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Challenging Stereotypes: Breaking the Shackles of Patriarchy

Challenging Stereotypes: Breaking the Shackles of Patriarchy
Published On: 15-Feb-2024

Article by

Moiz Bajwa

In the intricate tapestry of our society, a subtle yet pervasive issue often goes unnoticed – the reinforcement of patriarchal norms through seemingly innocuous phrases. Phrases like “Wo bhi kisi ki behen hogi” (She is someone’s sister too) and “Kisi ki maa, behen, beti ki izzat karo, loug tumhari maa, behen, or beti ki bhi izzat karenge” (Respect someone's mother, sister, daughter, and people will also respect your mother, sister, and daughter) echo through normal conversations in our society, often used to teach young males to respect women. While these sentences may sound harmless, they wield a profound impact on the naive subconscious minds of our youth as they intensify the patriarchal norms in our society. 


A patriarchal system is a societal structure where men wield control over every aspect, extending from politics to morals, economics, and even the actions of women. For centuries, the patriarchy has determined what is right and what is wrong, what can be done and what can't be done, where women go, how they act, and how much control they can have (which, in a patriarchal society, is very little.) Men, in this type of society, are the ultimate authority and power and the society in general is male-centered. Within this framework, women are often confined to predetermined roles, limiting their ability to break free from these societal molds and choose paths that align with their true desires and potentials.


The idea behind using the above mentioned phrases is quite acceptable, as they aim to instill respect for women in young males, much like they would want their sisters to be respected. However, it’s disheartening to witness the perpetuation of this narrative, where women are confined to predefined roles as mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters, as if their worth and respect hinge solely on these relationships with men. People use these kinds of sentences to make males of the society understand the simplest of things without hurting their patriarchal and misogynistic egos, fostering an understanding of an unknown woman's existence and discouraging the perception of her as an alien.

The problem with this perspective is that it not only masks the individuality of women under a relation with a man but also implies that their existence is validated only in these predefined roles by the society. What’s even more alarming is that this notion relegates women to a subservient position, implying that powerful men hold the reins, deciding when and how women deserve respect. All of these are the basic characteristics in any patriarchal society. Such a mindset fosters an environment where women are deemed weak and dependent, perpetuating a cycle of control that needs to be dismantled. It is crucial to nip the patriarchal evil in the bud, a scent of which can be discerned in these phrases.

The root cause of this issue lies in the unnecessary segregation of genders within our society. By compartmentalizing roles and expectations based on gender, we inadvertently contribute to the reinforcement of these stereotypes. The outcome of this kind of behavior resulting from this mentality is that if a woman doesn’t fit the said criteria, people may call her characterless, amoral, mock her upbringing and unintentionally consider it a legal license from this moral less society to hurl insults. This just perpetuates the cycle of judgment and negativity.

It's time to acknowledge that these ingrained perceptions are detrimental to the progress of our society. The arbitrary criteria for respect and dignity based on gender roles need to be dismantled to foster a more inclusive and equitable environment. The solution lies in education and the reduction of gender segregation.


In conclusion, it's imperative that we confront and challenge these deeply rooted stereotypes. By advocating for the education that actively challenges cultural stereotypes and questions conventional beliefs, and by breaking down gender barriers, we can cultivate a society that values individuals for who they are, not for the roles society has assigned to them, and not for their relation with a specific gender. In such a society, individuals would not be judged for not fitting the said criteria. It's time to liberate ourselves from the shackles of patriarchy and embrace a future where equality and respect are not dictated by gender, but rather are inherent principles that shape a diverse and inclusive society.

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