Shannon's paper

Shannon Schroeder
Women in Religion
de Vega
9/18/09

Hidden in Plain Sight

Every day we live our lives, and most of the time, do so without asking questions. We live in a world of patriarchy, and never stop to wonder how it came to be, or even why it came to be. People will say “that is just the way it is, always has been, and always will be”, but is this true? I wanted to look into some of the aspects of our lives that we just take for granted, or never think twice about because it is the norm. Hopefully by pointing some of these out it will open up other doors to how to overcome some of these issues by giving people the knowledge of knowing that it exists.
Patriarchy is a system of relationships where men own women and children, and rule over them (Fortier, 278). There are double standards when it comes to what is appropriate for men and women. If a male has many sexual partners, it is considered a good, manly thing. On the other hand if a woman has many sexual partners, she is considered a whore. Women also wear makeup and do their hair in order to catch a man’s attention, while guys do little to nothing to alter their appearance for women.
Our culture today is clearly male dominated. For some reason we seem to give males authority. The first example of this is in government positions. People naturally would assume that the president of the United States would be male. During the last campaigning for presidency, many people were disturbed by the fact that Hilary Clinton was running for presidency. For some reason she was not capable of holding office because she is a woman. Also, the thought of a woman leading soldiers into a battle baffles us as well. We think that women are not as physically able to do the same work as a male soldier. This thought of women being inferior to men in a political sense holds true throughout most appointed jobs of leadership. I found an interesting quote on this topic by Lise Fortier, “I was once told by a man that a woman might possibly become president of the United States, but only after her menopause when she would not be subject to emotional upheavals. I agreed and suggested that, for the same reason of security, in the view of the well known fact that men are often very indiscreet sexually and are prone to fall for women spies, no man should be elected president of the United States until he has first been castrated.” (p. 279)
Secondly, societal positions are also thought to be male dominated. We are only just now getting used to the fact that there are female doctors, police officers and lawyers. A half century ago, it was never heard of for women to hold a job like this. Also, judges and religious leaders are still thought to be male dominant. When the presence of maleness is not there in these positions, people begin to question whether or not the woman can fulfill these jobs.
Even in situations where there is no clear and defined leader, the male always seems to take on the roll. An example of this would be in the family setting. It is a natural thought to look at the father as the decision maker and leader of the family. The mother always seems to fall subordinate to the father in almost every situation…unless it involves the kitchen. The father is thought to be the money maker, and the mother is thought to be the child bearer. I witnessed an example of this while doing a service learning project in Sioux City. I was talking with a Latino woman about her home life, and why she had moved to America. She told me that she never wanted to leave her home in Guadelajara, Mexico in the first place. It was her husband’s decision to move, and because his word was law, they moved. She now lives in Sioux City with none of her family other than her husband and two daughters. Alejandra is extremely depressed and misses her family, and wishes to go out and make friends. She is unable to do this because her “job” is to stay at home the entire time, cleaning, cooking, and doing other forms of housework. I found this to be patriarchy at its finest.
I then begin to wonder if this happens in all cultures. In America, we have patriarchy throughout our society, but I don’t feel the oppression on a daily basis. Is this because I have lived with it my entire life? Yes, there are certain situations where I feel as if I go along with the flow of a male dominated society just because it is easier to swim with the current. Then I listen to stories like Alejandra’s and realize if I were in her situation, I would go crazy.
When talking to Alejandra she didn’t seem to be offended by the rules her husband had set upon her. It also seemed like she questioned why she followed them either. She was just living her life, respecting her husband the way she was raised to do. I find it fascinating how we all grow up with our beliefs of what is normal and what is not. Having a male dominated society feels normal to us and many other cultures. Patriarchy rules through and through. I wonder now, if we educate people on the double standards and unfairness of patriarchy, will it decrease? Will women learn to think for themselves, and become what they want to become? I think education of this topic is the only way to open the door in to a less male dominated society. People like Alejandra one day will be able to stand up for what they want, help make family decisions, and realize that their opinion matters.

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