Once, while online on Facebook, I saw a status which went along the lines of – “My mother works so hard! This year, for her birthday, I’ll marry and gift her a bride to help her out.”
Shocked? Don’t be. In this post, I’m going to talk about women’s contribution in perpetuating patriarchy.
So, how do women, as a gender and a social group contribute towards upholding the poisonous social structure of patriarchy?
First things first, let me clear up some things – just because a person belongs to a particular gender (or sex), the person doesn’t have an intrinsic biological need to uphold a particular system. What, then?
The answer is socialisation.
Yes, women ARE being oppressed – far more than men (yes, men are restricted as well – I will talk about that later – that deserves a completely different post). HOWEVER, if women follow the rules, they are rewarded as well (positive reinforcement – that is why it is so hard for many women to let go of their patriarchal leanings).
We see a glaring example here –
RULE – Give birth to a son
REWARD – Get pampered and served by the wife of the son – your troubles will end! Just think! You can finally boss and suppress a woman like you were and free all of that bitter resentment you had in your heart. You will be respected and even better, you can boss the wife’s family as well!
Another example might be –
RULE – Stick with your husband no matter your feelings, your wants and/or needs.
REWARD – You are accepted socially! You won’t have to face those uncomfortable questions, you won’t face social stigma, your parents won’t be shamed, their social standing (as well as yours, of course!) will not decrease, you may even be exalted as “the perfect wife” or “the perfect daughter-in-law” (but only if you work hard enough, mind you!)
Another one –
RULE – Sex is not a womanly need (or want) so stop thinking about it. You do not have needs, only men do.
REWARD – You won’t be called a whore and humiliated and stigmatised (you’re really dumb if you think women want it too. That’s just feminist propaganda. Socialised to think of sex as bad? What? It IS dirty, duh).
OK, last one –
RULE – Don’t strive for equal status.
REWARD – You’ll always be attractive to men (everybody knows being equal is such a turn off!), you won’t be thought of as a butch lesbian (go, homophobia!), men will always treat you as their princess (forget the domestic violence stats! You’re special, doll!).
And now we see the effects of such positive reinforcement –
Female foeticides, female infanticides, institutionalised neglect, women going back to their torturers, dowry deaths, physical, mental and sexual abuse – suffering silently, bride trafficking, sexual repression, etc.
BTW have you noticed how anti-feminist propaganda targets mainly straight females (OMG butch lesbians!) and convincing everyone that the value a particular thing or ideology has can only be judged on the basis of its (men) attracting capacity?
Of course there are many other ways women, as a gender, are given incentives to perpetuate patriarchy as well. These are just some examples. Can you think of any other examples? Comment if you think of any!
Yes, being a woman in a patriarchy is hard. The hardest, one might argue. Except being a feminist. Perhaps.