It will be interesting to contemplate major reasons under which patriarchal code is embedded to greater or lesser degree in interpersonal relations and virtually linked to all cultural canons of language, religion, laws, mores, and forms of government. Whatever the cultural difference there exist special privilege for men under patriarchy than women.
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“Radical feminists define patriarchy as a social system in which men appropriate all social roles and keep women in subordinate positions.” (Kambarami 2006) Patriarchy is a powerful universal system which permeated all political systems and religious beliefs over centuries. By its very nature patriarchy is rooted in the subjugation of women, under the exertion of power by men, the practice of male domination. “Contrary to common understanding, true Biblical Patriarchy is not man dominance, but God dominance through man as head of his household, where he must love his household as Christ loves the church and if necessary lay down his life for it.” (Restoration of Biblical Patriarchy, 1997) Male dominance was prevalent for thousands of years and patriarchal cultures uphold the privilege of men in all social activities, religious practices, and even legal codes. It may be connected with the evolution of human civilization when human existence was dependent on hunting, which was a male dominated activity, as well as the initiative to dominate the weak through suppression or violence It is believed that men are physically strong, capable of decision making and bold enough to lead others whereas women are meek, entitled to produce and bring up their progenies, and vanquish to the whims and fancies of male. Feminist historians offer evidence, from Greek, Hindu and other mythology for the hypothesis, that for thousands of years women were revered, and their icons were worshipped, because women alone performed the miracle of bringing forth new life. All the new monotheistic religions like Judaism, Christianity, and Islam featured male dominance and replaced the old pantheons of gods and goddesses. The new religions propagated there was one God who had made man in ‘His’ image, making man superior to woman. It has to be construed as a process of enslavement that turned women a slave of men to bear children and maintain house-hold, and even succumb to forced prostitution.
The family is a “social group characterized by common residence, shares resources, works as a unit and rears children. In a family there are at least two adult members that conduct sexual relationship that is tolerated by norms of the society they live in”.
It may be the assertion of male that they were essential for procreation and they alone hold the key to succession in family led to the collapse of female prominence. The subjugation of women is established through the institution of marriage forcing the women to live in a private realm where husband reigns supreme. Marriage also bestow right of the husband to his wife’s property and the patriarchal society formed the basic unit for maintaining social order. A male’s privilege begins from the day his mother’s conception is confirmed and the family desires the age-old preference for a baby boy. A patriarchal society takes the male offspring as the heir to family tree and a female child a liability. Even women from socially and economically sound background may be exposed to physical and emotional abuse in a patriarchal society, if she displeases her father or husband. With the introduction of modern diagnosing tools there is a dangerous tendency in patriarchal society opting more and more female feticide. Abortion rate in countries where strict birth control and patriarchy is prevalent the threat to life of female infant is high.
The family, work and welfare are the three influential social institutions having major role in maintaining social order and promoting social change. Everyday life within these powerful institutions is in the process of constant transformation and being ordered by the exercise of power and resistance. “The exercise of institutional power involves different modes, from coercion and manipulation to domination and authority.” (Hughes & Fergusson, 2005, p.24) Women face violence and discrimination within and behind the closed doors of the family, compounded by discrimination and the risk of further violence, including a threat to their lives by their relatives. While an analysis of discriminatory family laws is difficult, it seems likely that some women may report violence in order to establish grounds for a divorce rather than with any serious expectation that they will be able to access justice. However, there is a “new kind of companionship, reflecting the rise in status of the young wife and children which is one of the great transformations of our time. There is now a new approach to equality between the sexes and though each has its peculiar role, its boundaries are no longer so rigidly defined, nor performed without consultation… man and wife are partners.”(Hughes & Fergusson 2005, p.50). It may be considered as the new shift in social transformation which empowers women to act along with her male companion in all family spheres and social activities rather than subjugating to male dominance.
- Hughes, Gordon & Fergusson, Ross., 2005. 2nd Ed. Ordering Lives: Family, Work and Welfare. P.24. New York: Routledge.
- Hughes, Gordon & Fergusson, Ross., 2005. 2nd Ed. Ordering Lives: Family, Work and Welfare. P.25. New York: Routledge.
- Kambarami, Maureen (2006). Culture, Femininity and sexuality South Africa: University of Fort Hare. Web.
- Murdock, George P. The family as a universal social institution. [online]. Blacksacademy.net. Web.
- Restoration of Biblical Patriarchy. (1997). what is Biblical, Patriarchy? [online]. Web.