In his article Patriarchy, the System: An It, Not a He, a Them, or an Us, Allan G. Johnson points out that every member of a society participates in its social construction, that we live in an oppressive system in which “all men and all women are involved ... and none can control whether we participate – only how.” I think about this and wonder how true it is. Does anyone get a say in whether or not to participate in the society we all have built together? Many of us willingly deny it, claiming that rules and regulations have already been set for us, and our obligation is to respect and follow them as they are, without questioning or challenging them. Is that true? If so, does it have to be true?
Humans are the ones who have formed those rules together. Religious groups of people argue that it is God, or whoever their Divine Being may be, who has set the standards for them, but humans have been the ones to set them in stones for themselves. In cases where God has proposed the norms, we humans are and have been the ones to interpret those norms based on the time and society we live in.
Both women and men, therefore, have a say in how their society is to function. In cultures where men dominate and rule their women, the women’s say comes in when they submit to those standards. If women were to stand up as one and together fight against their mistreatment, they would have as much a say. It is then up to these women to decide if they want to remain where they are, whether they choose to be continued stepped upon and battered by each traditional guideline that their ancestors outlined and implemented in their culture, or whether they stand up and look their treatment straight in the face with a raised chin and say, “Enough is enough. This worked for us centuries ago, and perhaps even decades ago, but now it does not apply anymore. Times have changed, and we have risen. We need not subjugate either gender, or build a hierarchy, in order to be in peace. We need to work alongside each other, men with women, and vice versa, children with elders, and vice versa, in order to be a healthy society that both genders call a secure home.”