Real patriarchy and ‘phantom’ patriarchy


Recently saw an article written on Facebook by an atheist from Kerala, India, probably in response to allegation of sexism in presentations in atheist meetings in my state. This is in form of an imaginary dialogue with his daughter who has been brought up in a liberal way. He starts this dialogue about real and phantom patriarchy while watching a veiled Muslim girl of his daughter’s age  passes by. He equates feminists to post modernists so that the attack is easier. He writes :

In that fantasy world of subtle conspiracies, the battle continues as patriarchy exists in all its subtle forms which occasionally find their expression in comments or jokes or speeches of even the ‘so-called’ liberals. For those imaginary crusaders, it is sexism everywhere trying to discipline the female body. Modernity and its institutions, for them, are nothing but another form of converting the woman’s body into  a ‘docile body’.

It is Quixotic battle you are trying to wage against ‘phantom patriarchy’ (to borrow the words of feminist scholar Christina Hoff Sommers), my dear daughter, I tell her (in the imaginary conversation, of course). I tell her I have attended academic seminars on college and university campuses (safe, liberated zones) where feminists have been found fiercely battling for the right of women to be inside the veil, pretending that the veil is just a cultural expression of women in a culture, and not imposed by the patriarchal religion. I tell her, in that fantasy exchange, that real patriarchy is out there, in flesh and blood, threatening to undermine her freedom, subjugate her, make her docile, keep her humiliated, train her to see her body as objectionable. Beware, I tell my dear daughter, of those real merchants of patriarchy who will, given a chance, bulldoze her into total submission. Please, I beseech my daughter, don’t waste your time chasing phantoms because phantoms are easier to chase and prevail upon. Instead, you should express your solidarity with the real victims of patriarchy who are amidst us all, I suggest to her in that imaginary engagement.

Father teaching daughter what is real and unreal patriarchy ? Nice !

This reminded me about that infamous Dear Muslima letter. This also made me think about Hindutva ideologues reminding freedom of expression activists in India to imagine what will happen if they are in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia.

Yes, some have privilege delusion. They are also deluded enough to believe that without religion there is no gender based oppression.

Comments

  1. says

    “feminist scholar Christina Hoff Sommers”
    Was that written ironically?

    She may study feminism, but only to critique carefully constructed strawman versions of feminism.

  2. Moideen says

    The post is simply a gross misrepresentation of things he said in his note!!! You could have posted the entire note to enable readers to gauge what the author want to say. In his imaginary dialogue with his young daughter he only used a veiled woman as a sample of patriarchy, selection of which is understandable as the author is coming from a Muslim background. In the imaginary conversation, author’s self appraisal of cultivating liberal values in his family in making his daughter an independent women is rebuked as patriarchal by his daughter. That’s the phantom patriarchy author is referring to. What superfluous cognitive skill enabled you to think that the author consider all form of non-Muslim patriarchy as phantom!!!

    • Arun says

      Mis-representation ?
      As I said in the post the writer equates post modernists thoughts with feminism. He like Sommers is creating straw man to attack feminism.
      Feminism do not say father raising kids in a liberal family background is some thing objectionable and patriarchal.

    • Arun says

      //In that fantasy world of subtle conspiracies, the battle continues as patriarchy exists in all its subtle forms which occasionally find their expression in comments or jokes or speeches of even the ‘so-called’ liberals. For those imaginary crusaders, it is sexism everywhere trying to discipline the female body. ///

      The author think sexist comments, jokes, sexist speeches are all examples of phantom patriarchy.
      He wants us to fight only religious oppression of women. That view I feel is irrational.

Comments welcome