Patriarchy is a system or government where males are more valued and appreciated even when they perform the same as females.
The picture above is the perfect example; two magazines (from 2016) put side to side, one intended for young female readers and the other is intended foryoung male readers. The “Girls’ life” magazine is very focused on fashion, dating, and beauty, etc, whereas the “Boys’ life” magazine is focused on future jobs, useful skills, informative knowledge etc.
What impression does that give to a young girl or boy?
Now imagine adverts, toys, magazines, characters, based around gender ideals shown here. No wonder why there is lack of females in STEM based subjects and jobs! What really gets me is when people don't recognise that it is media and society perpetuating these gendered ideas, but rather they blame females for ‘not being smart enough’- and not adapted to such roles.
But maybe we've got it wrong- maybe we just have to look it from another point of view?
A long long time ago, physical strength was the most important aspect for survival, and the one with most strength is the one to lead. Since males are on average physically stronger than females, they were more likely to lead a group back then. However, we now live in a developed world where physical strength is no longer the most important thing for survival, but rather skills like creativity, intelligence, knowledge and communication skills. Considering those factors, males and females should have equal chances to lead and to become successful, but, this is not the case. So no, from no perspective does this continuing patriarchal and gendered ideology hold up.
“We have evolved, but it seems to me that our ideas of gender have not evolved” -Chimamanda Adichie
How can we change these sexist ideas and slowly but eventually create an equal society.
Family, teachers, media, and overall the society, plays a very important role on what we become and what we choose to do in our lives.
The way parents raise their daughters and sons should not be different, but it is. Majority of the parents, even to this day, unintentionally try to teaching girls to learn how to cook, take care of kids, and be responsible, whereas they try to teach boys to take risks, to expand their knowledge, to explore different skills and jobs. Although this style of raising kids is not as dominant as it used to be, it still exists. However, both boys and girls should be encouraged to take risks, to expand their knowledge and their skills and learn to be ambitious and creative.
Ask yourself, if you are a parent, have you done this?
Are you a part of such unconscious tendencies?
Similarly, teachers also have a huge impact on girls’ and boys’ interests, education and their future. Boys seem to always be encouraged by teachers to take harder subjects to challenge themselves, subjects with more useful skills such as digital technology, and more STEM based subjects in general. On the other hand, girls are encouraged to take subjects that are easier and less challenging, and in that way they can achieve higher grades and feel better about themselves, as they already feel like they are “not smart enough” or “not good enough” to take a certain subjects, and usually not encouraged into taking more STEM based subjects like boys are. This MUST change. Because girls should be able to sit in an advanced class and not feel out of place due to lack of females in that class. they should feel capable, and worthy. This is why groups and organisations like GirlBoss NZ are crucial.
In today’s society, our lives revolve around media, so representation is very important for people, especially girls, to allow them to feel more comfortable in being themselves, and pursuing whatever their minds want. Representation should not be limited either to one race, one religion, one gender and more.
Representation should include everyone, people of different gender, race, sexuality, religion and more.
An example of a form of media that I have heard of it impacting many young girls’ lives, is Harry Potter. Many of you have probably already watched Harry Potter, or at least have heard of it, and one of the main characters is Hermione Granger. Hermione is a very independent, intelligent and strong female character, and her character has influenced many young girls to see value in working hard and continuing their education. Magazines like the one pictured should be changed to to include not just beauty, fashion and dating, but also science, reading, and future jobs and interests.
The patriarchy- it is here. We need to foster our daughters to ensure they are not subject to gendered ideologies- and have the freedom to pursue what they hope to.
Written by Noor Al Hamadani