I’m not a small town girl. I was never asked to discontinue my studies because I’m a girl. I was never forced to learn to cook and clean. Yes, patriarchy still is my problem.
Growing up, my mom has always been the big decision maker at home. And she’s always been fiercely independent and ensured to teach her daughters to be independent as well. However, I haven’t always been immune to the deep rooted problems of Patriarchy.
In retrospect, although my mother regrets saying it, there have been numerous times when she said “If I had a son, this wouldn’t be the case….he would’ve done that….he would’ve done this”. And these statements she made have affected me strongly. I have gotten over it by convincing myself that although my mom’s actions might suggest otherwise, she was brought up in the 60’s and 70’s. And this was a time when a woman was considered incomplete without the existence of a male figure in her life, a time when having a son was considered having supreme power, a time when women were not allowed to make life choices freely.
Granted, we’ve come a long way in trying to step away from this supressive way of societal norms. But the ideology of patriarchy is so deep rooted, we have a really long way ahead.
There are a few things that both women and men of this generation and the previous generation say and do that feeds this ideology.
1. The assignment of chores in the household based on the concept of “Man of the house” and “Woman of the house” baffles me. They’re chores. They just need to get done. Man or woman. Period.
2. Educating a woman and letting her make her own career choices, only to finally give it up and get married at 22 or 23 because a “well settled” 29 year old male is available is STILL REINFORCEMENT OF PATRIARCHY. Statements like “Oh he’ll take care of you” is not the reassurance we’re looking for. Give us some time to show you that we can take care of ourselves.
3. Patriarchy deeply affects men too. A majority of men around the age of 25 are under extreme pressure to find a well paying job so that they can be deemed fit to “support a girl”. Give them a chance to explore career options and experiment.
4. Need we revisit the preposterous “boys don’t cry….boys don’t get hurt” concept? We as society, need to stop teaching people how to feel. We’re humans. We’re capable of feeling. Let go and show it. Laugh, cry; just emote. (And hey, if remaining stoic is your thing, go for it. You do you, human!)
5. Another huge problem I have faced and have seen most of my girl friends face is body shaming on the premise of “Which boy is going to find you attractive?”. If a boy needs to find my appearance attractive before he can fathom a conversation with me, no thank you.
There are so many more problems that I have faced at the hands of patriarchy. Both directly and indirectly. And it’s been a struggle. I strongly feel that we neither require patriarchy, nor matriarchy to function smoothly. It’s coexistence. Surely we can do that as equals?