Breaking The Chain Of Patriarchy

We live in a society where our everyday behaviours, thoughts and emotions are shaped by the patriarchal notions, that prevails in the structure of the society. A woman at every stage of her life, in fact even before her birth, was being subjected to the evils of the male-dominated society. Patriarchy is unique, as this oppression is prevalent globally but still many of its aspects are undermined by the society or remain hidden in the structure such that it was noticed by none, even man of the women who are subjected to it fails to notice. In Indian society, in particular, the patriarchal norms and values are also a result of caste and religious inequalities that haunts the society. The most familiar example is the restriction of women entry into Sabarimala Temple in Kerala.

Normalisation of Patriarchy

The transmission of patriarchal values and ideas from one generation to another occurs in the socialisation process. Socialisation is the process of internalising the norms and ideologies of society. During and at the end of the process, the individuals, be it men or women adjusts to the group or the society from which they socialised, and learns to behave in a manner as approved by the society.  This socialisation process forms the basis for the normalisation of patriarchy in society. So, any attempt for a social change that is sustainable and egalitarian, should start from the socialisation process.

Primary and Secondary Socialisation

Socialisation occurs at two levels – primary and secondary.

In primary socialization, a child accepts and learns a set of norms, values, attitudes. For example, if a child sees his or her mother expressing hatred towards anybody, the child may think this behaviour is acceptable and could continue to practice hatred towards others.

In secondary socialization, the child learns what is the appropriate behaviour as a member of a smaller group in a larger society. Secondary socialization takes place outside the home. The children and adults learn how to act in an appropriate way in a situation. Schools require very different behaviour from the home, and children must act according to new rules.

The Chain of Transmission

So, the social institutions involving in the process of socialisation- both primary and secondary-should undergo a radical change from the present, in their approaches of socialising the new generation. Socialisation by any of these institutions is influenced by the patriarchal values of the society. Identifying the patriarchal values and norms in these institutions and replacing them with egalitarian value will break the transmission chain that helps in carry patriarchy across generations.

Let us see with some examples,

The key social institution in the primary socialisation process is the Family. The behaviour of the parents has a great influence on the child. In Indian society, there is a notion that males are breadwinners and women are homemakers, which itself is a result of the patriarchal norms. So, any child witnessing his/her father going to job and mother doing. Thus, the occupational segregation that we see in the labour market has its root in the Family. During this, the child ability to think critically about such a notion is not developed. Hence the child accepts this uncritically. This is a vicious cycle – the socialisation process leads to an unequal labour market, the unequal labour market again has its worst effects on the socialisation process.

Even the toys are given to the girls and boys during their childhood also has their effects. Often the boy child was given a bike or car toy, whereas the girl child was given a barbie doll-like toys. Over time this will give a superiority notion to the boy child, against the other gender as possessing a bike or car was often seen in terms of the status of a family in our society and is often associated with boys.

Schools are important secondary social institutions. The present arrangement in schools and colleges is such that the patriarchal notions went unnoticed and hence normalised. Even women who are subjected to this, often accept this as a legible one. Let us look at this with a simple example

Even today many school books of lower classes contain a picture of a family where the father was depicted as going to a job and the mother was doing household chores. Here comes the coincidence of the primary and secondary socialisation. As mentioned above a child sees the same kind of situation as in the book, in his/her home. This makes the child believes that this is how society operates.

But a big relief is that there are men and women who, over the years become aware of this pattern of socialisation and absolves themselves from the clutches of the patriarchal norms of the society and are being gender-neutral.

Breaking the chain

Redefining the socialisation process will be the solution.

Primary Socialisation: Make your child believe that the world is for everyone through your actions. A working male in a household, cooking for some time with his wife or helping her in her work will make a great difference to the child. This develops a sense in the child that no job is restricted to no one and no one is restricted from doing any job.

Secondary Socialisation: Making the words and pictures in the school books of lower classes gender-neutral, helps a lot. Say a picture of a family can be shown as a father and mother doing household chores together. This will make the child thinks that why the family shown in the book and his/her own family was totally different (in the case of a household where the father goes to job and mother do household chores).

The selection process in any kinds of posts in schools or colleges should not be based on gender. This makes every student (boy/girl/another gender) work together under the leadership of another student (boy/girl/another gender).

Thus, a permanent social change is in the hands of future generations.

I am not sure whether the youths and students are the future of India. But every youth will be a parent in the future. So, the responsibility of these youths/parents should be to make their child, being men or women, not to act as men or women.

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