One of the things I never understood about the idea of patriarchy that feminism opposes is this: why would men throughout history across numerous “patriarchal” cultures and civilizations systematically oppress their counterparts, i.e., their wives, their sisters, their mothers?
To oppress someone means to prevent that person from what she needs, what is her due, and to otherwise cause harm. And I can understand how that happens in isolated situations, e.g., domestic abuse where a husband abuses his wife, etc. But I don’t understand how this can happen globally or across an entire society. Why? Because men are smarter than that and so are women. What I mean is, it would be completely irrational for men to inflict this kind of program within their own households. How do men benefit by crippling their female companions and continually frustrating their needs? That is simply not functional. Have you ever known a family where the husband/father (or the wife/mother) is a tyrant, wields all the control, rules with an iron fist? Those situations are never sustainable and everyone involved is miserable and looking for an exit. Are we supposed to believe that it was only modern people that realized, Wow, it’s not good for a wife or mother to be a powerless victim of constant abuse?
Also, the idea that women have been the perpetual victims of this scheme by men to oppress them over thousands of years is really insulting to the intelligence and capabilities of women. Again, are modern women the only ones enlightened enough to understand that they are being oppressed by patriarchy and to fight back, whereas past women were too stupid to notice or successfully effect change? That is an insult to women of the past.
If you look at what is required to effectively oppress a group of people, it is not a trivial task. Look at it from a practical perspective. Look at the current state of the Arab world. These Arab dictators have had to marshal all kinds of resources, military and police force, all kinds of programs of monitoring and institutions of propaganda and intimidation to maintain some semblance of (illegitimate) power and control over their populations. They’ve been doing this for 60 or 70 years, and look at how much resistance they’ve been getting and how much turmoil has resulted. The same is the case throughout world history. Oppression is inherently unstable and requires a lot of resources and energy to maintain for any extended period of time because the victims of oppression inevitably resist.
This casts doubt on the notion of oppressive patriarchy on two counts. First, the idea that men have been successfully keeping women down for millenia is absurd in the sense that, if that were the program, why would men put themselves through that incessant turmoil, constantly battling “uprising” from their own family members, presumably the same people they are sleeping next to in their beds every night?
Second, if that were indeed the program, where would the resources for such a program come from? On the family level, historically it would have been difficult to keep money and means that are available to a husband away from a wife. It is possible and did happen, again in isolated cases, but not on a systematic level or something that could be widespread.
Now it is a historical fact that women and men played different roles in maintaining their households. But it is only modern feminism that makes the claim that these traditional roles of women mean that they are oppressed victims. But as I have argued elsewhere, there is no basis for these determinations. For example, it is not clear how a traditional female role like raising and educating children is inherently oppressive. Yes, women in traditional roles don’t have equal power as men, but lack of equality does not equal oppression.
Let me make the point like this: Feminism wants us to believe that a man would choose other men to collude with and establish systems of power with OVER his own family, OVER his own wife and daughters and mother in order to oppress them and take advantage of them. This goes against human experience and basic self interest. If you are a woman, ask yourself: Is your father or your husband or your brother going to privilege the interests of a strange man over your interests, solely on the basis that “men stick together against women”? If so, that just means your father, husband, and brother are evil and possibly insane, not representatives of this global conspiracy to oppress one gender. And if you are a man, ask yourself: Are you going to look out for strange men and prioritize their interests over the interests of your wife, daughters, and mother? If so, you are evil and very likely mentally unstable, not a patriarch who is part of this global brotherhood holding back women.
Through refusal to educate them and conditioning from an early age. Another important point made by Simone de Beauvoir was that women could not organise an uprising of any sort because unlike workers or slaves they were evenly distributed amongst the social classes. Upper class women did not have any sense of solidarity with working class women (who actually had more freedom than the bourgeoises) and therefore it took years and years and events such as the industrial revolution that introduced women to the work force (where they were still unjustly treated) for a sufficiently serious group of women to congregate and fight for their rights – she also quotes respectable writers who resisted against women’s emancipation with ideas like “women are simply a lower class of human, incapable of logical thinking, capricious,” and other such slander. Because the patriarchy had been established so solidly for so many years (she attributed it to the advent of private property) it became very difficult to defy the status quo especially since, as I’ve said, women were never a group in and of itself, but annexed each to their own man. In fact prostitutes have been technically the freest members of female society throughout history, unharnessed to any one man.
Anyway, have a read if you haven’t yet (or just a good summary), it’s really fascinating. The Second Sex.
No, men saw no point in educating women since a woman was going to be the maintainer of her household. Secondly, conditioning is a ridiculous statement. Conditioning women to be what? Women? So that the women is able to compete in the marketplace of marriage and is in demand? So that their husbands would appreciate them rather than divorce them because they are unbearable and not feminine enough? And this implication of not raising a women to be a women (what you dubiously call “conditioning”) would make it so that they will never find a husband who is attracted to them and hence they will never live a meaningful, happy life. Men want women. That’s how it ought to be. But in the modern age, men have been conditioned to want boys in a female’s body. What is demanded in the marketplace of women isn’t even dictated by men anymore. It’s dictated by society that conditions and social engineers men into what they should find/be attracted to in a women. It’s totally disingenuous. Lastly, women are not a collective. For example, my gender does not make me belong to a group that consists of all men. My group is my family, my kinfolk, and people like me (who share my values, preferences, etc.). This idiosyncratic idea that genders are collective groups is an idea that only arose in the modern age and it belongs to the dustbin of history. Lastly, prostitutes being free because they are free to degrade and defile themselves is a moot point.
Women do not maintain households. Men do that. Women not being educated=less power given to them= women being weaker= women having less social status and respect
I have never gotten this nonsense about how the role of a mother has been valued in society. It is severely undervalued to the point that every where you go your father’s name is asked but nobody gives a rat’s fart about what your mother is called.
In a way I cannot believe how you discouraged education for females when it clearly leads to them leading a better life because they have more self agency and awareness.
People usually have preferred Male offspring over female offspring for this precise reason. Welcome to the real world.
Prior to the modern world, in most places it was all about what men wanted in a woman, what women wanted in a man did not count much. The problem with the era prior to modern world was that women were completely dependent on men but men were not nearly as dependent on women.
Women did not get to define what femininity and masculinity was. Only men got to do that