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Patriarchy, Feminism, and Families: Can patriarchy be the reason behind the decline of the family system?

Patriarchy, Feminism, and Families: Can patriarchy be the reason behind the decline of the family system?
Photo by Lindsey LaMont, Unsplash

Many people have always hated feminism for different reasons. But lately, I’ve heard many people accusing feminism of destroying families. While women’s rights should not be a topic of debate, do you think women’s rights can cause damage to society? I don’t think so.

When hunters and gatherers settled down into civilizations and adopted agriculture as their profession, patriarchy began flourishing. They needed more settled arrangements, and that gave birth to marriage. As evidence suggests, the concept of marriage is around 4,350 years old, the first one being recorded in Mesopotamia. Marriage was not based on love or companionship. It was meant to bind women to men so that women give birth to men’s children and men pass on their wealth to their sons. Marriage and Patriarchy have always been interlinked—one man used to have multiple wives and, therefore, multiple children. Just imagine how much women must have suffered when there were no laws, healthcare facilities, education, and technology.

Love was not in the picture until the Middle Ages. The purpose of marriage was only to serve men. But that is a thing of the past. Or is it?
Although love marriages are common today, many women are forced to marry strangers against their will. Many women don’t even like getting married because they want to prioritize their careers and health over serving hot food thrice a day to a man-child and his family who doesn’t even respect her.

Every day in 2020, almost 800 women died from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.
A maternal death occurred almost every two minutes in 2020.
Physical, sexual, and emotional violence experienced by ever-married women in India is 29.8%, 13.8%, and 7.0%, respectively. Further, the physical and sexual violence experienced by women has a significant association with unwanted pregnancies, abortion, miscarriages, and ever had a termination of pregnancies.
India has the lowest divorce rate in the world, only 1%.

Looking at the statistics, it is quite understandable why many women don’t feel enthusiastic about marriage. The stigma attached to divorce, victim blaming in cases of physical or sexual abuse, unfair legal judgments, financial dependence, physical disabilities, mental health issues, sexually transmitted diseases, marital rape, dowry, bankruptcy caused due to an extravagant wedding, obsession over the male child -  I’m tired of even listing the reasons. Yet, when someone asks me when I’ll be getting married, and I say, “I don’t know. Maybe I won’t even get married!” people gasp and laugh. Not only do they find it impossible to accept that marriage can and should be a choice, but they also think that a woman cannot live without a man. The idea that a man, a woman, and two children make a family can be comforting and convenient, but that should not be the compulsion. One size doesn’t fit all.

Asian families are incredibly obsessed with marriage. When a daughter is born, the parents save money for her wedding. Some people take out loans for planning a luxurious wedding. When their daughter turns 20, they start looking for a groom. They will do everything they can to marry off their daughter before she turns 25. Why can’t they spend the same money and energy on her education and career?
An Indian wedding is not a piece of cake. It’s a competition. Relatives will indirectly compete with each other to prove how wealthy they are. An unbelievable amount of money, hordes of people, music, dresses, a lavish venue, and gifts – and the bride is unhappy. How can she be happy? Even if she is happy and is marrying the love of her life, there’s no guarantee that she will be pleased with him for the rest of her life.

They will do everything they can to marry off their daughter before she turns 25. Why can’t they spend the same money and energy on her education and career?

All these efforts for what? For being someone’s unpaid maid and birth-giving machine for the rest of their lives? Family is the core unit of the society. You want to conserve the family system. But you don’t want to treat your women right? I accept that modern feminism has been harmful, to some extent, by reinforcing patriarchal standards for women in the name of choice. But that doesn’t make the whole concept of women’s rights fake or wrong. Feminism isn’t breaking families; patriarchy is. Feminism is not “spoiling” women. You are not used to seeing bold and confident women supporting their lifestyles and taking a stand for themselves without hesitation. Those who haven’t reached that stage yet, they soon will. The unrealistic expectations from women are breaking families because it's 2023, and women are no longer interested in living in the 16th century.

Feminism isn’t breaking families; patriarchy is.

While some debate whether marriage and pregnancy are choices, it is brutally weaponized against women. Men don’t want to build a family with women; they want to control and own them for their own “benefits.” They want to keep her hands tied. After marriage & before becoming a mother, a woman is free to leave her husband if he is abusive or not her type. That is why women are told to get pregnant as soon as possible after marriage, within a year or two. After having kids, she’ll stay with him no matter what because everything won’t be just about her, but also about her kids. Has anyone ever asked you when you will give them the “good news”? Ridiculous.

Men complain about women’s “demands” and call them “gold diggers.” When will people complain about men wanting a personal prostitute in the name of a wife? When will people complain about men’s entitlement to women’s unpaid labor and bodies? Think about your son. Do you think he will be a great husband? Do you think he will become a better man than your husband? You know what to do if you don’t have a positive answer. How would you feel if your daughter lived a life just like yours?
If you want to save the family system, you must save the women. Women create homes; they are the backbone of the family. Save the women, and you’ll save the family system.

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