We cannot continue to deny the waging war between patriarchy and feminism in our world today. It is because of the ideology of patriarchy that the doctrine of feminism emerged seeking reform for patriarchal principles that are deemed as oppressive to women. The idea in the world is that, patriarchy is a prime obstacle to women’s development in the emotional, physical, psychological, economic, social and political areas of women’s livelihood. Despite the difference in levels of patriarchal dominance, the principles that govern the ideology all lead to one outcome; men are in control hence the war between men and women.
Women seek reform to patriarchy with claims that men are oppressive physically, emotionally, economically, socially and politically hence, the need for equality and to a larger extent the desire to exist alone without the men while, men argue that they are supposed to be dominant, strong, providers, leaders or heads as stipulated by cultural and religious doctrines and norms; and that women are helpmates of men who are supposed to take their assigned sex roles of cooking, knitting, nurturing children seriously other than involving themselves in the matters that concern men.
The blame games have continued from time to time bringing into light the issues of toxic patriarchy and feminism and today we are going to focus on some toxic norms and traits of both ideologies in light of religion to be precise, Christianity.
Note that patriarchy is not a bad ideology. It is actually supported by our respectable cultures and religions across the globe. It is some of the newly found principles in the ideology of patriarchy that make it seem like an oppressive doctrine. Some feminists especially, radical and lesbian feminists would disagree with me but, here is why is this. Religion is one of the oldest and most influential enforcers of Patriarchy in the world. It exists in the scripture and it has even become an issue of discussion among feminists who seek to do away with it.
Zambians usually say “Shaba imodzi mukamwa ikaola, ninshi nizonse” translating, “when you eat one rotten nut, all the nuts in your mouth will go bad”. This means that a single mistake can erase all the good and ruin someone or something’s reputation and this is the same challenge that patriarchy and feminism faces today.
Lately, some newly found toxic patriarchal traits or behavioral patterns in men show that the ideology has been contaminated from what God intended it to be; hence, it has proven to be detrimental to the well-being of both men and women. When I say men, I mean the men who still adhere to the natural patriarchal principles that God laid out for them. They have been affected by the toxic masculine behaviour of other men because their loyalty to the old patriarchal principles has rendered them useless in the new patriarchal style in that they are depicted as not being man enough; and the women have been affected because they are the number one victims of oppression that result from toxic behaviour of men.
Sex Roles as an area of contention.
Sex roles are generally defined as culturally approved behaviours that are deemed as more desirable for either a man or a woman. For instance, a hardworking man who provides for his family is highly desirable; a woman who cook well ad take care of her husband and home is highly desirable too. However, whether we like or not; Patriarchy exists in God’s plan for human beings and is evidence through his establishment of sex roles in the scriptural book of Genesis. I believe not many of us know this but, GENESIS 2:7 say that “and the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being”. This scripture tells us all that God created the man first and this is the first sign of that he gave men the mantle of leadership. In the same chapter on verse 15, the Bible goes on to say “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work and care for it” this is the second proof that God gave man the responsibility to work and take care of the world, home, church, etc. in verse 16, God commands Adam about the tree of knowledge; note that Eve is not existent yet and this another proof of God giving Adam (the man) the duty to explain to anyone one else the rules of living in the garden of Eden which we can call the world at this time and jumping to verse 19, God brings all the beast of the earth and the birds of the air to Adam so that he can name them and this is another piece of evidence that God gave Adam the power to establish the name for every existing thing. We should also note that it is Adam who comes and gave Eve a name too “Woman” in verse 23. Reading the whole chapter of Genesis 2, I derive at the fact that God intended for us to understand his plan about the structure of our world through his actions with Adam. He created Adam first, put him in the world first, gave the most important instruction to him first and set him to work and take care of the garden and name every creature on earth. What God did was to give Adam a role of leadership which came with responsibility, duty and power.
Therefore, feminists that seek to do away with Patriarchy are automatically saying that God did not do the right thing. I am not saying that men’s toxic conduct is entirely good, no. I am saying that God created a perfect world with perfect rules and though sin distorted that perfection, it does not mean we; the women should seek to blot out that which God created, established and ordained. The existence good and positive masculinities is a sign that God’s intentions for us all were pure, good and full of love for his creation hence, feminism should stay focused on finding measures to curb the toxic habits of men than entirely eradicate the whole ideology of Patriarchy because if God is in support of it, human beings cannot take it out no matter what.
However, God did not assign sex roles to limit anyone from living their lives to their full potential but, this has become a pressing challenge in the world for women. women that dare dream of a life outside the kitchen and their husbands’ home face reproach and those who move past that dream by making it a reality are seen as misfits because they are going against the culturally assigned roles of cooking, knitting, nurturing children and the list goes on. This is not right because God does not limit anyone from becoming successful and happy. In fact, God wishes that his children work hard and become successful so that his name may be glorified. When God said he will create a helper suitable for Adam, he did not say he was creating Eve to be oppressed by Adam. He meant that Eve would be companion and partners to men. Therefore, men taking advantage of their mantle of leadership to pose as obstacles for women, to oppress in any kind and to reduce them to nothing or less of a human being in any sphere of life is overruled; it is not God’s will and should be stopped.. Such behaviour includes domestic violence, inequality in work and decision processes, sexual slavery and more. Instead, this is God’s plan for man and woman together:
Genesis 2:20-24 says that “…But, for Adam there was no suitable helper, so the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep and, while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then God made a woman from the rib he had taken from the man and brought her to the man. The man said, this is now bone of my bones; flesh of my flesh, she shall be called woman for she was taken out of man. For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and they will become one flesh.
Therefore, at the end of the day; we must realize that co-existence is the key and God’s desire for man and woman. He further proves it In Genesis 1:27 (NIV), whereas scripture says “So God created in his own image, in the image of God, he created him; male and female; he created them”. He blessed them and said to them “be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground”.
God did not bless Adam alone; he did not ask Adam alone to be fruitful, to multiply and replenish the earth alone and he neither asked Adam alone to conquer the earth and rule over the creatures that exist on it; Eve was part of that blessing too. This makes women a part of the ruling and conquering venture- it is god’s plan. God said both man and woman should be fruitful, multiply, rule, conquer and replenish the earth. It is not about men alone or women alone, it’s about togetherness. This is God’s perfect plan.
To the men: stop oppressing the women to the extent that they loathe you and desire to live without you for that is not God’s plane. Women are not slaves but companions and partners in everything you do.
To the women, stop seeking way to do away with patriarchy and exist on your own; that is not God’s plan.
Sadly, where angels are, demons lurk too and so bad men and women will not cease to exist in this world but, individually, in our quest for power, wealth, respect, status and prestige we must not lose sight of what truly matters.
This article is solely based on my personal opinion on the topics discussed. I would like to believe that there are some of you who think differently and I respect that. However, sharing opinions and facts is of utmost importance because it enables us to see the other side of an issue and learn what we didn’t about that particular issue. I hope you learn something from this article and feel free to comment your additions, subtractions divisions, multiplications and questions; I will be sure to give my opinions on he issue the best way I can.
Happy Monday 💛