Happy International Women’s Day!
A few days ago I had an encounter with a co-worker that really annoyed me especially on the eve of such a significant day for women worldwide.
Co-Worker: You look mighty fine today. Do you have a date?
Me: *Rolls Eyes*…Can’t I dress up for me?
I came to the realization that I was living by patriarchal standards a few years ago. Every decision or move I made prior to that was based on the lessons society taught me about womanhood and my place in it because of my anatomical construct; which turns out always lead to some form of male amusement.
Even MY standard of beauty, which I often felt excluded from, met the standards I believed were my own but in retrospect was constructed for me as early as childhood. My definition of beauty was skinny, Indian/fair-skinned with extremely long hair. That was my vision of beauty for years and my high school years only confirmed it. The girls who met all or at least 2 of these criteria always got the male attention & the boys in Integras (inside joke). So me being a naive, under-experienced teenager, internalized that standard until it became my norm right into adulthood.
By the time I got my first boyfriend I struggled because I didn’t think I was good enough for him. Outside I was a warrior but inside I was very insecure. In retrospect it affected the relationship more than I realized at the time.
I lost myself in that relationship & I didn’t even know it. Every other relationship after that I lost even more of myself & one day I couldn’t recognize who I was anymore.
I lost myself to the patriarchy.
I didn’t care that I was lied to or mistreated because I had the affections of a man & that made me feel superior.
I believe a lot of us ladies fall in that trap without even realizing it. Society including the church constantly reminds women that we are the inferior or weaker sex who should appreciate our subordination.
We start childhood on a Disney diet of Princesses waiting to be rescued which seems to ease us into the “kept” woman culture. Even Disney’s recent attempts to show “girl powers” always seem to end up right back to waiting for that one.
Elsa & Anna’s sisterly love conquering evil somehow had to coexist with Anna’s relationship with Kristoff thanks to the patriarchal script that determines our every move…
I believe that female in-fighting is a direct result of our patriarchal socialization. Not too long ago a woman’s worth was measured by her suitability for marriage…to be honest some of us are still stuck there. Many of us in our 30’s think we are old maids because somebody’s son did not believe us worthy of a diamond ring. I know super talented & beautiful women who despite having it all…feel incomplete. I was one of those females for a long time too so no judgement here but relationships should not be about “completeness” it should be two wholes coming together to become one…something better together…a partnership.
By now you must believe I am a bitter old maid but trust me when I say I am not. Men have an important role to play in all our lives BUT dictator should not be one of them. Ladies we need to free ourselves from mental slavery & ground our core values in what works for us & not what society namely men believe. Our Grandparents days of thinking are past & though I am a firm believer of the influence of the past…this is one place we nuh need that!
So as we celebrate the beauty of Womanhood take time to reflect & see in what ways we can eradicate the patriarchal chains that have restricted our true growth & progress.
Until next time…
4 thoughts on “Surviving the Patriarchy”
Another awesome article. This is sooo true and really fitting for international Women’s Day!
Thank you Yazzy!
This post though, true words for me it was the opposite for me where I was the skinny girl always being teased and being called names and bullied because I was soft. Keep thinking highly and the right man will come in time a lot of times we run in front of God and then we might say why didn’t this work. People come in our lives as lessons in preparing us for the right person
Yes!!! I read it last week and I felt the urge to re-read it again!! So much truths outlined in this piece Shana, thanks for this thought provoking piece !!!