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Patriarchy: Where does it come from?

Division among gender, genders having different roles and ideas in society has been a way of living since time. It has been a way of maintaining order in society for ages. Having different gender roles did legitimize inequality and imposition of one gender over the other. Amongst these gender roles, the development of patriarchy has always had an impact on women. 

So what exactly is this patriarchy and why are women against it?

Patriarchy in simple google definition means a system of society or government where the eldest male is the head of the family and the descent is traced through the male line.

But, is it that simple?

In today’s terms, patriarchy is not simply having a male head of the family. It also means that leadership in political and economic terms, holding power and dominance in religion as well as in society is preferred to be given to men.

Why did this system start functioning in the first place?

The origin of the idea was pretty simple and did not actually mean inequality. It all began with natural and biological order. The two genders of the human species are quite different naturally and biologically. So giving them the same tasks and comparing them did not make much sense. Hence the division of labour was introduced in the earliest human communities based on the qualities each gender had and the tasks they could perform better than the other naturally and biologically. By doing this, prehistoric human societies had better chances of survival in the wild. 

So the men, as they were muscular and more strength took the more laborious work which was generally outside the house like ploughing, breaking stones, cutting wood, etc. Since the women were good at management of people, things and emotions, they took up the work of setting up the household. 

But as the type of work has changed over time and with the development of technology, men rarely have to use their muscle power (other than in the gym!) to get material results. In today’s age of technology, most companies demand people who are better managers and multitaskers. And if come to applying gender roles here, they were always the women!

Let’s just take the example of a simple household. The women of the house will generally be amazing managers. They know how to take care of the household, what groceries are needed when, which of their husband’s work files are kept where and not just this how much finances are needed to run the house, pay bills and what time to attend their kid’s PTA meetings. Whereas the male counterparts of the same house might not even be aware of half of the things among these! (Exceptions are always there. If you are one of those, congratulations!)

This simply means that if women could handle these things, they could handle the kingdoms, administration of people, companies and make financial and strategic decisions well. But were they given these opportunities? No! I mean let’s be honest how many times have you heard about a queen ruling her kingdom, a female prime minister and a female CEO. It is rare to the extent that people still believe that it’s a big deal if a female is in that position of power.

So if women are better suited for these roles, why is it not that way?

Because, over the years, we as a part of society changed from playing roles to the roles playing us. Be it a natural or biological order, the whole idea order is that it needs to change as time changes or it will collapse! But did we change the order before it became so rigid? No. As the roles started becoming more stubborn, it is we as women who started accepting it as our second nature, to be lesser than the males or rather accepting their dominance. And in time, patriarchal theories have come up that females almost always invested more energy into childbirth and households. 

So yes, gender roles have always been about inequality but it also meant that each role did the work that they were fit for. Patriarchy is not the same. It came in when we did not allow the order to change even after knowing that the opposite person no matter of gender they belong to can possibly handle the work better than the one already leading it.