Women's contribution to Patriarchy

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Why aren’t all women Feminists?

The above question has plagued me. I believe that everyone should support the idea of Feminism – men as well as women. Feminism talks of equal rights and opportunities for all genders. And equality as an ideal should make sense to everyone. Of course there is resistance from those who believe that there is a reason why there is a hierarchy in place. Now I get why most men would think this. Owing to years of conditioning, they have got used to it. But what I don’t understand is why women would oppose Feminism!? And I wish this was fiction…something sexists had created. But when I looked back at my life, I realized that a lot of my notions of patriarchy came from women around me. 

Patriarchy as a system relegates women as the secondary sex. It is an age old concept. Philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato are considered to have influenced the idea that women must be ruled by men because they were not true rational beings and the only way to perfect themselves [be truly human], was for them to die and return to earth as men [Kasubhai; 1996:37, 47]. If this concept had to become universal and spread across the world since the last 2500 years, then it could not have been possible without women aligning to the concept. I am sure women protested at the beginning but these ‘Tired Feminists’ as I call them, gave up the fight…perhaps too easily and too soon. And that is what we should assess so that the next 2500 years are drastically different. 

How do some women support Patriarchy?

1) By celebrating the birth of a male child or continuing to have children until one gets a male child

2) By training other women to ask for permission before doing anything

3) By encouraging the gender divide by asking a woman to do and say things that are different from what men do

4) By overtly giving preference to men and normalizing it

5) By propagating the idea that a woman seizes to be a daughter once married off 

6) To create the illusive target of ‘work-life balance’ only for the woman and not the man

7) By popularizing the notion that the ‘submissive and sacrificing wife’ is the ideal woman

8) By not raising their voice when they or other women are sexually objectified or assualted

9) By saying that rapes take place because women don’t dress appropriately

10) By calling women who dress unconventionally cheap and blame=ing the roving eyes of men to ‘boys will be boys’

There could be many more instances as the above. None of these ideas would have found its place in society without the support of women. 

Are women also misogynists?

As much as I would like to say otherwise, the answer unfortunately is ‘Yes’. Just as there are Feminist men, there are also Misogynist women. 

Queen Victoria had famously denied equal voting rights by stating: 'Let women be what God intended, a helpmeet for men but with totally different duties and vocations'. It's not clear how she thought being Queen Empress fitted into this world view. 

In America, think tank Demos found that half of misogynistic tweets (which contained the word “whore” or “slut”) came from women. 

What are the reasons for women being misogynistic?

There could be several reasons for this. But usually it is because misogyny is internalized. 

Some women who have toed the line all their lives can’t tolerate those who won’t do it themselves. They are usually extremely conservative and look down upon women that are like men aligning themselves with the Madonna–Whore Complex i.e. the belief that if women are not as pure as Madonna, then they are whores. 

They also find comfort in ‘Benevolent Sexism’. Some women feel powerless; need men’s support and hence don’t raise their voice against the system. They feel a false sense of ‘protection’. 

Their making peace with Patriarchy is akin to the Stockholm Syndrome: feelings of trust or affection felt in many cases of kidnapping or hostage-taking by a victim towards a captor. This peace however is a make-believe one because it is one that has emerged out of fear. That’s why some women feel that gender norms exist for a reason. They feel that they will give up on some privileges if they came out as Feminists. 

Some women also go to the other extreme to hate all men and hence all feminine women who like men! Such radical thought has no place in Feminism since the movement does not propagate hatred against any gender. 

Sometimes women in the workplace also show signs of misogyny

I had written about an article on the Queen Bee syndrome on Women’s Web – a popular Women’s Forum. The phenomenon talks of women discriminating against other women co-workers as they rise in seniority. This was in response to a study and an article that was conducted that stated that the Queen bees have become meaner. 

I had critiqued the original article for popularizing the motion that ‘women are catty to one another.’ I am not denying that such cases exist. But the truth is that there are bad men bosses as well. In order to look for solutions, I tried to come up with some possibilities as to why women could possibly behave in this manner:
  • Some women try to behave like ‘one of the boys’ so that they are not seen as ‘women’. That’s why they distance themselves from other women
  • Some women who have reached senior positions have had to work very hard to break the glass ceiling and maybe unjustifiably so…but expect very high level of commitment from their subordinates
  • Some women fear coming across as favouring other women and hence choose to go to the other extreme
  • Some women still question a woman’s authority because there still aren’t enough examples of women in power
If the above are the possible reasons for the Queen Bee syndrome, then I genuinely feel that as more women enter the workforce and realize that they are not a threat to one another, the phenomenon will cease to exist. 

How do we change the scenario?

In no circumstance should one continue life without a sense of reasoning or logic. Just because things have worked a particular way does not mean it should ad infinitum. If that were the case, we would not have had any inventions so far. A thinking man or woman questions the world around them and assesses for himself or herself the right way to live. Conformity is not a virtue. 

All the above reasons of misogyny have arisen out of insecurity. Either women feel unsafe if they rebel against society or they feel threatened by one another. We need to talk, understand and support one another so that we are united against patriarchy. Women in power must guide and mentor other women so as to make our work environments more representative of the world we live in. Without unity we will not achieve equality and hence will never achieve true freedom or peace.



Comments

  1. Facts on table. Loved the narration. It's sad, but a bitter truth that in many cases women become the biggest enemies of women, either because of fear or insecurity or the suffering. Some promote these social evils just because they have undergone it and they want others also to suffer.

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    1. You're right Rashmi. I had to write this post to highlight the contribution by women. Thank you for your support. :)

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  2. I must read your article about the queen bee phenomenon.

    One of the reasons women support patriarchy is that partiarchy denies women power and control over their destiny. In this system, a womans power lies in the influence she has over the man. And hence the fights between women, the competitiveness if it can be termed that.

    By propagating the idea that a woman seizes to be a daughter once married off - this is so true. And something I have fought against.

    https://lonelycanopyblog.wordpress.com/2018/04/25/waiting-at-bikaner-house-delhi/

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    1. Hi Seema. Thanks for your continued support. Have loved our interactions. :)

      You have a point here - competition over the influence on a man could be a cause too for women not supporting one another. Our generation has to pass on a stronger system to the next.

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  3. Every word rings true! Yes, the conditioning is so strong that no one actually realises that. It has become second nature.

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    1. Glad you also see it Meena. Thank you for your support throughout this challenge. Have enjoyed reading your comments.

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  4. Ashwini - you've touched on all the ways in which women are misogynistic. Thank you for doing that. It is so confusing for women when they are put down by other women or groomed to behave in a certain way.

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    1. :) Thanks Kalpana. Glad and kinda sad to see you agree with me. It will actually make me happy if someone said they were untouched by patriarchy you know. What we have to do is let the next generation make their own rules not conform to the ''society's".

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  5. So glad you wrote about this. These questions have plagued me too. How could patriarchy come in to existence when it was to the detriment of half the human population? But patriarchy wasn't so prevalent among the earliest nomadic cultures. Something about agrarian communities and large civilizations as opposed to small moving tribes led to patriarchy.

    And I don't believe it happened overnight, which is a part of the problem. It evolved rather slowly. If you put a frog in boiling water it jumps out immediately, but if you put it in regular water and ever so slowly crank the heat up it amy be too late before it notices the trouble it is in.

    If this is a subject you are very curious about read this article. it does not justify patriarchy but it does try to figure out how it came to be http://www.denisdutton.com/baumeister.htm and what's more we can fight it because many of the reasons patriarchy may have evolved are quite obsolete.

    I too have written this article because the idea baffled me so much https://kanikag.com/women-social-the-origin-of-patriarchy.html

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    1. Hey Kanika. Your research is spot on. The system does not hold water now but we are still letting it continue. Will read your article on this for sure. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :)

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  6. particularly loved your last paragraphs. whatever the reason patriarchy came to be there is no reason it has to continue and we need to think about things, introspect, battle our insecurities and move forward

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  7. I am not a feminist - in the sense that I have seen females on extreme ends of the spectrum. I enjoy being a woman, but I know my limitations. I would not mind calling a strong man to help me carrying around heavy stuff, I would not mind getting leaves during my period. Feminism is a good philosophy, but I am against people who get it all wrong. Having said that, I agree with all your points above - I don't differentiate between girls and boys where there is no scope for differentiating. The two need to coexist without fighting over supremacy, because no sex is better than the other one.

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    1. Hey Anshu. I understand where you are coming from. There are definite physical differences amongst the genders. But otherwise women have proved through many instances that they are worthy of equal rights. There is no question of supremacy when it comes to equality - I agree with you totally there. I hope you do read my post tomorrow on this topic and really hope that you decide to call yourself a Feminist. All it means is that you believe in equality of rights for all genders!

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  9. Anonymous9:37 pm

    Wrote a reply. Can't see it now. Anyway. Out an out a great post. I love to read ur feminist views. Seems like I am listening to myself. Just better than me.
    Priya

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    1. Awww... thanks Priya. :) Coming from you...it means a lot.

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    2. I have put in links to all the posts I have referred to throughout the article. But here is the link to the Queen Bee article as requested: http://www.womensweb.in/2018/04/queen-bee-stereotype-go-extinct-work/

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  10. Read your post on Womens Web too . Yup it definitely is true to a large extent . We all women have to be united together first to talk of equality and all . The extreme definitions are irritating actually . I am not a feminist . I am not a misogynist . I am a strong woman who just doesn't want violence or assaults . I love to work , I love to cook too , I like to depend upon my husband for some work even if I am able to do it on my own . This dependence also is kind of love . BTW A Good powerful post you have written .

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    1. Hi Monika. Nice to see your comment. Glad you see my point of view to some extent. Do read my latest post: https://ashwinis-perceptions.blogspot.in/2018/04/not-much-has-changed-since-xanthippe.html
      Hope you will change your mind about Feminism when you read this.
      There are no extreme definitions of Feminism - just one - like you said - equality of rights.
      You have every right to do what you feel like. Feminism does not advise how a woman should lead her life. Feminism talks of taking away rules not imposing them on women!
      Hope to see you again. :)

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  11. Yes, it's funny how some women have no clue about feminism. They're often the girlie, sheltered, childish ones. Sigh.

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    1. I don't know what leads women to become ignorant. All I know is that more all of us talk.. it helps. :) Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

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