Patriarchy is a social system in which the father is considered to be the head of the family. He looks after the house and property and governs the family. Patriarchal societies also often give all property rights to the males of a family, meaning, a woman is excluded from all rights regardless of her position in the family, whether wife or daughter.
Patriarchy is associated with a set of ideas, patriarchal thinking that explains and justifies this dominance and believes it to inherent natural differences between men and women. Patriarchy is a system of social organization that recognizes, encourages, and reproduces the natural and necessary domination of men over women.
- A patriarchal society believes that it is the only man who can run social, political, and economic life. Women are believed to be weaker, both physically and mentally, and thus are not capable of making important decisions on behalf of others.
- Obedience is one of the most essentials in a patriarchal society. Women and children are not expected to go against anything the patriarch says or does.
- In such a society, decisions such as the marriages of the children are decided by the man of the family alone. In rare cases, some advice or suggestions by the patriarch’s wife may be permitted. Marriages are fixed based upon the property and economic conditions of both parties.
- In this society, legal provisions and laws are mostly in favor of men, which leaves the women with neither rights nor resources if need be. In case of marriage has to end, the custody of the children remains with the father, and the wife gets nothing.
- Women are expected to move from their family home to their husband’s home after marriage. It is always the wife who has to adjust and compromise without any objection.
The exact time of the origin of the concept of patriarchy is still unknown. Some experts suggest that it may have been sometime around 4000 BC when the idea of fatherhood began to take root in society. Records of ancient writers and philosophers talk about the superiority of men over women and how the role of a woman is to nurture children and take care of the household, while the man looks over other important tasks.
Another theory of the origin of patriarchy states that initially, to manage the population because of the high death rates, women tended to give birth to several children. As a result, women’s focus began revolving around taking care of several children as well as the household, while men began to take responsibility for tasks such as hunting, gathering, and providing the family with food. Thus, males began to assume dominance over the women and children, and women were pushed more and more into the background.
Historically, patriarchy has manifested itself in the social, legal, political, religious, and economic organization of a range of different to different cultures. Even if not clearly defined to be by their own constitutions and laws, most contemporary societies are in practice, patriarchal. In North India, Hinduism followed patriarchal control within the family, leading to increased subordination of women. Patriarchy is based on a system of power relations that are hierarchal and unequal where men control women’s production, reproduction, and sexuality. Patriarchal societies spread the ideology of motherhood which restricts women’s mobility and burdens them with the responsibilities nurture and rear children.
The matriarchal family is also known as the mother-dominated family. A matriarchy is a social system organized or based on rules in which mothers, or females, are at the top of the power structure. A mother or woman is the head of the family and she exercises authority. She is the owner of the property and the manager of the household. All the other members are subordinated to her. The descent is traced through the mother. Hence it is matrilineal in descent. Daughters inherit the property of the mother. They succeed their mother and the sons. The status of the children is mostly decided by the status of the mother. Based on some studies now it is known that matriarchal families are found among the Eskimos, Malay Islanders, Labrador Indians, the American Iroquois, the Khasi tribal of India, and others.
Matriarchy is not a system where women control and lord over men. According to some sayings it is found that:
“The aim is not to have power over others and nature, but to follow maternal values, i.e., to nurture the natural, social and cultural life based on mutual respect.”
- Fathers are excluded. Matriarchal societies are structured in joint families, without knowing genetic paternity. Children belong to their mother’s family from which the father is excluded. Thus, children are educated by the men of their family or maternal uncles and not by their father.
- Internal family affairs are handled by women while external affairs are usually handled by men.
- The woman’s value is deeply respected as a source of life.
- Family property is inherited from mothers to daughter
While anthropologists question the existence of a true matriarchal society, there is a school of thought that believes the human society was originally matriarchal. Archaeologists and researchers have stumbled across evidence that supports the theory that or matriarchal societies may have once existed.
However, saints point out that just because women were described as goddesses in ancient literature and artwork, does not necessarily mean they were more powerful than men. The thing is with no written historical records, we can never be 100% sure about the rules or laws of a truly matriarchal society.
India has patriarchal families and matriarchal in very few parts. My purpose for choosing this topic is to myself gain knowledge about the topic. And also would try to make aware how this system works and what is its importance in society. My eagerness to know about this topic would help me to find more related articles and researches about patriarchy in North India vs matriarchy in Kerala.