Have you ever had a conversation with a group of women about the patriarchy and it’s damagine effects on our daily lives. This usually follows on with you sharing your experiences and then it happens, I’m sure you know what it is, but when it happens we all sigh and just want to smack the person:
‘What about men?!’
Firstly I’d like to point out that when we talk about our shared experiences as women we’re in no way saying that men do not go through these things, they definitely do. But by derailing the conversation you’re essentially proving why we need movements like feminism so we can actually feel like we have spaces to speak about these issues.
What I’m trying to say is, the patriarchy hurts us all, it’s annoying, and we need to talk about how it affects everyone. But when we do, we shouldn’t do it by interupting someone else and ignoring their experiences. So for those who live under a rock, let’s go through what the patriarchy actually is.
The Cambridge English dictionary defines it as “a society in which the oldest male is the leader of the family, or a societycontrolled by men in which they use their power to their own advantage”.
So essentially it’s a society that is built with the assumption that men are in power and are in charge. Their are systems put in place to benefit the rise of men, and because of that it makes it more difficult for women to break into a lot of industries or even hold higher more senior roles in them.
The patriarchy reduces the women’s role as one of the caretaker, the maternal mother. It promotes the idea that we are literally created to bare children and look after everyone, as opposed to working – it’s one of the reasons why seeing working mothers is still a topic of discussion for misogynists. Thanks to the patriarchal systems in place women are at a systematic disadvantage, and in some cultures it goes even further.
In some cultures these patriarchal systems enforce child marriages, female genital mutiliation and honour killings, because a woman’s place is seen to only exist for breeding and cooking. So young girls are married off to old men, and as soon as they started their period they’re seen as riping for childbirth. Female genital mutilation is an act that is done to inhibit a woman’s sex drive and it’s an extreme means of sexual control over women. Honour killings are a means of punishing girls and women for acting out against their societal norms, and they’re often acted out by their own family.
It’s truly disgusting how a lot of patriachal systems work to hold women across the world in shackles that are created by the men enforcing them
‘But, what about men?’
Yes, it hurts men too, and by spending the beginning of this blog post speaking about women, I am in no way saying it doesn’t affect men, it fucks us all to be honest.
Men are raised to be rulers, to be the heads of their households and in doing so they are taught that they have to be strong, successful and act like a man. They’re emotionally crippled at an extremely young age, they are given a starter pack on how to be a man, and if they stray away from it they’re threatened with violence.
Young boys are often beat up either at home or at school for acting differently, they suffer a lot, and don’t feel like they can talk to anyone about their experiences. This alone sets them up to live a life of suffering in silence, men aren’t allowed to cry, men aren’t allowed to do anything, they have to be a ‘macho man’. They can’t even throw a ball without feeling pressured into fitting their mold.
Men suffer too. They suffer from abuse, domestic violence, rape, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders and a fear for their life and safety. Because of the patriarchy they’re not allowed to show any form of weakness, they also grow up worrying about their future prospects because in a lot of cultures they won’t be accepted in to the family without being seen as a success.
They’re not allowed to stop and take a breath. They can’t show any personality traits seen as feminine, and in a lot of societies if they dare stray from being a straight man they’re killed.
So when we talk about women’s experiences we’re not diminishing the male experience. We’re just talking, and if you’re a man and want to also speak about your issues, try not to interupt us by screaming ‘what about men’. Just listen to us, and then bring it up, we’re all suffering from being silenced by so many, so sympathise and let’s actually have a two way conversation about these issues. They hurt us all, and by being divided in our ways of thinking we’re just letting it happen.