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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Patriarchy-public/private debate

It is an issue of subordination of women to men
It refers to experiences where women are not only treated as subordinate to men but are also subject to discriminations, humiliations, exploitations, oppressions, control and violence.
Women experience discrimination and unequal treatment in terms of basic right to food, health care, education, employment, control over productive resources, decision-making and livelihood not because of their biological differences or sex, which is natural but because of their gender differences which is a social construct.

Let us examine a Liquor shop-sellers,users,staff but the consequence of alcoholism suffered by women
Or Public Transport-staff,drivers,all are men but its greatest beneficiary is women as equal as men
Or Film Industry-
Or Restaurant-
Or Technology
Or politics-

What is Patriarchy?
Patriarchy literally means rule of the father in a male-dominated family.
Patriarchy is best defined as control by men.
It is a social and ideological construct which considers men (who are the patriarchs) as superior to women. Sylvia Walby in “Theorising Patriarchy” calls it “a system of social structures and practices in which men dominate, oppress and exploit women”
Patriarchy is based on a system of power relations which are hierarchical and unequal where men control women’s production, reproduction and sexuality.
It imposes masculinity and femininity character stereotypes in society which strengthen the iniquitous power relations between men and women

The nature of control and subjugation of women varies from one society to the other as it differs due to the differences in class, caste, religion, region, ethnicity and the socio-cultural practices. Thus in the context of India, brahminical patriarchy, tribal patriarchy and dalit patriarchy are different from each other. Patriarchy within a particular caste or class also differs in terms of their religious and regional variations.

Patriarchal societies propagate the ideology of motherhood which restrict women’s mobility and burdens them with the responsibilities to nurture and rear children. The biological factor to bear children is linked to the social position of women’s responsibilities of motherhood: nurturing, educating and raising children by devoting themselves to family. “Patriarchal ideas blur the distinction between sex and gender and assume that all socio-economic and political distinctions between men and women are rooted in biology or anatomy” (Heywood, 2003: 248). Gender like social class, caste, race or religion is a significant social cleavage and it is important to analyse it to understand social inequalities, oppressions and unequal relationship between men and women. It has been explained by feminist scholars / thinkers/ writers who believe that the theory of ‘sexual politics’ and ‘sexism’ are conscious parallels with theory of ‘class politics’ and ‘racism’ to understand oppression of women.
Patriarchy has been conceptualized and analyzed by several feminist scholars in different ways. Feminists have challenged patriarchal knowledge, ideology, values and its practice. Despite a range of common themes within feminism, disagreements exist amongst the feminists in understanding patriarchy. All feminists do not like the term “patriarchy” for various reasons and prefer the term “gender” and “gender oppression”. Patriarchy has remained a relatively undefined concept and some feminist scholars are at unease with the use of the concept of ‘patriarchy’ when it involves the notion of a general system of inequality.
According to Walby, Patriarchy is indispensable for an understanding of gender inequality and there are 6 "key patriarchal structures which restrict women and help to maintain male domination."
1.     Thus Patriarchy operates via paid work where females face horizontal and vertical segregation leading to lower rates of pay than for men;
2.    Patriarchy operates via the gender division of labour in the household which forces women to take primary responsibility for housework and childcare even if they are also in full-time employment. Women may be trapped in unsatisfactory marriages because they are unable to find well paid jobs to support themselves and their children.
3.    Women are also at a cultural disadvantage because modern western culture especially emphasises the importance of feminine attractiveness which degrades and sometimes threatens women.
4.     Heterosexual relationships are seen by Walby as essentially patriarchal although Sylvia Walby argues that women have made some gains in this respect, for example as a result of modern contraception and liberalisation of abortion and divorce law.
5.     Patriarchy is often sustained by male violence against women
6.    Patriarchy is sustained  by the activities of the State which is "still patriarchal as well as capitalist and racist" although there may have been some limited reforms such as more equal educational opportunities and easier divorce laws which have protected women against patriarchy to some extent.

Public /Private Debate
Public and private is serious debate in gender and patriarchy theories
In liberal thinking private sphere is seen an area where  individual freedom is unrestrained by state power
In republican tradition it is the public sphere that is seen as the domain of true freedom
In both of this tradition women have been relegated to sphere of private-family.
A central feminist critique is driven by Pateman and argued social contract ignored sexual contract
Sexual contract is the basis of women subordination
Sexual difference implies political difference because women who are assumed to lack naturally attributes of individual are denied civil freedom
In exposing the exclusion of women from political world , feminist pointed out the public private division is the crux of women problem
This arguments led to rise of second wave in 1960 and 70s

Therefore the argument personal is political

It proposes that the personal and family is not outside the remit of public
It exposes that private realm is too a realm of power relations
The term "The personal is political" wasn't actually popularized until the late 60s and early 70s (by a group called the Redstockings and by Robin Morgan in her book Sisterhood is Powerful). The term was created to underscore what was happening in women's personal lives--i.e. access to health care, being responsible for all of the housework, possibly being sexually assaulted in our own homes--was a political issue. This was meant to 1.) inspire women to be politically active in the issues that affected their lives and 2.) make sure that politicians paid attention to women's lives--and look at how the laws ignored women.
First, it’s important to note that the phrase ‘the personal is political’ manifestly does not mean that everything a woman does is political or that all her personal choices are political choices. In feminist terms, the ‘personal is political’ refers to the theory that personal problems are political problems, which basically means that many of the personal problems women experience in their lives are not their fault, but are the result of systematic oppression.
The theory that women are not to blame for their bad situations is crucial here because women have always been told that they are unhappy or faring badly in life because they are stupid, weak, mad, hysterical, having a period, pregnant, frigid, over-sexed, asking for it etc. The personal is political proposes that women are in bad situations because they experience gendered oppression and massive structural inequalities.
-Husband and wife at bed room
-parents care more about their son than daughter
-Father and mother on family budget
-personal circumstances are structured by public factors
-women lives are regulated and conditioned by legal status of wives by govt policies on child care, welafer benefits,by labour laws,by laws on rape,abortion,harassment
So personal problems can be solved only through political means and political action

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