The Rebel Road…

I know you’ve come to kill me. Shoot, coward, you’re only going to kill a man. – Ernesto Che Guevara

Patriarchy and Pakistani society – III

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The patriarchal mindset bars females from coming forth and indicating to their families if they have preferences for their mates, and if they do, this is seen as rebellion on the part of the female and she is severely reprimanded for this. “‘Love’ marriages, by contrast, in effect constitute a public defiance of parental plans” (Shaw 2001). This therefore, leads to conditions in which a female is married off to a different individual whom she resents due to her forsaken love. This leads to many problems in the marriage, and that marriage ends with either a divorce at best, or the death of the female in suspicious fires.

The most relevant perspective in regards to this particular phenomenon is the conflict perspective in my opinion. The theory states that women are disadvantaged by power inequalities that are built into our social structure. This is supported by Karl Marx. According to him, the men have a means of production and thus the women are exploited because they are dependent on men. Capitalism also plays a large part in maintaining this ‘glass ceiling effect’, whereby the women can in certain societies opt to, and have the potential for, great achievement but due to a biased system, always feel suppressed. “The capitalist economy that generates the money machine is centred on the image of the patriarchal man” (Moghe 2003). According to capitalism, a woman should take care of the man so that he could be a better worker, she should produce children in order to provide the country with a steady work force, and this leads to son preference because sons are regarded as better workers than daughters.

In reply to this, I believe the socialist feminism also known as Marxist feminism holds promise, that is to say, that firstly the notion of male supremacy in Pakistani society needs to be handled. And second, the new capitalist tendency within Pakistani society, which is a by-product of our imperial-colonial heritage, needs to be reassessed. “We see capitalism as an institutionalised form of oppression based on profit for private owners of publicly-worked-for wealth” (Chicago Women’s Liberation Union 1997).

The socialist feminists say that a societal reconstruction needs to take place and thereby the manipulative practices of capitalism should come to an end in order to have a more egalitarian society. This will lead to social change and we will arrive at a juncture where true equality for both sexes becomes a reality.

In our society, gender inequality exists due to patriarchy. Patriarchy therefore dictates that women are viewed as property; as a means to an end. That end, of course, is what the patriarch wants it to be. As seen, at least these particular problems that women face, find their roots in an economic power struggle between different groups and different families. No one really wants the other person to gain an advantage over them. Unfortunately, the final segment of society that receives the brunt of all disadvantages is the female segment.

The judicial system, which is in place to uphold the rights of the common citizen, should play an active part for this cause. It should ensure that women are given equal status in all spheres of society. The laws and judiciary should serve to protect women and the police needs strict checks, so that it does not mishandle any cases presented to it.

This is not to say that our society has not been changing over the last few decades. Women have been silently resisting the system and now more and more women are seeking education and demanding the rights they deserve. There are a lot of international and national organisations that are establishing a support system for these very females. Men are also realising that by putting women down, they themselves are the ones who suffer too.

The only way that true liberation for females can be brought about is by a gradual change in the societal beliefs that are the foundation of the unjust patriarchal system of Pakistan. Once the male population changes its attitude and understands the implications of its decisions upon the lives of women, this inequality will cease to exist. We still have a long way to go, but these changes are paving the way for a positive feminist revolution which will benefit not just one particular gender, but society as a whole.


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