Patriarchy is defined as a system that grants power to men and oppresses women. Our society is male dominated, male identified and male centered.
Although patriarchy exists in some societies more than others, is it men’s fault that our society as a whole was raised with this mindset?
The men in our generation are also dealing with the consequences of a mentality that was created far back in history.
The division between men and women was not an evident problem until the United States began its industrial revolution in 1760.
In that time period, women decided to stay home with the children while their husbands set off to work. It was women who chose that lifestyle for themselves.
I believe that when the revolution took place men gained power in their society and their household. That was when the roots of what is considered masculine versus what is considered feminine took form.
Men claimed superiority until women rose to their own defense during the feminist movement in the late 19th century.
The feminist movement included a fight for reproductive rights, domestic violence, maternity leave, equal pay, women’s suffrage and sexual harassment.
A lot of progress has been made with the feminist movement but definitely not enough to satisfy many women.
From that point, gender became a social construct.
Gender is socially constructed in the way that men and women have roles that are directly related to their gender and not their capacities.
For example, men are the breadwinners while women are the caretakers, men are supposed to fix the cars while women spend their weekends gardening.
Recently these gender roles have started to diminish, but there is still plenty of controversy surrounding it.
People fight for equal rights, but when circumstances start to balance out they look in disapproval.
Women want to be held to the same standards as men.
They want to be able to work the same jobs, even if it requires manual labor. However, when a women achieves that they are frowned upon.
In the same way, when there is a family where a woman makes more than her husband it is seen as awkward and not normal.
Women want their husbands and the rest of the men to help them clean the house and assume responsibility for their children in more than finances. But when a man does that, he is frowned upon.
There have been and still are many attempts to break the barriers surrounding the social construct of gender.
However, whenever any attempt takes place it is quickly cut short by the same society that is fighting for it.
Men are held accountable for the division in gender roles despite the fact that they weren’t the ones who caused them, but are also victims under the same umbrella.
Men cannot be held accountable for oppressing women because when men try to venture out of the social structure they are instantly shut down.
Originally published on coyotechronicle.net (September 11, 2014)