For a very long time, the social life of any nation has been set up according to gender roles. The majority of the world was a male dominated patriarchy that centered all control in the hands of men.
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History of patriarchy goes far back, as some archaeological evidence suggests and has existed for thousands of years. It is unclear how this sort of social division started but one thing is for sure, most of societies globally, had patriarchal order. An interesting fact is that many well developed societies in the ancient times, had women who advocated their rights and freedoms.
There have been some opinions that only underdeveloped societies had men as superior but historical evidence has numerous examples that do not support this (Bennett 25). The archeological evidence has not been sufficient to provide any insight into the matter, except that patriarchy has been an inseparable part of almost all civilizations. Even though this might not seem as a starting point, it begs a question as to whether it was a simple lack of the intellect that has produced such discriminatory notion.
There are several conceptual theories that try to explain the dominance of patriarchy in the past and modern societies. The simplest one which is commonly refuted is the biological theory. Women were naturally made inferior to men because they are physically weaker. This is a very questionable concept, as the word “weaker” is very perceptive. It is true that men are genetically qualified by having more muscle and bone mass but that does not mean that they are quicker or that women are not able to develop same muscle power.
Strength must be measured in endurance and mental ability and this would prove that there are many examples in the past and present, where women have been much stronger. The single fact that women are the central point to reproduction and its painful birth giving characteristics, prove that the amount of pain is much greater than men have ever felt. According to these criteria, women are definitely superior (Bennett 31).
Some theorists say that the child bearing ability is clear evidence that women were made biologically weaker. Their mistake is that they base this on the further social extension of the role women play in the family. It has been said that women must act as mothers and raise children but there is no specific evidence to say that women are better or worse at raising children and that it is their responsibility.
The only biological and indisputable predisposition is that women become pregnant and carry out the offspring. What happens further, socially, is completely up to the intelligence and mental determination of the individuals and the society. Considering the historical evidence, there are numerous examples that show how men can be a better parent to the child than their mother. This is proof that gender roles are majorly socially constructed (Lassen 10).
Another supposition is that patriarchy arose from the competition between men. As continuity of humanity has been one of the key goals of people, women are the ones who decide which male is chosen. A female is most interested in the well-being and further health of her child because they are the ones who invest much more mental and physical energy into the child bearing process.
As women choose a man with most resources, which would guarantee best future for their children, men established a social role based on strength, ability to overpower other men and thus, have constructed a world of raw power. The genetical information that was passed down from one generation to the next, favored the strongest males with the most ability to become successful in finding resources.
This indirectly put men into a position of authority in a society. Religion has also played its part in the views that men and societies have made in relation to women. Bible is often cited as proof that God and rulers on earth are male and that women are inferior. Catholic Church has not been any different in its views, in comparison to Christianity, as Popery has always been patriarchal (Coffen 66).
The mistake that humanity has made is that authority over strength and resources transferred to authority over women, their rights and freedoms. It has become so much enrooted into daily life that females were forced to develop a complex of inferiority. Patriarchy bases itself on ruling and domination over rights and qualities by men.
There is no denying that this sort of division has created more problems than solutions. In fact, there is absolutely nothing positive in male dominance and it is possible to assume that humanity might have developed in a more efficient and positive way, if women were allowed greater participation in the global matters.
It is a sad truth that even great philosophers have attributed negative qualities to women and made men seem better and more dominant. This shows how limited the conceptual framework of a society and individual brain can be. The abuse and bigotry that women have been suffering for centuries, have led to women’s rights movement and anti-discrimination laws that are present in the modern society (Lassen 260).
Even considering all the changes that have happened recently, the world is still a patriarchal society. Women are being paid less for same jobs as men, they are not as easily promoted and politics are very much dominated by men.
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The physical and mental abuse is commonplace and this proves how much male dominance is instilled in the biology and social lives of people. Research studies and experiments that were conducted and compared men’s and women’s intelligence, showed no difference. The biological and genetical “evidence” has also been refuted because there are no particular criteria that can be compared.
The modern intellectual development has also shown that there are neither conceptual nor environmental perspectives that define men as being stronger or more superior to women. It is certain that the present days have much changed and there is a great shift in the way masculinity and femininity are viewed. Patriarchy is becoming less dominant and the roles are merging (Bennett 154).
The origins of patriarchy are lost to the ages but this is not the concern of modern days. The fact that it existed and continues to be one of the major determinants of social division is definite. The new understanding has brought changes and people are starting to realize the absence of any basis for male dominance but there are many norms that must still be implemented. Patriarchy has taken hundreds of years to develop and will take as long to root out.
Bennett, Judith. History Matters: Patriarchy and the Challenge of Feminism. Philadelphia, United States: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011. Print.
Coffen, Richard. Wake Up Your Bible Study: Getting the Most from Your Time with God. Hagerstown, United States: Autumn House Publishing, 2007. Print.
Lassen, Inger. Living With Patriarchy. Philadelphia, United States: John Benjamins Publishing, 2011. Print.