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. I thought it was extremely significant that you were not raised in a home that reinforced those gender roles that society deems acceptable, yet you still were affected by it, in some ways more than most people. This is quite important for us to understand; one can be free of these prejudices and ideas, but they still have a profound influence on the person’s life. This is mainly true because it is all around us. Societal gender roles requires us to act and think a certain way, and one may not conform to these rules, but the rules still come into play in their lives. The patriarchal system has in a way blinded us to the unfairness and inequality that still occurs to this day. It is up to us to not only be free of these dominating notions, but to teach others as well that this way of thinking will not help us progress as individuals or as a collective society.

    • Chynnassa says:

      I found this article to be very interesting because, I never thought of patriarchy “fully” being the reason why women go through certain situations or act in certain ways. However, it makes sense because we live in a country that is based on social patriarchal organization. To me that means, even though we might have been raised positively as stated in the article, we can still fall into the stereotypical behavior that our society depicts us woman to go through. Unfortunately, everything is designed to be in the favor of males over females and subconsciously, women fall into this mindset. As women, I feel that we must know our worth and stay strong. It doesn’t have to be a patriarchal society. Everyone should be treated equally and that starts with us standing up for what we believe at all times regardless of what others think or say.

  2. Being raised in an environment where gender was not strictly enforced is an amazing thing. Growing up with a stereotypical ‘boy’ name confused me for a very long time. I was constantly being asked why I had a boys’ name, and at first, I did not have an answer to respond with. However, I realized that a name is just a name, and the person possessing the name is the most important aspect. Yet, patriarchy forced me to question whether or not it was ‘okay’ for me to have this name. In a male-centered society, I have a masculine name, so does this mean I am less of a woman then someone named Sue?
    Your ‘veil of illusion’ analogy was inspiring and easy to relate to. There is a point in every woman’s life, in my opinion, where the veil is lifted, and we are forced to see the world for what it truly is. We all feel that ‘click’ at one point or another, and hopefully mine will come soon!

  3. Kayla N. says:

    In all honesty this tid-bit about a young woman’s life and entry to the world of feminism sounds like a page ripped out of my biography. Being able to relate to every single sentence and thought was amazing! I too, was moving through life with an unexplainable weight on my shoulders, and I felt like I was living behind a haze of concrete. Then I unseemingly stumbled upon a gender and women’s study class at CSUN. It was there that I felt reborn, as silly as that sounds. “It’s not you” is such a strong statement, and an ideology that really changed the tint of my lens.

  4. M. R. Salvat says:

    M. R. Salvat
    March 7, 2012

    I connect the words “authority and confidence” with the concepts of masculinity and patriarchy. What a blessing for a woman to own those qualities! This can only be the result of a healthy childhood where she learned (from others) to believe in herself, and felt loved and supported. Most importantly, she had role models that showed her it was o.k. to be that way. Does that mean the absence of patriarchy? Perhaps, although it seems impossible considering that sexism, patriarchy, and gender bias are the basis of our society. Any form of oppression is unjust and perverse. Women’s oppression is perpetuated by going unchecked and unquestioned by women themselves through generations.
    I think that the biggest problem women face is that we are born and live under men’s oppressive systems for so long that we are like the fish that swim in water and are not aware of the water that surrounds them. Witnessing my mother struggle because she dared to challenge my father’s authority many times gave me a bad example of gender relationships. I have dealt with depression and a lack of direction all my life, regardless of many accomplishments. My socialization lacked good role models of strong females that I could look to. In fact, growing up seeing mother’s struggle with my father hurt me more than benefited me because that meant I was not ‘good enough.’’ The only conversations I remember having with mother were about her misery as a wife and her financial difficulties to raise her two daughters the way ‘she’ wanted to. Saying “no” to men means trouble and to this day I still practice it in the mirror hoping that one day it will come naturally.

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  6. Lizbeth Hurtado says:

    I must admit the first time I read this post during the beginning of the gender and sexuality course I did not understand why it was titled It’s not you it’s patriarchy. Now after completing half of the course I can understand why it is patriarchy and not us women. All of the negative things that have ever happened to me I only blamed myself for. Why? Patriarchy has taught us women to feel guilt and shame for the feelings we could possibly have or the things we have done wrong. I never understood why my mother has always obeyed orders from men her entire life. I came to the conclusion that it was the norm what the culture taught her. I saw that as an indication that the exact same thing would happen to me. Serving a man, to be dominated by a man, and to obey a man was what I saw in my future. Now I can answer my question, why? It is patriarchy not me.

  7. Danielle K says:

    I too grew up in a gender connected home. It was not until my senior year in high school until I started to learn about patriarchy. When I learned about it I was able to too relate some of my personal feelings about being a woman, to other woman. I felt a connection between myself and others. I also feel as though I connected with men as well. I am not against males and I do not feel like they all are the oppressors. I feel as though they are victimized as well. Women are not the only ones oppressed. Men have expectations and gender roles that they are expected to live by and adhere to. However, women do have the harder end when dealing with patriarchy. We live in “A man’s world” and a lot things are based around the will and power of a man. As time goes on women are provided with more and more opportunities equal to men, but we are still not recognized or seen as superior as men. I think its good that learning about feminism changed your life and perspective on not only yourself but women as a whole.

  8. Julianne Insogna says:

    Reading this article made me realize that although many individuals are in fact feminists, they do not think of themselves as a feminist because the label scares many people away. There are countless positive reasons one would be a feminist, such as equality, and are very few reasons why one would not want to be one. Since we live in a patriarchy system, going against the system and going out into the world to get rid of all labels could be very intimidating. After reading this article I came to a conclusion that there are also different levels or degrees of feminists. While some may just think that it is believing that men and women should be equal, some people take those beliefs even further. Some feminists also behave as if men and women were equal and take immediate action. However, it is not only important to have equal opportunity between men and women; but instead, it is important to take action to have equal opportunity for all individuals.

  9. Eternity Holloway says:

    Wow. What an amazing woman you are! To overcome such abuse and brutality in your life, when most women would have let themselves sink to the bottom, probably gone crazy or hurt themselves, but you prevailed and found a sense of purpose and overcame that guilt you had been carrying around. Your eyes were opened to the repression women have been feeling since Eve bit the apple, I imagine. I can only commend you for such heroicism to overcome such ordeals, I can honestly say that I would probably ended up in a hospital if all those things happened to me. I’m not that strong of a person and when I hear stories such as yours I am hopeful and proud that women can rise above all that weight that men have forced upon us. That we can rise above it and fight back.

  10. Catie Smith says:

    I think one of the most important parts of this blog is that the poster mentions that she was not raised in a conventional home where she was told to act according to her gender. This is important because while many families may not enforce sexism in their home, there are still many outside resources and situations a person can be put into that will mold their ideas of how they are supposed to act. This woman was put into many life changing situations that were male dominated—and not in a good way. Being raped is one the biggest things that can change a woman’s perspective about herself. She may begin to feel less powerful and feel that she is not better than any man. This blogger wants her audience to know that all of these things that may happen in life are not always “your” fault. “The man” puts women down and this patriarchal system we have had for some time now is what women see is the right way. Learning about feminism can help women become more at peace with themselves and allow them to feel more self-confident, because where there is one woman feeling like you, there are many more.

  11. Samantha H says:

    I was raised with the typical girl toys and my brother with boy toys, but I was never forced into a cookie cutter idea of gender. I played a bunch of different sports growing up. I loved to play with the boys at recess and beat them at things they thought they were better at, just because they are boys. To this day I still play basketball with majority guys, and I love proving them wrong. Patriarchy views men as the superior sex. They have control and they are the decision maker. My dad is a very calm guy, I have rarely seen him angry, so when I think about patriarchal oppression, he doesn’t come to mind. My grandpa on the other hand, my dad’s dad, is very rigid and stern. He is extremely stubborn and things always have to be done his way because he is the head of the household. When I visit my grandparents, I often struggle with how to interact with my grandpa, because we are both strong willed. What really gets to me is how he treats my grandma. They have been married over 50 years and I don’t know how she puts up with it. He is very controlling and treats her like her opinion doesn’t matter. She has expressed to me and my mom how she used to stay silent and now she is more vocal and stands up to him. He feels like he always has to be dominant and even when he is obviously wrong, he treats his word in the highest regard. I am so thankful to have a dad raised under his roof that is nothing like my grandpa. My dad is the most loving and caring guy I could ask for. Reading the works of Bell hooks and her experience with her dad relates to my grandma and her husband, my grandpa. They are in a household dominated by a man, who has violence in their tone of voice and see themselves as superior. This oppression is justified by the patriarchal system and giving them a reason behind their dominance.

  12. Chynnassa says:

    I found this article to be very interesting because, I never thought of patriarchy “fully” being the reason why women go through certain situations or act in certain ways. However, it makes sense because we live in a country that is based on social patriarchal organization. To me that means, even though we might have been raised positively as stated in the article, we can still fall into the stereotypical behavior that our society depicts us woman to go through. Unfortunately, everything is designed to be in the favor of males over females and subconsciously, women fall into this mindset. As women, I feel that we must know our worth and stay strong. It doesn’t have to be a patriarchal society. Everyone should be treated equally and that starts with us standing up for what we believe at all times regardless of what others think or say.

  13. FabiolaP says:

    I felt this article was very interesting because of the statement: “…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.” It makes you realize how powerful society can be, even when you’re family, the people you surround yourself with daily, and the people who you would think shape your ideas and beliefs, are usually not as strong as society is. While I have a father who did tend to enforce gender norms, always stating that women need to learn how to cook, and be clean around the house, a lot of the other norms that I learned were instilled in me through society. The need to always look beautiful, to have the perfect body, and to be sensitive, these are all things that society has taught me, not my family. It’s interesting that you state that a lot of problems that women face are due to a patriarchal society, an to an extent, this may be true. I believe that we need to hold strong to our own personal beliefs if we want to avoid being influenced by patriarchal societies.

  14. Melody A. says:

    Thank you for sharing you story with us. In my family the gender roles are very clear, it has has lot to do with my Persian culture and Jewish background. A lot of my friends think that the traditional views of how a family should be run, and how woman and men are supposed to act a certain way will never change when it comes to religion and culture. However, I believe that it has to start somewhere, and I think it is with the new generations. This new generation, meaning us. We can’t teach our children these views and beliefs. Much to our parents unhappiness we need to preach equality. That both the wife and the husband can go to work. Both can cook, clean and do chores around the house. We need to steer our kids away from gender roles, we need to teach them that it doesn’t matter what your sex is, you can become whoever you want to be, whether it’s a doctor, lawyer, nurse or a chef. Just because you are a woman doesn’t mean you can’t run a successful business or just because you’re a man doesn’t mean you can’t stay at home and watch your kids. It doesn’t make you any less male or female. The one thing I absolutely can’t stand about my families gender roles is when comes to dinnertime. All day long, the woman of my family slave away in the kitchen making all kinds of food. The clean the house, pick up the kids, do the laundry, and still manage to look amazing. Then dinnertime comes around and the set the table and serve the food. Once dinner is over, the woman are the first to get up and start cleaning the table and washing the dishes. Now if my dad or my uncle decides to get a up and bring a couple of dishes into the kitchen, he is praised. Praised. My aunt will say “oh look at my husband, always helping me out,” then he will plant a kiss on her check and walk back in to the living room, join the other guys and wait for my aunt to bring him his tea. Do you see what I mean? The man got up, picked up 2 plates and he was praised! Now I love my uncle, and I don’t take this personally, I know that this is simply how he was raised. I’ve seen it myself, mother always tell their son to sit and relax, while they yell at the daughter to go bring her brother his dinner, or whatever else it is. Again, it has a lot to do with culture. Yet, with in every culture we see the same pattern: the men are always the ones being praised and honored. Personally, I cannot understand the reasoning behind this, and no matter how many stories I listen to and history I learn about, it only reinforces my confusion. Why in the world is the man considered better? Woman are strong, they endure childbirth, they raise their children, they work, the cook and clean and manage a household, why aren’t they the ones praised? I’m not advocating the idea that women are better than men, but both should be praised, recognized and respected. This is why we must throw away gender roles and start valuing each other as individuals. Start recognizing people for who they are and not what their sex is. And it needs to start right here, with us.

  15. Teresa H. says:

    Many women are not aware of the concept of patriarchy. All our lives we are shaped as women to fit into a patriarchy sociey. We are given roles to play but we do not think much of it; we just go along with how society is run. Wanting to fit that “perfect” women often leads women to feel like they are failures in life.I know many women who think they are not worth anything because they do not fit that ideal.One of my close friends was sexually assulted she blamed herself for what happend. Till this day she still puts the blame on herself. Instead of finding support she found judgment. This judgement leads women to fall into depression and blame their selves.Women who do are not aware of what patriarchy is do knot understand that they should not be putting the blame on their selves. We feel like the problem is us! We never stop to think that the problem is not us but the patriarchy society that we live in.

  16. Yuliana R says:

    Not many people are blessed to grow up in a free gender-role household. I know that I was not so lucky I grew up in a patriarchal house were the man was the sole provider and we were told what to do. Growing up I knew that I wanted something different from this, but like the article states sometimes there outside forces that influence your life and you have to obey by the patriarchal rules of society. As a woman you are expected to be a stay home mom and be the nurturer in the family even if you may not feel that way. But I’m glad there are women like you to inspire others that patriarchal society is not ok, and to make changes in yourself.

  17. I was a bit puzzled; although Melanie had a substantial upbringing as a young woman from a household that had three empowered female figures as well as a supportive father and grandfather who encouraged and appreciated the strengths of these strong women. Coincidentally; she was still affected with insecurities of body image and subject to the abuse of a male partner and other concurrent traumatic experiences. It is usually people who come from permissive and unappreciative households whom I feel tend to be at most the types of person to go through what she’s faced. Granted, as all human beings, we experience alone what no one other will ever fully understand or grasp as only we know the unique events or situations which life entails, in all moments, both current and fleeting. Consequently, we push to make significance and meaning to substantiate our lives. Through this process, it is easy to lose ourselves as we meander through disempowerment at some point or another. Being victimized is nothing to trivialize, but to navigate through the pain and dismantle personal notions of shame through active strides that convey our interests. “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.” Melanie’s enlightenment was empowering and has brought her to inspire and elicit faith in others. In this situation, I feel that she came into her own understanding as she conscientiously made parallels with her education.

  18. It is easy to not see how patriarchy works because we are raised thinking that’s the way things have always been and how they should be. Its scary to think how powerful society is, Melanie was raised in a gender free and supportive household yet that support wasn’t strong enough to keep sexism away. So, what about the young people who are raised in strong patriarchal family? Until you are shown the ways patriarchy works, such as this class, you will go about life thinking this is the way its supposed to me. Before this class, I had a vague definition of patriarchy, feminism and body image. Learning about this system, as Melanie did in Sociology 22, has removed “the veil of illusion” for myself. It makes me angry and it makes me feel like I am a puzzle piece in this system of patriarchy. Along with the feelings of anger it makes me very aware. Although we cannot avoid patriarchy completely, we should be aware of how it works and it affects us.

  19. Nancy Rodriguez says:

    I had professor Pat Allen as my first women’s studies professor at Los Angeles Valley College. I had taken her as a requirement for my major and at first did not want to take the class. I thought (like many others) that it was going to be a man hating class where women learned how to go through life without men. After my first week in this class Professor Allen opened my eyes to a whole new way of looking at the world. I realized then that patriarchy was what made me feel fearful of walking alone at night, of making sure I did not go out to late with boys or I would be looked at as a “slut.” Patriarchy is what had me feeling like I was not good enough to go to college and excel. Feminism is not a scary word for me anymore. It has taught me so much about the need for equality in a system that has been patriarchal for hundreds of years. It is difficult to change this system but I have learned that we are not hopeless.

  20. I agree that the system of domination in which is patriarchy tends to influence sexism within our culture. It influences sexual, verbal, and physical abuse. I believe patriarchy grows within a person to where it becomes the norm or natural way to think and act. I think people unconsciously act within the scope of patriarchy not realizing the oppressing effect it has on individuals. I believe as a man it’s difficult within our culture to stay consistent within our actions and thoughts in training our minds to challenge patriarchy. Even though I am against patriarchy and all for the Feminists movement I feel like I do a disservice to the movement when I hear music, and jokes that degrades women. Overall the more I learn about sexism, patriarchy, and the effects it has on individuals the more I understand the violence and hate n our society. I think once we realize the negative effects patriarchy has within our society, we as individuals should try to break the cycle regardless if we have experienced patriarchy or not.

  21. Michelle A says:

    Even after dealing with all of those obstacles you still found a spark to keep you going. I know people who have dealt with similar issues and have let the negatives in their lives define them.

    I too grew up in a home that let me be who I wanted to be and I wasn’t constricted to any gender role. My mother is such a strong woman who doesn’t really know much about the feminist movement or if she does she pretends not to and continues to cater to my fathers needs. Many times my dad has told my mom that he is the sole provider of the family (even though she has a full time job) and that without him she wouldn’t have anything, leading me to stand up to him and defend her.

    I will admit that before taking this course I never thought about his actions as patriarchal but rather just the way things worked within my household. I’ve always known I wanted to study sociology and after reading articles like this one and learning about feminism and patriarchy I want to be able to find the language to describe the things I suspect as well.

  22. This article was very interesting. It’s sad that we are socialized into this patriarchy world that automatically belittles us women and puts us at fault for any problem in our life. Our society is so messed up that we automatically get blamed for a relationship that has fallen a part. It’s not our fault or the men’s fault, we were all socialized into this world were men need to always be masculine and show their strength to be valued because is they differ they will be considered weak. And for women who constantly think they need to feel beautiful and self servant for a man. It’s all so wrong, men should be able to express the feeling they hold in as well as women be considered in equal as the same level as a man. We are all humans and should be able to embrace, encounter and live the same equal lifestyle.

  23. Tina402 says:

    I never thought of patriarchy. I never realized how it effects all areas of my life…how I think I should look, what job I should do, whether I should go to college, and so many more things. I was abused as a child and later by boyfriends who “loved” me. I had super low self-image and a severe lack of self-esteem. It wasn’t until I unknowingly decided I would do what made me feel whole and complete and try to love myself the way I am that I started to be able to enjoy life. I now realize it was because I was being help down by the patriarchs in my life…my father and ex’s and all the men that I was trying to please. All young women need to read articles like this and take classes to help them see what they can become once they break free of the oppression put upon us by patriarchy.

  24. Juana Vitela says:

    I found this article to be very interesting because i also believe that the way a woman acts is all a projection of the patriarchal society in which we inhabit. Before I didn’t fully understand what patriarchy was and now I know that its a system in which only men are valued and in which women are not appreciated or so to speak. Its interesting to realize that women act in certain ways because they have been socialized by a patriarchal society in which men rule. I dont mean to sound repetitive but i believe that in a patriarchal society women act accordingly to what men who are in power want them to act. Patriarchy clearly affects a woman and the situation in which she is faced. For example the idea that women should not work and that their place is at home. to me that is just a way to empower men and to make them feel like they are the ones that matter the most and the one that are important and that women they’re just simply there to work at home and for their husbands.

  25. Elizabeth D. says:

    I remember the first time I learned about body image, sexism, and patriarchy. It literally was a whole new world that has been created around me. I didn’t learn about any of this until I took a class in college. It was a journalism course titled Women, Men and Media. I was completely shocked at all the things I learned and it never crossed my mind how media had an impact on me. I started to understand how patriarchy came into all of this and realized that my path in learning more about this lead me into women studies. I learned so much that I couldn’t believe that we live in a patriarchal society. Having such an awaking experience through my college courses has changed my ways of thinking about myself and society. It’s a great feeling once you put the pieces together and understand what is being portrayed in society, it all just makes sense.

  26. Kaitlin V says:

    I absolutely love that you were not socialized in a home that reinforced those norms for you. Unfortunately, your home safety could not save you from the coldness of the world outside and I sincerely apologize for that. I love that this class encouraged you to become the strong, confident women you are today. My gender class has opened up so many new worlds to me that I can see all around me, and I am very grateful for that. I am happy I was able to see the world through a new lens.

  27. Holly A. says:

    In my family stereotypical gender roles are stressed and enforced. (The typical woman house wife and the dominant man in charge). In my culture these gender roles are pretty clear. Men come home from work and the women have to be ready to serve them. I myself have always been a little confused as to WHY we have such gender roles in our culture, but I never really looked into it for any clarification. I simply just went along with what my family had taught me. I can say that after reading, doing assignments, listening to lectures, and watching videos in my women’s studies class, it “clicked” for me. Its not ME, it truly IS patriarchy. The worthless and guilty feelings I had are far much less now. Patriarchy is the cause of all of this oppression.

  28. Natalie P says:

    I would imagine that for many women, reading this post would be a great eye opener, and possibly a comforting breath of fresh air. To have someone so honestly put out there the incidents and issues of their life, can be both revealing and relieving. Eating disorders, abuse, and unplanned pregnancy are painful events and often carry with them notions of shame, and secrecy. I really connected with this whole post. I felt similarly that my family did not enforce suffocating gender roles, but I have begun to really explore this idea. What I have begun to discover has been startling, yet fascinating at the same time. I am not only a product of my parents, but of the community and society I live in. I can no longer be ignorant of the system of patriarchy. Discovering more and more about the system of patriarchy has become something I can never turn back on. I hope that women continue to be inspired and open up to share their journeys.

  29. Jaeyoon Chung says:

    Thank you for this article. It is very to see how I was able to ignore the role patriarchy plays in the lives of females. It is intimidating to think of how powerful societal pressures can be in assuming that this is the way things are, the way they should be, and the way they have always been. It’s very imposing to challenge these ideas. It’s beautiful to read about the obstacles and challenges you have had in your life, and the person that you have become today. Thank you for this brilliant article, and sharing your journey in this article

  30. Sonia B. says:

    I can see how patriarchy can be a huge influence on someone who was not raised with gender expectations. Society is cruel in raising children with gender expectations and gender roles because once these children grow up, they have to face other people’s personalities and beliefs. You had to face your boyfriend’s lack of respect and you went through things that were not fair and nobody should ever go through rapes, unplanned pregnancies or eating disorders at 19 years old. Patriarchy is created by the media and by the way some parents decide to raise their children. Some parents might enforce gender roles and punish their children for not following the roles that are expected from them. The first time I learned about patriarchy was in my sociology classes because I was not raised with gender roles either. My mother worked full time throughout my childhood as well as my father and I always saw them help each other out around the house. I always saw my older brothers and sister do everything around the house and help my dad with “guy” stuff. Now that I am in college, I see how patriarchy can influence romantic relationships between college students. Even if some parents do not want their children to grow up with gender roles, there are other parents who do the opposite which makes patriarchy hard to adjust in society.

  31. Aleksey R. says:

    I grew up in a very confusing household in terms of the patriarchy. Russian families generally give a great deal of respect to the women of the house, however, the male is still the dominant member of the household. My formative years were spent believing men should be powerful and strong while women should be mothers and cooks. This all changed when I met a teacher in high school who began to educate me about patriarchy and the systems of inequality that separated all of us. She encouraged me to be myself and not fall to the pressure of patriarchy. She would tell me about feminism and oppression and I began to understand that there was something brilliant in the abundance of information I was receiving. My love for sociology and feminism came that year with that particular teacher because there was an aura of openness and honesty. More than anything feminism provides us with honesty; honesty about the things going on around us and within.

  32. Melissa M says:

    Growing up, my parents were not forceful in making me abide by certain gender roles. But though my household was not completely ruled by patriarchy, we still lived in a world of patriarchy. My parents shared roles. My dad who worked a graveyard shift, was the one who cooked breakfast for me, dressed me, did laundry, and picked me up from preschool. So I was witness to my parents sharing these household chores and both having jobs that they worked.
    As I got older, I was witness to the patriarchal culture we live in. I didn’t always know that’s what it was, but I was starting to notice things. I realized how it was making me feel bad about myself or less than. I would share these feelings with my mom, not realizing that I was speaking to her of the oppression I felt. My mother always encouraged me to ignore these acts of oppression; to never let it get in the way of my accomplishments. And though I tried not to, it was always something that was in the back of my mind. But now in taking classes in sociology, I now have no fear or worries about what is that is expected of me as a woman. I am proud and I want to share that pride. I feel the urge to share it with the many other wonderful women I know who struggle due to the effects of patriarchy.

  33. Brittany P says:

    I think that it is wonderful how you were raised in a household that allowed for you to do what you wanted and did not force gender roles upon you. That being said just because someone is raised in a household that has really understanding parents and lets you choose your own path does not mean everyone outside of the household will do the same. A lot of time in spent out of one’s own household whether it be at school, practices, friends’ houses, theme parks, pretty much anywhere. All these places are not going to have the same open minded people. This will take a toll on a person just like it did to you. A man dominated society is out there even if it isn’t in your own house. This realization that by being in a man dominated society actually hurts women needs to be heard and understood by everyone. It is a great start by having parents that know this but it needs to grow bigger and reach the all of society. The fact that women put themselves through torture because patriarchy needs to change and women need to realize that it is not their fault!

  34. I thought this post was very inspiring and motivating. I never thought of patriarchy to be the cause of many unwanted situations women find themselves to be in. A lot of the times when women find themselves to be pregnant, at a time they did not plan through, a lot of the times they are scared and the blame is put on them because of this patriarchal society we live in. Not only do men blame the women for not being careful enough, but sometimes men go to lengths of blaming the woman of being unfaithful. Its terrible because we live in a society that views men as dominant, and though there has been some improvement, feminists have a long ways away from equality.

  35. Sophia S. says:

    I recently had a moment when it all clicked for me as well. While I have had a fortunately life and not too much hardship, I too had been under a veil. It wasn’t until I began learning more about patriarchy that I saw just how much of an effect it had on me and my life. At that certain moment, I realized that my life was absolutely shaped by patriarchy and I could just sit there and settle for it (like I had done all along) or I could try to change my situation. While we live in a patriarchal society, it is not something that I have to live by if I do not chose to. I can make the choice to stand up against it and do things my way. I recently beat out a number of male coworkers for a promotion at work and as a promise to myself and my fight I am to everything in my power to excel and show that a woman(!) was right for the job.

  36. Mariela P says:

    Patriarchy affects us silently, as this blog insinuates. As woman, we often are sheltered by the patriarchal system, in order to keep us away from other women. By isolating women, they are able to keep women in a control state. Unity is power. This is what the feminist movement has done as displayed in this story. When Pat Allen stated “It’s not you. You’re not an isolated case. It’s systematic and it’s called patriarchy” she gave power to Melanie. That one short but empowering statement reinforced Melanie that what she was going through was not a rare event that she had caused to herself or that life had destined for her. It allowed Melanie, to realize that it was a world-wide problem for women everywhere. By realizing that systematic patriarchy is an issue for all women, women are able to unite and empower each other; to thrive from each other’s support and to find a solution together. I have only taken one Sociology course throughout my time at college and it was this spring 2012. Much like it taught Melanie about the struggles of women, it taught me as well. I was able to comprehend why things happen. Why I am not destined to live a life of bliss and equality but it did also teach me that what I am destined to live can change. I can fight the system. I can refuse to follow a world in which men are empowered by women suffrage. Now that I understand this, there is room for improvement and change. This is why sociology classes are so important for women to take. One of the biggest problems in the history of women suffrage is ignorance. If women do not know what the problem they are facing truly is, then there is no way they can solve that problem. We cannot change something we do not know is wrong in our life.

  37. Britjette M. says:

    I agree and can relate to every sentence in this article. Many women do not realize that the issues they have are due to this patriarchal world we live in. Women are taught to believe that they have to look and behave in a certain manner or else they do not belong. It is not secret that women are viewed as the inferior sex. We starve ourselves, inflict pain on our own bodies, talk negatively about ourselves, and cosmetically enhance our features so that we feel valued by men. Why else would this negative behavior occur? We do not love ourselves as much as we ought to because we have been taught since birth that we do not have a voice; our opinions of ourselves do not matter. It becomes stressful to attempt to live up to a standard that we are not even sure we agree with (we shouldn’t).

  38. I really enjoyed reading this entry because I felt like it gave an honest look into your personal life. However, I do not, necessarily agree that the cause of many problems was solely patriarchy. This is not to offend or diminish the experiences that you had. However, I too, have had my fair share of “lows” and I would not say that they were because of patriarchy. Of course your story and my story are completely different, and therefore most likely have different causes. I feel like most of my mistakes in life were made out of a lack of knowledge. As we grow older, we learn. We learn right from wrong, good from bad, and everything in between. For me, growing up has been exactly that. Growing…and life turning UP.

    I was able to relate with taking a sociology class out of interest, to fulfill a G.E. requirement. I knew that I wanted to do Substance Abuse Counseling and I was told that I should major in sociology. I had no clue what it even was. I could not have picked a “better” or more interesting major. I have learned so much about people, people’s experiences, and the gender roles that shape society.

  39. Even though patriarchy and gender roles may not be present or enforced in one’s household, it does not necessarily mean that an individual will not encounter it in other forms. This article is an example of just that. She mentions that she was raised in a supportive family who encouraged her to engage in various activities while growing up. However, unfortunately she was exposed to the harmful affects of a patriarchal society where she felt guilty and a failure due to situations that happened to her. But when she learned about feminism and sexism, it had changed her life positively. It goes to prove that, feminism can bring beneficial aspects into one’s life. For example, believing and having faith in yourself, understanding why things may happen to an individual and not blaming themselves and to acknowledge that everyone no matter what gender, can succeed in this world.

  40. Matthew Smit says:

    I would say this this is an case is not only affected by Patriarchy but other issues that you faced as well. However, I will say that I never looked at how much Patriarchy affected women. Little things in almost all areas of life are either less accessible or not available to women. In a male dominated society, women come second in a society that they share equal power in numbers. I think it is great that she went to college and educated yourself about this topic, because it shows that it has helped your life. Good article!

  41. Brittany Fisher says:

    I found this article and Melanie’s journey to Sociology, to be very similar to mine. Not in the sense of her obstacles, but how she felt and what she gained from Sociology. When I first came to college I was not a Sociology major, and had no idea what it even was. I took the intro course because it fit my schedule and as a result, I never saw the world the same. Our society being the main focus, Patriarchy also becomes a main topic for discussion. I too, like Melanie, have been able to better connect the stems to my obstacles, with the veil of illusion. Our patriarchal society is something that I will always have to deal with because I am a woman, and being a Sociology major has made me more aware of just how much it affects me daily. The boundaries in my life have already been set up for me, just like they were set up for my mother, grandmother and so on. The important thing is to recognize these boundaries, so that we can change them.

  42. Glynda Givens says:

    I must first say that you are an amazing woman. As women we go through so much. There are so many obstacles that we face and somehow we always have the strength to pull through. I found it very interesting to read that you didn’t come from a typical home. It’s great that you family, those that raised you didn’t tell you that you could “only play with dolls and not build forts”, there are a lot of people who aren’t as fortunate. Although you didn’t live in a patriarchal home; the society we live in, although a little different today, is based on patriarchy. So for you to have face the things that you did or relationships you have been in are all based on our society as a whole. Being that I am a Sociology major, I love to hear when people read about sociology or take a sociology class. Sociology sheds light to thinks that go on in our lives. Although we think we have complete control over our lives, something’s are just out of our hands. The title for this post is perfect, “Click! It’s Not You, It’s Patriarchy”. It really isn’t you, it’s how are society works and in this case its how patriarchy works.

  43. Vanessa Ochoa says:

    Reading this article made me realize that I need to stop being intimidated by this patriarchy society we live in. I grew up in a family that never encourage me to do anything with my life beside learn to cook, clean and take care of my younger siblings. I heard the word feminists for the first time when I was at Fresno City College. I had no idea what that word meant, so thinking I was doing the right thing, I asked my fellow classmate who was male, what does feminist mean? He on this rant that feminists are male hated women that blame men for all their troubles and want to have equality. Automatically I had a negative reaction towards what I thought was a feminist was. But that all changed when I took a Sociology 1 at Los Angeles Valley College with Professor McKeever. I learned the true definition of what feminism means and what feminists stand for.

  44. Berenice V says:

    Unlike you, I grew up in a household that resembled typical gender roles. My dad was the primary breadwinner, while my mother was the housewife. As I grew up I was inclined to helping my mother with housework chores, while my younger brother never had to wash a single dish nor do chores in the account that he was too young, and boys don’t do housework duties, boys help fix and repair housework problems. During my senior year of high school I enrolled in my first Sociology class, and found it truly eye opening, it was a class where many of my concerns were addressed, and planted the seed into deciding what major I wanted to go into. Sociology deals with many the ongoing issues that both men and women are affected by such as gender inequality, gender roles, and how society constrains its members to normative expectations. As I have entered college as well as the work environment, I have felt oppressed and experienced gender inequality and through my sociology classes I have found a profound understanding as well as explanations of why this is still going on, and like you stated it is not me it is patriarchy. The more I learn about sexism, patriarchy, and the effects it has on individuals the more I understand the violence and hate that is going in society. Feminism brings awareness and issues to light as mean for social justice and chain. Just as slavery was a system of domination, sexism as well as patriarchy serves to have inequality. Most people are under the impression that Feminism has to deal with angry, man-hatting women, but reality is that it is much more than that, feminism reaches out to both men and women to challenge society’s domination , sexism, oppression, and so many other countless aspects, it empowers women to fight for their rights and to abolish unrealistic body images as well as promoting self-worth.

  45. Tania L says:

    Although the life of the author might have started as a fairy tale which empowered her through the action of her grandmothers and her mother it wasn’t a fairy tale. She was given the upper hand since she wasn’t socialized into believing societies gender roles which paint the picture either pink or blue depending on your gender. The author surpassed the downside of life which included eating disorders and an unplanned pregnancy. I think that due to her parents good implementations and their good foundation the author surpass adversity. I can relate to her in the sense of intersectionality, being a middle class Hispanic women tends to come with multiple types of hardships that life tends to bring. I have to fight for women rights, for immigration reforms and for survival and prosperity of my class. If the foundation of an individual is implemented at early stages of life we are able to surpass such adversity.

  46. This is an interesting topic I have not thought much of before. In one’s household they may be safe from it, but once you step out into society it is obviously there. It’s great to see that you had a supportive household not tied to typical norms. I would like to know more about how patriarchy impacted your life. I do agree that patriarchy often makes women feel like they don’t belong or a failure. It’s great that you discovered a class that could help you out of your depression. I hope more women can come to this realization as well. All too often I see women trying to impress men and putting each other down.

  47. Masis H says:

    Melanie Klein’s blog was especially interesting because it provided an intimate look at womans path to feminism. The struggles and issues Klein discussed were significant because they showed how even through all the obstacles a woman encounters, finding themselves and feminism is always possible. The concept Klein identified regarding Patriarchy was an important part of this blog because it highlighted the main issues regarding our society and the struggles of feminism. Patriarchy and sexism isn’t just held within individuals in today’s society but is imbedded in our culture. In order for equality to arise, there must be a change in our culture and overall beliefs of men and women.

  48. Soraya L. says:

    It is a fascinating and mind-boggling thing to view the world in a particular manner, and to have that specific schema be completely destroyed and obliterated through the vehicle of education. It is invigorating, inspiring, and refreshing to have one wake up from oblivion and ignorance. But at the same time, it also opens the doors to the harshness of reality. Patriarchy is definitely a reality, and because we have been socialized into a male-dominated society, it is hard for us to sometimes look at the problems people face in an objective manner because we are stuck in the bubble ourselves. But when someone challenges the ideas that we live with, it helps us question everything we have ever known, and helps us search for answers that can broaden up the range for equality for women and men. Women tend to blame themselves for a lot issues that might seem pervasive only on the micro level, when in fact it is something that other women elsewhere are dealing with. In the article, even growing up in an environment where gender roles were not enforced, patriarchy still manages to get under the author’s skin, and very subtly, too. Body image, abusive relationships. Low pay, sexism, discrimination in the workplace, and many more are issues women tend to internalize, when in fact, it is obvious that patriarchy plays a big role in making women feel inferior and like they are not good enough. However, upon discovering the issues pervading society in the present day, and waking up from any ignorance that can hold us back, we can all make a change just by being aware of the problems many of individuals have to deal with and encouraging people to speak out on them so they could infiltrate the general public.

  49. Melissa Avitia says:

    Reading this article really inspired me and made me think of my personal experiences I have had. As you mentioned you had equal gender roles in your home and you had the support I can definitely relate to that. I grew up in a home were I was open to express my thoughts ,ideas and was not prevent it from doing any activities men would do.In other words, being young and playing with boys was not a problem in the eyes of my family how for many it is.It made me realize that although patriarchy and gender roles may not always be present in a household,does not mean that an individual can encounter it out of their household.This article is an example of just that. You mention that you were raised by a very supportive family you were still affected by patriarchy outside your home.As mention,you were exposed harmful affects of a patriarchal society where you felt guilty and a failure due to situations you experienced,such as the rape and being in a very abusive relationship for six years.I have not had any situations just like those,however I have encounter other experiences that continually come to my thoughts and remind me of it with the thoughts of failure. I feel due to that specific situation I have encounter depression as well.However, I liked how you stated that you learned about feminism and sexism, it had changed her life positively.I feel feminism can bring beneficial aspects into one’s life. For example, believing and having faith in yourself, understanding why things may happen to an individual and not blaming themselves and to acknowledge that everyone no matter what gender, can succeed in this world. Something I feel I am now discovering about myself and continue to cope with my situation and find the right way to get away from it and move on how you have done. I admire your article!!

  50. Vincent McGhee says:

    This is article was great. I liked that the use of educating your self help the author get out of her depression. I believe that this is really good because people shouldn’t allow themsleves to become depressed. I was glad that she turned it all around and was able to get her life back together and regain her self-esteem. I never realized becoming a feminist could have such a large impact on your life. Also, I didn’t think it could turn your life around but after reading I see that it can.

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