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. great article!

  2. Thanks for sharing your Click! moment, Melanie! Learning from fab women who have led the way is just such a cool experience.

  3. I love this story! Thanks for sharing it.

  4. Great story – really illustrates the truth setting you free.

  5. This is a great series! Keep up the excellent work, contributors!

  6. equalityforwomen says:

    great post, thanks for sharing your story. The more stories I hear, the more I realize how many of us women have the same experiences (or similar) in finding our path to "enlightenment" and how unfortunate that we all have to go through a time of feeling so shitty and worthless about ourselves, first.

  7. I love this story! I'm getting my PhD in Women's and Gender Studies, and stories like these are the reasons why! I want to be that professor who inspires and educates women, hopefully leading to similar "click" moments.

  8. ElizabethP says:

    You are my Pat Allen. You continue to inspire, not just me, but many others as well. My Click! Moment was in Fall 2010 at Santa Monica College. Thank you for sharing your Click! Moment with us.

  9. Jennifer says:

    Your story is very inspiring. Like Elizabeth said, you are a Pat Allen to many. While taking your class, I have come to terms with a lot of aspects in my life. Your insight, passion, and dedication inspires those around you every day. Thank you for seeking out to help those around you and for sharing your story!

  10. Stefanny Delong says:

    I like the point you made in your article that despite your upbringing, one in which you weren’t boxed into a specific gender role, your life was still greatly affected by sexism and patriarchy. You went thru a lot in your life but feminism helped you find a purpose or a certain path to follow. I too have had bad experiences with physical and mental abuse and am only now slowly little by little every day regaining a piece of the person I once was. Through learning of other women’s situations I have come to the realization that we all have been negatively affected by society on one way or another and that rather than fighting among ourselves we as women should join together and support each other.

  11. I myself experience patriarchy not only in the outside world, but at home as well. Gender roles are evident in the relationship between my mother and father. My mother’s passive behavior in response to my father always makes me itch with anger. Patriarchy works its way into every aspect of our lives and it’s not until one gets that Click! moment that he or she realizes that it’s time for change.

  12. Mary Grace B says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your “click!” moment; it is women sharing their stories like this that really inspire me and help me to come to terms with my own personal struggles. I, too, grew up in a household that “did not enforce suffocating gender roles,” (or maybe I did since I figure skated and my brother played hockey?!) however I am starting to learn and realize my life and lives everywhere around me are being affected by patriarchy and sexism as its supporting ideology. I’m excited for this journey and the knowledge I will take in and therefore be able to share.

    again…THANK YOU.

  13. Thank you for sharing your personal experiences and your click moment. I too grew up in a family surrounded by strong women and men supporting women’s independence; however their were still certain situations that I felt if I were a boy I would not have been subjected to them. For instance, walking alone at night, taking the bus or bart alone, or going out to parties or bars. I hated that my dad would wait up for me for curfew to make sure I was safely home or have me call him when I arrived at my destinations. I knew if I was a boy it would be different and I didn’t understand how he wanted me to be this strong, independent individual but then was over protective as well. As I got older and was put in situations that my dad had tried to protect me from or saw friends put in those situations I realized it wasn’t his fault. Frist of all I am his daughter and it is his natural instinct but also it is the patriarchy society that we live in and how it has taught men to be dominating and encourages their aggression. Last night in a cab ride to a bar I got in a heated discussion with a male friend about how sexism is on the same level as racism. He believed sexism was something that isn’t very present and isn’t very discriminatory. I had to step back from the situation because I was getting mad at him personally and I had to remember it is the patriarchal system not the individual.

  14. I grew up in a family that enforces gender roles. My dad constantly tells me that i have to be independent and the bread winner in the family. My mom constantly tells my sister that she has to learn how to keep a well balanced home for her husband. My sister and I always tell my mom that it’s not like that anymore. Women are capable to achieve and have potential to do anything they want. My mom is slowly beginning to see that

  15. Amazing…Thank you for your story, which I very much enjoyed and found to be deeply honest/personal. I respect your family for allowing you to be who you wanted to be growing-up, and although I didn’t have that same philosophy in my home, and grew up very differently, I was able to admire your up-bringing. I’m patiently waiting for my “Click” moment!

  16. Myra Flores says:

    I believe that whenever women go through eating disorders, mental and physical abuse, rape, sexual abuse, unplanned pregnancies/abortions; they don’t realize they’re angry until it’s all over. They don’t see the damage that has been caused to them physically or emotionally , or they simply don’t want to “see” the reaility. They believe it’s easier to ignore the emotional consequences. Women don’t feel “pissed” until a few seconds later. They find themselves thinking constantly before they go to sleep and even when they wake up. Whatever they do with that rage and anger is up to them. But those women who have that Click! moment often decide to find some consolation by informing themselves about women and their bodies, women and feminism, in hopes of meeting women who they can share their experience with.

  17. Bianca Balanchi says:

    I too have to thank you. Not only for sharing your Click! moment, but also for sharing with us such personal details about what you’ve been through. It takes a truly strong woman to do that, and it just shows what strength can come of having bad life experiences and using them to do good, and to empower you, rather than letting them drag your life down. This blog also reminds us to get out of that “I’m in this alone” mindset, which can be so depressing and make things so much worse. When we know there are others going through the same thing, it gives us the will to get out of it alive.

    By the way, on the note of families, yours sounds awesome. My grandmother has been pushing me to get married since I hit 18, and if it weren’t for my mom having a more modern and level head on her shoulders, I don’t know where I’d be. Probably not married, but probably wanting to shoot myself for the amount of annoyance and frustration they both would have caused if they had both been shoving marriage down my throat all my life. I’m glad I don’t have to deal with forced gender roles either.

  18. Tandis Shams Fard says:

    Thank you so very much for sharing that with us. It was very interesting to read about your “click’ moment and I’m very happy it happened for you. I believe that everything happens for a reason and obviously in your case it wasn’t a pleasant thing that happened to you, but the outcome was.

  19. Erika Escobar Monreal says:

    It was such an empowering story. While I myself do not come from a well-rounded family because of a conservative mother, who has often found herself not only oppressing me and my sister when it comes to “doing womanly acts” and not acting “manly” ex “using a “scooter, playing a sport, going to college so I can have better options for myself. “I relate to you in the manner that while taking women studies, as of right now, I can honestly say It has deliberated my mind in thoughts and question about society and how things around us are, and how we blindly decide to just ignore this.

  20. Melanie, Thank you for your honesty. It takes a lot of courage to be open on here! I too have been seeking women who rise above the forces and choose to be loving while with each other and earn trust with one another while supporting each other to be strong and follow our hearts! I love this pursuit and am glad to learning more about the history of women in your class. Thank you,

    Carenna

  21. Mirian Merino says:

    I have just gotten a glimpse of a world that I feeI I can relate to. I always felt that there was something wrong with me for feeling as though i didn’t fit in. I grew up in a normal two parent home. Everyone always liked my sister more than me. She was prettier, smarter, nicer and i wished i could be like her but couldn’t. I always felt as though i wasn’t good enough for college. I recently went back to college and am taking women studies and it has opened a world up that I didn’t know existed. I realize that their is nothing wrong with me. Its the views that society and our family impose on us at an early age.

  22. Women through out history have been belittled by men and have become victims of society’s patriarchy. Patriarchy has added to the inequality among men and women and should be abolished. I enjoyed reading Professor Klein’s personal story and found it to be very uplifting. Her personal struggles are motivational and her stories are very powerful. After being introduced to feminism Professor Klein felt as if she had a “new life and grander purpose”, and made a positive change in her life. She is a positive role model and inspiring professor. I am excited to be part of her class and learn about the personal struggles, which can be resolved by feminism.

  23. Willemina v. says:

    Patriarchy was ingrained in me from day one. Growing up in the Mormon Church it couldn’t be avoided. However, my mother is a strong, strong woman who was not going to let my father’s constantly reminding her that he is the patriarch of the family so has the finally say, go unchallenged. My poor dad … even though he said these words, and maybe even hoped that one day my mother would “obey,” he knew deep down inside that it would never happen because ultimately he believes in equality. He too, was raised by a strong woman, and therefore was prepared for the likes of my mother. That being said, patriarchy was still ingrained in me from day one as the message couldn’t be avoided while being raised knee deep in Mormonism. Thankfully though I am able to separate what I know to be true from what religion (and society) tells me is true, and now my husband has to deal with the likes of me!

  24. Crystina K says:

    Thank you for sharing such an amazing Click! moment. I feel that many women are kind of expected to be washed away from the systematic rules of society and are led by parents who feel that going with the flow of society will keep all harm and dangers away from their children. I learned that the status quo is what the society expects us to keep. But as I’m beginning to learn that having a mind of your own isn’t a dangerous thing at all. If it is that you, yourself can make a change you shouldn’t be afraid to do it or take action for it. It’s saddening to see how fearful many have become because of the mentality most grow up with. We need people like you to change that and keep inspiring us to believe in what’s REAL and not what the society or the stupid systems that we’re “expected” to follow.

    At first, I honestly didn’t know what to expect from taking Women Studies 10, but now that I’ve acknowledged the power to being a woman in the first place is huge. Second, having such a great “Pat Allen” figure to guide me along through the course gives me hope that I soon will reach my pivotal moment, the Click! I honestly can’t wait to share it with you.

  25. Berenice B. says:

    Our behavior, how we are suppose to act because of our gender is so control by our sex in this society. It is this role that reinforce patriarchy, woman must be caregivers, man must be aggressive and protective. So many injustices arise from this false belief, this injustices leaves behind a bitter taste. But as you explain understanding that patriarchy is bigger that us, that our fathers, brother and partners don’t necessarily hate us and want us to fail in life but that the system that is in place benefits them. Good things are not easy to give up but we must understand that while patriarchy affects woman it also has negative affects for man, specially man of color.

  26. I never really knew much about patriarchy growing up. My dad was my dad and not the ruler of the household. That would have been my grandmother. And till this day she still is the Queen of the house. So now that I have seen clear examples of patriarchy it has very much helped me understand the meaning a lot better. And now I am more aware of it in my surrounding and in my own relationship. I have a really strong personally once you get to know me and I don’t take much crap from anybody. I’m thankful you shared that story, and I’m sure there are many who can relate you on a personal level. I know that feeling that you’re not alone. It’s a pretty nice feeling.

  27. http://gravatar.com/sduganne
    My life experiences as a woman in a male dominated society have filled me with a passion for Women’s Studies. My mother was a Carnegie Tech grad majoring in home economics/nutrition during the 1930′s. As I grew up, I watched her struggle to rise above prejudices and gender discrimination. It was condescending and degrading. I was outraged, and wanted to see change. As a teenager in the 1960′s counterculture movement, I questioned why my mother needed to ask permission from my father to buy a new refrigerator; why my brother was allowed more freedoms than my sister and I; and why black women were only allowed to wash customers’ hair, but not cut, color or style within those same southern beauty salons.

    When I moved in with my boyfriend, my mother pressured me into marriage. She would not set foot in my home until I had taken my vows. Shortly before my marriage, I was raped by a fellow employee, reported it to my employer, and was treated as if the rape had been my fault. Applying for another waitress job, I was stunned. That potential employer offered me either $0.50 an hour as a waitress or work for him as a prostitute, making several hundred dollars a day.

    I was shocked the first time my spouse hit me. The third time I struck back. Next he became verbally abusive. In the fall of 1979 I went back to school over his objections. I continued my “wifely” duties, held a part-time job and stayed involved with my kids’ activities. I was happy. I got good grades, was elected Student Body Treasurer, and received my AA with high honors. I had intended to go on to a four-year college. But there was a price to be paid for defying my spouse. My pursuits meant less time spent with him, and he began having affairs. I received my AA in May of 1981, and by mid-summer my spouse wanted a divorce. In the divorce he took the house and kids. After thirteen years of marriage I found myself homeless, childless, broke, and broken-hearted.

    Finally, I had an epiphany. Surviving homelessness, poverty, sexual abuse, exploitation, gender domination, and addiction has opened my eyes, transformed and healed me. It took 30 years for my click moment. I’m thrilled now to finally be taking WS – I’ve come home!

  28. This is a great story showing the connection of feminism and support. Feminism is here to help others and let them know that whatever they may have experience, either rape or domestic abuse, it’s not their fault. We need to put the blame in the right direction and the blame to put it that is patriarchy.

  29. Alexandria Scott says:

    This story emphasizes the struggles women have to go through just as it is something so natural. The woman lives her life dealing with rape, unplanned pregnancy and many other experiences that describe a typical woman who can be considered a feminist in today’s society.Her realization of “I’m a woman” became more important which should be to those who deal with difficulties most woman go through. It’s a movement that many can appreciate in their life. Having love and support from family definitely can guarantee some comfort in one’s life, which is what this story seems to have shared. A lot of the patriarchy in our society demonstrates why woman are seen as weak individuals today.

  30. I am a man and heterosexual, yet I do believe in feminism. I definitely agree that our world is dominated through patriarchy, and women are suffering. Patriarchy provides a sanction for women, a sanction not necessarily welcomed by them all. Not only does it deceive women on a daily basis that they are inferior to men, but women internally believe in this. In a relationship, a women tries changing herself to make it more reasonable for the relationship to continue, setting the balance of who dominates in the domestic sphere. Societal perspective must be changed in order to alter the roles we play on a global and domestic scale with gender.

  31. Loreal Haber says:

    I could really relate to this article! I am now taking women’s studies now and I didn’t just take it to get school credit, I took woman’s studies because I was generally interested in it. So many things I didn’t know and wanted to learn about. For instance I had to look up the word “Patriarchy” to get a better understanding of it because growing up I didn’t hear much about it.

    I grew up with my mom, dad and my younger sister. Our house was filled with love and laughter. My parents were also very supportive in anything me or my sister did. As I started getting older my dad would start pushing his values/what he expected to us. He requires an education and to follow the rules. Doesn’t sound too bad but when I say rules…I mean rules that he has for the house. He is extremely OCD and expects everyone else to be. Also I currently have been dating someone..and my whole life I was told to find “a rich Jewish man”. Well I didn’t come home with a Jewish and super rich man. Instead I brought home someone with whom I fell in love with. My dad tolerates it but he always says he wishes I found someone “Jewish”.

    I too also battled an eating disorder when I was 18. I got better, but till this day I remember having a conversation with my parents when they confronted me about it. They would ask “why? Did we not show you enough love?” that wasn’t it at all, I was surrounded with love growing up…but I did have this feeling like I needed to be perfect in all aspects of life.

  32. Destiny O says:

    It’s always inspirational when other women tell the truth about their journey and how they got there. It’s really appreciated because sometimes I can read a post and not feel related to the author and therefore disregard their intention of the post. Thank you for sharing your “Click” moment. My first click moment happened after my mom admitted to me that my dad used to be abusive to her and made her feel like she was worth nothing. I couldn’t bear the thought of my mom feeling so little, she was like Wonder Woman to me! After a few years of pondering the thought of how women all over the world face slaps in the face physically and mentally, I made the decision of studying Sociology. Now I feel it very important to receive my education so that I would never feel the need to stay in an abusive relationship, so that I could support myself and be independent if I need be. I am taking my second gender related Sociology course and after my first course I learned so much about our society and gender inequality. I know I will learn so much in the course I am taking now and I am thankful to have good class experiences that are relevant to the outside world. –D.O.

  33. An article about facts is one thing, but to share your experience, strength, and hope is quite another. What an amazing journey your life has led. The one thing that always has an impact on what I learn, is the self-reference effect. I can relate to your struggles and hurdles you have overcome. I appreciate your honesty in sharing your knowledge and aspect of patriarchy. It sheds light to what I never knew or cared for that matter. This article has opened up yet another unknown dark door that I will gladly walk into knowing that there will be light on the other side.

  34. Melissa M. says:

    I found this article to be very interesting as I to at the beginning of my college experience found myself in a class that discussed women in society and how we are viewed throughout it, though it was not a sociology class my Women’s Studies class definitely opened my eyes. It was interesting that you discussed having struggled with an eating disorder as I feel many of us women are challenged by these false images of beauty that we see in advertisements and we go to extremes to obtain such beauty even if it is dangerous for our own health. Another thing I thought was very interesting about this article was the fact that although you clearly came from a supportive and caring home which taught you to embrace yourself and be a strong women, the patriarchy of society was still able to make its way in and cause the same insecurities in you that many women have. To me this demonstrates that we as a society must teach women to embrace the things that make us beautiful and different from men and challenge the patriarchy of society to have an equal voice and be seen as equal to men and not lessen solely because of our sex or gender.

  35. Very inspiring – a true “coming out” story. It inspired me to trace back to when I found myself at that very exciting place where I realized that there was something much greater going on than my own “personal issues.” I wasn’t crazy and I was going to discover what was going on with me, what was going on with my mom and my sister, with my co-workers and the women in the news. Realizing you are part of a system that is not working is liberating and does energize you to use your “HERstory” towards helping other women realize just what they are capable of and of the world waiting for them.

  36. Brandy Stone says:

    To use the movement of feminism and the culture of being a feminist to understand and deal with the dramatic issues you have internalized and dealt with is highly commendable and empowering to read as a woman. So many times the stereotypes stray women from engaging in feminism and the beliefs of feminist that they miss out on the ways it can uplift and educate women on the disparities that we have to deal with because of patriarchy. You came to your realization that it was not your fault that any of these things happened when you said, “It allowed me to slough off the feeling of individual blame and guilt I carried.” That was inspiring. I feel as if society convinces women to take the blame upon themselves, instead of placing men in a negative light. This shows the mission of feminism where it is not a blame game, but it is about men taking responsibility for thinking they should be able to control and get over on women. Society writes too many passes for men, leaving more women stuck in the dark that have yet to be empowered like you were, who are still at home blaming themselves and feeling confused.

    Spring 2012

  37. After reading the article it has made me realize that patriarchy always finds a way into our life’s. It does not have to be in the household you are raised in; it can also be during your adult life. For instance, I grow up in an extremely patriarchal household that had set gender roles. My father was very controlling and he believed that women were suppose to do all the work around the house and men were suppose to work. However, it was dumb because my mother had to work a full time job and still get home and do the entire house work by herself. As I started getting older, I would hear my father tell my mother to teach me how to cook, clean and be a real women. That is when I started to comprehend all the different gender roles because I noticed that my two older brothers did not have to do chores, all they needed to do was work. I considered myself extremely fortunate that my parents got divorced when I was 14 years old, because I did not have to live in a patriarchal home. My mother was married for 28 years to a man that oppressed and controlled her, ten years later she is a very happy single woman. I think that seeing my mother being treated like that, made me realize that I do not want that lifestyle for myself. Subsequent to the divorce I was raised in a single mother household, and she taught me not to let anyone humiliate, control, or oppress me. I think that my click moment was when I turned 19 years old and I found out that two of my closest cousins were in abusive relationships. It broke my heart to learn that my cousin that I admired and looked up to was in that situation. She is one of the strongest women I have ever met, she was very lucky to be able to get out of that relationship and start a new life. But knowing everything she went through made me understand that it can happen to anyone. That is when I began to take women studies and sociology classes to learn more about it and that was my click moment. Thank you, for cheering this great article with us!! It has helped me recognize which events in my life have shaped my lifestyle drastically.

  38. I find this article very interesting, because I can relate to the feeling of being lost. I never knew how important feminism is. I took it to the level where it was a negative connotation and a bad rep for women in general. I chose sociology major because I find it interesting too how people interact with one another and the interdependence we all have without even knowing the people around us. I’m trying to find myself as I read these articles such as what my motivations are and why I have an urge to help people. Hopefully by the end of this semester I’ll be able to find out what my real goal is. I really never experienced in my home the meaning of Patriarchy, it was very brief since I come from a broken home, nevertheless It has made me a strong woman to not depend on men. I have built my own set of opinions and don’t care much about what men have to say sometimes. Relationships with men at times seem difficult; it’s either my way or the highway. But I choose my own battles.

  39. I loved reading this story, thank you so much for sharing it with us. I can relate to this story in some ways. First I was lucky enough to be raced in a family in which both of my parents believed in equal opportunity for both my brother and I. I was never told that I couldn’t accomplish something for the simple reason of being a woman. Yet as I grew older and face the real world, I found myself with few people who did not believe in me simply because I was a woman. I remember one time when I tried out for a soccer team the coach wouldn’t let many girls into his team if they didn’t play though or play like a “man,” myself included. That was the first time I encounter patriarchy in the outside world. The second time I experience something negative in my life was when I was in a relationship with a guy who did not wanted me to go to college. He thought it was going to be a waste of my time and that school was going to take too much time away from our relationship. At one point I thought about living my dreams of going to college for him because I thought I loved him. It wasn’t until a close friend of mine and mentor told me that the guy who truly loved me would love me regardless of what I did in life and that a true love wouldn’t ask me to choose between him or my education. I believe that it was my friend who gave me that “click” for me to realize that I should never give up my dreams for any man.

  40. I admit, patriarchy and our patriarchal system is not a concept that I have given much thought. Of course I have thought about its components, sexism for example, but I have never really tried to grasp the meaning of patriarchy as a whole. You have provided a very nice example using your own personal life as to why it really is important to pay attention to the grander scheme. I think many of us in society, myself included, take for granted that our society was established and is still predominantly run by men. How could this not have an effect on the way our institutions are set up?

    This ties in very well with the article written by C. Wright Mills entitled The Promise. One of the major components of Mills’ piece is the whole idea of personal troubles versus public issues. You brought up a very good point when you mentioned your Click moment. Before this moment, you had felt depressed and down on yourself, feeling like you couldn’t succeed. But then once you realized that it wasn’t your own individual fault, but rather the result of a systemic issue in our society, you felt much better about yourself. It had moved on from a personal trouble, only affecting you, to a public issue that affects a large amount of women throughout our society. This is what is interesting about Sociology, looking at systemic problems that affect a wide variety of individuals.

  41. It is funny or well I should not say funny but curious how as I read this I thought of some similar struggles I myself went through growing up. I myself like being a teenage mother and striving to graduating from high school, not knowing what to do with my parents forcing me to get married with the father of my son (which by the way I never did, and am glad made that decision), to finding something I wanted to do for myself and completing college and now attending a university. I can say I have overcome obstacles and still am seeing as I am a single mother working and attending school full time. After reading a couple of comments I noticed how many of us have felt down and alone when we share the same problems. Yes, we do not live in a vacuum and I am not the only case, but it is difficult to see that at times, however educating oneself helps for the most part so that we do not get sucked into the old fashioned ideas our parents (mine) grew up in. Just because I had a child with someone does not determine that I have to belong to someone for the rest of my life. Little things here and there in school and peer advice helped me with my decision to be independent and not having to stay in a controlling relationship. Education makes a difference, at least for me it did especially with some of the strong female role models I have had as my teachers.

  42. Chantelle A says:

    This article truly expands on the conception of how effective and inspiring one’s epiphany can be for an individual and the people surrounding her. Melanie seemed to have been lost in her life, while dealing with difficult situations in the process.however, education saved her and essentially introduced her to a new way of perceiving life and what it has to offer, which ultimately led her to become a strong feminist and professor. that sociology class opened her eyes to all of the concepts that our society, as a whole, practices, such as how everything is based on men’s interests. I also never realized how women were treated like second-class citizens and were thought of as the inferior species when compared to the masculine male gender. i too, experienced this same epiphany when i walked into the college course, women studies 10. Professor Klein opened my eyes to the androcentric system also known as patriarchy. Hopefully my epiphany will be as effective to my personality as it was to my professor.

  43. “It’s not you, it’s Patriarchy.” I completely agree with this statement. We live in a patriarchy, an organized, structural system which men’s interests are central. I do not think you are at fault for thinking you were not “smart enough to go to college despite a solid education,” nor do I think you are at fault for being depressed, feeling like a failure, and feeling as if you have no direction. I am sure many other women feel this way but they are not to be blamed, our society is. We are socialized into this patriarchy, we don’t know any better. Our society uses gender to control us. Women are portrayed as care-takers, wives, and mothers whereas men are portrayed as successful hard-workers who bring home the money. The ideal woman is thought to be a good wife and mother, one who takes care of the household chores, raises the children, and supports her husband mentally and satisfies his sexual desires. Thanks to the media, a woman’s appearance is extremely “important”; a beautiful woman is skinny. So how can an individual be blamed for bad eating habits that lead to an eating disorder? This issue reminds me of PINK’s music video to her song “Stupid Girls,” which calls attention to the matter. From the moment we are born, we are being socialized into a predominately male society. Even commercials for young children play a strong role. Games for young males encourage them to use their knowledge, build, etc. whereas young females are encouraged to cook (eg. Easy Bake) and dress dolls up etc. I too live in a supportive home. Both my parents, especially my mother, encourage me to develop myself fully, educate myself, and obtain a career. They encourage me to be able to stand on my own two feet, and acquire a career instead of being dependent on a man to support me financially after I am married.

  44. Reading this article was a great eye opener. Clearly we still live in a male dominated society, where rape, abuse, and bodily expectations are accepted and growing large. Much like Melanie, I too grew up in a home where I was allowed to play as I wished, be it with hot wheels or barbies, but I did receive more boundaries and rules then my older brother ever did. I understand that my parents gave me so many restrictions to protect me, and as a Marriage and Family Therapist (specializing in systemic therapy), my mother knew all too well the dangers and dysfunction that riddles our society. It did and still does anger me at times, but after reading this article it reminds me that these rules were to guide me and keep me safe in this patriarchal world.

    I know see what an important role feminism still plays in society. Though we can vote and own land, what good will it do if we cannot right a public bus late at night, without fear? It is the “click” in our brains that has been long forgotten or written off. Women need to remain strong and unified, to overcome the sexism and inequality that still plagues society.

  45. Your enlightened mindset was also facilitated from the fact your family was not suffocated with gender roles. My family and boyfriend’s family have very strict gender roles and expect everyone to abide by them. I don’t think they even realize it. I now have to make the choice to change these rules for my future children. I don’t want my daughter thinking she must cook and serve every male in the house including her brothers. I also don’t want my son thinking all he has in life is a career. My first step to change these actions is awareness.

  46. Benjamin B. says:

    Thank you so much for being an inspiration to me, as well as many others. Your story was extremely inspiring and has me very eager to learn more about your astonishing growth as an individual. Similar to yourself, my family was not one to enforce stereotypical gender roles on my siblings or myself. We were able to partake in whichever activities that we wanted. I too have had struggles finding myself; because these systematic portrayals of how we are “supposed” to be do not resemble who we truly are. It hurts me to know that some individuals are being cut short of what they can accomplish because others tell them that it isn’t appropriate for them. For this, it is extremely satisfying for me to hear about those who have fought against these portrayals and other struggles in order to persevere to their calling. Just like many other problems, I believe that awareness to stop stereotypical gender roles is the only way to end the problem.

  47. This was an enlightening article in all forms, and continues to touch upon the important aspects of what I have learned in class. Growing up with a strong family base and foundation of the Filipino culture, there were certain expectations of the gender roles within our family. Growing up, I had noticed what was expected of a lady and what was not accepted. Luckily, I grew up with a diverse group of friends and I was able to gain knowledge of the way others view certain subjects of life. Through high school and the process of becoming mature as an individual, I began to gain independence and realize that I did not want to be associated with the idea of what a woman is expected to be in the world. I have strived to be independent within my life, and stand my ground. I do not blame you for feeling the way you did at that time of your Sociology 22 class, for you were not informed about the ideas of patriarchy, sexism, and misogyny. This is the world we have lived in for centuries, and it seems to be a logical reason to form an internalized oppression. I am thankful that I obtained this knowledge at such a young age, because this will foster with my values and ideas that I have in life. I am aware that it’s not me, but it is the centralized system of patriarchy that we live in today.

  48. Carmelle C says:

    Currently I am taking Sociology 33 as well as Women’s Studies. When signing up for the two classes, I had no idea how closly they were related. Gender roles play a large part in sexism, from early on when the doctor displays a pink or blue blanket around the newborn baby. From different gendered toys, to sports, the patriarchal system plays an enormous role in how children grow into adults. While boys are supposed to get rough and play football, girls are expected to sit in corners and play with their dolls. Male sports are glorified on television, while rarely do you ever see a female sports role model, let alone on television.
    I totally and completly agree when said “it is not you, it is patriarchy”. Like stated before, from the moment we are born, we are socialized. We learn from our elders and the people around us; if anything is ever going to change the change needs to begin by educating people. By educating people, they too will see how it is a system which has failed us instead of instilling individual blame. I am well aware it is not me, and the system we live in today, however I would like nothing more than to change the system to better our future generations.

  49. I stand by the name of this title. After countless years of self doubting placing the burdensome weight on the shoulders of the word “me” I realized it isn’t me at all. Not by a long shot. It is the system that has been brewing insecurity, regret, and shame and dishing it out to females worldwide. I was raised in an Iranian household meaning gender roles are clearly and loudly enforced. Not to say that my mother has no say in decisions because she has a huge one at that but I’ve noticed my father does tend to have the final say in decisions a large amount of the time. My mother is always on my back about being more feminine, dressing up, and to strive to be a social butterfly. She has been barking at the wrong tree that is for sure. My sister, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. She is gentle and very much in tune with her feminine side with British tea party status social graces. It can be sometimes overwhelming when I try to even wrap my head around the idea but I have realized that I am happy with who I am and have come to terms with the fact that my sister is a completely different women as am I and will continue to be myself and to love myself as I am.

  50. This was insightful in many ways. Blogs have given us the possibility of being vulnerable and open to our past. Its pretty awesome that your grew up in a home, which allowed you to do more that a “future domestic wife” camp. In my own household, I’d say that the gendered rules, per say, where not strictly enforced, but where known. The difference is that I grew in a house where my mom was always the breadwinner and strong willed. In reality she could do well all by her self. In any case, I grew up wanting to be the father and man my dad has yet to achieve. Having a sister has also made me more sensitive to the unequal(ness) found.

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