Women have been stomped by the shackles of patriarchy ever since they have stepped their foot into this world. Women have to combat the unfavorable cards that have been set against them ever since they were infants up until their deathbed. A woman’s struggle is continuous, even if it takes different forms; her struggles are based on the different stages of life and the different male counterparts she encounters. Society has predetermined a woman’s gender as her Achilles Heel and unfortunately, it has posed multiple challenges that she has to consistently go through in order to instill her place in society.
Male privilege is real and it is a card that majority of men do use in their favor. A woman has to prove her worth and capabilities by having multiple stages of struggles to strengthen her position in society. A woman that challenges the customs and norms of the patriarchal culture and chooses a different fate than the stereotypical role that the misogynistic society has dictated has to ensure that she puts on a brave front in order to succeed in defining her life beyond what her prior ancestry knew.
The struggle of a woman starts from the day that she is born, where she is ridiculed, pitied, and consistently told what a shame it is for the mother to give birth to a daughter, even in a moment where she has gone through the most excruciating labor pain. The poor mother is not even given the time to recover from the gut-wrenching pain when she feels her worth and capabilities diminish due to an uncontrollable decision of fate. Society has disadvantaged women for centuries. Despite all the physical challenges that a woman has to go through, she still has to ensure that the cycle of life continues.
The irony is that despite women being mocked for giving birth to a girl, majority of the time the family is dependent on the labor of that same woman. Majority of times, women handle all the household chores and this is the reason that her male members of the family can reap from her efforts and have such a comfortable lifestyle that is maintained, fed, and taken care off. After a girls’ first exposure to this highly masculine world, where the ground that males walk on is worshipped, she has to build a tough exterior that doesn’t allow the noises to disrupt her growth and journey in redefining the role of women in society.
A woman is conditioned to believe that her role in society is limited to procreating and handling house chores; our first battle starts with rewiring our own brain to “un-condition” what we have been told from the women and men in our families, who are a product of their time and have been conditioned to believe that the ideologies that were passed down to them, were the right mentalities in establishing the role of women and limiting them to their own households. The day that you decide to not pay heed to the preconditioned role of women, is the day you win the first battle, but it is not the only battle. There are aftershocks, moments of self-doubt, and moments of nervousness that causes you to relapse into the same toxic cycle. You re-question your worth, your contribution, and your purpose in life. Moments of guilt can suffocate you, and you drown yourself in self-doubt. It is essential for women to ensure that they don’t bask in self-pity and doubt for too long; as they have to continue their journey towards tackling the stereotypical gender roles set by our forefathers.
A woman has to consistently prove herself worthy of working outside of the premises of her house, whether that it is to attend an educational institution or in her workplace. She consistently faces skepticism and is talked down to because there is this huge gap in the capabilities of women from generations prior. Now that women are exploring other roles, they still have to deal with the commentary of their male colleagues who are waiting for a tiny mistake from her to show her why she should be limited to the confinements of her own house. When a woman challenges the norms that have been unquestioned for ages, many of which have benefited the male members of society, many wait for those women to falter in their position to justify their misogynistic system, and that is an additional struggle for a woman as she doesn’t start on the same playing field as men. This imbalancement creates a shaky foundation for women. There is a set glass ceiling for a woman, and the glass ceiling only varies so much from first world countries to third world countries, but overall women continue to face misogyny, patriarchal culture, and toxic masculinity throughout the globe.
The following issues have been the reason that women have faced multiple hindrances to advance on a level that they should have. These cultural practices have stood in the way of women attaining high and prestigious positions since their worth and capabilities have always been undermined by the patriarchal system. There are few women who have been capable of taking a governmental position, but even their representation in those places is highly symbolic and not revolutionary. The fight to include women in other realms of society is essential for the progression of society. The more variety there is in the workspace, the higher the probability of newer and more qualified individuals who can handle and create positive result in the workspace. To tackle male superiority complex and other female who promote these misogynistic ideologies, it is essential to provide opportunities where there is more inclusion of women in the workspace and more male solidarity and alliance building to support the same agenda.
By: Hareer Hashim
Program Manager WILPF-Afghanistan