Do you realize men too are victims of patriarchy?
Patriarchy is an unjust mindset and a system that tells us how to behave on the basis of our genders. It tells us how to live and has a say in all aspects of our lives. While patriarchy demands women to be soft, kind and compassionate creatures who must focus on being great homemakers, it also insists on men being your typical macho-man stereotype and the main breadwinners of the family. Boys don’t cry. Men don’t cook or wear pink or feel emotions.
All of this might seem like a small price to pay compared to the oppression and atrocities that women face. Men might seem as the only ones who promote patriarchy but dig deep into your memories. Do you remember that distant aunt who bought a doll for you and a football for your brother? Or perhaps you remember the time your grandmother widened her eyes at the length of your skirt. Let’s not forget the monthly exercise of smuggling a pad into the toilet- brownie points for discretion. It’s not just the men; the women are just as much to blame for this situation.
We became feminists. We became warriors armed with defiance and determination.
The day we realized that this was happening, we got angry and we started fighting back. Some of us demanded equal rights; some of us opted for traditionally ‘masculine’ careers; some of us developed loud mouths and louder voices. We became feminists. We became warriors armed with defiance and determination. However, we ended up waging a war against men instead of patriarchy, the mindset. We began to hate men in whom we saw our oppressors, our nemeses. In turn, they developed a hatred towards the very word ‘feminism’.
Feminism isn’t about women triumphing over men. It is not about establishing our superiority over men. It is a movement that stands for equality of both the sexes. Since, our mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers were deprived of so many rights, a great imbalance was created between the two sexes in the society. Feminism strives to bring back balance into the society. As feminists, all we want are equal rights and liberties, access to education and health services, and equal opportunities to develop that we rightfully deserve.
We should not be willing to turn into the very oppressors that we aim to defeat.
But access to these rights should not be at the expense of men’s rights. We should not be willing to turn into the very oppressors that we aim to defeat. As feminists, we are fighting the system and not the beneficiaries of the system.
Then how is it that we bring about a change in this mindset? Letting go of the patriarchal thought process is not going to be easy. Not a single person can claim to have never been sexist. That is the extent of involvement of this ideology in our lives. How do we even fight a mindset let alone defeat it?
It is going to take an extremely long period of time to actually get to a place of balance between the two sexes. But we have to start today. We have to change the way we think and the way we behave. We have to refuse to be treated unfairly. It is now time to leave certain sexist traditions like child marriage behind. As the Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says in her TEDx talk, “We must raise our daughters differently. We must also raise our sons differently.”
A Fellow Feminist.
Author: Maitreyee Mhatre