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How to eliminate the patriarchy?

(173 Posts)
BelleCurve Sat 02-Apr-11 15:05:33

Whilst researching the Institute of Directors recently I came across this fantastic piece of double-think on their website commenting on the gender pay gap -

"the Government should have accepted the hard evidence which shows that influences and choices made by women at the pre-employment stage are what generally lead to average gender pay differences"

It is just so sexist and privileged that it took my breath away for a moment.

Also, the Arab revolutions where it seems that one patriarchal system is being replaced by a potentially worse (for women) one has made me realise that these guys are never going to give up easily.

I have had enough of this system and need to focus my energies into solutions

This is a genuine question - how can we overcome, remove, eliminate the patriarchy?

PS - if after the other thread on this topic, you still don't "get" the patriarchy or don't see the problem, feel free not to contribute here.

Satireisbest Sat 02-Apr-11 15:59:35

I don't really think you can say who can or can't post on a forum.

And as I've read lots of theories on who or what the Patriarchy is I think it would be good to hear your definition please.

BelleCurve Sat 02-Apr-11 16:05:44

There is another active thread discussing definitions of the patriarchy - this is about action which is why I pointed those interested in discussing definitions elsewhere.

It would be good to hear you solutions please?

BelleCurve Sat 02-Apr-11 16:12:09

I have been watching the ongoing Arab revolutions with interest and wondering whether there will ever be a true women's revolution. At the moment it seems to be all about replacing one group of men with another potentially even more violent and oppressive group of men. (specifically thinking about Libya here)

It struck me that this is still the way power is transferred even in 21st century, that political power is linked to violence and willingness to go to war.

Do women have to become more violent/keen to go to war to ever stand a hope of gaining any power? Surely there must be an alternative?

Would passive resistance ever work?

MillyR Sat 02-Apr-11 16:14:36

BC, I think the issue with this point about the pay gap is that for women to make different choices pre-career, they would have to sacrifice other choices. So for women to do this isn't reducing patriarchy, it is just increasing the negative impact in other areas of their life.

So working out how to eliminate patriarchy is a very difficult question. I suppose I look at things from more of anarchist perspective, and that rather than having a focus of trying to eliminate the system, we look at how we can move away from the system by behaving in an ethical way in the context we find ourselves in.

I think that two major elements that I try to have in my own life are firstly my treatment of other women. A major element of this is children, and looking after other women's children and seeing that as part of the responsibility of being an adult, not me doing someone else a favour. I have also become a lot less judgemental of other women's choices.

The second area is to question a lot of assumptions I had made about how women should behave, think and feel, and consequently how I behave, think and feel.

Obviously this is about changing your own behaviour, not that of others around you. I would like to be able to change institutions, but not co-operating with what is expected of you or other women is at least a starting point.

BelleCurve Sat 02-Apr-11 16:25:04

Thanks MillyR, I think those a both good points but very focused on your own behaviour. Do you for example see that men looking after the children of other men (and women) is part of the responsibility of being an adult as well, as it could just be seen as further increasing women's responsibility for childcaring?

I think I am just impatient (and consequently not behaving as a woman should) with not changing institutions. Why is that men in relatively powerless situations still feel able/willing to mobilise politically to overthrow political regime which oppress them and become violent if necessary and we don't?

InmaculadaConcepcion Sat 02-Apr-11 16:25:08

BC, WRT your question about a "true women's revolution" and/or the efficacy of "passive resistance", you might be interested in the documentary film about the Liberian women's extraordinary campaign to end the violence there.

It's called Pray The Devil Back To Hell.

Good points from MillyR on how to start doing things to dismantle the patriarchy/the influence of the patriarchy.

May I add that the way you/we bring up our own children is another positive way we can influence society. Girl children growing up to be confident, aware and resistant to the patriarchy's perniciousness and boy children growing up not regarding themselves as having a natural superiority to girls in any respect, valuing the nurturing of children (and other people) and resisting gender stereotypes etc.

MillyR Sat 02-Apr-11 16:28:38

BC, I suppose part of it is because you can change things that are part of law or part of a system of government. It is much more difficult to change entrenched cultural attitudes. So I would say that overthrowing patriarchy is similar to overthrowing racism. You can't do it simply through a violent revolution.

BelleCurve Sat 02-Apr-11 16:32:38

Thanks IC for the inspiring clip, I will definitely watch that documentary. IIRC Liberia had the first only female president in Africa as well.

I certainly think we can do a lot by bringing our DCs in the right way, but the idea of waiting several more generations to have an impact is not doing much for my impatience!

BelleCurve Sat 02-Apr-11 16:37:17

I suppose a parallel could be drawn with the anti-apartheid movement - it certainly hasn't ended racism in South Africa but it has changed the power structure in many ways.

It seems to me that we would have more chance of changing the cultural attitudes after women were in power

im22 Sat 02-Apr-11 20:43:36

Simply stating that "It is just so sexist and privileged" does not make it so. The statement was pointing out that most evidence shows that the gender pay gap is due to women's choices pre-career (although intuitively I would have assumed once in a career, the choices made by women also largely affect the pay gap eg. maternity leave, hours worked etc).
If you would like to show some evidence to back up your claim (that the statement was sexist etc.) rather than just asserting it to be so, then I would gladly like to read the article/links you provide.

Secondly, explain which country is revolting to put a worse regime in place? I had assumed they were revolting to replace their governing regimes with democratically elected ones? But obviously since I don't see the patriarchy at play everywhere as you do, I mustn't be as smart as you and would therefore also like to read the articles/links/evidence you have access to so I can become just a little more enlightened with the ways of the world

AliceWorld Sat 02-Apr-11 21:33:23

BC - I think it's lots of little stuff, that can eventually lead to a tipping point. You're right that ending apartheid in SA does not end racism. It ends a structure that legitimises it, so then opinion change becomes easier. It's like lap dancing clubs. They legitimise a particular way of viewing women. If they didn't exist, that way of viewing would become less legitimised, and so opinion would change. Of course it's not simple, like ending slavery (well not actually ending it in reality, but anyway) not eliminating racist ways of viewing that stem from it.

HerBeX Sat 02-Apr-11 21:42:21

The choices women make pre-employment stage, are not made in a vacuum.

My choice is to have a really interesting, engaging, high status, high paid career and to function properly as a hands on mother with lots of time and energy for my children with a really good work life balance.

Unfortunately, the way the job market is structured at the moment, militiates against giving me that choice in the main. And the people who wrote that shit, are so privileged that they can't see that the structures of the market place are limiting women's choices, because they see the structures as normal, immutable and unchangeable - they simply can't envisage an employment marketplace which works to accomodate the needs of families, where work is organised around families rather than families around work.

I hope that answers our question Im22 but I expect it won't because you don't really want it answered do you, you don't agree with feminist analysis or goals.

BelleCurve Sat 02-Apr-11 21:57:31

The IOD quote is en example of a patriarchial institution protecting the existing privileged status of their members. There are further examples of their policy on the gender pay gap and their resistance to measures to increase the number of women on boards on their website.

My choices pre-career were to become pursue academic and professional qualifications as I believed that I was entitled to pay and promotion based on merit. I am specifically not saying equal pay to a man as I believe that I have better qualifications and experience than many men in my industry and that I contribute more value to my organisation. However, I am subject to gender pay differences and that in my view is the patriarchy at work.

In Egypt and Libya, a strong force in the rebel movements are the Muslim Brotherhood who would likely be more oppressive of women. In Libya there is a rebel force which is engaging in a civil war -I am not aware of any democratic process.

BelleCurve Sat 02-Apr-11 22:00:05

But instead of getting drawn into a debate on what/whether there is a patriarchy and defending our world view - any more ideas on what we (those of us who see the patriarchy everywhere) can do to change this system?

AliceWorld Sat 02-Apr-11 22:05:45

"any more ideas on what we (those of us who see the patriarchy everywhere) can do to change this system?"

Me, me! I posted some! grin to be fair they were shit

BelleCurve Sat 02-Apr-11 22:23:58

Thanks Alice - I missed those. So we protest to close down lap-dancing clubs/ stop new ones from opening which is a good idea and already being done by feminist activists now.

I suppose I am feeling that we can be more ambitious, more immediate. We (women) are so conditioned that if we ask nicely, politely, with rational explanations - eventually we will be allowed to join in with power.

Maybe it is just me, but I feel that we have had enough of waiting and asking nicely?

If women were 77% of the MPs, 88% of directors, 86% of the cabinet, 94% of high court judges - somehow I think lap-dancing clubs would just not get licenced anyway.

AliceWorld Sat 02-Apr-11 22:33:48

That's just one little thing. Needs to be lots of little things imo.

We have indeed waited nicely for too long.

I think changing the power structures, like MPs etc is one things. But cultural change is needed too. And that doesn't come just from changing power structures. Women don't necessarily act in women's interests. Levy's Female Chauvinist Pigs talk about that.

That's where the little things are important too. Including stuff like speaking out on here. You can see how it threatens, by the number of times people come on threads like this just to post derailing crap.

But I don't think that is the whole answer.

im22 Sat 02-Apr-11 22:40:46

@ HerBeX " don't really want it answered do you, you don't agree with feminist analysis or goals". For the most part I would completely agree with you there. The problem with this statement is that you throw it at me as an insult, as if feminist goals/analysis (and in this instance specifically analysis) is correct, and therefore by inference I am wrong in opposing it. Take the issue raised by the OP as an example, she decries sexism and patriarchy concerning a statement that points out that evidence proves that womens choices are the main reason for the wage gap. She does NOT take issue with the evidence/statistics/analysis from which the person drew that conclusion, she simply states the conclusion is patriarchal/sexist because the conclusion is one which doesn't suit her ideology.

Your point on the other hand, (which i must begrudgingly admit is a better and more coherent one) is that although the conclusion is correct, it is based on analysis of a job market which is inherently patriarchal. But so what? The job market works the way it does because this is this is the best way for it to work. Why should the job market adjust to your needs and not you to the job markets needs?
To put this fact in a real environment, suppose you and I work the same job, but you work it with the mindset that you outlined above, ie "My choice is to have a really interesting, engaging, high status, high paid career and to function properly as a hands on mother with lots of time and energy for my children with a really good work life balance", whereas I worked it with the mindset of the patriarchal male - that I would have a more work orientated balance. Assuming our work output etc were equal, I would expect to get promoted etc faster than you because I would work more hours, spend less time off for sick kids etc etc and so on. Ergo wage gap! The only solution would be to reverse the sexism (as you see it) and promote you ahead of me, in effect making a matriarchal job market - but how is that any less sexist? And how does that help the job market?

AliceWorld Sat 02-Apr-11 22:43:50

Psst, BelleCurve, see what I mean? grin

BelleCurve Sat 02-Apr-11 22:43:54

Agreed, we also need cultural change and we need to change our own internal limitations and perceptions to allow ourselves to become truly powerful.

Levy's book was very interesting - that shows women working to support the patriarchy (whether they realise it or not).

But it just brings me back to the fundamental point that we need to shake up the whole system before any cultural change will take hold. Cultural change is unlikely to happen with our small actions because the whole system is self-perpetuating.

Even the good ideas about bringing up the next generation as feminists, plays into our role as mothers and primary child-rearers. Well, yes that is good but what about change now!

AliceWorld Sat 02-Apr-11 22:48:51

My take on these things is that it's either gradual change or revolution. And I'm not so keen on either.

But then I think there's a third thing that is the change that we can't foresee cos it hasn't happened yet. I think big societal change is often unpredictable cos we can't imagine too far outside of what we know. It's a wishy washy answer I know. But I think lots of little seemingly unconnected minor things at some point create a larger change.

BelleCurve Sat 02-Apr-11 22:49:09


so pleased to have upset the oppressors - must be doing something right!

I shall start making a list... and come the revolution...

AliceWorld Sat 02-Apr-11 22:51:13

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win" Ghandi

BelleCurve Sat 02-Apr-11 22:54:16

As you may have guessed, I am more in favour of the revolutionary approach - just need a bit of a kick-start (and DS to have a good night's sleep!)

It seems that whenever there is massive societal change no-one can accurately predict the outcome or even if it will be better than the current system.

Sorry to keep harping on about the Arab revolutions, but it's not like there is a defined goal - they knew they were being oppressed, they knew they had to get rid of the current system and went for it.

actually, scrap that - I am not apologising and not harping on. If you don't like it, tough. That's my small step for the day.

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