   

3. Women's inferior status came to be seen as natural and normal. The subordination of women is ensured by violence or the threat of it. But the subjugation has been naturalized, by means of norms and laws, and vetted by religion. This subordination has been going on for so long that its taken unquestioningly at face value, even by the women themselves. Stockholm syndrome, anyone?

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