3 Shockingly Ignored Ways in Which Women Contribute to Patriarchy and Oppression
In India, we have this phrase in Hindi called ‘Abla Naari’ which in English means ‘helpless woman’. As a feminist, I have seen women with a lot of privileges and those with very few. But I would never say that a woman, in general is helpless.
Patriarchy enforces such ignorant beliefs among us, stereotyping woman as ‘the weaker sex’. The truth however is that women are as much vulnerable and as much powerful as men. While India has shamefully won the title of being the most unsafe country in the world for women; it’s not just men who are to blame for this embarrassment.
For most women, it is easier to blame men for all sorts of violence against women and act like victims or potential victims. Shockingly, the role of women in uplifting patriarchy and oppression is never talked about at all.
So, how do (many) women contribute to violence against women?
Here are 3 reasons no one wants to admit or talk about.
1. Patriarchal parenting.
In India, women are the primary parent in most households. While they have a perfect opportunity to raise their children as open minded individuals, they rarely do so. Their parenting includes gender stereotyping limiting the potentials of their children to their gender.
If you are a girl, don’t go out or play sports. If you are a boy, don’t show your emotions or take interest in the kitchen. Be dirty, lazy and lay around the couch watch TV while your sister will do the cleaning. The limit is endless. Girls are taught to grow up and study just that much so they would find suitable husbands.
It’s the mother who can teach her little girl to dream and fly in the sky or just do the laundry and dishes. It’s also the mother who can teach her boy to respect his sister and friends while ensuring he is given nothing more than what is offered to his sister. I’m not ignoring the role of men here but I prefer to write about that in depth in a different article.
For now, it is important to focus on how many opportunities women have in their hands but they choose to blissfully ignore because they themselves believe in the hardcore gender stereotypes and boundaries defined by the society.
2-The Illusion of a Happy Marriage
While many women are facing domestic violence at home, not every woman is threatened to be murdered. However, many women face emotional and psychological abuse every single minute of the day. They are educated, they have well to do families and they live with educated husbands. They choose abuse because they think that being submissive is the key to a happy marriage. Now, I know many of you would do the #whyIstayed reasoning…and I respect all that but if you think that acting like a maid is marrige and you force other women to live like that, then you need to broaden your thinking.
What such women fail to realize is that a subject-object relationship is light years away from the word ‘marriage’. Women convince themselves and force other women to believe that suffering and mental stress is parts of marriage. I agree that marriage is hard work and it certainly needs a lot of compromise, but letting another person abuse you is neither. Taking a stand for your rights or simply NOT acting like a maid servant, cooking and cleaning your husband’s dirt and treating him like an overgrown spoilt baby is how women raise a ‘MAN-CHILD’ husband.
Sharing household chores is the major point of disaster where men take the back seat and women let them. Those men who share household responsibilities raise better children who become matured individuals and succeed in life.
3-Men as Personal ATM
Many households prohibit women to work. Many women do not want to work themselves. Educated women look for financially strong men for marriages (without considering their personalities) just so they would be richer. Status and wealth are the most powerful things in the minds of our society and to reach that high, women begin to consider men as their personal ATM’s.
Women can and must be responsible for their expenses. In cases where men do not allow them to step out of the house, there is room for negotiation. But in many cases as I have witnessed, women chose not to work and toil. Instead, they prefer watching saas-bahu daily soaps all day, cook and clean a little and spend their entire lives complaining about their husbands or parents. Please note that I am NOT discrediting housewives, I actually think it is the hardest job in the world. But this is about housewives thinking that working women are sluts (used for lack of better word and to quote the exact term I hear). It is not about who works harder, it is about judging working women and their morality.
A man being violent against women is very visible because we see the scars and bruises (although emotional and psychological abuse exists more than physical abuse, it is rarely recognized). But mental stress that our men face in this harsh world has no marks. Men are forced to be the sole bread winners of their families. The day a baby girl is born, their life is doomed because all they see in that little angel is the pressure of dowry. This is the sole reason for infanticide in India.
Thus, both as fathers and as husbands, men face a lot injustice. Women cannot always change things but in most cases they can. They choose not to because they are too lazy to step out of the house and they also consider it is beneath them to work for a living. They look down upon women who sit all day at an office and work hard to make their wages.
The most dangerous outcome of this mentality is gender inequality. When feminists oppose patriarchy, they do not support matriarchy. At least that is not what the progressive societies do. Unfortunately, Indian law makers and the society in general do not understand gender equality even in its basic form. To fight patriarchy, they would blindly support matriarchy. To save our daughters, we cannot put our sons in danger or vice versa. I am a hardcore feminist and I support women’s rights at the core of my heart but I do not blame just men for their oppression.
Feminism stands for gender equality and justice and that is what India needs. Blind support of either sex is unprogressive and will lead to more violent crimes and hatred in the hearts of men for women. Gender equality is not preference of one sex over another. It means treating all genders as equal and justice for all.
Project Ground Zero has been launched in December 2014 to promote Gender Equality and fight violence against women in India. Our mission is to provide workshops offering tools, trainings and a platform to young adults to discuss how gender stereotype is hurting their potentials and how to take pride in themselves by not looking at themselves through the eyes of the media. If you would like me to visit your University or College, please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org