What is Patriarchy: The Easy Lesson of Masculinity

What is masculinity? Many people in our society have incomplete ideas about this. So whenever the word masculinity appears in a discussion, many people unknowingly oppose it. Many also misinterpret masculinity, causing the whole discussion to flow in different directions.

So we all need to know what masculinity actually means, and why we need to be familiar with the concept of masculinity. And Kamala Vasin’s 1993 book, What’s Patriarchal?

Written in a question-and-answer style, this book dispels our misconceptions about masculinity and helps us to gain a realistic understanding of the subject. So, in the light of the writings of Kamala Vasin, let us know the beginning and end of masculinity.

What do we mean by masculinity?

The word masculinity originates from the English word ‘patriarchy’, which in Bengali literally means patriarchy. Originally, the term was used to refer to a special ‘male-subordinate family’, meaning a large family comprising women, young men, children, slaves, and housemaids under a dominant male. But now it is used more to show male dominance; To refer to the power relationship that causes men to dominate women. Through masculinity, the characteristics of that system are determined, where women are subjugated in several ways.

No matter what social or economic class we (women) represent, in everyday life, we ​​all face some subordination, and they come in different forms: discrimination, disrespect, humiliation, control, exploitation, oppression, violence, and so on. These happen in the family, in the workplace, in society. The events may be different, but their essence is always the same.

How does masculinity actually express itself? How can we recognize it in our own lives?

Everyone who has been subjected to even the slightest discrimination, prejudice, or denial can know and feel it. But maybe they don’t know what its name is. Whenever women talk about their experiences in a workshop, they actually talk about the various masculine controls they encounter. A few examples will give you a better understanding of what I mean. Each of them depicts a certain inequality and some aspect of masculinity.

  • “I heard my family wasn’t happy when I was born. They wanted a son.” (Son-dominance)
  • “My brothers could ask for food, they could raise their hands and take whatever food they wanted. But we were told to wait for food. When everyone had eaten, sisters and our mother would be forced to eat what was left.” (Discrimination against girls in food distribution)
  • “I have to help my mother with the housework, not my brothers.” (The burden of housework on women and young girls)
  • “Going to school was like a struggle for me. My father thought it was unnecessary for our girls to study.” (Depriving girls of educational opportunities)
  • “I couldn’t go out to meet my friends or play.”
  • “My brothers can go home whenever they want, but I have to come back before it’s dark.” (Girls’ range limitations and dependencies)
  • “Dad used to hit my mom often.” (Beating)
  • “My brothers are worse than my father. They don’t let me talk to any boy.” (Male control over women and girls)
  • “Since I didn’t want to meet my boss’s needs, it fired me.” (Harassment of women in the workplace)
  • “I have no share in my father’s property. My husband’s property is not mine either. In fact, I have no house that I can claim as my own.” (Lack of women’s inheritance or property rights)
  • “Whenever my husband wants, I have to give my body to him. I have no way to say ‘no’. I’m afraid of s*e*x. I can’t enjoy it.” (Male control over female body and se*xua*lity)
  • “I wanted my husband to use the family planning method. But he didn’t agree. He didn’t even allow me to have surgery.” (Lack of control and rights to women’s reproductive health)

These piecemeal experiences may seem scattered, but when we sort them out one by one, a pattern forms, and we realize that each of us has to fight discrimination. Such subjugation, feelings, and experiences of uncontrollability destroy our self-esteem, self-confidence, and also narrow and limit our dreams. Whenever we do something bold, the rain of condemnation falls on us, we are called ‘unholy’. Whenever we step outside the range and role set for ourselves, we call it shameless.

Our family, social relations, religion, law, school-college, textbooks, media, factories, offices-courts, all the existing rules and practices that make us inferior to men, impose the control of others on us.

When we listen to each other’s experiences, we realize that this subjugation is not just the fate of a handful of unfortunate women, nor is it because of a few ‘brutal’ men who exploit and oppress women. We understand we are standing against a system, a system of male domination and superiority, of male control, where the position of women is always down.

Can we call the term masculinity the collective indicator of the male dominance we always see around us?

Yes, you can. But it is much more than a term. Feminists use it as a concept, and like all other concepts, it is a helpful tool for realizing our reality. Different people have defined it in different ways.

Juliet Mitchell, a feminist psychologist, uses the term masculinity to refer to the system in which men exchange women; And also the symbolic power which the fathers exercised under this system. According to her, this power is behind the ‘inferior’ mentality of women. Sylvia Walby, meanwhile, calls it a system of social structure and practice, in which men dominate, exploit and oppress women, in her book Theorizing Patriarchy. Sylvia Walby reminds us it is important to understand masculinity as a system because then we can reject biological determinism. Or bio-determinism (the essence of which is that men and women are naturally different because of their biological or physical reasons, and that is why they are given different roles in society). By perceiving masculinity as a system, we can reject the idea that every male individual will always be in a dominant state, and every woman will be in a subordinate state.

Associated with this system is the ideal that says men are superior to women, and that is why women must always be under the control of men, and women are the property of men. For example, in some South Asian languages ​​the words husband, husband, owner, etc. are used – each of which literally means ‘lord’ or ‘owner’.

Is masculinity the same everywhere?

No, not always. Its nature may be different in different classes of the same society. Similar differences are noticeable in different societies or periods of history. But the overall principle is always the same, control of power will be in the hands of men. However, there may be differences in the type of control. Suppose, for example, that the patriarchal experience of today does not exist in the time of our grandparents. Again, it is not the same for tribal women and upper-caste Hindus. The same is true of women in the United States and women in India. In fact, each social system or historical period provides its own diversity, which determines the nature of masculinity, and how social and cultural practices will be distinguished. It is important to identify these differences so that we can better analyze our situation.

What things do men control in the patriarchal system?

The following areas of women’s life are mainly under patriarchal control.

1. Women’s productive or labor force

Men control women’s productive capacity, whether it is free housework or outside earning. At home, women provide lifelong service to their children, husbands, and all family members with no remuneration. According to Sylvia Walby’s ‘masculine style of production’, women enjoy the benefits of labor from their husbands and everyone else in the family. According to Walby, housewives are the productive class, and husbands are the occupying class. That is why housewives’ waist-breaking, constant, repetitive hard work is not considered work, but they always considered housewives to depend on their husbands.

Men also control women’s outdoor labor in various ways. They either force women to sell their labor or prevent women from working outside the home. Sometimes men forcibly take away what women earn, or they decide when and how much work women will do. Then again, women are deprived of well-paid jobs. They are forced to sell their labor for tiny wages. Sometimes they are even forced to work at home under the guise of ‘home-based production’, which is the most exploitative system.

This control and exploitation of women’s labor means that men enjoy the material benefits of being masculine. They snatch their economic gain from women by taking advantage of their inferiority. Masculinity has a material basis.

2. Reproduction of females

Men also control the fertility of women. In many societies, women do not have the freedom to decide how many children they want to have, when they want to have them, whether they want to use contraception, whether they want to have an abortion, etc. Besides male-centered control, male-dominated institutions such as the church or state (or religion and politics) also set rules for women’s reproductive capacity. We call this institutionalized control. For example, the Catholic Church’s male clergy decides whether men and women can use birth control methods, what methods are allowed, abortions, and more. Those women are constantly confined to the question of what, who, how and at all in pregnancy and childbirth is visible in almost all countries of the world. And that’s how powerful this control is.

In modern times, the patriarchal state seeks to control women’s fertility through family planning projects. The state fixes the size of the country’s satisfactory population and accordingly encourages or discourages women from giving birth. In India, for example, there is an aggressive birth control scheme that seeks to keep the country’s average family size within certain limits. Again, women in Malaysia are being urged to have a few children so that they create a fairly large domestic market for the products produced in the country. Meanwhile, in Europe, where the birth rate is very low, women are tempted with various incentives to have more children. There they are given maternity leave for a longer period, and full-pay is paid during that leave. There are also part-time job benefits, childcare benefits, etc. Some countries again ‘

The norms and policies of the state also change based on the needs of the labor economy. For example, after World War II, when Germany needed a lot of labor to rebuild the country, they called women upon to work and play a role in nation-building. We can see the opposite picture in Britain. While many women actively worked in the front lines during the war, once Britain won the war, those women were told to return home, as men were enough to handle the work in peaceful times. The famous ‘Baby Boom’ in the United States in the 1950s (the birth rate in the United States skyrocketed from 1948 to 1964) also happened for the same reason, and this result reflected the statewide promotion of the ideal of motherhood.

The ideal of motherhood plays a central role in the radical feminist analysis of the situation of women. According to them, women are subjugated mainly because masculine society has imposed the burden of motherhood and child-rearing on them, and only on them. They imposed motherhood on young women without informing them about the contraceptive information. Getting contraceptives is difficult and convenient for women. The contraceptives they reach are also very expensive, unreliable, or harmful. Masculinity reduces the chances of miscarriage, even denying it most times. But masculinity exerts intense and endless pressure on women to engage in s*e*x.

Another thing is that masculinity not only forces women to be mothers, it also determines the nature of that motherhood. This ideal of motherhood is one foundation of oppression of women, as it creates masculine and feminine characteristics, which perpetuate masculinity. It also strengthens divisions at the individual and public levels, impedes the mobility and development of women, and reproduces male dominance.

3. Control over women’s se*xuality

This is another important area in terms of women’s subordination. Whenever men have a need or desire, they forced women to give them s*e*xual services. In every society, there is a complete moral and legal rule to prevent the s*e*xual expression of women outside the marital relationship. But with men, this society seems to keep its eyes closed. On the other side of the coin, men can also force their wives, daughters or other women to control their prostitution, that is, to sell their s*ex for money. Rape and the threat of rape is another way to dominate women’s se*xuality, including the question of their ‘dignity’ and ‘honor’. To control women’s se*xuality, their dress, behavior and mobility are closely monitored; Based on family, social, cultural, and religious rules.

A radical feminist analysis claims that women under masculinity are not only mothers but also s*e*x slaves. And the patriarchal ideology puts the s*e*xual identity of the ordinary woman ahead of her motherhood. Except for the partial exception of motherhood, masculine culture defines women in bold terms as s*e*xual objects used for men’s happiness. As a result, rape may not exist in all societies, but it is a determinant of masculinity. It sees rape as an effective political tool. Rape is a political form of oppression that is practiced by members of the powerful class on members of the powerless class. Radical feminists focus more on institutionalized prostitution, pornography, and forced heteros*e*xuality as examples of the control of women’s s*e*xuality under masculinity.

4. Women’s mobility

In order to control women’s s*e*xuality, production, and reproduction, men need to control women’s mobility as well. Imposing certain clothing on women, preventing them from going out of the house, strictly isolating their private and public lives, preventing them from interacting with people of other s*e*x (natural s*e*x) and many more are unique ways to control women’s mobility and liberation. Unique because they are gender specific. Men never have to face such restrictions.

5. Property and other economic sectors

Men control most property and other productive sectors, and they transfer this control from one man to another. It usually happens from father to son. Even in places where women have the legal right to own these assets, they attempt to deprive them in various ways. They are deprived of their because of customary law, emotional pressure, the threat of social sanctions, and sometimes, even through direct violence. Sometimes, not only do they gain rights through personal law, but they also lose the rights they had. In all cases, women are disadvantaged. This is even clearer from UN figures: “Women work over 60 percent of the world’s total working hours, but in return, they receive 10 percent of the world’s total income and 1 percent of the world’s total wealth.”

As you said earlier, men mainly controlled all economic, political, social and cultural institutions. Can you tell me more about this?

An analysis of the major institutions that exist in society has shown that the nature of all of them is patriarchal. Family, religion, media, law, etc. are the main pillars of a patriarchal system and structure. The roots of this system are so deeply rooted and cohesive that it makes masculinity invincible. Moreover, as a result, masculinity seems to be a very normal thing. Let’s discuss each of the masculine institutions separately.

1. Family

The family is the basic unit of society, and this institution is probably the most patriarchal. A man is considered as the head of the family; She controls the s*e*xuality, labor or production, reproduction and mobility of women in the family. There is a hierarchical hierarchy, which indicates that men are superior and dominant, and women are inferior and inferior. Moreover, the family plays a very important role in inculcating masculine values ​​in the next generation through socialization. From the family we get the basic education of classification, subordination, inequality. Boys learn how to assert themselves, to develop authority. Girls learn to bow, to take inequality for granted. Although differences in the prevalence and nature of masculine control are observed in families, it is not completely absent in any family.

According to Gerda Lerner, the family plays a leading role in creating and organizing class divisions in society. He writes, “The family is not merely a reflection of the state format and does not teach children to follow that pattern. It builds that pattern on its own, and constantly reinforces it.”

2. Religion

Most modern religions are patriarchal, and they define male authority as the best. They present the masculine hierarchy as if it were supernaturally created. The feminist principle of power that existed before the evolution of institutionalized religion has gradually weakened. The gods have taken the place of the goddesses. All the major religions have been created, interpreted and controlled by upper class and upper caste men. They have defined morality, values, behavior and even law; Divided the responsibilities and rights of men and women; Determined the nature of the relationship between men and women. They have influenced state policy, and that influence is still intact in most societies. Their power and presence in South Asia is immense. For example, even though India is a secular state, the legal identity of an individual is linked to

There is now considerable analysis, which shows that almost all religions consider women to be inferior, impure, and sinful. Almost all religions have established dual standards of morality and behavior for men and women, and religious law often legitimizes violence against ‘misguided’ women. Religious rules and fundamental doctrines allow for heteros*e*xual relations between men and women.

3. Legal system

The legal system of most countries is patriarchal and bourgeois, that is, they favor men and the economically powerful class. Laws relating to family, marriage and inheritance are very closely related to patriarchal control over wealth. Every legal system in South Asia considers men as the head of the family, the natural guardian of the children, and the primary heir to the property. The legal system, the judiciary, judges and lawyers all have a patriarchal view, and it is through that view that the existing laws are interpreted.

4. Economic systems and economic institutions

Under a patriarchal economic system, men control economic institutions, own most of the resources, participate directly in economic activities, and determine the value of various productive activities. As a result, most of the productive work done by women is not recognized, and therefore they are deprived of wages. Maria Mice describes women’s work as ‘shadow work’, because the surplus created by these works is completely negated. There is no evaluation of women’s housework. On top of that, the role of women in conceiving, giving birth to and nurturing them and their labor force is also not considered as any economic contribution.

5. Political systems and institutions

At all levels of society, be it the Gram Panchayat or the Jatiya Sangsad, the dominance and dominance of men is seen in all political institutions. Political parties or organizations see the presence of a handful of women who contribute to the destiny of a country. When women hold important political positions (Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Indira Gandhi, Benazir Bhutto, Khaleda Zia), at least primarily because they are associated with a powerful male political figure, and they follow the structures and principles created by men. Despite having the largest number of women heads of state from this region in the whole world, the presence of women in the South Asian Parliament has never exceeded ten percent. (Not recent data and examples)

. The media

The media is a very important tool, which is occupied by the upper class, upper caste men of the society, and through it they propagate their own ideology on class and gender. From movies, television to magazines, newspapers, radio, the representation of women everywhere is distorted and distorted. In these places the superiority of men and the inferiority of women are repeatedly mentioned; The presence of violence against women is also rampant and abundant; Especially in the movies. As in other sectors, women’s professional representation in the media is very low. Moreover news coverage, advertising and overall message are still much more s*e*xist (bias, discrimination and stereotypes based on s*e*x).

. Knowledge systems and educational institutions

Ever since education has taken a traditional and institutional form, men have controlled various fields of knowledge such as philosophy, theology, law, literature, art, science, etc. Such domination of men in the creation of knowledge has made women’s knowledge and experience, their skills and aspirations, insignificant and insignificant.

In many cultures, women were systematically deprived of the opportunity to read scriptures. Even today, women are rarely given the opportunity to create their own interpretations of religious and legal scripts. Gerda Lerner says:

“We have seen how men first stripped themselves of the main symbols of female power, and later transformed them, as they transformed the power of the mother goddess and the goddess of fertility. There it has reshaped the existence of women in a very narrow and s*e*x-dependent way, so that we have finally seen how gender metaphors have begun to portray men as conventional, and women as conventional; “Men have interpreted the world as their own, using such symbolic constructions, and answering important questions as if they were at the center of the discussion.”

According to some feminists, masculine thinking and knowledge can be identified through division, individuality, opposition and duality. According to them, masculinity values ​​the mind more than the object, the self more than others, reason more than emotion, the inquirer more than the inquirer. The patriarchal system of knowledge is also seen to emphasize specialization, giving precedence to fragmented imagery over the overall picture.

Male-controlled knowledge and education have created and perpetuated patriarchal ideals. According to Sylvia Walby, this knowledge and education has further created ‘gender-segregated forms of mentality’. Men and women differ in their behavior, thoughts and aspirations because they have been given separate initiations into masculine and feminine mentality.

Don’t some feminists believe that there is institutionalized violence against women in many societies?

Yes, they believe in it, and according to them, all forms of violence are used to control and control women. In many cases, such violence by men is considered legitimate. In fact, violence against women is so widespread that Sylvia Walby calls masculine violence a framework. He wrote,

“Despite its seemingly individualistic and diverse forms, masculine violence creates a kind of structure. It becomes a kind of behavior that men regularly treat women. With few exceptions, the state does not want to interfere in or prevent such violence against women. As a result, violence against men has become a systematic, legitimate issue. “

Violence against women was one of the first issues to be discussed and analyzed in the international women’s movement. Feminist education has tried to explain this violence with various theories. All of these theories agree on at least one thing: the violence is systematic and institutionalized.

Mary Daly said that the rulers of masculinity (powerful men) declared a war against life itself.

“The state of masculinity is the state of war, where the times of salvation from war and preparation for war are given the euphemistic term ‘peace’.”

According to the Daily, India’s satidah, China’s paganism, the genital mutilation of young African girls, the extermination of witches in ‘Renaissance’ Europe, and the gynecology behind American gynecology and psychotherapy are all part of the world’s hatred of women, including hatred and bigotry. Are common.

Violence against women in South Asia has been extensively written, discussed, and attempted to explore the relationship between violence and women’s economic oppression, violence and s*e*xuality, violence, and caste and class. In 1986, a meeting of an autonomous women’s organization (Women’s Liberation Conflict Conference) was held in India, in which the following decisions were passed:

“Women face certain types of violence: rape and other forms of physical abuse, feticide, witch killings, chastity, murder for dowry, wife beatings. Such violence and the sense of endless uncertainty that grows between women confines them within the four walls of the home, financially. Exploitation and social oppression. In this ongoing struggle against violence against women in the family, society and the state, we want to give the state recognition as one of the sources. A mass women’s movement should focus on the struggle against them at home and abroad. “

Can we say that male control in all types of organizations directly benefits men?

Generally speaking, we can. Men not only benefit in terms of greater advantage and control, but they also benefit economically and materially. As I said before, masculinity has a material basis. This is what Sylvia Walbio meant when she said that women are the productive class and men are the occupying class. A feminist scholar named Heidi Hartmann finds a deep connection between capitalism and masculinity. He said

“The basic premise on which masculinity relies primarily is men’s control over women’s labor force. Men hold this control, keeping women away from some of the necessary productive resources (any job in capitalist society where they are paid a decent living wage). And by restricting women’s s*ex*uality, monogamous heteros*e*xual marriages are a relatively recent and effective trend that allows men to control both of these areas. And to provide s*e*xual services, and to raise children, thanks to the services received from women, men are relieved of the hassle of doing many unpleasant or unpleasant tasks with their own hands on a daily basis, and these happen both inside and outside the family structure.The material basis of masculinity is not limited to child rearing, but exists in all kinds of social structures, which allow men to control women’s labor force. “

Are women completely powerless in the patriarchal system?

In general, the power of all the important institutions of a patriarchal society is in the hands of men. However, this does not mean that women are completely powerless under masculinity, or that they have no rights, influence or resources. In fact, no unequal system can continue without the participation of the fully exploited. And so the exploited also get some benefits from this system. The same is true of the patriarchal system. Many women have risen to power by becoming queens or prime ministers. They have occasionally controlled the power, looting various benefits, big and small. But this does not disprove the fact that the system is run by men – women are given only a small space. A parallel example is capitalist society, where workers play a very important role, They also occasionally participate in the management level. But this does not mean that power is in the hands of those workers.

Gerda Lerner says:

“Men and women live on a stage where they play roles assigned to them, and both roles are equally important. The play cannot go on without two classes of performers. Neither of those two classes contributes more than anyone as a whole. Not trivial or insignificant. But the stage was created, painted, decorated by men. The play is composed and directed by men. Men also explain the meaning of each event. These men have given themselves the most impressive, heroic characters, and left women in side roles. “

In other words, it doesn’t matter who the women are or what they do. The problem is how women are valued, and who has the right to that valuation. It’s not that masculinity has left women completely out of power or respect – in the problem structure, and that structure is determined by men.

But women also support the rule of men. Masculinity could not have survived without their cooperation. So why do women support masculinity?

There are several complex reasons behind this, some of which we are familiar with. For example, we know that it would not have been possible for a handful of British rulers to rule a vast country or continent without local soldiers, police, and government employees. The slave system would not have lasted so long without the silent cooperation of the slaves. The same applies to women. They are also part of this system, they have also instilled the values ​​of this system in their hearts, and they are not free from patriarchal ideals. And as we have said before, undoubtedly some of the women also benefit from this arrangement. Due to several complex relationships, women keep their cooperation or participation in the masculine system active.

According to Gerda Lerner,

“This collaboration has been confirmed through a number of issues: gender initiation; lack of adequate education; denial of women’s own history; division among women, labeling some as ‘honorable’ and some as ‘misguided’ based on s*e*xual activity; restraint or direct coercion of women.” Inequalities in economic resources and political power; and in giving class privileges to some, which can lead to women’s masculinity as patriarchal domination.

“As long as women are under the ‘security’ of men, they also enjoy the same class benefits as men. For women (except for lower caste women) the issue of ‘mutual agreement’ with men is that: women give men their s*e*xual, economic, political status. And they will accept intellectual subordination, in return for the class power they will receive from men, which they can use to exploit and oppress both men and women of a lower class than their own. “

To ensure the presence of their own benefits, women are constantly manipulating their bargaining power, and in many cases doing so at the expense of other women. But the important thing is for him to analyze the reasons behind it towards the overall system. It is true that women often take more care of their sons, deprive their daughters of education, deprive them of their freedom, abuse their sons’ wives, and much more! All these issues need to be analyzed by judging the context of the power and position of men and women in the family and society. A rural woman explained,

“Men in our family are like the sun, they have their own light (their own resources, income, mobility, freedom of decision making, etc.). But women are like satellites, they have no light of their own. They are illuminated only when the sunlight touches them. “So women always have to fight among themselves to get the bulk of the sunlight. Because without this light, their lives have nothing to do with it.”

Do all men benefit from masculinity?

The answer is yes and no. Yes, because men are chak or not-chak, they get certain benefits as men. Even working class men, who are powerless as opposed to bourgeois men, can assert power over women in their own class. In South Asia, all men have relatively more mobility, resources. Even as men, they have more opportunities in basic things like food and health. In other words, as I said before, social, religious, legal and cultural practices give them some additional benefits as men. And with that, they have more rights in practically all cases.

But in other words, men are also disadvantaged in many cases because of masculinity. Like women, they are pushed towards certain stereotypes. Some specific roles are imposed on them. They have to behave in a certain way, willingly or unwillingly. They also have a responsibility to comply with social restrictions, and they are forced to do many things as a result of those restrictions. Men who are mild-mannered and not aggressive tend to be harassed and ridiculed in many ways. Those who look at their wives with equal eyes are called ‘feminine’. I know a man who has been humiliated all his life just because he was training to be a Kathak dancer, and he loved to sew or do feminine things that don’t go with ‘real’ men.

Men are also deprived of their true likes and dislikes. They also have no chance to get out of the mainstream, to give up the role of money and security donors. Whenever a young or educated man says that he does not go out to work, takes care of the family from home, everyone looks at him with disbelief and frown. She was told, “These things are for women, not for men.”

However, these bimanabikikaranake (dihiumyanaijesana) compared with the same or similar means of subjugation of women can not be considered equivalent. There are two main reasons behind this. First, not all men have to go through these experiences; And second, they don’t have to suffer massive discrimination or paralysis.

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