A woman is not a woman’s worst enemy. Patriarchy is.

This post began as a response to a comment on the last post, and in response to – ‘Can two women really become friends?’ and ‘Why women hate women?’


As little girls, women hear of the importance of things they have little control over. They hear about their skin colour, their physical beauty  and even today,  concerns about their happiness with their future in laws.

They are brought up to see marriage as the goal in their lives. Divorce or separation, staying unmarried or being widowed is seen as something they must avoid. This puts pressure on women to be ‘happily married’ or ‘happily in a relationship’, across cultures. And since much of this is not in their control – women have a lot to feel insecure about.

What’s more, Patriarchy is also responsible for why very little in this all-important relationship is in the control of those it involves.

Traditionally women’s partners are discouraged from seeing their marriages and their wives as important parts of their lives. It’s common for men to be shamed and taunted for showing they care for their wives or marriages. Jokes like ‘Shadi ke laddu, jo khaye wo pachtaye‘, or taunts like Joru ka gulaam are common. And this when women must move in among near strangers and depend on the spouse’s support to feel at home in a new environment.

Traditionally men’s partners are brought up to believe that finding a partner and ‘keeping him’ is their only goal in life. The education they receive, how they talk (softly), walk, look , respond to questions (always respectfully), the careers they choose (no jobs that require traveling) – everything is permitted keeping the comfort and approval of a future husband and his family in mind. Women are brought up to seek approval.

In Patriarchy, men are conditioned to fight for their egoes and ‘honor’. Jealousy in men is seen as manliness. Since the partner must depend on them, men might get away with being unfaithful.

Patriarchy also keeps women dependent on sons and brothers (Manusmriti is not very subtle about it) which makes them insecure about losing them to other women who depend on them, i.e. the women they marry. Basically the entire system puts women one against another.

In a Patriarchy – the partners women are made to fast, pray and work to one day find, are taught to remember that they must not become ‘joru ka gulaam’ or forget their priorities (their parents and birth-families) – so although they too want life partners – they are warned against giving as much as they expect to get.

The men expect to be the top priority in their spouse’s life but they are told she should not be their top priority or she might take them away from their parents. (But they are also told she must leave her parents, friends and family for them.) This naturally makes them take the women a little for granted. This makes the women insecure again.

In a traditional set up,  the respect and awe for male members at home and the insecurity and lack of self worth in the female members at home passes on from one generation to another. Even when they know they need not depend on male approval, the conditioning remains. The husband is still being brought up not to forget his parents come before his wife, and women are still being told the spouse is their world.

We also know that unlike a man who can walk out on an unfaithful wife (or honor-kill or throw her out etc) a woman is more likely to be asked to stay and make her marriage/relationship work. And then there maybe financial dependence. So more insecurity.

Women don’t hate each other any more than the rest of the population does. It seems women bond even when there is so much insecurity and dependence.

Movies like ‘Mirch Masala‘ and ‘Delhi 6‘ and awe inspiring stories like ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns‘ show how well women bond, even in unlikeliest of circumstances.

Sex and the City‘ is also about women bonding, supporting and being there for each other.

In real life and in the blogosphere, women are seen supporting, encouraging, taking out the time to counsel or just to listen to women.

Also consider, who exactly are women expected to get along with the most, but often don’t? Do they have a choice here? Often women are expected to get along with their spouses’ female relatives of all ages, backgrounds, expectations and attitudes. Traditionally, they are not encouraged to stay in touch with their friends. So they are deprived of the support system that friends could provide and are expected to get along with those who see respect (etc) from them as their right.

Patriarchy does not put the rest of the population under pressure to win the approval of their spouse’s relatives, so the rest of the population has little  opportunity to find out just how unfair and dis-balanced the system is. [Read Desi Girl’s take on this here and here]

And finally men do compete as much as women do – they have fought wars, fought duels, killed or got killed – but we ignore it as male aggression, male jealousy or machismo.

Patriarchy being a system that allows a few to control the lives of many, does not benefit most of those it controls, not men, not women. Not even those who it seems to benefit… but that’s another post.


71 thoughts on “A woman is not a woman’s worst enemy. Patriarchy is.

  1. ok, i cannot understand the fact why parents should be above the wife, or the other way round? I mean it depends upon who’s right, right? so if there’s a point, and the wife is right, then by all means one should respectfully tell the parents they’re wrong. And, if the wife is wrong, explain the same to her. i would like to quote a stanza from the song “the times they are a changin” by bob dylan :

    Come mothers and fathers
    Throughout the land
    And don’t criticize
    What you can’t understand
    Your sons and your daughters
    Are beyond your command
    Your old road is
    Rapidly agin’.
    Please get out of the new one
    If you can’t lend your hand
    For the times they are a-changin’.

    I mean I’d expect more of so called elder people. where’s all their wisdom, knowledge and understanding now? expecting to a man to put his wife down. i mean here she is, who’s left her family and comforts behind, her husband and family and they try to put her down. Weird


  2. Wonderful post. This is definitely something that’s common in the West, specifically in America. I hear it all the time, women are incapable of being friends with each other, women are always catty, they’re always in competition with each other, etc. It saddens me when I hear other women say they cannot be friends with other women, because they feel it causes too much drama.

    There’s a book titled Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman by Phylis Chesler talks about this very thing. It’s an important book within feminist circles despite the controversy. Also thanks for pointing out Sex and The City and A Thousand Splendid Suns because those are wonderful examples of women bonding together and not tearing each other down.


  3. Men dont hate Men. So the act which was unleashed by Hitler on millions of Jews , what was that? a love affair? I think we remember that as WW-II, a act of unspeakable horror which is universally condemmed now.

    History is full of acts of hate with no particular classification of the either the perpertrator or the victim.

    Anybody who believes that patriachy through marriage, offers women the same choices as it does to men, is either plainly naive or ignorant.


  4. You know, IHM, sometimes I do feel women are a woman’s worst enemy especially an abused woman’s…Maybe, patriarchy is the cause, I don’t know…I’ve often heard women talking about abused women in a negative light – it’s like abused women are attacked twice (once by their abuser and once by other women)…I feel that where abused women are concerned, many women are unempathetic (is there such a word?) and always spew out the often repeated lines “I would never let that happen to me” or “It will never happen to me”…

    What these women need to realize is that abuse can happen to anybody – rich, poor, educated, uneducated, financially independent, financially dependent – and NO one sees it coming…I think women who fail to understand the dynamics of an abusive relationship are are scared that maybe they couldn’t handle it if it happened to them…Instead they turn around and project their own fears and look down on women who are hurting…

    Then there are women who file bogus complaints under laws (eg. section 498) passed to protect women…As a result, justice is delayed, even denied in genuine cases…

    If women stuck together, the world would be a better place…


    • Abuse is a complex issue. When an abused comes out she it is like plate tectonics a kind of Tsunami ensues in the neighbourhood. It makes people uncomfortable. Oftentimes other women too are in similar situation and abused’s confession makes them uncomfortable, so to quell this discomfort they bad mouth her. She reminds them their own lack of courage. If she is successful in making a life after abuse then her freedom stares these stuck up women and reminds them how miserable they are.
      Yes, you are right they are scared that maybe they couldn’t handle it if it happened to them…

      If someone tells DG they do not know anyone in an abusive relationship she refuses to believe them. Either they are not obserbvant or they are not aware of definition of abuse because 8 in 10 women experience familial/gender abuse in their life time.

      About why some women file flase 498A complaints please follow this link and read the purple text towards the end of the post.


      Desi Girl


  5. Unfortunately, the laws are also influenced by patriarchy. There is a stream of law called Feminist Law that looks at all the assumptions behind legislations to change provisions (or rewrite laws) that allow patriarchy to creep in.

    This is another major reason to have uniform civil codes. Personal law of any religion allows this kind of thinking to rule over our lives today. For example, when we applied for adoption, the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act only allows the man to apply. I fought to have my name on all paperwork, knowing very well that there is no legal status to it being there. Signed when I was not required to be present, again knowing that they were just allowing it out of courtesy, not legal necessity.


    • Change of any sort happens gradually and there is always resistance. It is good to make changes in the law and fight for equal status on documents like adoption papers, property papers etc.

      I do know that in general, a male child is more welcome, women do not always have a say in financial matters and there is inequality in our patriarchal society. But I also see change… girls of educated urban parents have the same opportunities as sons. I think that most people who are commenting on this blog or authoring other blogs like this believe in equal opportunity. So there is change. It may be happening too slowly and maybe even not at all in some pockets, but there should be optimism.

      There is a book by the name, ‘May you be the mother of a thousand sons’, which describes the status of women in India and it goes on to surmise that the ones who are worst off are the uneducated/ slightly educated, middle class rural Indian women. Urban women do have better options. I agree they may not be as good as or on par with men, but I do see sensitive young men today. I do see young women taking care of their parents ( which in an unalienable, nonnegotiable thing.. every child, male or female, must have option) There is always room for improvement in every case and even sea change where some women are concerned.

      Women do compete and put one another down partly due to conditioning. Young women are told that they should be careful in their marital homes ass ‘ your saas will not understand you’, or ‘you can take it easy in your moms home, not in your sasural’. Then again you go to a marital home as an adult so no one there will percieve you the same way as in your childhood home. I think nothing is black and white.. there is a lot of grey and room for improvement, which will happen with effort and education. I, as a mother of young sons and future husbands and fathers, try to sensitise them to these issues.


  6. It’s all about power. Women have very little power, so to feel powerful, all they can do is to ‘beat up on’ and ‘dump on’ other weaker women. And somehow this is translated wrongly in some feminist attitudes, that to be as good as a man, a woman has to compete with other women…and being ‘bitchy’ to come out on top is something we come across in offices, families, neighbourhood and communities. If she’s a ‘bitch’, she’s top dog…but only among the women. Alpha female? 😛

    We really forget how much we get from other women…I so agree…many women I know are completely discouraged from having friendships with other women outside the in-laws and community, they cannot go out for friends’ get-togethers, they cannot chat on the phone even, because they’re supposed to be serving their husband, in-laws and children. I know, I lived in a joint family for 2 years, and it’s scarred me in some ways for life. 😦


    • BITCH stands for BOY I AM IN CONTROL HERE. 🙂

      Me – I wrote a post on B.I.T.C.H., here it is, https://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2009/05/03/babe-in-total-control-of-herself-bitch/ (Babe In Total Control of Herself)

      …is translated wrongly in some feminist attitudes, that to be as good as a man, a woman has to compete with other women…

      What kind of feminist attitude? Could you please ellaborate.

      Feminism is never about being as good as man. It is about breaking the idea of “man” as default and a standard against which everything else is measured. In the post feminism era this thought is pretty archaic. In a market economy one has to compete with every other person with similar skill sets and assets. But in a social economy people will compete with those of their kind be it men or women. Until women stop adjudging their self worth through the approval of other people and seeking social status through their relationships (be it marriage or blood) they’ll keep competing with one another.

      Desi Girl


      • DG, I know feminism is not about being as good as a man. 🙂 I meant that some others wrongly think it is.

        I meant, and I’m not able to explain this very clearly maybe, one of the colloquial uses of ‘bitching’ which is to go carrying complaints, telling tales and sharing confidential info about another peer (be it a colleague, sister-in-law, neighbour, person in a community) to the person in power (who could be a boss, an m-i-l, or f-i-l etc) in an attempt to compete and put down and score points. Or insulting someone to put them down.

        Men and women both do it, but we conveniently use the term that ascribes it only to females. But, like you said, it’s justifiable to compete with someone in any which way.

        Personally, I’ve moved away from those kinds of relationships in friendships, family, work etc. Women (and men) can be women’s best friends, without having to compete. I find it’s way more enriching and productive when people work together instead of competing. But, that’s just me, suppose 🙂

        By ‘as good as man’, I meant ‘as powerful as a man is perceived to be’.


    • Starry: You are right. My outlaws didn’t want me and my SIL to mingle with other women in our building complex because they feared we’d get “spoiled”. It was as if we had no minds of our own and would easily be influenced by “those women”.


  7. Your blogsite is getting a minimum of 50 hits from me daily.Am trying to cover all those old articles now 🙂 Its a lot of inspiration sometimes.And this one indeed is very thoughtful.
    I often wonder who has designed the rules of this land to be so unfair to women in a lot of ways…And with so much educated people in this land,why is change not into effect so far?Or why wait for the system to change rather than change ourselves?How I wish I have a son that I could try and be a good in-law for atleast one girl who would have to raise about the woman to woman enemity…


  8. Manusmriti sucks.

    When more men have died at the hands of other men, and will continue to do so till the World ends, I often wonder why is a woman the worst enemy of a woman? You say patriarchy, I say, Men are the Worst enemies of Womankind. What a terrible curse is it for women to give birth to the very men, who destroy, pillage,rape,murder and maim, in their quest to satiate their huge egos .

    Me – Kislay, all men are not bad, all women are not bad either. We can’t really generalise.
    Patriarchy harms men, not just women. Patriarchy is only good for those who like to control other people’s lives and happen to be in positions of power in the community/biradari etc.


  9. Well written! You gave words to just what I had in my mind.
    Men are always men. If at all they find a woman supporting another, they call her a “feminist”.


  10. IHM, You have said it so well. You know a lot of times, when I have discussed this patriachy issue with friends, some have asked, so what is the solution – matriachy – will that solve everything?

    I then have to explain, my side of it – why any sort of system which has unfair expectations out of any gender? Why not a system where men and women are equals, where it is understood that whatever role they might play – be it that of earning the bread and butter or being a homemaker, is based on a person’s interest – not forced upon him/her based on societal expectations. Where both partners in a marriage have the same weightage, where one side is not expected to give always and the other side always take.

    A lot of us already follow this, don’t we? But as a society, we have a long way to go.

    And women behave the way they do because of the insecurities that they develop because of the way the system works. I have lots of good friends who are girls – and we bond very very well. We meet, we talk on the phone, but yes, if we were living in a joint family – would we have the freedom to make our own friends? Or even keep contact with them?


  11. Hi,

    Regular reader but never a commenter 🙂
    But this post echoes a series of online articles/commentaries I read recently. The first was about a surgeon from Saudi Arabia who remains single because her father is refusing all suitors so that he can continue fattening his purse with her money (Male Guardian laws…). Link to news article here.

    Also worth reading is the debate the above-linked article generated at Reddit – link here.


  12. hi IHM,

    though i have been following ur posts, haven’t commented in a long time .. i strictly believe after a certain age, a woman’s best friend can ONLY be her childhood girl friends ….. even the best, kindest and most loving among husbands cannot appreciate and support their wives in crucial issues … only because they are not women, and hence cannot understand really !

    i bond very well with guys, in fact have more guy friends than girls, and even seek support from the guys …. but lately, when i have an issue that truly upsets me ? when i have a soul breaking issue, it is my childhood friends i look to …… and the same with them too !


  13. The point I’d like to make is that patriarchy is supported by women as much as men. Both genders are equally responsible for propagating inequality. Such deep rooted systems are simply impossible without the support of half the population.

    Mothers pressurize daughters to get married just as much as fathers do. Aunties are just as likely as uncles to speak bad things about unmarried or divorced women. And women are just as likely as men to blame a rape victim instead of the rapist.

    Of course women can be friends. That’s a no brainer. But patriarchy isn’t just about men. It’s about women too – who for reasons of their own want it to stay that way. They want to give up their freedom and take away the freedom of other women at the same time. Why? I have no idea.


    • @Bhagwad Jal Park,

      Ah, now that is the beauty of patriarchy it’s foot soldiers are those who it oppresses the most. Have you seen the religious texts blast women in all kinds of ways and then too women are the ones who keep the shop of religion running by adherently following rituals and dictats, be it fasting or giving alms.

      Why? Because it gives them an access to public space to act and show their skill that is not available to them in anyother way other. So and so is so repected in the community coz’ she is so religious, she performs 5 fasts a week. Will she get that kind of public admiration for good housekeeping and childcare?

      Patriarchy rewards these foot soldiers for punishing the detractors of patriarchy. A MIL is given recognition and enhanced social status for making the younger men and women (both daughters and DILs) to follow the family traditions that have oppressed her all her life. The MIL could just stop this cycle if she wants, but can her dersire to end this system materialize? No there will be other women who will see her as a trouble maker coz’ they were controlled all their lives and they were awaiting their chance to control someone (bahu) and this MIL is puting an end to their only chance to power. Personal power over another very intoxicating.

      The avenues for exerting power and control are selectively provided to the oppressed that they can never articulate their oppression and rebell against it. When they are really down and kicked around they are given a lollypop of praise or some important job of some importance that they forget they were oppressed. A daughter might be despised and made to fast for her brother but twice a year the brother touches her feet for some religious significance, so what does she make of it?

      It is labyrinth and at some dead ends there are cookies awaiting to keep it interesting.

      Of course patriarchy cannot be just about men though it favors them over women. We can never forget the foot soldiers of the system. Like prostitutes are kept on the margins of the communities, all redlight areas are on the city limits. They are despised, discriminated and brutalized but come Durga Pooja, the brahmin who bad mouths them all year goes to their homes to beget soil to make the idol of the devi. So what will these women make of it. Oh, they cannot survive without us. We serve such an important role in the religion. Do you think they’ll challenge or refuse the system. Did not happen until for centuries until 2009


      Hope this explains the involvement of women in maintaining patriarchy.

      Desi Girl


      • I get where you’re coming from, but it goes far deeper than that. It’s a false impression to think of all women united under a common oppressor who participate in the system only because they have no choice.

        Me – I agree with you Bhagwad, Patriarchy makes sure some women (mothers of sons for example) are given a little more power than other women. They may or may not be able to eat before the men do, or work, visit or invite their families to their marital homes, or meet old friends or but they are ‘more important’ than women who have no children or only have daughters. This kind of hierarchies are maintained to keep the system going, there is always the hope that one might have a male child, or one might marry a man who respects his wife etc.

        For example, many female relatives pester a girl’s parents to “marry her off” if she’s 25+ and doesn’t show any signs of getting married. Why? They don’t have to. They can leave it alone. But they take the initiative, gossip, insinuate things and create a tension that catalyzes the parents to act – I have one experience with this so I know it happens.

        Me – They are just being a part of the system… they really know no better. Women are also heard of defending their husbands if an outsider tries to protect them when he is battering them… partly to win the husband’s favour (they stood by him when nobody else did) and partly out of fear (he might punish them for accepting/tolerating any support).

        This isn’t the behavior expected of women who’re participating in the system merely because they have to and want to keep their own status. This is the behavior of women who desperately want it to continue. If you were to ask these same women the question “do you want this system to end right now?”, they would say certainly not!

        Me – Bhagwad a lot of women (and men) are convinced that this system protects them. What would become of widows, orphans and older women without a joint family system – is a common question asked. The idea that there is a possibility of a life with freedom of choices and independence is too alien – have you seen ‘Mr and Mrs Aiyyer’?

        Being of the same gender doesn’t automatically mean that everyone in that gender shares the same values and the same cause. In fact, the biggest supporters of women here might be some men who perceive it as unfair.

        Me – I agree. I blogged about it too. Men in traditional families have had more exposure and have seen possibilities that women have not had the opportunity to dream of, and they have made a difference and still continue to do that. Also men are raised to be more confident, and their opinions hold more value, and of course they are victimised by the system too – without men’s support any change becomes doubly difficult.

        I’m taking pains to point this out because every now and then I come across a comment, or statements which imply that men are the enemy. I realize that when fighting a cause it’s tough not to go at least a little bit overboard, but I assure you that oppressed women can find many allies amongst men and it makes sense not to alienate them by blaming everyone.

        Me – I agree again. And I would also like to point out that men are victimised by this system too. Like young boys who are married off at 22 and are never given a chance to find out if they would like to do something other than run the family business. Or those who grow up in violent families..


    • ” why ? I have no idea. ”

      Answer: Insecurity on the part of both men and women.

      Just as women who give birth to boys and thinks themself one up, they feel insecure without giving birth to boys. And they are the same women who looks down on abused women. These are the same women who raises mama’s boys and continues the vicious circle.


  14. very well written

    our culture is like that .
    But today also Majority Indian families believe in this.
    Who worships a tree for husband ,
    you will be surprised to see that educated doctor females, engineer females also do this.
    the females who should set example do this.
    they call their husband Pati god.

    Solution is education and females teaching females the lesson of equality.
    how much father try, if mother teaches her daughter to obey , worship and give her lesson of stories of Seeta then no one can change and there will be no change.


  15. IHM, I totally agree. If a woman’s self-worth and worth in society comes mainly from a man (be it her son or husband), naturally, both wife and mother will be insecure. A MIL who has her own interests beyond her children will not need to obsess over her son and fight with her DIL. Ditto for a DIL. I see this already happening in some families, where elders and younger people live amicably because everyone is occupied and has no time and need for pettiness.


  16. The good thing is that patriarchy is under threat and not just from women who are more aware of their rights these days. In my husband’s family, a young woman disclosed that she had been enduring violence from her husband for a long time and finally wanted to leave him. The family was shocked and not only immediately offered her all the support she needed, the elders also wrote to all the women in the family to ask if anything like this was happening to them. The husbands didn’t like this at all, but the elders said they didn’t care. They wanted to make sure that no woman in their family was putting up with such treatment because she feared lack of support.

    A sad outcome of this story is that the woman reconciled with her husband eventually but her brother cut off relations with her. He is angry that she went back to her husband.


  17. Once more IHM, you said it, and so well too.. i should be studying, but hve been following the confused wife and this post for about 45 minutes now 😦

    I totally agree that women inherently bond. The jealousy is spurred by insecurities carefully incubated by the system. The system is nurtured by men and women.. for their own reasons. But that does not make it a good system.

    As soon as women start to speak for themselves, they are blamed for the “breakdown of the family”. The breakdown of the family is NOT caused by women who speak up, its caused by the husbands who refuse to listen. Its NOT caused by a woman saying stop abusing me. Its caused by in laws who wonder why she cannot put up with abuse that generations before her have endured. Food for thought there.


    • The breakdown of the family is NOT caused by women who speak up, its caused by the husbands who refuse to listen. Its NOT caused by a woman saying stop abusing me. Its caused by in laws who wonder why she cannot put up with abuse that generations before her have endured.” How do we know says above.

      YOU BET ! It is not just about family, it is at work and at many other social situations. when the “oppressed” or the “abused” start speaking up, the other side is flabbergasted ! to say the least they start saying that the behavior is RUDE, “NOT CALLED FOR” “ARROGANT” ..whatever they can come up with. when the status quo is shaken up, the noises become louder and stronger by both parties – it is the same phenomena which gives rise to uprisings, protests, etc. ” family” is the smallest form of society. It is the disturbances in these smallest units that causes a RATTLE in the society.


  18. @Jeanne,

    Yes, there is change in the society. Our mothers are the ones who are supporting us after going through a life time of hell. http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/2010/05/08/an-ode-to-desi-mothering-desi-daughters-on-the-shoulders-of-giants/
    The incident you mentioned shows some families are willing to take a proactive step instead of waiting the bad news to happen and then act. It is smart but rare.

    About the brother severing his ties with the sister who reconciled with her abusive husband is common too. If this brother is acting out like this when his sister is not following his instructions then we can imagine what will become of her life if she were to live with her brother or around him. He’ll always hold is support as a guilty/obligation carrot over her head and fear of severing ties if she ever disobeyed him. It is control and manipulation in the name of love and support.

    This is a very common behavior of those who help abused women out of good intentions. They unknowingly become abusers and manipulators taking away the abused’s right to choose. It would have helped if this brother respected his sisters wishes and said, “Your choice, but I want to let you know you can always call me for help and support.” But the big egos are more important than happiness and peace.
    Here, see if you can share this with someone in need:


    Desi Girl


    • DG, thanks for your reply. You have described the brother accurately. He is now making his widowed mother live a miserable life in his home. His wife has no time for her mother-in-law, or any of her husband’s relatives, and has provoked most of them into cutting the two of them off. People are openly insulted when they visit. For fear of humiliation by the daughter-in-law, the old lady can’t even offer refreshments to the people who still visit. Older people in the family, like my mother-in-law go to visit out of loyalty and concern for their relative. The daughter-in-law never makes an appearance. No one knows what the son thinks about all this but he definitely does nothing.


    • I guess when having a son is seen as important – mothers might start seeing their sons as saviours and there is maternal love anyway – so sons are easier to get along with. Given the opportunity women get along with their siblings, daughters, parents, colleagues and friends.


  19. Okay – now another question. Women are not women’s worst enemies and patriarchy is. So now what? We blame patriarchy and do what we always do, follow along like sheep? What do people do to upturn patriarchy in daily lives?

    Propose a tag on what is patriarchal in daily life and how we deal with it. That will translate into action on the field and more recognition of what patriarchy really does.


  20. The point to be understood here is that we need to imagine how the the rules of the society were framed. Forget about east, west, men, women, etc and just imagine that there are 2 men and 2 women.

    Now, the men go out to hunt and bring food. So, naturally, they have a greater say in the cave(home) affairs.

    Slowly, expand this to 4 men and 4 women and so on….You get the picture how the so called “rules” of our (or for that matter any) society were formed.

    That is how patriarchy came into picture. That is how religion surfaced but lets not get into that..


    • @Vivek,
      If hunters were so important and mighty then what happened to gatheres? No records of hunters only societies in history, they always had to exist with gatherers. But there were
      gatheres only societies, they didn’t have hunters but still had patriarchy? The theory of biological determinism of patriarchy was discarded long time ago how about reading newer theories and texts. 🙂


      Desi Girl


      • @girlsguidetosurvival

        I think I have been misunderstood here. I am NOT saying patriarchy is the way to be in our society.

        I am trying to explain the genesis of patriarchy in our society. We are not hunters anymore.

        Hence, it is time to move on and get away with patriarchy as well.

        How can we do that? Well, IHM has said that she will start a new thread. We can continue our discussion there.



    • @Vivek,
      What you explained is not the genesis of patriarchy in any society, it was assumed to be. To subverse patriarchy is both individual and collective project. We subvert patriarchy everyday in numrous ways- when we denounce our privilege or acknowledge someone’s oppression.


      • @DG
        //What you explained is not the genesis of patriarchy in any society, it was assumed to be.//

        Did not get this at all 😦

        Are you saying that patriarchy was just assumed?

        If yes, then by whom? And why?


      • AFAI can get it, this is what DG is saying:

        Your assumption abt the origin of patriarchy being the “hunter” profile is incorrect.

        the assumption is abt the genesis of patriarchy not patriarchy itself.



    • @Vivek,

      DG meant exactly what @Jai said. Patriarchy is a reality but the hunter gatherer theory of it’s orgin is inaccurate.
      For anthropological reference look for the works of Margaret Mean in the begining of previous century, “Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies.”

      For contemporary stategies to subvert patriarchy in everyday life refer Allan Johnson’s “The Gender Knot,” link was provided in earlier responses.


  21. The fact is women bond like men and both genders disagree and fight in equal measure. While the latter is glorified, the former is looked down upon as of no consequence.

    An excellent post IHM.


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  24. Resubmitting my post IHM, the grammar and typos were cringe-worthy in the last one.

    Sorry everybody, but the majority of you seem to be disagreeing with the basic premise of the post, which is that women are women’s worst enemies. I too, stridently rejected this line of thinking for years together; and because I considered myself to be a good feminist, went to any length and did all I could to help and support other women. However, I realised that the people who have betrayed me and broken my trust have also almost always been women. One incident, especially, is unforgettable for me.

    For a few months, when I was was still married, I lived with my ex-sister-in-law (bhabi) while I was studying for a master’s degree in the US. While living with them, I saw that she would be bullied and belittled by her husband over the smallest of things.

    On bad days, I too would be on the receieving end of his snide comments and passive-agressive taunts. Naive as I was, I confronted him and ask him to treat his wife and me with a little respect. I saw myself as my sister-in-law’s protector and ally. The husband became even more cantankerous and irrascible after our ‘talk’.

    Imagine my shock however, when my sister-in-law complained to her mother (my mother-in-law ) that I was causing problems in her marriage! I was branded a trouble-maker by the entire family, including my ex-husband, who sided with his sister and parents. Our marriage could not survive this rift and we finally divorced in 2004.

    Even though this happened six years ago, my blood still boils at the thought of how my ex-bhabhi, turned my husband and in-laws against me, even though all I was trying to do was help. The only lesson I have derived from this whole affair is to never, ever assume, that your husband’s female relatives will ever be on your side, however noble your thinking and however principled your behavior.

    Incidents like this make me think that perhaps we women deserve to be in the wretched state we are in. We consistenly choose men over our female friends and allies and we consistently fail to support the women who need our support.

    If I was a man, I would be laughing my head off — who’s afraid of the big, bad feminists? We women do a fine job sabotaging our own happiness.

    My profound apologies if my comment rubs any one the wrong way. Its just that I have been screwed over by women (friends, relatives, co-workers) too many times to believe that women can really support other women.

    Perhaps it is a deeply-rooted lack of self-esteem or just patriarchal conditioning, but we women place very little value in our female friendships and female-only bonds. I have lost count of the number of female friends that I have lost touch with the moment a husband or boyfriend arrived on the scene.


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  30. i agree with you but at the same time…i also don’t like the pressure of i have to like and be friends with every single woman i meet coz i call myself a feminist….some women are not nice…i don’t have to be friends with anyone just coz i share their gender..


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