As parents of the new generation, we often talk of gender equality and gender-neutral parenting. How many of you have ever stopped for a moment and realized how patriarchy is deep rooted in our daily lives. Roots of patriarchy are so deeply spread in our society that many of us do not even think about it and take it to be standard or the way of life.
Till you and I do not question these common practices, nothing will change and the deep rooted patriarchy will just spread.
Patriarchy is Deep Rooted: Is the Man, God?
Daily when I scroll down my Facebook page, I hear women about husbands and in-laws and other issues in life. These groups are a boon for women who have finally got a space or a medium to share their problems because most of them do not have this liberty at home.
I do not mean to say that they cannot talk, but they refuse to because they want peace in their life. And yes, sometimes they cannot talk about it to anyone including their life partners.
I have observed that in most households it is one person who changes himself or herself to maintain peace in the house and thus, they will think carefully before they speak or do anything, and in most cases, I see the women who do this.
Men today have changed a lot but the percentage of such men is small. These men somewhere are also a part of the deep rooted patriarchy because they were brought up that way.
If you think carefully, this is because of the patriarchal setup of our society where the man is the God. The son is treated like a god and then when he becomes the man of the house, he believes he is the God.
Read the post, Break the Shackles of Gender Inequality In India, Raise Feminist Kids to understand how as parents we need to question and create awareness to be able to bring about equality between the two sexes.
Gender Inequality In India
Patriarchy is the root cause of many problems in our society and patriarchy is so deep rooted that many of us do not even notice it. Education is considered to be the solution to this mindset, but trust me it is not, as even the most educated and so-called modern families have instances of the males overpowering the females.
Read the post, Is Education the Solution to Our Problems to understand how education is not the answer to many problems.
Though illegal, sex determination is still a multi-crore racket in the country. Domestic violence, rapes, acid attacks, child marriage, inequality are very common in both rural and urban areas.
Sophisticated men who might be CEOs of companies, rape and beat their wives and behave as if everything is normal. Preference for a male child is evident because he will be the one who will rule and the girl will struggle to find her place.
Daily Instances To Understand How Patriarchy is Deep Rooted
I am the only child of my parents and they have brought me up in a very open and modern way, but still, there are many things which I have grown up learning and I can question them only when I am a mother of a daughter whom I would like to teach to be less submissive to these practices.
Somethings which we hear daily and do not even bother about are a clear indication of how patriarchal we are. “Boys will be boys”, “celebrating the alpha man”, “it’s a woman’s thing”; are these not something you and I hear daily. Even if the man does not subscribe to these ideas but how many times have you heard them question their peers; they just ignore them and joke about it.
Let me give you a very basic example here. Every girl/woman gets her periods and this is nature. We talk of normalizing it and talking about it. How many times does anyone tell a boy or a man to understand she needs a little extra care due to cramps and mood swings? Just understanding her and letting her be is simple, but PMS is a BIG JOKE whereas it is a reality.
Let us talk about different stages of life where patriarchy is deep rooted.
When I was in school, the school uniform was skirts and shirts but off late I have noticed that most schools have salwar kameez as their uniforms. I am not sure of the reason but I feel one of the main reasons is to ensure the girls are covered and trouble from boys will be avoided as boys will be boys.
If it is done to promote traditional clothes, girls should be given a choice and this is where feminism comes in.If it is to avoid unnecessary attention, why cannot boys be held accountable for their actions and be taught to respect the woman irrespective of what they wear?
When I was in Class 7 I still remember how we were told to sit carefully and hold our skirts when walking down steps. There were many other rules, and I do not even remember them 25 years later. (God, that feels old)
Coming to the point, I wonder if such lessons are still taught to girls. Rather than teaching girls, why not tell the boys to respect the girls they study with and will walk with all their lives. If we cannot teach these basics in school and teachers and parents do not feel ‘comfortable” talking about these, how do we expect the boys to learn.
Read the post, Teaching Kids About Feminism is the Need of the Hour to understand how important it is and how as parents, we often do not talk about it.
Coming to the phase in life where you find most instances to see how patriarchy is deep rooted; marriage.
Firstly, marriage is the ultimate goal in everyone’s life and especially that of a girl. As is the common thought process, a woman should get married because she needs a man to protect her. Is that not the mindset in many households still?
Marriage should be done because two people want to spend their life together. It is about love and companionship not because you must stay with a MAN. When girls are growing up they are taught how they are ‘paraya dhan’ and due to this many are pampered also. But why is that?
I think it is very demeaning for anyone to say that to a girl. In our society, a woman is homeless due to this patriarchal mindset. Her father’s home is never her home and her in-laws’ house is the house, of the in-laws or husband. Where is her house which she can make a home? And this is not about who owns the house, but about which house she has the authority to make her home without asking anyone.
Next, let us see the marriage ceremony. A woman cries when she gets married as she is leaving her parents. I also did but that thought to leave your two lifelines and go to a new house is too much to handle.
But the question here is, why is a woman leaving her house and going to the new one? Have you heard a man crying because he is being given away? There is kanya daan. The whole concept of giving away an adult is regressive in my opinion. And because of this, the husband will never adjust to the new house the way the woman does, because it is not ‘his family’. It will be always ‘your parents’ and ‘your family’.
And he will not adjust, because he will never understand or he has never learnt to share the responsibility the same way. This is where, the parents have to teach the sons, and ensure that he accepts the other house, as his own house.
This Diwali ad is one of my most favorite ads and I hope all parents of boys think this way.
Life Post Marriage
Now you are married and comes in the next big example of how patriarchy is deep rooted. What I am talking about is the compulsion to stay with the in-laws.
It is a done thing. Either the couple stays alone or with the boy’s parents. How many times have you heard that the couple shifts with the girl’s family? There is nothing wrong with staying with the in-laws, I also do, but I am questioning the system. I have no complaints, many have.
Many times, the girl’s parents need more care and attention but the norm is to give priority to the in-laws. If she wants to take care of her parents, she will take care of all four. If a man moves in with the in-laws, why is his masculinity is questioned?
Festivals, birthdays, functions happen in all houses, but if it’s a choice, it’s the in-laws who will get priority always. The girl’s parents can be alone but the boy’s parents need ‘their’ children to celebrate.
(Read the post, “Should a Woman Celebrate Her Different Roles”)
The husband in most households even today has the final say. I have seen houses where women do not even have the right to give an opinion. Is this not patriarchy?
How to Weaken the Foundation of The Deep Rooted Patriarchy?
There are many more instances of patriarchy that I can speak of, but I do not know what difference it will make. And all these things are so deep rooted and most of us do not have the confidence to question them, that they will keep on carrying.
I am not saying stop these practices; I am saying give the woman the choice and let her decide. This is the basic thing we can give where women have the right to choose. Teach the man to give the woman an option. Let the ‘weaker sex’ be the ‘equal sex’.
What we need todo to improve things is to let the boys and girls grow up in a similar way. This can be a baby step in the right direction, maybe. Patriarchy is deep rooted; we have to teach the next generation to look at society in a new way. That is the only hope I have. We have to end patriarchy and not fight men to get equality.
If as parents, you want to ensure we bring about the much- needed change so that our kids do not think patriarchy is deep rooted, you must ensure promote the thought process at home. Here are some simple ways to promote gender equality at home.
Another great post, To Smash the Patriarchy, These are the Lessons We Should Be Teaching Our Sons, is a must-read for all parents of boys.
So parents of boys and girls, let us all make our kids aware and ensure they do not accept patriarchy as a part of their life. Let us pray and hope, when they grow up they say, patriarchy WAS deep rooted.