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Lutho Jett Sokudela
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Dismantling Patriarchy Piece by Piece: The Beginning

17 June 2017, 22:45

Patriarchy is roughly described as a violent social structure of control and domination that defines the roles, behaviour and human interactions at a disadvantage and also subordination of woman. This system instructs society to treat women as relatively powerless, inferior, invincible and relatively unimportant. This system subconsciously teaches its inhabitants; both men and women to think that men are entitled to their bodies, appearance, opinions and time.

As such, this system has put mechanisms in place that enable such thinking and such actions. So if this is how the system is set up, how does it sustain itself? How does it continue to perpetuate itself in such a manner that it does and how can the dismantling of the system start from the rooting through occupation of the spaces where it thrives?

Patriarchy has automatically put up spaces called "social spaces" that are really just divisive because in nature they are gender based. These spaces you find them in places like the barbershop, hair salons, market places and basically anywhere near human interaction. However there are some spaces that automatically are exclusive for women and these spaces are formed for men, by men, with men. These spaces have unwritten laws that say women are not allowed. It is not a matter of being told that you are not allowed but a matter of seeing that one does not fit and this manifested by the conversations that are happening, the level of testosterone in the air and also the look a woman gets when trying to enter these spaces.

Unlike the other spaces, these spaces can be formed anywhere, anytime and by anyone, as long as they are men. It takes a minimum of only 2 men to create this "guy-space" and it is automatically attractive to other men. It may be in an exclusive location in some place or anywhere even in jam packed parties. I put it to you that these spaces are where things like the "guy code" are conceived. This space is a space created by patriarchy so that it can breed and strengthen itself within society. Another prime example would be what Donald Trump described as "Locker room talk" where he was speaking of how he violates women because he's rich with another man. That was a manifestation of that guy-space in action and what really goes on when men are together.

For women, because the system is not for them as I articulated in the introduction, it is near impossible for them to have those spaces. Unlike men, they need to make efforts to have "only women spaces" and even so, it often requires the approval of men directly or indirectly, of which it's a bit unfair if you ask me. Also, as difficult as it is to get that space, they need to convince one another that they need that space and try to justify to both men and women why they don't want men there and all of that. The point that I am trying to make here is that at the end of the day, the woman has to bend over backwards (sometimes literally) to create a space for only Women, while men do it every day and at anytime they feel like having it. Also, how many times do these spaces actually exist and for how long? Truth is that they don't because they do not have the HR needed to sustain them.

The importance of these spaces is  not that they exist for men but the conversations that happen within those guy-spaces and how do they shape the cognitive frameworks of the men  and also how these conversations continue to perpetuate the views, beliefs and the essence of a patriarchal system. It is in these spaces where sexual violations of women are introduced through the subconscious by some things said about women. It is in these spaces where women are objectified and are rated based on the size of their buttocks or their breast size, skin tone, height, color of hair, body shape and size and also facial and body features. All this is based on the preferences of the men present at that moment. 

This teaches men that they are the center of the world and women do things to please them, they wear to impress men, their looks are based on how they want men to respond. This is where justifications of rape that says "what was she wearing?", "her short skimpy dress was inviting" or one by Jacob Zuma(RSA PRESIDENT) when he said what the woman was wearing "invited him to have sex with her, without the Woman actually saying that", come from, they come from the mentality that women base their looks on the desires of men or they are sending "Hints" to men. This is untrue and no further discussions should be entertained about it.

So these guy-spaces not only perpetuate "rape culture" but they also give it defense against anything that is against it; patriarchy defending itself against detractors. This is just a tip of the iceberg but it's a start nonetheless to understanding how deep patriarchy goes and what we can do to dismantle it, which brings me to my next segment.

I think the greatest tragedy to this and also the biggest irony is that I am a man, I have male privilege and I am a beneficiary of patriarchy. At least I am aware of these things and I am willing to let go the privilege and hence destroy patriarchy. The reason I am saying this is to heed a call to all women to go further than I have went because unknowingly I may try and protect my privilege. What I am trying to say here is that there is no man that can articulate women struggles more than womxn and no man will fight in a totalitarian approach to end patriarchy because there are certain things that they benefit from it, some will do it purposely and some like me, will do it unknowingly and if I have already then I am sorry.

This means that if we are to start the end of patriarchy, we need to change the content of the conversations in those guy-spaces, promote the creation of the same spaces for women as well and teach one another of the importance of those tasks. Only because the system favours men, it is men who understand the system that must correct one another in those social spaces and women have to teach each other the atrocities that they go through because the degrees of effect also in just women are not the same.

It brings me great pain to put it to you that the success of the struggle for the emancipation of women will be manufactured by men. This may sound patriarchal in nature but unfortunately it is the truth. 

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.


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