Patriarchal society : Blame Her

SAT file photo – For representation only.

LONDON: From dawn till dusk, and dusk till dawn, she toils within the confines of an unjust patriarchal framework as a grandmother, mother, sister, lover, girlfriend, wife, partner, professional, worker and relationships in any other name. When misfortune strikes or accountability evades a man’s actions, the burden of blame often unjustly falls upon her shoulders. This societal phenomenon perpetuates the cycle of inequality, relegating women to the role of scapegoats for the failings of a system that thrives on their oppression. 

Whether it’s a trivial mishap or a grave error, the default response is to point fingers at the woman rather than addressing the root cause of the issue. This ingrained behaviour reflects not only a systemic imbalance of power but also a deep-seated reluctance to confront the inherent flaws within the patriarchal social, economic, political, religious, cultural, and family structure itself.

It becomes evident that the scapegoating of women worldwide serves to uphold the status quo, enabling men to avoid responsibility and perpetuate their dominance over women both in public and private sphere. This pattern of domestication of women is deeply entrenched in societal norms and expectations, making it challenging to dismantle without concerted effort and awareness. Furthermore, the consequences of this blame-shifting extend beyond individual interactions, shaping broader cultural attitudes and reinforcing gender stereotypes.

Blaming a woman’s cooking skills for a man’s stomach upset, faulting her attire and lifestyle for instances of rape, or holding her responsible for a man’s diminished libido based on her dress—all these instances underscore a disturbing pattern of shifting blame onto women for the shortcomings and misdeeds of men in society. This reflexive inclination to attribute fault to women, regardless of the circumstances, reflects a deep-seated bias ingrained within patriarchal structures.

When familial bonds falter due to the irresponsible and unaccountable behaviours of lazy, irresponsible men, it’s often she who bears the brunt of the blame, despite her potential role as a victim of such behaviours. This societal norm not only perpetuates injustice but also absolves men of their responsibility to introspect and address their actions. While she works tirelessly to sustain the household and support her family, the ingrained societal norm is to hold her accountable for any perceived failures or inadequacies, regardless of her actual culpability. This systemic bias not only undermines her efforts but also perpetuates a cycle of exploitation, inequality, and injustice.

Despite shouldering the heavy burden of financial responsibility—paying utility bills, covering medical expenses, and managing the day-to-day costs of family life—it’s often she who bears the blame when things go awry in the lives of idle men. This unfair dynamic reflects a troubling imbalance in societal expectations and reinforces harmful gender stereotypes. Her contributions to the household are substantial and crucial for its functioning, yet they are often taken for granted or overshadowed by the pervasive tendency to attribute blame to women for any perceived shortcomings.

This discrepancy highlights not only the undervaluation of her labour but also the persistent devaluation of women’s contributions within the family dynamic. This systemic tendency to blame women for various aspects of men’s lives is a manifestation of broader gender inequalities and power imbalances. It reinforces harmful stereotypes and undermines women’s agency, relegating them to the role of perpetual scapegoats.

In patriarchal societies, women face multifaceted challenges that permeate various aspects of their lives, ranging from entrenched customs like dowry to the insidious prevalence of domestic violence. Dowry, a tradition deeply rooted in many cultures, often becomes a financial burden for women and their families, perpetuating inequalities and reinforcing the notion of women as commodities to be traded in marriage. This system not only undermines women’s autonomy but also contributes to their economic dependence on men, limiting their opportunities for independence and self-determination. Everyday violence in different forms define women’s life under patriarchal capitalism in contemporary society.

Moreover, various forms of domestic violence and public display of violence against women manifests in myriad forms, including physical, emotional, sexual, and economic abuse, exerting control and power over women within their own homes. The pervasive nature of domestic violence creates a pervasive atmosphere of fear and intimidation, trapping women in cycles of abuse and preventing them from seeking help or escaping their situations. The lack of adequate support systems and legal protections further exacerbates their vulnerability, leaving many women feeling isolated and powerless to break free from abusive relationships.

Addressing these issues requires a multifaceted approach that tackles both the systemic roots of gender inequality and the immediate needs of women experiencing crisis. It involves challenging patriarchal norms and attitudes, promoting gender-sensitive education and awareness programs, and implementing comprehensive legal frameworks that protect women’s rights and hold perpetrators of violence accountable for their actions.

Additionally, providing accessible resources such as shelters, counselling services, and economic empowerment programs can offer women the support they need to rebuild their lives and break free from cycles of violence and oppression. By empowering women and challenging the structures that uphold patriarchal dominance, societies can create more equitable and safe environments where women can thrive free from the daily crises imposed by patriarchal systems.

The so-called public and private spheres were created to justify the domestication of women as a desirable commodity within the culture of private property. Women can’t question such an unfair and unjust division of space dominated by men and their patriarchal power structure. The emancipation of women depends on their abilities to break free from this cycle of unjust blame and inequality, we must challenge the very foundations of patriarchal thinking.

People need to foster empathy, accountability, and mutual respect within our communities, acknowledging that individuals—regardless of gender—are accountable for their actions. By dismantling these ingrained biases and promoting gender equity, people can strive towards a society where blame is not assigned based on gender, but on individual responsibility and accountability.

The freedom of women from patriarchy and capitalism is central to realising women’s lives in the true sense. Non-cooperation, disobedience, and non-tolerance are three immediate strategies to implement in personal, public, and political life to regain control over women’s lives. It is better to dismantle an exploitative and disrespectful family than to preserve values of patriarchy in the name of family lineages, culture, tradition, society, and blood relationships.

*London Metropolitan University.

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*

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