patriarchal society

How Patriarchal Culture Subtely Gets To Us

As I was packing my lunch, my mother was running around in the kitchen grabbing the dirty dishes and dumping them in the kitchen sink. With a frown, I dismissed the disappointment of seeing a sink full of dirty dishes, wondering why my mother couldn’t wake up a little earlier. I didn’t give the least thought that I woke up to run to the bathroom, while every other member was also going about doing their personal chores. Unknowingly I grew up as a flagbearer of patriarchal culture.

patriarchal society

The subtlety of patriarchal culture

Of late our society has grown and the awareness of how we should not condone certain mindsets is there in everyone’s mind. However, despite the changes, the onus of the solid foundation of the family still lies with the women. The families where the men who ‘help the women’ are still celebrated. It is invariably superior to those where women are expected to carry the burden. But it is no different from seemingly patriarchal families. Because they also subtly establish the point that the duty of the household is a woman’s responsibility and the man who shares it is ‘helping her’. Inequality was still persistent in disguise.

When my father used to tie my hair and do the dishes, (he changed over the years), I used to think that my mother was the luckiest woman in the neighborhood because my father was helping her. It took me another decade and a half to realize that he was not helping her but sharing the household duty that was attributable to both of them.

When I got married, I exposed myself to a flagrantly patriarchal setup where even carrying the plate to the kitchen could not be done by the man of the house. I was shocked and surprised. From frying pan to a burning fire, I was forced to think that I should also be the perfect woman at service to match up to the benchmark already set in the household.

patriarchal society 3

The perfect mother syndrome

My mother was that woman who strongly believed that a mother should not even drink a drop of water till their family’s hunger is satiated. Waiting for the seer of the family has been a custom that never made sense to me. However, doing so gave her an unfathomable sense of satisfaction. It took me another decade to realize that this was due to the rampant benevolent sexism that existed in society. After my first child, I too fell for it. Who doesn’t like to be praised as the perfect woman in the house? I was living in the crib of the patriarchal culture because it served me well. I found some cruel satisfaction when our known ones used to cite my example to show others that I am a perfect wife and mother material. It gave me a strange intoxication and I continued playing the role of furor.

Self care and selfishness

Self-care, for me, was blasphemy. I used to think that my friends who used to find ‘me time’ for themselves were selfish. How naive could I be? The result- From the lap of the patriarchal society, I fell into the grave of my happiness and peace while depression put the sand on my coffin. Looking back I don’t regret condoning the patriarchal culture. Because it empowered me to learn the subtlety of the sexism that wore the robe of benevolence.

When I look back I laugh at myself and simultaneously praise myself. I was being inclusive, accepting the change, and incorporating it into my life. Now when I call myself a feminist, I add a disclaimer, I am not a female chauvinist because feminism is not placing a woman above a man. With its essence in the real sense, I love myself and my family. I proudly came out of the patriarchal culture to embrace inclusivity.

This blog post is part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’
hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla.  

Rakhi Jayashankar

About Rakhi Jayashankar

Blogger, Holistic Wellness Coach, Social Entrepreneur, Nutritionist, Healer


  1. What a lovely post! I really enjoyed reading it. And you’re absolutely right – feminism isn’t about elevating women above men. At its core, it’s about self-love and valuing family. It is good to know that you’ve confidently emerged from the confines of a patriarchal culture to embrace inclusivity.

  2. Being either men or women have their own challenges but getting some Me time for yourself is extremely important. I so much love the article as I can understand what a woman goes through!!

  3. You are so right in mentioning how patriarchal culture rubs into us, we don’t even realize it and end up doing the stuff we don’t solicit or advocate otherwise. But, at the same time, there are others who hyper-criticize others while they themselves are bonded by the same age-old practices.

  4. So beautifully put, it’s a story of most of the women especially in India. I could relate to each and every word you wrote and have gone through the same feelings. It’s like we need a constant reminder that gal live for yourself, enough is enough.

  5. Well articulated Rakhi, Feminism is about inclusivity, not superiority. I think none of us realise how patriarchal the society is until we have matured. Then we have to begin the cycle again with our partners and men we know. But in mteropolitan cities like Delhi, it begins to border on rudeness. However, I feel the millennials are more inclusive now, and more respectful.

  6. I feel it all started because men were the hunters and gatherers, and women were supposed to tend to their needs so they could go back to bring more food for all. The Male child was always given a higher value. Women started rebelling when they had to work outside homes and take care of domestic responsibilities too. It was a difficult period and I too struggled with this “perfect woman ” image but yes, over the years things have improved. I feel our generation was the most to suffer. I was once told to bring in equal dough to get equal rights, maybe money is the biggest equalizer. We urban women can still afford paid help but what about the women working as labourers and the domestic help ?

  7. The idea of “helping” versus “sharing” household duties is so profound. It’s essential to recognize that responsibilities should be a joint effort, not a one-sided burden.

  8. We have indeed been blessed with fathers who broke the so-called norms. The mindset is changing but we still have a long way to go. A male child is still preferred. Women are responsible for everything that goes wrong. The list goes on.

  9. The post is really emotional, and I wonder how you molded yourself in the patriarchal setup and why not take a stand for yourself. Feminism is about equality and not taking charge of the men to show superiority. I grew up watching my father sharing responsibilities for household work with my mom, who was also working. I thank my luck that I was born into a family with both working parents, and I strongly believe that is what always kept me away from a concept called patriarchal setup. Just like you, I remember the days when my father used to tie my hair, get me ready for school, and pack my school bags…. golden moments of my life. Be it any decision taken in the family … always finalized after a mutual discussion between my mother and father. Yes, I call myself equally blessed to have a husband with similar moral values to my father, and that is what exactly made me fall in love with him. But his family and my in-laws are a perfect example of a patriarchal setup. A man entering the kitchen and helping his wife is no less than a crime in my in-law’s place, as my father-in-law says the kitchen is not the place for men. The men are only supposed to make decisions in their families, and women to follow. I was literally forced to change my surname after marriage, but I refused, and still date carry my family surname. My husband always stood by me and definitely rectified me if in case I was wrong somewhere… and the same vice versa in his case. I was not ready to accept a patriarchal setup, and so I didn’t…so I was given the tags like over-matured, dominating, aggressive, proudy, and disrespectful lady. But that didn’t affect my thought process… I believe in freedom, independence, mutual understanding, and care for partners and family members. I don’t believe in domination. It depends on how you take charge of your life… I did as I wished to, but unfortunately, my elder sister though working, failed to ignore that patriarchal setup and is a traumatized victim. How we observe life, respect ourselves, and promote gender equality … decides how we shape our lives. To many, I may sound wrong, but that is what I am.

  10. Beautifully written. Feminism is love yourself and do not try to overcome to mens. We should priorities ourselves first. I love the way you put it in words. Can be related even in today’s world too we are facing this issue.

  11. As a women in India it is not very easy to shine. Not many get the opportunity due to the cultural bonds. Your post is very inspiring.

  12. I am lucky to have a father who did not believe that this is a woman’s job and this is a man’s job. I remember when we were young, all the men in the family would get together and cook for us and the women got a day of pampering. Now when I look back, it seems impossible to imagine in the 1950s

  13. I too write a lot about me time. I know how hard it is to find time apart from all the multiple duties that we have. I dont want to just talk about just mothers but parents as a whole. Its hard to find time and when we are able to we should make the most out of it.

  14. What an eye-opening post! the subtle nature of patriarchal dominance and humiliation that happen in everyday life was shocking for me after I came into a new household. like the first roti will be given to male members, or the first spoon of rice will go to sons and fathers only. I never understood this thing only to be clarified by my mother-in-law. She was in fact taught by her own mother. And it’s so crazy that women in the household who were always subjected to these stupid patriarchal biases later on become flagbearers of it. the minute another person tries to break this generational trauma they are the black sheep, a shame of the family.

  15. Hand clap to ur post. Very truly said you don’t understand what one goes tru till you are in the same situation.

  16. In India, women were considered as deities as they gave birth to new life but somewhere along the way, Manusmriti changed all that. Women were considered lower, weaker than men. We are entrenched in patriachy and it will take a century to get rid of it.

  17. I am happy that you lived the change Rakhi.
    Like you I too don’t believe that one gender is superior than the other. I don’t like harping about women this, women that. I feel there are certain things that men can do better and certain women… there shouldn’t be any comparison.
    I totally understand how you must have carried out your duties after childbirth cuz i did the same too… even after marriage for that matter and to a great extent I still do.

  18. As I was reading your post I could see myself nodding to many things you have stated. But whether I have changed completely or not, I’m still not sure. I’m somewhere in between.

  19. I felt so much was relatable in your post, it has just been the way we all have followed it, like you said you need a certain maturity to understand it. I feel no one is above anyone it is a balance. The concept of sharing and helping is fantastic. The newer generation however views things differently better than us I feel.

  20. The first thing I appreciate in your post is that your have clearly mentioned the difference between feminism and female chauvinism, many ‘self claimed’ feminists dont get it. Regarding the patriarchial culture, I am lucky my husband and mother in law did not let me bear that but yeah your anecdotal evidence is something which almost we see in every household. Thank God you grew out of it!

  21. I guess speaking up and having a great communicating relationship with your partner and the rest of your family is important. Making sure you put out the rules from the very start is also important as it’s more of human nature not too be too keen to change. At least, especially for marriages, both husband and wife talk about shared responsibilities not only when it comes to managing the home and finances but as small topics as household chores. You’re going to live with each other anyways for the rest of your life, then better speak for yourself from the beginning than wait for some action from your partner and contemplate within if things wasn’t done the way you want it to be.

  22. The society and the perfection label placed on woman nice post full of reality and the way to came uo with self care and inclusivy is truly awesome.

  23. It’s such beautiful reminder for us to be up and about in our life. Thank you for this article

  24. We all are struggling with something in life. it’s a good way to sometimes just do what our heart says for a while and respecting ourselves.

  25. Thanks for sharing this candid glimpse into your personal journey.

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