Get Inspired, Be Empowered Forums Sexism & Patriarchy Do women play a role in upholding patriarchy? Reply To: Do women play a role in upholding patriarchy?

Mayuravarshini Mohana
Not Helpful

To proceed on this discussion, it is important to fundamentally acknowledge something- the fight is against patriarchy and not men, against the oppressive system and not a particular gender. Just as there are feminist men, there are patriarchal women. The enemy here is the ideology.

Why then would women support a system that clearly disadvantages them? Most often they do not realise it. Patriarchy largely exists in the guise of culture. The onus of perpetuating culture and tradition is rested on women’s shoulders and they pass it on as heirlooms to their daughters.

The root of the problem lies in gender socialisation. It is the process through which children are taught gender binaries, performing gender roles and social expectations. School, family and media act as the agents of gender socialisation. The ideas are omnipresent and delivered with such conviction that a child internalises it firmly. It becomes an irrefutable dogma. Women are thus trained from a young age to uphold patriarchy.

The problem is that patriarchy has seeped into every aspect of our lives that it has become hard to distinguish. It is in the way we dress, the choices we make, the rites we perform, when we marry, who we marry, or who we don’t marry. Patriarchy is inscribed on our minds from a very young age such that it integrates into a person’s moral compass and their sense of what is ‘right’. For instance, a woman who wears ‘revealing’ clothes is pulled aside and censured by her mother, grandmother or an aunt. What a woman wears is treated as a statement on her character. It is deemed the duty of an older woman to have the woman of the next generation follow the rules. Otherwise, why would a woman voicing out her opinion, or a girl having male friends be countered with a disapproving ‘Look how her mother has raised her’?

That being said, patriarchy is no more uncontested. The oppressive system is being actively countered by a movement towards building a world that embraces inclusivity and individual uniqueness. A lot of women who support feminism do sponsor patriarchy unintentionally. This is because feminism is a constant process of unlearning. A feminist is not someone who has it all figured out. What matters is to commit to the cause of social equality across socially constructed identities, to embrace what could be a lifetime’s worth of unlearning, and never look back.