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There has been a lot of obvious women hating going on in the United States recently and directly related, there has been a lot of talk lately about women’s rights, gender oppression, and patriarchy. There has not been a lot of discussion on what patriarchy is. Gender oppression is a direct result of patriarchy, as is the fight to take away women’s rights. I am going to give three very real consequences of Patriarchy, but first, here’s a short definition:

Patriarchy is the system in place that demands gender oppression in order to survive. In it, the male gender acts as the authority figure in all aspects of life. Gender oppression is institutionalized- the very foundation and structure of society depend on men being over women, this includes government, laws, media, religion… This is the system we live under.

There are many consequences of Patriarchy, here are three and how they are consequences.

1. Toward the end of February of this year in Madison, Wisconsin a 70 lb 15 year old girl was found barefoot and starving on the side of the road. She had been enslaved in a basement and sexually abused as well as starved and physically and psychologically tortured. The report from the doctor who examined her described her as a victim of “serial child torture with prolonged exposure to definite starvation.”

This incident is a consequence of Patriarchy. Why and How? Patriarchy demands as a system that some people have power over others, specifically that men have power over women and girls. The system demands strict adherence to gender roles and that means men over women, even if that means using violence. Yes, but this was a story that was clearly over the line, someone might argue. Absolutely it was, but the existence of Patriarchy allows these things to happen because it advocates for keeping girls and women in their place no matter what.

The fact that another woman was participating in the girl’s torture, indicates hatred of herself as a woman projected onto the girl. Internalized hatred of girls and women. It is also possible she was being abused by the two men in the house, but it is not clear exactly what was happening in the situation. Getting rid of Patriarchy (I know, easier said than done) will drop rates of violence against everyone, especially women and children.

2. The second example of a consequence of Patriarchy is the case of Tyler Clementi, the gay Rutgers student who committed suicide in 2010 by jumping off New York’s George Washington Bridge after being harassed by his roommate for being gay. Steven Altman, the attorney said his client, the young man harassing Tyler, Dharun Ravi, had “acted like a teenager, not a criminal.”  Ravi posted to his Twitter account that he videotaped Clementi “making out with a dude” two days before Clementi killed himself. It is being seen as a hate crime. The trial was finishing up yesterday March 13, 2012.

This is another sad, but interesting consequence of Patriarchy because it is two-fold. First, Patriarchy holds that men must be over women or anything feminine even if that means using violence. Being gay is seen as feminine or unmanly because of definitions by the Patriarchy of masculinity, so harassing someone to make their behavior stop and so they conform to the system is acceptable under Patriarchy. The second piece of this is that Patriarchy pushes for hate crimes in it’s very nature of demanding male dominance. In order for there to be male dominance, men also must adhere to strict gender roles, which do not include being gay. A gay man could be the most manly man around- into trucks and cars and sports and math and every stereotype pushed on men according to their gender, but if he’s gay, he cannot regularly assure women will be beneath him. He does not fit the mold required for men under Patriarchy, so he is unacceptable and men who are insecure about themselves, the world, the role of men in the world, and gender roles will harass him and may even be violent against him. Is it the behavior of a teenager? Maybe, but this is how our Patriarchal culture trains everyone, especially boys and men.

3. The third example is the legalizing of medical malpractice against women. What?

Women in Pennsylvania, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Idaho, Indiana, Missouri, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Arizona may not get to hear all of their medical information if the doctor doesn’t want to tell them and there is no consequence for that. Prenatal testing during pregnancy is to identify medical conditions that affect a fetus and also a woman. Some of these medical conditions can be treated and sometimes a woman chooses to have an abortion due to the medical condition the fetus has. In the aforementioned states, a doctor is allowed to withhold information that they think could lead to an abortion and not be sued as a result. These are called “wrongful birth laws” and they allow doctors to put their own personal beliefs first, without any risk of being sued.

Wrongful birth” lawsuits are filed when a woman doesn’t get medical information that might have led her to get an abortion, and she could have a severely disabled child or she could even die. Women’s lives are also at risk to save the fetus because a doctor does not have to disclose what problems there are if abortion could be considered. Very scary. Pregnant women should ask their doctors if they are pro or anti-choice before choosing them to be their providers.

This is a direct consequence of Patriarchy. It is men controlling women’s bodies. It assumes women do not have the ability to speak for themselves or to make decisions for themselves and therefore make decisions for her and take away any possibility of legal recourse for her later. It’s like they took away two rights in one with those bills. Don’t decide for yourself and don’t speak up for your rights or complain. These bills have silenced women before they even spoke. Withholding information from people is always scary. Patriarchy at its finest.

GRRL CODE: As women, we must speak up for our rights. We must speak up against the system of Patriarchy. It so obviously oppresses women, but it oppresses all members of the society and hurts us all. Attempt to analyze the world around you from a woman centered lens and don’t stay quiet about what you see.

Post by: Liza Wolff-Francis