How the Patriarchy Got in Our Heads

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The hardest occasions for me weren’t when folks challenged what I stated, however after I felt my voice was not heard.

Carol Gilligan, co-author of a brand new guide, “Why Does Patriarchy Persist?”

Remember in “Terminator 2” how the unhealthy terminator stored getting smashed and shattered and ripped aside, but it surely didn’t matter? He simply stored re-emerging, rising from the ashes, as an unstoppable drive. Now think about that terminator is a vessel to maintain energy, wealth and standing in the fingers of males — that’s the patriarchy. It can really feel indestructible, coming again ever stronger regardless of seemingly limitless efforts to smash it.

But why and how, after a long time of activism, does the patriarchy persist? That’s what Carol Gilligan, the psychologist and ethicist, and Naomi Snider, a former pupil of Dr. Gilligan’s, have been decided to unpack in their new guide, “Why Does Patriarchy Persist?”

The reply could seem apparent: It persists as a result of it maintains a system in which males maintain energy — political, financial, institutional — and what man would need to give that up?

But Snider and Gilligan contend that that is extra a symptom of patriarchy and fewer trigger.

Women and males, they are saying, internalize patriarchy with out realizing it, pushing apart their finest judgment and sacrificing their wants in order to fall in line with how they suppose they’re imagined to behave. By not falling in line, they danger protruding for all the unsuitable causes, doubtlessly driving away mates, companions or skilled alternatives, in the end ensuing in isolation.

[READ MORE: Carol Gilligan Reminds Us That We’re All Humans]

That fear is instilled in us early, they say: With boys being taught that crying is synonymous with weakness, for example, while girls learn that assertiveness equals aggressiveness.

As adults, it manifests in other ways. In how women shoulder their family’s emotional labor, meaning the invisible mental work of holding a household and relationship together. If a woman registers that this is unfair and complains, she’s often told that she’s “selfish, a drama queen, hysterical,” Snider said. Eventually, “she believes it.” That’s patriarchy.

Snider also cited the cliché of a woman who doesn’t tell a man she is dating that she wants a committed relationship for fear of scaring him off and being rejected. That too is patriarchy, Snider said.

In essence, Gillian and Snider write, patriarchy harms both men and women by forcing men to act like they don’t need relationships and women to act like they don’t need a sense of self. The crux, though, is that we are “not supposed to see or to say this,” they write.

At the end of “Terminator 2,” the bad terminator is finally destroyed because he is incinerated, decimating him to the core. If it’s true that patriarchy is now hard-wired into our minds, it may take a drastic self-reckoning to ever truly eliminate it.


50 percent

That’s how many women who work in the field of economics felt that they had been treated unfairly because of their sex, compared with 3 percent of men, according to a new, far-reaching survey of the field by the American Economic Association.

[READ MORE: Women in Economics Report Rampant Sexual Assault and Bias]


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  • “Italy is permeated with a deeply patriarchal culture.” Two recent rulings, in a murder and in a rape case, have provoked protests over entrenched gender stereotypes in the country. [Read the story]

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