Feminism, like abortion or the LGBQT, is one of the many topics that is constantly brought up in our society. Whether it is on the news that women are walking around without shirts on or women posting pictures of them breastfeeding, feminism is constantly brought up and more often than not, it has a negative connotation around it. The reading by Shaw brought up points about feminism that I think are important people know and understand about the concept.
There was a small section about how feminism came about and it is important that everyone understands that it wasn’t just women who noticed the discrimination among the genders. Both men and women in the higher education noticed the ways women were constantly excluded from power and authority as college faculty and administrators. It is misconstrued that feminism is only women for women when, in fact, men were major contributors in the 1960s when feminism originated. I found it really interesting that at this time “Literature was filled with men’s ideas of women” which we all know are stereotypical and biased.
Both Shaw and Tong discuss patriarchy in the readings, which is an important contributor to the oppression of women. I hadn’t ever thought or been taught the definitions of the word patriarchy, but after reading these articles I wish I had. Patriarchy was always taught to be with the use of context clues. Patriarchs were the rulers, those in charge, but the real definition pretty much says men should rule over everyone.
Patriarchy is defined as a social system in which males hold primary power, predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege and control of property. In the family, fathers or father-figures hold authority over women and children.
The definition of patriarchy (above) is almost the exact way that families/the world was portrayed to me as I was growing up. In my family, I have 2 sisters, my mom, my dad, and our dog (also female). My life has always been filled with “girl” stuff (pink, makeup, hair stuff, etc.) not at any fault of my parents. When we were younger we watched disney movies and learned from TV shows what girls are supposed to do and what boys are supposed to do. Marry Poppins taught me that women take care of children and keep things clean while men do the dirty work. High School Musical taught me that boys should be into basketball and they should hide their “girly” tendencies. Cars were for boys, unless the were pink and had a bow (cars taught me that). And so many more movies/shows taught me that men were leaders and women kept things clean and neat and cooked.
Obviously this is not how the world should be operated. The US is one of the more progressive and there are many other countries who do believe that women should not leave the kitchen. I am lucky to have grown up in America as a female and not somewhere where I have 0 rights. Patriarchy has been slowly fading out as the “norm” for society and growing up now it is not how our world is portrayed.
My youngest sister grew up 5 years after me with different perceptions of the world. Kids growing up now are seeing even more quality like the gender labels being taken down. Feminism started in the 1950s and here we are almost 70 years later still trying to be seen as equals, slowly progressing, but still not equal.
Hooks, Bell. (2014). Understanding Patriarchy. http://imaginenoborders.org/pdf/zines/UnderstandingPatriarchy.pdf
Shaw, S. M., & Lee, J. (2012). Women’s voices, feminist visions: Classic and contemporary readings. New York: McGraw-Hill.