Patriarchy is Alive and Well

Good news feminists – patriarchy is officially over!  At least that’s what Hanna Rosin argues in her article entitled, The Patriarchy is Dead.  Unfortunately, it seems that the ‘new American matriarchy’ that she describes in this piece is not an accurate description of the average woman’s experience.  By saying that patriarchy is a problem of the past, Rosin is actually hurting the efforts of women who are working to achieve real gender equality.

In my eyes, Hanna Rosin’s denial of the existence of patriarchy proves how essential feminist discussion is.  As I mention in my own feminist manifesto, the sexism that persists today can be difficult to recognize because it’s getting more subtle.  No longer can companies post ‘women need not apply’ on job postings, but women are still passed over for positions because they are perceived as less dedicated to the job or wouldn’t fit into the boy’s club atmosphere.  Growing up in a patriarchal society makes us accept gender roles and expectations as the norm, so feminists need to question those norms to recognize when those gender roles are hurtful to women.

Rosin’s argument seems flawed because she views women’s issues through the lens of her own experience, which I would not say is a reflection of society as a whole.  In this article, she explains how her decision to work fewer hours after having a child was solely motivated by her desire to spend time with her children, not because she was pressured by her husband or because she felt she was fulfilling a duty.  While I am happy that Ms. Rosin was able to make an empowered choice in that moment of her life, this is not the case for all women.  Many women feel pressure from their employers who assume their dedication to their jobs to decrease, while others feel pressure from their families to raise their children a certain way.  Rosin admits that this decision was extremely difficult for her, a complicated and confusing time in her life that led her to sink into a ‘terrible depression’.  Her struggle demonstrates the problem –  achieving a work-life balance is a still a challenge for women, and only for women.  Men are rarely torn between furthering their career and fulfilling familial and societal expectations.  Until women have this same freedom, feminists need to continue talking about it.

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