Is patriarchy for men?
Years of continued and increased injustice, and years of continued resistance and rebellion against the patriarchal system of the society have not only brought positive changes in it but also modified the system of oppression, too. Patriarchy is infamous and rightly condemned for bestowing power to the men and neglecting it to women.
As much as we like to wrongly associate feminism with ‘only women empowerment’ and patriarchy with ‘male dominance’, it becomes imperative to break this notion. It is nothing more than a social and political system of gaining complete authority, leadership and control of the property in the society. Neither does it empower any sex, nor does it criticizes the oppression of men, sex that it purportedly vouches for.
Patriarchy has represented itself in institutions of all kinds, infiltrated safe spaces and thrives off the lives of the oppressed. The privilege that patriarchy gives to men, comes at the cost of the lives of women. This might come as a shock, but this the shameful reality of the system we live in.
Patriarchy and men
Patriarchy harms men in different indirect ways. There isn’t a definite period in history or a collective text that talks about the emergence of patriarchy. In Marxist theory, patriarchy surfaced for taking control of the private property and passing it on to the male members only. Women were suppressed and confined to houses doing household chores. The domination and confinement of women represent the fear of them transgressing that is instilled in men. Now as the years have passed, there are newer methods and social systems made by patriarchy.
The relation men have with patriarchy has done more harm to them. The stronger the relation, the bigger the risk of getting harmed and brought down by it. Men suffer different injustices and face discrimination every day because of it. It came as a friend to men but is nothing more than a bitter enemy.
All that patriarchy has given us
Apart from access to power, patriarchy has given more to men. Men have been suffering social and economic injustices in the hands of patriarchy, it has affected their mental health and rendered them helpless. Surprisingly, access to the power given to men is only in relation to women. Men do not have power with respect to society at large, and further strips them of their humanity. In society, patriarchy affects men with the role of power. It favours the one with more economic capital over others.
It has made different institutions of privilege that actively oppress and affect men. In personal relationships, patriarchy has given complete rule and authority to men. This is where the problem arises. The personal ‘pros’ of patriarchy are only considered in discussion but not the bigger societal and economical cons. In this way, patriarchy harms men too and affects them in ways that exist but are not discussed often.
How patriarchy affects men ?
There are many patriarchal ways that harm men and affect their lives too. It puts the unnecessary onus on them, makes social norms and gender roles, and even polices what they wear and how to wear. A broader look at how patriarchy affects men:
- Economic injustice: It has put the entire onus of earning and the need for financial stability on men. Men are expected to be the breadwinner of the family, provide a stable and economically happy life to his family.
This injustice is further cemented by capitalism that constantly exploits men (because the majority of them are in the job sector) for making profit and giving them a meagre salary despite their time and efforts. The presence of gender roles that expect men to earn and women to do household chores is a result of this economic injustice.
- Social injustice: Society with cultures in it deteriorates mental health with the building of social norms. It has made acceptance and recognition of personal choices and ways of living harder. It expects men to not cry or express themselves, be vulnerable or to manifest anything that is expected of a human being. Domestic abuse or sexual abuse that happens with men is entirely neglected, denied, or even twisted according to what suits the society.
Empathetic men are often portrayed as frivolous and having lesser intelligence, men that stay in the house cooking and helping women are demeaned and called names, men with working wives are labelled as incompetent and inefficient, men dressing differently are humiliatingly referred as ‘gay’. All these norms and roles by the patriarchal institution that are expected from men perpetuate gender inequality and oppression.
- Toxic masculinity: Media along with society plays a great role in propagating toxic masculinity traits through various forms like movies, advertisements, campaigns, etc. Men are represented in the mainstream media as tough, aggressive and assertive individuals whom no one has the authority to question or challenge. Men are also never shown crying or seeking help. This representation of men in media has been normalised and considered acceptable within the community of men and society, making it difficult for men to hold discussions regarding their mental health and seeking help through therapy.
Patriarchy is not any one’s side
Yes, patriarchy affects men. Patriarchal norms have oppressed men in many ways. It has stopped help from expressing their emotions and problems, it has put the onus of earning and providing on men, it has put heavy restrictions on men about what colours and clothes must wear, it has made men seem as humans that are not worthy of emotions, it has portrayed them as aggressive and assertive individuals whose only aim is to compete. It has put men against men, it has removed a sentimental veil from all their personal relations. It has restricted men from expressing, loving, crying and only made them earn, compete and assert their power over other men.
Patriarchy harms men and if not discussed and deliberated over will, further reduce and restrict the existing conditions of men thereby, worsening their state than what it is today. Patriarchy has no sides and has always denied equality of any kind to all sexes and genders.