There has been a lot of discussion on the topic concerning the socio-economic rights of women, put forward by the feminists fighting against patriarchy. If we try to refine the basic ideal of feminism, it leads us to one word that is “equality”, means dissolution of the gender based privilege, that one gender (male mostly) enjoys over the other, a consequence of a social construct. The thing that has usually been ignored in this movement or sometimes less emphasised upon by the proponents is that it has not addressed men directly or inspired both the genders equally to resist the pervasive structure of patriarchy, because up to some extent it is exploitative for men too, if not equally as it is for women.
Though, normally, I and many other fellows recognise ourselves as ‘men’, we are as much men as we are Muslims or somehow Pakistanis — identities we have never chosen. As with my sincere concern forfor all humans irrespective of gender, suppressed by patriarchy, I feel to jot down something ‘feminist’ to beseech men that patriarchy favours none, rather the notion of its favourability to anyone is superfluous.
Taking up a manly position and of course standing up for my ‘faction’ (pun intended), patriarchy seems to oppress n put an undue burden on both the genders, effects may vary from mild to harsh, but there is no denial to its existing relations to both genders that eventually defines their social conduct. Consider a man ‘A’ who is a brother and a son, a university-going student. Let’s see how much he has on his plate in the existing structure of patriarchy. He has got a sister to look for (structurally imposed responsibility), whose honour is somehow entwined with his family honour and brotherly “gherat”. She can’t go out alone (she even prefers not to), he has an inherent obligation to care and look for her, and to procure violence if need be, to tame her according to the structure. Similarly, parents will be much concerned with her tamed upbringing to conform the structure until she is happily married. He has to act big, look big and stand imperious. He has to study not just for his own survival but to fill his father’s shoes to take up the toil for looking after the whole family — winning over the expectations of parents. So a single man turned into a bread-earner for the whole family. Marriage happens, a housewife and children, expenditure increased, the guy has to toil more, more burden, fulfilling the needs and desires of wife and children. Given all these conditions, the boy, rather the boy-turned-money making beast, becomes a man responsible for everyone’s life along with his own. He is being cajoled into believing that this toiling is something he is ought to do and it’s something manly, a thing to take pride in, while venting out his frustration on women in various forms while enjoying the perks of ‘hoax of superiority’. Now the thing to ponder over is that who wants to be ‘A’, who wants to become a toilsome beast in exchange for some superfluous ideas of male superiority. Who would like to spend his whole life in keeping up the honour and act in certain ways, the ways the structure dictates.
Therefore, when it is urged that feminism is a movement against patriarchal structure, which is oppressive to both males and females, it would be very naive for someone to claim it as anti-men. Rather than living in self delusional patriarchal utopia, men must come out of it; to be free and unrestrained by the complexities of ‘superiority’ or ‘gherat’. Men are in shackles of superiority and machismo, and they adore them for their surfaced charm but still, chains are chains.
It won’t be unwise if men join others in resisting against patriarchy. For if there would have been no patriarchy the boy A’s sister would not have been afraid to go out any time, nor A would have to worry for her, for she could have made her own choices, social and financial. Similarly, parents wouldn’t have to worry about daughter’s upbringing in strict, disciplined manner to conform to the society; rather her capabilities would have been hinged by the gender binaries. Similarly ‘A’ would have had less burden of responsibility, women would have been nobody’s honour and men wouldn’t have to indulge in violence to save their so called honour (which is also a constructed phenomenon), genders wouldn’t have defined rights and status in the social hierarchy, but something else would have. If it were so, the things would have been quite fair and men would have been less responsible, and women more free.