Click! It’s Not You, It’s Patriarchy

“It’s not you. You’re not an isolated case. It’s systematic and it’s called patriarchy,” said the radical 60-something woman at the front of the room with the “War is not good for children and other living creatures” medallion swinging from her neck. She wore a turtleneck encased in a neat blazer and put one leg up on the seat of the chair for leverage as she lectured with more gusto, authority and confidence than anyone I had ever encountered.

After wandering around fairly aimlessly for over a year, running away and living in Maui for a period of that time, I had landed in Sociology 22: Sociology of Women in the fall of 1994 at Los Angeles Valley College. I didn’t know what Sociology was or what it might have to say about women, but it sparked my curiosity. “I’m a woman,” I thought and, “this should be more interesting than meeting my general requirements for a major I’m not too committed to.”

I was raised in a supportive home, both my grandmothers and my mother were not conventional women by any stretch, and my grandfather and father loved these strong women and encouraged me to develop myself fully. I was encouraged to paint, surf, build forts and play with dolls. Some might conclude that I had an advantage in a family that did not enforce suffocating gender roles.

And, to an extent, I did. But the love and support in my home wasn’t forceful enough to keep sexism and patriarchy at bay. Like a specter, patriarchy and it’s supporting ideology, sexism, crept into my life, my experience and my being.

By the time I entered Sociology 22, I had battled an ongoing eating disorder, been in a mentally and physically abusive relationship on and off for more than six years, been raped, dealt with an unplanned pregnancy and felt that I wasn’t smart enough to go to college despite a solid education. I was depressed, felt like a failure, felt without direction and, generally speaking, couldn’t imagine my self-esteem could dip any lower .

It’s not you. You’re not an isolated case. It’s systematic and it’s called patriarchy.

Learning about patriarchy, sexism, internalized oppression and the intersectionality of gender, race and class shook me to the core–and shook me out of my stupor. It allowed me to slough off the feeling of individual blame and guilt I carried. I felt as if someone had ripped away the “veil of illusion” that prohibited me from connecting my life to the lives of other women, and to the larger system of patriarchy.

Things that I had suspected all along but didn’t have language for were revealed, and the puzzle pieces of my life snapped into place. Click! I was awake. I was pissed and I was galvanized into action with a ferocity and intensity that trumped anything I had ever known. That smart, sassy and seriously fierce lady professor–Pat Allen, who became a life-long mentor–brought feminism to me, and both she and feminism gave me new life and a grander purpose.

Photo of marble head of veiled woman by Flickr user clairity, under license from Creative Commons 2.0.

This post is a part of a week-long blog carnival in honor of Feminist Coming Out Day.

Comments

  1. Chandler L. says:

    This article really resonated with me on many levels. As a high school student, I had very supportive parents, a good education, and a good head on my shoulders, but I still felt so emotionally and mentally inferior that I wasn’t even sure about going to college. My self-esteem was so low, and throughout this whole time, I blamed myself for my problems and feelings of inferiority. With age, I began to see that patriarchy was everpresent, and I began to recognize the subtle influences through media and through my everday life. My poor self-esteem was encouraged by a male-dominated system that didn’t want me to speak up or value my experiences, and remain entrenched in my weakness in order to dominate and control my desires.
    In recognizing patriarchy, I have begun to value myself and the work I do, and I now strive for so much. Before, I would look nice for boys or try to appeal to them, but now they are an afterthought in my search for self-love and self-reliance. Rather than shaming women for their personal choices, I uphold them for their courage and work with them to create a better world for all women. I have learned so much, and I want to continue to expand my knowledge on feminism and continue to improve my self-esteem. This is a journey that will take time and so much effort, but I’m very happy to do it.

  2. Jonathan Y says:

    I completely agree with this article as to how our society is constructed in which patriarchy is dominant. As your parents encouraged you to play with gender role toys it has become kind of impetuous to give little girls barbie dolls and little boys action figures. If we did the opposite we would be judged and shunned upon. Who is to blame for all this? The media. They are the ones who tell people whats in fashion and what girls should look like and etc. in addition, they are to blame for this patriarchy that we have as i’m guessing the male owners do not want to show what feminism really is all about.

  3. The “veil of illusion” which stands to represent the state of unwanted ignorance, or at times the denial of oppression, casts a cloud over the eyes of those who without it would stand up in rage. This rage can be attributed to the egregious claims made against women and men who push for equity across genders. Recognizing an issue inherent in our culture and confronting the issue are two separate things entirely. However, in the case of this article, when one has embraced the fact that there are those who willing throw a “veil” over our faces in order to hide the fact that there are social injustices occurring in a system which is supposedly the poster child for equality, then the individual can take action. They can take action for they understand that these injustices that are happening to them are not isolated incidents, as these injustices occur everywhere that the patriarchal social system reaches. This influence creeps into every crevasse of society, which ultimately undermines and hampers the effectiveness of this change as an entire movement. However, as evident in this article, individuals can make the necessary steps in order to change their outlook on this hypocritical society and effect change within.

  4. heather regan says:

    Patriarchy, as I am learning isn’t a joke. I can relate in the sense that as a woman anything we encounter becomes all about “you” (we isolate, and single ourselves) not taking into consideration that as a “majority” we are being effected in the same way without revel. I too was raised in a warm home with loads of encouragement from male and female figures. Even with all the pre-programing it doesn’t stop the nation’s ideology on socialization. I believe it happens to all of us, quietly, even without knowing that we are starting to not only learn the expectations of our culture, but we are understanding and ultimately fallowing the social expectations. This keeps the vicious circle of patriarchy alive through women’s own behaviors and reactions through media and propaganda. Women have come to great lengths to help strengthen equality and end patriarchy, but it is my personal opinion that we cannot move forward as a majority if we keep patriarchy alive by practicing and excepting social ills.

  5. The experience described in this post is simular to my current feelings taking this course. Although I have not been through any of the experiences described, I have noticed the way many people in society admire men/boys much more than women/girls. A lot of times when people are pregnant with a boy they receive a lot more help and support from family members and others, but when they are pregnant with a girl it is nothing special. The only support I ever found for this was that men carry on their last name, so if a couple only has girls the number of members with that last name will decrease. I know that there are other reason and I feel that patriarchy is the reason for this. I find it a bit upsetting that women themselves praise other women when they know the other is having a boy. I always pray for people to have healthy children. I have never been in a situation where I said “I hope she has a boy or girl.” I am glad that I am finally understanding patriarchy and why people in our society act the way they do.

  6. This article was very emotional for me due to the fact that I grew up with parents who came from Iran. They know very little about women’s rights and raised me to become a house mom and have children. Patriarchy was not such a big deal in my family because going out with boys or men was not really allowed to unless it was for marriage. I finally got to learn more and understand more when I ended up going to college and decided to explore this area.

  7. Maria A. says:

    It is great to grow up in a home where gender role is not an issue, I was born in that kind of a home.
    As I get older I start to see how women are seen as a minority.
    Men get all the praise in the science field and as a female trying to become a surgeon I feel I have a
    disadvantage in the field.
    Now that I have been taking a women’s studies class I have realized that when I reach my dream career,
    I won’t get paid the same as a man.
    Hopefully by the time I am done with all my school that has change.
    I hope when I take more classes that empower women I will be let free of a shame we women feel.

  8. Kayla K says:

    Now, after becoming familiar with the system of patriarchy in which we live, I realized it was not just myself who had feelings and my questions of our system. At the age of 3 I was put into ballet, which I loved, but at the age of 6 I quit because it was “girly” and everything girly, to me, equated to stupid. I wanted to wear boy’s clothes, play sports, and be tough. At first, I embraced the label tomboy. However, I realize now that it is not that I genuinely was a tomboy, because I did enjoy ballet and other “girly” activities. It is because I wanted to be powerful. Girls were seen as weak, and all activities gendered for girls were thus weak and unimportant. I wanted to be of value, and being of value meant being masculine. I have always questioned my very traditional, patriarchal family, and had felt like the odd one out because of it. However, now I realize it is not just myself, and there are others who think exactly as I do because it is systematic. Exposing patriarchy with feminism is so important for young women as well as men, for them to realize that their internal feelings and experiences are not individual, but patriarchy.

  9. I can really relate to this article especially the part about low self esteem and having an eating disorder. I have so many beautiful cousins and sisters that I always compare myself to them. Since I am one of the youngest out of my cousins, I feel as if I need to be as good as them and be as pretty and skinny as them. Truth is, I don’t consider myself “skinny” I just see myself as normal. However since people sondier me as skinny, I feel as if I need to be that way and keep losing weight in order to be like that. Not only do I feel like I need to be skinny I feel as if I need a good job and be as smart as my cousins and this whole thing just messes with my h head and leaves me stressed and depressed.

  10. Bryan S says:

    I think it’s really incredible how powerful the realization and recognition of patriarchy is for women. The author makes it clear how liberating knowing that the problem is not within, but instead lies in the society we live in. Its clear that the blame, guilt, and shame are alleviated thanks to that one class. It just goes to show how much a difference information and knowledge can have on an individual’s life. I’m just imagining how different the author’s life would have been if she had not taken that Soc 22 class and never met that professor. Unfortunately there are thousands of women who don’t take Soc 22 and aren’t able to be taught that the blame does not fall on them. Hopefully websites like msmagazine will be able to get more publicity and reach more women.

  11. Eli-Ran Y says:

    To start things off, I find it very disturbing how society has predetermined what suits a man and what suits a woman. Gender roles should not exist; men should be able to play with dolls and women should be able to play with toy cars. Psychologists believe that the toddler years are detrimental and that a child develops a self-image when they are very young based on their surroundings. Although the writer grew up in a supportive home, the outside patriarchal world intervened into the writer’s life. As we see later, the writer suffers from this and battles an ongoing eat disorder, a mentally and physically abusive relationship, and other such life misfortunes. I believe that if gender roles were not to exist and if every human being was able to grow up in a less patriarchal and more natural way, problems of such won’t occur.

  12. Jessica H says:

    I completely agree with this article. Describing females that are born into the “normal” structure of families usually follow the same format. It can also be labeled as ideologies, like girls have to play with barbie dolls and paint there nails pink, and can not get dirty like boys. I believe that structures like this can lead to problems and unsatisfaction like this author experienced. Ending with unsatisfaction can lead to a variety of emotional and mental problems. Patriarchy and feminism should be more recognized due to the fact that many women suffering problems like these should not be accruing.

  13. Qujuan F says:

    Even though I’m a guy, I totally agree with this whole article. Growing up as a kid it was always put in my head that women are supposed to do for men. For Example, cook, clean, and etc… I remember coming home from school to watch “I Love Lucy” and I would see that Ricky would always come home to Lucy and she would either be cleaning or cooking dinner for ricky waiting on him to return home from work. Now that I’m older I ask questions like why was Lucy always stuck in the house cleaning or cooking while Ricky was out working, why couldnt Lucy have a job also, and why does she have to serve Ricky everytime he returns home from work. This show is a perfect Example of patriarchy, it displays a man in charge always coming home to get served by his wife. But even today men/boys want to be in control of their women/girls. If its not telling them what they can and cannot do its using violence to show that they have the power in the relatioship even though violence is not needed. Those actions are not random, they are learned from society over time of how men supposed to rule or have control.

  14. Sarit K. says:

    Very compelling story. This article is just one of many examples of how effective the patriarchal order is at crumbling a woman’s self-esteem and stripping one of her sense of identity. We can learn not only through Women’s Studies, but also through Sociology and Psychology that oftentimes our greatest insecurities are manifestations of society’s influence. It is only expected that over time, we grow accustomed to thinking lower and lower of ourselves; this is functional to the system of patriarchy. However, realizing that this system exists is the first step that women can take to regain their confidence and fight back. I sometimes find myself thinking that if I were as smart or capable as a man, perhaps I would be more successful. The very idea that I could come up with such a thought is an absurd, yet unfortunately deliberate repercussion of the andro-centric system that has been in place for centuries. Thank you for opening my eyes to the “veil of illusion” that society has tried to shove over my face.

  15. Julian G. says:

    Patriarchy is an ongoing problem in our society that undermines the feminist movement. Being raised up in a country and society were patriarchal thinking flourishes and is even promoted, makes it hard for an individual to understand the problem behind patriarchy and male dominance. Since my toddler years, my father, the dominant figure of our household, treated me differently than my sister or my mother. At that moment it was not strange to me. I never questioned his decisions, and rightly followed his orders. When he spoke to me he demanded excellence and expected success. However, although my sister attended the same school as I did, her responsibilities were linked to domestic matters, as were my moms. As I continued to grow up and mature, I understood that my relationship with my dad was different from my mom’s or sister, solely because I was a boy. But I still had no idea why that was the case.
    When I moved to the United States with my mom and sister, at age 13, I finally came to realize what drove this inequality between genders. It was sexism and male dominance. It took me moving to a new country, a new culture, to understand this, although I still had no idea what feminism was or meant. However, from that point onwards, I treated my mother and sister with the same respect as I did for my father, and even built a stronger relationship with my mom. As for the author, moving to the United States, to a less oppressed feminist culture, was my CLICK!
    This said, I do not blame my father for treating my mom and sister differently. I blame society for oppressing feminism and influencing male domination among males.

  16. I am taking a class with the author, and it is interesting what she went through. So despite the encouragement she got at home as a child, the patriarchal system was so powerful it made her feel like a nobody. Like the author, I had an eating disorder as well. I often times have felt like a nobody because of my difficulties. In this class I have learned that people can’t be so hard on themselves because no one is that perfect. The whole society has created a perfect woman that doesn’t exist. Just as Melanie klein learned from her teacher that her low self esteem came from all society she has taught me that as well.

  17. This article gave me a sense of comfort. I too, have been through a lot in my 23 years. Lost loved ones, been sexually assaulted, been in mentally abusive relationships and so on. I always blamed myself… why did I put myself in this situation? Why was I wearing that? Why was I so friendly? It is nice to know that I’m not alone, because I am currently in the process of recovering from everything I have been through (almost seven years later.) In patriarchy, we are taught as women that we have to take care of ourselves, dress a certain way and behave a certain way in order to not get ourselves into certain situations. It is unfair, and it is not right. Until we change patriarchal views, we will be stuck in this cycle. I was the only one who could help myself, because the views of many others are skewed.

  18. Samantha C. says:

    I felt this article really spoke to me because it hit so close to home. It’s so true that so many women, including myself, feel isolated and alone in emotionally challenging and frightening situations. We blame ourselves and feel so alone in our pain and cannot imagine that anybody else could possibly understand or have been where we are. Instead of opening up and feeling comforted and supported, we feel shame, guilt and self-hatred. We turn on ourselves and become our own biggest enemies. This brings about a whole series of problems such depression, anxiety, eating disorders and other forms of self-harm. It is only recently that I’ve begun to truly work through these kinds of issues and face the harshness of some of the horrible experiences I’ve encountered and it wasn’t until I realized so many other women have been through exactly what I’ve been through that I began to start feeling a sense of calm. Our society creates this male-dominating environment that blames women for everything. Being assaulted in any form is not the victims fault. Society’s view on rape, assault, etc. is completely warped and it wasn’t until I reached out to others that I realized that it’s not me who’s completely screwed up–it’s our patriarchal society along with its degraded view on women.

  19. Patriarchy is a completely messed up system, I am saying that as a man in this society. It is completely male centered and male dominant and that needs to change real soon. I have learned as a kid that women are supposed to cook, clean, and do the chores while the male figure in the house brings home the money. My family is not from America and they are very conventional and old fashioned but as I get older I keep thinking that it is wrong and we shouldn’t be living like that. I feel it is very hard to be a women in this society and it is completely unfair and I do believe that we need a change sooner rather than later.

  20. Veronica M says:

    I had never thought about patriarchy until I took my first women and ethnic studies class. I used to believe that girls were supposed to be emotional, caring and loving . That men were supposed to be strong, aggressive and masculine. I did not know that I was being sexist. I just thought that women were supposed to take care of their children, clean the house and that men were supposed to provided financial stability for their family. In my women studies class I learned that it was not my fault that I was being sexist because I had been socialized that way. I grew up in a male centered society that led me to believe that men were superior than women. I believe it is time that we educate more women about patriarchy so that they can create a new identity for themselves.

  21. Matthew M says:

    Patriarchy is still a big issue in our society. Our culture has taught us that men are superior to women and women should stick to doing women things such as cook, clean, etc. Even today, men and women are still not treated equally. Wether its the paycheck from their job or the opportunity to vote, men have been superior to women. I come from a family that completely respects women and I have been taught to respect men and women. To me everyone should be treated equally, it makes no sense not to.

  22. Chul Woo Park says:

    I am totally agree with this article. We are living in a society which is based on patriarchy and as a man living in this society I think this is very unfair to women. I believe we need to stand up to change this and be educated to be critical thinker.

  23. I think this whole system is really messed up. Although everyone do view things differently but I think that women shouldn’t have so much pressure on us how it is today. Speaking from a female who always blame her self for not doing good, always blame her self for not treating someone right or what not. I think that if they system wasn’t so messed up things wouldn’t be like this. Being raised to do things like cook , clean, wash (house wives duties) is okay but sometime you get tired of always having to do that and if u don’t do it you’ll feel down and as if your not capable of being what a women really is and it shouldn’t be like that what so ever! With this being such a deep topic but very hard to explain, I say to myself I do agree of what others is saying ” patriarchal is screwed up”

  24. Jacqueline C says:

    I hold such a deep level of respect for this author not because of her having had gone through such hardships, but rather the confident way in which she goes about life, conquering these hardships and sharing her enlightened outlook. I have unfortunately only recently begun to notice the significance of feminism, within the past year. However, this article and the author truly hit home by its relativeness to what women must deal with in society. I myself have not had to go through such hardships as she has, but I do know very well how it feels to be taken advantage of by men, and the calm reactions of society on how men treat women. I wish I had read this article much earlier, when my self-esteem had dropped severaly. This powerful line “It’s not you. You’re not an isolated case. It’s systematic and it’s called patriarchy.” is somethign I had realized just this past year. I will definetly share and discuss this article with all of my girl friends. “Click!” is exactly my reaction. Thank you for posting.

  25. I grew up in a house full of women with the only male in the house being my father and while my family would say they are not sexists their society has affected their thoughts and beliefs. For example, if I go out with my friends who are girls I cannot stay out past 11 but if one of my guy friends is with us we could stay out maybe even past 12. The society we live in has convinced my mother that her daughter is safe if a male friend is around even if my male friend is weaker and unable to defend himself let along help me out if someone attacks us. At first her words made me feel weak and vulnerable. Even though I knew I could outrun and outsmart my guy friends, my mother’s words made me feel as if they had something that I did not have, some “magical power” that would turn them into Hulk if someone wanted to hurt us. But none of them did. Society had instilled this belief into my mother and she hoped that the robber or rapist that was waiting on the next street corner would have the same belief and would not come forward if he were to see a guy standing next to me. Like the veil the author of this article saw being lifted I too saw the veil being lifted when I found out that my girl friend’s parents tell them the same thing. This realization made me see that I was not weaker than my guy friends. They simply had the title of being the stronger one because they had a Y in their chromosome while I only had Xs.

  26. Author Willa Cather once said, “Isn’t it queer: there are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before; like the larks in this country, that have been singing the same five notes over for thousands of years.” Reading this article immediately reminded me of this quote, & moreover, opened my eyes to what is happening right in front of us. The world is home to so many individuals; most of us experience the same struggles, make the same mistakes, & laugh at the same jokes – but we don’t know it! We are all somehow very similar; yet, we allow social norms to inhibit our progression, and more importantly, our inner feelings. This article urges us to question social norms: Why does it have to be socially awkward for a girl to “build forts” or for a guy to cook or clean, & like doing so? Encouragement isn’t enough, neither is love & support; the real obstacle to be overcome is within us, within all of us. If we want change, acceptance, & especially mutual-understanding in the world, we must first overcome it within ourselves. We all make mistakes and endure hardship. But knowing that there are others in your same exact position, feeling your same hesitance and confusion, is a relief. Rather than passing on negativity, pass on a smile! (Cliche I know, but true!)

  27. M. Lisa C. says:

    I must be honest, the first time I read this article, I was completely disturbed. I felt completely lost and helpless. How could this be possible. I promised myself I would come back and read again with fresh eyes and a better understanding and now I have. First and foremost, I am a 43 year old woman who has lived with a veil over my eyes. Partially due to my own cultural upbringing and partially due to my naiveness. (If it’s not broke don’t fix it.) My grandfather the patriarch of our family, that ruled with an iron fist, I saw differently. The grandmother that always said, to be a proper young lady, you should be seen not heard, I was saddened for. Let me just say now that my eyes have been opened to the many wrongs of our society and the injustice to its women. I am by no means a quiet wall flower. I have a voice and know my value as a person. The only difference is now I have a sense of purpose. I am not just living, I am growing in my own feminism.

  28. Christine E says:

    I think the message of this article is a very good one to understand. Patriarchy is systematic. Growing up I was given a lot of flexibility regarding gender roles. I was always into more masculine things and I usually wasn’t sanctioned for it too badly. But now I realize that I have been oppressed by patriarchy in many ways. I have faced a lot of challenges simply for being a woman. When I was younger I used to feel that maybe it wasn’t really a problem because my family was supportive of me and within my own home I could express myself however I wanted. But when I look at the system of patriarchy I have been oppressed in many ways simply for being a woman. At school and and work I am sometimes looked down upon or belittled simply because I am a female. I find it very sad that this is an experience that most women have within our patriarchal society.

  29. The idea of this veil of illusion is a very interesting concept to me because it shows how fleeting life can be to someone who does not understand the full spectrum of it. It must have been very hard growing up in those type of situations and the idea of one random class being able to “shake you from that stupor” is pretty incredible. It shows that even some of the small decisions we make in life can change the course of our future.

  30. Jessica L. says:

    When she said, “Things that I had suspected all along but didn’t have language for were revealed, and the puzzle pieces of my life snapped into place. Click! I was awake. I was pissed and I was galvanized into action…” I had a little aha moment. That is because I definitely agree. Sometimes people feel so alone like failures just because they feel like they are the only ones screwing up or like that they are the only ones going through what they are going through. They feel alone because there is no language to really talk about. Its just like how it was with women back in the 50’s I believe. There was no language or word for spousal rape. It just seemed like it was a norm or something but it wasn’t women were suffering. And they couldn’t go to the law or anything like that because no laws existed against that sort of thing because it had no name. It wasn’t until women got together and started talking about it that it gained a name and laws were passed for it. That’s why I liked it when she said. I just felt good for you kind of moment and I was happy for her.

  31. The immense amount of inspiration and wisdom I gained from this…I think you are my Pat Allen. I think that the problem does rely on patriarchy. I had failed to realize this before I took SOC. 200. I was aware that there remained many sights of serious inequality, but after learning about Feminism I am astounded on everything that most of society either fails to realize, acknowledge, or accept! The “veil of illusion”also helped me realize that we are all blocked from the truth, but none the less it is up to taking off the facade and opening the truth and realizing that there is always room for change and the power is in ourselves to bring about change, even though it may take a while to get there.

  32. I completely understand what you are saying when you mentioned that once you understood what patriarchy was, it felt like “an invisible veil was lifted”. Its one of the craziest “Ah-ha” moments a person can experience. I had this epiphany about 3 years ago. Like a dumb girl, I hoped from one relationship to the next trying to find the right guy. Every relationship I was in though, I found that the guy I was with had an amazingly annoying and rude way of words that always seemed to bring me down about myself. I finally just told myself that I needed to be single and reevaluate what “I” was doing wrong. Granted I know I am not perfect and relationships take to people to work, however once I was single I started to really see just how I had been blind. I had been looking for a guy to complete me and boost up my self esteem, however these guys would “gently bash on me” and tell me things I should correct, physically and emotionally. And then it hit me one day while I was looking at a dumb guys magazine. It was an article on how to make your girlfriend into the girl of your dreams. It wasn’t about accepting her for who she already is, it was trying to get her to adapt to the standards of the male and the male society’s expectations. As soon as I realized this is what I had been dealing with all along, I made it a point to not enter another relationship where a guy tries to dictate who I am or how they want me to be. As much as that article pissed me off, it was the best thing for me in the long run.

  33. After reading this post, I acknowledged that I have been influenced by patriarchy also. As an international student, I had finished my primary school and first year of middle school in Korea. The first year experience in Korean middle was pretty unique. The school was all female school which there were only some teachers who were males. In that school, I did not feel like there is a patriarchy going on. In that school, male teachers had to fit their teaching life to girls. However, when I immigrated to United States and went to mixed school, my personality has changed a lot. I was not used to talking and hanging out with boys so that I had not talked to any boys. There were of course patriarchy outside the middle school in Korea but the fusion of language hardship and change in environment gave me sensitivity on patriarchy more. As I heard more stories about couples from friends, I started to get socialized more. Now I know what is dominant socialized gender roles are given and when I should have to follow them to survive in the society. I would start get higher self esteem and confidence within myself to get rid of the patriarchy and socialization.

  34. I strongly agree with the article on how our society judges us on the actions we take . for example, As your mom and dad encouraged you to play with boy toys if your a boy or just with girls toys if your a female. It has became kind of normal to give little girls barbies and little boys action figures. If they didn’t and did the opposite we would be judged or seen as weird. I some what blame television. it influences people and tells them what their kids should be playing with and influences the kids on what is cool for boys or what looks cute for girls. They are to blame for this patriarchy in my opinion, and since the media is male dominated they have no problem showing all the advertisements and TV shows that they do.

  35. Every point this article makes is completely relevant to our society. We have all been influenced by patriarchy to some extent. Prior to being exposed to feminism, I did not fully acknowledge that there were socially constructed differences between men and women. Men feel as though they have the authority to exert power over women because that is what society has told them is acceptable, and that is why patriarchy still exists today.

  36. Reading this sent tremors within my psyche, which simultaneously filled me with rage and inspiration. I appreciate you noting your background and describing it as not entirely forceful of gender roles but still explaining that it still was a proponent of patriarchy and sexism. Because, although we do not support notions of sexism, we aren’t doing much to combat it if it isn’t in the public space. When these issues do surface, they are so heavily stigmatized and brushed under the rug. Likewise, I lived in a family that didn’t enforce anything upon me but still communicated a strong sense of what they thought gender roles should be and how that promulgated the injustices occurring everyday. I am sorry for your struggle and I understand now that what is being taught in our Women Studies classes should be brought into the public eye without the burden of stigmas.

  37. I love this article. It puts into words the unbelievable effect my Intro to Women’s Studies class is still having on me in terms of how I approach and examine all my relationships, beliefs, and levels of mediation. It’s like seeing the world through clearer eyes when you had barely registered that your vision was blurry. I think the author said it best here: “Things that I had suspected all along but didn’t have language for were revealed.” We talked in class briefly about how learning about feminism can alleviate personal shame or guilt a woman might feel about her internalized body image, resentment of other females, experiences with male abuse, and lack of self-love. I find it to be so undeniably true as I near the end of my first semester in this class, and I could not be more thankful. I hope this means I’m on the start of my own path towards a grander purpose, with feminism in my arsenal.

  38. Reading this article has allowed me to connect the author’s experience with my own. After taking a Sociology course in Santa Monica College, I have been exposed to the damage and indecencies that patriarchy really creates for a woman in a society. What really struck out to me in this article, is the “Veil of Illusion”, because I too experienced that through out my life, I have been taught to put a man first, cater him, and everything I do will always revolve around one, but now I am able to recognize the effects. It’s also incredibly disappointing to know that women are dealing with spousal rape, and feel like they cannot do anything about it; it is a sadness and vulnerability no one should go through. Overall, I really appreciated the message in this article.

  39. Tatiana Kohanzad says:

    I strongly agree with this article. and really resonate with what the author has to say. Although I grew up with very supportive parents, and a good head on my shoulders, I have realized that emotionally I am completely vulnerable to the system of patriarchy. As much I have steered away from the systematic gender roles, especially after taking women’s studies, I have realized how easy it is for me to slip right back in. We live in such a patriarchal society, and because it we are so used to it, we don’t even realize that it is in front of us. After reading this article I gained much knowledge and it was also used as a reminder for me to realize that I’m not alone in this, but rather it is the society we live in that causes me to feel like this.

  40. As children grow up they develop a self-image of themselves based on their surroundings and environment. “It’s not you. You’re not an isolate case. It’s systematic and it’s called patriarchy.” It didn’t even matter that the writer lived in a home free of gender roles, patriarchy found a way to come into the writer’s life. I think that this shows how our society has become, unescapable from patriarchy. Patriarchy is a barrage of gender roles that are thrown at children from the moment they are born. Pink is for boys, blue is for boys, GI Joe from him, and Barbie for her. These are examples of how gender roles have affected our society. I think we can be one step closer to equality if everyone stopped insisting on these unnecessary roles. My sister and I were both brought up with gender roles from my family, but after both becoming educated, we will do what we can to help the next generation rid of these unnecessary roles. I hope that one day both men and women do become equals.

  41. Michael S. says:

    While reading this article, I realized that patriarchy has been present throughout my entire lifetime. Before taking this class, I never really took a moment to see how male-dominated our culture and society truly is. I always looked at men and women being equal, and ironically this class proved that I was wrong. Gender roles in our society deeply affect us from the moment we are born, and I think that this will stay prevalent for the coming generations. I feel as if one of the only hopes for a definite increase in equality amongst men and women is to educate society and the coming generations.

  42. A week into my Gender Studies course and every time I read even one paragraph, I am enlightened about feminism. I have been ignorant in recognizing the role of a patriarchal system that I so religiously follow like a cult. The women in my family are also strong and have always carved our own road, but always taking into consideration the male figures in our lives. I don’t seek my father’s approval aside from what was expected of me growing up and what is expected of me now. He has always been accepting of who I am as long as I am a good citizen in society. If he is disappointed because I have never married he has never shared those feelings with me, let alone shown them. Because my mother is so strong, my immediate family life is more matriarchal; it allowed me to feel confident not letting a man define my place in society. However my mother however has (and not on his behalf) has taught me to live in a patriarchal society. It is contradictory for me, as she runs the house, makes the rules, speaks out, but she only does this because she is married and has done what was expected of her (get married and have kids). I do find myself, waiting for the male to open a door me, offering me a seat if I am left standing and of course initiating a conversation/ask out on a date, if he finds me attractive and I do get upset if those rules are not followed. I have always considered myself a feminist but I definitely have to start changing my own perceptions if I want to lead by example.

  43. I too have had a profound feminist awakening ignited by the resource of a community college class room. Before attending my first Women’s Studies lecture I had always felt an aching within me I couldn’t quite identify. I always knew that appearance was important for many things, but until my consciousness began to shift I hadn’t realized just how rigid and methodical my socialization has really been as a woman.
    Beauty is life’s elixir. Prince Charming is right around the corner for the fairest one of them all. Self-esteem dependent on male attention corroded my ambition. I am bound by my appearance, bound by the gaze.
    As my feminist consciousness sprung full bloom , I began to see myself in the women I passed on the street with a prescription my Ray-Bans had never seen before. Latino women, Chicano women, Black, Asian, Arab, White, poor, rich, married, single, gay, straight, and transgendered. My struggle against patriarchy is their struggle. Their oppression is my oppression—I am not alone. Growing conscious of the systematic objectification of women embedded at the very foundation of society worked to fully ignite my place of rage. This rage brought me to feminism, which recognizes how women have continually been misrepresented in the government, media, workplace, and home throughout history. Embodying resistance to norms, feminism works to empower the marginalized.
    For me, this resistance is found in attending group consciousness-raising meetings where women from all walks of life come together to share their experiences, struggles, and strengths. The celebration of difference in this practice provides all the more beauty. CR groups allow me to experience the transcendence of class and color lines among women of different ages, religions, and backgrounds connecting through a shared oppression and strength. These groups are the most powerful tools of defying patriarchy. Only through knowledge and inquisition can progress form—resistance through awareness.

  44. Ariela R. says:

    Reading this article opened my mind to realizing (as cliche as this sounds…) that even at the lowest of lows, as women, we are never alone and we shouldn’t blame ourselves. Speaking from experience, as a victim, I remember blaming myself for something that happened to me when I was younger. However, after reading a bit about Melanie Klein’s life and being inspired, I have learned that all women are interconnected and when we have things happen to us, it’s not our fault and we don’t deserve to feel insecure. Considering this, I am reminded by hearing once that girls who dress provocatively are asking to be sexually or verbally harassed, which is totally ridiculous. This shows even more so the patriarchal society we live in where some men think it’s okay to terrorize women.

  45. I became more aware of the fact that we live in a “patriarchal” society through taking Sociology classes and now a Women’s Studies class in community college. I too feel like it all makes sense now. I have always felt a kind of internal resentment towards the status quo. I have had this nagging awareness of the valuing of males and masculinity over females and femininity, yet often felt all alone in sensing that things aren’t right. In my experiences I have found that many people are happy to go along with the way things are. Somehow I have felt like there was something “wrong with me” to feel the way I did. As if it was me just not wanting to assimilate or not understanding the “ways of the world.” Therefore it is exciting to read Melanie Klein’s article and know that I am not alone at all. It is inspiring and validating to learn of all the work to be done in the name of feminism and to know that I can actually be a part of the movement to raise consciousness once more in 2014. I grew up in a home where my father was very much the patriarch of the house and my mother supported this. She would actually tell me the hierarchy of our household in spoken words. I felt so irritated seeing and hearing this as the only child in the house. It felt so unfair to witness and be a part of such inequality of power based on sex. Reading this reminds me that I too can see that I have made many choices in my life as a product of patriarchy. I had no idea how much my life path I was affected by it until recently. Today in my life I have the opportunity to raise two sons and an incredible stepson. I hope I can instill in them a different perspective, but as Melanie Klein points out, patriarchy is a “larger system” and it feels like a fight already to try to override it.

  46. Stephanie Hua says:

    Sociology classes and women studies classes are amazing! The women studies class that has further helped me rip away and give a name to the “veil of illuson”. I grew up in a traditional and strict patriarchal Asian household and it has taken a lot of education and self-reflecting for me to realize that it is patriarchy and I am not alone. I guess I first realized the veil of illusion as a teenager. I had an eating disorder that I conquered and once I told all my girlfriends, we realized we all had eating disorders and body issues we were still overcoming, which gave us a support system and alleviated our shame. However, once I told my guy friends about this, no one wanted to listen to it, could understand it, and were all extremely disapproving and disappointed. In a patriarchal society, men treat women and girls with this silence and misunderstanding and this is what has further promoted personal shame and guilt. But since taking my women studies class, I have realized that in almost any issue, I am never alone and that the shame I have internalized and blamed myself for is, as Melanie Klein put it, systematic. I believe it is extremely important for women that are blaming themselves for things that is not really them to educate themselves on this and learn to understand that its our society that is making us hate ourselves.

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