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Ideas

A Brief History Of Patriarchy, And How To Topple It

Many people assume the patriarchy has always been there, but how did it really originate? History shows us that there can be another way.

The patriarchy, having been somewhat in retreat in parts of the world, is back in our faces. In Afghanistan, the Taliban once again prowl the streets more concerned with keeping women at home and in strict dress code than with the impending collapse of the country into famine.

And on another continent, parts of the U.S. are legislating to ensure that women can no longer have a legal abortion. In both cases, lurking patriarchal beliefs were allowed to reemerge when political leadership failed. We have an eerie feeling of travelling back through time. But how long has patriarchy dominated our societies?

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Papá, Papá, On Repeat: Are We Men Ready For Fatherhood To Change Our Lives?

There is a moment on Saturday or Sunday, after having spent ten hours with my kids, that I get a little exasperated, I lose my patience. I find it hard to identify the emotion, I definitely feel some guilt too. I know that time alone with them improves our relationship... but I get bored! Yes, I feel bored. I want some time in the car for them to talk to each other while I can talk about the stupid things we adults talk about.

This is what a friend tells me. He tends to spend several weekends alone with his two children and prefers to make plans with other people instead of being alone with them. As I listened to him, I immediately remembered my long days with Lorenzo, my son, now three-and-a-half years old. I thought especially of the first two-and-a-half years of his life, when he hardly went to daycare (thanks, COVID!) and we’d spend the whole day together.

It also reminded me of a question I often ask myself in moments of boredom — which I had virtually ignored in my life before becoming a father: how willing are we men to let fatherhood change our lives?

It is clear that the routines and habits of a couple change completely when they have children, although we also know that this rarely happens equally.

With the arrival of a child, men continue to work as much or more than before, while women face a different reality: either they double their working day — maintaining a paid job but adding household and care tasks — or they are forced to abandon all or part of their paid work to devote themselves to caregiving.

In other words, "the arrival of a child tends to strengthen the role of economic provider in men (...), while women reinforce their role as caregivers," says an extensive Equimundo report on Latin America and the Caribbean, highlighting a trend that repeats itself in most Western countries.

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Jair Bolsonaro, A Perfect Example Of Why Autocrats Hate Women

Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping and Jair Bolsonaro all share what seems a natural antipathy toward women — yet it is ultimately because they fear them. And with good reason: When women participate in political movements, they are more likely to succeed — which is bad news for authoritarianism.

-Analysis-

SÂO PAULO — In the first televised debate between the candidates for the Brazilian presidential elections, on August 28, the incumbent Jair Bolsonaro offered yet another demonstration of his misogyny. He was asked by journalist Vera Magalhães about the drop in vaccination coverage in the country and its connection to the misinformation about vaccines, which the president himself spread during the pandemic.

“Vera, I couldn’t expect anything else from you," he responded. "You sleep thinking about me, have some kind of passion for me. You can't take sides in a debate like this. You make lying accusations about me. You’re an embarrassment to Brazilian journalism.”

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Hysterical To Hypersexual: Bogus Female Diseases Have Always Held Women Down

Throughout history, women have been overdiagnosed with mainly psychiatric ailments and syndromes that have already been ruled out, from hysteria to nymphomania. This distorted portrait, which had its golden age in the 19th century, has been questioned in recent decades by the research community.

"Born weak and sensitive, the woman, faithful companion of man, deserves the most lively interest and presents a vast field for the meditations of philosophers and doctors." This is how the Treatise on the Diseases of Women begins, a text from 1844 that aims to be an update of everything known by medicine about women to date.

The "fair sex" or the "angel in the house" were names used by some scientists of the 19th century, who underpinned the notion of the "weaker sex" in the collective imagination to refer to women.

“The physical modifications that constitute the beauties of women are in inverse proportion to those that constitute those of men. The features of her face have fine and pleasant proportions, her feet are smaller and her hands are delicate, her arms, thighs and legs are thicker, the muscles of all her limbs are sweetly demarcated with undulating lines”, writes the doctor Baltasar de Viguera in Female physiology and pathology (1827).

For De Viguera, who recounted the sensitivity and delicacy in forms, senses and character of women, their qualities had to do with "the organs of the womb."

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Society
Serena Dyer

How Rihanna Ripped Apart The Bland Victorian Rules Of Maternity Clothing

Barbadian singer and businesswoman Rihanna has proudly celebrated her pregnant belly in fun and revealing clothes. By doing so, she is breaking away from the unspoken rule that pregnant women should hide their baby bumps.

There is a stage in pregnancy where many women have to start thinking about switching out their clothes for maternity wear. Let’s be honest, the choices out there aren’t all too inspiring and women are often expected to give up on their sense of style in favour of comfort. Not singer Rihanna, though, whose refreshing approach to maternity fashion has rocked the world.

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Ideas
Lux Lancheros*

Political Fashion In Latin America Leaves White Men In Suits Behind

Politics has always been associated with image. This is especially true in Latin America, where white men in suits have dominated the field for years. But a new generation of women are shaking up politics — as well as how female politicians are expected to dress.

During "The Great Male Renunciation," toward the end of the 18th century, men stopped using refined forms of dressing in order to be taken seriously, leaving conspicuous consumption of clothing and ostentatious dressing to women. It was an attempt by the bourgeoisie to leave behind all the decadent vanity of the overthrown aristocracy.

Men flaunted their power through the clothing their female counterparts wore, though they themselves could not aspire to that same power. Men could no longer dress extravagantly and had to moderate their "feminine impetus", unless they wanted to be considered weak and frivolous. That is why many women at that time who wanted to succeed in “men's” professions had to dress in a masculine way (like French novelist George Sand), with some going as far as pretending to be men.

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BBC
Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

Britney Spears To Princess Latifa: Hashtags And The Patriarchy

The new documentary "Framing Britney Spears' explores how both tabloid and mainstream media outlets first framed the American megastar as a hypersexualized Lolita, then a bad role model and finally an unstable mother. The film, produced by The New York Times, explores how the news coverage may have led to Spears being placed under a legal conservatorship in 2008 — giving her father Jamie Spears control over her fortune.

The filmmakers follow the #FreeBritney movement, an online protest of fans and supporters pushing to give back control to Spears of her approximately $60 million in net worth. Many in the movement have called out supposed encrypted cries for help in posts on the now 39-year-old pop star's Instagram feed, one of her few seemingly uncensored outlets for expression. Since the documentary's release, the movement had a significant victory when a judge allowed the establishment of Bessemer Trust as a co-conservator, taking some power away from her dad.

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India
Nehmat Kaur

Blasey Ford To Bollywood, When #MeToo Begets #IBelieve

Saying that we believe survivors doesn’t cost us much, but it gives a lot of women the validation they need to believe in themselves and their version of what happened.

MUMBAI — Too many women woke up feeling tired today. Too many women went to bed last night with clenched jaws and shaky heartbeats. For nearly one year now, many of us have found ourselves dipping in and out of a "haze of re-surfaced trauma" as we deal with the intermittent effects of #MeToo.

At first, #MeToo was cathartic. Women suddenly had license to acknowledge their wounds to the world — and, more importantly, to ourselves. So many of us found words to describe the nameless acts that had haunted us for years. To know that we were not alone, to know that our secrets weren't trivial, was, and I mean this literally, life-changing.

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India
Veena Gowda*

On 'Love Jihad,' When India's Patriarchy Mixes With Bad Faith

'Love jihad' is a brutally constructed political agenda combining patriarchal notions of 'our women' and communal notions of 'their men.'

There is a part of an old Kannada song that has remained with me throughout my life, the words of which go something like this, "keliddu sullagabahudu, nodiddu sullagabahudu, nidanisi yochisidaaga nijavu thilivudu" (what is heard may be a lie, what is seen may be a lie, one understands the truth only when one thinks through it). I am reminded of this verse more and more in the present political environment. As elections in Karnataka approach, political rhetoric is reaching a crescendo even as citizens' rights and lives are fading away. Somewhere along the line, we have forgotten to pause and think about what is happening around us, and to us — socially and politically.

Dhanyashree, a 20-year-old girl, committed suicide in my hometown of Mudigere, Chikkmagaluru district in Karnataka on January 6. According to media reports, a young man, Santosh, questioned her for associating with a Muslim boy. According to reports, after being questioned over caste and religion while chatting with Santosh on WhatsApp, Dhanyashree had replied that she loves Muslims and how she leads her life is her choice. A screenshot of this private conversation was circulated all over social media by Santosh, clearly to foment trouble against her. Five young men, including leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party outfit, Yuva Morcha, walked into her home, threatened her and her mother, and accused the girl of "roaming with a Muslim man" and paving the way for "love jihad." The suicide note left behind by Dhanyashree reportedly indicates that pressure from Hindutva groups, threats on social media and a disinclination to live a life as dictated by a few drove her to end it. This is not the first such incident, nor will it be the last.

This male intrusion strangled the girl before the noose ever did.

The response of a BJP leader that their party workers did nothing wrong and were just trying to inform the girl's family of the dangers of "love jihad" reflects not just communal politics but regressive patriarchal intent. He even undermines the mother's complaint by saying that none of the men from the girl's family have accused anyone of harassment. The proponents of Hindutva believe they have the right not only to draw the lakshman rekha, that traditional "red line" on ethical behavior, but also the exclusive privilege to breach it when they so desire. It is this male intrusion that strangled the girl even before the noose did, and the culprits will have to be held accountable.

20-year-old Dhanyashree commited suicide on Jan. 6 — Photo: Twitter

The bogey of "love jihad" is a brutally constructed political agenda combining patriarchal notions of "our women" and how to control them, and communal notions of "their men" and how to deal with them. While the central issue in communal politics is of religious identity and a desired prevalence of the majority community over the minority, communal politics is nothing but another face of patriarchy where women are treated as the property of men, a symbol of community identity who need to be controlled and reined in, where women have no choice in love. Communal politics affects women far more adversely than it affects men. Supporting right-wing religious politics with a fear of the ‘other", as is starkly visible here, exposes women to further oppression by their ‘own" men. In the name of religion and religious identities, a woman just about eligible to vote is forced to end her life even before she casts that vote.

It is time to pause and reflect on how women's lives are affected by this brazen display of patriarchal impunity and regressive form of religious machismo. We have forgotten that Karnataka is the land of Akkamahadevi, who, in the 12th century, created a space to express herself. The space where women speak without fear is already small and quickly shrinking.

B.R. Ambedkar said: "Unity is meaningless without the accompaniment of women, education is fruitless without educated women and agitation is incomplete without the strength of women". It is time for women to re-envision society and polity in our terms, and to foreground our concerns as citizens. We are entitled to be treated as adult voters in a democracy and not merely as subjects of patriarchal notions of pride and honour. We have to demand a change, not just in legal doctrines and societal norms, but in political ideologies.

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Japan
Sadia Rao

Five Places Around The World Where Women Are (Still) Banned

Many are up in arms after UNESCO granted a small Japanese island World Heritage Site status in June. On face value, Okinoshima Island, home to a 17th-century Shinto shrine, is a worthy World Heritage Site. But it's not what the island has that has caused controversy — rather, what it lacks: There are no women on Okinoshima. In fact, those of the "fairer sex" are forbidden to set foot on the island.

Believe it or not, there are still several places in the world where women are banned. Here is a rundown of five places, ranging from a monastic enclave in Greece to a coffee shop in Saudi Arabia, where women are not allowed to enter.

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EL ESPECTADOR

Feminism Should Be Lived, Not Preached

-OpEd-

BOGOTÁ — Feminism is an acidic drink, strong, seething and so concentrated that it should be sipped at a pace suitable for each person's palate.

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