You see it all over the world: women are kept in their places by the patriarchal societies in which they live. Not only do they not have as many options and opportunities as men, they are usually the most oppressed. It varies from country to country and culture to culture, but the bottom line is that men are constantly trying to control women.
My husband and I were discussing why this is so and he said that men are hardwired to do all they can to make sure that any children born to their women are actually theirs. I suppose you could also say that women are hardwired to depend on men for support and protection of themselves and their children. So men try to control women and women submit to that control.
Women give up a lot of freedoms in order to have children and be taken care of by men. They give up their right for equal pay and opportunities in the workplace. They are usually the ones who stay home or work part-time so that they can take care of the children. They are at the mercy of men when it comes to economics: more often than not, it is the man’s status that determines the status of the family.
I know men are “enslaved” by their responsibilities to their wives and children. But that doesn’t negate the fact that men have more control over their lives than women do. From a very early age, they are told that they can be anything that they want to be. But women are taught that they are defined by their sexual identity: they are to be the nurturers, the care-takers, the housekeepers, the hostesses–all adjuncts to what their husbands are.
These conditions are changing. Women have more control over their lives than ever before. They can own property, vote, get credit in their own name, have and raise children out of wedlock, pursue higher education and high-powered careers and obtain birth control and abortions (i.e., they have control over their minds and their bodies). But as we’ve seen in recent years, women are increasingly at risk when it comes to self-determination. To put it more bluntly, strong women (those who control their own lives) scare the hell out of men.
It’s not just their male egos that are on the line, it is also their fear that they may be supplanted and their power eroded. Having power and influence means more to them than keeping their women happy. Notice the use of the possessive: it is much more common for men to claim ownership over their women than it is the other way around. Women are kept in a state of insecurity because they fear that their hold on their men is tenuous.
But if women would take control of their own lives, they wouldn’t be as insecure and they could enter into relationships as equal partners. This would also relieve men of all the responsibilities that they feel burdened with. That is, if they can overcome their fear of losing control.