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Patriarchy is bad for women, yes. But patriarchy is bad for men too! Fathers who do not know how to express their feelings, suffer!
We have come to recognise that patriarchy hurts women in so many ways, from depriving them of education, fulfilment of dreams and their full potential, to more drastic problems like domestic abuse and rape.
But patriarchy hurts men too. Just like patriarchy forces women in to domestic roles, it pushes men away from having close emotional ties with their family. Men are expected to be the bread winners and take on authoritarian roles with little room for softness and emotion. Honest communication and expression of vulnerabilities is seen as a sign of weakness in men. This makes it difficult for many men to openly express affection for their children, even though they may feel great love for them.
This poem is about the barrier created by a patriarchal society that, sometimes, makes it difficult for a father to communicate his love for his daughter.
Of Fathers And Daughters
The day she was born,
his joy knew no bounds
But his happiness,
could find no sounds.
He knew not how to hug
He knew not how to kiss
He knew not how to be
Affectionate with little miss
When she succeeded,
he experienced pride
But in her,
he could never confide
He felt her pain,
when he saw her suffer
But his shoulder,
he could not offer
When she left home,
he knew he would miss her
But he couldn’t
bring himself to tell her
He wanted to ask,
how she was coping
Instead he asked
What she was studying
They talked about
Einstein, Bradman and Sartre
But they never could share
a heart to heart
Patriarchy imposes useless and harmful restrictions on both men and women, curtailing their freedom, confining them to specific roles they may or may not be well suited for. It is time we break free of the of the cage of patriarchy so everyone can play to their strengths independent of their gender.
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Published here earlier.
Image source: shutterstock
Kanika G, a physicist by training and a mother of 2 girls, started writing to
Very true Kanika, traditional role expectations of patriarchy force men to become weird and estranged in some senses with their loved ones- even wives and kids! However, I do think boys equally suffer this sense of distance from their fathers, as do daughters. Your poem beautifully portrays how patriarchy fosters a certain awkwardness for the patriarch with his own support group and this is such a tragedy! But things are changing. Our kids are as comfortable with their dads as they are with their moms and vice versa – they share stuff with them and are supportive too far better than previous generations. This is indeed improvement. However, the bane of the stress of capitalism is still a big challenge. Many working parents and even working mothers have begun to feel estrangement from their kids because they themselves are so tired and stressed (and perhaps going down the same dreadful path as the patriarchs before-about ego and authority being linked to financial power!) to pay enough attention to the subtleties of fair and equal communication with growing adolescent children, spouses and family. The shape of the beast is changing to be more complex-so that the dynamics of patriarchy and capitalism have morphed into a war of the sexes to achieve power at the cost of peace of mind and tranquillity for all, especially within families. If and when societies identify this destructive pattern as it is repeating itself, it must also quickly find mechanisms to resolve these type of conflicts. This will be very critical to the mental and psychological strength and balance of future generations.
Hi Sonia. Lovely to hear from you again. Yes this poem is based on my experiences with the previous generation of fathers and is thankfully less relevant today, though unfortunately not irrelevant. I had not thought of what you say about some working mothers today. If it is true it is indeed very sad. Patriarchy will have been truly overthrown only when couples can be open and vulnerable with each other and openly discuss solutions that work best for their family without anyone feeling cheated, oppressed or left out.
Yes Kanika I wholly agree with you. You have used the right words when you say that couples must be “open and vulnerable” with each other to appreciate each others strengths and weakness and thus uplift and empower each other and the family as a unit. I am concerned, that patriarchy with its skewed imbalances and inequalities mustn’t end up being the very same model, empowered women set their sights upon and anchor their drive and ambitions with. We women must not repeat the same distortions of power and authority of the patriarchs!! Replacing the patriarchs by another set of authoritarian/autocratic figures who ultimately train themselves to lack rationale, emotion and empathy is not the answer. Sharing of equal and enabling spaces for both genders, is the only fair way forward for individuals and families.
Spot on Sonia. Well said. Feminism should not be about women emulating the behaviour of the men of the past but figuring out how free women and men can work together to create a better future for everyone. Oddly a couple of days ago I wrote a post on my own website about this very subject. https://sites.google.com/site/kanikagebooks/blog-1/themodernfamilydropthelabels
I read your post on your website and liked it very much. I am glad that there are writers like you who are expressing these concerns and also helping others see the broad scope of how empowering feminism must and can be.
Thanks Sonia 🙂
Patriarchy of Men works against them in workplaces & Corporates too – they lack the ability to accept a women’s mettle and they give-in to whims and fancies of what their image of Woman is. This inability manifests multiple ways – sometimes proves fatal to self, at times fatal to women in team.
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