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Overcoming Patriarchy, The Need For A Voice Of Gender In Emancipation Crusade : By Elias Kodelogo

 For several years, the issue of gender and its attendant effects have dominated a substantial portion of social affairs all in an attempt to breach the gap between the so-called men and women in the society. There is no doubt that females until recently were languished in the dully glowing  embers of harassment and discrimination. For many of them the sudden desire of many people to make issues of gender disparity a topical one came as a great beacon light of hope as they were seared in the withering flames of injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end their long night of captivity. However, several years after the Pandora box was opened, very little progress has been made in breaching these artificially created categories. As typical of any person in a position, the privileged group, ie.  the male group has fiercely resisted any effort intended to neutralize or even shed a portion of their power. They have desperately clung unto this coveted position by quoting copiously from the Bible and making sometimes incredibly lame and frivolous arguments to back this undeniably egotistical position. What is deeply troubling is that they only allude to portions of passages in the Bible, which seem to articulate very vividly their position while they consciously shun those that sharply contradict that very stance. One ridiculously terrible argument put forward by these egoists is that man was the first to be created and it was from man that a woman was created. For this reason, it is necessarily the case that men are superior to women. Though it is true that man was the first to be created, the point must be made that this is a myopic view on this all-important quotation purposely skewed to suit the whims and caprices of the crusaders of the stance. What is shockingly strange is that these people have deliberately refused to appreciate the fullness of this passage. It is an open fact that woman was created to be a helper and a playmate  after God had realized man’s solitude. While this fact is aptly succinct   to all avid readers of the Bible, voracious individuals like men have chosen to project the aspect that favors them so that they can use it as a façade to perpetuate their vile contemptible treatment of the opposite sex. It is somewhat bewildering to imagine that God actually intended to establish a particular order by creating one first and then proceeding to create one out of another... This is so because in the same Bible, God made it unequivocally clear that He made him lower than the other divine beings. This declaration by God is a clear indication that all humans, man or woman are equal and the same and must be treated fairly. If this is the uncompromising stance of God, why has the persecution and willful harassment been persistently hintched on the Bible. In fact, the Bible is a versatile and dynamic text, which can be manipulated to suit every situation. Put simply, it is like a dancing mask and everyone sees it from where they are standing. The point is that the Bible is not a ground of being to be employed in justifying a palpably unjustifiable stance. Having said this, the origins of these prejudiced categorizations are sole efforts of man. Man is the architect of this injustice and he has expertly done that through the constructing of rules that will enslave some people and grant enormously unrestricted liberty to him and his cohorts. It is for this reason that it has become very impelling to counteract the calumnies and proclaim to all and sundry the scathing and debilitating effects of them on the victims. This is the sole purpose of the write up even though some other hopelessly implausible ideologies, which have immensely contributed to the eternally cruel suppression of female rights, will briefly be touched on. I will discuss the following topics in this write-up. The shameful acts of discrimination perpetrated against women. The traditional gender roles, which are used as the basis for the classification of people into men and women and finally some of the reasons why the campaign for gender parity has so far been futile. 

    In the first place, there are some very demeaning and humiliating acts, which are deliberately committed against the females of our world. Firstly, there is the tendency to collectively allude to both males and females with the male pronoun (he). This is wholly because of the resolve to use male experience in judging all humans regardless of their biological make up. Many feminists have vociferously denounced this willful ignorance and have advocated the use of a neutral word instead. However, many others opine that this debate is superfluous and that they should rather focus on getting for their colleagues an equal crack at the door. Again, females are disregarded when it comes to the world of literature. For a long time, particularly before the turn of the twenty-first century, females were exempted completely from the literary canon. During those times, books only became part of the canon if males wrote them and if females wanted to get that recognition, they had to publish those books under the name of a male. This practice evidently suppressed the many prolific female’s writers we had at the time and those who endeavored to defy this order suffered monumental retribution. Finally, there was one, which was scientifically inimical and ethically dangerous to the females of that time. At that time, it was the practice in science that male experiences were used to certify the efficacy or otherwise of a medicine. That is to say, that when vaccines or drugs were produced to combat any ailment, they were tried on only males and if the reaction on males was favorable or not deadly, then it was concluded that they were safe and efficacious for use on everyone. This blatant disregard for female experiences undoubtedly imperiled the lives of many a female. This practice persisted for so long a time that even some thinkers proceeded to make some extraordinarily significant assumptions regarding males and females especially in the field of psychology. For instance, after observing keenly the cultural setting, which persisted in the Victorian era, Freud opined that girls suffered from Penis envy while boys suffered from castration anxiety. The assumptions were largely possible due to the evidently patriarchal nature of the times in which he lived. During those times, males were imbued with so much authority that made them seem deified in the eyes of females. Consequently, it aroused the covetousness in the females who sincerely relished an opportunity to be males just to enjoy those privileges. The males who knew that they possessed enormous power dreaded to go near girls for they might lose this power. The startling part of this is how scientists failed to acknowledge the variations within males and females. How could they surmise that males and females have the same experiences and subsequently using one as the yardstick to judge the other? This certainly was a leap in the dark and a fatal error.

  In the second place, the basis for this whole classification of humans into men and women can be traced to the diverse roles we ourselves have arrogated to ourselves using a very bias criterion. These roles are fondly dubbed traditional gender roles. The truth is that these are able to flourish due to the patriarchal nature of society. However, what at all is a patriarchal society? This society encourages patriarchy by promoting the traditional gender roles. These roles consist of certain qualities ascribed to people based on a most irrational criterion. For instance, it said that men are supposed to be rational, strong, and decisive while women are expected to be emotional, irrational, dependent and nurturing. The point must be made that these attributes serve as the basis for our classification as men or women. This assertion, however, infantile it may seem, has dominated the thinking of many a person and has bequeathed many the impetus to oppress and harass many females. There is no doubt that males and females are different in terms of biological make up but these differences do not imply preferential treatment should be accorded one and denied another. In fact our classification into males and females is because of our biological make up which we affectionately call biological essentialism. Indeed, many feminists including myself celebrate these distinguishing features as some of the sublime deeds of our maker, which are intended to serve a very crucial purpose and enhance cohesion in our society. However, it is deeply troubling to note that many a meadow-minded individual misinterpreted these things and concluded that they are sufficient for appropriating all the privileges in the universe to the detriment of another. The differences in biological make up only makes it possible to be male or female and not man or woman as the latter are entirely social constructs. Another point worth noting is that these artificial roles have made it practicable to use pleasant words in describing males while derogatory ones are used in describing females. For instance, a male who is a flirt is fondly called a stud while a female who is a flirt is spitefully called a slut. From this, one can discern that the label for the male seem to be glorifying this iniquitous act while that of the female is denigrating. Sadly, enough, this monumentally shameful practice also plays out in the field of academia. It is believed that mathematics is solely the preserve of males and so females who venture into that field are dissuaded or if they persist even in the face of stiff opposition, they are considered exceptions to the rule and are therefore called freaks. This must certainly end but why is it not? In addition, how can it be eradicated? This will be the focus of the last body paragraph of this write up.

    It is very incredible to acknowledge that gender disparities persist even in the midst of the relentless and unwavering campaigns that have been launched against this henious practice. When our ancestors said one could not trim another man’s hair in his absence, it was to imply that one could not help anyone if the person is apathetic. The truth is that many females have not bothered themselves to join in the liberation wars that have been waged to free them from the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. They either have remained blatantly impervious or have just decided to stand aloof while they and the many others are incessantly molested in the hands of these egotistical individuals who have willfully set down draconian rules for them. It is an incontrovertible fact that females have unceasingly been battered by storms of patriarchal rules and staggered by the domineering of males. To this end, one will surmise that they will be the first to champion the course of the emancipation crusaders since he who feels it knows it best. Shockingly enough this unspeakable horrors of patriarchal brutalities have been greeted with a loud silence from the victims themselves. The reason for this silence is simple; we have been so much socialized and acculturated into assimilating everything we have been told without recourse to our own conscience. The result of this indoctrination is that we are unable to decipher what is morally repugnant and we find ourselves often suffering wanton penalties. The point is that the females in our society have been told that what they are to go through is normal and they should not dare to challenge the status quo for it predated them and their forbears went through it. This assertion is given much impetus in the book of proverbs, which enjoins us to train a child the way he should go, and when he grows, he will not depart from it. This is a perfect instance of mental slavery and it is more dangerous than any other form. It must be noted that no dictator will be able to hang on to power if he does not do this and other things, which I will soon touch on. Males by their nature love to be glorified and so they will leave no stone unturned in insuring this treasured position. Like dictators, males must necessarily entrench themselves in the divine in order for the females to remain docile and ductile. For instance, they claim that males were given dominion over females because it was out of a male that a female came. They further proceed to contend that Jesus said that males were the heads so subsequently implied they were higher than females. In addition, they find solace in science which has said males are generally stronger than females hence they should protect them. Flimsy as these may seem, we should not lose sight of the fact that these weak analogies have been made to consolidate and legitimize their cruelty towards females who they spitefully called wives. The query worth asking now is that is it not the same God who said we should treat everyone justly and fairly? Then why are they flagrantly flouting this divine order while holding on to those, which were only to be appreciated within a particular context. In many places across the globe, self-seeking males  have constructed laws that bar females from expressing their free will which have consequently unduly restricted females while they themselves are allowed to brose anyhow. However, how long shall females be harassed and persecuted while we stand aside and look? We have to remind the world of the fierce urgency of the moment.  We refuse to believe that God sanctioned these cruelties and hence we dare not question them. We refuse to believe that there are no voices of conscience in the great vaults of our world. It is for this reason that I have decided to clamor the need to pull down the walls that have deliberately been built by voracious males and build bridges in their place. This at first sight seem utterly herculean because of the fact that there is no united front in our campaign and those who are the direct victims are profoundly mute on it. Several females across the world live in the shadows of society thereby making it difficult for them to establish a shared front and a shared history, which are requirements for this solemn crusade to triumph. Though these impediments may seem daunting and enormously obstructing to our course, we cannot stand by and watch the perpetuity of these injustices. It will suggest that we have chosen the side of the oppressor even though that will not be sincere. Therefore, to avoid this, we must resolve to take this glaringly difficult task head on without any trepidation. To disarm our people of these worthless ideologies, we must first make a conscious effort to disabuse their minds of them. This will only be feasible through language, I say language because it is through it that we are programmed to see things the way we do. Simply put, language mediates our experience of the world and of ourselves. Owing to this, it is only plausible that we employ the same medium to reprogram the minds of our people who have been so much socialized and acculturated into accepting these ridiculously irrational doctrines. It must however be stressed that we will not be able to succeed in this if the females we are fighting to liberate do not throw their weight behind us. They must decide against walking in anyone’s shadow. They must appreciate the fact that females are not objects to be move about, trophies to be won, and prizes to be given away or even decorated accessories. They deserve just treatment from all and sundry in the society and they must rise to the majestic height of meeting physical force with sole force. This canker of deafening silence must be shattered and we must fight both tooth and nail to secure for ourselves the riches of equality and the luxury of our freedom. We must lift our females from the dark and desolate path of penury to the sunlit path of justice and dignity. It will indeed be a long road and we will be facing the world alone, notwithstanding this, we must not be cowed into submitting to the gross insensitivity and cruelty meted out to females in the world. There are those who are asking, devotees of gender parity, when will you be satisfied? We want to make it abundantly clear that we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like water and righteousness a mighty stream. This sweltering summer of our legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. These relentless crusades will persist until justice is attained for all persons irrespective of their sex. There shall not be peace or tranquility until females are granted their inalienable rights. The whirlwinds of revolution will continue to shake the foundation of this world until the dawn of justice emerges. The females must however not stand aloof and gloss over these conspicuously cruel acts. As articulated by Aung sang suu kyi those who sit down and wish for change to happen have no right to hope. Pushing this point further, Mahatma Gandhi stated clearly that we must be part of the change we wish to see. They must know that if you do not say I m, no one will say you are. This will be indeed doubly ridiculous.

By Kodelogo Elias

A student of the University of cape coast.

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