Patriarchy and the fear of the feminine

There is a deep rooted fear of the feminine in the male psyche.  This fact has been noted and observed by many eminent psychologists.  Men fear women and this is the root cause of gender wars, this is an established fact.  Our psyche has been shaped by ancient religious books.  The Bible shaped the western world, and it was a documentation of the times that existed a thousand years ago.  Under the Torah and the Talmud, gender roles as ascribed to men and women were rigid, those prescribed norms define the western culture.  Our gender roles have been defined by Manu Smriti and the world as Moses saw …

The point is that should be define ourselves by age worn concepts and tattered parchments belonging to a time long ago?

It has not brought any peace and happiness to both the genders.

“Traditional gender roles” were not written by God.  They were the best way to survive in times of the ancient Israelites and the ancient Hindus at the time of Manu.

They instilled a fear in men of the female principle.

I feel that men are more affected by this than women.  The reason is that women are fighting not within their minds but against the fetters of outdated restrictions that chain them.  Their fight is outward.  Men are fighting in their minds.  First, is the process of dis-identifying with the female.  It is a process which male children use to distance themselves from their mothers, the breast they suckle upon.  This leads to their negating their own feminine side.

Then they try to fit in and become capable of achieving their traditional gender role, that of success, power and restricted emotionality.  It is strenuous, it is harsh.  They can not even cry when they hurt.  It is not “appropriate” behavior.  So they fight or attack when they actually want to shed tears and express pain.  In their minds they equate emotional intimacy, vulnerability and emotional dependency as weakness.

Carl Jung observed this and in his papers (1953-54) coined a term “anima” which he said represented the feminine side of men, the part they did not allow to integrate into their personalities easily.  Another eminent psychologist Horney said “men dread women and attempt to distance themselves from the feminine”

Why do they do that?

The reason is evident.  Any soft and emotional boy will be beaten up by bullies in a school play ground.  Men trying to be feminine will be subjected to harsh punishment for betrayal of their gender role.  This is how patriarchic society functions.

And why does patriarchic society fear the feminine?

First, it does not want power to devolve to women.  Its role would be over if that happens.  They fear the stronger instinct to survive, the child bearing capabilities and the multiple orgasms women have.  There was no effective method of contraception or abortion.  So just like ancient man tamed earth to plant food, ancient man built walls and put the women in those fenced walls, as mothers, sisters, daughters, so that he would not have to feed children not born out of his sperm.  Virginity also became a desired virtue for the aforementioned reasons.

And women who did not conform became subject to derogatory terms (all dealing with their sexuality) like slut, whore, chudail, raandh etc.

We live in times when we know that characteristics like emotional awareness, the new term E.Q. (emotional quotient) etc. do not belong just to women.  Men have it too. The masculine ideal with its purported fear of feminine characteristics and the potential collateral fear of women seems to be outdated.  We need to evolve now.

Even if our patriatchic society sanctions some horrible things, I would like to state the following :

Women own their bodies, those are not to be subject to rape (as a method of controlling them).  Women and their bodies should not be subject to derogatory terms, and women are persons, not repositories of clan or family honor.  So let us end these honor killings, the suppression, the violence against women.  All men display when they indulge is such behavior is how deep rooted their sense of inadequacy, their fear of the feminine is.

I really wish that within my lifetime, men learn to integrate their feminine side and be comfortable with it.  It would be the first step towards destruction of the patriarchal society


69 thoughts on “Patriarchy and the fear of the feminine

  1. “Women and their bodies should not be subject to derogatory terms, and women are persons, not repositories of clan or family honor.”
    I agree.

    While virginity was valued to ensure that men fed their own children, I feel, it also prevented ‘natural selection’ because the aim of most societies became that every man must ‘have’ a woman, so he could continue to have male heirs.

    Maybe many of these men were not deserving of (and perhaps did not need or even really care for) being fathers and partners (no sense of responsibility, not nurturing enough etc) and no capability of becoming good partners either. Most societies where we have over population are a result of such interference with nature, where marriage and children are seen as the only goals in life… just my first thoughts on reading your post, need to think about it, nice, thought provoking post Ritu 🙂

  2. Beautifully expressed, Ritu. Men are certainly afraid of being perceived as ‘feminine’. But what irks me so much, is that if a man seems ‘feminine’ it is most probably his own MOTHER who would keep harping on it and make him so self-conscious that he changes his stance! This happens when a little boy prefers to play with cooking sets rather than train sets! Or when a grown man chooses to help his wife in the kitchen rather than watch TV scratching his b@!!s! And in either case, I have noticed that it is always the females in the house who pick on it, and tell him to ‘BE A MAN’! I find it ridiculous. Both sexes are equal. Both have the same desires and goals. So why such differentiation and classification!!!

    • I don’t understand that. My sons played with guns and GI Joes, but loved kitchen sets too. And it never bothered me. ROFL it did not bother me that they messed around with make up and used my henna as body tattoos on each other either! Somewhere in some corner of this world henna is body tattoo, I am sure. It did screw up my walls though 😦

  3. 1) diametrically oppoosite to this fear is ‘oedipus complex’,wherein men mutedly & erotically love their mothers for her self-abnegation and the way she keeps their ego bolstered.Men wish for a ‘younger mother’ as wife,but get a rude shock when the nubile wife comes with a mind of her own and definately not given to so much giving up of herself.

    2) “Virginity also became a desired virtue…
    And women who did not conform became subject to derogatory terms (all dealing with their sexuality) like slut, whore, chudail” -women are much more constant & devoted to a relationship than men,who strip most women mentally.women being more emotional of the two,is unlikely to throw herself at a man without any formal commitment ,and thus this in my view,is more abominable than a man.

    3) men’s balls need constant servicing,women thus become the necessary evil for them,whom they have to sometimes bear as girlfriends & wives.Mothers cant provide that,though they remain their ideal woman.

    • Mr. Pao,
      1. Women are individuals. They are not cheerleaders for the men in their lives. The sooner men realize that, it will be better for their mental health.

      2. They are also sexual beings and come with their own desires and drives. And I think, in this day and age, emotional commitment can be and is separate from sexual drives for both sexes.

      3. Oedipal complexes are fueled by insecure mothers, I guess, who cling to their sons, confusing them. I have never realized the need for yearning for something you can’t have. Its so frustrating, hence I’ve never understood Oedipal complexes. Mothers are mothers, that is it. And parenting should come with an expiry date. After a point in time, parenting should take a back seat. … but that is subject of another blog post

      • …parenting should come with an expiry date…

        You read my mind sista.

        …Mothers cant provide that, though they remain their ideal woman…

        Oh, if men did not fear social censure and divine wrath they would have their mothers in the bed. Look at the search engine terms GGTS receives, besides desi sex, desi mother son sex is the most popular one. And it also holds water the other way round too, the sexually frustrated/deprived wives of emotionally unavailable husbands raise sons as pseudo husbands, be for emotional needs or begetting material sustenance. If these MILs had a chance they would throw the DILs out and jump in beds with sons.

        Desi Girl

      • “And parenting should come with an expiry date. ”

        brillianto well said

    • er,i think u hav addressed reply to a man
      m Ms priyasha rao or ‘pao’ as my buddies call me 🙂
      let reply be gender neutral and not based on the sex of the commenter.

  4. while casanova men are called characterless,a promiscuous woman is hated all the more and called “randi” because women do not give themselves away unless totally commited,coz by nature they are more dedicated.that’s why women dream of marriage while men rarely visualize marriage than its “end” that are less emotional,other than for their own selfish reasons,but women gives more of herself and invests emotionally in everything she does.
    men do not fear even an aggressive women,whom they label a “witch” before moving on to an appealing face.A beautiful women is revered and can turn men into unintelligent dogs,inspiring both awe and obedience.Beauty & politeness in a women can cause the desired harm,screwing men psychologically.Men thus fear beautiful confident women whom they desire.

    • Mr. o …. I assume that you are male, though it is not specified. Promiscuous women threaten male domination, and hence are more likely to be abused than other women. That is not to say that other women are not subjected to sleazy gestures and rapes and other such lovely things men like to dish out to women. And who programs women to think of marriage as a goal? This male dominated society does it. And then they overhype the mother and sister and virginal wife images.

      Men fear beauty … they really do. If a plain looking man marries a beauty, he spends his whole life suspecting her, spying on her and making her life and his miserable. I’ve seen that happen, experienced it too.

      Basically men fear the feminine, it simply scares them

  5. Women are superior in their brain functioning too , i have quoted it many times that the presence of more connective tissues between the two hemispheres of brain makes the neural faculties more capable(if utilized) . The hereditary traits passed on by the woman are more than the man because of the contribution of mitochondrial chromosome …these are facts we know now …and there seems to be nobody fearing this 😉

    Apart from the psychologists , the anthropologists also have a story to tell how the women were seen as the stronger sex and how the need to control them evolved …. and became a way of life in so many isolated civilizations almost similarly…

    Now a days , if a woman is behaving like men she is considered more capable and if the man has some feminine traits , it is considered derogatory …while it should be valued more….i think patriarchy is not the only reason as there are more complex issues contributing to this . In the modern times men and women both are evolving fast and becoming role models for others too … I hope it evolves in the right direction…

    Liked the post Ritu , a perfect way of consciousness raising . Liked the way writerzblock puts it too…

    • Sangeeta, it is a fact that is being feared. If a man had this genetic advantage, it would have been over hyped. This scientific fact has received what I would term as muted acknowledgment.

      There are many matriarchal and matrilineal societies – notably un-islamic and not Christian. Wherever these two religions spread, the societies are male dominated.

      Society has to evolve into a non-patriarchal set up, only then will there be a more balanced way of life. Do watch the video

  6. The Feminine or Shakti in Hinduism is viewed in 2 ways , as Gauri , the domesticated,fair and nurturing one, and as Kaali, the wild, untamed, violent one , who is raw power . Maybe , this fear stems out of the existence of Kaali, and the fear that Gauri just might lose it one day, and unleash hell on them as Kaali .

    May be , this fear stems out of the 2 nipples men have on their chest. A metaphorical reminder of the feminine in them.

    May be , it is the X of the XY . Women are XX , but men are X and Y . And if you read the post I wrote on the Might of the X chromosome , you would know how superior women actually are , compared to men . Put it bluntly , a man is conceived as a woman , it is a last minute bit inversion that gets a penis and becomes a man .

    May be it starts in the womb, because the mother’s body detects a male form as a foreign object and releases hormones to femininize the foetus . And her body gets better at it , as the number of sons she has increases . This is one the reasons behind homosexuality in men .

    • its not about X or Y chromo,its about what defines a ‘mard’…

      “in society when a woman acquires qualities of a man she becomes a slut,but when a man colours in the qualities of a woman,he elevates to a saint”– Premchand (Goodan)

      • These days too, aggressive females and promiscuous ones are feared. A peace loving man is revered only if he is financially solvent, otherwise he is termed a loser, gay etc etc

      • Ritudi,
        Nobody fears promiscuos women,or men for that matter.
        They are subjects of proper character assasination.
        sexual sagacity and restraint is what defines indian culture-and both women and men are torchbearers of it.

      • Preeti, I disagree. Women in the vedic times had complete control over their own sexuality, and so did men. It is later, with Islamic influence that restraints came in. And sexual sagacity is something that keeps changing with times.

    • Kislay that is interesting information. I am surprised at the thumbs down you got for this comment. Yes all fetuses start as female, that is true. But if we set science aside, doesn’t the patriarchal society also place undue stress on men, forcing them to act as alpha male? I was once buying my sons a kitchen set, they loved them. The sales guy was so disapproving – he kept saying “This is for girls!!!” in tones of disgust. I told him to mind his own business and do his job! The point is that social norms discourage men from embracing softer qualities that may be natural in them.

      And it did not do my sons any harm. Kitchen sets did not turn them into girls you know 😛

  7. First of all honour killings, rape and beating of women is sick and needs to be stopped like yesterday. I blame the congress govt for this because now day everything is there fault.

    Your blog post says a lot of things about a man distancing himself from his feminineness to which I got to ask a question that’s all good but would a woman date a man behaving girly and wearing frilly stuff?
    Would a women like to marry a guy who would be clingy all the time?
    Would a woman be even close to guy if he jumped up in joy at the sound of the words shoe shopping?
    The answer is a big fat No.
    She would most probably knock some sense into the guy. I know mine would.
    So I am against the wife beating, raping, abusive words and I think they are done by weak men who cannot even compare to real ones and so they look for weak targets which could be gays, women or kids.
    Let men be men. You women love them for that.
    P.S. Take a martial class and beat the shit out of the weak men/bullies. I know of couple of women who did that and I respected them for that.

    • is aggression a male or a female quality?-it befits men or women as shakti can justify anger? an angry female boss is different foem a male,except she might be PMSing?
      Men by nature love differently-women cling,men show possessiveness,but are both not signs of neediness?
      do women decry men who like shopping?or thank God for small mercies?
      and why would anyone want to label a sensitive man as gay?? are sensitive men not a rare breed already?and holding back tears is manly?
      who defines these catagories? –HELP!

    • @Ishaan Lalit,

      DG is a woman. She does not wear frilly stuff, she is not clingy and needy, she doesn’t jump up and down at the name of shoe shopping or any shopping for the matter of fact. So does that make her a man? If NO then how can those things in a man would make him a woman?

      Growing up she loved physical sports, martial arts and climbing trees. Often both men and women asked her why was trying to act like boys and men. What a shame, she was doing none, she was acting herself and having fun the way she wanted to. It will serve us good if for a change we all could be ourselves and humans before we climb into the box called male/female.

      Could you please define what is being a MAN, when you say let men be men.

      Desi Girl

      • Having been a tom boy and a thinker, I have to agree with DG. Frills and shopping do not define the feminine – and they are not restricted to women only. Neither is love for jewels and trinkets. Lets think out of the box. The feminine by nature is creative – but are designers and writers only female? Do let us know what defines male as per you Ishaan

  8. @Ishaan rightly asked the questions .. The thing in todays world is we need to find someone to blame .. men blame women, women blame men .. Whereas for a FACT there are more happy couples then sad alone women or men…

    I totally agree with what you say such things are done my weak and in my experience i have met a lot of them.

    I do have to laugh though at the replies you got …

    I do wish and hope that men are left to be men, and women be women and those who dont like men Please stay away from MEN… and those who dont like women stay away from women …


    • I think Bikram, you missed the point completely. I do not blame men or women. They are both victims of the Patriarchal system. Stop trying to create controversy Bikram. You know I am not a man hater

      • I did not say you wrote that .. I was just agreeing to what Ishaan had to say.
        and i am sure i did write that women blame men and men blame women.. when both are to be blamed …

        where did i write that you said this or that… I am quiet confused now

        I did read my comment and No where have I said that..

      • Apologies. I just reacted to the statement that men and women blame each other. But even that fact is true. It is patriarchy that should be blamed, not the opposite sex. Sorry

  9. I could not agree more. You know what has always surprised me Ritu, how women under-value the feminine. We want our daughters to play like boys, but we never ever expect our sons to play with dolls. We love it if our daughters wear pants, but would we even consider dressing up our boys in pink? It is our own undervaluing of ourselves, which hurts us the worst I believe.
    Great post!

      • Not really Ritu, its the modern, urban, ultra feminist women too, who celebrate all things masculine in their daughters, while, the feminine in the son is neither acceptable, nor acknowledged! Which is what surprises me!

      • I agree and its so sad the feminine side of a boy child is always looked down upon whereas the masculine side of a girl child encouraged, personally I think the reason for this is years of women suppression and most women think the way to come out of it is to behave like men, so when the daughters do that they are happy on the other hand when the son behaves like a female its sad because he may get suppressed 😦

  10. P.S.
    I forgot to write this
    Men by nature love differently-women cling,men show possessiveness,but are both not signs of neediness?

    Possessiveness can be interpreted in very different ways. Women cling, men who are emotionally stable do not get possessive but give gifts or take her out for a dinner to show how much does the women mean to them.

    why would anyone want to label a sensitive man as gay?? are sensitive men not a rare breed already?and holding back tears is manly?

    First of all I never said a sensitive guy is a gay guy.
    I have gay and lesbian friends who I like very much and they are not as sensitive as you might think. I think of myself as a sensitive guy but I don’t need to hold back tears, being a man I don’t feel like crying aloud. I can curse, grunt and get over with things.

    do women decry men who like shopping?

    And yes I have more female friends than male friends. My best friend is a woman who gets pissed of if I shop like a girl and often says behave like a man. (Oops all guys out there which doesn’t seem to be many I don’t shop like a girl. Ask my mom she ratify it. Mom don’t you dare tell the truth.)

    If you don’t know what make a man, a man then you are not asking yourself the right questions.

    • – a man gets on his guard the minute a woman asks him to”behave like a man’
      how can a man who’s inherently wary of ‘enacting’ a masculine role in society ever get in touch with his feminine self?
      -beer is not a man’s drink,women can enjoy it too:-P
      -women to claim their rights have to be aggressive,since meek women go unheard.
      And aggressive women are not the ones fancied by men.Hence weak women compromise for matrimony,strong women mostly end up having unhappy marriages.Perhaps that’s why jayalalitha,mayawati,mamta banerjee are single.

    • @Ishan Lalit,

      Only if mustaches could make a man all cats and dogs would be… 🙂

      For a change try being a human to be a man or woman will naturally follow. To be able to cry for something hurtful or utterly spell bound is human. Not to cry is definitely stunted. Sensitivity is a human attribute not a male or female. To be purposefully ignorant and insensitive is a learned behavior and is valued in men to make them feel in control and manly.

      DG really feels no need to know what a man is or what makes men men. It is men’s problem not hers. 🙂
      She has no room for possessive juveniles who can’t go to sleep without their teddy or favorite blanky. 🙂
      Desi Girl

      • Dear Desi Girl
        My friends often say that I am not human because of my patience, the patience which is making me write to this painfully long comment section again and again. So if I am not human then let’s just settle for alien.
        Now since I am almost sure nobody is reading this because this pointless squabble is going nowhere let me tell you a few things about myself. I am referred to as Kid #1 on this blog and from which you can see I am a pretty decent guy and funny guy. I am sensitive metrosexual too For which I continuously credit my mom.
        I am a son of a single mother and married to my wife who earns more than I have earned in my life. I don’t flip out and in frustration scream and beat my wife. The reason behind that is all throughout my life I have seen strong female figures in front of me. But it was not always so. When my mom was married to my father he had become abusive. My mom’s reaction was to bear for a very long time until she stabbed with a knife in a spur of a moment. Then he started to pick on me until I gathered enough courage to throw him to the wall. After which he remained docile as a little cat.
        We both are on the same side which is to help women. My input is to empower women and give them a means to defend themselves or make them go into an offensive to deter strength based attacks of an idiot.

      • Ishaan,we need men like you!
        but you are certainly not the one defining majority.
        Your views have been shaped by your mother’s tribulations,but it’s the other type of men who reign supreme.And the jackie chan kind of women you promote,sadly do not always survive social indictments.

      • Ishaan … he lived, what else can I say. 😦

        Maybe its a good thing, or else I would have been in jail eh? 😉

        Family secrets tumbling out of the closet sigh!

      • Haiii,
        I extend you a formal proposal.
        MARRY ME.
        leave your boys and let’s elope.

      • *heartbroken and swooning*
        don’t send youngsters a wrong message,they might not wanna marry ever.
        btw,which is a better suicide option?

      • desi girl,you have experience(and social apathy and probably sadism).You took it sar,too far.
        @zoozoo:Guess that was a rhetorical question(in a humorous vein?)

      • Wao, did not know poor rating on a comment could make it invisible.

        It is our personal life experiences that influence our world view and our choices. You made a choice to be ok with what ever doesn’t fit in the stereotype of man, masculinity and women’s place in your life. And that is a good choice.

        Violence only begets violence, if it doesn’t then someone gets hurt badly and there is no end to it.
        The aim should be how to change the gender hostile world we live in.

        Beating crap out of one abuser is not enough to send a strong message. All citizens need right to live peacefully without the threat of violation. That is what we should be striving for. It should not be just a woman’s reponsibility to teach a violent brute a lesson but family, community and society all together have to reprimand male violence against women only then a long term sustainable change can be achieved.

        To DG the whole idea of fitting oneself into a given box and acting out of a place of no kindness and compassion is a total waste of human potential.

        Three happily married women cannot speak for millions trapped in unhappy unions.
        Desi Gir

  11. Pingback: Desi Life: Log, Martyrs and Selfishness « A Desi Girl's Guide to Relationship Survival

  12. @ Article
    Angela Merkel
    Sheila Bair
    Indra Nooyi
    The Queen of England
    Jessica Alba

    Three of these women are the top 3 most powerful women on this planet and all are happily married.

    • Yeah, if all women could be that rich may be they could be happily married. Sorry most of us are poor and are married to middle class men with over bearing parents who want to ensure support for old age.

  13. Hello Ritu,

    First time at your blog. Maybe you should read a book called “The Origin of Patriarchy” by Gerda Lerner, who used to teach theology at Princeton. It’s a very old book, but it was a revelation for me in terms of understanding the historical roots of patriarchy.
    Hope to visit again soon.

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