Sunday, 4 October 2015

Thoughts On The Origins Of The Patriarchy And Its Unfairness - To Both Sexes

I recently read an interesting review of the movie "Parched", and posted about it on Facebook.

The post elicited an interesting response from a male friend, who seemed a bit uncomfortable about some of the bold statements in it. He expressed reservations about what he called the "feminist agenda". When I countered that the so-called "feminist agenda" was about nothing more than equal treatment of the two sexes (which is hardly sinister), he made a couple of statements.

"If equal treatment was warranted then nature would have made us all [the] same."

"Men and Women are not sub-groups. They together make humankind. No matter how much we try both these pillars will remain different and that's what nature intended."

I realise I may not be doing justice to his views based on two statements lifted from a conversation, but I would like to share what I posted in response to them:

This is going to take a while to explain but it may be worth it, so I request your patience.

Most of us have grown up in patriarchal societies, and so the value systems of such societies may feel "natural" to us, while challenges to such value systems may feel "unnatural". But what are patriarchal societies and why have they come about?

There are sociological theories about this that stem from a fundamental difference between the sexes, not so much physiological but the relative difficulty of establishing paternity as opposed to maternity.

The mother-child relationship is readily recognised, because a woman's pregnancy and childbirth are events that are not easily hidden. In contrast, the father-child relationship is not readily recognisable, because conception is a very private affair! It is the desire to establish paternity beyond doubt that has led to severe restrictions being placed on women. To put it bluntly, women's eggs may only be fertilised under controlled conditions that establish paternity. That is the real reason why women are not allowed freedom of movement, freedom to mingle with members of the opposite sex, or in general, sexual freedom.

Further, this patriarchal system institutes severe punishment for those women who slip past these restrictions and attempt to have their eggs fertilised outside of the controlled conditions prescribed for them (i.e., marriage). That's why we have shaming of women in extramarital or premarital relationships, poor treatment of "illegitimate" children, and extreme punishments like "honour killing". (Indeed, in matriarchal societies, there is no such thing as an illegitimate child, because every child has a mother!)

Knowing this history, we can understand both why patriarchy does what it does, and why it is a highly unfair system. It is born out of the insecurity of men to establish paternity. Restricting the freedoms of one half of humanity is too high a price to pay to satisfy that insecurity. It is far better to educate men to overcome their insecurity over paternity than to continue to restrict women's freedom, which includes their sexual freedom.

It is not as if the patriarchy benefits men uniformly, either. While men do get a better deal than women overall, the patriarchy also unfairly constrains what men may or may not do. This is why many men consider it unacceptable to cry, and why we have such an epidemic of unreported male depression in society. This is also why less evolved societies look down on stay-at-home dads, whereas men and women should be free to decide the roles that are appropriate for their families.

So I really do not see anything sinister in the "feminist agenda". In fact, I embrace it wholeheartedly, because the patriarchy is an unfair system that disadvantages all of us. You are right that men and women are built differently, but we can see how an unfair system has developed because of this difference. It takes a very minor change to get rid of this system, and it pertains to how men deal with their insecurities about the need to establish paternity and the need to control women's sexuality. This is an individual conflict every man must resolve within himself.
This was based on what I remembered reading a long time ago on the patriarchy stemming from the need to establish paternity, so I searched for references and finally found this.


I think this is an important set of ideas for everyone to understand, especially men. The patriarchy disadvantages us all (women more than men, certainly), so the sooner it is dismantled, the better it will be for society.
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