A Sociology student must be aware of the terms such as Culture and Patriarchy, but not everyone is familiar with them.
So before heading to the effects of our culture on patriarchy, we need to understand what exactly these terms refer to.
According to Sociology, Culture is a term that implies a large and diverse set of mostly immaterial aspects of social life. According to sociologists, culture includes the values, beliefs, systems of language, communication, and practices that people share in common and that can be used to determine them as a collective. Culture also constitutes the material objects that are common to that group or society. Culture is different from social structure and economic aspects of society, but it is connected to them—both continuously informing them and being informed by them.
After having the brief about Culture, let’s move on to the concept of Patriarchy.
The concept of patriarchy has been prominent to many feminist theories. It is an attempt to explain the stratification of power and privilege by gender that can be identified by many objective measures.
Patriarchy, from the ancient Greek patriarches, was a society where power was held by and passed down through the elder males. A patriarchal society is distinguished as a society where men hold the positions of power and have more privilege. Men are the head of the family unit, leaders of social groups, bosses in the workplace, and heads of government as well.
Culture and Patriarchy both go together. Although Patriarchy affects the culture more, culture also affects the Patriarchy in various ways.
Indian society has a different stream of its culture from ancient times.
Culture is not a homogeneous idea but emerges from social, political and economic contexts. It exists in specific historical times and geographies, and it is also constantly changing. One of the most important features of culture is that it’s linked to power and is described and defined by people in power (because of patriarchy, the people in power are often men).
Culture reflects patriarchies and is used to maintain patriarchal structures. Articulations of patriarchy vary in different cultures, nevertheless, cultures privileges ‘masculinities’ while subordinating ‘femininities’. Additionally, cultures rely on specific masculinities and femininities to reproduce themselves, which more often than not is accomplished through violence.
The way in which people interact with patriarchy influences all spheres of our lives: communities, legal structures and families.
It is not simple to shatter the link between patriarchy and the individual, and to renounce patriarchy, one has to begin with the roots; thus society has to look into and question patriarchy, its foundation and the knowledge that shapes it. You need to question the cultural practices that advocated the idea of patriarchy.
Religion, culture, social structures, the media and educational institutions have played a major role in the creation and perseverance of the patriarchal ideology.
Patriarchy can be an evil, repressive and oppressive burden on women, and needs to be challenged and exploited for what it stands for. Being a supremacist ideology, patriarchy promotes male domination in the spiritual and physical realms as well as in social and personal domains.
Livermore defines ‘culture as a pattern of thinking, feeling and reacting to various situations and, according to Owanikin, ‘prejudice concerning the status of women in the church can be rooted in culture’. Theron states: There can also be little doubt that the dominating culture in which a church finds itself is exerting influence on it. It is very possible that some cultural norms and practices may have entered a church and are shaping – consciously or unconsciously – its actions and decisions, causing suffering to those who usually form the largest part of its membership, the women.
Traditional and cultural practices can be destructive to women’s health; they provoke material differences; they develop the horrible situation of women being viewed as being available for the service of men; and they create stereotypical masculinity and femininity, which obstruct women’s equality rights.
Fatal traditional and cultural practices within the family manifest as violence, genital mutilation, honour killings, early marriage, polygamy and covering. And we need to stop such evil cultural practices in order to reduce the influence of patriarchy in society.